George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and John Wells have donated a combined $3.5 million to fund computer graphics classrooms and digital soundstages for film students at the Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts, a $15 million facility at the USC School of Cinema-Television.
Lucas’ $500,000 pledge will fund a computer graphics and advanced media classroom. Spielberg’s $1.5 million contribution will fund a digital studio honoring the late Stanley Kubrick (“Eyes Wide Shut”).
Geffen, a member of the board of councilors at the School of Cinema-Television, has committed $1 million toward a multi-camera soundstage for teaching and the production of film and television. Wells’ $500,000 donation will go toward an additional computer graphics classroom.
Lucas and Spielberg had already donated a total of $2 million to the center — for a digital studio named after the late director Akira Kurosawa and a computer graphics classroom, respectively.
Construction of the high-tech facility began in June, funded partly by a $5 million donation from Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump”), an alumnus of the school.
The Zemeckis Center will be housed in a 35,000-square-foot building at the northern corner of the USC campus, in an area proposed for multimedia development. The building will be the first added to the School of Cinema-Television complex since 1984.
Future students gain
All future USC Cinema-Television students will have completed coursework in the facility upon graduation.
Spielberg, who received an honorary doctorate in fine arts from USC in May 1994, has given the school “numerous gifts over the years,” a spokeswoman said, including funding the construction of the Steven Spielberg Scoring Sound Stage in 1984.
“By funding the Zemeckis Center, we are encouraging the next generation of visionary filmmakers and television creators,” Spielberg said in a statement. “Students will be able to exploit new technologies in ways that we can only dream about.”
Lucas said, “We are committed to the future of digital technology and the creative freedom it brings. The digital arts empower storytelling as never before, giving directors unprecedented range and versatility.”
Dean Elizabeth Daley said the donations represent “an impressive investment in the digital arts.”