Wunpini Fatimata Mohammed awarded 2022-2023 Sarah H. Moss Fellowship

Wunpini Fatimata Mohammed, assistant professor in Entertainment and Media Studies, has been named a recipient of a 2022-2023 Sarah H. Moss Fellowship. 

Administered by the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Georgia, the fellowship provides funds for travel and related expenses for tenure-track faculty pursuing advanced scholarship, research and study.

Mohammed’s research project is titled, “Media and Decolonization: Re-righting the Subaltern Histories of Ghana.” With this funding, she plans to travel to several cities in Ghana, including Tamale and Accra, to conduct archival research, ethnographic observations and follow-up interviews to supplement research already done which will become a scholarly book.

Wunpini Mohammed, assistant professor in EMST, teaches Entertainment Media Analysis outside in the Media Garden.
Wunpini Mohammed, assistant professor in EMST, teaches Entertainment Media Analysis outside in the Media Garden. (Photo: Sarah Freeman)

“In this research project, I am interested in examining the silenced histories of media in African communities that have historically been shut out of their own representations,” said Mohammed.

“I am going back to my community in Ghana to learn more about the media cultures of the country to satisfy some of the curiosities I had growing up as a child,” she continued. “I will be examining content on mediums such as radio and TV, focusing on how they have served as a tool for marginalization and a site of resistance within this community.”

Mohammed will be spending time at the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation in Accra to sort through their archives and gather data to support the section of her book on technology and media development in Ghana.

Mohammed will also spend time at community gatherings to learn more about community relationships with media at the regional and national level. In Tamale, she will be hosted by the  Department of Communication, Innovation, and Technology of the University for Development Studies. 

“Growing up, I barely saw representations about me and my community in national media. This sparked my interest in media and the politics of media representation,” Mohammed said about what motivated her to pursue this research topic. “These experiences have inspired me to contribute to building knowledge in the field of media so that the people who come after me will have something to build on too.”

EMST major Abigail Clark earns industry honor

Grady College Entertainment and Media Studies major Abigail Clark was chosen as a multimedia journalist (MMJ) to work at the Broadcast Education Association/National Association of Broadcasters annual convention in Las Vegas, which happened April 23-26, 2022. Clark was one of four students across the United States to be awarded this opportunity. 

Abigail Clark holds a camera on her shoulder.
Abigail Clark, from Dade City, Florida, spent four days reporting on the BEA convention and NAB show. (Photo: submitted)

BEA Student MMJs are a select team of undergraduate and graduate students with the task of reporting on the BEA convention and NAB Show in real time by using and infusing a variety of storytelling methods, including text, audio, video, pictures and graphics (or infographics). Student MMJs are tasked to think outside the box while reporting on the events and bring their unique visual storytelling skills and training to life. 

 “When I was accepted into the program, I screamed with excitement for the opportunity to go to Vegas for work,” said Clark. “I never thought at this stage in life I could say I went on a trip for work-related purposes.”

Student MMJs were selected in a nationwide search by a pool of professionals and educators. Awardees received travel stipends, press passes and full access to the NAB Show Newsroom, while working under the guidance of two faculty advisors. 

Daily assignments introduced student MMJs to different aspects of media, entertainment and technology through a series of interviews and stories that cover sponsors, exhibitors, speakers, award winners and special events. The student-produced content was regularly posted on BEA’s website and through social media. 

Keith Wilson has mentored me and worked with me on all different kinds of facets of production,” said Clark. “Applying what I had learned from him through production basics and cinematography really benefited me in the MMJ Program while on site in Vegas!” 

“I was thankful to those who helped me along the way and to Dr. Hamilton for sharing the opportunity with me and to Dr. Chess for assisting me with the application and sending over a letter of recommendation,” she added. “I am also thankful to the university for all the opportunities I have had and for having the opportunity to represent such a prestigious school in a highly respected convention.” 

Content created by Clark and her fellow MMJs is available on the BEA website.

#ProfilesOfTenacity: Sherry Liang

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study?

