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Emmy-nominated film studio moving to Augustana

May  03, 2016

Fresh Films, the non-profit arm of Chicago-based Dreaming Tree Films, Inc., is in the process of moving to the campus of Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois.

Headed by Estlin Feigley '93 and Kelli Feigley, Fresh Films involves teens in the making of real science-related feature-length films and an Emmy-nominated kids' television show, Moochie Kalala Detectives' Club.  

Estlin and Kelli Feigley

Now based at Augustana, Fresh Films will form a strong academic partnership with the college. Augustana plans to work toward introducing a new media and film concentration in the fall of 2017.  

"Augustana students are already involved in the scripting process, and then this summer, another 6-12 students will be hired as production interns and paid staff, which provides a pretty dynamic learning experience," Estlin began. "Then this fall we'll work with the faculty across disciplines to begin to develop the film/media concentration."  

Then there are the career advantages. The film studio itself is a rare resource for a liberal arts college to offer undergraduates.  

"The opportunities that Fresh Films brings to Augustana students are incredibly rich," said Dr. Pareena Lawrence, provost and dean of the college. "Some of our recent alumni already have already been involved with Fresh Films and we look forward to expanding these opportunities for our current students from across the disciplines. "  

Recent Augustana interns included theatre arts and communication studies major Macy Hernandez '13 and Josh Malone '14, a theatre arts major. Malone and Hernandez are now assistant producers for Dreaming Tree Films.  

"The media and entertainment industry is a 650-billion-dollar industry," Kelli pointed out. "While Augustana creative writing majors will work on scripting the next eight episodes of Moochie Kalala Detectives Club, there will also be opportunities for students in accounting, pre-law, computer science, and any number of fields. Filmmaking goes way beyond directing."  

And for students interested in theatre arts and film? "Imagine how great could it be for your résumé if you'd actually worked with Steve Guttenberg," she added.  

Fresh Films has produced several Hollywood films and TV shows for kids, including "The Stream," "Traveling Without Moving" and "Moochie Kalala Detectives Club," which was nominated for an Emmy Award. In September, the Feigleys and their crew will take "Traveling Without Moving" on tour to schools and theatres, with a possible stop at the White House. At Augustana, they will continue working with teens, providing a stepping-stone for pre-college students.  

Estlin, who majored in history at Augustana with a minor in theatre arts, has always recommended a liberal arts degree for young filmmakers. "You can learn the technical skills in filmmaking, but to tell a story you have to have a broader knowledge base," he maintains."You have to have something to say and talk about."

Sam Schlouch
Senior Communication Director
(309) 794-7833