Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Students and Professor Adventure to Fiji Working on an Amazon Prime Show

Tim Powell along with two students traveled to Fiji to help produce World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji

Students and Professor Adventure to Fiji Working on an Amazon Prime Show

by Sofia Bert

August 10, 2020

In August 2019, two film students had the opportunity of a lifetime to work on an Amazon Prime show. They traveled to Fiji with Tim Powell, Professor and Area Head of the School of Television Theater, and Film, to assist with post-production on World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji. In Fiji, Catherina Cojulun and Katharina Hessen worked alongside production executives, camera crews and learned that hard work really does pay off.

Q: What was it like producing this adventurous and seemingly dangerous show?

Powell: Although I have been doing these types of shows for many years, this one was special because it represented a revival of this type of show in mainstream media. People falsely categorize this as a “Reality” show, comparing it to shows like Survivor. In fact, this show is very different because it is a competition that existed before there was significant television coverage, and it is an authentic athletic competition. The situations, terrain, weather, and activities are extremely challenging, even for those who train year-round for these types of competitions. I am very fortunate in that I know many of the elite competitors in the race, so trying to keep up with them on the course is very gratifying. I don’t get to spend as much time on the course as I have in the past, but I still get out there in the mud, rain, wind, heat and cold in order to capture those life-changing moments that happen in every one of these events.

Q: What are you most excited about with this show?

Powell: For me, being able to bring two students into a large scale professional production environment, especially with a show that is this challenging to produce, is what I am most excited about. They did great, and although they were volunteers, they had very active roles in the production and were able to work with world-class production professionals from all over the globe.

Q: What opportunity did it allow the two students who accompanied you?

Powell: My students were able to witness first-hand what goes into a large-scale professional production, and were active crew members in the creation of the production. Catherina Cojulun worked with several camera crews and producers in various roles, ranging from technical, to creative, and Katharina Hessen became an invaluable member of the Producer team, taking on a role that provided many opportunities for creative contributions that you will probably see in the show when it airs on Amazon Prime.

Q: What new skills did these students acquire while working with you?

Powell: The students learned skills and strategies for large-scale productions in extremely challenging environments. It was sometimes difficult to tell when one day ended and the next day began, so they had to learn to plan their time and energy, which is an invaluable “soft skill” that isn’t emphasized in an academic environment. They were also able to work with cutting edge equipment and technology.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Powell: It was great to see their excitement when they first landed in Fiji, and how that turned into apprehension when they realized the scale and scope of this huge endeavor. There were 900 people from all over the world working on the production. The logistics would be daunting even on a show in a place like Los Angeles, but we were in the islands, rivers, and jungles of Fiji, with rain and bad weather. I was so absolutely proud of what Kat and Cat were able to accomplish, and they impressed everybody on the massive crew with their professionalism and great spirit. I hope the experience also provided great inspiration to both of them!

Q: As a student, how did it feel to experience a full production of a show with professor Tim Powell?

Cojulun: This experience allowed me to apply the knowledge Powell gave in the classroom and practice it in the real world. I found that being flexible and a great team player helped me succeed while working on the set.

Q: What do you feel you learned most from this experience?

Cojulun: You have to have a mindset that yes, you should follow your passion, but more importantly, you have to be flexible. Even if you want to be a director, but an opportunity to be a producer arises, you should say yes and do your best in whatever it is that you do and life will take care of the rest.

World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji is available on August 14th through Amazon Prime.

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

More PSFA Stories