Don Cheadle & George Clooney co-found film school for underserved students

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Kerry Washington, Don Cheadle, George Clooney, Mindy Kaling, and Eva Longoria are working together on a special project. Although I would love to see all of them in some sort of Ocean’s Eleven reboot, they are actually creating opportunities for high schoolers in underserved communities to enter the film industry. Kerry et al. are creating the Roybal School of Film and Television Production. The school will train students to work in film industry careers including production, editing, visual effects and set design. They will also provide students with internship opportunities for hands-on training. The school will target ninth and tenth graders and plans to increase to eleventh and twelfth graders. Their hope is to diversify the film industry by exposing these communities early. Below is more on the story from Variety:

“Our aim is to better reflect the diversity of our country. That means starting early. It means creating high school programs that teach young people about cameras, and editing and visual effects and sound and all the career opportunities that this industry has to offer,” Clooney said in a statement. “It means internships that lead to well-paying careers. It means understanding that we’re all in this together.”

Overseen by principal Blanca Cruz, the school will start with ninth and 10th grade students and expand to 11th and 12th grades over the next two years. There is potential opportunity to expand the pilot program to more schools in the Los Angeles area.

Grant Heslov, Nicole Avant, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner of Working Title Films and Creative Artists Agency’s Bryan Lourd will also serve as founders with Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner. All the founders will serve on the Roybal School of Film and Television Production Advisory Board.

“This effort will help open the doors of opportunity for a diverse group of students from underserved communities,” Superintendent Beutner said in a statement. “This groundbreaking program will help prepare students for good-paying jobs in the film and television industry by integrating practical industry experience and internships for students into the curriculum. Physics is involved in the choice of a lens by a cinematographer, math is part of the foundation for a musical score in a film, critical thinking skills are needed to design a set, screenwriters needs a foundation in literacy, and a make-up artist needs to know the chemistry of the different materials they might use – all of this will be tied into the curriculum at the school. We are excited to have the support of these extraordinary industry leaders to create opportunity for children in the Los Angeles area.”

[From Variety]

This is such an amazing opportunity and project. I love that they are exposing kids who wouldn’t normally have these opportunities to the many careers in film besides acting and directing. Here in Houston we have the High School of Performing Arts and when I was in high school it was mostly focused on the performance side of the arts. There are multiple performing arts schools in NY and L.A. I think I am more surprised that this sort of school is just now being created in L.A.

I am glad that Don, George, Kerry, and all of the other founders are creating this school. Based on their track records they seem sincere about diversifying the film industry. I look forward to seeing where this project goes. I hope that it has the impact expected and that they are able to expand the pilot program throughout the L.A. area as hoped. As I have always said, if we diversify the voices in the film industry, the stories Hollywood creates can only get better.

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