Fresno State’s Jes Therkelsen was one of 20 professors from across the country selected by the Television Academy to participate in its annual Faculty Seminar. The five-day event held in North Hollywood gave the educators a chance to interact with high-level industry professionals to discuss topics such as programming, making a pilot, movies for television and securing rights.
Therkelser has brought back that information – and, more important, the contacts he made – to share with his students. As an assistant professor, he teaches two to four classes each semester in the Mass Communication and Journalism department at Fresno State.
“The Academy runs the Emmys and they are so adept at keeping connections with industry professionals. They use those contacts to do a lot education outreach. It was such a fun experience and very beneficial,” Therkelsen says.
He will use what he garnered from the seminar in his classes, where he teaches all forms of storytelling: photography, audio production, documentary filmmaking, TV production and video production.
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The seminar was established in 1987 as a way to bring Hollywood to the classroom, believing hands-on exposure for educators would bring unique insights back to students aspiring to work in television.
“Our mission is to connect the movers and shakers from all facets of television with teachers and arm them with the knowledge and tools necessary to prepare their students for television industry careers,” says Norma Provencio Pichardo, executive director of the Television Academy Foundation. “The Foundation believes in creating a constructive, open and authentic environment to drive discussion and encourage the healthy exchange of ideas – that’s exactly what we’re doing with our annual Faculty Seminar.”
Along with panel discussions, the professors got to make several set visits, including a taping of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” After the taping, the show’s director and executive producer offered the group a look at the work they do. There also were trips to DreamWorks Animation and Warner Bros. Studios.
“At Warner Bros. we talked to a set designer who had worked on ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and ‘Mike and Molly.’ We got to see how scenes and sets come together,” Therkelsen says.
A lot of his students want to work in the TV and entertainment industry.
The set visits were particularly interesting because he got to experience TV production behind the curtain. Therkelsen, who makes documentary films, admits to not being a big fan of TV and never imagined himself moving to Los Angeles to work in the industry. But the seminar has given him a lot of ways to help his students who want to make that move.
“I want to be able to offer to Fresno State students some sort of bridge if they are interested,” Therkelsen says.
The biggest piece of advice he can give them is the importance of making good contacts. Through his participation in the seminar, Therkelsen will be able to attend future programs and be able to bring in guest lecturers for master workshops.
Providing holiday cheer
Markus Hill, a Buchanan High School graduate, has been working hard to help you get into the holiday spirit. He was the supervising producer/associate producer on four Christmas movies airing on cable through the middle of December.
“I’m Not Ready for Christmas” aired Nov. 14 on the Hallmark Channel and was the highest-rated movie for the channel this year. Next up is “12 Gifts of Christmas,” set to debut at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 26. He also worked on two other Hallmark movies: “A Prince for Christmas” and “A Christmas Reunion,” scheduled to debut Sunday, Nov. 29, and Sunday, Dec. 13.
Hill is now working on “Christmas Land,” a Hallmark film shooting in Salt Lake City. It stars Nikki Deloach and Luke Macfarlane.
“It’s been quite a busy year on the road for me, the launch of my producing career, my father, Terry Hill, just passed away unexpectedly last month in Fresno before getting to see any of my movies premiere,” Hill says. “Looking forward to finishing up this last project and heading to Fresno for the holidays to be with family.”
Hill is dedicating all of the holiday movies to his father.
Before moving behind the cameras, Hill was on reality TV shows such as “Bad Girls Club” and “Tanisha Gets Married.” While growing up in Fresno, Hill appeared in stage productions in junior high and high school along with shows at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater and at Peoples Church.
He opted to stop appearing in reality shows to concentrate on the production side of TV.