In the basement of Community College of Philadelphia, a cold cadaver has come back to life, babbling about a math problem. Aliens are paying attention from space. On the ground, a rogue student reporter is trying to piece together a conspiracy among the school’s top faculty.
The 10-episode series “Strange College” follows the series of mysterious, supernatural events in the bowels of the campus building.
The first two episodes are broadcast daily on CCP’s cable channels (Comcast and Verizon FIOS) and on YouTube. Episodes three and four will be released in March.
“Strange College” is CCP’s first stab at fictional programming. CCPTV features many shows produced on campus – some of them award-winning – but all are educational (i.e. talk shows) or performance-based (“Mic Drop”).
“With our limited resources – I have a staff of two – those kinds of programs are within our capacity,” said Allan Kobernick, director of multimedia services at CCP. “But to undertake a big theatrical production like this requires engaging all the staff and students to participate and support it.”
Kobernick and his production partner, Frank Fritz, a writer and English professor, are the driving forces behind “Strange College.” It is not a student production, nor is it funded by CCP. It’s made by a team of students and faculty across several departments, all of them volunteering – no money and no academic credit.
CCP offers vocational training in digital video production, but “Strange College” is not associated with it. The cast and crew come from many unrelated disciplines – one of the stars has a day job as an assistant to the vice president of institutional advancement. They were attracted by the opportunity to make a movie.
Corralling the talent has been the biggest logistical headache. Most of those involved in the production are on student schedules, and one of the main characters has already transferred from CCP to Penn, making his availability even more complicated.
It may be a bit clunky, but Kobernick said his team comes at it with a lot of enthusiasm.
“Here’s an opportunity to make a real TV production. Use all your skills and knowledge, and have some fun. Everyone who’s involved in the project has joined me in that feeling,” he said. “You’re building something you could not have done on your own. It’s sort of contagious.”