Kickstarter campaign financing a Chatt State student project
Of the advancements made in the film scene since I began writing for The Pulse four years ago, the development and growth of the Chattanooga State Professional Film and Television training courses might be the most sensible. There is a severe lack of professional training available for today’s students—very few young people have genuine opportunities to learn a trade.
If the Chattanooga region wants to become a viable place for the film industry (and believe me, we do), the Professional Film and Television program is an invaluable resource. Film and television production involves much more than actors and directors. It needs technically skilled workers, electricians, cameramen, sound designers, set designers, makeup designers and others.
By training professionals in these areas, Chattanooga is becoming an attractive place for filmmakers and production companies looking to shoot somewhere other than Hollywood. The Professional Film and Television training courses prepare students for active work in this field. According to Professor Chris Willis, “Students learn every aspect of the process, from script and storyboarding, to production, to finishing and distribution.”
The courses are hands-on and practical. Summer marks the culmination of the year-long program, a time when students focus solely on producing films. This year, the students are creating a project about a Chattanooga institution.
The 2014 project is a short film examining a service that many native Chattanoogans might overlook. The free CARTA shuttle is a frequent sight in downtown, so much so that I rarely notice it when it passes by. But for tourists unfamiliar with the area, it can be a much-needed and valuable part of their Chattanooga experience.
The students have chosen the shuttle as the centerpiece of their project, as a way to tell a “community-focused story that shares how people can give meaningfully of themselves.” According to Willis, the idea for this project was inspired by his own personal experience with the shuttle.
“I have always really enjoyed riding the electric shuttle,” he explains. “A couple years back, during the holiday season, I was riding with my family to the theater thinking about the conversations you overhear on the bus. I had an idea for a rider who helps people by giving very purposeful gifts to each person he meets. I think this idea will appeal to people like myself, who often feel helpless when encountering people in need. The idea is that if you put some thought into it, preparing yourself to help people, you can really make a difference.”
Eleven students are involved in the project, as well as several students who are not in the 2014 class serving in various roles from production assistants to actors. It is a truly comprehensive project that involves a diverse group of talent from Chatt State.
As always, the largest hurdle for these kind of projects is funding. Part of being a professional is ensuring that talent is appropriately compensated and that all the tools needed for the project are acquired. To that end, Willis has set up a modest Kickstarter campaign to raise funds. The group is well on their way toward meeting the goal, but they need a bit more of a push (see below for how to help). Another challenge for the students is “getting an idea into a screenplay that your cast and crew will rally behind,” says Willis.
According to him, “The goal of this film is to start the summer class with a project ready to shoot. The students will then need to take on more of the preproduction tasks for the next two projects. Ideally, we’ll submit to the Chattanooga Film Festival and others, as well as making the film available online.” The summer session is a season-long, headfirst dive into film production.
For once, Chattanooga film fans have an opportunity to encourage and support filmmaking as an art form in a way beyond simple appreciation in a theater. Film festivals are exciting, fun activities for all, but it is imperative that we support the production and education side of film.
This city is poised to be a great place for all types of film lovers. Let’s show the next generation of filmmakers how important they are and encourage them in their studies. It’s good for everyone. If we can watch a film, we can help make one. Support local film.
You can donate to the Chatt State Kickstarter here: kickstarter.com/projects/2046395275/shuttle-chatt-state-films