Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Film Students Execute Professional Production for KPBS

‘Live at the Belly Up’ will air its fifth season on KPBS, produced by Advanced Television students

Film Students Execute Professional Production for KPBS

Ziggy Marley performing on 'Live at the Belly Up'

By Teresa Monaco

SDSU’s Television, Film, and New Media program offers students a multitude of specializations within the area of study, from screenwriting, to post-production, to media distribution and more. When Tim Powell, Professor of Television Production, realized his students needed more professional experience, he started working to bring them live broadcast opportunities.

“I contacted the Belly Up and we did a couple of internet livestreams. Working with Chris Goldsmith, the main talent producer, we decided on this idea of turning it into a television show. We approached KPBS with the idea and they liked it,” says Powell.

Not just a student production

The Belly Up Tavern is a live music venue in Solana Beach, CA, which has become engrained in San Diego’s live music culture by featuring big name artists from Etta James, to Tom Jones, to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Live at the Belly Up is a professional TV production that captures various bands performing at the historic Belly Up Tavern. It is aired on KPBS Television, San Diego’s public television station.

For the last four years, Powell’s Advanced Television class has produced Live at the Belly Up in addition to other live broadcasts, including the Sunset Strip Music Festival, San Diego Ballet, and San Diego Opera (the first of its kind in San Diego Opera history).

When asked about how this experience benefits students, Powell replies “There are two main learning outcomes, the first is working on a professional production. Most students in film school work on their own projects, even the larger projects are small compared to a professional production.” Powell continues on to describe how the students execute key positions on the show, like camera, directing, and crew positions.

“The second learning outcome is to allow the students to get a professional resume credit. Live at the Belly Up is not considered a ‘student production.’ It’s a fully professional television production run by students, at least from the standpoint of most of the key positions,” says Powell.

Lizzete Flores, Film Production major, speaks highly of her experience working on Live at the Belly Up. “For many students like myself, this is the first real-world experience in a professional crew. Working these shows, I’ve developed the confidence to undertake the responsibilities I’m appointed, and gained trust in my judgement and instincts… I’m very thankful I was able to be part of the Belly Up shoots. They helped me feel prepared for the real-world of my career.”

An opportunity unique to SDSU

When asked about his role in Live at the Belly Up, Powell replies “It varies, and there’s certainly a high level of mentorship. Students take the class two or three times because they want the experience and mentorship.” Powell has assumed the role of Director of some higher-profile broadcasts done by the class, but that job is typically executed by a student in most situations.

“As far as I know, there’s no other university in the world that does anything like what we do on this level, with this kind of continuing series, and the professional quality that we present” says Powell. Live at the Belly Up Season 5 is currently in pre-production, and filming will start in early October. Visit this link to view past shows, and stay tuned for more information on Season 5 coming soon.

The content within this article has been edited by Lizbeth Persons.

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