Feb. 9, 1996
UW-RF Television Show Wins Regional Emmy
By Jaime Larson
UW-RF News Bureau
A student television program at UW-River Falls has captured a prestigious regional Emmy Award.
UW-River Falls graduate Josh Will recently received a regional College Television Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in Hollywood, which also sponsors the Primetime and Daytime Emmys.
Will received first place in the region in the comedy division for a tape from the campus-based program "Focus On U." The tape features Will's work from last year when he was a senior from Minneapolis majoring in speech communication.
Also heavily involved in the award-winning project were UW-RF graduates Erik Quam, a broadcast journalism major from Sturgeon Bay, Wis., and Scott Shoemaker, a jounalism major from River Falls, Wis.
Jim Zimmerman, an associate professor of theater arts at UW-RF and the adviser for "Focus On U," who worked closely with his former students, was pleased, but not overly surprised, with the award.
"I think they're both very talented people," he said. "They will do well in they industry no matter what they do . . . . I'd say they were among the most talented students we've had come through here."
Will's entry was one of over 300 from 139 schools in 38 states. Will placed first in a 12-state region that is one of the largest in the competition. Nationally, his video was one of the top four entries among the six regional winners. The entries were judged by the same panel of industry leaders that select the Primetime and Daytime Emmys winners.
Will was ecstatic when he heard the news. "It surprised me very much," he said. "I was just literally screaming."
Many of the other regional winners attended schools with larger programs, such as the New York School of Visual Arts, New York University, and Columbia University. Will was impressed by the caliber of the competition and found it noteworthy that an award-winning college program could be produced at a smaller school like UW-RF, which doesn't have access to the funding or equipment that is available at a prestige institution.
"The thing I think I'm pretty proud of is if you look at the list (of winners) . . . those are really huge, big-name schools with huge, big-name budgets," Will said. "We're really kind of the underdog here, so I'm real proud of that."
Will titled his entry "Le Faux Mise en Scene," which can be loosely translated as "The Fake Program." The title and content of the tape resulted from some advice Will received after submitting some of his earlier work to Comedy Central, a cable television comedy network. Will was told that he suffered from what is referred to in the industry as the "Saturday Night Live Disease:" he had a funny idea, but he dragged it out too long.
Following that advice, Will adjusted his technique by shortening his sketches. His Emmy-winning production operates like a television with a built-in remote control, Will said. When a joke dies out or a sketch becomes less interesting, the built-in remote control automatically switches the channel to something more interesting.
One of the segments shows a mock interview with O.J. Simpson, in which excerpts from the audio version of Simpson's book, "I Want to Tell You," were inserted as answers to questions written by Will and Quam.
"I think that out of anything, that's the thing that we were most proud of," Quam said.
An awards banquet will take place March 10 in Los Angeles to honor the winners. After the banquet, regional winners will meet with agents, writers and producers. This exposure, Zimmerman said, can help boost the careers of Will, Quam and Shoemaker.
Quam, who is now a graduate student at Mankato State University in Minnesota, hopes that meeting will help him find an internship in film or television, but he doesn't expect it to lead immediately to a job in the industry.
"It would be great to get a career out of this and live happily ever after, but in reality that's not going to happen," Quam said.
Shoemaker is pursuing a writing career in Los Angeles and has written for the television program "Star Trek-Deep Space Nine."
Will lives in the Twin Cities area pursuing acting roles; however, he's still not sure whether he wants to settle on acting as a career or go into video production. Eventually he would like to get into film, possibly as an actor, writer or director.
While Will's is the only name that appears on the entry, he recognized all of the others who helped in the production of "Le Faux Mise en Scene." Everyone who worked on "Focus On U" played a part in his receiving the award, he said.
"It was a big group project and in some ways I feel bad that mine was the only name on there," Will said.
In addition to Quam and Shoemaker, Will also cited the contribution of John Martinsen, a junior journalism major from River Falls.
"(Martinsen) did the graphics, and some of the graphics are just incredible," he said, adding they contributed to the professional appearance.
Zimmerman also commended all who were involved in Will's entry.
"The award that they won . . . was really an accomplishment not just for Josh and Eric, but for a number of people who worked on those projects," he said.