Karen Schupp

February 1, 2014

Karen Schupp, assistant professor in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre, was interviewed for Movement Research's University Project. The University Project aims to shed light on the shifting relationship between academia and working artists.

Schupp outlined her personal research about the effectiveness of the Arizona State University curriculum and her own pedagogical approaches to cultivating leadership in the classroom. Karen also offered her perspective on the currency of master’'s degrees in dance and how she prepares her students to be professionals in the field of dance. Link to the interview Download Full Image

Joseph Fortunato

August 1, 2013

Joe Fortunato, Senior Lecturer in the ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre, recently had his research paper "The Gaze and The Spielberg Face: Steven Spielberg's Application of Lacan's Mirror Stage and Audience Response honored as a "Top Paper" in the Visual Communications Division of The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (AEJMC).

Fortunato was invited to present his award-winning peer-reviewed paper at the National Conference of AEJMC in Washington D.C. on August 8, 2013, where he received a commemorative plaque and prize for his scholarship. Download Full Image

More information about AEJMC is available at www.aejmc.org.

Connie Furr-Soloman

April 2, 2013

Liberace Extravaganza! explores the costumes of a iconic pianist performer whose flamboyant costumes and showmanship inspired the likes of Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga and other modern celebrities. Connie Furr Soloman's new book "Liberace Extravaganza!" is quickly becoming a bestseller on Amazon.com. Published by Harper Collins, the beautifully printed and designed hardcover book looks at the life and costumes of the iconic 20th century pianist, performer and entertainer.

Furr Soloman, associate professor of costume design in the ASU School of Theatre and Film, came to the project through a serendipitous glimpse at a magazine advertisement for the Liberace Museum in Las Vegas. Furr Soloman and her friend and fellow costumer Jan Jewett made the trek to the museum and were amazed by the artistry and complexity of the costumes on display. "We were mesmerized by the kaleidoscope of colors reflecting off the glittering costumes," Furr Soloman and Jewett write in the winter issue of Theatre Design and Technology magazine. "It reminded us of the magic of opening a beautiful, ornate music box we rushed to find the gift shop to take home a keepsake book but there were none to be found. Stunned, we looked at each other and we knew we had found our next project." Download Full Image

Thus began a four-year odyssey to photograph all of the costumes in the collection as well as to unearth the stories behind them. Furr Soloman and Jewett studied the people who created the costumes, the man who wore them and the pageantry and flamboyance in which they were unveiled.

The team interviewed several of Liberace's surviving designers, his showrunner and other contemporaries for the book. Furr Soloman made Liberace her sabbatical project during the 2008-09 academic year. "It is in so many ways an American story," she says. "All of the designers were first generation Americans and Liberace himself was a rags-to-riches tale."

The costumes are works of art, she adds: "Their construction would rival those of any monarch from any era. They were completely hand-sewn with beading and rhinestones and then of course there were those that were electrified."

Born Wladziu Valentino Liberace (1919-1987) to Polish immigrant parents, Liberace's world-famous career spanned four decades of concerts, recordings, motion pictures and television performances. During the 1950s-1970s he was the highest-paid entertainer in the world. Known for his signature candelabra placed atop his piano, a typical Liberace performance would open with him arriving in a chauffer-driven Rolls Royce right up onto the stage. He would emerge in whatever fantastical cape or outfit he was unveiling that day. "He wore them just long enough for people to see him and then he would remove the cape and the chauffer would drive it away," Furr Soloman says. "They were too heavy to wear for very long."

Contemporary artists who knew Liberace and acknowledge his influence on some of their work include Cher, Michael Jackson and Elton John. But Liberace's influence reaches further into the new millennium. "Lady Gaga's entry to the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards in the Faberge egg is straight out of Liberace," Furr Soloman says, while musician Ceelo Green's current Las Vegas show, "Loberace," is a direct tribute to the 20th century entertainer.

"Ultimately, we discovered a man who has against all odds realized his wildest dreams," Furr Soloman says. "His flamboyant stage persona changed the world of show business and his designers provided the razzle-dazzle."

Rachel Bowditch

February 1, 2013

ASU School of Theatre and Film Assistant Professor Rachel Bowditch was named one of the 100 most creative people in Phoenix by Phoenix New Times in 2012, and she is not resting on her laurels. This month, Bowditch will debut a new site-specific work for the IN FLUX series in Scottsdale, which brings multidisciplinary temporary art installations to vacant storefronts in downtown Scottsdale.   

Viewers will see a Victorian room resembling a faded sepia photograph or a memory. Periodically, a female performer in 19th century costume will mark the walls, floor, desk, the chair with memories from the notebooks and journals of famous women writers. Download Full Image

At night, the space will be dramatically lit with a warm ochre light attracting viewers to the storefront window from afar. Once they are there, they will see a woman moving at a glacial pace as she writes her memories on the wall. This piece promises to be both beautiful and haunting. Bowditch's ongoing interest in physical theatre, ritual, avant-garde performance and innovative digital technology can be seen at ASU MainStage performances on which she directs, teaches and serves as advisor, and through Vessel, the experimental theatre group she founded and in which she performs.  

