Faculty & Staff

Progress | May 2009

May 2009

By Lainey S. Cronk

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Rodney Vance is the director of PUC's film & television program. He came to PUC in 2008.

I was told that Rodney Vance uses the word "story" approximately every nine words. To this charge, he smiles. "I am obsessed with stories," he agrees. Then, speaking slowly as he thinks about it, he explains, "The structure of narrative storytelling reveals how we grow up. The process that a protagonist goes through in a story, or a hero, or the star of a movie, whatever it is - the process that they go through is the same process that we all go through whenever we change."

A story, he says, starts with where we are; tells how something in our life becomes uncomfortable; introduces something that happens that further knocks us out of our comfort zones and makes us decide to change - to grow up a little bit. It includes the moment where we don't think we're going to make it; and ultimately takes us to where we get it together, move forward, and either succeed or fail in what we set out to change. "That's story."

Rodney has worked on any number of jobs and projects that allow him to "mess around with stories." One that stands out is the first time he had a stage play professionally produced, in Denver in 1990. "One thing that took me by surprise was sitting in the audience on opening night and being absolutely terrified that people weren't going to respond. But they did"

Consisting of three related one-act plays, the piece was an avant-garde kind of work, about "a family that's destructing and then coming back together in a new way." When he sat down to write it, Rodney thought, "This play will never be staged, because it's impossible to be staged." It had desert scenes with music played on pots and pans, visions, large vacant ruined Gothic cathedrals, chases through catwalks in a warehouse. But a director in Denver figured out a way they could incorporate everything into one set, with magic doors and compartments - and a lot of lighting changes. "It was really a lot of fun for me to watch!" Rodney says.

Another favorite story project was the 1985 General Conference session in New Orleans when he participated in staging The Biblical Book of Revelation in the Louisiana Superdome with the New England Youth Ensemble and the Oakwood College Choir - and Actor Michael Baptist, who Rodney calls "one of the finest Adventist actors I've ever worked with."

Now he is in the midst of three new story projects, all of which involve the PUC film & television program in some way. One is "Rainbow Park," a children's television series. Another is a feature film that he wrote, and he is presenting paperwork to investors. And the third is a destination documentary that focuses on "people who have come to the Napa Valley to create the kind of lifestyle they want to live." Rich, poor, eccentric or otherwise - whatever it is, they've made this Valley their spot to pursue a specific kind of life they want to live. The documentary will be co-produced with 3ality Digital, a company in Burbank that Rodney considers to be "the number one company in the world for creating storytelling using this new 3D digital technology."

These three projects are not PUC-based, but each one involves PUC people in some way. The projects use professionals as the primary filmmakers, Rodney explains, "and then create opportunities for students to work side-by-side with professionals where possible, or where not possible, to at least be on the set observing."

So these projects allow Rodney to be faithful to his priority of teaching and of working to make the visual arts department visible nationally - and still be involved in the creation of the thing he loves most: the story.

Colleagues & Departments

Health Services
Don't miss the "For the Health of It" interactive health fair at the Dining Commons on Thursday, May 14, starting at 11 a.m. Last year we had over 40 booths and this year, Sandy Sargent hopes to expand the fair even more. The vendors will represent local and national programs and companies and many will have free samples, products for sale, services, and information -- and they'll all provide hands-on ways to learn about the many, many aspects of health.

The library has recently added two new avenues of communication to interface with faculty, staff and students. The first is a new cell phone (707-815-6858) that we will use to field questions by either voice or text messages during normal library reference hours. The second is the free Twitter.com service that has started to surge in popularity. Since January, the library has been "tweeting" information about library happenings, PUC news, relevant information access and research news, etc. at http://www.twitter.com/puclibrary. You don't have to sign up for a Twitter account; you can simply visit that URL periodically like you do Google News. If you want to communicate back to us on Twitter, simply sign up and send messages to @puclibrary. Patrick Benner has conducted internal training for the library staff on using Twitter and if there is any interest in further training for faculty/staff, e-mail pbenner@puc.edu, send a text to our cell, or send us a tweet and we can arrange a group or individual session.

Joan Hughson went to her 45-year reunion at San Fernando Valley Academy in Northridge, California, in April and was pleasantly surprised when they awarded her Alumnus of the Year. Joan attended San Fernando all four years before coming to PUC for a year.

Public Relations
The PR office has also started a general PUC Twitter -- and a PUC Facebook page, as well. Both can be reached through the Facebook and Twitter icons now featured on the bottom right side of the PUC website.

Revo PUC II is May 10! To show your support for the Napa Valley Food Bank and the hard work -- and tons of passion -- our students have poured into this, you can join the movement by attending the Revo event or contributing online at Give to PUC (select REVO). Online donations go to the Revo event itself (and to continuing it next year), while funds raised at the event all go to the Food Bank.

Visual Arts
Thomas Morphis, professor, was sole juror for the 36th Annual Religious Art Exhibition at St. John's Lutheran Church in Sacramento. This national exhibition was on view March 14-29 and featured artworks in all media with a spiritual theme.

On April 16 and 17, WASC-PC chair Aubyn Fulton, WASC writer Steve Waters, and WASC Accreditation Liaison Officer Nancy Lecourt attended the WASC Academic Resources Conferences in Hollywood, California. They learned much useful information in preparation for our upcoming Capacity and Preparatory Review visit in October, and they enjoyed finding the stars of their favorite Star Trek actors in the sidewalk on Hollywood Boulevard.