Hollywood Still Beckons to the French

Amidst Political Tensions, Parisians Soak Up Hollywood Glamour

PASADENA, Calif., March 1 /PRNewswire/ — While Jacques Chirac and George Bush continued their trans-Atlantic feud last June, French teenager Louise Wastin was soaking up Hollywood glamour, making American friends and learning filmmaking secrets. One of a new breed of traveler, Wastin attended a program that taught her to wield a movie camera, apply make-up before a shoot and edit raw footage into a quick-paced travelogue.

The media may focus on the divisions between France and the U.S., but Wastin and dozens of her compatriots who visited Hollywood last year were unconcerned with geopolitics.

Clearly, no matter what crises disturb the political world, Hollywood and its blockbusters retain their powerful draw. So much so that the English and Cinema Program at FLS Oxnard College enrolled record numbers of French participants last year. “We’ve never had as many French students join,” noted program coordinator Alex Mortensen. Wastin summed up the students’ feelings: “I think California is the best place to shoot a film.”

Though designed for English learners, the program goes way beyond teaching the meaning of ‘blockbuster’ and ‘wide shot’, instructing students to write, direct and act in their own films. The hands-on program is part of a trend in English language learning that stresses a combination of ESL classes with specific athletic, cultural or career-based activities.

Last year over 40 students attended the Cinema program. As the school gears up for another summer, the faculty expect participation to grow. “The program is open to students of all nationalities,” said Mortensen. “While last year we had many Europeans, we expect more Asian and South American students this year.”

In a fast-moving three weeks, participants shoot in different lighting environments, act out scenes and edit the finished product in college facilities. They also study film vocabulary and brush up their general speaking skills.

Teacher Jon Slotnick was impressed with the young film lovers’ enthusiasm. Slotnick used his extensive experience in the TV and film worlds to help the students produce video work with eye-catching angles and add effective soundtracks and special effects to the finished product.

In addition to creating films, students visit key filmmaking sites. Tours of the Make-Up Designory and Rhythm and Hues animation give students an inside look at the moviemaking process.

The experience culminates in Film Festival Night, when students show their finished productions to classmates and receive Oscar award replicas.

The participants enjoyed working with film experts, but most of all they appreciated the California atmosphere. “It’s a dream for me since I was a child, to see all the famous places,” said Amelie de Villedon. Her friend Charlotte Bobet added, “I think all French students want to come here.”

To learn more about the FLS Oxnard College Cinema Program contact Mr. Alex Mortensen of FLS International at alex@fls.net or (626) 795-2912, or visit the website at http://www.fls.net/cinema.html.

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