The associate professor of communications was one of 25 educators from colleges and universities nationwide to participate in the prestigious five-day program, which offers in-depth conversations with entertainment professionals and an inside look at the television and content development industries.
Associate Professor Nicole Triche didn’t wait long to begin sharing what she learned in the Television Academy Foundation’s 2018 Faculty Seminar Program, which took her to Southern California for a week in November.
“The first day I got back in class, I talked about some of what I learned about copyright law,” she said. “Not long after that, I met with two of our B.F.A. students and talked to them about post-grad plans, sharing what I heard about the industry. The entire time in Los Angeles we were learning about what is happening right now in the television industry. And I can’t tell you how valuable that is for me, and something I can share here in our classrooms moving forward.”
The five-day program brought together Triche and 24 other college educators from across the U.S. for an up-close look at the television and content development industries from top entertainment professionals, ranging from programming and scheduling executives to legal experts and cutting-edge content creators. This included such Hollywood heavyweights as Nina Tassler, former chairman of CBS Entertainment, Craig Plestis, executive producer and founder of Smart Dog Media, and Logan Browning, an actress in Netflix’s satirical-drama series “Dear White People.”
Through lectures, Q&A sessions, workshops and tours, the college professors learned about industry trends, business developments and career opportunities for their students – the last topic a real area of interest for the assembled educators. There were sessions that addressed more specific topics like sound effects, copyrights, trademark, fair use, brand integration and product placement, as well as overviews on the latest in television technologies. One session, appropriately titled “Behind the Scenes of ‘Game of Thrones,’” featured HBO executives Janet Graham Borba and Holly Schiffer expounding on how the hit show operates, from green light to wrap, including budgeting, scheduling, costumes, special effects, prosthetics, locations, art direction and make up.
One of the on-location highlights was a tour of Warner Bros. Studios led by Emmy-winning production designer John Shaffner. This comprehensive visit included various sound stages and specialty houses, with stops at the sets of “The Big Bang Theory,” “Lucifer,” “Mom” and “Young Sheldon.”
“Some of the biggest names in the industry spoke with us, sharing their insights about what they were doing,” Triche said. “Everyone was very open, kind and willing to talk with us. These people are at the top of their game and, to a person, they were all incredibly nice.”
As a group, the Faculty Seminar Fellows attended a taping of “Dancing with the Stars,” a two-hour live broadcast in front of an audience, and a filming of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” The latter included a tour from an associate producer, conversations with two show producers and a booking agent, and stops in the green room, control room and where crew members build sets.
Triche said she was awestruck by the 20-something cameras used to capture the choreographed dance moves of the ABC hit reality show. “It was amazing to see how it was all orchestrated and how it all comes together in person,” she said.
Triche enjoyed the collegial nature of the program, joining educators from both four-year institutions and community colleges. Among the institutions represented were Mississippi State, New Mexico State, Northern Iowa, University of Tennessee – Knoxville and the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.
The prestigious program has a competitive application process that requires a letter, resume and a personal statement, highlighting how the educators intend to use the L.A. experience to improve their respective institutions.
The experience didn’t disappoint. In fact, Triche went so far as to say, “Everything was so great. I only wish some of the sessions could have gone on another hour or two hours, or more. But they really packed in so much for us during our five days there.”
Always searching for ways to help their students, the Fellows regularly sought out the professionals, soliciting what they look for in recent graduates and prospective hires – information that can be shared with students.
“We often asked, 'What are you looking for from our students? Who are you looking to hire?,’” recalled Triche. “And we heard again and again that they are looking for individuals who are hardworking, play well with others, and have a broad range of skills. These are the type of people, the ones that leave their egos at the door, that will get noticed.”
Outside of the program, Triche got an opportunity to reconnect with several Elon alumni living and working in Los Angeles. Among those Triche visited with at the Elon in LA alumni house were Will Anderson-Beck ’13, Alex Hadden ’13, Kara Johnson ’13 and Madeline Carlin ’14.
Triche serves as the faculty director of elondocs, the School of Communications’ documentary production program. Her own portrait documentaries, “Taxidermists” and “All Skate, Everybody Skate,” have screened at a variety of film festivals including Full Frame, the Atlanta Film Festival, the Milwaukee Film Festival and Dublin DocFest.
About the Television Academy Foundation
Established in 1959 as the charitable arm of the Television Academy, the Television Academy Foundation is dedicated to preserving the legacy of television while educating and inspiring those who will shape its future. Through renowned educational and outreach programs such as The Interviews: An Oral History of the Television, College Television Awards and Student Internship Program, the foundation seeks to widen the circle of voices its industry represents and to create more opportunity for television to reflect all of society.
First launched in 1987, the foundation’s annual seminar offers faculty a comprehensive program designed to enhance knowledge and in turn enrich learning environments.