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Indie filmmaker reels in students for sci-fi thriller shot at ASU

ASU students help produce upcoming sci-fi thriller, shot on ASU's Tempe campus.
October 11, 2017

Students land key jobs on movie project as Herberger Institute program gains notice

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. To read more top stories from 2017, click here.

“The Nutty Professor” (1963), “A Star is Born” (1976), “Jerry Maguire” (1996) and — coming soon — “Rhea” (year TBD).

An in-production feature film is joining the ranks of those in which Arizona State University’s Tempe campus has had a co-starring role.“Rhea” is setting itself apart from its predecessors in a unique way, however; a way that is putting ASU’s young film program into focus.

The film, a futuristic sci-fi production from Arizona filmmaker Robert Conway, marks the first outside film production to involve the participation of ASU students in key production roles including assistant director, script supervisor, production manager, camera operations, editing, wardrobe and set decoration and extras.

Sixteen ASU film students participated in the filming of “Rhea” in the summer of 2017 under the supervision of Assistant Professor Jason Scott of ASU’s School of Film, Dance and Theatre in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Shot over 23 days on and around ASU's Tempe campus — and other locations around the Valley — the film involved students working 12-hour days in the heat of Arizona’s noted summer months for an experience none will soon forget.

“No other film program has so successfully and consistently integrated undergraduate students into key positions on professionally produced feature films,” Scott said. “There are many one-off examples of small groups of students from a school getting to work on a feature — and some have graduate programs that fund feature films and offer experience to graduate students on those sets — but there is nothing equivalent to this ‘teaching hospital’-type model in the world of film and media education.”

That model appears to be working and is getting noticed as an industry incubator. Online trade publication recently ranked ASU’s School of Film, Dance and Theatre — one of the fastest-growing film programs in the country — at No. 35 on its list of the Top 50 Film Schools of 2017. The publication highlighted the program’s features including student access to the state-of-the-art Sun Studios soundstage and internships via ASU’s Film Spark career accelerator program, which produced the movie “Car Dogs,” “Justice Served” and “Postmarked.”

ASU's film program also boasts a connection to newly minted Oscar winner David Breschel. The ASU alum and USC graduate film student produced this year's Academy Award winning student short “Mammoth,” directed by Ariel Heller of USC.

Created just outside the margins of the Film Spark program as a non-ASU-originated film project, Conway's “Rhea” internship offered a first-of-its-kind experience for ASU students in terms of working with an outside filmmaker — and left a strong impression on the seasoned director and screenwriter.

“I wanted to make sure the students were getting what they needed out of the project,” Conway said. “It was interesting because by the end of the second week, they were like regular crew — they had jobs, they understood what they were doing — and this was not an easy shoot. These were six-day weeks and long days. It was a lot to put on the students, but they were really dedicated. I told them at the beginning that I can’t promise you that you’re going to have fun all the time, but I can promise that you will learn a lot.”

And they did.

Lynzie Robb, who is majoring in film and media practices, served as a script supervisor for Conway’s “Rhea.” She said working on the film and other coursework has made her all the more excited to venture into the world of film production knowing how many jobs there are behind the scenes in pre- and post-production.

“I feel like I have had a really enriching experience learning about film,” Robb said. “After this internship, I feel like I am a little more prepared for what to expect on a film set. I feel much more ready to jump into the water.” Robb, who will graduate from ASU in fall 2017, has her eyes set on working in editing and script supervising after graduation.

Samuel Maupin, a senior majoring in filmmaking practices, had the opportunity to tackle several roles on the set of “Rhea” both behind the scenes and in front of the camera — even performing a little stunt work as an extra. Having gained what he described as an “in-depth experience” with the “Rhea” internship, Maupin said he felt like the film program at ASU keeps getting bigger and better every year.

“It’s really great how much the professors put into this program and how dedicated they are to their students,” Maupin said. “There may be some other schools that have a lot more resources and funding than we do, but I think the family-oriented environment at ASU helps create success for the students.”

After graduation, Maupin says he wants to work with some local production groups that he hopes will open more doors for him in film. He and other students earned college credit for their participation in the internship.

Citing the school’s available resources in the way of building architecture, camera equipment and production talent, Conway says he is happy with his decision to partner with ASU to make his movie at the university and encourages other filmmakers to do the same.

“It was definitely a team effort; it was a joint production for sure,” said Conway, who has been making films professionally for 20 years. “Between myself, another friend and the school, we were able to cover all of our equipment needs with very little need to rent additional gear.”

Conway encourages students to take full advantage of the programs and resources offeredStudents and faculty can get an up-close look at some of courses and resources offered through ASU's film program through a series of workshops on Herberger Institute Day on Oct. 12. through ASU’s film program.

“Write as many scripts as you can, shoot as much as you can, edit as much as you can and learn as much as you can. That’s going to pay off for you,” he said.

Described as a young-adult, campus take on HBO’s futuristic fantasy series “Westworld,” “Rhea” — whose producers include ASU instructors Jason Scott and Chris LaMont — is in post-production.

Conway’s film credits include a number of horror and sci-fi thrillers, including “Redemption,” “The Encounter,” “Krampus: The Reckoning,” “Krampus Unleashed,” “Breakdown Lane” and “The Covenant.”

Behind-the-scenes “Rhea” shoot photos by Jamie Ell/ASU

Sr. Media Relations Officer , Media Relations & Strategic Communications


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ASU awarded Mellon grant to develop community-driven archival collections

Latinos make up 30% of AZ's population but appear in less than 2% of archives.
October 11, 2017

In the small border town where she grew up, Nancy Godoy’s library lacked adequate services for Latinos and the Spanish-speaking community, so it wasn’t until she was an adult that she began to learn of the extensive history and influence of Latinos in Arizona.

Now an archivist at ASU Library, Godoy has worked tirelessly to grow its Chicano Research Collection and expand the library’s reach to the Latino community through public outreach that includes educational workshops on preservation of historic materials.

In recognition of that work, Godoy and her colleague Lorrie McAllister were recently awarded a $450,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a three-year project designed to build and expand community-driven collections, in an effort to preserve and improve Arizona’s archives and give voice to historically marginalized communities.

“The grant will allow us to continue our work with the Latino community and expand our reach to other historically marginalized communities,” Godoy said. “Latinos, African-Americans, Asian-Americans and the LGBT community share a collective memory and this history needs to be preserved collectively.”

Under her leadership, the project — titled “Engaging, Educating, and Empowering: Developing Community-Driven Archival Collections” — will implement Archives and Preservation Workshops and Digitization and Oral History Days, as well as digitize and make publicly accessible existing archival collections from ASU Library’s Chicano/a Research Collection and Greater Arizona Collection.

In 2012, the Arizona Archives Matrix Project, a statewide initiative to gather data about local archives, identified several historically marginalized communities in Arizona, including LGBT, Asian-American, African-American and the Latino community, which makes up 30 percent of Arizona’s population but is represented in less than 2 percent of known archival collections.

ASU Now sat down with Godoy to get a more candid take on her views about preserving the history of marginalized communities.

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Nancy Godoy talks about various items in the Chicano Research Collection at ASU Library. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Question: How did you get into archival work?

Answer: I’ve worked in libraries and archives throughout the state as a student and professional since 2003. I grew up in Yuma, Arizona, and come from a farmworker background. My hometown, at that point in time, didn’t provide adequate library services for Latinos or the Spanish-speaking community so I wasn’t exposed to this world until I was an adult. I received my bachelor’s in history at Northern Arizona University and master’s in library science at University of Arizona. Inspired by Chicano/a history and archival internships, I realized that knowledge transforms lives and everyone should have access to information. Today, as the archivist of the Chicano/a Research Collection at ASU Library, I have dedicated my career to addressing inequities and discrimination within the archive and library field. 

Q: What is unique about the work you do for ASU?

A: I love to introduce people to archives, make collections accessible and see communities interact with history. I jokingly refer to this feeling as my “archive glow.” Throughout my career, I have intentionally embedded myself into local communities in order to build the relationships and trust needed to add diverse voices to the archival record. I’ve also used social media, bilingual exhibits and marketing materials, and workshops to reach a larger audience.

Q: Why is this work important?

A: It’s important to note that the Latino community is not fairly represented in mainstream media and history. When we share local history and collections with the public, it allows marginalized communities to reflect and see themselves in a positive way. Multiple perspectives and narratives are needed in order to get an accurate understanding of Arizona history. Marginalized communities have the right to preserve their own archives and should feel invested in ongoing efforts to preserve a more complete representation of local history.

Q: What are some of your favorite items in the collections at ASU Library?

A: I’ve had my dream job the last six years. Each day I come into work, I find something amazing, so it’s not easy to pick one collection or item. The Chicano/a Research Collection is Arizona’s largest repository for Latino history, so we have material on different subjects (civil rights, politics, education, labor, culture and art). Since 1970, we’ve acquired a distinguished collection of manuscripts, photographs, newspapers, ephemera and artifacts. For example, we have the Ocampo Family Papers and Photographs, which highlight the life and customs of a Latino family from 1863 to the present. It’s important to remember that Latinos have deep roots in Arizona and helped build the state’s economy in the mines, fields and ranches.

Q: Do you have any tips for people looking to preserve family historical items? 

A: Yes, several! In 2014, I developed an Archives and Preservation WorkshopFor more information on the workshops, contact Nancy Godoy at or 480-965-2594. that encourages the community to preserve their own history by providing three different ways to preserve (genealogy research, archival theory and oral histories). During the archival theory section, community members learn how to appraise, collect, describe and arrange material. For example, if you have original photographs at home on the walls, collect the material, scan it and properly store it as soon as possible because light can weaken the color of the photographs. If you don’t have traditional archival supplies (acid-free box, folders and mylar), you can use temporary storage supplies like plastic bins or Ziploc bags. It’s also very important to identify people, places and dates but not write on the photographs.

Additional reporting by Britt Lewis, ASU Library

Top photo: Various items from the Chicano Research Collection at ASU Library. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now