CINEMA DEPARTMENT MAY HAVE NEW FACILITY TO SHOWCASE WORK
By Cassie Ordonio
The cinema department will soon have their student films on the big screen if Rodrigo Santos, a former Board of Trustees member and structural engineer, has his way.
He wants to bring to life the worn-out Tower Theater located only two blocks from City College’s Mission Center. School administration and faculty will be voting soon on various blueprint options before construction begins.
Santos is working closely with architect Leonardo Zylberberg and production manager Todd David. Once a blueprint plan is chosen, David will come up with a timeline and cost estimate for the theater project.
Santos is the president and co-founder of Santos & Urrita Structural Engineers on Harrison Street. He has 25 years of experience and was also a structural engineer for the Alamo Drafthouse at the nearby New Mission Theater, which opened its doors last December.
Tower Theater stands at six-stories high with a capacity of 466 seats. The walls inside are splattered with graffiti and the entrance doors are boarded up, but Santos sees the potential in the building and an opportunity for City College.
“It’s time for me to give something back for the college,” Santos said, expressing his love and passion for film and City College.
The project plans call for new construction and restoration of the existing front facade and marquee of the theater.
“All construction will be seismically safe and in compliance with all the latest codes,” Zylberberg said. “We are at this stage in the preliminary design phase, and the next step will be presenting the project to the S.F. Planning Department and Department of Building Inspection for their initial review, evaluation and comments.”
An estimated $14 million needs to be raised to fund the project, David said, but the goal hasn’t been met.
“Once the final design is agreed upon, we will receive construction bids and then start executing on a fundraising plan,” David said. All other expenses will be paid by Santos.
“We do so much with so little, that’s why this project would be a dream come true.”
—Cinema Interim Dept. Chair Anna Geyers
Cinema department conditions
There is a lack of resources and space for students, Interim Cinema Department Chair Anna Geyers said. City College currently serves approximately 500 cinema students.
The department was a storage space at a time. There are noisy vents in the computer labs that challenge instructors to speak louder during class. Construction to fix the vents started Feb. 19.
The cinema department is also facing challenges in technology. Many computers are more than 10 years old and outdated.
The department recently sent a proposal for new computers to the school, but the school has not responded. Geyers said their last proposal request, sent approximately three years ago, was unsuccessful.
The department’s cameras are out of date as well, so Geyers has urged students to use different cameras, regardless of their make, to help them prepare for the current industry.
“We do so much with so little, that’s why this project would be a dream come true,” Geyers said.
Cloud Hall Room 117 is the only production room out of the four cinema classrooms. They would previously move desks into the hallways to make room for shooting video and producing it, but tension between the department and the janitors flared because students left scratch marks on the floors when they dragged desks outside.
“It’s time consuming and we can’t block the hallways which makes the janitors complain,” Geyers said.
As cinema student Jamie Sharp put it, “We’re long overdue for an upgrade.”
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