My name is Fidel Anderson and I’m a soon-to-be graduating senior at the University of Pittsburgh, in which I’m double majoring in Film & Media Studies and Natural Sciences, as well as minoring in Creative Writing. Though I’ve bounced around within a few different departments during my initial year-and-a-half at the school, I feel like I’ve definitely found a home within the Pitt Film Program. Oddly enough, I never thought much about films and television while growing up—it was always something that I enjoyed but never dug that deeply into—though that has completely changed over the last few years of my studies. My brain is now hotwired to think in stories and after a long search, I finally found the medium in which to tell them in. I consider myself really lucky that I happened to stumble upon the subject that I not only love but truly understand, since it’s helped me gain a sharper focus in all aspects of my life.
Leaning into my film interests for my CUTF project, I decided to help reimagine the final project in Dr. Dana Och’s Television Analysis class to include one of the television world’s most popular ways of sharing content these days: podcasts. Throughout the semester, students will complete scaffolding assignments in order to incrementally create their own original podcast. They will be listening to podcast shows that they enjoy as inspiration, uncovering topics and television programs that they find interesting, scripting their episode from the ground up, sifting through critical analysis to incorporate into their findings, recording and editing original content, and, finally, publishing their polished episode to a public-facing account that we’re able to share with other television lovers. The goal is to have the students put themselves in the shoes of television scholars whilst adapting to modern methods of discussion, enabling the class to keep up with the current critics while also engaging with a program that they find interesting. Furthermore, we’re trying to have students push themselves past just writing an essay and instead interacting with elements of production, since many scholars nowadays publish their works on more than one platform. Having the skillset to work on different programs, such as the editing software Audacity and the podcast publishing site Anchor, will allow students to reach farther audiences while picking up useful technical skills in the process.
I’ve felt myself gravitating towards the production side of the industry in the capacity of being a writer/director/producer, but I’m adamant about keeping up with current criticism because it’s important to understand the breakdown of other artwork when making your own. As someone who loves both the production and analytical sides of film and television, I feel like this project strikes a healthy balance between these two arms of the business. In order to create content, you need to understand the thematic elements from previous works; in order to craft analysis on what the media means, you need to understand what happens during production. Continuing to make content like this podcast would challenge me to look past the visuals of the work and engage with the theory behind it, which I can subsequently utilize when writing and producing my own media. Creating my example podcast taught me to be succinct, engaging, and knowledgeable in the analysis I was sharing, which actually helped me further ingrain the information in my own brain. The best part about completing assignments like this, however, is that it hardly seems like work—it’s so easy to tackle these projects when you’re talking about something that you truly adore.
Feel free to listen to the example episode that I created about The Mandalorian—but beware of spoilers!