During the Fall Semester, Cal State LA Television, Film and Media Department’s Student Production Unit partnered with international art gallery Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles to develop a series of short documentaries that draw attention to issues faced by vulnerable communities in Los Angeles and to identify initiatives that exist to support their needs through a course called, Community Impact Media.
The Community Impact Media course provides Cal State LA student filmmakers with the opportunity for hands-on media creation, storytelling mentorship, a big debut screen and even larger audience to show and celebrate their documentaries with that highlight the missions, visions, and inspiring work of local nonprofits.
From day one of the project, students interacted directly with the non-profit organizations to create documentaries that empower the organizations to expand their impact by sharing their message through video with an extended audience.
The student-directed documentary films featured the meaningful work and personal stories of Los Angeles non-profits; Piece by Piece, Learning Rights Law Center, My Friend’s Place and Girls Today Women Tomorrow. The short films were screened on December 15th at Hauser & Wirth’s Education Loft to an audience of 250 community members and were directed by members of Cal State LA’s Student Production Unit; Julia Balayan, Dylan Gunaratne, Adela Tobon, Tiffany Washington and Eli Tahan.
The Student Production Unit and the Community Impact Media course are both led by Cal State LA Assistant Professor and filmmaker Heather Fipps. “This project has been such a rewarding experience and a real opportunity for our students to reimagine the role of filmmakers as neighbors and citizens committed to meaningful social service. Hauser & Wirth’s support and investment into Cal State LA’s Television, Film and Media Department has elevated the quality and caliber of our work, and reaffirms our University’s mission of engagement, service and the public good”, says Fipps about the project and partnership.
Heather collaborated with sculptor Sean Shim-Boyle to develop and spearhead the semester-long project. Shim-Boyle also joined Fipps in the classroom as a visiting artist where he provided one-on-one mentorship to each of the student filmmakers. Community Impact Media is consistent with Shim-Boyle’s ongoing efforts to act as a catalyst for ongoing discussions and community engagement projects mediated by technology and social platforms that democratize access to resources - particularly as they relate to young adults and teens.
This project was made possible by a grant from Hauser & Wirth who identified the four non-profits, donated equipment, sponsored the student directors and coordinated one-on-one critiques and mentorship for the filmmakers with its interdisciplinary gallery team and local documentary and social impact filmmakers.
Not only does Community Impact Media encourage students to reimagine the role of filmmakers as neighbors and citizens committed to meaningful social change, but it also illustrates each organization's commitment to engage and develop a positive, lasting relationship with their shared LA community. An inspiring collaboration that serves as a great example of community engagement for the public good.
The student documentaries will soon be shared publically and the project will pick up next semester with a new set of student filmmakers and a new selection of initiatives.
By Kathleen Sanchez | Cal State LA College of Arts and Letters News Service