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LSU Department of Theatre Partners with Baton Rouge Community College to Offer Film and Television Concentration

There’s no denying that Louisiana has become “Hollywood South,” with numerous television and feature film production operations trading the palm trees of California for the cypress trees of the Pelican State.


With numerous film and television productions taking place at LSU, including the upcoming “Pitch Perfect,” students in the LSU Department of Theatre’ film and television concentration will have access to hands-on industry experience all within close proximity to LSU.
Photo by Sian McArthur

With that move comes a wealth of opportunities for college students looking to break into the film and television industries, whether in a performing role or working behind the scenes.
Those students now have a new local source to help develop a broad, comprehensive foundation in live theatre, electronic media, film production and acting for the camera, as LSU’s Department of Theatre has joined with Baton Rouge Community College, or BRCC, to offer a new academic concentration in film and television.

Film and television is one of two new official concentrations offered by the LSU Department of Theatre, both of which began in the fall of 2012. It joins a new concentration in physical theatre, as well as new minor programs in both arts administration and physical theatre.

The new partnership adds another aspect to LSU’s involvement in the film and television industry, which already includes a filming location with majestic scenery, many talented alumni and former students who are now members of the industry, and current faculty and staff with numerous film and television credits on their résumés.

Rick Holden, LSU Department of Theatre co-head of undergraduate performance, assistant professor of acting and directing and head of the film and television concentration, said that the partnership between LSU and BRCC creates one of the only programs in the country to include hands-on courses in production technology, acting for the camera and content creation.

“The new film and television concentration is exciting because, for the first time, LSU and BRCC students will have a comprehensive training program that prepares them for careers in the fastest growing industry in Louisiana,” he said.

Those enrolled in the concentration can choose their overall emphasis based on personal aspirations and interests – film performance, film production, technology or management. Through their studies, students will learn the fundamental technical skills associated with hands-on exposure to equipment and the overall filmmaking process.
“It’s about the marriage of creative content – actors, writers, future directors and cinematographers – to the necessary production skills needed to bring stories to life,” Holden said.

The concentration’s curricula includes courses such as Introduction to Entertainment Technology, Film Production I and II, Digital Post Production, Storyboarding, Acting I & II, Acting for the Camera I and II, Screenwriting I and II, Introduction to Recording Technology, Audio for Digital Media, History of Film, Introduction to Cinema Studies and more. Students who complete the program will receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in theatre, with a concentration in film and television.

The LSU-BRCC partnership offers both valuable education and experience for students with aspirations both in front of and behind the camera. With Louisiana offering tax credits for production, many film and television crews have flocked to the state, including Baton Rouge and LSU. Additionally, the industry boom has also led to the opening of numerous filming and post-production studios and related businesses in the Baton Rouge area.

“Students in the new concentration will have access to first-hand experience in the film and television industries through internship and employment opportunities with professional companies,” Holden said.

In addition to the new concentrations and minors, the partnership also allows for opportunities to learn directly from faculty or guest speakers who are industry veterans. In the past year, the department has hosted educational sessions featuring Academy Award-winning actress Olympia Dukakis and Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright and filmmaker Adam Rapp.

“The new film and television concentration ensures that opportunities such as these will continue for LSU theatre students,” said Kristin Sosnowsky, LSU Department of Theatre chair and Swine Palace managing director.
Holden said partnering with BRCC for the new concentration creates a benefit for both entities.

“Our collaboration with BRCC is a marvelous cooperative venture which makes the most efficient use possible of currently available funds, faculty and equipment and provides tremendous opportunities to the students of both institutions,” he said.

A ‘Perfect’ location

Students in the new concentration will have an ideal setting in which to hone their craft. Baton Rouge has played host to production of numerous feature films and television shows in recent years, including many filmed on LSU’s campus.

While LSU was first featured on the silver screen in the 1988 film “Everybody’s All American,” the university has recently hosted filming for five feature films in the last seven years. These films include “Glory Road,” “The Reaping,” “Pride” and “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

The latest film shot on location at LSU is “Pitch Perfect,” a musical comedy which opens in theaters nationwide on Oct. 5. The movie stars Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow and Rebel Wilson, along with numerous LSU theatre undergraduate and graduate students in principal roles and as featured extras.

During filming in the fall of 2011, the “Pitch Perfect” cast and crew made extensive use of campus locations such as the Quad, the Greek Amphitheatre, the Pentagon residence hall community, the empty Huey P. Long Fieldhouse swimming pool and the Reilly Theatre, home to Swine Palace and LSU Mainstage productions.

Producers Max Handelman and Elizabeth Banks said they chose the LSU campus for “Pitch Perfect” because of its many and varied performance venues and interesting filming locations. Banks said she was also impressed with the quality of LSU Theatre students, remarking that “LSU is clearly very supportive of its arts program.”

Fourteen LSU Theatre students appeared in “Pitch Perfect,” including undergraduates Genna Guidry, Madison Holcomb, Dora Pereli, and Benjamin Watt; Master of Fine Arts Acting student Katrina Despain; and recent LSU Theatre undergraduate alumni Stephen Bailey, Jacob Cook, Lauren Gros, Reno McClinton, Shelley Regner, Emily Rodriguez, and Samantha Warren.

“What an amazing experience for our students, and how exciting to have Swine Palace’s Reilly Theatre, previously a livestock pavilion renovated into a theatre-in-the-round, now transformed into the stage for this film,” Sosnowsky said. “To see our spaces on the big screen is a testament to our campus and our program.”

For more information on the LSU Department of Theatre’s film and television concentration, call 225-578-4174 or email lsuthtr@lsu.edu.

To learn more about the LSU Department of Theatre, visit http://theatre.lsu.edu.