Near the end of the TP Current episode shown on Nov. 2, the Advanced TV Production class announced its plans to release a comedic sitcom called “@Break” on the “At Break” YouTube channel. Since then, five episodes of the sitcom, each averaging five minutes, have been released.
Consistently garnering over 100 views on YouTube per episode, “@Break” features seven fictional characters: Brody (Carsten Nahum ), Chelsea (Asia Soliday ), Derrick (Garrett Seamans ), Justin (Mason Hall ), Katherine (Lauren Cassiano ), Stephanie (Sonsoles Ramirez ) and Tommy (Matthew Rosenfield ). The sitcom, delivered in a “mockumentary” style, portrays the lives of typical high school students; it not only follows the friendship between the characters, but also the blossoming romance between Chelsea and Tommy.
“The sitcom mainly revolves around a documentary crew that follows seven students throughout high school during breaks between classes,” Ramirez said. “The seven students end up meeting each other through their own separate ways and they go through typical high school experiences, like homecoming.”
According to Advanced TV Production teacher Derek Brunkhorst, after his small suggestion in class for a TV program, the project “was really [the students’] brainchild, which was started and driven by the students themselves.”
“@Break” is not the only project in the Advanced TV Production class. Instead, the sitcom is simply one of the several different projects, including films and animations, that students can choose to work on.
“The students working on the sitcom don’t each have one specific [production] role,” Ramirez said. “We all act together and come up with ideas together … But we usually split apart when it comes to editing and actually filming the show because that’s where some of us don’t have as much experience as the others.”
According to Ramirez, the production of a single episode, which typically requires at least a week and a half, is a process that is as laborious as it is enjoyable.
Despite the considerable amount of time that the sitcom takes out of his day, According to Hall, who plays Justin, he knows that his efforts have paid off when he sees the finalized version of the episode, and, lately, the sitcom has received many positive student responses.
Having been introduced to “@Break” through TP Current, Briani Zhang (11) has watched all five episodes of the sitcom during her own time.
“I like the new sitcom,” Zhang said. “I can tell a lot of effort was put into it … the message I perceived [from the sitcom] is that you should stay true to yourself and that it’s okay to stray from what’s often considered to be cool. ”
However, all of the responses have not been positive. According to Hall, he was informed by a student that the introduction to the episodes is too long and that the content is simply not entertaining.
“I think [the sitcom] can be improved with a better script,” Erica Lee (11) said. “The topics are mostly relatable, which is great, but it would be better if they added more humor to it.”
Other than making the sitcom more interesting, Zhang thinks that “the sitcom can be improved by giving more of a backstory to the characters so [the audience] can see the reasoning behind their motives and individual personalities more.
“It would be better if the show could be less predictable,” Zhang said.
“In our most recent episodes, we have really tried to improve the sitcom,” Ramirez said. “Some scenes have backfired and have not gotten the best possible response that we wanted, so we try to cut out parts that we find unnecessary or just not funny enough.”
As the teacher of the class, Brunkhorst also thinks that there are some improvements that can be made to the sitcom, like ways to make it more accessible to and more widely-known among the student population.
“Right now, the sitcom is only accessible through YouTube, but I’m trying to get a website up where they can access the sitcom and all the class’ other projects,” Brunkhorst said.
He also plans to insert a brief preview of the newest sitcom near the end of any TP Current episodes that do not have enough news content to meet the standard of five to six minutes.
Going forward, Brunkhorst hopes to continue the sitcom and make it a series.
“I’m encouraging the juniors [in the class] to continue on with the sitcom … and to write in new characters at the end, but … it’s really their brainchild, so I’m going to let them fly with it,” Brunkhorst said.
Ramirez and Hall share Brunkhorst’s views on continuing “@Break” as well.
“It would be cool to leave a legacy as the first sitcom in our school and see how it develops,” Hall said.
The sitcom means more to Ramirez than simply a school project. Making the sitcom has become a unique accomplishment, which she hopes to share with students taking Advanced TV Production in coming years.
“I love making the sitcom because the seven of us are constantly striving to make every episode better than the last, and I think you can really see the progression of that,” Ramirez said. “[Advanced TV Production] is a great environment to be in, especially because we all like to take the sitcom seriously and really commit to our characters and the show.”
“@Break” has a lot of potential, according to Zhang, who plans on revisiting the sitcom’s YouTube channel every now and then. She recommends the sitcom to other students and hopes that it will be a project that will last many years and gain more attention from students.
The seven students that make up the cast of “@Break” pose in mid-air in front of the outdoor stage, jumping the same way as they do in the title sequence of each episode in the sitcom. The Advanced TV Production class announced the release of “@Break” on Nov. 2 in one of its TP Current episodes.