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Film and Media Arts Students Take Center Stage

The Forest City. Home of rock and roll. Hollywood of the Midwest? Cleveland may soon have a new nickname, thanks to CSU’s new School of Film & Media Arts.

A standing-room-only audience was on hand for the dedication and ribbon-cutting of Ohio’s first stand-alone film school, made possible by a $7.5 million investment by the state. The appropriation includes $6.2 million for building out the space and $1.3 million for equipment.

Alumni, students, public officials and film buffs toured production studios, digital editing bays, high-tech teaching laboratories, soundproof stages, rehearsal spaces, a control room and more on the sixth floor of the Idea Center, the home of ideastream, Cleveland’s center for public broadcasting, and site of the film school. The site is contiguous to CSU’s Fine Arts campus in Playhouse Square. The University signed a 20-year lease with Playhouse Square for the more than 39,000-square-foot space.   

“The character of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio will become more dimensional on the world stage as stories emanating from atop the Idea Center become better expressed and more broadly distributed by students who are hungry to participate in the $2 trillion global market in media and entertainment,” said Frederic Lahey, the school’s director.

Lahey praised Ivan Schwarz, president and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission, as a driving force in helping to make the film school a reality. “The workforce you need is on its way,” he said.

The school offers CSU’s first-ever bachelor of fine arts degree with a curriculum focusing on six tracks: writing/directing, writing/producing, acting/directing, cinematography, post-production and interactive media.

Nearly 300 students are enrolled in the film school, built upon the Film, Television and Interactive Media program that’s been part of the School of Communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. That’s an enrollment increase of more than 30 percent in just one year. Over the next five years, CSU expects to double its number of film, television and interactive media majors while hiring new faculty with national reputations who have solid work experience in the film industry.

In producing the next generation of film, television and media professionals, the school emphasizes hands-on learning, including internships and mentoring, with ideastream, the Greater Cleveland Film Commission, the Cleveland International Film Festival and other partners.

According to Box Office Ohio: Analysis & Economic Impact of the Film Industry in Northeast Ohio and Ohio, 31 projects have received tax credit dollars from the state in the past four years. These projects had estimated budgets totaling $117 million, with an estimated $83.2 million spent in Northeast Ohio and $33.8 million in the rest of the state. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 11 percent increase in job growth in film and video production by this year.

Scholarship Established

Thank you to Ageleke and Lee Zapis for creating a new scholarship fund to promote education in film and media arts at CSU. The Ageleke and Lee Zapis Film and Media Arts Endowed Scholarship Fund will provide annual financial support to junior and senior students in CSU’s School of Film & Media Arts and is the first scholarship created in the Film School.

“Ageleke and I want to support the next generation of storytellers and are committed to enhancing higher educational attainment for all. This fund will help talented individuals get the extra help they need to cross the finish line,” Lee Zapis says.

“Film and television production is a booming industry for the state and through this gift we hope to ensure that Ohio has the talented actors, directors and technical professionals necessary to further boost development of the sector,” adds Ageleke Zapis.

Lee Zapis, who graduated from CSU with a degree in communication in 1978, is the president of Zapis Capital Group and an active investor in early stage companies. Ageleke Zapis is a longtime entrepreneur and founder of ETIMI Outerwear, a fashion and lifestyle brand geared towards active women.

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Stay Connected Through Books

Do you love to read? Consider joining the CSU Alumni Book Club — a virtual book club with discussion groups organized online through the group’s website.

Every two months, the book club offers alumni two titles — one with a professional development focus and the other with an emphasis on lifelong learning. Each period, book club members connect through a private online forum where they discuss the current book and network with each other. This fall, members have been reading Talent is Overrated by Geoff Calvin and Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson.

Joining the book club is free for alumni —  just get a copy of the book to enjoy. To sign up and learn more, visit Sign up today! >>

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