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CCM Professor Kevin Burke and members of the 2014 UC Gold Rush documentary team. Photo by Kaori Funahashi.

CCM Professor Kevin Burke and members of the 2014 UC Gold Rush documentary team. Photo by Kaori Funahashi.

Student-Produced 'Gold Rush Expedition Race' Film Series to Air on Universal Sports Network

The University of Cincinnati's student-produced Gold Rush Expedition Race documentary film series will be coming to television sets nationwide this fall courtesy of a new broadcast agreement with Universal Sports Network.

The cable network will air the first of three installments of the action-packed documentary series with the premiere of the 2012 Gold Rush Expedition Race film at 6 p.m. ET on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. This will be followed by the premiere of the 2013 race documentary at 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Oct. 24.

A team of 16 students is currently in northern California filming the 2014 race, which will air in May of 2015. Additional airings will be announced at a later date.

- UC's 2014 Gold Rush documentary team, shooting on location this September. All photography courtesy of Kaori Funahashi.

The Gold Rush Expedition Race documentary films chronicle one of the foremost expedition races in the world. Each 90-minute documentary features an international field of 50 elite athletes tackling a grueling 275-mile course through the California wilderness as they test their mental and physical limits in the toughest competition in North America. Over the course of four days, teams face merciless heat and sleepless nights while trekking, mountain biking, climbing and kayaking amidst the beauty of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The race is part of the Adventure Racing World Series (ARWS) and the winning team receives an entry into the ARWS World Championship.

Each film has been produced by a team of UC students hailing from the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), the College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP), and the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences.

Working under the guidance of professional television director/producer and CCM Electronic Media (E-Media) alumnus Brian J. Leitten (BFA, 2001) and E-Media Professor Kevin Burke, these students shot, edited, scripted and produced the film on location in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. Both Leitten and Burke advise the project and provide professional guidance and feedback to the students during all phases of the documentary's development.

The project has been made possible by a grant from UC Forward, an initiative that supports experiential learning and is part of the UC Academic Master Plan.

"The idea was to totally re-invent the college classroom," says UC President, Santa J. Ono, PhD. "Focusing interdisciplinary teams of faculty and students on real world projects."

The UC Forward grant has allowed over 30 students from nine different academic programs to travel to California and film the races.

Burke adds, "By interacting with both professional mentors and students from various disciplines, the project better prepares students for professional careers in the television and film industry. Being involved in one of the first student-produced documentaries to air nationally looks good on a student resume as well."

CCM alumnus Steve Dickman (BFA, 2012) is an assistant television editor in Los Angeles who served as Student Supervising Producer for the 2012 race documentary. "The documentary was the most rewarding project that I worked on at the collegiate level," he recalls.

"The guidance I received, and professional standard to which the students were held, has helped make my transition into the professional world much easier," Dickman continues.

The 2012 Gold Rush Expedition Race film was recently awarded the prestigious Best of Festival Award at the Broadcast Education Association's 2014 Festival of Media Arts.

According to Leitten, “Working with the students helped my professional growth as much as theirs. It’s a major accomplishment for everyone involved to have our work showcased on a national level.”

UC alumnus Brian J. Leitten.

UC alumnus Brian J. Leitten.

In June, Leitten received the UC Alumni Association's 2014 Jeffrey Hurwitz Young Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award for his professional achievements and his continued involvement with the UC community through projects like the Gold Rush Expedition Race film series. Learn more about his award by visiting

Enjoy a behind the scenes look at the work going into the 2014 Gold Rush Expedition Race film by visiting the UC Gold Rush Documentary Team's YouTube page.

All broadcast times Eastern and subject to change. Learn more about the Universal Sports Network by visiting

About UC Forward
UC Forward is a philosophy, an idea, a re-imagining of what a university experience should be. It is a one-of-a-kind teaching, learning, and research initiative—pairing students and faculty with external experts, all from differing perspectives—to solve today's problems and develop tomorrow’s workforce in unique and relevant ways. Learn more by visiting