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Communication Studies students show off their flair for TV production

Getting ready for prime-time television

by Sylvain-Jacques

The creativity of nine Communication Studies students shone through during a year-end screening of their work at the F.C. Smith Auditorium on April 28. During the marathon three-hour presentation, produced for their Advanced TV III class, the students managed to keep some 75 people riveted to their seats with the quality and originality of their programs.

The graduating students, who specialized in TV production, had put together two documentaries, two experimental programs and three dramas. They mostly worked in trios and wrote, produced and directed all their works, acquiring invaluable experience for the job market.

Professor Nikos Metallinos was like a proud parent as he congratulated his students for persevering through their tough three-year program. "I am nothing here but a professor who provided a platform for them to excel," he said, laughingly adding, "Now they know more than I do."

Concordia's Communication Studies program is renowned for turning out top-notch, creative students. "We don't teach our students to be dummies or technocrats," he said. "We challenge them to put forth new ideas, to be creative and be artists. The world needs aesthetics as much or more than technical know-how."

That artistic sense was particularly apparent during screenings of the experimental TV shows, like Fluid, produced by Tom Woyzbun, Abir Alsayed and Shirina Elsamra. The 30-minute segment was a visual feast of colours slinking down the screen, juxtaposed with shadow imagery of a day in the life of a couple. Viewing the program gave the impression of spying through a stranger's window drenched in slow-moving pastels.

Another experimental segment, Forced, was equally artful. Produced by Anne-Marie Léger, Hermès Pallaviccini and Travis Williams, the segment looked and sounded, with its pulsating techno music, like a contemporary music video. It featured a couple of young delinquents on their way down a hazy drug spiral. One scene, where one of the youths smoked and tripped in the clouds, was particularly inspired.

Drumfest, a documentary produced by Marie-Claude Milette, Woyzbun and Alsayed, was a 40-minute look at an annual Montreal drum symposium. Focused Art, a documentary on Tai Kwon Do produced by Williams, Annemarie Gabriele and Charles Halliday, was full of pathos and completely drew viewers into this sport, which has the allure for its practitioners of a cult.

It was the 30-minute dramas that were the real treat of the evening. Peter and the Pope, produced by Woyzbun, Pallaviccini and Gabriele, was easily network-ready. The program was a fictionalized encounter between Pope Jean Paul and St. Peter. In this story, Jesus' leading apostle was given eternal life -- in chains in the basement of a Vatican building. Everything from the grim lighting to the dripping water effects gave the show a professional feel. Combined with the good dialogue and acting, this segment will look great in its creators' portfolios.

The last program, It's All in the Grinds, a drama about a young women's Syrian aunt who predicts the future by reading coffee grinds, was also delightful. Produced by Elsamra, Williams and Abir Alsayed, the drama featured three actors who were superbly directed. Everything about the show, from camera angles to editing, testified that these students have been well prepared for their chosen profession.

Annemarie Gabriele was optimistic about her prospects. "There is so much work out there," she said about Montreal's bustling film and TV industry, that even if most of that work is contractual, she isn't worried. "Once you get your foot in the door, it can only lead to more work."

Copyright 1999 Concordia's Thursday Report.