The only class I enjoyed in high school was newspaper, so I came into college as an intended-journalism major. I joined The Red & Black within my first month and became an editor the following semester. But I already felt stagnant, which is not a feeling you want as a freshman, so I sought a creative outlet with EMST. I wish I could reassure freshman me that both journalism and EMST would welcome (and continue to welcome) me with open arms — that pursuing both paths would change my life — but I think she already knew.

What are you passionate about?

A lot, sometimes too much. I’m passionate about independent student journalism and innovating the newsroom’s status quo. I’m passionate about people and our emotions — the way we interact and react — and finding the universal in the personal. The entertainment and journalism I grew up with rarely told the stories of my community. I never saw myself in the media industry, so I hope I can play my part in changing that for future generations.

What is your most memorable Grady experience?

I hope I’ll remember the everyday moments like mingling with friends between classes, group exercises in cinematography, staying up until 2 a.m. finishing a script, sheltering from a tornado in one of the many windowless first floor classrooms, busting a kneecap open after class (unrelated to the tornado), table reads in Writers’ Room or watching film premieres at Ciné and University 16 … the list goes on. 

I also think back to when we planted seeds for ideas that would shape my college experience — like brainstorming web series concepts in Writers’ Room, pitching an AAJA chapter at UGA to Dr. Lough, the first conversations about the Backlight Student Film Festival, or the beginnings of what would become The Red & Black’s DEI Committee.

Liang served as the editor-in-chief of The Red & Black in spring 2021 (Photo: Taylor Gerlach).
What or who has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA?

The students, by all means. From day one, I’ve been inspired by everyone’s dedication to each other’s work at The Red & Black, The Industry, in classrooms and on the screen. Members of Writers’ Room, for example, have exceeded every conceivable expectation of mine when I restructured the club. From first-time screenwriters to EMST veterans, everyone’s bonded over these characters and scripts that we’ve created. I’m also beyond impressed by students on the Selection Committee for the Backlight Student Film Festival, who have spent nearly 10 hours across three weeks watching and judging film submissions. This level of commitment and collaboration is a trademark of the students at this college.

As I round out my senior year, I feel like I’ve finally found my place with my people. Graduating and leaving UGA feels bittersweet and pre-nostalgic, but I am mostly relieved that given the volatility of the universe and its infinite possibilities, we all found ourselves here, together, if only for a moment. (Existential thoughts courtesy of Everything, Everywhere All at Once.)

What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

Directing my first short film this semester was one of the most surreal moments of my college career. I’ve written a few scripts, so that part of the process was familiar. But as I watched actors bring the characters I created to life, heard people laugh at these jokes I wrote from my bed at 3 a.m., and witnessed an entire crew devote their many precious hours to execute my story — I felt a type of unbridled joy and gratitude that I had never experienced in a collaborative environment. I’ll chase that feeling and those people for as long as I create. 

(Bonus full-circle moment: The film is about student journalism!)

What are you planning to do after graduation?

Lots of soul-searching, a bit of traveling, and hopefully some revelatory experiences — but first, the Cannes Film Festival.

A behind the scenes look at Liang’s short film directorial debut (Photo: Jaida Green).
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from an instructor, mentor or family member?

Coming in as a beginner, I was intimidated by EMST before even setting foot in a classroom. But over the last two years, I’ve never had a professor who expected us to know everything. Professor Evans taught my first screenwriting class, and from day one, he emphasized improvement above all else. Your work doesn’t have to be perfect, it might never be, but you just have to do and improve. I’ve always had some level of performance anxiety, and reminding myself of that philosophy has been liberating. As a chronic procrastinating perfectionist, it’s what motivated me 24 hours before the deadline to write my first TV pilot that became a BEA Festival finalist. It wasn’t a perfect script — one judge’s comments made that very clear — but that’s one script (and an award) more than I had before I started. 

Who is your professional hero?

I have so many. UGA alumnae Kendall Trammell, Elaine Reyes, Samira Jafari, Alex Laughlin and Amanda Mull are just a handful of the journalists who inspire me. Editors at CNN and The Red & Black have shaped my confidence and voice as a journalist. The writer-director in me also looks up to the power-duo of Lulu Wang and Barry Jenkins (who share a dog-child with a hyphenated last name — talk about life goals). 