Inspired by Oskar Schlemmer's 1922 piece spotlights three women, including Bowditch, dressed in metallic silver Renaissance-style costumes with corsets with peacock tendrils, horn headdresses and steel hoopskirts. Bowditch spent more than a month constructing the elaborate costumes. Vessel performances are often "site specific," where the actors walk through a public event in dramatic costumes and make-up at a slow, methodical rate. The effect is riveting. 

ASU film students win national contests

June 21, 2012
Arizona State University School of Theatre and Film students continue to win acclaim at national student film festivals with three films taking awards at the Campus MovieFest in Hollywood June 21-23. 

The festival celebrates the top student films from across the globe and has ASU film students within reach of attaining their 15 into 50 goal to place at least 15 ASU School of Theatre and Film student films in 50 national-level competitions this year.

The films to be screened at the Campus MovieFest are: Download Full Image

• "Peeception," directors Dallas Campbell and Brandon Johnson, which won first place

• "Blood Money," directors Jonathan Millard with Logan Highlen, Rosemary Talavera and Tim Valdisera, which won Best Drama

• "Miles to Math," directed by Andrew Franz and Treve Heltemes, Best Comedy

Nine other films written, directed, produced, crewed, and in some cases acted, by School of Theatre and Film students have also been screened in student film festivals for the 2011–2012 academic year with some earning top awards.

Those include:

• "The Understudy, Director Hayley Kosan, Best Director (Hayley Kosan) and Best Cinematography (Ryan Zweig), Columbia University National Undergraduate Film Festival; Top 20 Fan Favorites, SeeFlik.com Film Festival

• "Cadet," Director Ryan Steiner, 1st Place Fan Favorite, Top 20 Judges' Favorites, SeeFlik.com Film Festival

• "Good Injuns," Director Chris Meyers, Second Place Fan Favorite, Top 20 Judges' Favorites, SeeFlik.com Film Festival

• "The Fixer," Director Nicholas Mimh, Top 20 Fan Favorites, Top 20 Judges' Favorites, SeeFlik.com Film Festival

• "Strings," Director Kimberly Aiello, Top 20 Fan Favorite, SeeFlik.com Film Festival

• "The Atheist," Director Conrad Miszuk, Cinequest Film Festival, Official Selection

• "Sacrificios," Director Miguel Munguia, Phoenix College Latino Film Festival, participant

• "El Sueno," Director Daniel Tantalean. Phoenix College Latino Film Festival, participant.

• "A K'night Lost in Translation," Director Sergio Gomez. San Diego Latino Film Festival, participant

"Once again, we see the extraordinary work our students are capable of here at ASU,”" said F. Miguel Valenti, Lincoln Professor of Ethics and the Arts and founder of the film and media production program. “"The growing number of national awards is testimony to their talent, our faculty and our program. We are very proud." 

Student filmmakers showcase work at annual film festival

April 6, 2012

ASU School of Theatre and Film Media Production Program students will host their annual Film Festival and Audience Choice Award competition April 23-24 at Harkins Valley Art Theatre in downtown Tempe.

The traditionally sold-out event takes place over two nights and will feature the work of dozens of filmmakers eager to see their work on the big screen. Audience members can vote for their favorites in the 10-minute film competition, as well as enjoy the best of the creative work of students in the Festival Showcase. Download Full Image

Past student films have won national competitions, such as the 2011 SeeFlik Festival Fan Favorite Award for Ryan Steiner’s film, "Cadet." Steiner created the film while a student in the Film Media Production program last year, and his work and that of other award winners were featured in past ASU Student Film Festival showcases.

“Audience members will see a wide range of short films, from documentaries to dramas to comedies to demo and cinematography reels, all of which explore a full range of the curriculum here at ASU,” says F. Miguel Valenti, Lincoln Professor of Ethics and the Arts and program director of Film and Media Production at the ASU School of Theatre and Film in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

“We are the first school in the nation to incorporate ethics into the teaching of film production, and it is always fascinating to see how students interpret that,” Valenti adds. “We welcome all to come and see for themselves the great work our students are doing here at ASU.”

To watch Audience Choice Winners from previous years, visit herbergercollege.asu.edu/innovation/studentfilms.php#

Film professor brings Hollywood A-listers to Tempe

November 29, 2011

Adam Collis, visiting professor of film directing at ASU, hates the word “connections,’’ but that’s what the filmmaker and actor taps when he’s lining up Hollywood A-listers to talk with students about filmmaking. Collis started his Hollywood Invades Tempe (HIT) film series more than two years ago, and it quickly has become a must-see event among ASU School of Theatre and Film students.

