Published May 15, 2020
Sportscasting Grad Carson Ferrell: Production Assistant at ESPN
Carson uses the storytelling skills he learned at Full Sail to create college basketball highlight clips for ESPN.
Incredible athleticism creates the competitive highs and lows that sports viewers tune in for, but dedicated fans know that there's more than brawn behind each game. Skilled sportscasters add to the experience by telling stories about games, players, and teams, and Full Sail grad Carson Ferrell helps bring those narratives forward as a Production Assistant at ESPN.
Carson graduated from Full Sail's Sportscasting program in 2019 and landed a role at the epicenter of sports news even before he had finished his bachelor's degree. An ESPN recruiter visited Full Sail's campus, and met with several students. And after going through a three-part interview process, Carson received a job offer. He currently works in Wraps, a division that cuts and edits highlights to run during live games.
Carson's day at ESPN begins around 3 p.m., when he comes in and receives assignments for three to four college basketball games. He's responsible for creating 20-second highlight cuts for each game's halftime show, so he spends time researching the teams and players to create context for those quick stories.
Things start moving quickly when the games begin around 6 or 7 p.m. "On average, the highlight that I would cut, I would enter that in maybe two minutes before it actually aired," he says. "We would write shot sheets for the anchors to read, just so that they know what's going on."
Carson also prepares more highlights to run in case a game ends early, finding fresh imagery and executing rapid-fire editing to keep up with a game's twists and turns. He heads home after the games end, usually around 11 p.m.
Carson was a sports fan who loved television production before he arrived at Full Sail. He spent many afternoons as a kid watching the Cleveland Indians' spring training in Winter Haven, Florida. He started cutting his teeth on TV production in high school, where he helped create the school's award-winning morning news show every day for four years.
He found out about Full Sail University's Dan Patrick School of Sportscasting Bachelor of Science from a commercial that aired during The Dan Patrick Show. Carson called Full Sail, spoke with an advisor, and enrolled shortly after.
Full Sail's curriculum started preparing Carson for ESPN the second he arrived. His Intro to Sportscasting class was taught by Jeff Schaetzel, who worked as a network director for 20 years. "I really enjoyed his teaching style a lot," says Carson.
He also started building on the TV editing skills he learned in high school, and he got extra production experience outside of the classroom by working on a classmate's sports podcast. "I was able to help them out with producing their podcast just to make it a lot better quality, like using more sound in it," he says.
Full Sail's emphasis on storytelling has helped Carson excel in his role at ESPN. "At the end of the day, we're trying to tell a story when it comes to cutting highlights and all that kind of stuff. That was a big thing that they really taught us at Full Sail," he says.
Carson thinks that ESPN hopefuls at Full Sail should try out everything that the program offers to improve their odds in the sportscasting world.
"Don't get stuck in the fact that you want to be in broadcast," he says. "Once I started going to classes, I realized that I enjoy production a lot too… Try to do the games that we have for Rollins, try play-by-play. Do that as much as you can, just to get the experience and see if you like it."