Southfield’s Specs Howard School of Media Arts is stepping into the new media, adding a new digital media arts program and bolstering its film and video production offerings as state incentives boost the film industry in Michigan.

First offered this spring, the new Digital Media Arts curriculum is an intensive 12-month program that includes digital media production and editing, electronic news gathering, graphic design, media ethics, policy and law, motion graphics, Web site design and writing for digital media.

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Specs Howard was founded as a radio school in 1970. It added a graphic design program in 2008. And last year, it added two new film workshops, an eight-week “On Location Film Workshop” and seven-week “On Location Introduction to the World of Post.” 

Said Jonathan Liebman, chairman and CEO of Specs Howard: “As we celebrate our 40th anniversary in 2010, we are looking forward to continuing our evolution in preparing students for new and emerging opportunities in the creative and media arts fields, including those seeking to transition to new careers.”

Specs Howard now offers its film programs at the Studio Center motion picture production complex in Farmington Hills. The programs are supplemented by resources and experts from other Studio Center resident companies, Grace & Wild, Detroit Power & Light and Fletcher Camera.

Among the Specs Howard instructors is Steve Julin, who created the entire “On Location” film and editing workshops curriculum. Julin has worked on several independent films, including Between Brothers, Mutant Swingers from Mars, Hatred of a Minute and Walk This Way. He has worked with such major television companies as The Discovery Channel, ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS. Julin is an Avid Certified Instructor, Certified Boris FX Instructor and Apple Certified Trainer, as well as a recipient of the Golden Eagle Award for documentary editing and an Emmy Award nominee.

The workshops teach all things “lights, camera, action,” including pre-production planning and scheduling; breaking down a script; fundamentals of filming a basic scene; principles of editing; equipment usage and everything in between.

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Operating for nearly 30 years, Studio Center is the only active studio production lot in Michigan and has quickly become the hub of new feature film production in the state.  It provides a complete range of production services and resources, including three soundstages, post-production facilities, film processing, camera rental, lighting and production offices, all set on nearly seven acres centrally located near major Michigan filming locations. 

Grace & Wild is the anchor Studio Center tenant, and along with the other resident businesses, Studio Center has become one of the largest and most productive production facilities outside of Los Angeles. 

Recent productions serviced include features Stone, with Robert De Niro and Ed Norton; The Irishman, starring Val Kilmer and Christopher Walken; The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure, produced by Kenn Viselman, mastermind behind the Teletubbies; High School, starring Adrien Brody and Michael Chiklis; Miss January, starring Kim Cattrall and Brian Dennehy; and Prayers for Bobby, starring Sigourney Weaver.

Specs Howard is headquartered in about 40,000 square feet of the 55,000-square-foot former headquarters of A&P grocery stores at Nine Mile and Evergreen roads. The school operates year-around and has about 400 students on its campus at any one time.

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