Thursday, August 22

Macgowan, Melnitz engage in rare collaboration


Marathon bridges theater-film gap; many agree trend should continue

There might not be any us v. them mentality brewing between
theater students and professors and their film counterparts, but
inhabitants of Macgowan Hall (home of the theater department) and
Melnitz Hall (home of film and television) aren’t exactly
sending each other holiday greeting cards either.

“The buildings are right next door to each other, but
it’s almost as if they’re worlds apart,” said
Tiffany Antone, a fourth-year theater acting student.

The UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television is designed to
be one giant performing arts melting pot, but students of theater
and film rarely converse, much less collaborate with each other.
Thyrale Thai and Eli Kaufman, both third-year film directing
graduate students, are unfamiliar with any student directors in
theater.

“There’s a lot of cross-pollination that should be
happening,” said Kaufman. “(The Coppola One-Act
Marathon) is really the only thing there is. I just feel that
seeing each other’s shows, coming to screenings, and learning
that way can be really helpful.”

According to Thai, there is nothing built into the programs that
allows for much maneuvering. Even the various programs within film
studies itself tend to drift apart into their own cliques.

“The producing program, the screenwriting program and the
directing program don’t intermingle as much as we probably
should, so what ends up happening is that relationships come out of
the initiative of individuals rather than the two
departments,” said Thai. “You’ll meet someone in
the prop shop when you’re checking out props, and
you’ll get that person to do production design in your film
rather than there being a built-in system where we meet each
other.”

Several theater acting students note that audition announcements
for film projects are posted only in Melnitz, and not in Macgowan.
Student directors from film usually resist actively seeking acting
students from theater for their films.

“You would think there’d be a natural collaboration.
You have to work so hard to seek out whatever is going in Melnitz;
there’s no communication between the two departments,”
said Meredith Hines, a second-year theater acting student.
“So many of the actors here intend to go into film actually
““ everybody wants to be a movie star. Yet there’s no
experience for them.”

Thai points out that directors often cast actors they already
know or have seen in action. Acting students’ ages also come
into play, especially when many films feature older characters.

“It seems like all of the actors, including the M.F.A.
actors, are pretty young. So if you’re casting (actors) above
25, you’re not really going to find them here,” said
Thai.

Competition, according to Dean of the School of Theater, Film
and Television Robert Rosen, is always going to be an issue in
casting, especially when the department tries not to handcuff the
decision-making of independent film directors.

The Coppola One-Acts Marathon’s high profile might have
inadvertently overshadowed additional opportunities for
interdepartmental collaboration. For example, workshops in
narrative TV as well as film and television acting exist to bolster
the department’s uniqueness as an umbrella program for
multiple media.

“Can we go further and should we go further in this
direction? Absolutely. Have we developed all the possibilities for
that integration? Not yet,” said Rosen. “We don’t
want to merge (theater and film) because theater is different from
film and TV, but we want points of intersection.”

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