Media students perform episodes of 'The Twilight Zone' live



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Senior lecturer Steve Krahnke assists students in his Twilight Zone course in the control room. The course, which is part of the College of Arts + Sciences Themester programming, recreated three episodes of Rod Serling’s 1960s-era TV series "The Twilight Zone". Marlie Bruns Buy Photos

Students of professor Steve Krahnke’s video production course "The Twilight Zone" will begin to showcase the production they’ve worked all semester on Friday in Franklin Hall. 

The course is a collection of students interested in film production that have been working all semester to adapt and produce three full original episodes of the 1960s TV show "The Twilight Zone." Throughout the next few days, students of the class will be performing and recording the episodes in front of a live audience, according to the Media School website. 

The course is a part of the College of Arts and Sciences Fall Themester. The Themester program, according to its website, is an ongoing series of topics subject to inquiry and discussion that rotates every fall semester. This year’s Themester topic is “Diversity, Difference, and Otherness," and producer Peter Gianakakis said he feels that "The Twilight Zone" fits these themes perfectly.

“If you go back and watch any of the episodes, it usually has to do with some type of otherness,” Gianakakis said. “Whether it was a diverse person or some different scenario, the implication was there.” 

Krahnke chose three episodes of the show, “The Shelter," “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street” and “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?" The professor chose these episodes because he felt they not only echoed "The Twilight Zone" host and writer Rod Serling’s themes of otherness and separation, but also were realistic and would give students a vigorous look at television production. Krahnke said the course is an experiential learning course and a robust television experience. 

“In the class we have these sort of mantras and one of them is, ‘you should always be learning something, you should always be teaching something, and you should always be creating something,’” Krahnke said. 

The course welcomes students who are just getting started in television production, causing the skill and experience levels of students enrolled in this course to vary greatly.

“Some of these kids have never taken an advanced class and some are experts, so we have a mix of all levels and they were all thrown into the madness of the Twilight Zone,” student producer Emily Ward said. 

While producing these episodes, students realized that some scenes would be too difficult to perform live and decided to pre-record sections prior to performances. During this time, the students were able to achieve shots and effects that are used by professional television productions. One such clip is from “The Shelter," when the production went to Brown County to film a scene of a house burning down. 

“We did it through perspectives of the camera, lighting, post-editing and special effects, and also with the use of practical effects such as reflectors with colored lights and a smoke machine,” Ward said. 

However, this was not the only achievement in special effects and set design that the students accomplished. Some of the scenes have been shot in an airport as well as featured in a staged execution. 

Nevertheless, Krahnke said this production is not just a shot-for-shot remake of the black-and-white TV show, but rather an adaptation that pays homage to its inspiration. 

Differences that exist between the two include a new spin on Serling’s host character, with Bloomington actress and storyteller Gladys DeVane doing her own interpretation of Serling’s original dialogue, in addition to plot changes and twist endings according to Krahnke. By doing this, the students are able to modify these stories that fit their theme while also putting their own interpretation on display.

“No one thinks that we’re improving 'The Twilight Zone,' so to an extent we’re inspired by it,” Krahnke said.

Live recordings of these episodes are open to the public. “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street” will be Friday in the Franklin Hall commons, “The Shelter” on Dec. 5 and “Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?’ on Dec. 9, both of which will take place in Studio Five of the Radio-Television Building. All performances begin at 8 p.m.

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