Juno makers give students insider’s look at filmmaking

ASU will host the first-ever intercollegiate video conference that connects students at several universities with the professionals behind Juno, bringing a little Hollywood to Tempe this Saturday.

Adam Collis, professor of practice in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts School of Theatre and Film, has been commuting from L.A. once a week to teach on campus for three years.

When he first started at ASU, he began the Hollywood Invades Tempe event series to bring the makers of major films, via Skype and now CISCO, to ASU to speak with students and members of the community.

“I thought, ‘Since I’m visiting from Hollywood, I should try to bring a little Hollywood to Tempe,’” Collis said. “I found that Hollywood professionals tend to be incredibly generous and love to share with student lovers of film.”

Anatomy of a Feature Film takes this simple screening and question and answer session further in an all-day, one-credit class that ASU students in the film program can sign up for and attend.

Anyone can watch the event online this Saturday, and students at Duke University, Yale, UCLA and the University of Montana will be able to participate and ask questions.

“Anatomy of a Feature film represents an opportunity for ASU to really take a leadership position in what I’m calling the interactive open learning experience, where we can share educational conversations with students around the globe,” he said.

The conversations students get to have with the professionals are more personal than what may be addressed in a lecture.

“They get to see working professionals either in their homes or places of work,” he said. “Students see someone who’s not really approachable to a graduate right at the beginning of their career.”

The Herberger school’s Lincoln Professor of Ethics and the Arts F. Miguel Valenti helped Collis get the event series started.

He said despite the “logistical nightmare” of bringing six schools in four different time zones together in one online forum for eight hours on a Saturday, he sees “this program expanding to a couple times a semester at least.”

“We’re not just putting it out there for people to download; we’re actually involving other schools in a participatory, real-time process,” Valenti said. “They’re there all day long participating with us, and that’s unique.”

Film students get an insight into the individuals involved in making a movie beyond the well-known roles of directing and acting, including the producer, cinematographer, financier producer and writer. Juno director Jason Reitman will attend in-person at the end of the day.

“Being able to get a personal experience with someone who’s at a very advanced level in the industry – that’s something we can’t give in a classroom without bringing these people here,” Valenti said.

Hollywood Invades Tempe is supported by the Planning and Activities Board and ASU Film Association. The vice president of ASU Film Association, media production junior Zac Donohoe, has attended every event.

Each screening brings anywhere from 60 to 100 people to the new Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building IV.

“Between the new theatre and the larger name filmmakers, it’s really grown and become more popular,” Donohoe said.

As a student, Donohoe said listening to the professionals who answer students’ questions is a great way to learn.

“They’re where we want to be now,” he said. “Having a videoconference is not only going to put people on the screen that you’d usually not get to see, but it puts (ASU’s film school) on the map. It’s about making connections and being known.”

 

Reach the reporter at ymgonzal@asu.edu.