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Big Heron swoop

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SCA to launch new comedy concentration

first_imgThe USC School of Cinematic Arts is launching the “[email protected]” initiative that will attempt to establish USC as a pioneer in the field of comedy.Groundbreaking · The School of Cinematic Arts said it wants USC to be the foremost school in the nation for comedic studies. – Nathaniel Gonzales | Daily Trojan Through new courses and concentrations, students will be able to specialize in writing, directing, editing, shooting and producing comedy.The School of Cinematic Arts said it will be the first university in the country to offer a comedy program of this calibre.“There is not, that we know of, in an academic intuition, in the world, that teaches comedy at the level that we are talking about,” said Barnet Kellman, a professor of Film and Television Production and Co-Director of [email protected] Institute.A comedy festival will jumpstart the initiative. Co-hosted by [email protected] and Visions and Voices, the festival will bring some of the best-known comedians, such as Steve Carell, to USC to lecture, discuss and preview some of their best work.“I can easily say there has never been anything like this [comedy festival], maybe in Los Angeles history,” said Jack Epps Jr., associate professor and first endowed chair in comedy.Kellman said schools have historically shied away from teaching comedy.“[Comedy] has been considered the mystery subject,” Kellman said. “In other words there is prejudice, in almost a positive way toward comedy, which says you either can do it or you can’t. It is one of the few subjects where people throw up their hands and say you can’t really teach it.”He said the School of Cinematic Arts strives to become a center for students aspiring to learn comedy.“We are going to try to do it better,” Kellman said. “We are going to say that USC and the School of Cinematic Arts is the perfect place to test that proposition, and to become a center for young people who want to come and focus their talents toward the learning and the sharpening of their comedic skills.”Students and faculty alike said this program can be an opportunity to put USC graduates ahead of everyone else.“[Comedy] is really essential for all of us to know,” said Alex Convery, a sophomore majoring in screenwriting. “If you can learn to do each genre really well, then you’re set. To look into the specifics of comedy is a really smart thing to do as a school.”Ultimately the initiative seeks to help students jobs secure in the comedy industry.  Kellman said he would want producers and networks to look at USC for employees first.“We want when those people, those producers and those networks who are thinking where is the new comedy talent, where do I look first, where are the ones that know how to direct … they think let’s look at those USC films,” Kellman said. “We want to become known for that.”Other students agree that focusing on comedy is essential and is something they have not seen a lot of at USC thus far.“Comedy is one of the things that I do,” said Matt Podobinski, a senior majoring in film and television production.  “Sometimes in my classes when I try to do comedy it is not seen on the same level or seen as high art. I feel as if it is almost frowned upon.”Podobinski said he is impressed that the School of Cinematic Arts is focusing more on comedy.“Comedy isn’t easy to teach at all,” Podobinski said. “Of all the genres of film and television, comedy is the hardest because you are trying to get that result and trying to get that laugh. It is very result oriented. The fact that they are specializing in it is awesome because, as such a difficult genre to make films in, this is something that we can develop.”The School of Cinematic Arts will introduce a new course in spring 2013 called Late Night Comedy that will be based on the format used by Saturday Night Live. Students will get to write, act and direct skits and get a feel for the many different aspects of comedy.The plan is to add to the existing curriculum one course at a time, eventually creating a separate track for students who want to emphasize in comedy.“We have a lot of comedy faculty here, but it was never really organized together,” Epps said. “We never really put it into a curriculum where people could start and study and come here to hone their comic voice and comic instincts.”In its most basic form, the heart of the initiative is to provide instruction in areas where it was not previously available.“’SC is the place where this can be done,” Kellman said. “Nobody else could do this, so we have to do it.”last_img read more


Twothirds of employers find that offering diverse benefits is a major challenge

first_imgTwo-thirds (66%) of employers find that providing benefits that suit the needs of a diverse workforce is a major challenge, according to research by global insurance brokerage, risk management and consultancy firm Gallagher.Its Benefits strategy and benchmarking survey, which polled 172 UK employers, also found that 45% of HR professionals plan to change their current benefits provision, with 72% of those who do aim to make changes seeking to enhance their offering. Just under half (47%) want to increase the number of flexible options within their benefits package, to extend individual choice.In terms of flexible working, 91% of respondents offer part-time roles or shorter hours and 69% enable staff to personalise their working hours, within certain parameters. However, 52% of employers do not allow staff to work from home.Just over two-fifths (43%) of organisations offer their employees the opportunity to work a condensed week, while 24% provide agile working options. Only 14% of employers have the ability to offer term-time only working arrangements.Communication is also a topic on employers’ radars, as 36% view this as a barrier to effective employee benefits. The majority (84%) of respondents do not use total reward statements to communicate about their benefits; of those that do use this method, 77% send them digitally.More than half (52%) of respondents state that it is difficult to adequately benchmark their benefits offering against the market.Leslie Lemenager, president, international employee benefits consulting and brokerage at Gallagher, said: “While cost is always central to business performance, we are seeing a shift in the market as employers are having to compete for talent in a very diverse workforce.“The fact that 47% of organisations are aiming to enhance flexibility in benefits provisions, despite cost management being the biggest challenge, points to a strong recognition that there is a need to go above and beyond to attract and retain talent.”last_img read more