IMPORTANT UPDATE 8/3/09:
Since we first posted this story a few weeks ago, thanx to a vigilant blog reader, I've learned that there are some serious questions swirling around this program and the cost of tuition being billed to the office of Veteran's Affairs.
I'm generally one to reserve judgment until all the facts are clear, but the bottom line that is evident to me at the moment is that this program was billing the military approx. $88,000 per serviceman for many soldiers that completed this 10-week training program.
There are more details of course, but that figure alone is an indication to me of something seriously wrong with this program, as $88,000 well exceeds the cost of a full-year at a top-notch film school like NYU, USC or any other prestigious film program I can think of. It also appears that the honorable people who participated in and taught this program were unaware of the costs being billed to the military.
I whole-heartedly support our young men and women in the military and think there is a need for programs like this to open up opportunities for wounded servicemen, but I'm no longer convinced that this is a worthwhile program. I hope that this is all some bizarre accounting mistake or misunderstanding, but it smells fishy to me.
Here are some links to stories that elaborate further on the contraversy. You can judge for yourself:
THE ORIGINAL BLOG POST:
Awhile back a colleague, first turned us on to this great cause that he was volunteering for and we figured why let him have all the fun. If anyone else out there wants to do something meaningful to help Iraq War Vets read on...
In 2006 documentary filmmaker Kevin Lombard, and his wife, Judith Paixao, founded the Center for Careers in Media, a program geared at helping disabled veterans learn technical film production skills and find job placements in the civilian workforce. Part of the Wounded Marine Careers Foundation, the non-profits' goals are two-fold: to provide vets with viable work skills and an "occupational and therapeutic healing tool."
Training is intensive, running six days a week on the San Diego, California campus. Students have access to six sound stages, as well as "complete production support services," from wardrobe and props. Courses are geared toward the production of short news clips for popular media outlets, and include Digital Cinematography and Scriptwriting/Story Development.
Graduates of the program receive professional certification from companies like Apple and Adobe, and will also be accepted into The International Alliance of Theatre Stage Employees. Graduates are also assisted in job placement upon the completion of the program.
If you're interested in providing a tax-free donation or sponsoring a student, click here for donation information. If you're a vet interested in the program, the next session starts September 8, and applications are available by contacting Judith Paixao at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vets who have served from 9/11 on are eligible to enroll in the program, which teaches the vets production through a mixture of "classroom and field instruction, as well as personal mentorship."