A NEW BOUTIQUE SCHOOL FOR LAS VEGAS
BY CHET YARBROUGH
Las Vegas leaps into the film and television business in 2013 with its first boutique school. The new school is the International Academy of Film and Television, a school designed to educate students in the business of film making and acting.
IAFT is planning its first classes in November 2013. Suzanne Noel (office 702 454-3469, cell 716 830-0772), a former Director of Admissions at the Art Institute of Las Vegas, is the Senior Admissions Director. The doors of IAFT are barely open but Noel said, “We are ready for enrollment with our first classes scheduled to begin November 11, 2013.”
Some building modifications are required to accommodate cameras, sound equipment, lights, and digital needs of the school but Noel insists the school will be ready to open in November.
The Campus Director, Ron Herbes, said, “My life has been a preparation for starting a school like this.” Herbes began working in the film industry when his father was Director-VP of Facilities at 20th Century Fox Film Corporation in Ventura, California. Working at Fox Film Corporation, Universal Studios, Disney and many major Hollywood studios, Herbes lived and learned everything he could about acting, film, and sound production in the movie and television industry. His lessons in learning-by-doing are the sine qua non of his philosophy for IAFT.
Herbes was involved in every aspect of the film industry from editing to post production supervision. Though still young, Herbes said, “I have been in the industry for 20 years, working on thousands of films and a number of television series.” In 2001, Herbes moved to Las Vegas to teach audio and visual media to local studios and schools as a consultant.
Rather than continue as an independent consultant, Herbes was hired by International Academy of Design & Technology to expand their existing Audio Program. The program grew to be the largest Audio training program in Nevada. Herbes was promoted to Manager of Community Relations until his departure in September of 2013.
Rumors were spreading that a film making and actor training school was planning entry into Las Vegas. Herbes called IAFT on August 26th, interviewed on August 28th, and started work September 16, 2013.
The International Academy of Film and Television was founded by Michael Gleissner in 2004 in the Philippines. After Gleissner’s success with IAFT’s Cebu island school in the Philippines, Gleissner started schools in Miami, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong.
IAFT offers two and four-term programs for filmmaking and acting. Depending on student interest and performance, the two term program leads to a Certificates of Completion and the four term program leads to a Diploma. The Cebu school contains “state of the art” equipment according to IAFT’s promotional brochure.
Herbes is the Las Vegas Campus Director. His plan, which worked well in the past, is to recruit filmmakers and actors that are active in their professions to be teachers. They will teach interested students the art and administration of filmmaking, screenwriting, and acting based on their personal experience. The design of classes is based on industry fundamentals with hands-on work in film editing, screen writing, and acting as part of the curriculum. Herbes will hire active filmmakers and actors that have the time to teach classes based on the school’s curriculum.
Acting and filmmaking are the arts of the movie and television industry. An aspiring actor or filmmaker needs enthusiasm and talent but training and contacts are the ingredients that create entertainment industry breaks. Classes with teachers that are actively working in the industry are inherently contact relevant. Herbes’ management approach to IAFT’s Las Vegas School synergistically reinforces career opportunities.
IAFT offers a unique opportunity for continuing education. A high school diploma is not enough for most people to succeed in America. Every industry opportunity is suffused with an element of “who-you-know” and Herbes’ idea of attracting industry experts to teach the crafts of film making and acting offers industry contacts as well as education and experience.
The school will open its doors with 4 full-time employees but will be staffed by part-time industry professionals based on their job experience and the curriculum of IAFT. As the school grows, more full-time staff will be hired with continued emphasis on teachers that have learned their profession by working in the industry.
There are two ten week terms in the Certificate program and four ten week terms in the Diploma program. Each term at the school will have 140 classroom hours and 85 lab hours. Classes will range from screenwriting to film making to financing, marketing, and distribution. Lab hours will include on job training with everything from acting exercises to film editing to sound production. The maximum students-to-teacher ratio in class rooms or labs is 12:1.
Classes will be held 4 days or evenings per week with an additional 8 ½ hour lab per week. The first two terms are the same for the Certificate and Diploma programs. The Diploma program extends the training of the first two terms but adds documentary film making, financing, marketing & distribution, career development and other advanced classes.
Film making labs will include cameras, microphones, lighting instruments, lighting control equipment, cables, camera, lighting support hardware, and computers. Acting labs will include costumes, wigs, make-up and props.