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I talk to myself a lot, entire conversations. Sometimes I’ll mute my podcast in the car just to hear myself talk … to myself. Most of these answers came from me talking to myself. 

Where is your favorite place on campus and why?

My body is actually solar-powered. Give me some sun, a few trees, maybe a sprinkling of fall foliage or spring flowers, and I’m there. I frequent Herty Field or the MLC stone benches for napping, and outside the PAF for a solid four-legged table to do some work. You can also find me gazing off into the sunset at Lake Herrick to inspire an aforementioned revelatory experience … been doing a lot of that lately.



Three students take home awards at 2022 BEA Festival of Media Arts

Work created by students in Grady College’s Department of Entertainment and Media Studies earned high recognition at this year’s Broadcast Education Association (BEA) Festival of Media Arts competition. 

Benjamin Otten, an EMST student from Athens, Georgia, earned an award of excellence in the competition’s narrative category for his short film “As it Lies.” Likewise, Sherry Liang, an EMST student from Johns Creek, Georgia, and MFA student Taylor Potter (AB ‘21), who is from Acworth, Georgia, both took home awards of excellence in the short narrative film/half-hour television category. Liang was recognized for her film “Cheater, Cheater,” while Potter received recognition for her film “Wheelhouse.”

Each year, this competitive challenge receives more than 1,500 submissions from students and faculty from around the world. The BEA, a nonprofit organization in Washington D.C., focuses on driving insights in media production and career advancement for educators, students and professionals around the globe. 

Otten’s “As it Lies” wins award of excellence, narrative category

Otten’s “As it Lies” tells the story of a grief-stricken golfer, Phil, who notoriously does not play it as it lies on the course or off. However, this habit is challenged with the arrival of a divot tool from Phil’s late father, and he has to decide whether to become the person his family needs him to be or to fall further into the bunker. 

Otten, who started writing his script in Professor Matthew Nolte Evans’ class, said that he found a lot of inspiration from both movies like “Field of Dreams” that use sports as metaphors and from his own experience playing with his dad on the golf course.

“I was really excited to see it selected as a finalist in the most competitive category of the festival,” Otten said about his film. “This really assured me that the amount of work that went into the project (from development to post) was worth it. It’s also encouraged me to produce more work to submit and possibly grab a top prize in the coming year.”

Liang’s “Cheater, Cheater” wins award of excellence, short narrative film/half-hour television category

Liang’s dark comedy series “Cheater, Cheater” follows a student journalist’s investigation of her competitive high school’s cheating scandals, which lead to webs of deception and corruption beyond control. 

Liang, who thanks Professor Evans for helping her find her voice and confidence in screenwriting, gained inspiration for the script by looking back at her own high school experience. 

“Writing a script about the absurdities of attending a competitive high school is much cheaper than therapy,” said Liang. “Four years later, I’m still processing my high school experience — mostly characterized by crippling academic pressures, but I also have fond memories of friends, family and growing up in a vibrant Asian community that I hoped to capture in narrative form.” 

This was the first time Liang has ever submitted a script to anything out of class, she explained. For that reason, Liang said she is flattered that people found the story entertaining. 

“There’s a long way to go for the story,” said Liang. “I’ve already rewritten parts of it. But I’m proud of myself for starting a script that I’ve been putting off for so long … two years, to be exact.”

Potter’s “Wheelhouse” wins award of excellence, short narrative film/half-hour television category

Potter’s script tells the story of Dani Brubaker, a failed screenwriter. After returning from Los Angeles to her humble origins in Georgia, Brubaker receives one last chance to prove herself—on a reality car show. However, there are three problems with her potential career saving opportunity: Dani knows nothing about cars, she is forced to move back in with her parents and the show is on the brink of falling apart. 

Potter, who thanks Constance Burge of the MFA Narrative Media Writing program for helping with the project, got the idea for the story after working on a reality car show in spring 2020. 

