In February 2007, the Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs, Office of Academic Exchange Programs of the U.S. Department of State, issued a request for grant proposals for four different Fusion Arts Exchange (FAX) programs to be hosted by American universities over a five-week period during the summer.
One of the four programs was for screenwriting and film production. The proposal request noted that the program "should provide a multinational group of 18-20 experienced and highly-motivated (university) undergraduates with an intensive, collaborative course on screenwriting within the context of current film production techniques and standards."
In addition to covering the major topics in production and writing, the participants "should have ample opportunity to learn from academics and working professionals… A key component of the program should be an introductory course exploring American history, values and culture as seen through American film, which should be integrated into the curriculum for its entirety and provide a framework for the exchange experience."
The University of Southern California (USC), School of Cinematic Arts (SCA), received this special grant in 2007. Twenty aspiring young filmmakers from five countries (Egypt, Lebanon, France, Mexico and The Philippines) and the U.S., participated in workshops, seminars, screenings, studio visits and took an educational tour of southern United States. The program was so successful that the State Department approved a second year with SCA receiving the grant for screenwriting and film production.
In 2009, the number of Fusion Arts Exchange programs has been reduced from four to two. In addition to USC, Northeastern University will host a Music Composition and Performance workshop.
Beginning on July 7, 2009, SCA will began a four-week series of workshops in writing, directing and production and sessions on American film with students from the same five countries and the U.S. At the end of the classroom work on August 3, the Fusion Arts Fellows and escorts will fly to Boston for a several-day media and early American history tour. In addition to Boston, they will travel to New York, Philadelphia and conclude the program in Washington, D.C. The tour itinerary is in its final stages of planning.
The 15 international students were selected from a large number of applicants by the local U.S. Consulates or the Fulbright Commission offices in those countries.
The five American students were selected from nearly 100 applicants from university and college film, television and media programs from throughout the country.
This year, the American students are from the University of North Carolina, Ithaca College, University of Vermont and Bard College. In previous years, the students have come from the University of California, Berkeley, University of Oklahoma, Wake Forest, University of Texas, USC, Elon College and others. These American students, representing a diverse ethnic range, will live and collaborate with their international peers.