News Column

Oklahoma City Community College puts skills first with 2013 Cinema Clinic

June 30, 2013


June 30--Everyone wants to direct, as the movie business cliche goes, but there can be no action without lights and cameras.

Technical ability as an editor, camera operator, producer, director or writer is what takes moviemaking out of the idea stage and onto the screen.

Most of the area universities offer film studies programs, classes that offer film history, theory and screenwriting.

But as Oklahoma Film and Music Office Director Jill Simpson said, Oklahomans who have actual technical skills will be the first to get work in the film industry, and the schools that offer classes in those areas can help make cinematic dreams become reality.

"Some of the programs are geared more toward film appreciation and theory and that kind of thing," Simpson said. "But what is really valuable to us are the programs that are teaching actual production."

A leader in putting students into hands-on filmmaking is the Oklahoma Film Institute at Oklahoma City Community College.

And this summer, students can begin building their skill sets at the 2013 OFI Cinema Clinic. The clinic is a series of five three-day clinics held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the OCCC Visual and Performing Arts Center, 7777 S May.

OCCC artist in residence Gray Frederickson, who built a substantial filmography in the 1970s and 1980s producing films with Francis Ford Coppola, including the "Godfather" films, "Apocalypse Now" and "The Outsiders," leads the Oklahoma Film Institute at OCCC. He said the program was specifically designed to give students the skill sets that are essential assets of any film production crew.

"We set up the program to teach people how to be technicians in the industry," Frederickson said.

Thanks to grants from benefactors such as the Kirkpatrick Foundation, OCCC has acquired cutting-edge equipment that allows the students to gain real-world experience making films, public service announcements and commercials.

Frederickson held the June 20-22 segment on motion picture production, which gave students a crash course on scheduling, budgets, preproduction, accounting, labor relations, clearing scripts, film distribution and other essentials for getting a story from script to screen.

Greg Mellott, who gained experience writing several produced films in the 1990s and directed the recent documentaries "The Dogs of Lexington" and "The Grand Energy Transition," is teaching two separate sequences on writing and directing.

The screenwriting session, which ends Sunday, has included instruction on Final Draft software, formatting, structure, character development, audience targeting and clearance and copyright issues. The directing sequence, July 11-13, covers theory and practical considerations for directing narrative and documentary features.

The July 18-20 session focuses on modern cinematography, including modern lighting techniques and high-definition cameras. Instructor Dave Green's students will also learn basic operation of the Red Camera, one of the most sought-after systems for all levels of modern movie photography. The final session, July 25-27, covers editing techniques using nonlinear Avid Media Composers.

Digital advantage

From the start, Frederickson acquired digital media such as the Red, even when old-school film stalwarts told him to invest in 35 mm equipment.

Today, with more and more theaters making full digital conversions, Frederickson feels like he steered his students in the right direction. In fact, a short film on that subject, "Going Dark: The Final Days of Film Projection," screened at the recent deadCenter Film Festival.

"I focused on digital from the time I got there and everyone made fun of me," Frederickson said. "Now they don't make Kodak film anymore."


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