“Arts Academy,” a 10-episode television season follows 15 Idyllwild Arts Academy seniors in the year leading up to their 2015 graduation. You get to know these students well as they go through their challenging senior year. You experience their aspirations and angst as they go through arduous auditions and portfolio submissions for top schools, conservatories and dance companies. At the conclusion of the season, viewers, who, as in any reality show, have come to root for these young individuals, learn whether their favorite aspiring artists’ dreams are dashed or delivered.
The mini-series (episodes run 11 to 12 minutes each) launched on Verizon’s “Go90” mobile phone app on Oct. 1. The name of the media platform refers to the act of turning a cell phone 90 degrees to view video content in landscape mode.
The app is free to users, sponsored by ads, and is available for anyone to download and use, not just Verizon customers. The app will screen “curated” original content — content professionally developed and programmed for specific areas of interest including entertainment, sporting events and TV shows. Content is highly produced as opposed to homemade.
Verizon is betting millennials will flip their phones and begin viewing live and on-demand television – where they want, when they want in abbreviated segments that they desire. The app allows and encourages viewers to become participants in featured programming by commenting on episodes, sharing them and joining fan groups of followers. The target audience is 18 to 34 years old. “Seventy percent of this group views on mobile first,” said Marni Walden, president of product innovation and new business at Verizon. “That’s an enormous opportunity.”
John Newman, director of business operations at Idyllwild Arts Academy recounted that IA alumnus, Kamren Fuartado, class of 2014, who had gotten an internship with DreamWorks Animations’ “Awesomeness TV,” pitched the idea to his bosses about making the IA student series. DreamWorks signaled interest and encouraged Fuartado to approach IA administration. “After lengthy discussions and formal approval by the board of governors, Idyllwild Arts signed on to do the project for one season,” said Newman. “As of this week, six episodes are available for viewing and 13,000 people are ‘following’ the show. You will see students deeply immersed in their artistic and interpersonal pursuits on our beautiful mountain top campus and beyond [in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles].”
Newman pointed out that Awesomeness TV issued a formal casting call for the series, selecting featured IA seniors based on their personal stories and auditions.
“Consensus, based on comments, is that the series is worthwhile, exciting and fun,” said Newman. “We’re proud of the way students represented themselves and the school.
“In order to view ‘Arts Academy,’ simply download the Go90 app for Android or iOS devices,” noted Newman. “You will be asked to set up a simple account, after which you can search for ‘Arts Academy’ to view the show.”
The series shows the exacting schedules with which each of these seniors has to deal each day. Students take academic classes from 8 in the morning until 12:30 p.m. Then, after a break for lunch, they take art and performance classes from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. with rehearsals in the evening and on weekends. The series details how students’ dreams are earned and fulfilled through hard work and commitment, even while dealing with personal doubts, fear and fatigue.