Category: TCF Faculty

Tuscaloosa News Covers TCF Zombies

More coverage of the TCF zom-com:

University of Alabama students film pilot episode for TV show about zombie chasers
By Ashley Chaffin

Published: Monday, December 9, 2013 at 3:30 a.m.

The Super Skate on McFarland Boulevard turned into a dispatch center for a ragtag team of zombie chasers last week as production students from the University of Alabama Telecommunication and Film Department shot a pilot for their television show titled “Zom-Com.”

The show follows a team of people who go on various jobs chasing zombies to collect data about them.

“In the pilot, they botch one of their jobs and bring back incomplete data, so they don’t get paid as much,” Adam Schwartz, assistant professor in the TCF department, said. “To try to make up for that, they accept what is known throughout the zombie-chaser community as a suicide mission. The pilot follows them on that mission.”

Continue reading…

UA class filming zombie show in Tuscaloosa

“TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) – They have plagued movies, television, and books for decades; but now, the zombie apocalypse has hit Alabama.

Around 30 of the walkers were spotted at the University of Alabama Arboretum early in the week. Witnesses say there was blood everywhere as the creatures stalked down through the woods towards a camera crew.

Yes, a camera crew. The zombies that have been lurking around the university’s campus this week are extras in a new television pilot called, “Zom-Com.”

The 22-minute program is a collaboration between two [TCF] classes at the University of Alabama. One, is an advanced television production class. The other is a zombie culture class.”

Read more and view video!

Q&A With Dr. Rachel Raimist, From Tuscaloosa News

This week we [the Tuscaloosa News] spoke with University of Alabama media production professor and co-director of Creative Campus Rachel Raimist. Raimist is well versed in video production and photography thanks to her schooling and various jobs in New York, California and Minneapolis.


Q:Who are you?

A: I am a mother, teacher, storyteller, media maker, mentor and professor with boundless energy who has been known to run the hallways of UA’s Reese Phifer Hall with everyone from singer/songwriter Gifted (who flew in to film an award-winning music video with TCF students), to the big man Shaq (who collaborated with UA students to produce an anti-binge drinking public service announcement that showed on the Jumbotron at the 2013 National Championship game). If I am not loaded down with camera bags, pushing a big yellow wagon of lights, or leading a herd of eager students running to and from filming locations, colleagues usually ask me if I am feeling OK… I’m that lady!


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TCF This Week

Andy Billings had a productive fall!  Here are a few new articles/chapters that were accepted for publication:

  • Billings, A.C., Angelini, J.R., MacArthur, P.J., Smith, L.R., & Vincent, J. (2014, in press). Fanfare for the American: NBC’s primetime telecast of the 2012 London Olympiad.  Electronic News.
  • Angelini, J.R., MacArthur, P.J., & Billings, A.C. (2014, in press).  Spiraling into or out of stereotypes?: NBC’s prime-time coverage of male figure skaters at the 2010 Olympic Games.  Journal of Language and Social Psychology.
  • Brown, N., Billings, A.C., & Brown, K. (2014, in press).  ‘May no act of ours bring shame’: Fan enacted crisis communication surrounding the Penn State sex abuse scandal.  Communication & Sport.
  • Billings, A.C., & Kim, Y. (2014).  The biggest spectacle on television’s grandest stage: Shaping viewer experiences.  In V. Girginov (Ed.) The 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games (pp. 184-194).  London: Routledge.

Michael Bruce presented a paper at the 18th conference of the Arab – US Association of Communication Educators in Tangier, Morocco  and was awarded 2nd place English-language paper.  The title was: “Images of the Arab Spring:  A Visual Framing Analysis of Conflict Coverage on Five Transnational Arab News Channels.”

Michael has also been accepted as a faculty fellow at the 2014 NATPE Conference in Miami in January.

Andy Grace just returned from LA, where he participated in yet another screening of his award-winning Eating Alabama.

Zom-Com is propelling forward, with production to begin on December 2.  Please give a word of encouragement to Adam Schwartz, Matt Payne, and Maya Champion if you see them sleep-walking in the hall.


Latest episode of “Alabama Ghostbusters” available on Halloween

As reported in the Tuscaloosa News:

“Alabama Ghostbusters: A Web Series” cast members Bo Bearden, Brock Parker and David Railey on set in Tuscaloosa during the shooting of a scene for the series, which was written and directed by University of Alabama professor Adam Schwartz and produced by students in his advanced TV production class.

