On Monday, June 16, the new Los Angeles branch of the New York-based Ghetto Film School opened its doors to its first class of students. The School, which is sponsored by 21st Century Fox, aims to develop the next generation of storytellers by teaching filmmaking to young people from historically low-income communities. Its new site in L.A.’s MacArthur Park uses facilities provided by the nonprofit organization Heart of Los Angeles, which hosted a kick-off event for GFS on Monday.
“It’s wonderful for these kids to realize that in their hometown there is this entire creative industry with many different jobs,” said Peter Rice, Chairman and CEO of the Fox Networks Group, who spoke at the event. “This can give them an access point. It has changed the lives of thousands of kids in New York, and it will do so here.”
Rice was joined by Los Angeles City film czar Ken Ziffren, City Councilman Gil Cedillo, and Academy Award-nominated director David O. Russell, a longtime board member of GFS.
“We have seen 12 years of kids in New York City graduate and go on to college, far beyond the average in New York City,” Russell said. “The kids are inspired. They have to work hard, but they learn about every aspect of filmmaking.”
The School was founded by Joe Hall in 2000, and since then, it has quickly become a prominent educational and artistic resource. With the new branch in Los Angeles, Hall and his team hope to emulate the curriculum they perfected at the original South Bronx campus and use it to reach new communities of young people in L.A.
“We’re looking for kids who are passionate about storytelling and who love movies,” said filmmaker Stosh Mintek, who will run the L.A. branch. “We also make sure this is something they are strongly committed to. We have storytelling exercises the kids have to do just to apply. That way we can gauge if they have a creative and unique perspective on the story.”
The new site is initially operating as an eight-week summer program. Senior Fox executives and other members of the entertainment industry will serve as mentors and lecturers for the student body, which will increase from 23 to 75 carefully selected students over the next few years.