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AlumNews: Talon Articles

Ellis studies at Los Angeles film program

Monday, October 1, 2007  
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By Kimberlee Rhodes

Titus Ellis, a senior at Oklahoma Christian University, is spending the semester differently than any other semester.

Ellis, a film student, is taking two film classes, and one ethics class as a part of the Los Angeles Film Studies Program at the Los Angeles Film Study Center.

He also has an internship at ShadowMachine, where the show, “Robot Chicken,” is made.

“I’m getting all kinds of hands-on experience,” Ellis said. “I see the animators do their stop animation thing, and then, there is post-production where I work.”

Ellis also gets to socialize with celebrities on a daily basis.

“I see the writers most everyday, which includes Seth Green,” Ellis said.

Ellis will get class credit for the semester in Los Angeles, and he also has the opportunity to view a work environment unlike any other.

“Everyone wears T-shirts and shorts to work,” Ellis said. “Despite that, everyone works really hard to pull together a great and hopefully, funny show. I am also getting my name as a credit on the end of the episodes I am working on.”

Ellis hopes being nationally recognized will land him another job next summer.

“It’s really good to get experience in this location,” Ellis said. “Hopefully, this trip will be my big break.”

The work environment in Hollywood is extremely different from Oklahoma Christian’s.

“Hollywood is a unique environment,” Larry Jurney, chair of the department of communication, said. “It is home to the American film industry, even if those films are shot on location. This program also has a mission of bringing Christians into this important industry.”

Both the work environment and the spiritual surroundings are different.

“Spiritually, this place is very different than OC,” Ellis said. “I am still surrounded by people who believe in Jesus in the classroom setting, but at work, it is difficult.”

Ellis left in the middle of August, and he will return in December. He works with the program, After Effects, for all the effects done on the show.

“Since ‘Robot Chicken’ is filmed in stop-motion, the camera might get bumped a little,” Ellis said. “So I get to stabilize the clips. Every time a character jumps, a wire is quickly shown, and we have to digitally ‘rotoscope’ or remove the wire.”

Since the show does everything in house, Ellis has the opportunity to see all the different parts of developing the show.

Although Ellis describes the trip as a blessing, he still misses home.

“While these trips have their benefits, they are not always easy,” Ellis said. “I miss my fiancé, Marcie Tunnell, as well as my brothers in Kappa Sigma Tau. Leaving them has probably been the hardest part of being out here.”

One of the benefits of working in Hollywood is the networking.

“L.A. is the center of the media business, and I can meet other people here who do what I do, even at church,” Ellis said. “Weird Al goes to the same church as I do, which is crazy because the church only has like 100 members.”

Ellis attends the Hollywood Church of Christ where he not only worships, but he also has the opportunity to correspond and meet with several people in his area of profession.

“On these types of study abroad trips, students will have direct experience with the course matter they’re studying,” John Osborne, director of international programs, said. “They’ll also be able to link their course content, and this first-hand experience creates a great learning opportunity.”

The Los Angeles Film Studies Program is a part of The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities.

CCCU is an international higher education association.

Since Oklahoma Christian belongs to this organization, the students who attend the university have the opportunity to participate in these programs.

“If a student is interested in film, this provides a wonderful opportunity to work with other people of faith in the film industry,” Jurney said. “It is an experience unlike any other.”

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