Brock Parker | The Tuscaloosa News

Published: Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 3:30 a.m.
The creators of “Alabama Ghostbusters: A Web Series” plan to release the latest episode of the fan series shot in Tuscaloosa on Thursday, for Halloween.

The Web series, inspired by the 1980s science fiction comedy, is co-written by University of Alabama film professor Adam Schwartz, a member of the statewide fan group Alabama Ghostbusters, and Nicky Stevens.

Read more…


TCF Zombies, Bringing Education to Life


By Misty Mathews

Telecommunication and film professors Dr. Matt Payne and Adam Schwartz have one thing on their brains: “BRAINS.”

Actually, that’s not entirely true, but Payne and Schwartz are each teaching a UA course this semester on zombies, cashing in on the monsters’ current popularity to provide students with culturally relevant instruction while teaching them the skills they need to succeed in the real world.

“What’s going to catch people’s attention is the subject matter,” said Payne, who is teaching TCF 444: Zombies in Culture. “At the same time, pedagogical utility is vital. It’s very important to us to underscore what the learning objectives are.”

Schwartz is teaching TCF 451: Advanced Television Production, in which students are producing a television pilot episode. He said the class provides students an experience that closely mirrors real-world production work.

“From the beginning we stress, ‘This isn’t a class project,’” Schwartz said. “I mean, it is, but it’s also for distribution in festivals. I tell my students that if they’re worried about the grade, they’re worried about the wrong thing. You have a job in this class, and there are very specific expectations for the job you are supposed to do. If you do your job, the grade will come.”

“This is not just about studying bogey men,” said Payne, who has previously published research on zombies in pop culture and film. “There’s real work going on here.”

Students will have a chance to use their audio/visual skills but also will learn about things like special-effects makeup and social media campaigns for promotion. In coming weeks the classes will participate in a special effects workshop by Montgomery-based artist Jonathan Thornton.

ZombieFace“Jonathan will give a basic workshop in how to make folks undead – makeup, special effects,” Schwartz said. “He will actually do most of the makeup for what we call the ‘hero zombies’ – the ones who are featured, close up. But one person doing the makeup for all those zombies would be too expensive and too time-consuming, so it’s an opportunity for students to be involved in doing the makeup for the ‘extra’ zombies and to learn from him.”

Payne and Schwartz wrote a script for the production class over the summer, focusing on creating a “zom-com” or zombie comedy. The pilot, titled “Zom-Com” (“Clever, right?” Schwartz said.), will tell the story of a group of zombie chasers (think storm chasers, but with zombies) who are working with various corporations to tag and study zombies.

“Unlike most zombie fiction that trades in a lot of overt gore, this group is actually a very humanitarian group, so what’s challenging for them is getting the data without actually harming the zombies,” Payne said.

Schwartz, Payne and their students held a casting call in September and also have secured two Screen Actors Guild-member actors for the pilot – Erica Schroeder, a voice actress best known for her work on “Yu-Gi-Oh” and “Sonic the Hedgehog,” and Dan DeLuca, who appeared in season four of HBO’s “The Wire.”

Students in the production class will also participate in portions of Payne’s zombie history class. Payne said the zombie is much more than just a monster, and he hopes he can help students appreciate that.

“Sometimes the monsters in our lives are the monsters we can’t see or recognize,” Payne said. “The zombie is an incredibly agile monster that creates a really nice shell for communicating or articulating a number of social anxieties – racism, sexism, militarism, class inequities.”

Payne’s class will examine a variety of genres and time periods, from the origin of the monster as a Caribbean voodoo monster to George A. Romero’s work – “the father of the modern zombie,” Payne said – to more current depictions of the zombie in the post-9/11 world.

Both Schwartz and Payne said they hope to shoot in locations across Alabama and make use of the physical and creative resources the state offers. They also said they hope to incorporate other departments and entities on campus for a truly collaborative final product.

Zombie“It’s really unique, despite the abundance of zombie media, to have this type of collaboration at a state university,” Schwartz said. “I don’t think this has ever been done before.”

