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Any Northwestern student can apply for the opportunity.

by Lindsay Floyd

Each year a number of film students from the University of Northwestern–St. Paul apply to go to the Los Angeles Film Studies Center for a semester in California. If a student is in the film track of Electronic Media Communication, there is room in the curriculum to get credit towards their major. When they are out there, they are able to obtain an internship. There are many options to choose from depending on what area the student wants to work in, such as acting and screenwriting. They also work in a production group on a main project and learn how the many aspects of film works in the industry.

UNW student Eric Johnson is currently experiencing film school for himself. He said, “In Los Angeles, I have had both the opportunity to gain more hands-on production experience. Since I was selected as a producer in our film workshop, this involves the logistical side of the production. I’m responsible for scheduling, budgeting, casting, etc. In other classes I’ve had opportunities to direct and assistant-direct. I’ve also had the chance to intern with Walden Media, a film company responsible for Everest and The Chronicles of Narnia.”

Matthew Abeler is also spending his semester at the LAFSC. He said, “Hollywood is a fast-moving city. While we do have time to relax and hit the beaches, most of our time is spent making films, watching films, talking about films and making more films. Personally, I’ve been writing, writing and writing. By the end of the semester, we will have completed our first draft of a 120-page feature screenplay – if we survive. Actually, I’m falling in love with the exhilaration of the journey.”

I’m falling in love with the exhilaration of the journey.

Does a student have to be an Electronic Media Communication major in order to go? Not necessarily. Ann Sorenson, associate professor of communication, explained that anyone can apply to go; for example, a theatre major has gone before. However, applying does not guarantee that the student will be accepted. If a student does get accepted and go, their tuition from UNW is applied to film school.

While film classes are offered at UNW, there are some differences when a student takes classes in Los Angeles. Johnson said, “Classes at the LAFSC are similar to UNW’s in structure. One difference is that in our workshop class, everyone is having hands-on tutorials based on a role they will have the rest of the semester in that class. There are tutorials for directors, producers, sound, cinematographers and more. We continue to learn in these tutorials as we work on the budgeted films we create in teams of 11-13.”

Abeler said, “I would say the greatest difference is our internship in LA. Our internships give us some opportunities to network face-to-face with people working in the Hollywood film industry. A few weeks ago, I chatted with Craig Bartlett, the lead writer of Rugrats and the creator of Hey Arnold. We were in a mix session at Salami studio listening back to the final audio from Ready, Jet, Go, a kids TV series debuting on PBS in February. Salami studios also mixed many of the Adventurers in Odyssey episodes. Evangelicals everywhere should appreciate that as much as I do.”

Sorenson encourages students to apply to go to the LAFSC. She said, “It’s a great opportunity to work on a student

It is a unique study experience, and you can meet other Christians who are in the industry.

production where the resources are greater. It’s always good to have more teachers, and out there, students are introduced to new perspectives. It is a unique study experience, and you can meet other Christians who are in the industry.”

Both Johnson and Abeler have many stories from just their first half of the semester. Johnson said that his favorite part of film school has been the connections he has made through UNW. Abeler said, “My favorite part of film school so far has been watching the creation of the kids show Ready, Jet, Go come to life. I write feedback on the scripts, and this week I played some of the characters in a script reading at the production office. Inflatable rockets hang from the ceiling. Glow-in-the-dark stars are tacked onto filing cabinets. I never stopped watching kid’s TV shows in high school or college and this is further confirmation there’s no need to stop now.”

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