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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18 Responses to “Don Cheadle & George Clooney co-found film school for underserved students”

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  1. Neners says:

    This is really fantastic! I hope it’s successful!

    • Shadowonfilm says:

      I came here to say the same thing. This is wonderful and such a great opportunity for students to learn the biz. What a great way to prepare future generations in the industry and open up well-paying jobs to a broader group of young people!

  2. Eleonor says:

    This is a real AMAZING project.

  3. Merricat says:

    This sounds great!

  4. LaraK says:

    This will have a huge impact! They are training kids for jobs that are secure, often unionized, pay well, are available worldwide, and cannot be outsourced overseas.
    So many projects in the film industry seem to offer only token, or one time, diversity. This is impactful in a long term way.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      I agree! Not only will it offer excellent job opportunities but will also expand the diversity in Hollywood which hasn’t diversified much in the last 100+ years! Also, it’s important that kids, especially those who are in lower socio economic cities, to have an option besides college that will give them a path to a career and a future. When I was growing up, they had workshop and cosmetology offered, in an all white upper middle class school district in Houston.
      It gives young adults an exposure as well to other areas of crafts that are necessary and will always have a strong employment opportunity. And not everyone has goals, or money/grades/support for college. I am so happy that they are creating these schools and I hope that it is extremely successful and they can expand on the programs that they offer.
      Plus, this group that is spearheading this program is of strong, fierce, and well educated/connected individuals that can and will make a difference!

  5. Golly Gee says:

    Providing internships will be one of the most valuable parts of the program in my opinion. Often there is a huge gap between school learning and what you do on the job, so this will really prepare students and also give them a networking opportunity with people in the industry. People fresh out of school are often at a disadvantage because employers are looking for work experience. These students will have actual work experience which they can put on a resume.

  6. Lauren says:

    This is beautiful! We could get so many new stories, so many different perspectives, and good content instead of remakes! I would love it if they were to also have something for writers. Those are desperately needed as well.

  7. liz says:

    This sounds incredible! I love that they are focusing on the behind the camera aspects, too. Those are great jobs that last.

  8. Lynn says:

    I’m from a tiny town in south west Maine and we have this happening…on a smaller scale. The younger brother of one of my schoolmates grew up, moved away and started a film production company. He’s now moved back, and does these AMAZING productions with local kids and adults. He even bought a old, unused theater, to hold screenings. It is such positive impact on the community and opens kid’s to opportunities they never even considered.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      That is a wonderful project that he has brought back to his hometown. It’s wonderful to see people giving back to their home cities and creating opportunities that they were not afforded but he knew this and made it become a possibility. That’s wonderful and heartwarming all wrapped together.

  9. Bendy Windy says:

    This sounds so awesome! There are so many careers out there that people fall into because they aren’t well known. I’m glad they’re introducing kids to parts of the film industry that don’t get top billing and also that they’re doing it in underserved communities. I hope it’s a success and that it expands.

  10. lucy2 says:

    This is wonderful! I love that they are also focusing on the technical stuff too, these kids will have a great opportunity to learn valuable skills that can lead to wonderful careers.

  11. North of Boston says:

    This is great! I especially love the potential of the long term impact of this.

    Not only for these students now and the opportunities it could open up for them, but also 10-15 years from now when many kids from this program are working in various parts of the industry, the network of graduates – diverse people behind the camera – may open up more opportunities for kids from underserved or disadvantaged backgrounds, even ones who weren’t from this school.

  12. Blairski says:

    My husband was on a Shondaland show for five years as a gaffer, and Shondaland is committed to providing opportunities in the television industry to people from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds (aka women and people who are not white). Because the production was actively trying to hire these traditionally underrepresented folks, we got to see first hand how we how we need to increase the number of people of color who are aware that these careers are options. I’m SO EXCITED about this school, this is a great place to start. Also, my friends started this: – check it out!

    • Anne Call says:

      That’s great to hear. When I was growing up in Hollywood, friends that got jobs in the industry usually got them through connections like an uncle who was already in the union kind of stuff. Good to hear things are changing.

  13. Blues says:

    Wonderful and really needed

  14. Lana says:

    Why the two men used as a headline ignoring all the women?! Awesome project though, obviously.