NSCAD gets new building, film program

East Coast postsecondary arts school, NSCAD University (Nova Scotia College of Art and Design), has grown in size and stature with a new graduate program in film and a new building in which to house the program, thanks to Alliance Atlantis.

East Coast postsecondary arts school, NSCAD University (Nova Scotia College of Art and Design), has grown in size and stature with a new graduate program in film and a new building in which to house the program, thanks to Alliance Atlantis.

When AAC purchased Halifax’s Salter Street Films in early 2001, it made a commitment to the CRTC in terms of its benefits package. AAC decided to fulfill that commitment by investing in the future of the industry, donating a historic building on Halifax’s Brunswick Street, acquired in the Salter purchase, to NSCAD.

The 125-year-old Academy Building (now known as the Alliance Atlantis Academy Building), is being used for NSCAD’s film programs, including the newly announced two-year Alliance Atlantis Graduate Program in Film.

‘When we talked to [NSCAD] about what would help start a master’s degree or a top-level program, they felt having a new facility for film would help them get going and be effective in running the program fastest and best,’ says Phyllis Yaffe, CEO of Alliance Atlantis Broadcast Group.

Yaffe adds that it makes sense to help nurture up-and-comers in the industry, and that the East Coast is a good a place to invest, given its history of television comedy.

The building, a registered heritage property, was erected as a Protestant secondary school in 1887. It was recently used as a shooting location for NSCAD grad Thom Fitzgerald’s new film The Event. Now, according to NSCAD SVP, academic and reasearch, Kenn Honeychurch, history will be made in the structure again in April 2004, when the first bachelor of fine arts degrees are presented.

Honeychurch says the graduate program will take on roughly 40 students per year. Currently the program has 35 undergrads learning introductory filmmaking, cinematography, editing, screenwriting, production design and management, acting, video production and film history. These courses are being helmed by associate professors David Clark and Sam Fisher, sessional prof Lulu Keating and individual course appointment instructor Margaret Harrison. All are East Coast filmmakers, and Honeychurch hopes to attract filmmakers from other parts of the world to teach in years to come.

‘We are very interested in making sure our students learn in a very hands-on way with the film industry,’ says Honeychurch. ‘We are definitely giving students a good academic grounding, but a very skill-based one as well.’

He adds that the students can also learn a lot from the other tenants inhabiting the building, such as Salter Street Digital.

Classes started on Sept. 3 as building renovations continue.

-www.nscad.ns.ca

-www.alliancetlantis.com