UNM students present pilot for TV series - Albuquerque Journal

UNM students present pilot for TV series

UNM alum and director Brian Levant will present a Zoom reading from his Sitcom Boot Camp class Wednesday. Students worked during the semester on writing a script for a TV series. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

The film industry is about being resourceful.

As the pandemic shifted the day-to-day operations for a production, students in the University of New Mexico Film and Digital Arts Department paid attention and began to pivot.bright spot

Brian Levant led the way with his Sitcom Boot Camp class, which helps students unravel some of the intricacies of the craft, and spur an understanding of the commitment, discipline and teamwork necessary to work at a professional level.

“By offering classes where students work alongside successful Hollywood writers like Mathew McDuffie and me, UNM is providing a ladder to help scale the wall that separates the student filmmaker from the professional,” Levant said.

At 7 p.m. today, the class will present the pilot episode of “Two’s a Crowd” on Zoom. The event is free and open to the public.

“For a small group of UNM Film & Digital Arts students to create, write and rewrite and rewrite an original half-hour network-style comedy program in this time frame is a daunting challenge,” Levant said. “The situation comedy is a unique American institution, and the format offers practiced efficiencies in structure, storytelling and character development, plus offering tremendous opportunities for improvisational thinking. These skills are essential and are transferable across the entire entertainment spectrum.”

Levant said the class began in January, and students finished the project in 48 hours of class time.

“Two’s a Crowd” is set in the early days of the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown. It tells the story of Ali Ortiz, a UNM grad student who moves out on her struggling boyfriend to take a position as an au pair to a COVID-denying couple who take off, leaving her to cope with their rebellious teenage son.

The script was created and written by UNM students Kyle Alarid, Rafael Calvo Carillo, Sebastian Chavez, India Glennon, Alice Marshall, Miranda Miller, Yvette Ortiz, Anton Perez, Chantell Victorino and Wynn Wink Moran, as well as faculty assistant Amy Yourd.

When Levant attended UNM from 1970 to 1974, there was no film department. With the innovation of the Bachelor of University Studies degree program, he was able to cobble together virtually every film history and theory course, along with photography, studio and art history classes, video and independent classes in writing to pursue his degree.

“The idea of me teaching a class at my alma mater began as a bit of a lark,” he said. “Four years later, it’s become a very important part of my life. Like everyone else, I’ve really missed being on campus this year. Over a half-century later after I arrived there, it never fails to remind me of what it was like to dream the impossible – and hope I can help make a few others achieve theirs today.”

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