Broadcasting class produces short-form pilot episodes

Tuesday, December 14, 2021 - 10:30am
a scene from Dead Air by Grace Fitzgibbon
A scene from "Dead Air" by Grace Fitzgibbon

Students in the BRDC 491 special topics course Short-form TV Series Writing and Producing created television pilot episodes for their final project. They had a screening of the episodes during their last Wednesday night course of the semester with College of Journalism and Mass Communications adjunct professor Michael Svoboda.

Svoboda has been writing for film and television for more than 16 years, ever since he moved to Los Angeles, a few years after graduating from UNL in 1998. His first major gig was on the show “The Walking Dead” where he was a writer’s assistant.

A few years later, he got his first TV script on the Netflix dramedy, Club de Cuervos. The following year Svoboda was on the writing staff for the EPIX dramedy Graves. Svoboda has also made three short films, which have made their way through the film festival circuit.

Svoboda proposed the course Short-form TV Series Writing and Producing because he knew there was a niche of students interested in learning television writing. With that in mind, he developed the three-credit class to be a crash-course in television writing.

“I really wanted to teach a class that I would have been very excited about as an undergrad here at UNL. When I was a student, I didn’t even know I could be a TV writer. My hope is that this class opens doors for students who think that television writing is the career path they might want to take,” Svoboda said.

Students were able to learn the basics, ask questions about the film industry and practice using script writing software as well as writing scenes before developing their own pilot in the course.

The class structure was similar to a mock writers room, each three-hour session the students either worked on idea generation, series structure or pilot writing.

“The students should be very proud of the work they produced, after writing the scripts, they had to produce a pilot in less than a month. Not an easy task! And the pilots are so much fun and say so much about the creators,” Svoboda said. 

The following are some of the class’s final projects that were written and produced by CoJMC students:

Dead Air” by senior journalism and english major Grace Fitzgibbon 

Brewed Awakening” by senior journalism and political science major Ramey Vachal 

Shy” by senior broadcasting major Connor Kmiecik

ISOLATION” by senior broadcasting major Nathan Bacon

Cowpoke Pilot” by senior broadcasting major Mark Thayer