Training program retools workers for the film industry
By Sue Suchyta
ALLEN PARK – The Lifton Institute for Media Skills still is accepting enrollments for classes starting Oct. 26.
Officials say the unique educational approach offered by LIMS, the training arm of Unity Studios, will prepare students for the vital skill areas in the film industry known as “below the line” – the skilled technicians needed for every film and television production.
“We are still taking people for set construction, hair and makeup (cosmetology), wardrobe and production accountants for the Oct. 26 session,” Unity spokesman Eric Cedo said. “However, we are accepting students for all tracks for the winter 2010 session beginning in February.”
While some level of previous experience is helpful, a degree is not required.
“People who have worked in community theater have a perfect prerequisite,” Cedo said. “We’re providing training for people who want to work in the film industry.
“For example, a carpenter – residential – has two ways to get into the film industry: to volunteer, or get into a training program. A retraining program retools them for the film industry. Production companies look at a worker’s experience.”
Cedo said there are very few training programs of the kind the institute offers. The instructors will come from California – the majority from Los Angeles – though some will be from Michigan. Faculty may be announced in the next two weeks.
Students will work on specific projects while they are learning and training.
“When they graduate, those who cut it will have a chance to work on film,” Cedo said. “This is a distinguishing factor for our school.”
Institute officials still are taking applicants and want to fill about 50 spots in the career tracks, which include 15 to 20 people each.
Cedo offered some advice for potential students looking for ways to pay for the training programs.
“Come in, talk with an admissions rep,” he said. “We are working with Michigan Works! – we’ll help them find funding, or student loans. Come in, meet with us, and we’ll work with them to see what options (there are) for tuition assistance.”
Traditional loans like Pell grants require that a training program be in existence for two years before such loans can be applied to the training.
Each student will chose a career path, then a track within the chosen career. Tuition ranges from $5,000 to $12,000. Each track lasts approximately 15 weeks, and state funding is available for qualified applicants.
Potential students wondering whether they qualify for retraining dollars can call Michigan Works! at (800) 285-9675 or visit www.michiganworks.org to find the nearest service center. There they can express their interest in learning more about film industry training to a staff member, who then can help determine eligibility for the agency’s retraining dollars and help with the application process for LIMS.
Production department tracks include production management (budgeting, scheduling, paperwork, assistant directing and production management); production accountant; script supervisor; location manager; and production transportation.
Art department careers include art direction (set dresser, prop master and art direction); set construction track (set construction and scenic painting); wardrobe; and hair/makeup (camera, special effects, and hair styling for camera).
The grip, lighting and camera department includes:
•Grip — basics of grip, dolly grip and key grip.
•Lighting — On-set electricity, the role of the gaffer and lighting design.
•Camera — Second assistant camera, first assistant camera, camera operator and electronic cinematography.
Sound department careers include the production sound track, with the basics of recording sound and production sound mixing. Post-sound track includes the basics of recording sound, pro tools editing and sound design. Editorial work includes film editing, final cut pro editing and avid editing.
For more information go to www.liftoninstitute.com, call (877) 904-LIMS or stop by the Allen Park Municipal Offices, 16630 Southfield Road, to meet with staff members.