Temple Pilots helps scripted shows get air time

Tyler Crystal and Steven Aronow created Temple Pilots to help students learn about scripted TV-making.

Senior media studies and production major Tyler Crystal speaker to the Temple Pilots team in the TECH Center on April 1. | CLAUDIA SALVATO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

When senior media studies and production major Tyler Crystal and Steven Aronow couldn’t find the right student media organization to participate in, they decided to make their own.   

“I brought the organization idea to [Crystal] because I tried out a few other TUTV shows and hadn’t really found something that was a structured television show where you could make something like a scripted show,” Aronow said.

Crystal and junior media studies and production and marketing double major Aronow created Temple Pilots, an organization that takes student-submitted show ideas and produces the first, or pilot, episode. Their first project, “Elevated,” premiered on Temple’s student-run television station, TUTV, in February and their second, “Strays,” began filming earlier this month.

After students submit their ideas, Crystal and Aronow choose what episode they want to create and spend the next few months working with the organization to cast, film and edit each episode.    

“The entertainment industry is heavily dependent upon experience,” Crystal said. “I think getting the people who are new to this kind of field work… [opens] people’s eyes to the possibilities and resources that are there.”

Filming “Elevated” was many members’ first opportunity to work on a scripted TV show, Aronow said.  The crew for “Elevated” grew from the three essential members working on scripts and editing to more than 20 people when filming a scene.

Aronow said the show allows students to get hands-on time practicing with script writing, costuming and set design.

“It wasn’t just about making the product of a TV show, but a program where people can learn from us how to make a TV show and continue on after Temple,” he said.

Sophomore media studies and production major Jackson Kirchoff wrote the initial synopsis for “Elevated,” the story of Sam, a struggling music manager, while she tries to find her next big talent. After losing a promising house band and a period of turmoil, she realizes her next act was riding in her elevator the whole time.

Kirchoff based his synopsis around the question: what happens when people leave an elevator? After his idea was picked up, he said “Elevated” required long writing sessions multiple times a week for the majority of their fall semester.  

“Really the whole production was new to me,” Kirchoff said. “It was cool to see it go from this one page I wrote to an actual episode of TV.”

Crystal and Aronow are excited about the opportunities they have with the program and the new ideas they are able to bring to life. Their newest project, “Strays,” follows the story of Shane, a thrift store employee, after he gets turned down from his dream job, when his abusive past causes him to act impulsively without considering the consequences.

Aronow said one of the best parts of Temple Pilots is the artistic freedom he and Crystal have.

“What I love about Temple Pilots is that it’s our creation, which is great because we have full creative control as to where we wanna go,” Aronow said. “There’s also not too much of a specific direction that we have to go.”

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