Despite the unforeseen circumstances, the cinema and media arts program has found numerous opportunities to work with other departments and programs this semester.
Students within the cinema and media arts program have been working with the School of Music, Theatre and Dance, other programs within the department of communication and design arts and President Pistole. The students within the program will also be broadcasting the virtual graduation over homecoming weekend.
Cinema and media arts students and the School of Music, Theatre and Dance recently completed their first collaboration: two four-camera concerts filmed and broadcasted live. Associate Professor of Cinema and Media Arts, Jack Lugar, assisted in supervising these productions.
“Three students ran cameras, while the rest of the crew worked in Black Bird Media Lab’s control room across the street,” said Lugar. “In the control room, students assumed the roles of director, assistant director, sound, switcher and shader.”
“We were able to partner and mash all of our production side with the music side to produce really high-level concerts,” said Black Bird Media Lab’s Director of Studio and Technical Operations Kris Rinas. “We took a quick breath and now we’re jumping right into a project with the ‘Spoon River Anthology.’ We’re in partnership with the theatre department again, and this project is going to be more theatrical—more cinematic.”
The cinema and media arts program has a team of three students working directly with the directors and actors of the “Spoon River Anthology” production that will be released mid-October. Another School of Music, Theatre and Dance production, “See Me,” will be shot as a live-to-tape production, yet another format for cinema and media arts students to learn and master.
As with every other department and program, COVID-19 has affected the cinema and media arts program greatly.
“Not unlike most programs, our cinema and media arts students need to be on campus and in the classroom because a lot of our teaching is hands-on,” said Lugar. “You can’t teach a student how to operate a studio camera, run a switcher or present with a teleprompter on a Kaltura videocast.”
Lugar explained that the new guidelines and restrictions on campus have contributed to issues for students.
“Another challenge is the need to shoot productions that reflect normal life without masks on,” said Lugar. “Sure, some stories may show characters in masks, but most of those stories and images are not compelling.”
While these obstacles are impeding, Lugar is grateful to still have in-person classes healthily.
The program has adapted quickly and efficiently to the pandemic to ensure full academic success. Rinas explained that they rebuilt the program’s control room over the summer to accommodate social distancing guidelines.
While the current situation is not ideal, Lugar explained that it has proved the importance of not only AU’s cinema and media arts program, but the industry as a whole.
“While live events have been cancelled for the foreseeable future, our production services have become in greater demand,” said Lugar.
Churches, theaters and businesses have begun filming and broadcasting church services, theatrical productions and advertisements, creating more opportunities for workers in the film industry.
“Whatever we do, it is with the focus of getting better everyday,” said Lugar. “Our productions with the Musical Theatre program are proving to be exactly that. Every day the cinema and media arts students are being challenged to get better and as a result will be prepared to work in the film and television industry by the time they reach graduation.”
Photo by Jack Lugar