Fred Piegonski, Executive Assistant to the President  
               Los Angeles City College, 855 N. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90029 
                           (323) 953-4000  ext. 2243                            

                      For Immediate Release:  September 20, 2006

LACC Cinema Professor Teaches Students the Hard
Realities of the Filmmaking Business

Photo:  Dr. Bruce Cook at the controls in his Business of Cinema class at LACC

Dr. Bruce Cook at the controls in his Business of Cinema class at LA City College.

And Shows Students the Cinema Field’s Multiple Rewards

“There are many hard realities that employees in the film industry face,”said professor Bruce Cook, addressing his business cinema students on the first day of class at LA City College.

“First of all, it costs money to train. There’s the cost of tuition and books and the fact that you have to support yourself while in school. Your student movie project can run into the thousands of dollars. Once you get out in the field you will probably have to take low-paying jobs for a few years until you get established.”

“Second, working in films is a very physically demanding job. If you work on a crew, we’re talking 16-hour days, six days a week, for weeks on end. And there’s no job security. When you’re done with one job, you have to continually look for your next. And being gone for these long periods is not conducive to maintaining a long-term relationship.”

“Then there’s the fact that you’ll work on so much bad stuff. When you get into the middle of your career, there’s the disillusionment that sets in when you see your work distorted or destroyed by producers. And yes, you can make it really big in the industry, but you can also be struck by lightning.”

Yet for all its challenges, working on a film can give you one of the greatest satisfactions in life, said Mr. Cook. “What I love about it is the fact that you’re working as a group with 50 other individuals to create something of meaning, something beautiful. It’s not like working as a solitary artist. Also I like the fact that filmmaking is a marriage of technology and creativity. And all in all, Hollywood provides a decent living for a lot of people. There are a lot of interesting jobs that pay pretty well.”

The wisdom that professor Cook dispenses is probably something that film students in Iowa do not hear, for he has been teaching the business of filmmaking to students at LA City College for more than 30 years, drawing upon his many years of experience as a filmmaker in all areas of production.

He is especially demanding of his cinema business students. “I make them write up a resume, a cover letter requesting an interview, and a five-year career plan,” he said. And it is assignments such as these that give LACC’s film students an edge when looking for employment in the industry, he said. “Many of LACC’s grads find entry-level jobs and move up in the industry,” he said.

Although he has taught at UCLA and USC, he especially likes teaching at LACC because he likes City’s international student clientele. “There’s a constant interaction with different cultures and stories,” he said.

“Asian, Indian, and Japanese students, for example, produce films which have a more languid pace and the emphasis is on the portrayal of moral values. The love of family or loyalty are common themes. The work of African students, on the other hand, is different in that their stories are very verbal—their characters talk. I like that variety. At LACC customs mingle and clash and are synthesized into something new. International students come here to learn American filmmaking techniques and they leave something behind here as well.”

In his business class this semester, students come from such foreign lands as Austria, Colombia, India, Italy, Honduras, Spain, Argentina, Iceland, Israel, China, and Japan. New cinema classes are set to start in January and February. Located at 855 N. Vermont Ave. in Hollywood, LACC offers a certificate and-two year degree in filmmaking as well as one in television production. Students are taught all aspects of the business including an overview, film history, screenwriting, directing, cinematography, lighting and sound, business, as well as advanced projects.

Mr. Cook has taught filmmaking at a number of schools throughout the Southland since 1973. Among his thousands of former students are Matt Groening (creator of “The Simpsons”), actor Laurence Fishburne, Paramount VP of Marketing Lucia Ludovico, numerous directors and producers, seven Academy Award nominees and winners, and twelve Emmy nominees and winners.

His varied career as a filmmaker have earned him credits as writer, producer, or director on eleven independent feature films as well as commercials. He has written more than twenty screenplays, including the films “Husband,Wives, Money & Murder,” “Line of Fire,” and “Nightwish.”

In the late ‘90s, Mr. Cook was invited by the largest television network in the Philippines to teach a series of seminars on improving the production techniques of the film and TV industry. While on location, he researched the background for his recently published and acclaimed (first) novel, the suspense thriller “Philippine Fever.” Before he became a filmmaker he worked as a laser physicist on the Apollo Project. He holds degrees in physics, mathematics, film education, and communication.


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