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Elite Film School?

February 20, 1988

As a 1956 graduate of USC's School of Cinema, I'm distressed to read about John Cork's lawsuit v. USC's Cinema-Televison School ("USC Student Suit Challenges Film-TV School Practices," by Michael Cieply, Feb. 4).

Actually, however, I shouldn't be surprised. Trouble has been brewing at the school for years.

USC's Cinema-Television School has lost perspective of what it is supposed to be about--a place for academic learning. Nowadays, the school is an expensive and elitist trade school--with total focus on making movies!

The school has become the minor league for the theatrical film industry for the select few who are chosen to produce a film or video in the 480 production workshop class--shades of George Lucas et al.

A 480 film is now the director's personal resume, his/her entree into the movie business. Perhaps four or five student directors are chosen each semester to produce a 480 project--projects with outrageously high budgets.

Naturally, competition is fierce (and cutthroat) for these plum directing assignments. Question. What happens to the proletariat--the hundreds of unchosen students?

Academics seem to be held in little esteem and little is taught or required. And the fierce competition in all phases of the school is out of hand--it's catawampus to the basic tenets of what academic learning is all about.

The school must abandon its trade school curriculum, its pandering to the movie industry. It must get back to basic academics.

S.M. (MARTY) SHELTON

Ridgecrest

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