Last Updated: December 21, 2017, 3:57 pm

DSU converts old airport to film studio


The film program started in a lunchroom nine years ago and now has a full studio that will be up and running by the end of next semester.

Phil Tuckett, assistant professor of communication, said the film emphasis is not only transitioning into a degree but will be leaving media studies for the college of the arts.

“When I came here nine years ago, my goal was to build the emphasis into a degree,” Tuckett said. “Now that we are a degree, I think the next goal some years down the line will be the first [public] film school in Utah.”

Along with the new degree, there will be seven new film classes, two future additions to faculty, an increase in funding from DSU to support the degree, and the move into the new film studio, Tuckett said.

“For five years we have been creeping to get into the [old airport hangar] doors, and now we have an industrial-size studio to continue growing the program,” Tuckett said.

The new film studio is about 14,000 square feet of studio space and an additional 5,000 square feet of classroom and office space. Tuckett said no public university in Utah has a film studio this size, and the space has been needed since the film program has grown to about 100 students so far.

Tuckett said the old airport hangar is still being set up into a film studio and will hopefully by spring semester be known as the DSU film studio.

“Right now my students owe me a quarter every time they call it the hangar,” Tuckett said.

Jeffrey Jarvis, dean of the college of arts, said film belongs with the college of arts because it is a form of art.

“A lot of people around the world see film as media studies, but I think all filmmakers see themselves as artists,” Jarvis said. 

Tuckett said the film degree doesn’t fit within the media studies department because producing a film is a much longer process than writing for a weekly newspaper, hosting daily radio shows or even producing live TV.

“The immediacy of [the media studies department] is not something we are teaching. What we are teaching here are the processes and procedures to make a digital film, and to do that you need time,” Tuckett said.

Jarvis said the college of arts has a lot of hands-on practicum; as the film degree is also less academic and more of a hands-on type of degree, it also belongs in the college of the arts. 

Darius Williams, a senior communication major from Long Beach, California, said the biggest advantage he has had with learning in the film program is the hands-on experience. 

“It makes me jealous to know other students will be getting an actual degree in film instead of just an emphasis, but I am happy to see the program growing,” Williams said.  

Tuckett said the transition to the college of the arts should be completed by next fall semester.

Currently students are carpooling to the studio, but the film program is trying to organize some kind of shuttle service for students or a bus service by arranging for the SunTran to run a route up to [the DSU film studio] a couple of times a day, Tuckett said. 

The film studio will be available to non-student moviemakers to rent, but part of the rental agreement would be having DSU students as part of their film crew to help create their production, Tuckett said. 

“That way we can build the community between filmmakers and the students and give students firsthand experience in creating a film in a real studio,” Tuckett said. “Then students will have no problem transitioning into working in an actual studio because they have already been doing it.”

Tuckett said the film degree will allow student to take a documentary approach, scripted film approach or both.

“The [film] emphasis shows that you know a little bit about film, but the film degree will show you have the knowledge you need to create a film,” Williams said.