I had my first experience with broadcast television in college. My cousins and I read for a part in a movie to be filmed at a local movie studio in Des Moines. One of my older cousins actually snagged a starring role, and I was called back to fill in as an extra. They told me to bring a few friends.
The next couple of weeks were on-and-off with the movie studio. My friends and I would show up at the set only to be told to go home and wait for another call. After we finally got the call, we ended up sitting in a room in the back of the studio for two days straight, sleeping on cots and eating. They fed us well even if they only paid us $50.
I finally got my chance behind camera toward the end of the second day. My part: A gang member. They tied my head up with a bandana scarf, and had me lay on a hospital gurney, as though I'd been beaten up in a gang fight. I laid there, breathed hard, occasionally moaned. That was the extent of my movie career.
But yesterday I had the opportunity to star in my own half-hour presentation to students all over the Killeen school district. The shoot was held in the studios of Channel 17, at the Jackson Professional Learning Center. The segment is now running every two hours and will continue to do so over the next year. I had the option of having the segment broadcast to a wider Texas audience, and even to have it available to schools as a downloadable podcast. But I worried about losing future school visit opportunities, so I opted to keep the broadcast local to Killeen.
The audience of 4th graders was very quiet at first, subdued. They didn't respond much to questions or applaud. My readings were followed by an awkward silence. But I think they were nervous. They were on TV, too, surrounded by three huge cameras, and sitting in the dark. But half way through the presentation they loosened up. They asked great questions and interacted with me quite enthusiastically.
Good thing I'm past my fear of public speaking (for the most part), because the experience behind camera — with 50,000 kids watching — would have freaked me out. It was a fun day and a very nice opportunity. Once I get the raw footage, I plan to edit together an abridged version to use as promotion for my school visit program.
Next on the program, a SKYPE school visit, direct from my home studio, with high school kids looking on. What fun that'll be!
(click here and scroll down to see photos from an older tv segment)