September 22, 2010

Radio/TV professor earns industry fellowship

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- H.D. Motyl, an assistant professor in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Department of Radio-Television, recently earned a fellowship that gives college professors unique access to the television industry.

Motyl received a 2010 National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Faculty Seminar Fellowship.

Twenty faculty members from across the United States will attend the seminar, Nov. 9-13, in Los Angeles. The five-day program offers “discussions, presentations and interactions with major studios, production companies, the networks and their top production and programming people,” according to the organization website.

“It sounds like five days of really intensive, exhausting work but I think in the end it will be wonderful,” Motyl said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

Motyl said the fellowship will offer additional insight into both the creative and business sides of the television entertainment industry. The fellowship fits in well with his classes, which includes a senior level, two-course television writing class for sitcoms and dramas. The first course deals with script writing; the second focuses on production where students take two of the class’ scripts into production.

Students in his class sit around a writers’ table and pitch their own work with the class providing further discussion and critiques.

“It’s one thing to be on the outside looking in and say, ‘This is how they pitch ideas and what they go through’,” Motyl said. “It’s another to actually get to be out there with the creators and producers of shows and find out how they deal with networks, and how producers deal with writers or the production staff.”

Motyl also sees long-term benefits from the fellowship. It will allow him to build relationships with television faculty across the country and also provide some inroads to production companies. It could also offer the chance to obtain “show bibles” -- scripts and information about shows, settings, and character development for classroom use.

"We are very proud of Professor Motyl's acceptance to this prestigious industry seminar,” said Gary P. Kolb, dean of the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts. “It is testament to the quality of our faculty and our continuing relationship with the television industry at the highest levels. This opportunity to learn from industry insiders will provide invaluable insights for professor Motyl’s teaching and creative work.”

Dafna Lemish, professor and chair of the Department of Radio-Television, said the opportunity is exciting for Motyl and the department, “because it speaks volumes to the prestige of our faculty within the television industry.”

The seminar will enrich Motyl’s first-hand knowledge of the industry in all of its dimensions, allow him direct networking with “leading players in the field,” and
create connections that may facilitate possibilities for internships in the future and perhaps open up doors for future student employment,” Lemish said.

“We believe this opportunity will be invaluable both for Howard as a central faculty member of our department, as well as for students -- both through him, but also through strengthening the department’s ties with the industry.”

Motyl came to SIUC in 2007. His previous work includes a full-time lecturer in television at Columbia College, Chicago, and an adjunct professor at Northwestern University’s Department of Radio/Television/Film. Motyl earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in Film/Video Production and Screenwriting from Northwestern University in 1990, and his bachelor’s degree in English from Penn State University.

His work also includes numerous writing, production, and directing efforts on documentaries, including several for National Geographic Channel, The History Channel, and the A&E Channel, including “Jonestown Tragedy,” “Waco Tragedy,” “9/11,” “Warrant to Kill,” “Lincoln Assassination,” “John Glenn, An American Legend,” and “Image of An Assassination: A New Look at the Zapruder Film.”

Motyl’s current project is a documentary on steer wrestlers. He followed three professional rodeo cowboys for three weeks in summer 2009, and is currently editing the film. He hopes to have the documentary finished in December.