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Schools offer a show-biz shortcut

Local campuses provide educations in filmmaking for less than college costs.

July 21, 2012|By Maria Hsin,
  • Armen Ter-Zakarian, 19, stands between two lights during a lighting and camera class at International Academy of Film and Television in Burbank.
Armen Ter-Zakarian, 19, stands between two lights during… (Cheryl A. Guerrero…)

On a quiet stretch of San Fernando Boulevard, a few blocks south of Downtown Burbank, bright red and black letters on a large poster call attention to a place where students learn as cameras roll.

Inside, on a recent Wednesday evening, a small group of would-be filmmakers and a teacher discussed lighting and the history of the camera. Among them was Jason Barr, 17, an aspiring screenwriter.

“There is a lot of opportunity to learn, there are only four of us in the class, and our teacher has a lot of time for each of us individually,” Barr said. “It's one of my favorite things so far.”

The screenwriting portion of the course just wrapped up, and Barr said the instruction included a lecture during which the teacher/mentor would share the different aspects of writing, and “then we would get to work on a screenplay that we're working on as a class. He would walk us through it and teach us all the tips and tricks for writing.”


Barr and his classmates are enrolled in a filmmaking workshop, a program of roughly 100 hours, at the International Academy of Film and Television. The IAFT is one of a handful of film schools in the area offering future filmmakers an alternative to a traditional, four-year education.

Six months ago IAFT opened its doors in Burbank, said Chief Executive Officer Kacy Andrews, and the proximity to the studios is an advantage.

“We do hire working industry professionals. Most of the mentors we hire come from the studio system,” Andrews said. “They have worked with the studios at one point or another.”

Many of the mentors on staff are freelancers who worked on a film or television program and are now off in the summer so they are able to come and teach, Andrews said. Being close to the studios also makes it is easier to get around.

“It's something we looked at when we looked at where to put the school,” said Andrews, who lives in Glendale. “I'm a big fan of the area. It's very conveniently located to all the studios, Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles.”

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