Students operating a large film camera.

“Always Learning” Gives Film Students First-Hand Experience

Spartan Film Studios' summer film, "Always Learning," wrapped up a 26-day shoot Aug 9 (photos courtesy of Spartan Film Studios).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

As summer comes to a close, Spartan Film Studios can once again count among its credits providing 60 students with the opportunity to spend several months producing a full-length feature.

This year’s film, “Always Learning,” centers around a 17-year-old home-schooled boy as he learns how to deal with an overbearing mother who isn’t ready for him to attend a four-year university.

Although writer/director Robert Krakower, now an SJSU graduate, created a rough outline for the script two years ago in instructor Barnaby Dallas’ screen writing class, inspiration for the film came much earlier.

“I was home-schooled until the age of 14,” Krakower said.  “It’s fun to write about life experiences, but I also wanted to focus on more universal ideas related to growing up, coming of age, and how to relate to all people, through the eyes of a home-schooler.”

Spartan Film Studios, within the radio-TV-film program, has offered students the opportunity to work on all aspects of filmmaking since 1995. Aspiring writer/directors compete for the summer feature film by pitching their scripts and presenting their resources. Recent features include “Super Hero Party Clown”and “All About Dad.”

This summer, up to 60 students were involved on and off the set, doing everything from costumes to camera work. Executive producers included Dallas and instructor Nick Martinez, with outside help from industry professional Ned Kopp, a first assistant director and line producer. His credits include “License to Kill,” “A View to a Kill,” and “The Fast and the Furious”.

The student crew spent June in pre-production, filling positions, casting parts and finding locations to shoot. The actual filming took 26 days, with students working up to 90 hours weekly to wrap up shooting on time and within budget.

“Always Learning” student producer Jon Magram was responsible for overall coordination and supervision of the feature, a role he retains even now as the film goes into post-production. The film will be anywhere from 60 to 110 minutes in length. Editors will work for three or four months to get a first cut, with the goal of entering Cinequest this spring.

“It’s hard to tell if it will get into the festival,” said Magram. “We put a lot into the project, so we will see what we can do.”