Inspired by such cult classics as "Twilight Zone " and "Outer Limits, " the anthology series demonstrates Oswego students' creativity in tandem with retro technology: 16mm black-and-white film, audio from metal cassette tapes, eerie piano music and classic special effects.
"I've been talking with students in the original crew, and they are excited about the WCNY broadcasts," said Dodd, a faculty member in English and creative writing and a specialist in the celluloid era in filmmaking. "'Spectral Transmission' has been a great platform to give real hands-on production experience."
Air times are 11 p.m. Sundays on WCNY-TV: Nov. 29 for "It Waits in the Attic," Dec. 6 for "In My Time of Dying" and Dec. 13 for "Fate of the Oracle." Dodd pointed out it's a familiar time slot for devotees of such kindred spirits as "Tales from the Crypt" and "Amazing Stories."
While most of the 2012-14 crew of Season 1 has graduated, the next generation of students seized the slate clapper in 2014 and has produced episodes 4 and 5 for Season 2, hoping to push the WCNY broadcast franchise forward.
The project earned the support of the college Provost's Office and a 2013 Scholarly and Creative Activity Challenge Grant. It also has received more than $2,100 in pledges from 47 backers during two Kickstarter campaigns.
The funds helped keep students Bryan Kastelan, Bryan Liberty, Andrew Stulck, Annie (Palmer) Komarisky and, later, Josh Parisi on campus and working with Dodd during the summer of 2013 on "Spectral Transmission's" first three episodes. The Season 2 crew worked during summer 2014 and right up to the present, and has benefited from the immersive experience.
"Imagine spending nearly every waking hour with the same four or five people for three months. That about sums it up. As a group, our friendship blossomed by leaps and bounds, " said current crew member Jared Gould. The senior, a dual major in cinema and screen studies and in creative writing, wrote episode 4, "Best Intentions at Heart," and served as cameraman for "Galaxy Child," the latest in the series.
While Dodd mentors and fills in on the production crew where needed, he emphasized that the students experience it all: concept development, creative meetings, scriptwriting, fundraising, rounding up gear, scouting and lining up locations, auditioning and casting professional and semiprofessional actors from around the state, lighting, costuming, filming, editing and more.
"This has taught me a lot about workflow," said Tyler Yastrub, a senior dual major in broadcasting and mass communication and in cinema and screen studies who serves as editor and sound designer. "With the longer pieces, you couldn't just throw everything into a timeline."
Kastelan, who moved to Los Angeles after graduation with Season 1 colleagues Liberty and Stulck, said the experience on "Spectral Transmission" was decisive in the trio's choices coming out of SUNY Oswego. The three now write together in an effort to land a TV series on a platform such as Netflix. "It really helped us come together as a team -- it took about three years to really get it off the ground, " he said "It pushed us all in the right direction to really follow what we wanted to do. "
Dodd credited Dale Wagner, TV program director at WCNY, with seeing the broadcast potential of "Spectral Transmission." Dodd had pitched his own short film, "Full Strength," to Wagner. "I handed him the whole package for 'Spectral Transmission' on DVD, so there was no need to pitch it," Dodd said. "Dale was so excited about it."
Kastelan said the Season 1 crew felt likewise when they heard the news. "I was really excited for everyone involved," he said. "Everyone put a lot of hard work into it. We weren't expecting this. It's really neat. "
As with the cyclical nature of a good series, the end of college careers makes it essential that current crewmembers work on recruiting those to follow, said Cameron Ebersold, director of episodes 4 and 5. "We owe it to students down the line, students of the future, to pass this on and help them find their creative voice," he said.
Dodd expects the "Spectral Transmission" model to continue to develop. While crewmembers have worked regularly with the theater department, there is potential to involve students from other programs in SUNY Oswego's School of Communications, Media and the Arts and the School of Business, as well elsewhere across campus.