“It was an absolutely crazy time, and I thought to myself, this show writes itself,” said Potter. “This past fall, in my first semester of the MFA, I decided to write what I know and set out to pen this script, which incorporates a fictionalized version of my experience working on a reality car show.”

This is the second year in a row Potter has been awarded at BEA festival, splitting the last year’s top overall prize in the student category with Ana González (AB ‘21) for their television pilot “Buyer’s Remorse.”

Potter said she is “so excited and thankful to have a script accepted and awarded at BEA two years in a row.”

“Receiving an award from them really means a lot to me and helps affirm that I’m on the right path,” Potter added. “It’s also really fun to share this experience with another Grady student, Sherry Liang, who received an award of excellence as well. Here’s to writing the next one!”

“AMERICAN Triptych,” a short film from Booker T Mattison premieres December 3

The short film showcases collaboration from EMST students and alumni.

“AMERICAN Triptych,” a new short film from Booker T Mattison, assistant professor of Entertainment and Media Studies, is set to premiere December 3.

This short film is a triptych, meaning it is three separate works of art that are unified by a common theme. The commonality in this triptych is Covid-19.

The film features three narrative chapters. Each highlights a different protagonist — one white American, one Asian-American and one African-American. Through those lenses, the film explores food insecurity, homelessness, xenophobia and police brutality all amid the Covid-19 pandemic in the summer of 2020.

“AMERICAN Tryptych” provides a look at the pandemic through the lenses of different American ethnicities (photo submitted).

“”AMERICAN Triptych” also serves as a veritable showcase of the talent that we have in the department of entertainment and Media studies in Grady College, the Design & Technology MFA in the Department of Theatre and Film Studies at Franklin College and our new MFA in Film, TV Production and Digital Media,” said Mattison.

Most of the professionals who worked on the film also teach in the MFA Film, Television, and Digital Media program, an innovative program where students study one year on campus in Athens and one year at Trillith Studios.

Mattison is the film’s writer and director. Shandra McDonald, the film’s producer, is based at Trillith Studios. Bryan Cole is the film’s editor.

Julie Ray and Ivan Ingermann, the production designer and costume designer, teach in the Design & Technology MFA.

Dave Kruetzer, the gaffer, teaches production in the Film Studies department.

The cinematographer is Garland McLaurin, a Peabody Award-winning cinematographer who previously taught EMST students.

“AMERICAN Triptych” is a group effort with faculty, alumni and current students. The film gave UGA students an opportunity to work on a professional production with award-winning filmmakers.

Cyrus Townsend (AB ’19) worked as the assistant editor. Townsend is currently a content operations edit apprentice at WarnerMedia Studios. He is excited about the ever-growing community of filmmakers in Georgia.

“I loved getting back and touch with Mattison and a lot of my peers from UGA,” Townsend said. “I feel as though it’s poetic that after the pandemic, I felt very distant from my peers and this film about people going through the pandemic is what brings us back together!”

The film premieres was created during the pandemic and ensured all cast and crew remained healthy during production.(photo submitted).

Demi Lehman is a double major in EMST and Theatre. She is one of the actors in “AMERICAN Triptych.” She had briefly met Mattison in Dean Charles Davis’ career explorations class designed to introduce pre-Grady students to opportunities within the college. Lehman recognized Mattison’s name on a casting call website for actors. That led to an audition and being cast for the role.

“My favorite part of this project was how kind and collaborative everyone was throughout the entire process,” Lehman said. “It was even cooler for me to see how students and faculty from UGA came together to create a really impressive and efficient set. It was the perfect blend of both of my majors and I got to see the skills I’ve learned in a classroom in action on set.”

Other students involved in the film include Samantha Eubanks, design production assistant, Cash Robinson, key grip, Brandt Tharpe, camera production assistant and second assistant director and Cullen Herter, who shadowed the production.

There is a UGA Spotlight on the Arts virtual event on November 17 where guests can learn about the art of collaboration in filmmaking and ask questions. In addition to Mattison, participants include McDonald, Ray, Ingermann, and Cole, all from Theatre and Film Studies. All five panelists are involved in teaching within UGA’s new MFA program in Film, Television, and Digital Media. Register here.