The on-campus collaboration already includes Creative Campus, which gave Schwartz and Payne a “Creativity in Collaboration” grant to work with Creative Campus interns on the film project. They also hope to have students from the theatre and dance department involved in some capacity.

“The Creativity in Collaboration grant not only gives us $1,500, it also means we have a team of Creative Campus interns that will work in a variety of capacities alongside TCF students, including marketing, branding, makeup, wardrobe,” Payne said, adding that the Creative Campus students would also be involved in the special effects workshop.

The TCF 444 and 451 classes also recently held fundraisers at locations near campus, allowing more campus community members to support the production of the pilot, which will be entered for consideration to be screened at a number of prestigious film festivals.

Original posted here:

TCF Professor Selected for Emmy Seminar

RaimistThe University of Alabama’s Dr. Rachel Raimist is living proof that you don’t have to be in Hollywood to be a filmmaker, and people in L.A. are taking notice.

Raimist, an assistant professor in the department of telecommunication and film and co-director of UA’s Creative Campus, has been invited to participate in the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Faculty Seminar Nov. 10-15 in Los Angeles. She is one of 20 faculty members nationwide selected.

“The seminar is put on by the education arm of the television academy, which puts on the Emmys,” Raimist said. “Things like industry work flow, the terminology, roles and crew positions, how things work on a set, how shows are produced, the technology – all that kind of shifts. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to have faculty who are far removed from how things actually work teaching young people to enter this career field.”

Raimist said she has primarily worked on films, music videos and live events, so she is excited to gain even more knowledge to share with her students.

“I have a lot of students who love television and who hope to work in television,” Raimist said. “I hope getting to spend a week there will give me a current sense of the industry and a better sense of how our students could enter television as a career field.”

Dr. Glenda Cantrell Williams, associate professor and chair of telecommunication and film, said Raimist’s experience at the seminar will positively influence the entire department.

“This seminar is quite competitive, so we’re very proud that Dr. Raimist was selected,” Williams said. “The entertainment industry is always changing and growing, so having faculty spend time with industry professionals in Los Angeles keeps our curriculum fresh and up-to-date. The information Dr. Raimist brings back from this seminar will impact hundreds of our students.”

In addition to gaining knowledge to share with students, Raimist said she hopes the seminar will lead to more internship opportunities in L.A. for UA undergraduates.

Raimist is the third UA telecommunication and film faculty member to be selected for the faculty seminar. Dr. Kristen Warner attended in 2011, and Williams attended in 1998.

TCF Students Intern at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater

TCF students working at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater
TCF students Sheena Perryman, left front, Taylor Kern, far left, and Holly Jackson, right, set up video cameras at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater Thursday before the Casting Crowns concert. The amphitheater offers University of Alabama students experience with film and audio-visual equipment, and the venue gets high-quality video production without the cost of hiring a professional team.. Tuscaloosa News | Dusty Compton

From the Tuscaloosa News:

As Tuscaloosa Amphitheater Director Wendy Riggs sees it, an internship program that puts University of Alabama students behind cameras and banks of audio-visual equipment during concerts and other events is a win-win for everyone.

The students get practical experience producing live video at events, and the amphitheater — which likely could not afford the level of audio-visual production otherwise — gets a high-quality video product.

Riggs said the arrangement has also been popular with bands that have played the amphitheater because many tours don’t bring along their own video production.

“It has really been a great opportunity. At this point, I have already done a couple of big-name concerts,” said Alex Beatty, a 21-year-old senior from Orlando majoring in film.


TCF News and Notes


Four TCF majors (plus one recent alum) started the fall semester as paid crew for the American Idol try-outs.  This was great experience for them, and great exposure for our program.  They are Alex Beatty, Kyerra Dexter, Hunter Barcroft, Rhys Butler, and Tiffany Reese (TCF alum).

Chandra Clark has a team of students on the ground in Los Angeles for the SPJ/RTDNA conference.  They will also have the chance to network with some TCF alums while in LA.


Andy Billings and Yonghwan Kim both had very productive summers of publications and presentations.  Please congratulate them on their successes.

Yonghwan Kim:

Two Publications:

  1. Kim, Y., Chen, H.-T., & Gil de Zúñiga, H. (2013). Stumbling upon news on the Internet: Effects of incidental news exposure and relative entertainment use on political engagement. Computers in Human Behavior, 29, 2607-2614.
  2. Kim, Y., Hsu, S.-H., & Gil de Zúñiga, H. (2013). Influence of social media use on discussion network heterogeneity and civic engagement: The moderating role of personality traits. Journal of Communication, 63, 498-516.

