Flashpoint Academy produces a short to show innovative approach to teaching

Weeks before Flashpoint Academy officially opens next month, new students helped produce their first film, an 8-minute short that academic dean Paula Froehle says "turned out beautifully"-in more ways than one.

&quote;The Collector&quote; writer/director Paula Froehle, Flashpoint's academic dean
"The Collector" writer/director Paula Froehle, Flashpoint's academic dean
The five-day shoot was actually a test run for Froehle's innovative "immersive learning" concept of how best to teach film production.

And, like the film, it was deemed successful.

Froehle says her idea of interactive production and instruction has never been done before, based on her own experience as a tenured college professor and distinguished filmmaker.

As a teacher Froehle said she could only take a student to a certain point of understanding, and that's all well and good. "But there is nothing like the experience of being on a real set to learn," she said.

Confident that Froehle's concept would be a strong testament to what makes the school unique, Flashpoint President/CEO Howard A. Tullman budgeted $65,000 for production and was executive producer of the short.

Froehle wrote and directed "The Collector," a story about the obsession of collecting things to stop the passage of time, based on a short story by Jonathan Lethem.

Since Flashpoint's 70,000-sq. ft. space is in the throes of a massive build-out, the shoot took place at RDS' stage.

A dozen new students served variously as interns and PAs in different departments, while the professionals in key positions explained why and how they did things a certain way the production ensued.

Full-time faculty member Amy Rising produced and key professionals, like DP Pete Biagi, AD Ben Brammeier and production designer Merje Veski, were hired for the 40-person crew.

Tenner Pascal Rudnecke cast actors Maury Cooper, Robert Gerdisch and Leah Rose Orleans.

When editor ArLene Chor finishes postproduction, "The Collector" will head for the festival circuit.

"I give credit to Amy Rising and the phenomenal crew we had. Everyone on the shoot was excited to communicate their experiences to new students," said Froehle.

"We had a huge variety of people visit the set, including sophisticated production people and they agreed how this teaching method makes sense and actually works."

A behind-the-scenes "Making of…" for use as a teaching tool, was directed by Peter Hawley, associate chair of the film department. "Hearing what everyone said about their experience was truly gratifying," said Froehle.

Privately owned Flashpoint will open Sept. 17 with the full complement of 150 students targeted for the first year of operation, with incrementally more students each successive year.

Positioned as a high-end vocational school preparing students for work in the trillion dollar digital entertainment industry, Flashpoint focuses on only four areas: game development, visual effects and computer animation, recording arts and film production.

Open houses are held Saturdays-Aug. 18, 26, Sept. 8 and 15-starting promptly at 10 a.m. until noon. RSVP to lindsay.drucker@flashpointacademy.com, or call 312/332-0707. Flashpoint's address is 28 N. Clark St., phone, 312/850-9210. See www.flashpointacademy.com.

-Ruth L Ratny