Buffalo State’s television and film arts (TFA) program has launched a new “Semester in New York City” initiative which pairs students with internships at high-profile networks such as MTV, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon.
“This program is an exciting step in TFA’s evolution—permanently linking the major with leading entertainment companies in New York City,” said Jeffrey Hirschberg, TFA director and associate professor who created the program. “Students benefit by gaining critical professional experience and developing strong entertainment industry relationships, both of which will help them jumpstart their careers in television and film.”
The TFA New York City program is expected to be offered every spring for six to 12 TFA majors.
Brian Purcell, who has a double major in TFA and photography, landed an internship at Nickelodeon. “I’ve gotten to see a lot of things behind the scenes, such as test pilots for upcoming shows,” said Purcell.
Along with connecting students with internships, the New York City semester includes two courses, TFA 389 The Business of Television and TFA 389 The Business of Film, taught by Buffalo State alumni Marcie Mulé, ’81, and John Bobey, ’91, respectively.
Having the TFA program in New York, "has better positioned the college to teach students the realities of the TV and film world,” Mulé said. “They have a clearer understanding of how to enter the workforce and are gaining the necessary skills through direct application.”
Mulé, who co-created Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, and was one of the executive producers of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, among other projects, is introducing students to iconic TV shows such as I Love Lucy and The Mary Tyler Moore show and allowing them to draw parallels to today’s television formats.
“We talk about why TV shows stick, why they resonate with certain demographics,” said Mulé, who also teaches the students how to write scripts for non-scripted shows and introduces them to the many different paths into the television business.
Bobey, a writer and producer who has worked for David Letterman, Dana Carvey, Bill Maher, and others, noted that he and Mulé are sharing their firsthand knowledge the New York entertainment world and also helping students to work outside of their comfort zones.
"The program exposes students to a world that a traditional academic environment cannot begin to approximate," said Bobey. "That’s why it’s so essential to any student serious about a life in the creative arts."
Another Buffalo State alumnus who was instrumental in the program’s development was VH1 President Tom Calderone, ’85.
The internships provide college credit and priceless experience for students hoping to forge careers in a highly competitive field. “Students are networking not just with the people they are working for but also the people they are working with—film students from all over the country,” Hirschberg said.
The TFA Program, which accepts 15 aspiring filmmakers per year, prepares students for a variety of careers in the entertainment industry, including screenwriting, producing, and directing.