Students get practical experiencemaking movies



    Editor’s note: This is the second of a three-part series on the LDS Motion Picture Studio, its purpose, and its relationship with the LDS Church and BYU.


    @by2:Universe Staff Writer

    @text:Students can gain practical film experience at a boot camp program at the LDS Motion Picture Studio. The program is a requirement to enter the BYU film program and involves 65 hours of labor for the studio.

    Tom Lefler, film program coordinator, said students work in several parts of the studio, doing such jobs as lab work, video or film editing or as a production assistant.

    Students “will hopefully get a broad experience but are assigned as needed,” he said.

    Cara Conrad, a junior from Calgary, Alberta, majoring in film, attended the boot camp in Spring 1994.

    “It was a positive experience,” she said. “It was a good opportunity to see what” the film industry is like.

    Conrad said she watched employees editing and sound mixing and also helped clean and organize in the properties storage area.

    “Sixty-five hours is quite a lot,” Conrad said. But she feels her experience was true to the film industry. “It’s not all fun and games; it’s a lot of work,” she said.

    Conrad said that near the end of her boot camp hours, the studio was filming the Book of Mormon seminary films. She volunteered her services and was hired as a casting assistant to help with the extras.

    Now Conrad works as an attendant in the studio’s Film Student Support Services, checking out equipment to BYU students and answering their questions.

    Lefler said the BYU film department has a long history with the studio and that the studio has “provided enormous support for the (film) program.”

    The studio is offering two grants this year for “students to use for equipment, services and some out-of-pocket expenses,” Lefler said. Last year one grant was offered.

    The studio also provides post-production services, such as film processing, film to video transfer and post-production sound, for film projects at minimum cost, Lefler said.

    In the past, studio personnel taught classes at BYU, he said.

    The studio began when BYU’s then-President Ernest L. Wilkinson asked a Walt Disney Studio animator to start a new motion picture department. Judge Whitaker took the job and opened in a bungalow on campus in January 1953.

    On Feb. 18, 1958, the current studio site was dedicated. The 20-acre plot includes a studio with offices, two sound stages, storage buildings, western village, a replica of the Joseph Smith house, a small stream and a forest, according to a personal history of the studio by Whitaker.

    The basic process of making a film starts with a refined script put into screenplay form. Then “break(ing) it down into actors and characters, cast(ing) it, costum(ing) it, mak(ing) or rent(ing) props and sets, find(ing) locations, gather(ing) a crew and rehears(ing).

    “Shooting then takes place for a few days, weeks, or months. Then the process of post production begins: conforming, syncing, editing, adding sound, narration, effects, and titles,” Judge Whitaker wrote.

    In 1995, the studio filmed 83 major productions, 16 for Church Educational Systems and 15 for BYU, according to the production department’s 1995 Year End Report

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