The school plans to have a lending library of film making books, magazines and periodicals with the library open to students from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday-Friday, except for holidays. According to the school catalog, students“…will have access to ‘The Filmmakers Series DVD Collection. This is IAFT’s customized instructional series featuring essential basic methods on screenwriting, directing and cinematography.”
There are four criteria for graduation. To receive a Certificate of Completion or Diploma, a student must:
- Achieve a minimum cumulative average grade percentage of 70%.
- Attend 90% of course hours.
- Complete all courses.
- Pay tuition in full and be cleared of all financial obligations.
Graduates from IAFT are offered help for job placement after graduation. According to the IAFT catalog, the school will maintain a “…current list of industry job openings and makes this information available to graduates.” There are no guarantees of job placement but getting a job after graduation is everyone’s goal. Networking is certainly given a head start by the structure of Herbes’ plan to use industry employees to teach classes.
According to IAFT’s 2013-2014 Catalog, Las Vegas’s IAFT’ school is licensed by the State to “…operate as a private postsecondary institution.”
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) accredits IAFT and offers a limited number of grants for attendance. All prospective students must have a high school diploma or GED to apply to IAFT. Also, the new Las Vegas school will have a limited number of IAFT 50/50 scholarship awards. Noel provided a scholarship application package that explains there are three criteria for eligibility:
- A high level of motivation to train for a career in film or acting
- Minimum GPA 2.50 from the last school graduated; and
- Household earnings are under $40,000 per year, and a need is determined.
Students will be interviewed by the Admissions Director to confirm student interest and course offerings. Tuition ranges from $3,990 to $12,990.
IAFT is not the only school in Las Vegas that teaches the business of filmmaking and acting but it is the only school that specializes in those disciplines. UNLV offers an undergraduate program in the “Department of Film”. The undergraduate classes include English composition, literature, American history, mathematics, social science, computer science, foreign language, electives, and finally, film classes. It is a four year program for a generalized education leading to a Bachelor’s Degree.
There are also some acting “schools” in Las Vegas. There is John Armond “Actor’s Studio” and Brad Garrett’s “Acting Classes”. John Armond offers class times on Mondays from 6:00 p.m. To 8:30 p.m. for $125/month and private lessons for $60/hour. Brad Garrett’s school is taught by Adam Hill, an actor that has worked on and off-Broadway. Classes for Garrett’s school are $175/month for one class per week or $225/month for two classes per week.
IAFT is a completely different approach to filmmaking and actor training. It is a boutique school with a singularly focused agenda.
IAFT’s address is 6363 S. Pecos Rd., Suite 103, Las Vegas, NV 89120. The school is off the main street but is ideal for class study and offers great potential for growth. Herbes said, “I can see a studio lot being created in the available warehouses behind the school.”
Timing could not be better. After some cheerleading from Mayor Carolyn Goodman and lobbying by actor Nicolas Cage, Governor Sandoval signed tax incentive legislation for the film and television industry to encourage film making and movie production in Nevada. Laura Carroll wrote in the Las Vegas Review Journal–“Beginning Jan. 1, productions that shoot at least 60 percent in-state can earn transferable tax credits of 15 percent to 19 percent of their qualified production expenses, including Nevada cast, crew, labor, gear, rentals, purchases and expenses.”
Las Vegas seems primed for job growth in the film and television industry. The table is set with Herbes promotion of IAFT and his recruitment of film and television personnel. With warehouse availability at IAFT’s backdoor, and tax incentives from the State, the plates, silverware, coffee cups and glasses are on the table. The question is whether the film and television industry is willing to dine.
Las Vegas has been a movie-making town since 1960. Frank Sinatra defined cool in “Ocean’s Eleven”. Nicholas Cage, in his incredible Academy award-winning performance in “Leaving Las Vegas” defined human tragedy in 1995.Steven Soderbergh, with “Oceans Thirteen”, re-invented slick in 2007, and Galifianakis rocked the house with comedy in “The Hangover”, 2009.
Television shows in Las Vegas date back to 1962 with something called “Teenbeat Club”. Since then–wildly popular productions like “Married with Children” and “CSI: Crime Investigation” have been set in Las Vegas. Not all scenes in these movies and television series were filmed in Las Vegas but with a school like IAFT, a potential studio lot, an industry experienced promoter, and the State’s support a lot more jobs in the industry may come to Las Vegas.
Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world. It seems the perfect spot for the training of a new generation of film and television moguls. IAFT may be a door opener for further Las Vegas industry diversification.