TV and Radio M.F.A. Students Debut Talent Show Spotlighting Brooklyn Artists

BROOKLYN, NY– A new, yearlong, capstone class in the Department of Television and Radio is not only preparing second-year M.F.A. candidates to hit the ground running after graduation, it has allowed them to break new ground as well.

Eleven graduate students enrolled in Professor Jason Moore’s Multi-camera Producing and Directing class launched the first episode of Brooklyn’s Best on Feb. 25, a show dedicated to finding Brooklyn’s best artists and performers.

Unlike Unproductive—a comedic web series also developed, scripted, and produced by B.A. Television and Radio students and released last October—Brooklyn’s Best is streamed live on the TV Center’s channel. Episodes can be viewed later on the department’s YouTube channel.

“I like to challenge students beyond class expectations,” says Moore, an award-wining director of commercials, television and film who joined the Brooklyn College faculty in 2015. “So while I raised the bar and asked them to think about working collectively, it was the students who came up with the idea of the show.”

Each of the six, 30-minute episodes of Brooklyn’s Best will be produced and directed by different students, assisted by a cadre of undergraduate and first-year M.F.A. students, in addition to the television studio personnel—a total of 25 people. The show, hosted by stand-up comedian J.J. Mattise, who auditioned for the position, features three individual or groups of talented people who live in Brooklyn, as well as a panel of three judges randomly selected from the crowd.

The first episode, which aired on Thursday, Feb. 25, was produced and directed by Sally Lomidze and featured talent she recruited in train stations. It included a guitar-and-violin duo, a painter who does portraits, and a trio of break-dancers who went on to win the evening’s contest. As the director, Lomidze also had to design the placement of each member of the crew, cue in the cameras, and edit the scenes as they unfolded live.

According to Moore, all elements in the show are original, including the studio set, the videos introducing each artist or group of artists, and the soundtrack, created by Michael Zhonga, whose show featuring dance crews will air Thursday, March 17.

“Part of the learning experience is getting students involved in all stages of the show, including advertising and promoting it, using social media to reach out to students and the community, and recruiting an audience for each episode,” says Moore.

“It’s great training for what the world of production is really like,” says Kevin Keating, who was the lighting designer for the launch episode but is expected to produce and direct the second episode on March 10, featuring three Brooklyn hip-hop artists.

“We knew that creating a live multi-episode program with a studio audience, and a host, the demands on us would be extreme. But we are an industrious group and like to collaborate with each other,” says Michael Irgang, whose show featuring martial arts contestants will air in late April.

“This real-world opportunity simulates the broadcast production standards that students will be expected to deliver when they begin their professional careers,” says Assistant Provost Stuart MacLelland, a former Television and Radio chair and professor.

“Brooklyn’s Best will be an important component of the M.F.A. experience,” says Television and Radio Chair Katherine Fry. “And will be a boon to the department and the college.”

For Moore and other faculty members, their role is to prepare students for a revolution in independent TV production, similar to the one filmmakers experienced in the 1970s.

“With the rise of YouTube, WiFi, and WebTV, there are new ways of creating content without having to work for a network,” Moore says. “It’s empowering and exciting.”

Contact: Ernesto Mora / 718-951-6377 / emora@brooklyn.cuny.edu