The film premieres on Friday, December 3 at 6 p.m. in the Balcony Theatre at the Fine Arts Building. Masks are strongly encouraged at the screening.

Keith Wilson awarded Sundance documentary grant

Keith Wilson, a lecturer in the Department of Entertainment and Media Studies, was named recipient of a grant from the nonprofit Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program.

The fund offers non-recoupable support for nonfiction projects that continue to elevate and advance cultural dialogue and break new ground in creativity and innovation from filmmakers with a distinct voice and vision, and a meaningful connection to the work they create.

Wilson is the producer of the film, “I Didn’t See You There,” a documentary about a disabled filmmaker who launches into an unflinching meditation on freakdom and (in)visibility when a circus tent goes up near his apartment. The film is directed by Reid Davenport.

“Receiving this grant is transformative for our project,” Wilson said of the grant. “Securing funding for independent, artist-driven documentary work is always an uphill battle, so the financial piece of the award is greatly appreciated.”

Wilson was named a 2021 Sundance Creative Producing Fellow for the same film project earlier this year. The Fellowship included participation in a week-long Producers Summit, as well as year-long mentorship, creative support and networking opportunities with industry professionals.

“In many ways, the intangible support the Sundance Institute has provided us in the form of mentorship, professional development, and access to industry networks, have been even more essential than the finances,” Wilson added.  

The Documentary Fund supports the work of nonfiction filmmakers from around the world. The fund has been a critical force in supporting work that has expressed the world in creative, complex, and provocative ways, and has created cultural and social impact around some of the most pressing issues of our time.

A total of $600,000 in unrestricted grant support has been provided to the projects in various stages of production and distribution, including eight in development, eight in production, three in post-production, and one in post-production and impact. The projects’ subject matter feature topics of disability, feminist history, globalization, grief and loss, and housing inequality, among other areas. A complete list of recipient projects can be viewed here.

Grants are made possible by The Open Society Foundations, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Kendeda Fund.

This cycle, eight out of the ten U.S. films granted are helmed by at least one BIPOC director. This statistic reflects the fund’s commitment to emerging artists whose voices have been historically marginalized in hegemonic Western societies.

“With this expansive cohort, the Documentary Film Fund is holding true to its commitment to independent storytelling. As we celebrate 20 years of funding hundreds of films, these films are a tangible representation of all that we stand for and value,” said Carrie Lozano, Sundance Institute, Director of Documentary Film Program and Artist Programs.

#ProfilesOfTenacity: Alaina Booth

What would people be surprised to know about you?

Believe it or not, people that don’t know me are really surprised when I tell them that I’m in school. I never talk about it because I’m always shooting or editing videos for my company, and I travel so often (shoutout only Tuesday and Thursday classes) that people don’t really ever see me posting about school.

Where is your favorite place on campus and why?

I have a little personal office space for my business in the Entrepreneurship building in Studio 225. It’s such a vibe.

Why did you choose Grady and your course of study?

When I thought about answering this question, I realized it was never really a choice for me. I knew I belonged in Grady, and I didn’t really think about applying to any other school. Throughout high school, I knew I wanted to do something creative, and I started making videos of my life throughout my senior year. When I got to UGA, I started out as an advertising major, but ultimately the world of entertainment excited me more. I’ve always been making things into stories, and I’m a huge dreamer, and being EMST just makes so much sense. I remember sitting in the intro class for EMST and one of the slides on the board saying, “Move to LA” and I just knew these were my people and this was my program.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about telling honest stories and I want that to be my line of work, but nothing makes me more excited than connecting with people on an emotional level through video. Outside of this, I am really passionate about encouraging people that they can do it – whatever it is they want to do. I want to be the person people feel safe talking about their dreams with, and throughout my career, I want encouragement and inspiration to be a common thread. 

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from an instructor, mentor or family member?