The popular series attracts such Hollywood insiders as cinematographer Lawrence Sher, of “Garden State," "The Hangover" and "Due Date" fame, and Bennett Miller, who directed "Capote" and the recent "Moneyball." Download Full Image

“It’s like a great dinner party,’’ says Collis, who has coordinated video conference calls with Hollywood heavyweights such as Brunson Green, the producer of “The Help” – and most recently, Tom Sherak, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

"I wanted our students to speak with professionals working at the very top level of movies and TV,’’ he says.

The evenings – complete with free popcorn, pizza and a movie screening, thanks to the student-run Programming and Activities Board and the ASU Film Association – are a kind of Actors Studio, with Collis serving as moderator. The conversations are tantalizingly candid, casual and informative. Frequently, the guests are talking from their living rooms swapping stories, answering questions and sharing insight and guidance.


Join Adam Collis and special guests Stephen Gyllenhaal, director and writer, and Kathleen Man Gyllenhaal, co-producer of "Grassroots", for Hollywood Invades Tempe, starting at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 30, in Coor Hall room 174. Come for pizza at 7 p.m., the film screening at 7:30 p.m., and a chat with the husband and wife team at 9:10 p.m. The interview will be broadcast live on ASUtv. Visit theatrefilm.asu.edu for more information.


And like a good dinner party, the guests linger. Q&A sessions can last up to 90 minutes and rarely go less than an hour.

Collis, who flies in from Los Angeles every Wednesday to teach film directing, has booked 18 guest speakers so far, including upcoming speakers Stephen Gyllenhaal, writer and director, and Kathleen Man Gyllenhaal, co-producer of “Grassroots” – a newly released film based on the true story of a Seattle activist who makes a run for a city council seat.

Among the folks Collis hopes to line up for future HIT events are Alexander Payne, director of “Descendants,’’ “Sideways” and “Election”; Larry Franco, producer of “Anonymous,” “Jurassic Park III” and “October Sky’’ and Jason Reitman, director of “Up in the Air’’ and “Juno.’’

A native of Lexington, Ky., Collis went to Duke University to play soccer and wound up smitten by a film class and by Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing.’’

“That film inspired me to want to become a filmmaker,’’ Collis says.

He studied film at the University of Southern California and wound up directing “Mad Boy, I’ll Blow Your Blues Away,’’ because he couldn’t bear for “this gem of a story’’ to not be produced. The short film wound up winning several awards and put Collis in line for directing a feature film, “Sunset Strip,’’ about the Los Angeles rock ‘n roll scene in the early 1970s.

A regular on the film festival circuit, Collis began building a network of friends and colleagues who, like him, loved making movies.

When he began teaching three years ago in the Herberger Institute’s Theatre and Film School as a visiting professor, Collis saw the students' lack of exposure to real filmmakers – people he knew just a quick flight or call away.

“I asked friends of mine to Skype,’’ he says. And Hollywood Invades Tempe was born.

“Folks in Hollywood enjoy giving back.’’

For more information on past speakers, visit Hollywood Invades Tempe.

Susan Felt
Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts

Amanda Nguyen

February 9, 2011

Amanda Nguyen is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in theatre within the Arizona State University School of Theatre and Film and a Bachelor of Art in business from the W.P. Carey School of Business. She recently was featured in The State Press for her work in founding ASU GLEEders, a glee club for area youth. The organization joins students of varied ages and abilities from area public schools with ASU students, who serve as mentors.

Through singing and dancing, Nguyen designed ASU GLEEders to encourage students to have something healthy to be passionate about, and to learn the importance of teamwork, self-expression, dedication, and “celebrate the arts like there is no tomorrow.” Download Full Image

During the spring 2011 semester, students representing four different schools perform with the show choir, which is set to perform in early May.

Marius Ciocirian

January 7, 2011

Marius Ciocirlan, is a senior pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in theatre with a film and media production concentration. During 2010, he won an Emmy® Award for a publicity campaign he created for Eight, Arizona PBS.

Ciocirlan has worked for PBS for several years as a video editor and motion graphic artist in the promotions department. He was tasked with designing a branding campaign named "Eight Delivers," in which he created an array of 30-second promotional videos, including graphic elements and animation. Download Full Image

Ciocirlan says that the promos were very powerful and emotional, which actually caused one of his coworkers to repeatedly watch them and tear up. Two of the campaign promos were nominated for the coveted television prize; Ciocirlan took the award for editing.

Ciocirlan also is an entrepreneur, winning grants and even office space at Arizona State University SkySong. He started two businesses, Kromatic Entertainment and Blimee.

Blimee Brings Local News, Engagement and Instant Offers to Digital Signage.