MacEwan journalism students had a rare, behind-the-scenes look at filming an episode of the hit CBS true-crime series 48 Hours, in a move kept under wraps until it aired this weekend.

Dr. Steve Lillebuen, assistant professor in the Bachelor of Communication Studies program, set up the work-integrated learning opportunity last month to give video production students hands-on experience on a network television film shoot.

“I’m always looking for ways to get my students involved in my journalism projects, so when CBS called to ask me for an interview about my book, I knew exactly where I wanted it filmed: right here on campus,” he said.

Lillebuen worked with CBS to bring its U.S. production crew to Edmonton in order to film the interview at MacEwan’s state-of-the-art television production studio, which was officially opened in Allard Hall two years ago.

CBS 48 Hours was revisiting the notorious Mark Twitchell “Dexter Killer” case, which the journalist and author had investigated for years and turned into an award-winning book, The Devil’s Cinema.

"A total of eight journalism students were able to job shadow the American network’s production crew in setting up the studio and filming the interview.

Studio coordinator Jason Malenko was also asked to complete additional filming as a camera operator, along with fourth-year student Gerard Murray. Everyone agreed to keep quiet about the project until the episode aired on April 23. 

Savannah Parker, a fourth-year journalism major, says it was a great experience to be on set because she got to see how network-quality television is produced while working remotely. 

“Watching the crew communicate with the team in New York was exciting to witness because we got to see in real time how issues arise and how they work to resolve them,” she said. 

She’s now thinking about a career in audio production after getting the chance to work closely with the audio technician during the film shoot. 

“There may be a multitude of other opportunities out there for me.” 

Gerard Murray, also a fourth-year journalism major, says he learned a handful of new techniques and tricks from job shadowing a professional camera crew. 

“It could be something as simple as using a whiteboard to bounce light and fill in a subject's face, as they did on the day of the shoot, that makes me more aware to utilize everything in my environment,” he said. 

When he graduates, he hopes to find a role in television broadcasting, preferably behind the camera – something he’s already been doing as a camera operator for the MacEwan Griffins while completing his studies. 

The CBS episode also revealed that Oscar-nominated producer David Permut (Hacksaw Ridge) is working on a film adaptation of Lillebuen’s book. Sam Hobkinson, best-known for Netflix’s Misha and the Wolves (which premiered at Sundance) is set to write and direct.

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