THE FIRST new film school of the 21st century is now “in development” at Brooklyn College.
It is a project characterized by superlatives, innovations — and challenges. The school will be the only cinema graduate program operating out of a working production lot, one at which the facilities are rented out to filmmakers, many quite prominent.
They will be in good company.
Jonathan Wacks, the school’s founding professor, produced the 1984 film classic “Repo Man.” And while that may be the most facile way to identify him, he also has impressive credentials as an award-winning director, screenwriter, studio executive and cinema educator. Most recently, he was professor and chair of the Visual and Media Arts Department at Emerson College in Boston. He began his career in 1980, as a political activist, making a documentary depicting the struggles of a shantytown in South Africa, the country where he was born.
These days Wacks can often be found poring over Dattner Architects’ plans for the 69,000-square-foot Barry R. Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema, to be located at the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s vast Steiner Studios.
The school is being funded by about $21 million in endowments including $5.5 million donated by Feirstein (’74), owner and president of the private investment management firm and a trustee of the Brooklyn College Foundation, with an additional $11.5 million from the city and state.
The school, though, will be a bargain for film students, the first of whom are scheduled to start in Fall 2015. First-year tuition is expected to be $18,805 ($26,990 for out-of-state residents), compared with about $50,000 at private universities. The school will offer MFA and M.A. degrees and hopes in the future to have one in entertainment business management.