Sun Studios sound stage with green screen

Lights, camera, action! ASU film program moves into state-of-the-art studios


Sarah A. McCarty

Twenty ASU film majors attended the first official film degree course a decade ago in a small teaching studio.

Clinical assistant professor Janaki Cedanna has been there since the beginning and runs the production end of the film program from that same teaching studio, a 1,504 square-foot black box space located in the ASU Performing and Media Arts Building. He’s looking forward to moving on to bigger and better studios with a three and half year lease at Sun Studios of Arizona.

“We’re totally excited about this new space,” Professor Cedanna says. “We’re excited that the Herberger Institute (for Design and the Arts) and the ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre, and specifically the film area, now have facilities to expand the education we give our students.”

Sun Studios on West 14th Street, less than two miles from the Tempe Main campus, boasts two sound stages, one 2,500-square-foot stage and another 2,200-square-foot sound stage with a two-wall infinity cyclorama and green screen; a sound-proof audio recording suite; a large selection of props, gear and professional-grade production and recording equipment; and a 150-seat theatre with professional digital projection and surround sound.

“It’s an amazing thing for us because it broadens everything that we do,” Cedanna says. “It takes us to the next level.”

Beginning next semester, students will have the opportunity to work in studios and with professional equipment similar to what you would find in Los Angeles, and the film program will be able to expand what it offers. For instance, Cedanna, who teaches the editing and post-production classes to film majors, says he’s always wanted to do more with sound, and now he has the proper facilities and equipment for that.

“Having the opportunity to work with such a vast amount of industry standard equipment, and to be able to get the necessary hands-on experience within the field, is nothing less than vital to set up students to enter the Industry once they leave ASU,” says junior film student Macy Kimpland. “I truly believe this will change the film program at ASU, by taking an already great program run by great professors and mentors, and propelling them all forward by giving them the tools that can make them succeed.”

In addition to classes, film students will also have access to the space and equipment for their own projects completed as part of their education.

"Sun Studios is such a weight off of all our shoulders,” says junior film student Taylor Blackmore. “The pressure of finding, reserving and paying for materials and equipment for our projects has been lifted. Now we can worry about what we're making, not how we're going to make it."

Cedanna says while Sun Studios is impressive and a benefit, the film program has always been successful and will continue to be.

“We have a ton of students who are doing amazing work in Los Angeles, New York and throughout the United States, and who learned in this space,” he says of the original studio space in the APMA building.

Since that original class of 20 film students, the film program has grown a lot, which is one reason faculty are excited to teach in the new space. For the last two years it has seen its largest incoming freshman classes, both around 140 students. Now, more than 450 students are studying film at ASU, and it’s one of the most popular programs in the Herberger Institute. Cedanna says this is a testament to the film education the students receive at ASU, and Sun Studios simply enhances the program. 

“It’s not necessarily the space or even the tools that we pride ourselves on — it’s the education,” he says. “This is just added value to that education.”