by Darla Martin Tucker

With an eye toward better meeting the skill-sets desired by employers, La Sierra University is rolling out a revised Bachelor of Fine Arts degree this quarter for its popular Film and Television Production program.

Students who enroll in the BFA program with Film and Television Production will learn all of the core skills required to make independent short films and videos that meet the needs of entertainment, corporate, educational, and government entities. Students will acquire these skills through advanced courses in film production and in one of two highly employable career tracks – editing or sound. They can also earn professional software and production equipment certificates through vocational skills workshops that are taught in conjunction with traditional courses.  The degree program previously consisted of four separate emphases and required electives. 

“Students graduating from our La Sierra program will possess a BFA degree that attests to their broad liberal arts education and their skills as storytellers,” noted Rodney Vance, professor and Film and Television Production department chair. “They will also possess a binder full of certificates attesting to their mastery of the tools of the visual storytelling craft. This, along with samples of their work, will enhance their employability with production companies, corporate entities looking for novel ways to communicate their message to millennials and Generation Y, education, and government training centers.”

The professional certificate workshops will train students in such editing and audio software programs as AVID, Adobe Premiere, DaVinci, ProTools and other professional software. Workshops will also prepare students to use high-end digital camera and audio production gear, including such top brands as RED, Arri, Black Magic, and more. These workshops will be offered via Filmmaker Institute (FMI) and will be available to adult students as well as La Sierra film students. FMI will also provide qualified students with access to high-end camera and audio gear. 

The cost of student access to workshops and gear will be covered by course lab fees. Most courses will include one workshop. If students wish to take more than one workshop during a given course, they may do so at an additional cost. 

“In recognition of the broadening demand for employees with an education in visual storytelling, La Sierra Film developed a BFA degree that teaches all of the core skills required to complete a corporate video, television series, or independent film,” said Vance. “Learning advanced video editing or audio engineering also helps to ensure student employability upon graduation.” 

In addition to the BFA, the department offers a Bachelor of Arts in film education which teaches students core filmmaking skills as part of a course of study that leads to high school and academy teaching credentials. These skills can also be used in corporate and government in-house training environments or in preparation for graduate study in distance or online education.

Rodney Vance directing on a film set.

Students have an opportunity to start on their BFA in Film and Television Production this summer with two courses which are both required for the degree program and which also fulfill general education requirements — FLTV-108 “Storytelling for Fun and Profit,” and FLTV-125 “How to Watch a Movie like a Pro.” The two courses carry no pre-requisites and offer freshmen a chance to get a head start on their La Sierra degree. Both courses begin June 22. Summer class registration is available at

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, or LAEDC states that Los Angeles County’s entertainment industry has an employment base of more than 160,000 people and more than 13,000 companies. The 2020 Otis Report on the Creative Economy, published in February and cited by the LAEDC states that the creative economic output in 2018 for Los Angeles County, of which the entertainment industry is a part, totaled $203.2 billion with $67 billion in labor income from nearly 800,000 jobs. 

The Otis report, prepared by Beacon Economics LLC and produced by the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles covers California’s economic activity in five creative arenas including entertainment and digital media. According to the report, this sector, a broad category which includes motion picture/video production and independent editors, writers, film and sound occupations employed 743,000 people in 2018 comprising 71% of the creative economy. The report states that “workers in the Entertainment and Digital Media earn the highest wages, $132,000 on average per year.”

Students in La Sierra’s Film and Television Production degree programs learn the art of visual storytelling through traditional classes, through individual projects that involve opportunities for film festival and online distribution, and through faculty-produced films in which students work and learn alongside industry professionals. Students also attend professional industry events in Los Angeles and Hollywood with their professors.

In March, La Sierra University closed its campus to all but essential staff and continued operations online in keeping with state and county orders due to the coronavirus pandemic. Film and Television students continue learning and meeting with instructors in real time through Zoom video conferencing, and are engaged in specially-crafted and creative projects such as a short film competition for movies shot entirely in students’ at-home environments using only the gear and resources at hand.

The Film and Television Production program launched in 2012 at La Sierra University. Primary instruction is carried out by six faculty including professor and department chair Vance, an award-winning writer, director and producer whose film projects include work with Oscar, Golden Globe and Grammy winners; Associate Professor of Film and Television Arts Carrie Specht, a 16-year film industry veteran and Directors Guild of America member whose credits include work on such network television hits as “Criminal Minds” and “Star Trek: Enterprise”; and Adjunct Professor of Film and Television Jordi Ros, a former film industry executive whose roles have included Senior Vice-President of Production for Touchstone Pictures, a distribution label of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; Director of Development at Dawn Steel Pictures/The Walt Disney Studios; and leadership positions with Paramount Pictures-based Lynda Obst Productions and Arenas Entertainment, a division of Universal Pictures. He has worked with Oscar-winning and legendary screenwriters and directors including Ron Howard and Martin Scorsese, and developed such hit films as “Cool Runnings” and “The Horse Whisperer” and Oscar winners “Kundun” and “The Insider.” 

Gary Kuo lecturing students.

Noted sound engineer and producer Tony Shepperd has agreed to begin work with the department this fall to teach audio mixing and engineering. He has mixed albums for Barbra Streisand, Quincy Jones, Take Six, Manhattan Transfer and many other legendary artists. 

Film and Television also collaborates with experienced, award-winning faculty in the Art+Design and music departments.

“Audio visual literacy is becoming as important as print-based literacy” noted Ros. “However, without mastering language, logic, and a developing appreciation of one’s culture and its ideas, audio visual literacy is an impossible pipe dream. They are the foundation on which visual literacy rests.”

For further information on La Sierra’s Film and Television Department programs, please visit and