When attending different events on campus, students often see other students working behind the scenes as camera operators or utilities, but may not know how those students received the opportunity to do so.
The GSU TV Center is the production arm of Grambling State. Students from all majors are allowed the chance to get real hands-on training experience with everything production. The TV center works with the Department of Mass Communication as a lab teaching the ins and outs of everything it takes to make a show or production come together.
Alan Blakeney, better known as “Mr. B”, has been directing the TV Center since June 1, 2008. He has owned a production company for over 25 years and has worked with almost every network there is in a freelance capacity. He brings students under his wing to work with athletics to produce for the replay screen and the web cast of all home football and basketball games.
“When I transferred here in Spring 2017, my uncle introduced me to him [Blakeney],” Reagan Higgins, former GSU TV student said. “During basketball season, I wanted to get experience with videography. I told Mr. B that I didn’t know how to work a camera. He gave me an opportunity to shoot for one of the games. He told me the time and place, and I showed up. I’ve been involved with the TV Center since then.”
Students who work for the center learn to script, shoot and edit television. The center usually produces two to four projects per week for various entities on campus. GSU TV workers also are able to receive assistance from Blakeney for personal video projects that would possibly.
“We produce convocations, commercials, PSAs, as well as videos for other departments, grants and lectures,” Blakeney said.
Weekly workshops are held at the Assembly Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 to 5 p.m. Students are encouraged to attend for extra training so they may be prepared when a crew is called for another event. One of Blakeney’s goals is to get all of his students trained proficient enough to be able to call on anyone to be a part of a crew or possibly a paid job.
Students are able to receive monetary benefits while working in the TV center, but only through work study. Many students participate chiefly to build their resume and gain a better understanding of production.
Blakeney’s future plans for the GSU TV center include reconstituting the Woodson Hall facility and expanding the mobile unit. In the near future, Blakeney says he sees GSU TV “bigger and better – producing our own series, for one, covering more events, and employing students.” Blakeney advises aspiring journalists and production crews to work hard and listen.
“Learn as much as you can and build relationships now,” Blakeney said. “If you work with me on freelance jobs, you will notice that I rarely work anywhere that I don’t run into another crew member that I have known for a long time.”