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ASU Film Spark charts new course for young filmmakers with LA nonprofit

May 3, 2018

Arizona State University is widening the lens for film education in Southern California. In collaboration with Film2Future, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit dedicated to educating underserved youth in the film and creative industries, ASU Film Spark will help facilitate a two-week summer program designed by Film2Future to introduce L.A.-area high school students to the art of virtual reality production.

With access to facility space and mentorship at Film Spark’s home in the ASU California Center in Santa Monica, Film2Future students will write, direct and produce virtual reality content during the program, which will run from June 11–24. It’s a venture Film Spark’s executive director Adam Collis hopes will open more avenues for Film2Future and other Southern California students with an eye on film education.

“Our goal is to help them get to the next level and to provide students access to both higher education and the entertainment industry,” Collis said. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to help prepare these new storytellers on emerging platforms like VR, as well as for their lives as college students.”

The collaboration between Film Spark and Film2Future kicked off in earnest with a special screening of the blockbuster "Black Panther" in late April. Screened simultaneously at AMC movie theater locations in Santa Monica and Tempe, Arizona, the event drew almost 200 high school students and ASU students, staff and alumni and featured a live talkback with "Black Panther" executive producer Nate Moore and film editor Michael Shawver. The session was moderated by Collis at AMC Santa Monica 7 and video linked to the Tempe audience at AMC Centerpoint 11.

Film Spark Director Adam Collis moderates a Q&A with film editor Michael Shawver and executive producer Nate Moore at a special screening of "Black Panther in Santa Monica on April 22, 2018.

Attendees included students involved in the Film2Future program as well as students from Santa Monica College, the Boys and Girls Club of America and the Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars program.

The groups were invited to attend the event to mark the final installment of ASU Film Spark’s Spring 2018 Superhero Movie Speaker Series. Throughout the semester, the series allowed ASU students to interact with filmmakers and executives linked to some of Hollywood’s most successful superhero franchises. Previous guest speakers in the series included producers Hutch Parker ("Logan," "X-Men"), Larry Franco ("Batman Begins," "Hulk"), director Scott Derrickson ("Doctor Strange") and production designer Alex McDowell ("Man of Steel," "Watchmen").

Deepening ASU’s presence in Southern California, ASU Film Spark also hosted its first Los Angeles internship and job fair in collaboration with ASU Career Services, drawing more than 100 students and alumni to the ASU California Center in March.

Attendees had the opportunity to meet with representatives from 12 entertainment companies, including CBS Corporation, Hutch Parker Entertainment and Lionsgate. They were also invited to attend a post-job fair screening of the 2009 film "Star Trek" at the Laemmle Fine Arts Theatre that included a Q&A with Trevor Roth, chief operating officer of Roddenberry Entertainment. 

ASU Film Spark is a part of the School of Film, Dance and Theatre within ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. The career accelerator program has produced several films —  "Car Dogs," "Justice Served" and "Postmarked" — as well as a growing list of notable alumni, including film editor Nick Ramirez, who worked on the Oscar-nominated film "Lady Bird" and David Breschel, producer of the Student Academy Award-winning student short "Mammoth," directed by Ariel Heller.

Offering degrees in film and media production and filmmaking practices, ASU’s School of Film Dance and Theatre has been named one of the fastest-growing film programs in the country. The school was ranked among the Top 50 Film Schools of 2017 by online trade publication TheWrap.com.

Top photo: ASU Film Spark director Adam Collis and students from the L.A.-based nonprofit Film2Future pose with "Black Panther" film editor Michael Shawver and executive producer Nate Moore at the AMC Santa Monica 7 in Santa Monica, California, on April 22, 2018. Photo by Lauren Elisabeth Photography. 

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