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Growing program gets a new home on campus

film class meeting in Pioneer Hall
A film class meets in the film and television program’s new home, Pioneer Hall. Photo by Diego Casillas.

Boise State’s Film and Television Arts program opened its doors in the fall of 2018. Faculty were expecting that the program would have about 50 students by now, said Professor Rulon Wood. Instead, more than 100 students are enrolled, honing their professional expertise in subjects like writing for television, cinematography, production, screenwriting, and other disciplines.

In August, the growing program moved into Pioneer Hall, a dedicated space complete with a computer lab, faculty offices and a film studio.

Professor in the classroom
Rulon Wood celebrates the rapid growth of Boise State’s film and television program. “It’s the greatest discipline in the history of the world,” he quipped. “Students want to be a part of it.” Photo by Diego Casillas.

Kennedy Binegar, a senior in the Honors College who grew up in Boise, is majoring in film and television. Binegar already has used skills she’s learned at Boise State to work alongside Wood on short films, to create videos for the Writing Center at Boise State, and to work as a freelance videographer for a local company. Binegar wants to specialize in editing and will pursue a Ph.D. in film.

“My plan is to have a career in the arts,” said Binegar, “eventually teaching and being a part of the education of the craft.”

Kennedy Binegar
Kennedy Binegar in the field. Binegar, whose focus is film editing, finds inspiration in films like “Slumdog Millionaire.” “The timeline isn’t chronological, but it weaves through the past, and present, with stories unraveling and coming back together. I study the edits to recognize how narrative is communicated,” she said. Photo provided by Kennedy Binegar.

The program’s new and expanded home is a boon for students, Binegar said. “In the major, you have access to professional camera gear, lighting and microphones. Pioneer Hall has everything in one place, and a big studio where you can block out sunlight, or open the garage doors if you want more light. It’s a large, neutral space where you can create your own set.”

film class meeting
Pioneer Hall is large enough for students to build film sets, and to find quiet workspace as well as space for collaborations. Photo by Diego Casillas.

Before the program moved into Pioneer Hall, a space formerly occupied by the Benjamin Victor Gallery, the program held classes all over campus, said Binegar. Film students shared a computer lab with photographers and other majors in the Center for the Visual Arts. Now, an in-house technology lab in Pioneer Hall offers high-quality editing stations.

The pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of campus life, including its creative productions. The theatre department hasn’t been able to produce live works on stage, so this fall, it’s partnering with Film and Television Arts to produce a film version of the Charles Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol.”

Film and television student Anthony Ortiz volunteered to work on “A Christmas Carol,” even though it was not part of a formal class.

“I asked Ru (Wood) if there were any projects going on. I’m personally in favor of doing anything I can to learn,” said Ortiz, a Florida native who fell in love with Boise during a cross-country road trip and enrolled at Boise State. He will graduate next fall.

Anthony Ortiz
Anthony Ortiz on the set of “A Christmas Carol.” Dedicating Pioneer Hall to the film and television program “makes it feel like students are cared for,” said Ortiz. “Film has its own home.” Ortiz called film study “a little journey for yourself, discovering what you like and what you don’t.” Film, he added “is the most fascinating thing to study because there are so many tastes, and so many interesting debates. Film opens all of that up.” Photo provided by Anthony Ortiz.

Filming of “A Christmas Carol” is complete and the team has begun editing, said Ortiz. He worked on several aspects of the production including audio and camera work. The project required the creative thinking that’s become a hallmark of Boise State during the pandemic. The crew members wore masks and face shields. They filmed actors one at a time, and from ten feet away. The end product will be as unique as the shoot. The crew will cut the screens together in a way that’s reminiscent of the intro to “The Brady Bunch” television show. But rather than having just the actors’ faces in the picture, the filmmakers will integrate sets and a mix of shots to capture action within each scene. The film crew is hoping for a December completion, in time for the holidays.

“I don’t know of any other university that’s done anything like this,” said Ortiz.

With new productions and a new home, the Film and Television Arts program is working to “build a culture of film at Boise State,” said Ryan Cannon, an associate professor, “where people with common interests can meet and collaborate.”

— Story by Anna Webb