How Art Center
During a break on the set of Man of Steel, the upcoming Superman reboot directed by Zack Snyder FILM 89, Jack Foley, a teen actor whose character in the film bullies a young Clark Kent before the two become friends, started asking questions. “I began talking with Zack about how he became a filmmaker, and the conversation led to film school,” Foley says. “I asked him about where he went, and he spoke very highly of Art Center.”
Like many others, Foley is an actor who wants to direct. And in Snyder he saw his college future. “I was pretty much set to go to a different film school, but after seeing Zack’s methods and the way he controlled his set, it was clear to me that I was working with a true artist. I started looking into Art Center.”
As befits a successful screenwriter (Rush Hour), novelist and, most recently, graphic novelist, Ross LaManna, chair of the undergraduate Film Department since 2006, has countless stories to tell. Many center on the program’s students, such as Dan Bartolucci FILM 10, who got a job on the graveyard shift at special effects house Lola, right after graduating. Soon, he was creating complex special effects such as making Chris Evans small and skinny in Captain America, aging the lead actors at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and making Bella look emaciated in Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1. This fall, Bartolucci returned to campus to teach these techniques to students.
He also likes to tell about the day longtime industry executive John Tarnoff came to visit. At the time, Tarnoff was with DreamWorks Animation, where Art Center grads have frequently found a home. “He was interested in doing more stuff with us,” says LaManna. “He said, ‘You know what I like about Art Center Film? You guys understand that movies aren’t shot anymore, they’re designed.’”
Tarnoff had succinctly captured Art Center’s philosophy of filmmaking: visual storytelling. “Everything students learn ties in with that,” says LaManna. “Even with all the technological changes and new media stuff, the important thing remains being able to tell a good story visually.” Indeed, while today’s environment has provided more opportunities to novices, skills are still required to create a quality product, whether in film, TV or short-form works. “A good narrative. Working with actors. Telling a story visually. Those apply across the board,” says LaManna.