Former CBS Sports Producer Leads Documentary Film Festival Workshop

Students completed intensive storytelling projects on tight deadline

Terry Ewert works with University of Mississippi student John Touloupis during the 48-Hour Documentary Film Festival workshop hosted by the School of Journalism and New Media. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – A 13-time national Emmy Award-winning sports television producer recently returned to the University of Mississippi to lead a 48-Hour Documentary Film Festival workshop hosted by the School of Journalism and New Media.

Terry Ewert, former executive producer of CBS Sports, has won Emmys for writing and documentary filmmaking. He also led production for the coverage of three Olympic Games at NBC Sports and the Atlanta Olympic Committee.

Hattiesburg native Lucy Burnam, a journalism graduate student focusing on photography and video, was a member of the winning student team, along with Allen Brewer and Andranita Williams. The workshop required students to work together to complete an intensive storytelling project.

“You have 48 hours to pitch an idea, get a green light for it and then physically go shoot the whole thing before finally editing it all together,” said Burnam, an aspiring novelist and photographer. “So basically, it’s a fairly large task condensed into a short period of time that’s doable, but every second counts.”

The opening night, Oct. 10, involved pitching the story idea and creating shot lists and a production schedule. Students captured video around Oxford the following day and edited on Oct. 12.

“It was extremely intense, but I recommend people do it to test their limits, because you might end up surprising yourself,” said Burnam, whose favorite part was working with others to edit the stories on deadline.

“Editing anything, especially video, is one of the most nitpicky processes, and being under such a looming deadline was stressful,” she said. “But the professors involved, as well as my team and the other students, really made it a day I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.

“We all just sat in the same room and laughed together, maybe cried a little, too, until it was all finished. Quite the bonding experience.”

Burnam’s project was about a teammate’s father, who began experiencing shortness of breath during the summer before learning he had two heart blockages.

Michael Fagans, an assistant professor of journalism who helped lead the workshop, said he hopes students learned the important elements of creating a documentary, plus some lessons about themselves.

“(I hope) they learned where their growing edges are, the level of effort that it takes to see a project to the end, how they can apply these skills to their final class projects in other courses,” he said.

Burnam said students enjoyed the camaraderie.

“I bonded with my team and really learned how to acclimate to a group setting quickly,” she said. “Personally, I hope we all learned that we can accomplish a lot under a short period of time if we really put our minds to it.”