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Cal Lutheran Greenlights Film Program

California Lutheran University plans to start a film and television program this fall in response to heavy student interest in the field. The Thousand Oaks school has long offered communication majors with the option of an emphasis in film and TV, but the major program will more comprehensively prepare students to work in the industry. For Program Director David Grannis, an associate professor of communications, this project is 23 years in the making. He said the popularity of the film and TV emphasis and the large number of alumni currently working in Hollywood suggest the time is right for the school to establish a formal major. “We’re right around the corner from Hollywood and there are so many opportunities for students,” he told the Business Journal. The curriculum will incorporate existing classes in multimedia, theater arts, music, English and communications in addition to new ones such as advanced television production, postproduction and distribution. Most classes will be held in the Spies-Bornemann Center for Education & Technology, which boasts a TV studio, edit room, equipment room and computer lab. Students can emphasize in either film studies or production. Grannis will be one of two professors teaching within the major and will primarily run the program’s television classes. The film side will be helmed by new hire Mahmoud Salimi. “The energy that has already been invested to launch a new program gives us the positive momentum to have a really great program that will benefit students,” he said. “I am excited to start teaching my classes, sharing my knowledge with students.” Students taking the major will complete 40 credits. A capstone course will bring seniors through the entire moviemaking process from screenwriting to marketing at film festivals, including Cal Lutheran’s own annual festival. The program plans to use its network to connect students with hands-on internships and independent studies. “We used to struggle to find internships,” Grannis said. “Now I’m being contacted by our alumni in the industry.” Cal Lutheran currently has alumni working at CBS Corp., Walt Disney Co. and its subsidiary ABC in Burbank and Bunim-Murray Productions in Burbank. Although USC and UCLA have dominated film education, programs offered by Loyola-Marymount University and California Institute of the Arts show that intimacy can work as an advantage. Grannis intends to keep classes small — but not so small that professional-scale productions become impossible.

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