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Students Design, Experience Death for NBC's 'Hannibal'

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 – By Clynton Namuo

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Deborah Bush knew she was filming great underwater footage of her classmate Morgan Sjoblom last fall. What she didn’t realize was that she was also filming her dying.

“One of those shots is of her actually drowning,” Bush said.

Bush, Sjoblom and their classmate Eric Davis were among 19 senior graphic design majors who created promotional campaigns for the NBC TV series “Hannibal” as a way to generate concepts for the network executives and their creative teams. In exchange, the students got the chance to work on a high-profile confidential project, receive input from top-level creative minds and add the project to their resumes.

“You don’t get this caliber of projects like ‘Hannibal’ while you’re still in school, much less even after you have been in the industry for a long time,” said Stan Anderson, an associate professor of graphic design and graduate director in the Welch School of Art and Design.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE TRAILER STUDENTS CREATED FOR NBC.

Anderson, a veteran of CNN and NBC, makes finding real-world projects for his students a top priority each semester and mines his former colleagues in search of collaborations. This past semester his students also worked with the Game Show Network and the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival.

“I don’t think students understand the gravity of these projects until after they leave school,” Anderson said. “It really gives them a leg up when they start applying for jobs.”

For “Hannibal,” students were given several copies of the scripts before the show was even shot and then spent months creating promotional materials that included posters and video trailers. The project was so secretive that students had to sign non-disclosure agreements prior to reading the scripts.

Bush, Sjoblom and Davis threw themselves into the creative process.

“It’s so intimidating doing this for a company like NBC Universal,” Davis said. “You’re pushing yourself to squeeze out every last ounce of creative juice.”

Their trailer included filming Sjoblom underwater while wrapped in a sheet as a way to show beauty turning into terror. That meant all three of them had to get into a pool for what turned into an exciting and harrowing shoot.

“I had to hold Deborah down so she wouldn’t float when we were filming and I had to make sure not to drown her too,” Davis said. “We had a lot of fun doing it and that elevated our work.”

Each of them said the group project gave them a better understanding of what it will be like to work in a creative field.

“I’m not scared anymore to graduate and go out into the real world,” Davis said. “We were very lucky to have had this opportunity.”