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Department of Theatre and Film Studies plans web-based comedy series

Original Web-Based Comedy Series Being Planned

Submitted on January 26, 2018

The Department of Theatre and Film Studies is planning the production of a web-based internet comedy series. The project is in keeping with the objective of the school’s Maskrafters Academy which, with its focus on developing new work for stage and screen, gives theatre and film students the chance to explore their own ideas and provides the tools for them to become content creators.

“I’m excited to be directing for the screen again,” enthused theatre and film professor Ed Smith, department chair, in announcing this original video project for the web.

While this will be the first major video production for the department in more than five years, Smith and his students have not been idle. In recent years, students with a yen for the adrenaline rush of film-making have been creating videos for Georgetown College’s Office of Admission and producing videos for non-profit organizations in Lexington and Cynthiana as well as for businesses in the city of Georgetown. In addition, Smith has produced and filmed a documentary project, “Shifting Gears: The Cynthiana Rod Run” with student assistance.

Past Georgetown College full-length film productions under Smith’s guidance became official entries at over a dozen film festivals in the U.S., England, and Ireland. Many will remember “Surviving Guthrie,” for example, the story of an unruly college professor and the daughter who set out to reform him. It was a pioneering venture for the department and the first feature film to be produced by a Kentucky college film and theatre department. “Surviving Guthrie” had its world premiere at the Kentucky Theatre in Lexington. It won honors at the Secret City Film Festival in Tenn. and won best feature and best of festival at the Myrtle Beach International Film Festival (2012).

The forthcoming web-based comedy series carries the working title “I’ll Do Anything.” The premise is to follow a student who is assigned to work a series of ‘odd’ campus jobs. The focus, as always, is to be on telling really good stories. The idea for the series germinated from a discussion in a special topics class. Originally conceived by student Dalton Graves, Dr. Smith believed the idea was worthy enough to pursue as a major project. Since Graves is not currently enrolled, the idea was turned over to theatre and film studies senior Harry Smith who has crafted eight episodes. Other students have weighed in on scripts as well and additional material is being written.

Although the web comedy project is in its early stages of development, the department has engaged Marc Gurevitch of Trigger Happy Productions in Lexington as director of photography so that he can guide some initial planning. Gurevitch also handled lighting and filming for “Surviving Guthrie.”

Department of Theatre and Film Studies students will be involved in all aspects taking on a multitude of jobs, including recording location sound, writing original music, editing the episodes, designing the look of each location with set dressing, creating graphics and other artwork, advertising and marketing, and, of course, acting. 

“These are real jobs and experiences that may lead to greater opportunities,” commented Professor Smith, noting the successes of recent graduates.

As an example, he cited Jesse Harris, Class of 2006, who, as a theatre and film studies major, conceived and wrote “Surviving Guthrie” while in Smith’s screenwriting class. After graduating, Harris went on to earn an MFA in film at Emerson College. He is currently on the writing staff of the Marvel Netflix series, “Jessica Jones.”

Two other graduates, Austin Conway, Class of 2013, and Shay McCleavy, Class of 2014, are now enrolled at USC and pursuing degrees in what is the top-ranked film program in the U.S. Another Georgetown College alumnus, Elizabeth Maines McCleavy, Class of 2013, is now a production assistant in the art department at Paramount Studios working on the NBC television production of “Timeless.”

For the current web comedy project. Smith expects that there will be calls later in the semester for extras and background artists for scenes set across the Georgetown College campus. Students who participate in the college’s Maskrafters Theatre troupe, as well as a cross-section of the campus community, will be included.

“There are a wide number and variety of parts for a wide variety of students,” Smith commented. “Students who are at all interested or curious about what it takes to make a high-quality, great looking, and funny web series should contact me.”

Smith’s goal is to start the web series and structure it in such a way that it can be continued in the future.

“One of the fun things about (working in) film is that people don’t have to have a bunch of acting experience to get involved,” he said. “And really, not just get involved, but be really, really good on screen! I welcome and encourage fun, interesting, and interested people to get involved.”

Smith, himself, received his bachelor’s degree from Georgetown College. He then earned a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina and his doctorate from the University of Texas. He joined Georgetown’s faculty in 1996.

The professor performs frequently for the Kentucky Humanities Council’s Chautauqua series, sometimes as U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan and often in the role of the legendary Adolph Rupp who coached the University of Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team for 42 years.

More information about the Department of Theatre and Film Studies and Maskrafters Academy is available online at Or contact the Office of Admission at 502-863-8009.

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