One of the longstanding maxims about working in the entertainment industry is the idea that “it’s who you know, and who knows you” that leads to the few job opportunities so many aspiring filmmakers seek. Reflecting on movements like #OscarsSoWhite, the entertainment industry has sought to create and support new opportunities to bring in more members of communities underrepresented in the industry. In looking to partner with leading organizations and institutions towards this goal, a variety of entertainment industry leaders have sought out CSUN as a partner.
Ranked second in the nation for its diverse learning environment by The Wall Street Journal, CSUN is driven by principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The university is fervently committed to creating a community built on a rich and robust diversity of backgrounds, perspectives, ideas, beliefs, and experiences and ranks fifth nationally in awarding bachelor’s degrees to historically underrepresented students and second in the U.S. in awarding bachelor’s degrees to Latinx individuals. These factors combined with the robust practice-based education we provide make CSUN an ideal partner in diversifying the entertainment industry.
Premiere Entertainment recently partnered with the Curb College’s Department of Cinema and Television Arts to help student filmmakers secure resources to complete their degrees and fund the equipment necessary to bring their visions to the big screen. Seeking to elevate diverse voices, the production, financing, and international distribution company created the Premiere Entertainment Scholarship Fund, which supports screenwriters in our bachelor’s and MFA programs. They also provide scholarships to students in the Film Production option and provided funds to purchase two new professional quality Blackmagic cameras. To deepen opportunities, founder and CEO Elias Axume will take Premiere Entertainment Scholars to feature film production sets, film festivals, and other events to give these aspiring filmmakers a firsthand taste of the industry.
Premiere Entertainment Group’s team is a family affair, with key leaders related by blood as well as CSUN affiliation. Elias Axume is a double CSUN CTVA alumnus, having earned his BA in Radio, Television, and Film Production and his MA in Mass Communications/Screenwriting. Elias’s brother and the company’s Controller, Oscar Axume, is a CSUN Accounting alumnus, and Elias’s daughter Gabriela Axume, also a CTVA alumna, is the company’s Director of Sales & Distribution.
Formosa Group, among the industry’s leading post-production sound companies, is another CSUN partner promoting entertainment industry access for underrepresented individuals. CEO Bob Rosenthal, a graduate of CSUN’s College of Business and Economics, saw the potential in our diverse student body to help transform the future of the company. After discussions and class visits, Rosenthal and the Formosa Group established the “Sound with Vision” scholarship, which provides scholarships covering 50% of tuition for seniors from historically underrepresented backgrounds who seek a career in the post-production sound field. Scholarship recipients are paired with individual mentors through Formosa to explore different career options, identify preferred paths, and develop the skills and experience needed to launch their careers.
“As the Founder of Formosa Group and a proud alumnus of CSUN, this affiliation has provided Formosa Group an opportunity to directly connect with dedicated and talented students interested in post-production sound,” Rosenthal shared. “The Formosa Group story continues with our new CSUN relationship and our continued commitment to furthering the DEI initiative in entertainment.”
CSUN's Department of Cinema and Television Arts has a long history with Radford Studio Center. Faculty have conducted classes amid its studio facilities; the department has awarded scholarships at the lot’s famed cantina, Carla’s Café; and student have filmed thesis projects there—all thanks to RSC President Michael Klausman, an alumnus who received CSUN’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007. This relationship has been enhanced further still by the studio’s new owners, Hackman Capital Partners, who recently established the Radford Studio Center Changing Lenses Initiative at CSUN. This initiative will fund one Film Production thesis project and one Television Production thesis project per semester, recognizing student filmmakers poised to champion diversity, equity, and inclusion in the industry. This partnership will also establish the Radford Studio Center Changing Lenses Scholarship, which provides full-tuition scholarship for a final year of study at CSUN to a student whose work brings a new perspective to storytelling in the entertainment industry.
“CSUN is educating the leaders of tomorrow. Young people embody the optimism of a brighter future, and through its Changing Lenses scholarship and support of senior thesis projects in the CTVA program, Radford Studio Center is proud to invest in CSUN students’ success,” said Zach Sokoloff, Vice President of Asset Management for Hackman Capital Partners. “Hackman Capital Partners pioneered its Changing Lenses Initiative through its community outreach efforts at Television City. The goal of Changing Lenses is to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion within the entertainment industry by providing underrepresented constituencies access to mentorship, job training, and long-term and sustainable career pathways. Partner organizations include Streetlights, Women in Media, and Manifestworks. CSUN’s partnership with Hackman Capital Partners and Radford Studio Center is an exciting new chapter for Changing Lenses, providing college students the opportunity to pursue their dreams, encouraging storytellers with a different perspective to share their talents with the world, and helping to build an entertainment industry as dynamic and diverse as Los Angeles itself.”
CSUN has always been a hub for creative talent development, and our students’ diversity of backgrounds and experiences make them some of the most capable and unique storytellers in Los Angeles. While many face challenges on their paths to degrees and intended careers in entertainment, the university’s partnerships with leading industry players like Premiere Entertainment, Formosa Group, and Hackman Capital Partners help lower those barriers and provide the resources, education, and access our students seek. Through our collaboration, we can help to change the face of the entertainment industry and help elevate the stories and perspectives of all Americans to the silver screen.