Topic: College of Communication Information and Media

May 27, 2015

Ireland’s rich history and customs will be the subject of four short films produced by students from Ball State University when they visit Europe this summer.

Led by Rich Swingley, a Ball State telecommunications instructor, 22 students will participate in the six-week Ireland Summer Film Immersion program.

The immersive learning project allows students to demonstrate they are capable of planning, managing and producing short, narrative films in a location that pushes them past their comfort zones.

“Simply put, our students will face the reality that if they have not properly planned their production, it will be impossible to fix most problems,” said Swingley, who recently completed a short tour of Ireland to set up the project. “We will be overseas and away from our standard production facilities and locations. Very few in the entertainment industry have the opportunity to experience this scenario prior to the beginning of their professional careers.”

Now in its 12th year, participants in Ball State’s summer program have proceeded to win two Student Academy Awards, over 20 regional Emmys and have presented at numerous film festivals. The program showcases Ball State’s strength in developing cinematic productions for a number of platforms, and builds upon the university’s reputation for creating content for emerging and traditional media.

As a result of the national recognition garnered by Ball State in the last decade, Sony International is providing two of its newest professional cameras for student use, Swingley said.

“Of course we must succeed in creating top-shelf entertainment that will attract the interest of film festivals and compete for awards,” he said. “Our current junior class, which will comprise the bulk of the production crew, is the best from top to bottom that I’ve seen in my 15 years as an instructor.

“We believe the scripts are solid and have an excellent shot at being competitive at the film festivals this fall and in 2016.”

Swingley and the students will leave for Ireland on June 1 and will be based in Dublin, working closely will the Dublin Film Commission. Students will be responsible for daily interaction with the commission as well as maintaining partnerships with local performers and owners/managers of film locations.

During the first four weeks, students will shoot the films and participate in periodic excursions offered by the local film commission in Dublin and in nearby communities. At the same time the students are participating in the immersion program, they also will be enrolled in an Irish film studies course.

“This will provide an opportunity for students to explore whether popular films present the real culture as they find it, or the Hollywood version,” he said. “The students have spent the last three months watching films made in, and about, Ireland and London.”

During week five, students will travel to Ireland’s west coast to visit locations where famous Irish-centric films have been shot, including 1992’s "Far and Away," starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, and John Ford’s classic "The Quiet Man," starring John Wayne. The students will spend their last week visiting cultural venues and movie locations in London.

This fall, Swingley and his students will complete post-production for the films in classes offered by the Department of Telecommunications at Ball State.