Alana Berry -  Class of 1995
TV Producer
Discovery Channel - TLC - Animal Planet - History Channel
Thanks to Allison Berry Neumann
Updated August 2005 by Alan Berry

When I finished my degree at Liberty University in communications I went to Southern Illinois University where they had awarded me a graduate assistantship. While there, I worked as the production manager/head producer of non-broadcast company called RT Productions. I won my first award (Gold) with the AiME for the Women's Center PSA.
(AiME is the Association for Information Media & Equipment)

Then I went on and started to produce for alt.news 26:46. This a really fun magazine style news show, sort of a cross between Channel 1, MTV and 20/20 but more irreverent. The first semester I helped with this show, they only produced two episodes. It was super creative and fun, but they lacked the ability to mass produce. That is where I came in. I started executive producing in the fall of 2000 (the first female to ever produce alt.news 26:46). That year we put out 8 shows . . . and they kept winning awards!  I have kind of lost track of how many.
 

Students earning the national honor were, from left,
Alana Berry, Ian Vertovec, Michael Cioni,
Jody Leggio, and Otto Arsenault.

Southern Illinois University students win top honors for "alt.news"

Southern Illinois University Students Win 2nd Year In A Row

But, the bigger awards are the grand prize for the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences College Television Awards (Student Emmys). And, we also won best magazine program in the Regional Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, that is the professional Emmys (not a student competition). While working on this show and doing my thesis and teaching classes and working for RT Productions, I was also producing my independent documentaries. Documentary is more my passion. So, I did some pieces on animal euthanasia (HUMANE), and about Chad Pregracke, who lives on the Mississippi River, cleaning it (CLEAN RIVERS), and I lived briefly with a counter culture in the forest documenting their strange lifestyle (RAINBOW). Each of these documentaries won several awards as well.

Then I won the award I am most proud of, "Outstanding Graduate Student of the Year 2001". This may not be most glamorous of them, but it meant the most to me to honored on the local level.

I finished with SIUC and went to Los Angeles in the summer of 2001, where I had won an internship in documentary production with the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. I was going against 8,000 other students for the coveted 32 positions within the industry. There were only two for documentary and I won one of them!

So, I started working for Termite Art Productions. This is a production company that does contracted work for the cable networks: Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, History Channel, A&E.  I worked as a researcher for a month when they promoted me to Segment Producer.

I am told that what I have been doing is extremely rare for my age and professional experience. Usually, when you come to Los Angeles to work in the entertainment industry, a person must work 3 years as a production assistant, then if they are good they get to be promoted to segment producer and many stay there (I have worked with segment producers that have been doing it for 10 years). So, in less than two years they prepping for the promotion to full producer to come in the next several months.

I'm 25. All I can say is that God must really want me here and at this time. It amazes me all the time, and I know I can not take credit for this miracle, who knows what the future holds, who knows. All I know is each step is important and my only responsibility is to the task at hand.

Update - August 2005

In 2003, I was promoted to full producer and did a series of specials for Discovery Channel for "man-eater week." I am also now listed at IMDB.com.  I did some other shows as well and then I did my first feature documentary called "Grizzly Man." This film was with German Director, Werner Herzog and it went to the Sundance Film Festival on January 2005 and it is was released in theaters August 12th, 2005 in LA and NY.
  Those things are all fine and exciting, but I have to tell you that at the end of 2004, I decided to take some time off from television and so I am currently living and working in Northern India. I was only supposed to be here until April, but once I got into the work and realized how long it was going to take then I committed myself for the rest of the year. I am working with poor women, teaching them how to make and sell handicrafts and to basically earn a living that doesn't include working in a field or carrying bricks on their head. I don't know if I will actually make a financial difference in their lives, but I feel like I am at least giving them some dignity and perhaps that may mean more in the long run. I am missing my 10 year reunion because of this and while I would love to see everyone in September, I can't leave the work just now.  Anyway, I will be returning to Lynchburg, right before Thanksgiving and will be figuring out my next move at that time. I will most likely return to television, but whatever I return too, I will be returning refreshed.
You can follow my cross-cultural adventures on my blog here: http://www.alter607.com/aspx/Blog.aspx 

To Students currently at Brookville:

I recently spoke at a career day at a South Central Los Angeles Middle School, and I told them that I think of my career path as the most incredible hike, one that I might have taken back home in Blue Ridge Mountains. At the bottom of the mountain, when you begin, the top seems so far away and
ominous, not really real, and some might turn away at that. But if you really look at it, the climb is not that hard, just one step at a time, one foot in front of the other. Focus on what you are doing and you will get there, if you stop in the path to daydream about the top you might again get discouraged and want to turn back thinking you will never get there. But, if you forget about reaching the top then you will come to realize that it is more about the journey than the destination anyway, and many times on the way, you can pause and see the progress you have made, and sigh with wonder that you have come so far and so high, and knowing that when you were at the beginning you had no idea it was going to be like this.

It is not easy though, your bones may ache, you are sweaty and dusty and thirsty, but they
are all good moments, because it reminds you that you are indeed hiking and you are on an adventure and you need the low in order to feel the high. I am still on the hike myself and I no idea how long it will be but I can't wait for each turn because I never know what it will bring and the challenge I will face, but this I know, the journey is as simple as one step at a time, one foot in front of the other.

I have recently won another award for a piece I did for Animal Planet the summer I first came here. It is about a cat that was set on fire and then saved, very gruesome story, but I guess some people liked it. I received an Honorable Mention in the Genesis Awards and I went to the Beverly Hills Hilton this for that award ceremony.

My current projects are for TLC. They are shows on the Psychology of fear, and belief in the supernatural, and how myths begin. They are turning out to be very interesting. We are editing them now and I believe they are set to air in April, 2003. After that, I think I am moving on to a new series on Discovery called "Beyond Human."

Besides my work for Termite Art Productions, I continue to develop my independent documentary projects. I have about 15 in pre-production and will begin production on two of them in the coming months.

I truly must acknowledge God and his hand in all of this. It is one awesome journey.

Alana Berry - Brookville Class of 1995.