Hollywood film professional Annette Haywood-Carter is the new chair of the Idyllwild Arts Academy Department of Film and Digital Media. Best known for her breakout directorial debut movie “Foxfire,” and her recent theatrical release “Savannah,” Haywood-Carter brings current industry experience and Hollywood connections to her new position.
As script supervisor for many A-list Hollywood directors, and writer/director/producer on her own projects, Haywood-Carter plans to use her knowledge of how the television and film industries have evolved over the last 20 years and her current connections with major studios, producers and directors to build a pipeline to Hollywood. “Creating a pipeline of this sort is difficult to do if you are not an industry insider. We can use this direct industry access as a way to attract the best students and market our program,” she said.
Haywood-Carter is passionate about using her professional experience to educate IA film students in how the industry works and how to navigate it as a beginning professional. While still working professionally in Hollywood, Haywood-Carter developed the film program at the Savannah College of Art and Design into a major force for training film and television professionals.
She plans to bring many of the cutting-edge educational programs and tools she developed there to Idyllwild Arts — with a major difference. “At SCAD, I built and grew a pipeline between the college and Hollywood, with internships with high-end television and movie producers and studios, as well as master classes and mentoring,” she said. “The difference at Idyllwild Arts is that we’re only two hours from Hollywood, where the equipment, techniques and working knowledge of industry professionals are the top of the game. So rather than have limited-in-time internships, I will be creating a program to take our film students to Los Angeles for regular classes with industry professionals. Film technology is changing so quickly that it must be taught by those who are the most current. Film professionals tend to be enormously generous and excited to share whatever they know, whatever toys they have, with students.”
Haywood-Carter also cited the advantage of having IA students experience the work ethic in Hollywood. “You don’t get to make mistakes,” she stated. She then related a lesson she learned that she will pass on to IA students. “I got hired as a second assistant director and got fired on the second day,” she remembered. “It was before cell phones and GPS and I missed a turn on the way to a location shoot and was an hour and a half late. My replacement arrived at the same time as I did. I want to get our students on scene so they can see the work ethic, that it is highly intolerant of mistakes. You can’t explain that environment. You have to experience it. I want to get them in the room with the people they’ll be learning from and networking with.
“Every school has visiting professionals,” she explained. “That’s not the same as going every week to work with professionals in their own work environments. I feel a strong responsibility to make our students ready, to work in Los Angeles on location with professional actors.”
Haywood-Carter noted the challenge in balancing regular classes in Los Angeles with an already challenging IA curriculum of both academic and arts classes. “We have to set it up so that they’re not missing academic classes,” she noted. “These students have to be successful in life and all aspects of their work and careers.”
Haywood-Carter is undaunted by any challenges she may face in creating a cutting edge educational program for IA film students. “There are many things to do,” she said, “adding current professional software such as AVID and Movie Magic that is in use now, as well as obtaining new cameras and creating classes in the latest technologies. As soon as I have a cinematographer on faculty we’ll be making camera purchases. Also, I’m not going to use the USC training model, where one senior student film gets made. Each senior will have his or her film made. I also want to restart the scoring for film program, using the availability of an accomplished orchestra to play student movie scores, and work with Chris [Reba, new music chair] to get a recording studio up and running.”
But even with access to the latest technologies in Hollywood, and learning from and working with industry professionals on a regular basis, Haywood-Carter noted that the foundation of industry success is still good a story.
“Storytelling is the basis,” she said. “I’m a believer in strong foundations in writing and the aesthetics of images.”
Asked whether, with all she is planning for her IA students, she will have any outside projects, Haywood-Carter paused then answered. “I explained to Doug [Ashcraft, head of school] and Pam [Jordan, Idyllwild Arts Foundation president] that if I am going to do this [take this position], I don’t want to work away from my career,” she said. “I have three projects in development, including a feature, television series and a major film. In August, I’ll be going to Berlin to ‘shadow’ the director of ‘Homeland,’ with the goal of directing an episode of the series. I also explained to Doug and Pam that I was not doing this just for myself but for my staff and my students, so that they, too, are in the pipeline and don’t become dated and out of touch with the industry as it is now.”