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Columbia College Hollywood Expands


Columbia College Hollywood Expands
By StudentFilmmakers.com

While the campus doubles in size, CCH builds 3D, Editing/VFX, and Entertainment Business program offerings.

Columbia College Hollywood announces the expansion of the school's campus and the addition of new facilities, equipment, and courses. While the campus doubles in size, Columbia College Hollywood, which is located in Tarzana, California, continues to build their curricula with new 3-D classes, new Editing/VFX programs, and new Producing courses.

Alan L. Gansberg, a working writer/producer with four Emmy nominations and a Humanitas Prize, first started teaching at Columbia College Hollywood in 1995 and became the Dean of the College in September 2007. In this exclusive interview, Alan L. Gansberg gives StudentFilmmakers Magazine the insider on campus news at CCH.

StudentFilmmakers Magazine: On the equipment front, what kinds of new cameras and equipment is Columbia College Hollywood acquiring for the students to use, practice and learn with?

Alan L. Gansberg: Quite a bit, actually. We have ordered the RED Camera with all the most current bells and whistles. We should have it in a few weeks - they're not always specific about delivery dates. We have purchased several SONY EX3 cameras with accessories. We have many different digital cameras. This one adds to what we can offer our students, and our cinematography instructors have been asking for it. We are getting a six-board Barger light and an array of LED lights. And, as always, because we are in Southern California and have relationships with so many equipment houses and manufacturers, we can get loans or short-term leases on additional cameras, in particular. We'll be leasing a 3-D camera in October, for example. Our students get to use a wide array of cameras, in particular.

SFM: Is Columbia College Hollywood doing anything with HDSLR cameras?

Alan L. Gansberg: Yes. We have purchased four of the Canon Rebel T2i cameras. The instructor who teaches our storyboarding class shoots films with HDSLR, and we have another instructor who is itching to teach a course where the students shoot a narrative with HDSLR. We'll take a breath on that for the moment. We're busy building our 3-D offerings”¦ We first offered a 3-D Cinematography class more than two years ago.

SFM: Could you tell us more about this and how you're building your 3-D offerings?

Alan L. Gansberg: We look at 3-D not just as technology. We are integrating the theory and conversation of 3-D into our entire program. Our students have to contemplate the aesthetic of 3-D where, for example, the close-up will be used differently than it is for traditional feature films, the TV screen, and even the Internet. How does shooting in 3-D alter the aesthetic? We have had a 3-D cinematography class for two years. The technology changes so the cameras keep changing and this is where our relationships with and proximity to equipment houses come into play because we try to lease or get loans on camera gear. For a school to purchase now doesn't make sense. Tomorrow there's something new. We have used the Panavision Genesis system, and others. We also incorporate 3-D into our animation (Maya) courses. In terms of instruction, we've been lucky, in a sense, in that two of our cinematography instructors - Vince Toto and Charles Haine - have been shooting 3-D extensively, and our senior cinematography instructor, Charlie Rose, is a master at anything with a camera and a light. I think he could make a brilliant image with an instamatic and a lighted match. Will we do more 3-D classes? Absolutely. They are wildly popular with the students (not surprisingly). By Spring 2011 we'll have a course in which students will be shooting a short project in 3-D. Some students are already doing just that.

SFM: Columbia College Hollywood continues to expand the school's campus and facilities. Tell us about the newest updates.

Alan L. Gansberg: That's one of the most exciting things going on. We purchased the building and land directly east of our campus - just past our sound stage - and so we have, effectively, doubled our campus size. We're already using the grounds. In January, we will begin refurbishing the building, which was, actually, a furnace factory. When the four phases of refurbishing are complete, we'll have a new theatre lab, a media center, classrooms, additional developed shooting spaces for our students, a new student lounge area and the back of our buildings will be landscaped. It will change the entire complexion and configuration of our campus. Also, by freeing space in the existing main building, we'll be able to create the sound mixing stage and room we have had in blue prints for several years.

SFM: Could you tell us about any new classes or curriculum changes? How does that work?

Alan L. Gansberg: One of the upsides to being a small college is that if we want to add courses to the curriculum we can do it in as little as six weeks. That's what happened with our 3-D Cinematography class. We have a curriculum and policy committee, and academic council of faculty members of every discipline, and we encourage new ideas from faculty and students.

For Fall 2010, we have added an Entertainment Business emphasis. In earning their BFAs, students at CCH will major in either Cinema or combined Cinema/TV”¦ and, additionally, emphasize [specialize] in one of six areas - Writing, Directing, Cinematography, Editing VFX, “Producing: Production & Development” or “Producing: Entertainment Business.” The latter is new for the Fall. We had students with an interest not in production, but in the deal making, and we wanted to offer a program that would give them the information and tools they need to be agents, in financing, in the executive wings, or even in production accounting if that is where the journey takes them. We created this emphasis. John Cones, an attorney who has written about a dozen books including the standard, “43 Ways to Finance Your Feature Film,” is the advisor for the emphasis and helped us create it. He's been teaching at CCH for almost four years - Entertainment Law, Film Financing, and Business Plans for Filmmakers. The very courses we're offering more of. Few undergraduate programs offer these courses.

We have also spruced up our Editing/VFX program, which also includes Sound and Post Production Sound classes. Our editing students will get their degrees now equally proficient in Avid and Final Cut Pro. Before, they often gravitated towards one or the other. We've altered the content of several courses - Photoshop, After Effects, Maya - to show the pipeline towards animation and effects, and better demonstrate educationally how these software programs are all connecting. Additionally, we have added a class called Assistant Editing Essentials - this is a course industry professionals suggested we have. We have a popular course that teaches assistant camera operating. This is the editing side of that. We want our student to be as prepared as possible for the competitive and demanding nature of the jobs out there.

SFM: Any new cool new professors or current professors we can talk about?

Alan L. Gansberg: Yes. David Jacobs, who created and was the show runner for Dallas and Knots Landing in the heyday of the prime time serials, is joining our faculty to teach a producing master class called Art of Creative Producing. Our students may have been born after those shows departed the airwaves, but they know about Who Shot JR? That's part of American history, I suppose.

Caroline Aaron is now teaching several acting and stage courses for us. Caroline has appeared in numerous films for Woody Allen, Mike Nichols, and Nora Ephron, among others, and was directed by Nichols on Broadway. Her film appearances include Crimes & Misdemeanors (as Woody Allen's sister), Primary Colors, This is My Life, and she played Bobby Darin's sister/mother in Kevin Spacey's Beyond the Sea. When she joined our faculty she was an instant hit with the students.

Let me see. We have a lot of “cool professors.” John Swanbeck, who directed the aforementioned Mr. Spacey in The Big Kahuna, is increasing his teaching load because he's enjoying being here.

I could go on”¦

I truly believe that we are a film school with not just an edge, but with a framework to prepare the student as a filmmaker and for the world in which the filmmaker must toil. We are an egalitarian milieu - everyone gets to shoot. There are no committees deciding who passes muster. As a result, the students tell us it is a collaborative environment. Competitiveness has to exist because we're all human, but because everyone knows they'll have numerous chances to shoot they are incredibly supportive of each other. I like that about CCH. Always have. It's why I decided to become more involved.
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