Living Television is a special initiative of the Archive of American Television to collaborate with broadcast organizations, colleges and universities across the country to videotape in-depth interviews of local television pioneers. These are the people who built television stations from the ground-up and who appeared on television at the local level – many achieving national prominence. The resulting interview collections will be housed at participating institutions in addition to becoming part of the Academy Foundation’s Archive of American Television, a permanent and ongoing digital visual history of television.
Living Television is designed to reach out to localities across America, capturing the rich history of their television stations and personalities that will otherwise be lost.
Since 1997, the Archive of American Television has interviewed over 800 television legends in a long-form format. These one-of-a-kind interviews are digitized and catalogued to create an interactive history of television that will be available worldwide. With over 1,000 individuals on its “short list,” the Archive is enlisting the help of major institutions to help further its mission to preserve the history of the medium. One of the goals of the Living Television initiative is to fully integrate the co-produced interviews into the Archive’s full collection.
Using research, production and visual history methodologies that the Archive staff has perfected over the years, Living Television participants are producing broadcast-quality interviews and creating their own local television history archive – told by the people who were there.
Students are taught how to research their subject’s life and create relevant interview questions. They then conduct the videotaped interview under the supervision of participating institutions.
The curriculum focuses on the following:
• Learning a general history of television broadcasting
• Learning about various interview styles and scenarios
• Learning about research methodologies and finding source materials
• Creating a chronology of local television and/or of a local station
• Identifying prospects to be interviewed
• Creating a detailed timeline of a prospect’s life and career
• Conducting a telephone pre-interview
• Creating a detailed set of interview questions
• Working with a production crew
• Conducting the on-camera long-form interview
• Optional: Working with the class to create a mini-documentary of the subject using the interviews, b-roll photos and historical footage
By the completion of the course, a student will have gained the knowledge and experience to conduct an on-camera long-form interview with any individual.
Completed interviews are two hours in length and cover a participant’s life and career. Interviews focus on the individual’s history, the stations they worked with, its stars and its programming. These interviews cover everything from a station’s origin to the latest breaking stories. The camera master of the interview is sent to the Archive of American Television for inclusion in its Living Television collection, copies are given to the student and the interviewee, and copies reside at participating institutions. Written timelines, questions and an interview log are also included with the tapes.
There is also the opportunity to create a post-production class using the interviews conducted in an earlier class as raw footage for a mini-documentary.
Living Television Program
Coordination and implementation of the entire program is handled through the Archive headquarters. Living Television staff is available to review curriculum materials, manage interviewee selection standards, process legal documentation, arrange publicity, ensure broadcast-quality standards, consult with class instructors and hold on-location production seminars.
Participating institutions include:
California State University, Fullerton
Columbia College, Chicago
Temple University, Philadelphia
Using proven techniques and with the supervision of the Archive of American Television and its allied resources, students across America gain hands-on documentary interview skills and learn one-on-one from pioneering individuals about broadcasting’s history. Best of all, these priceless stories will be made available to other students and the general public for generations to come.
Just as television is a collaborative art, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation encourages the industry, academia, and the students who will be television’s future to collaborate on preserving the stories of its past.
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