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Three University of South Carolina Upstate Mass Media students had the right ingredients when the Food Network came to town to film an episode of its new show “Food Court Wars.”

Tyris Hall, Daniel Eplee and Somazia Pelzer worked as production assistants for the week-long shooting of the show at WestGate Mall. They were responsible, in part, for setting up lights and equipment, shooting footage around Spartanburg, and performing other tasks as assigned, such as transporting producers and keeping the set clean and orderly.

The students were recommended to the program’s producer by Dr. Warren Bareiss who teaches TV Studio Production and other mass communication courses at USC Upstate.

“The crew I worked with was very helpful in making sure I learned all about the industry and answered any questions I had,” said Hall, a communications major. “I enjoyed my experience and would definitely recommend that any student wanting to be in the television industry to get a job as a production assistant!”

The show originally aired on July 14, but the episode can be seen again Friday, July 19, or Sunday, July 21, on the Food Network.

“I can’t overstate the value of this type of experience. Students can learn how to operate equipment, write scripts, and work as a team in class, but working for a professional production company on a real TV series puts students right in the thick of real-world working conditions, deadlines, stresses, and routines,” said Bareiss. “The students experienced the rush of a nationally televised production with all the ups and downs that can only be approximated in class. Once the shoot was over, each student not only had the experience, but a valuable line on their resume.”

“Food Court Wars” is a show that pits two teams of aspiring food entrepreneurs against one another as the battle to win their own food court restaurant, rent-free for a year. The show is a production of One Potato, Two Potato, a company co-founded by well-known food television personality, Gordon Ramsey. Upon completion of the Spartanburg show, Hall, a rising senior, worked on a follow-up program in Charleston and is planning to move to California to do further freelance work with the production company. In this photo Hall (right) is pictured with Tyler Florence, host of the show, at the Charleston Mall.

Bareiss also noted that this type of experience opens doors for future opportunities for USC Upstate students.

“When other companies approach us, we can say that our students have demonstrated that they have not only a strong work ethic, but also professional skills for what I hope to be an extensive track record,” he said. “‘Food Court Wars,’ plus the work that our students already do for ESPN and local internships in mass media and public relations, provides a strong platform upon which to grow. As we build that platform, I think we will also attract more students to our program.”

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