Addition of film program provides students with new opportunities

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Caleb Latas

Staff reporter

clatas@jccc.edu

Students interested in filmmaking can now enroll in the new film program. Before its creation there had not been an organized program at the college, but just a few separated film-related classes.

Jim Lane, dean of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, has always known there was an interest in a film program, and since he became dean he wanted to create such a program.

“When I became dean I started pushing for hiring a full time professor in filmmaking,” Lane said.

Lane said he was embarrassed when high school students would come looking for a film program and he had nothing to offer them; so he hired a new full-time professor to create the program.

Lane said he was impressed with Tonia Hughes, now assistant professor of photography and filmmaking. He said her background in both photography and film media made her a great candidate to create the new program.

Hughes sees the film industry growing and knows that students want to become a part of it.

“Industry need and student desire [is the reasoning behind the program],” Hughes said. “The students really want this [program], and this is a booming industry.”

Partnership

In creating this program, Hughes worked with other departments at the college, and reached out to KU Film, UMKC Film and other local four-year universities, so students could transfer into the film programs there seamlessly.

“The program was specifically designed with the goal of giving students options,” Hughes said. “We have been working really closely with KU, to make sure everything is transferable.”

Two Routes for Students

Hughes said she wants to insure that students who do not want to move onto a bachelor’s degree can have the ability go straight into the production field and find employment.

“We are developing a certificate program too,” Hughes said. “So that students will have a choice, they can either go the [Associate in Arts] route and transfer, or get a certificate and go out and get a job in the field.”

To support this program, the college has spent roughly $30,000 on cameras, tripods and light sets for the new program. Hughes is still under budget and purchasing more equipment as she finds need within her class.

Moving beyond the class

Jonah Jaax, a student in both Introduction to Film and Introduction to Filmmaking and Media Aesthetics, appreciates and is planning on utilizing the transferability of the classes and programs.

“I’m planning on transferring to another film program somewhere, I don’t know where yet,” Jaax said. “Right now I’m just enjoying these classes. It’s nice to see that they’re starting up a film program here to transfer to somewhere else.”

Hughes is working to establish both professional internships, and internships for college credit.

Lane has plans to grow the program as more students get involved and as the department grows into a planned new arts building. Lane wants to see what kind of students are taking the classes and if incoming students from high school video programs become involved.

Lane said, “I hope we can be able to provide a pathway in the film industry and fine art film, for generations of students, with faculty, new equipment and a new building.”

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