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The Zaki Gordon Center for Cinematic Arts kicked off with its first introductory classes in 2012. This year, the program continues to expand as students gain experience and opportunities in the world of filmmaking, according to Scotty Curlee, an assistant professor of cinematic arts.
“When Christians abdicated their cultural voice in the mid-1900s, we lost our ability to creatively and artistically speak through the arts,” Norman Mintle, dean of Liberty’s School of Communication & Creative Arts, said. “Today, we’re very excited that Liberty is helping to reclaim that voice with our immersive cinematic arts program (for filmmakers) and our digital media arts program for TV and audio artists.”
“All of the academic programs in our school are purposefully designed with professional working experience corollaries — so that, every LU media arts major has the opportunity to work in professional environments, honing their artistic craft and uniquely preparing them to engage the larger culture with truth and light,” he said.
According to Curlee, six students interned with Sony Provident Films on the film “Moms’ Night Out” this past summer. Two other students worked on the set of “Like a Country Song,” a film starring Billy Ray Cyrus. Emily Price, a senior who worked as a director’s assistant on the set, said her familiarity with film increased as a result of the Cinematic Arts program.
“I was not very knowledgeable about film when I came into the program,” Price said. “So sitting in a room full of students who already knew about aspect ratio and kicker lights was very intimidating at first.”
According to Curlee, there are currently more than 150 freshmen and sophomores taking general cinematic arts courses. More than 50 juniors and seniors are in the main program. Price said he believes that the size of the program will have to increase to accommodate future students.
“There are so many people interested in being a part of it that I am honestly worried about space next year,”
According to Curlee, the cinematic arts program plans to produce at least one feature film every year. Last year, students began working on the movie “Letting Go,” which is currently in post-production.
Students in the program have worked on six cycle projects, each focused on an aspect of film or scripts. Nathan Bieri, a junior, said his experience in the program began with a work study in the equipment room, known as “the vault.”
“I learned a lot about the RED Camera and different equipment found on any Hollywood film set,” Bieri said. “I was able to work on the first feature film with the current seniors, and my knowledge of a film set behind the camera grew more.”
Bieri said the program has increased with the addition of new ideas from his professors and fellow students.
Curlee said he believes that the students in the Cinematic Arts program are successful and contribute to the program’s growth because of their passion for film.
“When I talk to people, I often ask them if they enjoy what they are doing, and eight times out of 10, they say no,” Curlee said. “The students in this program are different. They love what they are doing.”