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Vol 57 No. 16 : Sept. 1, 2005
Vol 57 No. 16 | Sept. 1, 2005

Film and Electronic Arts Receives $20,000 Grant

The Film and Electronic Arts Department at CSULB has received a $20,000 grant from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) to support its documentary program.

For the second year in a row, the HFPA announced donations of more than $1 million in financial grants to film schools and non-profit organizations at its annual installation luncheon honoring its 2005-06 slate of officers.  Over the past 11 years, the HFPA has given more than $5 million in financial grants.

"We're very pleased about the grant," said Craig Smith, chair of the CSULB Film and Electronic Arts Department. "Our documentary track has developed a good record here. Several years ago, when the UCLA Medical Center wanted a documentary made of its pioneering liver transplant program for infants, they approached us, not their own film school."

Alan Jacobs, an assistant professor of Film and Electronic Arts, wrote the grant proposal with Smith. Jacobs made some of the first documentaries on Martin Luther King, Jr. and later was president of Hallmark Film.Smith said that the grant validated Film and Electronic Arts' record of success.

"Our program is on a roll," he said. "Our students are doing very well. They have taken top awards among film programs in the CSU and were featured at the recent Newport Beach Film Festival. One of our students participated in the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival in Manhattan, and last fall, George Lucas of ‘Star Wars' fame donated $100,000 to the department to support the restoration and repair of equipment damaged during heavy rains."

The HFPA grant money will be distributed to student documentary makers according to their needs. "One of the things I like best about this grant from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is its flexibility," he said. "The amount of support depends on the film. Where one student may need $500 for software, another might need $2,500 for a digital film. Thanks to this grant, we will be able to supply and help these students."

The grant comes at a timely moment in the rise of the modern documentary, Smith believes. "Look at the success of Michael Moore's ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,' no matter what you think of his politics," he said. "That one film did as much as any to put the modern documentary on the map."

Smith predicts one key to the program's success is the interaction between faculty and students. "Once they have taken all the preliminary courses for the documentary track, our faculty works with the students on their ideas," Smith said. "We try to make sure students undertake projects they know something about and have some familiarity with."

Smith is confident the Film and Electronics Arts Department in general and the documentary program in particular will continue to attract similar support. "The focus here is on the undergraduate," he said. "The CSULB undergraduate gets a lot of attention in this department. Students have transferred to CSULB from the USC and UCLA film programs because they could not get the attention there that they receive here."

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