BY MELISSA ESPINOZA
Photo courtesy of The Chaparral. Students recreating a scene from the film “No Country For Old Men.”
College of the Desert has been offering academic opportunities in different fields for local students for over 60 years. With the help of film instructor, Vincent Sassone, new classes and certificates were added to the COD film program two years ago, and now students are taking advantage of them at the Palm Springs campus on E. Baristo Rd.
“In 2017 when I was asked to help build [the film program] we started with in the fall, we wrote a whole bunch of curriculum, got it passed. In the spring, it was about getting the funding to get all of the equipment and then planning out this room and then last fall was about planning to move here get it built and this spring was about building up the enrollment, getting the word out, doing much marketing and talking and being here in Palm Springs so that we can integrate with the Palm Springs community,” said Sassone.
The film program not only offers students who are interested in working in the film industry, the ability to gain film making experience, it also gives them the opportunity to obtain an associates degree, a basic certificate of achievement and an advanced certificate of achievement in film production.
“There is a production track, which is like the locomotive of it, so you have production 1, 2, and 3 and students graduate through those, and they get better, better and better. Around all of that you have screenwriting, cinematography, acting in front of the camera, documentary film-making and we have more courses coming like editing and production management and locations management, so getting into more specific things,” said Sassone.
Students who are involved in the film program also get to experience what it truly means to work on a movie set. Production students and student actors work together to learn about actors, directors and production staff working on a set. As one of their assignments this semester, students get to recreate famous movie scenes. The students would spend time developing a scene, practicing acting, directing and making sure shooting runs smoothly.
“I’m an aspiring actor. I want to make it on [with] what I do hopefully. I’m hoping to learn more from taking this class, and it isn’t just acting in front of the screen, you have to learn everything that goes behind the scenes, and you collaborate with just everyone in the class, and it becomes a team effort,” said COD graduate, Matt Tucker.
One of the scenes students recreated was the famous coin toss in the film “No Country For Old Men,” a 2007 drama/mystery starring Javier Bardem. Two student actors with a student director in charge and a set crew worked for several hours to recreate that specific scene from the film with their creative ideas.
“This is just sort of a good way to get a grasp of what you know it is like to be in sort of a film production world, and so it helps [with] any avenue you’re [going to] go into in the film industry,” said theater arts student, Jonathan Hatsois.
As this program continues to grow and create opportunities to help students get the necessary experience to go into the film industry, more COD students will be able to showcase their talents and creativity while also use the skills they learn in other areas of their lives.
“Take the talent of storytelling as a film-maker and apply them in marketing or business or politics or anything else like that, because of we all talk, this is our language, and so this is the way we communicate. There are lots of opportunities for us to make money and I think it is about empowering students also because this a significant time for people to understand how to use this language and how it is used on us,” said Sassone.