Reporter: Mark Kelly l Photojournalist: Sally Delta
Lynchburg, VA - There is a great deal of excitement on the campus of Liberty University. The school is spending a million dollars to add a center for cinematic arts. When it officially opens next spring, it'll teach undergraduates everything about the movie business.
Students in this major won't be tied to the library. Creators say it's very hands-on. Liberty eventually wants to have a back-lot with sets just like Hollywood. But, LU isn't just building a new major, they say they are improving the art itself.
Step inside Liberty's theatre program. Take a seat. And you will find artists touching on values, they say, today's art has forgotten.
"Values of redemption, values of justice, values about love, values about humanity, values about human life," said Linda Cooper, Theatre Arts Chair.
Cooper is the chair of the theatre department. She trains her actors to do stage and on-camera work. The 150 plus stage actors have their platform; with the new cinematography program, now on camera actors can have their platform too.
"When I heard about the film thing, my first thing is 'oh sweet, films I can be in maybe - that would be great,'" said Alex Miller, LU student.
"Oh my goodness, they are so excited. They are like can we double major, can we be theatre and film?" said Cooper.
Liberty's modeling the program off of one in Arizona that is very hands-on. But they say they are giving it a Christian flare.
"I don't know of another school, whether it's California to New York that will offer cinematic students the level of experiential, hands-on training that this school will provide," said Dr. Ronald Godwin, Sr. VP Academic Affairs/Provost.
Liberty graduates have broken in to the movie business. The Christian movie, The Potential Inside, premiered this year here in Lynchburg. And an LU alum's production company created it.
"It gives me confidence, more confidence in Liberty students to have them be able to be a bigger part of our productions in the future," said Tessa Sturgill, LU graduate, producer of The Potential Inside, and founder of Pure Heart Entertainment production company.
Undergraduates can start taking classes as early as this Fall. And, they hope, in two to three years, to have 200 students studying cinematography.