PA Film School generates massive interest

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First Posted: 4/22/2013

There was standing room only at an informational seminar, “How to Produce an Independent Film,” by the co-creators of The Pennsylvania Film School April 8 at the Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple.

The Pennsylvania Film School is the vision of Scranton natives, filmmakers, and entrepreneurs Joe Van Wie and Tim Calpin, who have partnered with the Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple and JVW, Inc.

Van Wie and Calpin are offering students hands-on instruction through courses held over a two-week period. The inaugural classes are part of a “broad five-year plan,” according to Van Wie.

“We’d love to see a school here permanently that teaches the trade of filmmaking as a business,” he said.

In the meantime, topics to be covered include April 25, Below the Line: Camera, Lighting and Sound; April 30, The Look and Aftermath: Design and Post-Production; and May 2, Show Business: Financing, Legal, Sales and Distribution. Classes will run from 6 to 9 p.m. in Shopland Hall at the Scranton Cultural Center.

“The nuts and bolts can be taught, and there are some things creatively that we can touch upon,” added Calpin.

Their mission, according to Van Wie, is “to bring students behind the scenes and teach them how to get your film produced and then, from that point, the school will be a mecca and a home to capitalize on and grow the existing talents here… You can have a $20 million script, but you’ve only raised $150,000. How do you shoot that film? This is what this school will teach you.”

Van Wie is CEO of JVW, Inc., a Scranton firm specializing in corporate marketing, web design, quantitative research, and political advertising, and it is also well known for his role as filmmaker and producer. His credits include “The Paragon Cortex,” executive producer on the movie “Forged,” and associate producer of “La Soga.” His awards include the HBO International Film Festival “Best Picture” 2010; LA Latino Film Festival “Official Selection” 2010; Toronto International Film Festival “Official Selection” 2009; Santo Domingo International Film Festival “Best Picture” 2009; Providence International Film Festival “Best Picture” 2011; and the American Association of Political Consultants “Pollie Award” Best Ad 2011.

Calpin is a screenwriter and producer whose credits include Comedy Central’s “South Park” and the indie feature “Assassination of a High School President.” He studied film and TV production at Syracuse University, pursued a career in entertainment in Los Angeles, and has spent a decade writing, producing, and directing scripts, shorts, and TV pilots for studios, including Warner Bros., Fox, Paramount, and Lionsgate.

Regarding the turnout at the informational seminar, Joe Peters, executive director for the the Scranton Cultural Center, said, “The size of the turnout was a pleasant surprise, and just the mixture we were looking to attract…young and old, students, and the more experienced. People who love film, those who aspire to the art form, as well as those whom have worked in filmmaking, made for a great discussion during the presentation. It was especially heartening to see the varied experience and interests in the audience, from camera work to sound and, importantly, writing.”

Van Wie and Calpin are also actively pursuing a permanent site for the school , with a stage, theater, possible equipment, rental house, and more.

“We’re really excited that a number of local colleges and universities have already looked at the film school to try to get it into their communications’ programs. This will give the students of the trade school the ability to learn hands-on. It’s not every day this area has an opportunity to start a new school, and we believe we will be filling a need for people along the East Coast,” Van Wie said.

For more information, including course dates, outlines, descriptions and costs, visit or

Tickets are available at, the Scranton Cultural Center Box office,, or in person from Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Telephone reservations can be made by calling 570.344.1111 during business hours or 1.800.745.3000 every day, 24 hours a day.