The Sidney Poitier New American Film School empowers passionate film and media artists with the technical skills and diverse experience that will allow them to change the world with new visions, new stories, and new voices.
Photo by D’Andre Michael, taken at the historic Herald Examiner Building in Los Angeles, site of the new ASU California Center.
A message from Dianah Wynter
Incoming Director of the Sidney Poitier New American Film School
Since its inception in 2007, the Herberger Institute’s film production program has grown by leaps and bounds. Under dynamic past leadership and with the support of students and faculty, a new film school emerged as a singular entity. I am honored to serve as the new director of The Sidney Poitier New American Film School and look forward to building upon all that has been achieved over the years, with the talented, award-winning film and media production faculty and students and the dedicated staff.
The school bears the name of the Oscar-winning actor-director who embodies principles of excellence and expertise. A first-generation American who grew up in the Caribbean, Poitier broke through the color barrier with his craft and his intellect, playing leading roles that were empowered with agency, autonomy, and humanity. Growing up a child of Caribbean parents myself, I and my family held his name in highest esteem. For all involved in this new film school, the name Sidney Poitier carries with it not only a mandate for excellence, but also for equity and empowerment, and a responsibility to democratize access to the tools that lead to creative opportunities.
Opportunity is the offspring of readiness, and readiness is born of rigorous training in the art, craft and science of filmmaking. Now more than ever, reality is defined by narratives, especially narratives coming through motion pictures. Now more than ever, the world needs new generations of storytellers sharing their own narratives, in their authentic voices, with diverse images. Now more than ever, it is needed on a global scale to take on the problems confronting humanity.
We are nearing the end of the construction of the state-of-the-art complex that will house the Sidney Poitier New American Film School in Mesa and become a new center of cultural activities for the community. The Los Angeles campus is also nearing completion. It is housed in the historic Herald Examiner building, built by William Randolph Hearst, legendary film producer and newspaper baron, immortalized in the title character of Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane. Many challenges lie ahead, including fundraising and expanding course offerings to match the ever-evolving industry technologies. Buoyed by our engagement with all of you, valued alumni, the campus community and leadership, community partners, and partnerships yet to be forged, I have great conviction that we can meet those challenges together.
Dianah E. Wynter
The Sidney Poitier New American Film School in ASU's Herberger Institute for Design and the Art aspires to be the most inclusive, most affordable and most impactful film program for the next generation of cinematic storytellers. The international faculty brings decades of professional experience in film, television, new media and documentary filmmaking to a rigorous and focused curriculum based in ethical and collaborative filmmaking practices, professional development and hands-on instruction. Our faculty includes feature film screenwriters, studio executives, Emmy-winning television veterans, acclaimed documentarians and highly respected craftspeople.
We recognize and value the creativity and meaning that each student brings to the program. Our students are welcomed as young professionals ready to learn their craft at the highest level; develop and project their unique creative voice; establish collaborative, organizational and leadership skills that will last a lifetime; and make media that is personal, unique and powerful.
With dozens of major student projects created every year, plus hundreds of short films, screenplays and digital stories generated in and out of our studio classrooms, our students find opportunities to develop a wide array of production experiences while specializing in producing, screenwriting, director or production technology.
One film school, three cities
Working across multiple cities and multiple platforms, The Sidney Poitier New American Film Schools opens endless pathways for students to advance their creative expression and chart successful careers. Students will also be technologically empowered to study and create anywhere, with access to online tools and collaborative platforms. The school is designed to prepare master storytellers and digital creators for a rapidly evolving industry.
ASU’s Tempe Campus
At ASU’s Tempe campus, students have access to basic equipment for film production and 24/7 computer labs. Production, research and rehearsal facilities include the Nelson Fine Arts Center, Dreamscape studios at the Creativity Commons, Music West, Dixie Gammage Hall and Stauffer Communications buildings as well as special classes and events hosted at the nearby Sun Studios of Arizona.
ASU @ Mesa City Center
ASU @ Mesa City Center will include a brand new 118,000-gross-square-foot state-of-the-art facility that will be home to state-of-the-art sound stages, editing suites, screening theatres, public exhibitions space, fabrication labs and immersive media studios. ASU @ Mesa City will be at the heart of the city’s new innovation hub, where students will embrace new technologies of immersive and mixed-reality media, interaction and simulation and have opportunities to hone their craft while working and connecting with media start-ups, collaborating with schools and community groups, and more.
ASU California Center
The Sidney Poitier New American Film School will have a major presence in downtown Los Angeles at ASU’s newly renovated historical Herald Examiner Building. Here, film students can participate in the ongoing ASU Film Spark career acceleration program as well as complete their undergraduate film degree in L.A. or work toward a concentration or graduate degree focused on emerging forms of storytelling.
The Sidney Poitier New American Film School educates and advises students in the literatures, theories, histories and practices of contemporary filmmaking. Our teaching, research, creative activity and professional service enrich the cultural life of the University, the community, the state and the region, extending beyond our borders; and move the art of film production into the future by building on its diverse histories and cultural contexts.
Spurred by student demand, the Film and Media Production program was established in 2005 after ABOR approved the establishment of the School of Theatre and Film. Designed as a modest program to house 200 majors, the program grew to over 600 students in a decade, becoming one of the fastest growing majors in the University. Fueled by the establishment of industry accelerator program Film Spark in Los Angeles and a partnership with production facility Sun Studios of Arizona, ABOR approved the establishment of the The Sidney Poitier New American Film School in 2020. On Jan. 25, 2021, ASU's Herberger Institute announced the film school at ASU would be named after groundbreaking industry icon Sidney Poitier. In naming this school The Sidney Poitier New American Film School, we signal our commitment to excellence and inclusion and carry forward Sidney Poitier’s legacy through the lives of the thousands of students who will learn their craft and find their voice here. 2021 will see the establishment of the newly designed Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Film and Media Production, and the program will take up residence in the new Mesa City Center building in 2022.