New Year, New Cinema Arts Program

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GLENDALE, Ariz. – The cinema arts department at Glendale Community College has been approved to receive a $20,000 grant from the Tohono O’odham Nation to pay for new equipment and program expansion beginning February.

Stephanie Lucas, filmmaker and GCC’s cinematography program director, said that the grant money would first update the studio’s current hardware. A few items on the department’s shopping list include new, state of the art cameras, lighting equipment, audio mixers, and other documentary essentials “to get the best quality results” students can achieve in filmmaking.

The sector of visual storytelling is breaking boundaries in an art form that is ever evolving. The more technology progresses, the more the art of digital media will as well. Lucas stated that the money would initially impact 80-100 students with the goal of having them create better quality productions most likely beginning in the fall of 2019.

GCC students enrolled in a documentary or cinematography course will receive the benefit of using new gear for their class hand first. Lucas said that the impact is more than just in technical execution but allowing her students to gain experience for a future in the growing industry.

“I’d love to have our students to have the tools that they’ll see on set when they graduate or tools that will give them ideas for their own independent production company. Giving them the experience here and now,” Lucas said.

Lucas said she hopes to have the money create an overlapping opportunity for those interested in virtual reality. With the gaming industry popularizing new, computer-generated experiences last year, there is potential for creative video production in GCC’s future. Further details in how this branch of digital arts will be integrated into the program are yet to be confirmed.

Overall, the importance of having different options in filmmaking is not just to attract students to the program, but to allow their skills to grow. Resumes in the art industry are a portfolio of collected works, like art pieces or published works clippings. For documentary creators, a reel is a resume, not just a product, but a representation of who the student and what they want to show the world. A student’s future depends on what they produce now, and, with access to new equipment, will allow them to convey their true, most accurate vision.

Though, buying new equipment is expensive. Thankfully, there was funding outside the Maricopa Community Colleges’ fund to pay for the new gear. Passed in 2002, Proposition 202 requires 12 percent of Native American earnings from their gaming revenue to be re-invested in their local community. The Tohono O’odham Nation—owners of the Desert Diamond Casino—accepted Lucas’ grant proposal in November. However, since the Glendale City Council needed to finalize and approve the transfer of the grant, the money is expected to be received this month.

If it weren’t for the careful dedication of Sharon Weltz, the grant researcher for GCC, the Tohono O’odham Nation and Stephanie Lucas, for writing the grant, the cinema arts program at GCC wouldn’t have received an upgrade to the department.