15 Years of Impact: ArtCenter Film Dept.

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Ross LaManna April 22, 2016

When starting my Film Chair gig at ArtCenter, one of the first departments that caught my attention was Designmatters. I love that name and how it expresses the relevancy of design (and all visual arts) beyond their practical and aesthetic applications.

rossConcurrently, one of the first film students who stood out was Jonas Mayabb. He has an uncanny knack for dreaming up brilliant, arresting concepts, but also has the technical chops to realize them beautifully.

His Blowing Smoke PSA for Designmatters illustrates these skills perfectly. The idea of fat-cat industrialists quite literally blowing smoke from their mouths while testifying to congress is simplicity itself, and makes for a vivid and memorable image for the viewer –the gold standard of advertising.

His accomplishment is even more impressive when you consider that he made this spot in 2007, before the widespread availability of digital filmmaking and post production tools. Now, our students can shoot inexpensively on a digital camera, and create smoke and soot special effects right here on campus. But Jonas did it old-school, on celluloid film and at a commercial special effects company – and all on a student-film budget! Concepts are borne solely of imagination, and his is an unusually rich one. But to be able to bring his concept to life so beautifully, even with all the limitations he faced, is a testament to his skill, artistry, and tenacity.

Just so you know I’m not blowing smoke about my admiration for Jonas, as soon as he graduated I hired him to co-teach our Commercial and PSA production class. Given how many award-winning commercials have come from that class every year – student Emmys, Cannes Young Director, AICP, and Student Cleo awards – Jonas’s award-winning Blowing Smoke PSA was no fluke.

Blowing Smoke from Designmatters at ArtCenter on Vimeo.


* 2008 Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ College Television Award, First Place, Outstanding Commercials Category

* 2008 Clio Award, Student Category, Television/Cinema/Digital

* 2009 Art Directors Awards, Broadcast Advertising Category, Merit Award

* ID Magazine Annual Design Review 2009, Award of Distinction, Student Work category



Undergrad & Grad Film Chair Ross LaManna is a screenwriter and novelist.  He has worked as a writer for Fox, Disney, Paramount, Columbia, Universal, HBO, and many independent companies.  His credits include the megahit film RUSH HOUR  (now a CBS television series) a military thriller novel, ACID TEST, published by Ballantine Books; and an action comedy film, MAXIMUM IMPACT, directed Andrzej Bartkowiak, to be released in 2017.

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