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LA Film School

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Alongside USC and NYU, The Los Angeles Film School (LAFS), a relative newcomer, has created a Visiting Artist program providing both the visiting filmmaker and the program’s students with a mutual learning experience, while producing an award-winning short film.
LAFS teaches budding filmmakers the ins and outs of filmmaking with a 6-Week Digital Filmmaking Program or the 1-Year Immersion Filmmaking Program, where students concentrate on learning one specific area, such as directing, producing, editing, screenwriting, sound design, production design or cinematography. The school’s Visiting Artist program, headed up by Amedeo D’Adamo, a founding dean and former president of the school, is one way the school reinforces its production philosophy: “We think the central skill set you need as a filmmaker is respect for the protocols and the team-building collaboration that goes on in a real production,” he says.
At LAFS, both students and visiting artists get full support from the school, including a production office, access to sophisticated equipment and classes, postproduction facilities, and deals with entities such as Kodak, Panavision, Mole-Richardson, and Birnes & Sawyer. In return, the visiting artist uses the school’s student body to staff the production.
The School’s initial visiting artist was Faye Dunaway, who directed her first short Yellow Bird. Last year, LAFS completed its second artist in residence session with well-known animation director Vicky Jenson (Oscar-winning Shrek), who created her first live-action short, Family Tree, through the program. The short has made its rounds at Sundance and has won the Special Jury Award for Narrative Short at South By Southwest, and continues to play on the festival circuit.
Before teaming with the school, Jenson had assembled her team, including Producer Lisa Beroud, Cinematographer Pieter Vermeer, and Editor David Comtois, to create the short scripted by Scott Ingalls.
“I got a call from Amedeo — he had read in an interview that I was interested in doing a short,” says Jenson, who shot the film while on a 10-day vacation from directing DreamWorks’ Sharkslayer.
“By providing a window of opportunity of space, time, and help, it got the ball rolling and set us in motion to do the short.”
With a tight schedule and strict budget, Jenson and her crew chose to use pros for crucial positions, but used students in apprentice positions during the production process.
“I found that adding LA Film School alumni and students really iced the cake in terms of added technical support and muscle,” says Beroud. “The alumni I found were an asset to the crew while the students were able to lend their strong backs to a shoot that was staffed with working professionals and all the toys.”
D’Adamo adds: “I watched Vicky, Lisa, and Pieter take some of our best under their wing…they worked to create a professional set that still had a bit of space left over for mentoring.”

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