Conventional wisdom holds that if you want to break into the film industry, you need to go to
"There is no film school in the world that is doing what we're doing," says Janaki Cedanna, clinical assistant professor in the school, part of the
This, also known as "the template," or more officially the
The goal is to create a professional film set where students can gain experience and earn academic credit in a safe learning environment.
Eligible students must be at a minimum GPA and be majors in the school. Cedanna and
LaMont notes that the summer schedule allows students to focus exclusively on the project without having to juggle schoolwork, and allows the
"Car Dogs," the first film created by the internship program, wrapped in 2013 and has just been submitted to the
This summer, the movie that the students have the opportunity to intern on is "Justice Served," a psychological thriller that is the directorial debut of
Young wrote and stars in the movie, alongside such familiar faces as
"Even though students are involved, it's not a student film," Young points out. "It's my film."
"This is not just some big student film," Cedanna confirms. "We're using the camera that was used on almost every Oscar-nominated picture this year. It's a multi-million dollar camera. The post workflow is high, high level. It's amazing."
Cedanna says that rental companies cut their rates for the production "because everybody I tell about the template loves it. Because we all went to film school, and we all say, 'I wish we had that when I was in film school!'"
"This project is a win-win-win," says
"We are offering students something very special here," LaMont adds. "This is not your average internship where they run and get coffee and donuts for the principals; these students are working and learning right alongside professional filmmakers."
For "Justice Served," Cedanna and LaMont brought back at least six ASU alumni in paid positions, including four who got their degrees in May of 2014.
One of those recent grads is
"It's a big leap" from costume intern to designer, Peterson acknowledges. "It's a huge opportunity, which is one of the big reasons I'm doing it. I love the creative collaboration of film and dance and theatre and what costumes can do within that."
Young says that he decided to make "Justice Served" in
Young didn't really have any reservations about working with students, he says, even though people told him they'd be "unreliable." But instead, he says, "It's been brilliant. Everybody's so polite and so well-mannered, but also enthusiastic."
Almost all of the actors did lunchtime Q-and-A's with LaMont so that the students got a chance to hear professionals talk about their trajectory in the industry.
Coleman told the students that he loved working with them because "you don't have anybody that's jaded. Everybody is excited to be here. I wouldn't rather be anywhere else. You can feel the energy."
For the 60-some students interning on "Justice Served," including about 15 who worked on "Car Dogs" and are back with promotions on "Justice Served," the film is a chance not only to earn academic credit, but to gain a foothold in the world of professional film.
"Actual, real-world experience is paramount (for students)," Cedanna explains. "And walking away with a credit on a full feature film - not just a student film, but a professional set experience - is unheard of among any college programs.
"We have a lot of students graduating and worried about getting jobs, and I say, 'You've literally started your career. You've started it at school.'"
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