Four USC students are attempting to raise $20,000 by the end of October to travel to South Korea to film a documentary about a philanthropist working to save the lives of children who would otherwise be abandoned because of their deformities.
As of Sept. 27, they had only been able to raise $3,000 — and if more money is not generated, the trip could be in jeopardy. Brian Ivie and Will Tober, two of the group’s leaders, remain optimistic of their chances to make the trip possible.
What struck me about this story was the USC School of Cinematic Arts’ lack of response in supporting two of its students clearly driven to explore the craft of moviemaking in a new and challenging location.
Though most programs and clubs have funding assistance, this incredible initiative surprisingly does not. Projects such as this one should be a university priority.
With programs like Student Opportunities for Academic Research and Summer Undergraduate Research Fund, USC allows students in a variety of majors to participate in projects related to their respective fields. USC also provides study abroad opportunities for students in almost every major. But when students in SCA, like Ivie and Tober, decide they want to pursue their curiosity in the same extracurricular context as thousands of other USC students, it seems as if the school has deviated from the university in terms of fiscal assistance.
Ivie and Tober are fighting to create more awareness about the kindness of Jong Rak Lee, a pastor in Seoul who has added a “drop box” to his house as an alternative for Korean parents who conform to the long-standing trend of abandoning deformed or unwanted children. They believe their film would help Lee in his mission.
If it weren’t for the philanthropic drive these students have, they might not have even managed to attain the $3,000 they have raised so far from friends and family. USC should further assist students to set an example. If a student sees this project fail, what message does that give off? It’s a deterrent when it should be inspiring.
Often, many things students want to pursue are thwarted by financial restrictions, leaving students at a disadvantage to interact with the world and their environments. This is why SCA should be more responsive; it must give off the message that student development transcends all else.
A solution to this issue would be to implement a simple program that offers grants for ambitious projects like this one. It could be operated through the study abroad office and funded simply through alumni donations, ensuring money budgeted for other campus clubs and programs will remain intact.
SCA supports countless student filming projects each year with equipment and facilities. Since supporting student filmmakers is such a prominent part of the school, it leaves me confused as to why SCA does not offer more help to motivated students.
As further motivation for students to continue to spearhead innovative projects, extracurricular efforts such as this should count for major credit.
SCA and USC, in general, should provide enough support to the efforts of people like this to expand their focus beyond the local neighborhood. The maximum of one course per semester SCA accepts for study abroad credit is glaring, but the lack of support they are providing to projects such as this one is difficult to swallow.
It would be a tragedy if these students ultimately failed in such a constructive project when the university could have helped them in some way.
Daniel Grzywacz is a sophomore majoring in cinematic arts-critical studies. His column “Thoughts From the Quad” runs Wednesdays.