Lights, camera, action! ASU film program moves into state-of-the-art studios

November 17, 2016

Twenty ASU film majors attended the first official film degree course a decade ago in a small teaching studio.

Clinical assistant professor Janaki Cedanna has been there since the beginning and runs the production end of the film program from that same teaching studio, a 1,504 square-foot black box space located in the ASU Performing and Media Arts Building. He’s looking forward to moving on to bigger and better studios with a three and half year lease at Sun Studios of Arizona. Sun Studios sound stage with green screen One of the sound stages at Sun Studios of Arizona features a green screen. (Photo courtesy of Sun Studios of Arizona). Download Full Image

“We’re totally excited about this new space,” Professor Cedanna says. “We’re excited that the Herberger Institute (for Design and the Arts) and the ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre, and specifically the film area, now have facilities to expand the education we give our students.”

Sun Studios on West 14th Street, less than two miles from the Tempe Main campus, boasts two sound stages, one 2,500-square-foot stage and another 2,200-square-foot sound stage with a two-wall infinity cyclorama and green screen; a sound-proof audio recording suite; a large selection of props, gear and professional-grade production and recording equipment; and a 150-seat theatre with professional digital projection and surround sound.

“It’s an amazing thing for us because it broadens everything that we do,” Cedanna says. “It takes us to the next level.”

Beginning next semester, students will have the opportunity to work in studios and with professional equipment similar to what you would find in Los Angeles, and the film program will be able to expand what it offers. For instance, Cedanna, who teaches the editing and post-production classes to film majors, says he’s always wanted to do more with sound, and now he has the proper facilities and equipment for that.

“Having the opportunity to work with such a vast amount of industry standard equipment, and to be able to get the necessary hands-on experience within the field, is nothing less than vital to set up students to enter the Industry once they leave ASU,” says junior film student Macy Kimpland. “I truly believe this will change the film program at ASU, by taking an already great program run by great professors and mentors, and propelling them all forward by giving them the tools that can make them succeed.”

In addition to classes, film students will also have access to the space and equipment for their own projects completed as part of their education.

"Sun Studios is such a weight off of all our shoulders,” says junior film student Taylor Blackmore. “The pressure of finding, reserving and paying for materials and equipment for our projects has been lifted. Now we can worry about what we're making, not how we're going to make it."

Cedanna says while Sun Studios is impressive and a benefit, the film program has always been successful and will continue to be.

“We have a ton of students who are doing amazing work in Los Angeles, New York and throughout the United States, and who learned in this space,” he says of the original studio space in the APMA building.

Since that original class of 20 film students, the film program has grown a lot, which is one reason faculty are excited to teach in the new space. For the last two years it has seen its largest incoming freshman classes, both around 140 students. Now, more than 450 students are studying film at ASU, and it’s one of the most popular programs in the Herberger Institute. Cedanna says this is a testament to the film education the students receive at ASU, and Sun Studios simply enhances the program. 

“It’s not necessarily the space or even the tools that we pride ourselves on — it’s the education,” he says. “This is just added value to that education.” 

Sarah A. McCarty

Communications and marketing coordinator, School and Film, Dance and Theatre, Herberger Institute


ASU collaborates with universities in China to develop American Studies

November 17, 2016

On Oct. 10-14, Arizona State University hosted the first American Experience Initiative Leadership Academy conference in Washington, D.C., partnered with the prestigious Smithsonian Institution. This marks the fifth gathering of the Chinese participants and American consultants to build curriculum and modules together on American Studies.

Selected deans and faculty members from five well-known Chinese universities (Beijing Foreign Studies University, Renmin University of China, Northeastern University, Shanghai University and Guangzhou University) were invited to attend this exciting event. American Experience Initiative Leadership Academy 2016 American Experience Initiative Leadership Academy hosted Chinese faculty members from Renmin University, Northeastern University, Beijing Foreign Studies University, Guangzhou University and Shanghai Universities in Washington, D.C. Download Full Image

Throughout the week, the Chinese participants developed deeper understandings of American history and culture through intensive immersion experience with the National Museum of American History.

To elevate their experience, ASU invited government officials to the conference. Former U.S. Ambassador Julia Chang Bloch addressed the attendees on strategic collaboration and sustainable partnership on academic exchange. Participants also had the opportunity to meet with officers from EducationUSA, U.S. Department of State.

ASU embarked upon the American Experience Initiative (AEI) project with a $750,000 grant awarded by the Henry Luce Foundation in 2014.

AEI is a multi-platform collaborative model for cross-cultural education and engagement between American and Chinese universities. Through AEI, teams of faculty members from institutions across China will work with experts from universities in the U.S. to develop multidisciplinary courses.

“There’s an intense interest in understanding American cultural life, and being able to gain fluency in that is an advantage.”

Eric Wertheimer, associate dean of Graduate Education and principal investigator, is leading the project to deliver the product that meets the increasing needs.

American Experience Initiative Leadership Academy
The 2016 American Experience Initiative spring workshop invited 10 Chinese universities (20 participants) to be part of the fourth module development workshop. Faculty members from ASU and China teamed up to create internationalized, cross-disciplinary modules to present multiple perspective of American Studies.


Since 2014, ASU has held three workshops in China. In February this year, Wertheimer and team organized a one-week workshop and hosted 21 professors from 10 Chinese universities at ASU.

To fully leverage institutional resources, Wertheimer invited ASU EdPlus to join force with the team this year. EdPlus is a key player to provide instructional design support and develop an online portal for digital dissemination.

Next year’s cohort of AEI partners will convene again in Tempe in February and will work more intensively with graduate students.