By CAYLEE HANNA
The Amarillo College board of regents recently approved an agreement that partners the college with a new local movie production studio called Sharpened Iron Studios, LLC to create the AC School of Cinematic Arts. This will be part of the Innovation Outpost located at the current site of the AC downtown campus.
During the latest board of regents meeting, Sean Doherty, the chief executive officer of Sharpened Iron Studios, and Reagan Hales, the AC associate vice president for innovation and worked-based learning, presented the vision for the Outpost as well as the details of the partnership to the regents.
“ This historic partnership will bring in $58 million,” Doherty said during the meeting. “I’m incredibly excited about where we are going to be positioned first and foremost, because of the impact we’re going to have in the city center.”
During the meeting, Doherty also discussed how the Innovation Outpost would be the perfect collaboration with the studio because he wants to focus on the next generation and innovations in the cinematic arts.
“One thing that I push hard is pushing the limits,” he said. “How can we better what George Lucas and Industrial Light Magic have done? What’s the next generation of cameras? The next generation of lighting? The next generation of performance? How can we push that? Being connected with the Innovation Outpost is how we push that.”
Hales presented a timeline to the regents with the expected dates that construction would begin and end as well as when students should be expected to be able to attend cinematic arts classes.
“In order to maintain our schedule for construction both for the outpost and for Sharpened Iron to be able to start offering classes, we need to go ahead and move forward with site plans,” Hales said. “From March to December in 2021, we’ll see construction begin as well as the first cohort of students in the cinematic arts program. Hopefully, by June 2022, construction will be completed and then from July to December 2022 we can officially bring all students on to campus.”
Hales said she believes that this collaboration between the studio and AC will offer the college the potential to grow even more in the community. “The college is stepping into a new role of leadership in this community and it’s going to look different and feel different,” she said. “And it may be uncomfortable, but where there’s sometimes discomfort, there’s growth.”
“But I think if we are really going to lead the shift in culture. If we’re really going to lead from the front, we’ve got to think about what this ecosystem for our community is going to look like from the ground up, and across every atmosphere,” Hales said. “ We’ve got to do all of these roles, really within this ecosystem. And that’s going to be hard, it’s going to be uneasy and it’s going to change. But we’ve got to be willing to take that risk to do that innovation and serve that role if we’re going to be able to move forward.”
In an interview with the Amarillo Globe-News, Dr. Lowery-Hart, AC president, said that he is excited to form this partnership and that this could possibly have people view Amarillo as an innovative city. “I think it helps Amarillo see itself differently,” Lowery-Hart said. “ That we can dream bigger than we typically do. We are a practical people and it allows us to see ourselves as an innovator that goes beyond our core industries but supports them in the process.”