Your next ride in the Bowdoin Shuttle could end in small-scale fame and fortune.
Having already debuted the third episode of "The Dorm" and the first installment of "Helmreich Survivor," the Bowdoin Cable Network (BCN) is heading into its 10th year with plans for new shows like "The Randy Ride," based on the Discovery Channel's "Cash Cab" game show.
Currently in pre-production, "the show would quiz Shuttle riders on safety and health topics for fabulous prizes," wrote host and Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols in an e-mail to the Orient.
The BCN studio opens for business in earnest on October 15, but the organization has been keeping active with its premiere of "The Dorm" two weeks ago and the premiere of "Helmreich Survivor" last week.
Co-creator, co-producer, writer and editor of "The Dorm" Lenny Pierce '10 wrote in an e-mail to the Orient that he thought the premiere went well.
"We showed it in Smith Auditorium, which has 138 seats, and it was probably 20 seats shy of full," said Pierce. "I am currently writing the show as part of an independent study through the film department, so hopefully that will mean that new episodes can come out more often."
While the third episode does not portray Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) in a very positive light, "I don't think that anyone on BSG is actually as dumb as Chris, Lenny or Matthew," Pierce said. "The primary reason for writing the show is just for fun. It's a lot of work, but people on campus seem to like the show, so there's plenty of encouragement to keep it going."
In fact, the reach of the show seems to have extended beyond the campus boundaries—BCN General Manager Zac Skipp '11 said he heard a story of one prospective student writing her college essay about the show.
The premiere of "Helmreich Survivor" at Helmreich House last Friday was also a success, according to Skipp, who is the executive producer of the show and edited it with Executive Director Seth Walder '11.
Modeled closely after CBS' long-running hit reality show, the BCN production pits 12 members of the social house against each other in various challenges, with an iPod taking the place of the million-dollar prize.
"It was very dramatic, and a lot of fun to film. It took eight hours on one night, and it was freezing cold," said Skipp.
"Lots of people showed up [to the premiere]," he said, "and we have heard some great things from those who have seen the show. Most importantly, people who did not know the castaways could still follow the narrative of the show and really got into the drama of it."
Skipp put together the first edit of the episode this summer. After showing it to a limited group of people and collecting feedback, he and Walder re-edited the episode to speed up the pacing and emphasize the genuine emotion of the contestants.
"There was a lot of fake drama in the first edit—a lot of people were acting for the camera," said Skipp. "But as it keeps going on, the drama gets real, and there's a lot of it. So we wanted to get rid of the fake drama so people would understand that it was all real."
The first episode covers the first two challenges, "Tribal Councils" and eliminations. Five more episodes will follow, covering the remainder of the night.
"We want to do a second season," said Skipp, "but we want people not to know each other, to make it sort of awkward."
BCNews and BCN Sports will return when the BCN studio reopens after Fall Break, and first year Mike Bottinelli will launch a cooking show in late November or early December. Skipp said BCN also filmed the recent a cappella and "Shameless Plugs" concerts and is going to try to film all major events on campus.
Aside from that, "we have a lot of people interested in making their own shows, but we are working with them to flesh out their ideas," said Skipp.
Skipp sees a wide variety of shows as serving a wide variety of needs on campus.
"Segments like the news are informative, while Nate Chaffetz's 'Reality Check' was to provoke people to think about issues on this campus," Said Skipp. "Survivor and The Dorm are more for entertainment."
"I think that everyone hopes that they like the show they produce, but I know that some, like Nate, know that no one is going to respond favorably when he speaks about controversial issues that most people on this campus don't agree with. The bottom line is that BCN is here to support any student in any creative project that they want to create and share with the campus," Skipp added.
BCN has long posted clips and full episodes on its Web site, but this year it is going farther than ever to reach students.
"We're trying to get our videos up on every possible outlet," said Skipp.
BCN recently began tweeting, started a Facebook Fan Page, and has been posting videos to Facebook, YouTube, MySpace and iTunes U.
"The problem with iTunes U is that there are copyright problems," said Skipp.
Copyright also presents problems for streaming video containing copyrighted music online. Still, the staff is working with the Information Technology department to develop a live online broadcast solution.
BCN has two new computers this year, and it has upgraded to the latest versions of the Final Cut Studio and Final Cut Server software. The network is also purchasing two new high definition cameras, although the prohibitive cost of HD tapes will keep it from recording much content, if any, in high definition.
In recognition of the network's 10th anniversary, Skipp highlighted how much progress BCN has made.
"We get e-mails every once in a while from fledgling TV organizations at other colleges and it really puts things in perspective," he said. "We have moved twice in the last 10 years and come a very long way from the small station that we once were."
Several BCN alumni will be returning to campus for Homecoming Weekend, some of whom will be able to share experiences of working in the entertainment industry at organizations like NBC and ESPN.
"I think it will really show our members how much BCN can help a résumé for such a job," said Skipp.
"My theory, which I share with other members and alums, is that by teaching ourselves to produce, edit and distribute our own product, we actually enter the job market with an edge," Skipp said, "because employers see how much initiative we have and our ability to self-educate that many people right out of a conventional film school simply cannot have."
Both Skipp and Gillian Baptiste '11, executive producer of BCNews, will be abroad in the spring, putting pressure on the remaining staff, including General Manager Krista Gladman '11, Director for Creative Development Jeff Cook '11, and Executive Director of BCNews Gabrielle Niu '10. Skipp called it their "biggest challenge" in the year ahead, but remains relatively unconcerned.
"I am turning more responsibility over to Krista, Jeff and Gabrielle," said Skipp, "and I have already written a manual covering everything that I do in my role at BCN, so the transition shouldn't be too difficult."