A book chapter:

Kim, Y. (2013). Contingent factors of agenda-setting effects: How need for orientation, issue obtrusiveness, and message tone influence issue salience and attitude strength. In T. Johnson (Ed.), Agenda Setting in a 2.0 World (pp. 65-81). New York: Routledge.

Two conference papers:

  1. Kim, Y. (2013). Knowledge vs. Stereotype: Exploring the Mediating Mechanisms of the Relationship Between Selective Exposure, Attitudinal Polarization, and Political Participation. Paper presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.
  2. Lee, J. K., Choi, J., Kim, C., & Kim, Y. (2013). Investigating the Relationship Between Social Media Use and Opinion Polarization. Paper presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

 Andy Billings:

New Book out this week:

Billings, A.C, & Ruihley, B.J. (2014).  The fantasy sport industry: Games within games. London: Routledge.

Three new publications out over the summer:

  1.  Licen, S., & Billings, A.C. (2013).  Cheering for ‘our’ champs while watching ‘sexy’ female throwers: Representation of nationality and gender in Slovenian 2008 Summer Olympic television coverage.  EuropeanJournal of Communication28(4), 379-396.
  2.  Angelini, J.R., Billings, A.C., & MacArthur, P.J. (2013).  The Vancouver “big six” gender-framed: NBC’s primetime coverage of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.  Sport in Society16(9), 1176-1197.
  3.  Ruihley, B.J., & Billings, A.C. (2013).  Infiltrating the boys club: Motivations for women’s fantasy sport participation.  International Review for the Sociology of Sport48(4), 435-452.

Five new pieces accepted for publication over the summer:

  1.  Billings, A.C., Angelini, J.R., MacArthur, P.J., Bissell, K., & Smith, L.R. (2014, in press).  (Re)calling London: The gender frame agenda within NBC’s primetimebroadcast of the 2012 Olympiad.  Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly.
  2. Bie, B., & Billings, A.C. (2014, in press). ‘Too good to be true?’: U.S. and Chinese media coverage of Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen in the 2012 Olympic Games. International Review for the Sociology of Sport.
  3. Angelini, J.R., Billings, A.C., MacArthur, P.J., Bissell, K., & Smith, L.R. (2014, in press). Competing separately, medalling equally: Racial depictions of athletes in NBC’s primetime broadcast of the 2012 London Olympic Games.  The Howard Journal of Communication, 25(2).
  4. Devlin, M.B., Brown, N.A., Billings, A.C., & Bishop, S. (2014, in press).  ‘Ultimate’ sponsorship: Fan identity, brand congruence, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship.  International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing.
  5. Billings, A.C., Brown, N.A., Brown, K.A., Guo, Q., Leeman, M., Licen, S., Novak, D., & Rowe, D. (2013, in press).  From pride to smugness and the nationalism between: Olympic media consumption effects on nationalism across the globe.  Mass Communication & Society16(6).


If you’re attending the Sidewalk Film Festival this weekend, TCF is well represented!  Congratulations to our students and faculty who were competitively selected for screening:


 Adam Schwartz: Company Havanabama: Bridging the Gulf, is screening as part of the AL Documentary Shorts.

Rachel Raimist is speaking on a panel called, “The Punk Singer: Feminism and Punk Music”


Rise, a short narrative by Alex Beatty

Portraits, a documentary short by William Mason

William also edited a documentary called Turkey Man and scored a narrative short, Piety of Passion, both of which are screening.

Student films from Doc Justice class (Andy Grace, faculty)

  •  Moving for Midtown, by Madalyn Vaughn and Brass Bralley
  • Reasonable Doubt, by ShaMyra Sylvester and Caitlin Trotter
  • The Straight and Narrow, by Hunter Holt and Heath Kinzer
  • Today and Tomorrow, by Bre Swims and Okha Patel
  • Unsettlement, by Ellie Campbell, Abbot Henderson and Elizabeth Blair
  • What it Means to Know, by Mary Scott Hodgin
  • Hale County Gorilla, by Ben Voigt and Amy Reisch

Check out the full schedule here: