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ASU’s film school attracts next generation of filmmakers

Portrait of a woman with long blonde hair wearing a floral blouse.

Brooklyn Shumway

April 26, 2023

For Brooklyn Shumway, a junior majoring in film and media production, the 2020 launch of The Sidney Poitier New American Film School at Arizona State University seemed like fate.

“I chose ASU because of the incredible opportunities that were opening up,” Shumway said. “Living in the Mesa area, it almost felt like destiny that The Sidney Poitier New American Film School opened its doors in Mesa to students just as I transferred.”

The school operates across three cities, including ASU’s Tempe campus, the Los Angeles-based California Center and the Media and Immersive Experience (MIX) Center, a brand-new 118,000-gross-square-foot state-of-the-art facility in downtown Mesa.

Now on track to graduate this fall, Shumway credits ASU’s transfer tool, MyPath2ASU, with helping her navigate through the transfer process from Mesa Community College

“MyPath2ASU was a great guideline in helping me stay on track while earning the right credits toward my degree,” said the the aspiring writer, director and actor.

“Earning my associate (degree) before transferring led my track astray just a bit, but because of MyPath2ASU, I’m on my way to graduating with ease from the building blocks that I’d established.”

MyPath2ASU is designed to ease the transition to ASU for Maricopa Community College transfer students like Shumway, as well as any other community college student anywhere in the United States, no matter where they are in their academic journey.

A new kind of film school

The school's 750 students represent creative diversity, with more than 40% of its students from underrepresented backgrounds.

“I’ve really enjoyed the diversity and freedom of subjects in courses,” Shumway said. “I’ve found such liberation in expression — especially in my story-centered classes like Intermediate Screenwriting and Introduction to Film and Media Production this semester.”

Students also have opportunities to use Hollywood technology through partnerships, including with the John Hughes Institute and with Dreamscape Immersive, the world’s leading virtual reality company. It is also the first film school to offer students the tech used in "The Mandalorian," — that is, virtual production with extremely high-resolution LED wall and floor screens made by Planar Studios at the ASU California Center. The MIX Center will offer the technology starting in the fall semester.

Qualified transfer students from Arizona and California community colleges can can earn a bachelor's degree in film with a concentration in filmmaking practices at the California Center, located in the newly renovated Herald Examiner building.

The Los Angeles space gives film students from every background an opportunity to connect with and learn in the entertainment capital of the world. 

A passion for filmmaking

Currently, Shumway is focused on building up her resume and sharpening her screenwriting skills with ASU faculty. 

“The biggest mentor figure for me at ASU right now is Professor Chris LaMont,” Shumway said. “He helped me redefine my screenwriting capabilities and streamline them to really sell a story. Next semester, I plan to take individualized instruction from him to better understand how I can progress as a screenwriter.”

Below, Shumway shares more about her transfer experience. 

Question: Who (or what) inspired you to go to pursue higher education? 

Answer: My passion for filmmaking was my biggest drive to pursue higher education. My family was so supportive of me in that decision, so those two factors really impacted my decision.

Q: Why did you decide to attend community college?

A: Community college was more affordable than a university and offered smaller class sizes. I felt more at ease knowing that I could easily get help from an instructor when I needed it because of that.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to a new transfer student?

A: Know the difference between quality and quantity. While it may be easier to procrastinate or submit a half-effort assignment, your quality of learning will suffer for it. It is always better to work hard for the sake of learning the most and gaining the best experience possible.

Q: Why (and when) did you choose your major?

A: First and foremost, I am a storyteller. Sharing stories is what I love, and filmmaking is a beautiful way of doing just that. In high school, I juggled between creative writing and film and media production, but I eventually chose the latter, as I found more opportunities to share stories with a larger audience.

Q: What are your plans after you graduate with your bachelor's degree?

A: I’m looking to write, direct and act in films (whether feature films or short films) to build up my resume, eventually getting to the professional level.


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