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A sunbright opportunity for ASU film students

Students from ASU's film school work with Sun Studios to encourage creativity with new location and equipment

Journalism student Lahela Maxwell uses the green screen at Sun Studios to interview Professor Janaki Cedanna with an audience of film students. Friday, Feb. 03, 2017.
Journalism student Lahela Maxwell uses the green screen at Sun Studios to interview Professor Janaki Cedanna with an audience of film students. Friday, Feb. 03, 2017.

ASU’s film school began a partnership putting it on par with the best film schools and Hollywood professionals last month. 

Film production professor Janaki Cedanna was the mastermind behind the agreement with Sun Studios of Arizona, striking the agreement for what he calls a “beneficial partnership.”

Cedanna spent six months making his dream of providing new equipment and studios to make professional quality films come true for the film school, the students and himself.

Cedanna is a clinical assistant professor at the ASU School of Theatre and Film, where he also handles most of the production equipment.

The Sun Studios of Arizona is a creative production and coworking space that provides everything from offices, work studios and film equipment.

The operations manager at Sun Studios of Arizona, Wendy Crawford, invited the students in and spoke with Cedanna for the partnership.

“We have the space, we have everything you will need, come on in,” she told the students as they entered the building.

Crawford’s other advice for ASU students is that Sun Studios isn’t only servicing ASU. She said she wants the students to be mindful of the fact that there may be other clients working in their other facilities without an ASU professor.

However, the tradeoff is that ASU students working on their classes and projects at Sun Studios have access to equipment that is unavailable in the University.

“Sun Studios supply (sic) professional equipment, those of which ASU cannot provide to our students or a better version of what we already have,” Greg Bernstein, a screenwriter and professor at the film school, said of the arrangement.

This change is needed as the film school has been growing in recent years.

“It’s the next step on our growth as a film program,” film professor Joseph Fortunato said. “We are already a fast-growing and recognizable program, so much so that we were just listed in the The Wrap’s 'Top 25 Film Schools.'”

Some upper division classes are taught entirely at the studio, which sits about 10 minutes outside of the Tempe campus.

Fortunato said that since the use of the facility is a new addition to the program, it will widely influence the students’ creative process. This is due to the newly available state-of-the-art equipment such as two sound stages (2,500 sq ft. and 2,200 sq ft.), a pre-lit cyclorama and a soundproof recording studio.

There is also an auditorium that seats 150, which professors teaching classes at Sun Studios use as a lecture hall.

Aside from the sound stages and equipment, Sun Studios has also provided a professional and experienced production crew that will be able to help students with projects.

“When you have better access to equipment and space, it gives more opportunities to make better films,” Fortunato said. “But better equipment alone doesn’t necessarily make for a better filmmaker.”

Bernstein said that the new equipment will be most helpful to the seniors at the Film School working on their most ambitious films: their projects for the Spring Film Capstone Showcase on Apr. 28.

However, even with the new space, Cedanna and the rest of the faculty still believe that the success of the film school will depend on the continued use of the original 1,504 sq ft. space available on campus in the APMA film studio.

The Sun Studios of Arizona lot is located 1.7 miles away from the ASU Tempe campus at 1425 W 14th St, Tempe, AZ 85281.

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