BC SealBoston College Magazine Winter 2004
current issue
features
prologue
Linden Lane
Works and Days
Letters to the Editor
BCM Home
Archives
Contact BCM
Coming Events
. Linden Lane
.

The producers

.

On the Now You Know set (from left): Mike Hundgen '05, Jessie Rosen '05, Chris Mitchell '07, D.J. Doyle '06, Bill Busacker '05, Matt Jacobson '05, and Chris Bergendorff '06. By Lee Pellegrini

Now, from the studio of UGBC TV

When it was designed eight years ago, BC Cable was intended as a vehicle for airing movies and videotaped lectures and campus events, not for student productions. But a shoestring budget and fairly basic equipment haven't kept students from launching original, must-see programming for their peers. Two shows produced through the undergraduate government-sponsored UGBC TV—one played for laughs, the other a very local news program—have gained faithful audiences this year.

Red Fabbri and Tom Ganjamie, both sophomores, produce Basic Cable, a half-hour sketch comedy show that broadcasts a new episode every month. Their goal is to get BC students to laugh at themselves. All scenes are shot on location—in residence halls, dining facilities, and outdoor settings around campus. In the premiere episode, which aired on October 17, these things happened: A guy got caught by his roommate dancing girlishly to an Eighties pop song. An average Joe tried to dunk a basketball and missed really, really badly. Four male students gathered around a table on which two cell phones stood facing each other. "Three dollars on Big Blue!" said one student, and then the cell phones were dialed. They were set to vibrate instead of ring, and so they bounced across the table toward each other. They collided; the black phone toppled. Big Blue won.

FABBRI AND Ganjamie's first foray into comedy together was in the fall of 2002, when with three friends—fellow sophomores Patrick Kane, Mark Goehausen, and Nick Boniakowski, all Basic Cable cast members—they produced a movie called Tuna Lowers My Inhibitions for Boston College's freshman film festival. Tuna placed first and soon ended up on the Internet, where it became something of a cult hit. Impressed, the crew of Boogie Heights, a variety show then being produced by students and aired on BC Cable, invited Fabbri and Ganjamie to join them; when the founders of Boogie Heights graduated in June, Fabbri and Ganjamie decided to start a new show in its place, which led to Basic Cable.

"We're all living in this little college world," says Ganjamie. "We listened to what people were talking about, and we played with that." In the weeks following the Basic Cable premiere, many students approached the producers to say how much they liked the show—and how much of themselves they saw in it.

Twelve students—11 males and one female, Leigh Van Ostrand '06—make up the show's cast and crew. Their more or less weekly meetings, held in the UGBC conference room on the second floor of the new lower campus administration building, are noisy brainstorming sessions where ideas are hollered out, embellished, tempered, and adopted by general approval. "I have an in with the guy who plays the mascot at football games," someone pipes up at a recent planning session, to a raucous response. "Say no more!" Ganjamie yells, adding, after the laughter subsides somewhat, "You know, there are limitations to what we can do with the mascot. We can't put it into embarrassing situations, for one." A dozen heads nod, sober again. The crew mulls the mascot problem for a while, and eventually decides that the Eagle will get a cameo role in an upcoming skit about a senior prom. The meeting ends with a round of Cell Phone Game 2.0, played thusly: Turn on phones. On the count of three, bang phones against foreheads. See what numbers came up. High score wins. The group plans a tournament for the next episode of the show.

With dueling phones, Basic Cable sophomore cast members (from left): Red Fabbri, Frank Maguire, Tom Ganjamie, and Hank Spring. By Lee Pellegrini


JUNIORS Jessie Rosen and Mike Hundgen are the hosts of a very different student-produced program, Now You Know, which premiered in January 2003. It's a news show in the style of ESPN's SportsCenter, humorous and informative in equal parts, aimed at apprising BC students of campus trends and events. A 15-minute episode is shot every week.

Some two dozen students attend weekly Now You Know meetings. These are exhaustive, detail-oriented affairs that address everything from what stories to cover to how to speed up filming sessions to who is available at what times to handle writing, editing, or production duties. The meetings are chaired by Rosen, Hundgen, and executive producer D.J. Doyle '06, who each devote about 10 hours a week to the show.

On a Monday evening in October, the Now You Know crew is gathered in the television production studio, housed in the basement of Campion Hall. The room, about the size of a double-wide trailer, is partitioned by two-way mirrors—on one side is the studio proper, fitted out with a blue backdrop curtain and high-wattage lighting, and on the other is the editing room, jammed with whirring audio, video, and computer equipment.

Half a dozen students are setting up cameras and props; another half-dozen monitor the electronics. Other students have already filmed reports on location around the BC campuses; the night's task is to film the lead-ins for the show that will air later in the week. Doyle directs operations through a two-way radio headset.

"Cue talent," says Doyle, and Hundgen and Rosen, seated behind a newsroom-style desk that the crew built from scratch, begin to introduce the show. As usual, there is no script; the aim is to keep the banter between Hundgen and Rosen spontaneous. As they speak, Doyle monitors the cameras, ordering them to switch angles and zoom in or out as needed. Mike Murphy '06 taps away at a computer, dropping pre-made graphic elements onto the TV screen using a digital video-editing program.

Several run-throughs are necessary to get everything right, and with only an hour of studio time scheduled, tempers get a little short. But the tension adds energy, as well. At one point, Hundgen reminds viewers that basketball season tickets are on sale. "Have you bought yours yet, Mike?" Rosen asks. Answer: No. "Why not?" "Because you and I will both be abroad next semester, Jessie. Far, far away from each other." Doyle chuckles. That's a keeper.

Hundgen dreamed up Now You Know in the fall of 2002, while taking a shower, he says: "We have all these channels"—seven in all—"available on BC Cable, so I thought, 'Why not use them?'" He raised the idea with Rosen, who was already producing a Web site for BC students, a guide to events in Boston, and they agreed to pursue it together.

Next September, after Rosen and Hundgen return from Italy and Ireland, respectively, Now You Know will expand to half-hour segments. The staff has also talked about producing news briefs for viewing on the Jumbotrons during athletic events.


IN HIS seven years as assistant director of programming for BC Cable, Darren Herlihy has lent help to numerous student productions—"it is a lot of work to do [a show], and I give them a lot of credit"—and watched all of them eventually go off the air. The commitment to producing a show usually wanes, he says, when its creators move on—when they graduate or simply find a new passion.

Fabbri and Ganjamie will likely go abroad next year; Rosen and Hundgen will be abroad when this article is published. But Now You Know is training two new hosts, and the Basic Cable crew has recruited a couple of freshmen interns. The shows may go on.

Tim Heffernan


Tim Heffernan is a freelance writer based in New York City.

 

Photos (from top):

 

On the Now You Know set (from left): Mike Hundgen '05, Jessie Rosen '05, Chris Mitchell '07, D.J. Doyle '06, Bill Busacker '05, Matt Jacobson '05, and Chris Bergendorff '06. By Lee Pellegrini

 

With dueling phones, Basic Cable sophomore cast members (from left): Red Fabbri, Frank Maguire, Tom Ganjamie, and Hank Spring. By Lee Pellegrini

 

. . .
  » 
. .  
  » 
     
  » 
     
  » 
     
  » 
. .  
  » 
     
  » 
     
  » 
     
  » 
     
  » 
. . .
  » 
. .  
  » 
     
  » 
     
  » 
     
  » 
     
  » 
     
  » 
 
  » 
     
  » 
     
  » 
     
  » 
     
Alumni Home
BC Home