Thomas Schatz

U. of Texas at Austin - Executive director, U. of Texas Film Institute

Concocted a campuswide program that will produce a student-made film each academic year.

After testing the waters with Burnt Orange Prods. — an innovative hands-on program that allowed students to work on a series of low-budget features but which fizzled after the films failed to perform in the marketplace — Schatz turns his attention to the U. of Texas Film Institute, a no-less-ambitious interdisciplinary model in which students write, produce and market a polished feature.

Under the new system, “We can do things without worrying so much about commercial pressure,” Schatz explains. “The point is to create the right kind of synergies between (the) radio-TV-film (department) and other departments, like theater and dance. Students will come away with a much stronger sense of how feature films are created and a greater appreciation of the collaborative nature of filmmaking.”

As a way of gearing students up for the two-semester program, the school’s RTF department has offered spring production labs for three years running. A screenplay developed in that environment will become UTFI’s first production, beginning principal photography this summer. “Ideally, we’ll start a film every summer,” he says.

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