Podcast Warriors, A TV show Made by Students

The art of filmmaking brings together storytellers, creators and makers of all kinds. Here at Georgia State University, there are many talented and hardworking individuals in the School of Film, Media and Theatre who are passionate and serious about their craft. Among the various classes the school has to offer, there is one class that provides hands-on experience with a web series made by students, called Serial TV Production. 

Serial TV Production is a production class taught by Philip Lewis where students each take on important roles in the making of a web series. There are roles in camera operating, lighting, audio, acting and marketing that students can be a part of. The class takes place on Fridays and is structured so that seven episodes will be filmed within a semester’s fourteen weeks. On production days an entire episode is filmed in one day. Serial TV Production provides students with set and production experience that is valuable for aspiring filmmakers preparing for the workforce. Students will also be getting IMDB credit for their work on this series.

Speaking to the benefits of this class Lewis had this to say, “I think it’s great for students to be able to utilize their production skills that they have been learning in class in a real life situation. It teaches you how to be efficient and get your job done quickly and well. They are constantly planning, location scouting, getting new equipment, getting insurance and getting ready for the next episode.”

The show that this class is working on is called Podcast Warriors. Podcast Warriors is a comedy/drama that follows a group of friends as they, after several attempts, make a podcast that becomes popular and eventually gets the attention of their right-winged mayor. Podcast Warriors will be finished in a rough cut form by April and it will be polished over the summer with sound design, color correction and more before its September publish date. 

The first episode was filmed on Friday, January 26. In the class they use a call sheet that tells everyone when they need to be on set. Different teams work together on the day of filming and all play important roles to make sure everything is running smoothly. 

When describing what Podcast Warriors is about, Professor Lewis said, “It’s about a group of misfit Gen Z students at a university who decide to make a podcast about hair and make up, and that fails miserably, so they decide to do a cooking show. That fails miserably as well but they seem to be getting an audience. That audience puts in a request for them to try to solve some of the city’s problems. So, they use the power of podcasting to have a community discussion about the problems in the city and how to solve them. Somewhere along the line, the mayor starts listening to the podcast and starts making policy about the podcast discussion.”

Actress Daya Lora, who plays Amanda, shared some insightful information about her experience in Serial TV Production and how she’s enjoying this experience so far. Daya said, “This is my first time that I get to work in a serial production, so it’s good to see how we prepare for each individual episode and the entire production overall.” Daya shares how she didn’t have a lot of on-camera footage that she could use for her acting reel, but because of this class, she now does. Daya also shared who her character is and what her personality is like. “Amanda is a communications major who is very spiritual and outgoing. She feels this need for human connection, activism and justice, which is something we will notice more towards the end of the show. Right now, we are getting to know this creative and outgoing side of her. I definitely want to make sure all the outfits that she uses are very unique and talk a lot about her personally and I hope everyone gets to see that.”

The students are learning a lot about real world situations while taking this class. After speaking with the marketing team, they said that they have learned how to have adaptability after they’ve dealt with a few issues with their social media accounts for the show either being banned or hacked. They also will take away some valuable experience gained from being a part of the class.

Sage Hathaway, one of the students currently working on the marketing team for the series, had this to say about the things she’s learned from being on set. “I will take away how to work on a set and the feeling of working on a set and how to work through issues that appear.”

Corbin Mobley, another student on the marketing team, added to this. “I’ve never worked on a set before so, I’m glad I was able to get into this class because it will help me at least get a general idea of how things are supposed to roll and what is expected of you.”

When discussing what can be taken away from being in Serial TV Production, Hathaway said, “We get really good on set experience and we’re getting IMDB credit, which is one thing that I really love because I can put that on my resume. It is, in my experience, so hard to get a job in general in Atlanta, and getting a film job is even more competitive. So, just having base level knowledge doesn’t do much but once you have that credit and that experience that you worked on an actual production, you can actually do something with that.”

After speaking with 2nd Assistant Director, Lihee Freeman, she shared how it is a really special experience to be involved in this production. “It’s been an incredible opportunity because it’s a student-led class and our director is our teacher. It’s really a lot of communicating and teamwork and every person on this team is so talented and it’s like a big team effort, so it’s really cool. Sometimes I sit in the class and I’m like wow, we’re all college students but we sound like we’ve been doing this for years.”

The first time the Serial TV Production class was held was four years ago. On the class catalog, there was a Serial TV Production class, but nobody was teaching it. Professor Lewis then told a student to write a few episodes and it was titled The Tour, a comedy about tour guides at a second rate University that always had the bad kids that got them into trouble. The Tour was the first series made by a Serial TV Production class. Since then, the second series made from this class was a murder mystery titled, Murder in B Flat Minor. This series has been published for approximately six months. It lasted for three seasons, culminating in a big finale in season three. 

Professor Philip Lewis was in the film industry for over a dozen years and worked at companies such as CBS, NBC, TNT and Sony Pictures. He is undergraduate director for the School of Film, Media, and Theatre and he is in charge of the internship program connecting students with production companies, casting agencies, etc.

Georgia, and to a greater extent Atlanta, is a hotbed for the production of feature films and television. That demand will only increase as time goes on, and classes like Serial TV Production give our students a chance to get their foot in the door in a real way. Podcast Warriors will likely run semester to semester, just as Murder in B Flat Minor did. As students graduate and rotate out of the class, more will come to continue the series. To keep up with the progress of these students throughout the semester, follow their social media accounts on Instagram and TikTok @_podcastwarriors.