CTVA students raise funds to shoot senior projects

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Senior filmmakers in the CTVA Department are required to pay for most of the production costs for their film projects themselves. With projects sometimes carrying a price tag in the tens of thousands of dollars, fundraising is often a major part of production.

The cost of producing the average 10-to-20 minute films required for the department’s showcase at the end of the year range between $10,000 and $50,000.

“There are 10 senior films produced each year in our department,” said Nate Thomas, head of the film production option and director of the CSUN student film showcase. “While donations are made by other institutions for these projects, students are required to obtain the money the donations can not fulfill.”

This year the Hollywood Foreign Press Association donated $89,000 for the senior film projects. Associated Students also donated $25,000 to projects through an instructionally related activities fund.

On average, students have $7,000 given to them to start their projects, but they are responsible for accumulating the rest, Thomas said. Students have to earn from somewhere between $5,000 and $40,000 on their own, which will likely be used to rent or purchase film and sound equipment that the students use for their projects, he said.

“Students utilize a variety of ways to get the money they need,” Thomas said. “Students may do fundraisers, such as barbeques or bake sales, (and) others may bring their own money into the film.”

This year Arri Inc., a motion picture camera company, donated a 35mm camera for use of two projects. Panavision has also donated camera equipment to projects.

Renting a 35mm camera can cost tens of thousands of dollars for a project. A 16mm camera can cost around $15,000 a day, Thomas said. The 35mm camera produces a better image for the big screen compared with the 16mm camera, but it also costs more.

Additionally, there is only one director per film. Ten out of 20 students are chosen to direct their films.Students have strict guidelines to follow to be the chosen director of their film, Thomas said. A portion of the guidelines is a detailed description of what the production costs will be and how they plan on obtaining the funding.

In 2002, CSUN student Shervin Youssefian wrote, co-directed, produced and edited the 16 mm film “Color Blind.” The film exceeded the five-minute time limit, and Youssefian said he thought that Thomas would disapprove of it.

“Thomas liked it a lot and told me I should enter it for the showcase as my senior film project,” Youssefian said. “‘Color Blind’ won the Hollywood Foreign Press Award at the showcase.”

Youssefian used film equipment available in the department. The production cost was mainly for film stock, developing and printing.

The total cost was $2,500 for a 15-minute-plus production based on a true story about a film director who wants to get to know a young woman.

“We put up most of the money ourselves,” Youssefian said. “Whatever we could not afford, our friends and family contributed.”

“The other two films I was competing against cost $45,000 and $55,000,” Youssefian said. “It doesn’t matter what medium you choose to tell your story on. Whether it’s shot with $5 or $5 million, as long as there is that human quality that audiences can relate to, then your film will be successful.”

Five new senior film projects are underway for this semester.

Philipp Eurund, senior CTVA film production major, is also the writer and director of the film “Bauhaus: Broken Wings,” which starts shooting in late September.

Eurund has found different sponsors to fund his project.

“The 35mm camera Arri donated is worth over $70,000,” said Evan Schrodek, senior CTVA film production major and co-producer and editor of the film. “We could not calculate how much it would cost us to use that equipment if we did not have it donated.”

Lacy Street Production Center in downtown Los Angeles donated the use of its lots for the eight-day production, which normally would have cost around $5,000 per day.

The Forest Foundation in Santa Barbara also donated $10,000 to the production. The CTVA Department has allotted each team $6,000 from other donors, which fulfills all “Bauhaus” production costs.

The story is about Bauhaus, an art school that existed prior to the Nazi Regime. It is a fictional story about the last six days before the Nazi Regime took it over.

Michael Sullivan can be reached at michael.sullivan.843@csun.edu.