SOU Digital Cinema launches Crew Experience

SOU Digital Cinema program launches “The Crew Experience”

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University’s Digital Cinema program has launched its new “Crew Experience” initiative with a crowdfunding campaign through the SOU Foundation on IndieGoGo. The campaign had raised more than a third of its $6,000 goal in less than 24 hours.

Crew Experience is the benchmark project of juniors and seniors in SOU’s Digital Cinema bachelor’s degree program. Students earn 12 upper-division credits in a 10-week production immersion –leaving the classroom behind to learn on location in a professional filmmaking environment, under the supervision of faculty and industry mentors.

This year’s Crew Experience project will be “Eight and Sand,” a short film set partly in a fictional family-run theme park called Train Town. The film – a story of two half-sisters trying to honor their mother’s dying wish – will be submitted to various film festivals.

The one-of-a-kind Crew Experience immersion training will prepare students for “below-the-line jobs” – or production work – in the film and television industry. It is the only such academic program in the Pacific Northwest.

“The fact that this exists here – in southern Oregon, in a smaller school – is fantastic,” said Randy Cordray, a veteran television producer whose credits include “The Office,” in a recent interview with SOU’s The Siskiyou student newspaper.

Students in the Digital Cinema program’s Entrepreneurial Producing class have launched the crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo themselves, in cooperation with the SOU Foundation. Crowdfunding for independent cinema is considered an essential professional skill. All contributions to the campaign are considered tax-deductible donations in support of SOU’s educational mission.

Digital Cinema students will use money raised in the campaign to cast union-represented talent, secure filming locations and pay for props, set dressing and wardrobe. It will also be used to buy digital storage space, feed the cast and crew, score and license music for the film, and send the completed project to film festivals.

The Crew Experience is designed to emulate, as closely as possible, a large-scale professional production.

SOU’s Digital Cinema program offers a world-class film school education at an affordable price and with no portfolio requirement for admission. The program is hands-on, student-centered and focused on cultivating career pathways for students. “Moviemaker” magazine has named Ashland a “best place to live and work as a moviemaker” for seven consecutive years.

For more information about Crew Experience: contact Andrew Gay, an associate professor at SOU and coordinator of the Digital Cinema program, at (541) 552-6669 or


Students working in Digital Cinema degree program

Digital Cinema promo makes it to silver screen

A video created by SOU students to promote the university’s new Digital Cinema degree program will screen before films at Coming Attractions Theatre locations across Oregon, northern California, Washington and Alaska.

“You’re always excited when your students’ work gets screened,” said Professor Andrew Gay, the program coordinator of Digital Cinema. “Usually that’s in film festivals … this is the widest audience any SOU production has ever had.”

The pre-show promo will be shown at 18 theaters, including the Varsity Theatre in Ashland, between Oct. 11 and Dec. 31. The promotion was an entirely free show of support for the Digital Cinema major from Coming Attractions.

“(The promo) was a lot of really hard work,” said Sophia Miller, an SOU alumnus who directed numerous segments of the promo. “It helped a lot of people bond across departments.”

The video was created by SOU students attending Gay’s class. He wrote the script for the promotion but the rest of the production – camera operation, acting, editing, visual effects, etc. – was handled entirely by SOU students.

“I didn’t know that (the promo would be shown in theaters). That’s really exciting because a lot of people will get to see the work we did, and it’ll bring more students to SOU and to the program,” Miller said.

The Digital Cinema degree was introduced earlier this year, and focuses on pairing traditional film school experiences with education about new forms of video media and the teaching of innovative problem-solving techniques. Learn more about the Digital Cinema degree at

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

SOU Digital Cinema in studio

HECC gives green light for launch of Digital Cinema degree at SOU

(Ashland, Ore.) — Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission gave final approval today for a new Digital Cinema degree program that will begin this fall at Southern Oregon University and prepare students for careers in film and other forms of visual media.

Members of the HECC, whose approval is needed for all new degree programs at the state’s seven public universities, OK’d the SOU program ( without discussion. It had previously been reviewed and endorsed by both the SOU Board of Trustees and the state universities’ provosts council.

“We’re excited to finally offer a major for the students out there who are looking for a ‘film school’ education,” said Andrew Gay, the program coordinator and associate professor of digital cinema at SOU.

“But we also know that today’s student filmmakers need to be prepared for all kinds of visual storytelling careers that go beyond the traditional ‘film school’ format,” he said. “Here at SOU, students will get that immersion in both worlds — in traditional filmmaking and in new digital worlds like streaming television and virtual reality.”

The new major will build upon the success of the existing Digital Cinema concentration within SOU’s Communication major, while introducing several new courses and immersive experiences for student filmmakers – including required coursework related to innovation.

The program’s centerpiece is a new, 12-credit spring immersion called “The Crew Experience,” in which student filmmakers will spend an entire term learning on location, collaborating under the supervision of experienced professionals on the sets of a significant film projects. Students will apply and interview for their crew positions based on the experiences, skill levels and portfolios of work they have developed in preceding classes.

No other film or media program in the Pacific Northwest offers such an experiential approach to professional production training.

Curriculum for the new program was designed with input from an advisory council of current and former students, film and media industry professionals, and experienced educators in the field. It was designed with both state and regional employment trends in mind.

“Economic diversification is key to the health and wealth of southern Oregon, and the media production sector is a promising target for growth in this region, based on existing assets and infrastructure,” said State Sen. Jeff Golden, who served on the new program’s advisory council.



Magazine names Ashland among best locales to work as filmmaker

For the sixth year in a row, MovieMaker Magazine has named the scenic town of Ashland in its annual ranking of the best places to live and work as a filmmaker in the United States.

This year, Ashland placed sixth in the magazine’s Small Cities and Towns category, competing well against larger markets including New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.

The magazine chose Ashland due to its picturesque filming locations, such as Lithia Park and Mt. Ashland, and because of the increase in moviemakers and actors moving to the area. Film students in the region can also take advantage of the Digital Cinema curriculum in the Communication program at Southern Oregon University.

“Because Ashland is a small, connected community, our students get tremendous benefits by learning filmmaking here,” said Digital Cinema professor Andrew Gay. “Filmmakers in the region enthusiastically support our student population with internships and PA gigs, helping them build skills that transfer to sets in larger markets such as Portland and Los Angeles.”

Gary Lundgren produced the coming-of-age film “Calvin Marshall” in the Rogue Valley in 2009, and has always seen Ashland as a welcoming community for filmmakers.

“When we made ‘Calvin Marshall’ in 2007, we employed quite a few first-timers and promoted people within their departments,” Lundgren told MovieMaker magazine. “A lot of those people are still friends of ours and have careers in bigger markets now, like Portland or Atlanta.”

Lundgren tries to contribute to Ashland’s positive and welcoming vibe by hiring a few first-timers whenever he’s assembling a crew for one of his films, such as his latest project, “Phoenix, Oregon,” a comedy about two friends who open a bowling alley and pizzeria.

MovieMaker magazine is geared toward the art and business of filmmaking, and claims to be the world’s most widely read independent film magazine. It was founded in 1993 in Seattle, but is now headquartered in Burbank, California.

Story by SOU student writer Sophie Passerini