El Segundo High School

Relativity School, a College within a Hollywood Studio: Part I

Imagine wanting a career in the entertainment industry and attending college full-time to learn about it. But, instead of just taking notes and listening to lectures as if you are in a tedious class, you have daily hands-on experience on an actual working film lot. You can be on set and directly help in making media–all as part of your college curriculum.

This is possible at Relativity School, the first and only college of its kind created in partnership with Relativity Media. Relativity School is located on a major Hollywood studio on campus, and offers Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in Film & Digital Content, Performing Arts, and Art & Media.

Here, as student Mary Strause, a Film & Digital Content major, told me, students feel like they are working on their careers while they get to simultaneously complete their college degree.

Attending college at Relativity School is a once in a lifetime experience full of many unique opportunities for all the student’s passions. Students are selected carefully to ensure that they are only working with the best. This year welcomed the inaugural class of 30 students.

Of course, these students could have considered other places to get film and performing arts educations, including University of South California; University of California, Los Angeles; Loyola Marymount; the Los Angeles Film School; and Chapman University; but Relativity School’s collaboration with the studio pulled students to it like a moth to a light. Their main classroom is a studio with a greenroom, and their central hub is a set.

Almost every day there is a movie filming in front of their eyes, on their campus around them, as they learn. The kids have to walk around cameras and cords to get to class. Through this unique structure, the students grow as people and learn more and more. Kelly Morton, a Film & Digital Content major, said that students learn by “hands-on experience every day.”

All of the students are incredibly creative, to the point where if you put them in a room together, they could probably write and product a whole movie (oh wait, that already happened). Their creativity is fostered by collaborative work on set, attending red carpet events (in which they were able to interview attendees), and much more.

They receive the exact kind of education they need to thrive in their field, despite how unconventional it might appear. Not only are these students talented, they are also diligent students. Strause told me that classes are very rigorous, and that they receive “quite a bit of work.” She also said that since each class is its own entity, the work can feel intense.

However, Strause also said that though the work is difficult, she deeply enjoys it, and that the four hours of homework fly by — what a contradiction to high school life.

Another student, Kelly Morton, said, “It is so hard. I don’t have time for anything else.” Gina Emichino, a commercial dance major told me, “If you’re a hands on student, it (the work) is pretty rigorous. I always want to do everything, and so I get on the verge of having to reel myself back in.”

As you can tell from these statements, the work piles up, but the students are able to work through it because of their love and passion of the arts.

This summer, many of the students will intern in one of the many Relativity Media divisions, working intimately with people who have professions they want. One student told me that by graduation, there is no doubt that students will go directly into the career that they are passionate about in the entertainment industry, whether it be movies, television, music videos, directors, dancers and much more.

Most students live in the Lorenzo student housing along with many students from other colleges, including USC and LMU. This gives the students a chance to interact with other students since their unconventional schooling is difficult to juggle with a social life.

Though these students have lots of work, they deeply enjoy it, and it is almost as if they are working in their real, grown up occupations. High school students can experience the Relativity School education through summer workshops in dance, musical theatre, acting, and film production.

For more information, go to relativityworkshops.org, and for more information on the college degree programs, you can visit relativityschool.org. If you are interested in learning more about Relativity School, and hearing directly from the student and staff what it is like, keep searching for my future articles, and I will continue on this spotlight on Relativity School.