La Sierra rolls out film and television major

Rodney Vance, Film and Television Professor
Rodney Vance, Film and Television Professor

June 12, 2012

By Darla Martin Tucker

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – ( La Sierra University is taking the next step in its film studies offerings and is rolling out a new major that will build upon the school’s proximity to the Hollywood movie industry.

This fall the university will offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and Television that will prepare students for work in major movie studios or on independent documentaries and feature films. Their teachers will include a cast of award-winning producers, directors, and writers who will lead them in the art of communicating stories through images.

The program follows the university’s inauguration last summer of a film studies minor through the departments of Art, English and Communication, and History, Politics and Society. The new film and television major will be based in La Sierra’s art department with additional classes in music department facilities. Students will learn skills in a large film/television studio, a soundstage, editing suites, recording studio and Foley recording studio.

Instructors will use a conservatory approach in which students will spend as much time practicing their story-telling craft with a production camera as they do in the classroom. Students will learn filming, editing, lighting and other technical skills, and will study the history and art of story-telling through images.

“Every film major, from the moment they arrive on campus, has access to cameras, lights microphones, editing equipment, everything necessary to create film, television episodes, or content for the web,” said Rodney Vance, an industry screenwriter, film and television director and producer. “This simply isn’t available on the undergraduate level at other film schools.” Vance will serve as the program’s professor and will spearhead its growth. He arrives from Pacific Union College in Angwin where he served for four years as a film and television director and professor. He possesses 28 years of professional experience in writing plays, books and articles, and producing and directing television and film productions and radio dramas.

His extensive background includes serving as producer and president of Singular Entertainment which packaged, or formed production teams for the feature films “Conspiracy Café,” co-produced by Jefferson Richard, and “Token,” co-produced by Lee Zlotoff. He also served as head writer for Court TV’s “The Evidence,” and for “Lifestyle Magazine,” a WABC production in New York. He is currently directing and producing the big-screen feature film “Napa Valley Dreams.”

In addition to his expertise, Vance brings to La Sierra internship programs he established with American Zoetrope, a production company founded by Academy Award-winning producer Francis Ford Coppola, and with Journey Films, a Martin Doblmeier production company that produced “The Adventists” for PBS.

He also brings a cadre of professionals who will round out the film major’s faculty, including award winner and Directors Guild of America member Carrie Specht who served as assistant director on television dramas “E.R.” and “Alias”; Stew Harty, a founder of LA Digital, one of the world’s largest film editing software companies; Terence Ford, accomplished television actor, assistant film director and brother of actor Harrison Ford; and Frankie Farrell, La Sierra adjunct music technology professor.

Vance previously worked at La Sierra University as an adjunct professor between 1996-1999 teaching Film as Art, Creative Writing, Acting, Theater History and other courses. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in theater from The Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., a Master of Arts in religion from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, and a Bachelor of Arts in religion from Loma Linda University. His professional memberships include the Writers Guild of America, West, and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

“A well-educated person today must be conversant in the language of images. Every language has a grammar, and the grammar of images, the structure that makes it possible to utilize images to communicate a message, is story,” Vance said.

La Sierra University, a Seventh-day Adventist institution, is the only Adventist educational facility in Southern California to offer a film and television production degree. The university is located about 60 miles from the Hollywood and Los Angeles film and broadcast industries. It is also near the Adventist Media Center in Simi Valley as well as large regional churches with broadcasting services, allowing film and television majors a wealth of job opportunities.

“We are enthusiastically looking forward to having Rodney Vance join our faculty and develop our new Bachelor in Fine Arts in Film and Television,” said Steve Pawluk, La Sierra University provost. “Mr. Vance’s highly successful experience in the industry as well as in higher education will enable La Sierra University to offer a program which will prepare our graduates for exciting vocations in either commercial enterprise or in media ministry for our church. Both venues will provide them with important opportunities to influence public discourse about ideas that matter.”

“Story is foundational to the human experience,” said Vance. “It is the stories we tell each other, about how mom and dad met, about things we did when we were little, that form us into families. We are Americans because of the stories we tell each other about our historical desire for independence, the cowboys and pioneers that occupied a geography 'from sea to shining sea', and our 'can do' ingenuity in building trains, bridges, and skyscrapers.”

He continued, “I don’t know how many stories Jesus told or how many sermons he preached. I do know that the disciples remembered and wrote down 40 stories and only one sermon. People remember stories.”


PR Contact: Larry Becker

Executive Director of University Relations

La Sierra University

Riverside, California

951.785.2460 (voice)

  • Last update on  June 12, 2012