Students get hands-on experience in film class
LANCASTER — Students in Antelope Valley College’s Film and Television program get hands-on experience in different aspects of film-making to help them transfer to a four-year university or get an entry-level job in the film industry.
Students learn core skills, including screen writing, cinematography, lighting, editing and directing. The program also covers the less glamorous side of film-making such as permits, paperwork and insurance, safety and location scouting and use.
The Film and Television
program started in the fall of 2018 with 32 students who declared it their major. This year, 118 students declared Film and Television their major.
“It was something that I’ve always wanted to do,” Instructor Kevin North said. “The leadership for our department and the school, in general, was at a point where it was really supportive.”
Film & Television is part of the Arts and Humanities Department. Dean Duane Ramsey was supportive of seeing the program grow. So, too, was Visual Arts Department Chairperson Lisa Karlstein, North said.
He has been teaching film and television his whole career at AV
College. North and all of the instructors in the program are part-time instructors.
Students often expressed a desire to major in film, but with no film program in place, they settled for something else like digital media. North developed the curriculum for the program based on state requirements for an associates degree in film.
“I updated some of our classes and then also wrote an additional class curriculum-wise to set up the pathway so it was similar to what the state was doing,” he said.
The program’s required courses are Introduction to Film, Introduction to Screen writing, Beginning Audio
Production and Introduction to Digital Film-making. The required program electives are Introduction to Television, Intercultural & Women’s Film and African American Cinema.
Students who complete the program can earn an associates degree in Film Production.
Students In the Film Production class produce two films in the semester, when they take the class. At the end of each semester, there is a student film showcase. Student films run anywhere between five and 10 minutes each. Students work on a project in a four- or five-person crew with
members swapping positions.
North requires students to caption their work — the only program that does so.
“On the college campus it’s required that everything we show to the public be captioned anyway,” he said.
There are also industry jobs in captioning.
“It’s a good skill to know and a good habit to get into,” North said.
His students are interested in all aspects of film, some want to be directors, screenwriters, producers or cinematographers.
Film student Arek Kouyoumjian wants to be a producer.
“I like kind of tackling all parts of production as opposed to focusing exactly on one,” he said. “As a producer I’ve seen you have a hand in all parts of a production.”
Kouyoumjian originally started in the digital media program at AV College.
“I was taking the classes before the program existed,” he said.
Kouyoumjian changed his major to Film and Television after the program was approved.
“You know that feeling that you get when you know that this is the thing that you want to do? Ever since the program popped up that’s been it, like 100% through the whole thing,” he said.
Student Brooke Noriega, who will graduate in 2020, joined the program as a screenwriter.
“This semester, I took both the audio production class and the film-making class,” she said. “Although I’ve been in the entertainment industry for 10 years, it blew me away.”
Noriega, an actress, musician and composer, said North is passionate about the program.
“Every class he teaches it makes me not want to miss it … What he teaches is not just one aspect of film and television, it’s every single job because every single job is important,” she said. “It really helped me learn how important everybody is to a set.”
North’s midterm assignment this past semester was a two- to five-minute silent film.
“As a writer, I had no idea what I was going to do,” Noriega said. “So I thought outside of the box.”
Her film, “Crayons,” is about the loss of innocence as a young child learns about smoking at a early age. She also wrote an original score for the film.
Film production students use Sony high-definition cameras and professional-grade equipment. North secured a Perkins Grant worth between $25,000 and $30,000 to get the basic camera and audio equipment needed to get started. He successfully applied for another Perkins Grant this year worth about $60,000.
“My goal is to update some of the camera equipment and to get some new equipment that we weren’t able to get the first time,” North said in an email. “I want our students to have access to and experience with the types of equipment that is considered industry standard. This will help them when they transfer to the University or with entry level jobs in the industry.”
Antelope Valley College film instructor Kevin North (left, kneeling) holds a movie camera while student Joanell Williams (seated) and student Rylee Flores holds a boom microphone.