If you are searching for the next TV series to get excited about, look no further than “The Witness,” created by the Vassar College Television (VCTV), which will premiere its first two episodes shortly after spring break.
Created by James Pedersen ’17, “The Witness” follows a group of students who are working on their college’s newspaper, highlighting all of the drama and romance that occurs along the way. As VCTV’s co-president Charley Button ’15 puts it, “It is a character-driven story of office politics, romance and hijinks that will resonate with viewers of all kinds, especially those who have worked on a deadline. Ambition and wit make life at ‘The Witness’ tense and fun as the staff works against the clock to tackle the issues of both yesterday and today.”
VCTV is led by its three co-presidents, Wendel Smith ’14, Nicole Glantz ’15 and Button, who act as the executive producers of VCTV and supervise the production branch. VCTV is divided into branches that each oversee discrete jobs: the directors, writers guild, producers, editors and Crew. “The story we tell emerges from the hard work of a talented and committed team and a rigorous production schedule. On set, students from all areas of the organization work behind the camera while the actors deliver their lines,” Button said.
The students who put this show together are able to gain a new understanding and appreciation for filmmaking. VCTV allows students to learn about television and film production through hands-on experience as well as by holding workshops. Jamie Bellomy Maher ’17, a writer for the show, said, “I hadn’t done any work with making films before, and now I have a better understanding of the process. They make it so that everyone has the opportunity to do something that they haven’t done before.”
By integrating students of all different sets of skills and levels of experience in filmmaking, VCTV is able to teach people how the production process works. VCTV actress Liza Garrity ’17 was new to the filmmaking process before being involved with VCTV. She said, “It was fun to hear about the writing process from my roommate Jamie. It was also fun to work with students who were entirely experienced in these things.”
Among the students who were able to take advantage of the opportunities presented by VCTV is Pedersen himself. He wrote in an emailed statement, “There are people at Vassar who have taken my tiny, goofy idea and turned it into an engaging, funny and wonderful piece of fiction. Because of the resonance the expansive VCTV staff has given to the show’s voices, we have the opportunity to truly entertain an online community.”
Although the end result will be incredibly anticipated as well as rewarding for VCTV participants, it takes a lot of hard work and determination for the show to be produced. Pedersen explained, “Behind the scenes, it’s not terribly glamorous. There are a lot of meetings, a lot of discussion and planning. You really get to know the people you are conspiring with. To me, the behind-the-scenes life is so much like the lives of our characters. They spend a lot of time together in a room, working furiously towards a deadline. We are just people with a set of skills working against the clock, and so are our characters. That’s why it’s so rewarding: the story we tell speaks to us.”
VCTV brings together a wide variety of people and permits them to work collaboratively on projects like “The Witness.” This organization not only facilitates education about television production through the creation of a filmmaking community, but also seeks to entertain a large audience with the films that it creates. Button said, “‘The Witness’ is a unique collaboration of a large group of filmmakers with different specialties, joining together to create a large scale production. VCTV aims to create professional, entertaining content for both the Vassar audience and the online community.”
With all of the effort that has been put into “The Witness,” it is sure to be a huge success when it is released to the public. So far the only glimpse into the world of “The Witness” has been through the trailer that VCTV released recently. The trailer has since built up significant anticipation for the series. Liza Garrity ’17 shared her enthusiasm for the hype surrounding the show, “It was really swell when everyone liked the trailer, especially because it was my first time acting on camera.”
The premiere date for “The Witness” has not been decided yet, but is set to premiere shortly after spring break ends. When the finishing touches are put on the first two episodes, it will be shown to the public for the first time in Rocky 200.