My favorite piece of advice is “Do what you can with what you have and who you know” and I love it because I think people get really overwhelmed that they need to be making HUGE things with expensive gear and amazing taste as soon as they start, but really that’s just not how you learn. And it’s way too much pressure to put on yourself. You just have to start, and you have to let go of what other people will think about your work when you’re starting out. When people ask me how I’ve built such an extensive portfolio, I tell them I literally just started! I kept saying yes to things I thought I wasn’t ready for and showing up to them like I knew exactly what I was doing. People believed me, and then eventually, I believed me too! 

What is an example of a time you used your studies and skills in a real-world experience?

This past summer I spent two months in Los Angeles. Throughout the summer I got an internship, worked on a couple freelance projects, continued to run my business remotely and finally, had the opportunity to be a production assistant on a huge documentary shoot. Throughout the summer, I drew knowledge from every single course I’ve taken in the EMST program, and I was so grateful for my education that I sent Dr. Hamilton an email thanking him. I knew how to give proper script coverage because of my writing for digital media class. I could properly set up a C-stand because of production basics, and I could create really awesome pitch decks thanks to the producing for the screen class. It was a very rewarding summer to see how much my education is really showing up in my future career path, and I’m really grateful for the foundation Grady has laid for me.

What are you planning to do after graduation?

Well, I love Los Angeles, so the plan is to move there and start working. I really like pretty much everything, so I’m open to following the path that excites me most. I’m particularly interested in producing, because I’m definitely a sales-minded person and will pitch in front of people all day long. I like unscripted, because I like watching the story unfold itself rather than trying to control all the aspects of it. Lately, I’m also considering marketing, because I’ve realized I approach the majority of my work with thinking “how can we make people feel an emotional connection to this piece of work?” Before I move to Los Angeles, though, I might take a year or so to travel and live in different parts of the country. I think as a media creator, the more life experience you have, the better creator you will be. So, I could call it “taking a gap year” but in reality, it’s an investment in myself as a creative person. Who knows where I’ll be in a year — I just know it won’t be boring. 

What is your favorite app or social media channel and why?

Easily Instagram. I think it’s mind-blowing that one day in like 30 years, my kids will be able to scroll down and see pictures that I posted when I was 20 years old. I mean how cool is it that we all have an internet record of our lives? If I think about it too much, I will get emotional.   

Who is your professional hero?

It might seem kind of random, but Sophia Amoruso, the founder of Nasty Gal and GIRLBOSS. It’s not really what she does as a profession that I look up to, but rather how she does it and how she conducts herself as a professional. She just shows up 100% unapologetically. She uses humor and realness to connect with people, and she’s not shy about her failures. She’s bold, genuine and she just makes people feel like they can do anything they want. I love that. Even though my career looks different from hers, I want to show up similarly in professional spaces. 

What has been your proudest moment in the past year?

Rather than one specific moment, I’m really proud of myself for moving to L.A. alone. It wasn’t easy at first and it took a minute to adjust, but I’m really proud that I believed in myself and trusted myself to take the leap. It was the most life-giving summer I have ever experienced. So, I think rather than one singular moment, it’s all the little moments I had driving on I-10 (or I guess, sitting in traffic on I-10) that I was like “oh wait, I’m really living my dream!” 

EMST’s Matthew Evans workshops TV pilot through prestigious Stowe Story Labs

Matthew Evans, Assistant Professor of Entertainment and Media Studies, recently had the honor of collaborating with some of the finest writers in the country through the Sidewalk Narrative Lab from Stowe Story Labs.

Evans career in screenwriting and active writing projects both guide his teaching content for EMST students. (Photo: Dayne Young)

The lab is typically hosted in conjunction with the Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham, Alabama, though it was a virtual event this year.

“I was honored to be selected by the Stowe Story Labs, which are known for their fantastic workshops, top-notch industry mentors and its network of alumni,” Evans said. “It’s validating to have one’s work selected, and humbling to share it with other writers.”

The four-day program blends presentations, mentorships and discussion to help writers hone their crafts. The Stowe Story Labs requires participants to be invited. Only a few, including Evans, of more than 600 applicants were invited this year.

