Because of its location in southern California, La Sierra University is an ideal location for the second academic program in cinema offered by the denomination’s higher education institutions. Southern Adventist University has a program that trains students in the production of animated movies and computer games.
The new program will take in its first class this fall and lead to a bachelor of fine arts degree in film and television. It will “prepare students for work in movie studios or on independent documentaries and feature films,” reported The Press-Enterprise, the daily newspaper in Riverside, California, near the campus. Instructors will include award-winning directors, producers and writers.
Rodney Vance will direct the program. He has 28 years of professional experience writing plays and books, and producing and directing television, film and radio dramas. He has also served the Adventist Church as a pastor and educator.
“Ever film major, from the moment they step on campus, has access to cameras, lights, microphones, editing equipment, everything necessary to create film, television episodes or content for the Web,” Vance is quoted by the newspaper. He told the reporter that three resource instructors he has already recruited are Carrie Spect who was an assistant director on the TV dramas E.R. and Alias; Stew Harty, founder of LA Digital, one of the world’s largest providers of editing software; and Terence Ford, brother of actor Harrison Ford and an actor and producer on his own.
La Sierra University may become the place in southern California where students can take classes in Christian theology and Biblical studies at the same time they learn the skills of contemporary story-telling through the media. But this may just be a return to its roots. In the 1960s a studio was built next door to the campus farm where a series of black-and-white 16 mm movies were produced featuring Bible studies. They were used by many Adventist evangelists in that era.
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