Kurtzman will open effects studio to students
By Matt Echelberry
President Robert Kurtzman said that so far, applications have been received from all over the country and even some from other countries. Kurtzman will be a lead faculty member along with Alan Tuskes and Gino Crognale; all three have decades of experience working in the special effects industry, involving everything from makeup, and creature effects, to sculpting and digital production. There will be some additional teachers at the institute who will help with courses specific to their area of expertise as well as some guest teachers and speakers who are scheduled to visit or speak with students via video conferencing.
The 16-month program, divided into three semesters, contains an array of courses, including: basic sculpture, mold making and casting, basic airbrush techniques, animatronics, and professional skills and portfolio development. These courses are a combination of lectures and labs, but the majority of the work will be hands-on projects during labs. Lectures will mostly entail demonstrations on the different techniques used, as well as some history of art, film and special effects.
They will gain experience with makeup effects, molding, suit fabrication and other related areas necessary for the special effects industry. They will also learn about the human anatomy, which Kurtzman explained is crucial to making realistic special effects. The basics that students learn during the first semester carry over into following courses. For example, what they learn in a sculpture class will be used for later projects involving advanced prosthetic work.
The various projects students work on throughout each semester are designed to hone their techniques, but also give them the freedom to be creative and work with areas of their own interest. Students will also complete internships every semester to provide real world experience and allow them to work with professionals in the industry.
Kurtzman said, “The school is more geared toward the effects end of things, but it’s really a commercial art house…I think our program will be different than a lot of schools because, while we do have a strict syllabus, it’s not so cumbersome that students won’t be able to explore their own creativity.”
There are other special effects schools, but most are just 16-week programs in total that offer the basics of hair and makeup, according to Kurtzman. That is how he got into the industry when he moved to Los Angeles at age 19 to pursue his career. When he went into the workforce, he said he felt like he knew nothing because of the limited education offered at basic programs.
Now, 30 years and hundreds of films later, he is opening up his own school. He said they are looking for people with a strong interest in art and talent in some area, whether it is sculpture, drawing, painting, etc. Students should also have a passion for it. The school schedules student walk-throughs, usually on the first and third Thursdays of each month. Interested individuals can call and set up an appointment.
One area that the school is also focused on is professional skills development, which is another tool that Kurtzman said he wished he had while starting out. Because there are so many different departments to work with in the field, students will learn how to collaborate with other artists, directors and actors, as well as how to take criticism and use it to improve ideas. They will learn what to include in portfolios and how to present it. Kurtzman will personally critique every student’s portfolio that they submit at the completion of the final semester.
- Filmmaker Robert Kurtzman is opening the Kurtzman Institute of Art in his Crestline special effects studio on Oct. 3.
“We’ve kind of been teaching now for five years…We’re ready to go, but it’s going to be a big undertaking and there will be a lot of learning on our end. Our big goal is to make this a really fun experience and make the kids embrace the creative process,” he said.
The Institute is moving toward becoming a degree program, and Kurtzman envisions expanding it. In 2014, a program in digital film production will be added to the school’s offerings, and eventually programs for computer animation and visual effects and digital imaging technology will be incorporated. “Eventually we want an all-encompassing film program with actual film projects,” Kurtzman stated, “That way all of the departments can work together on the same projects.”
Some of the projects that Creature Corps has completed recently include: “Fun Size” (shot in Ohio), “I, Alex Cross,” “John Dies at the End” and “Jugface,” which are all scheduled to be released this year. It also does effects work for the A&E television series “Longmire.”
For more information about the Kurtzman Institute of Art, call 419–683-3900 or visit the website at www.kurtzmaninstitute.com.