At the late-August virtual event, Evans presented his writing and received feedback from some other of entertainment’s best minds.

He brought his newly-written sci-fi pilot “Hellas” as a launching point for group brainstorming. It is an original one-hour television show set on Mars in the dystopic near-future.

Evans said the collaboration enhanced his work, especially the process of pitching it to industry mentors in the Sidewalk Narrative Lab.

“When pitching, you really have to strip away all that stuff that doesn’t matter—simply because you have to be so concise,” Evans said. “So, that level of focus was helpful in thinking about my main character, which then led to me rewriting some of the script’s scenes.”

Matthew Evans began teaching at Grady College in 2019.

Many of the broader lectures encouraged techniques that helped shape Evans and his future work, including lessons he plans to incorporate with his students in EMST at Grady College.

In particular, Evans cites expertise from David Pope, a script analyst. Pope encouraged authors to pursue “speaking about the unspoken.”

“Using clips from movies, he had some great examples of subtext—including the use of humor, passive-aggression, and metaphor,” said Evans. “I plan on adding these to my toolbox when teaching.”

A member of the Writers Guild of America, West, Evans’ portfolio already includes scripts written for HBO Films, Cloud Nine Productions at CBS TV, and more. He plans to pitch “Hellas” to executives in Hollywood with hopes of it getting picked up for production.

A conversation with Randall Emmett, film and television producer

 Randall Emmett is an American producer of more than 100 films and television shows. He is also the chairman and co-founder of the production company Emmett/Furla Oasis Films. Randall will share his own personal career trajectory and current trends/challenges in finance and production. Remaining time will be reserved for Q&A.

 

Diverse identities are often lost in translation when movies and television are dubbed for other languages

When movies and television are translated to other languages, LBGT and BIPOC individual characteristics are often lost or reduced, according to research by Laurena Bernabo, assistant professor in entertainment and media studies.

Many characteristics are lost when television programs are translated, according to Bernabo’s research. (Photo: Laurena Bernabo)

To best understand the processes behind dubbing an American television show to other languages, Bernabo made multiple visits to New Art Dub in Mexico. It is the company that dubs many Fox shows. She also interviewed Fox executives in Los Angeles and Brazil. Bernabo focused on the show “Glee,” which is known for featuring characters that identify as LBGT and/or BIPOC, and their community storylines.

“Translation tends to lose a lot of the ways identity is communicated aurally, both through the vocabulary people use to talk about themselves and the tones and speech patterns associated with different groups,” Bernabo said.

In most cases, Bernabo found that executives and dubbing professionals did not have malicious intent when stymieing character traits. Rather, little attention was paid to the talent that executed the dubs and how they performed.

For example, Bernabo found when dubbing studios don’t employ Black voice actors to dub Black characters, those dubbed characters tend to sound like their white counterparts, even when the original actor’s voice is discernably different from white actors’ voices.

Laurena Bernabo

“There are also lots of references to one’s identity, be they Black or gay, that might get lost in translation because they’re deemed offensive, or they utilize references that the dubbed version’s audience won’t understand,” Bernabo said.

In the case of “Glee,” some of the character traits altered in translation included voice tone, pitch, inflection and connection to cultural references.

Bernabo recommends television executives and dubbing companies cultivate and employ voice actors of the same ethnicity to that of the character their voice portrays. Also, when cultural or local references are made in a script that pertain to race, gender or sexuality, Bernabo suggests the voice actor be educated and aware for how that dialogue in a script represents specific culture in the show.

The danger in intentionally or unintentionally scrubbing diverse personality characteristics from television figures is that real people may be less inclined to celebrate individualism.

“A multicultural approach to society tends to celebrate difference and the ways a culture is enriched by virtue of a heterogeneous population,” Bernabo says. “But when characters are dubbed and, due to numerous intersecting factors, made to sound like a more homogenous group, the ways in which characters differ from each other become muted.”

More attentive dubbing can prevent stereotypes from being exacerbated, but also can use character personality to challenge local stereotypes in a particular region.

You can read Bernabo’s published research in its entirety: