Semester’s End: UNCSA School of Filmmaking Round-Up

The month of May is always a busy time at UNCSA’s School of Filmmaking, with third- and fourth-year student film screenings, the graduation ceremony, and the annual West Coast trip for graduates to meet with film and TV professionals.

As busy as it’s been, however, there have been some developments at the School of Filmmaking worthy of acknowledgment and attention.

First, Nathan Fenwick Smith, who received his MFA from the School of Filmmaking in 2014, was honored with a College Television Award for Best Original Composition for his original score for the student film The Collection. The film, which was directed by Ian Gullett, produced by Tay Nikonovich and written by Claire Basic, was one of the short films screened in April at the RiverRun International Film Festival.

The College Television Awards, more commonly known as “the Student Emmys,” are given each year in 13 different categories. This year’s ceremony was held April 24 in Los Angeles. Incredibly, Smith’s score for another student film, Starlight, was also in the running for a nomination.

“We are proud of Nate and could not be happier for him,” said Susan Ruskin, dean of the School of Filmmaking, in an official statement. “This award is an indication that Nate has a very bright future ahead of him in the film and television industry. It is also evidence that we have built a strong graduate program in film music composition, producing artists whose work is evocative and essential to the storytelling process.”

The UNCSA School of Filmmaking has joined forces with NURAY Digital to restore and preserve key film titles from the school’s Moving Image Archives (among the largest collection of film prints in the entire nation), including titles from the Walter J. Klein film and videotape archive.

NURAY Digital specializes in the preservation of media content – including restoration, digitization, media asset management, and retrieval services – for content accessibility. The company has worked with universities, broadcast stations and private corporations to “migrate” media content since 2010. UNCSA is the second major university to team up with NURAY Digital in the ongoing effort to preserve film history for future generations. In 2010, the Norton Herrick Center at the University of Miami collaborated with NURAY to restore, preserve and digitize titles in its collection.

“We are very pleased to be partnering with NURAY Digital to help preserve one of the largest film archives in the country housed at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts,” said Ruskin in an official statement. “We look forward to a partnership in the future that will allow us to grow the archives and help others to preserve the work generated here in North Carolina.”

“The partnership with NURAY is a tremendous opportunity to benefit our students and faculty, giving them ready access to important materials with rich educational value,” added UNCSA provost David Nelson, in his official statement.

David Spencer, the senior curator at the School of Filmmaking, will identify the film prints NURAY will be processing in an ongoing effort to restore and digitize the films and make them available to UNCSA students, faculty, and film historians.

The School of Filmmaking has announced a new, two-year Master of Fine Arts filmmaking program that will begin in the 2016 fall semester.

The new program, which was approved by the UNC Board of Governors during its regular meeting in Greenville late last month, will offer concentrations in creative producing and screenwriting, in addition to the existing MFA concentration in film music composition.

According to Susan Ruskin, in yet another official statement, the new MFA will offer “discipline-specific programs that are about generating content and producing that content in an entrepreneurial way. These programs will prepare entrepreneurs, producers, and department heads – the kinds of professionals North Carolina needs to move beyond providing labor for productions, and become a hub for the creation of original content of all kinds. We will be training the job creators of tomorrow.”

Added David Nelson: “We identified this need in the industry and found that the student demand is there. A survey of our own current and former film students reported that 76 percent value an MFA in filmmaking, and 79 percent would recommend an MFA at UNCSA to others. The new program is great news for the film school and for the state of North Carolina.”

The UNC General Administration’s report to the Board of Governors stated: “Motion picture content has infiltrated nearly every form of communication, commerce, and entertainment. The opportunity for economic development, revenue generation, and job creation in North Carolina, in the rapidly expanding marketplace for film and video production, is significant.”

The new MFA program, concluded the report, “will enable the state of North Carolina to be at the forefront of that trend, and to train the next generation of film and video professionals who will help create this future marketplace.”

For more information about the goingson at UNCSA, visit the official website: !