Category: TCF Students

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:

Scriptwriting Contest 2013: $8,500 in Prizes

UA Student Scriptwriting Contest

First Place: $5,000
Second Place: $2,500
Third Place: $1,000

Bonus: One script will be produced by Seinfeld director Tom Cherones on location in Tuscaloosa!*


Before submitting a script, please read the full guidelines, available here.

  • All work must be original, written by a University of Alabama undergraduate or graduate student.
  • Script should be a short feature, 20-30 minutes in length.
  • No elaborate sets or locations; must be able to shoot the script in/around Tuscaloosa. No car crashes, explosions, or special effects.
  • Scripts must be in proper format, with correct grammar and spelling; must be bound by 2 brads only–top & bottom left margin.

Decision of the judges is final.

How to submit your script:

  • Submit two copies of your script to the TCF Office (room 484 Phifer Hall) 
  • Include the contest submission form (click here or pick one up in the TCF office)

Deadline for submissions is December 6, 2013!

*To be produced by a student crew from TCF 442.

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:


Faculty/Students Make Ghostbusters Fan Film

From the Tuscaloosa News:

Who ya gonna call? The correct answer is still “Ghostbusters.”

When a group of University of Alabama students had to scramble to salvage an advanced TV production project last fall, that was the call they made.

They decided to create “Alabama Ghostbusters: A Web Series,” which on Monday (7/22/13) debuted its third episode online.

For UA professor Adam Schwartz, who writes and directs the episodes, and the other devotees of the 1984 science-fiction comedy who strapped on homemade proton-packs to play parts, the series is their contribution to a supernatural universe that has captivated their imaginations since childhood.

Read more… (apologies for the paywall)

TCF Winners at Campus Movie Fest

TCF took three of the top honors, including Best Picture and Best Director at the 2013 Campus Movie Fest.

The awards were presented Saturday night on the Fox Studios lot in Los Angeles.  TCF students won as follows:

  • Best Picture: Manta   (Connor Simpson, class of 2013).  This is the top prize for CMF in the nation.
  • Best Director:  Connor Simpson for Manta
  • Best Editing: Alex Beatty (current student) – for Rise

Tributes to the winners (and a list of finalists/competitors) can be found on the CMF website:

Creative Career Fair – Wednesday, March 6

Creative Campus and the Career Center will host the first ever Creative Career Fair at the University of Alabama on March 6 from 6-8 p.m. in the Heritage Room of the Ferguson Center. The fair aims to provide students with the resources to pursue successful creative vocations.

At the Creative Career Fair, students will attend two professional development workshops and participate in a speed-dating activity with creative professionals and other students.

Students will choose from four professional development workshops: Crafting a Creative Resume, led by Filmmaker and TCF Assistant Professor, Rachel Raimist; Delivering an Effective Elevator Speech, led by Career Center Assistant Director, Mary Lowrey; Budgeting for a Sustainable Arts Lifestyle, led by Certified Financial Planner and Assistant Professor in Consumer Science, Jan Brakefield; and Choosing the Right Career for Your Personality, led by Career Specialist Chris Chirino. The workshops will last 25 minutes each, with a ten-minute break between to switch groups.

From 7-8pm, students will sit in groups as creative professionals take turns giving 10-minute pitches. In these pitches, they will explain their careers, how they achieved their current position and the skill sets necessary to obtain a creative occupation. These professionals will be available to talk to and network with following the event. The speed-dating portion of the event will feature Ann Powers, NPR Music Critic and Correspondent; Rick Asherson, Executive Board Member of the Alabama Blues Project; Sandy Wolfe, Tuscaloosa Arts Council Director; John Miller, Poet and Professor, New College LifeTrack; and Chloe Collins, Executive Director of the Birmingham Sidewalk Film Festival.

Following the workshops and speed-dating event, there will be an open mixer and refreshments.

Submit Films to Black Warrior Film Fest!

Film Fest logoOn Saturday, April 13th, The Department of Telecommunication and Film, Student Producers Association, Crimson Cinema Productions and Creative Campus will present The Black Warrior Film Festival 2013 in 216 Reese Phifer Hall.

The Black Warrior Film Festival is a showcase of student films produced at the University of Alabama, giving student filmmakers a chance to have their work viewed by UA and Tuscaloosa communities. The festival will feature screenings, filmmaker Q&As, guest speakers, panels, and a camera workshops.

Rules and Guidelines:

  1. Films must be produced and/or directed by a UA student.
  2. Films must have been made in the last 5 years.
  3. Submissions will be reviewed and ruled by a committee of programmers that includes professors and students.
  4. Submissions are open to short films (narrative, documentary, and experimental), music videos, EPKs, commercials, TV Pilots, web series, and any other productions made by UA students.
  5. Films must be submitted using the link below by February 22, 2013.

Please email with any questions or comments.

TCF instructor, students assist after Hurricane Sandy

TCF instructor Chandra Clark and UA senior Ashley Swafford were part of a team that traveled to the Northeast to assist with Hurricane Sandy recovery and to work on a documentary about coverage by local broadcasters before, during and after the event.

Dr. Chandra Clark, instructor in the department of telecommunication and film, is producing the second in a series of mini-documentaries demonstrating the coverage by local broadcasters before, during and after Hurricane Sandy.

The Broadcast Education Association and the National Association of Broadcasters teamed Clark with the head of Media Arts at the University of Oklahoma, Dr. Scott Hodgson, for the second time to conduct interviews and coverage following a major disaster. Clark serves as the producer and Hodgson is the director and editor of the project with the help of graduate and undergraduate students from both universities.

The filming took place Nov. 13-21  in the New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, DC markets. Their crew conducted 33 post-hurricane interviews at 14 different radio and television stations for an account of broadcasters’ response to the storms as well as compiling footage and audio stories from those different markets. The interviews included anchors, reporters, meteorologists, news directors, and general managers who dedicated financial resources and staff to ensure that people were informed when Hurricane Sandy came ashore October 29.  So far, 135 deaths are attributed to Hurricane Sandy.

The interviews also included NBC Nightly News Anchor Brian Williams and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Williams grew up along the Jersey shore and has anchored the show from various locations as well as continuing to cover the recovery effort. Governor Chris Christie was on the radio at New Jersey’s 101.5 WKXW-FM the night Hurricane Sandy came on shore warning people to evacuate and continues to inform constituents about the process of dealing with federal and state issues during a disaster. Hodgson and Clark interviewed Christie following his monthly broadcast Tuesday, November 20th on WKXW as he answered questions by listeners about the different situations they were facing.

Clark and Hodgson’s production of “Tornado Emergency: Saving Lives” won a Telly Award and Best of Competition Award by the Broadcast Education Association’s Festival of Media Arts in 2011. The mini-documentary highlighted broadcasters in Tuscaloosa and Joplin after the 2011 tornadoes that devastated those two towns.

The documentaries are produced to make federal policy makers aware of the role of broadcasters in the time of disasters in light of the proposed sell-off of a large portion of the broadcast spectrum.

Clark also has created a website to share the stories of some of the families she met while in New Jersey. You can also view Clark talking to WVUA’s Danny Salter on the network’s First at Four program.