TV Studio Production Program Grows From Outline to Full Feature

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Long Beach High School’s TV Studio Production program has come a long way in the last decade, evolving from a grassroots development that contained basic elements to a successful entity comprised of a state-of-the-art studio, a succession of courses, award-winning students, renowned alumni and its very own film festival. Its past and present came together on June 2 during the school’s Fourth Annual Film Festival.

The event featured films produced by this year’s students, presentation of awards and a special highlight: guest of honor and Long Beach High School alumnus Brian Adamkiewicz. The 2010 graduate has just returned home from France after winning best student documentary in the American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the esteemed Cannes Film Festival. 

The Cannes-worthy piece, “Build Ramps Not Walls,” trailer was screened in Mr. Adamkiewicz’s former high school auditorium, as was the trailer to a second film of his, “The Surfing Samurai.” His films are still on the festival circuit and will not be publicly screened until the circuit has concluded.

“My style of filmmaking is documentary,” Mr. Adamkiewicz said as he introduced his work. “I realized that I love capturing the true essence of what’s going on in real life and why it happens.” He graciously accepted an award from his former teacher and was acknowledged with applause and pride. 

Mr. Adamkiewicz shared inspiration with the students and, noting that success does not happen overnight, described the early phases of his career. “In the beginning, I started working production equipment jobs where I would take the garbage out or load the equipment. But my advice is to take those jobs, even if you don’t want to do it or you’re overqualified for that. I took those jobs and the most important thing I learned from them is that I actually wanted to be in creative control of the jobs that I was on. So, I made sacrifices and I grinded until I got to that point, and you can, too.” 

Another appreciated guest speaker was Julie Carrion of the Long Beach International Film Festival, with which the high school program has a strong involvement. Students volunteer for the annual event and last year, 2017 graduate Scott Powers even had his film accepted to compete against professionals.  

“We’ve created a really nice bridge between the high school and the International Film Festival in our own backyard, which has exponentially grown,” said TV Studio Production Teacher Eric Krywe. “A lot of our students will fulfill internships at the film festival, and we try to give them that real-world experience because there is a stage after high school and we want to get them exposed to that as early as possible.” 

Long Beach High School’s film program started as a photography class, then shifted to photo/video in 2002 with the addition of iMac G4 computers, camcorders and a teacher experienced in film and television work. In a photography lab, Mr. Krywe taught students how to develop film and photos, shoot footage and edit videos with programs such as After Effects, Final Cut Pro and Photoshop. They learned scriptwriting, storyboarding, camera use, lighting and sound fundamentals and continued to develop more robust films. 

This class set the groundwork for the advancements that came later, and Mr. Adamkiewicz was among the students enrolled. Another was 2008 graduate Christina Raia, who now directs and produces short and feature films as well as webisodes. Her 2014 film, “The Summit,” won best horror feature at the Manhattan Film Festival and best director at the Rhode Island International Horror Film Festival. 

“I’ve always wanted to be a filmmaker,” Mr. Adamkiewicz said. During his recent visit he was impressed by the building’s Television Production Studio, which is a product of a bond that was passed in 2008 to upgrade facilities and broaden 21st-century learning opportunities. 

The modern setting gives students access to a post-production lab with a 27-inch iMac Pro instructor station and projector and 20 student stations containing 27-inch iMac Pros and musical keyboards; a studio that features lighting instruments hung from a grid, two large flat-panel displays, a green screen, a news desk, an input panel for microphones and three professional grade Sony HD cameras with teleprompters; a control room with a video switcher, graphics machine, light board, sound board, large flat-panel display, shading station, teleprompter software, recording decks and a streamer; and a voice recording room that includes a flat-panel monitor, microphones, and audio recording software. 

Four levels of Television Studio Production are offered to cover everything from the basics of film and television production, to equipment instruction to more advanced projects. Students eventually create commercials, PSAs, documentaries, short films, music videos, movie trailers, dramas and comedies, and also create content for and produce the live daily news broadcast, “The Morning Wave” which is streamed to every classroom in the high school and archived at Long Beach MVP on YouTube. The classes have welcomed Emmy Award-winning presenters and taken trips to professional facilities such as the MLB Network.

Since the studio’s installation, awards have flowed in for Long Beach High School’s film students, including an international audience choice award for a documentary on Our Lady of the Isle created two years ago. This school year, students took six out of 24 top awards at the Locust Valley Film Festival, achieved two best in show titles at the Long Island Media Art Show, earned one of only three awards in the LIU Post Student Film Festival and secured a second-place distinction at the Southold Broadcasting for Senior High Awards. 

These winning pieces as well as others were shown at the school’s film festival and three winners were named. “Out of Reach” by Ryan Selkirk and Zen Yokel placed first, “Finesse” by Melody Moy, Alexander Nachman, James O’Connor, Zack Ryder and Carly Siegel took second and Ashanti Sherred’s “Get Signed” came in third. 

“They are well prepared for the next phase in life, [whether] it’s attending college or working professionally in the TV/film industry,” Mr. Krywe said.