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October 05, 2018

La Roche College Announces Changes to Film, Video and Media Program and Creates Filmmaker-in-Residence Position

 PITTSBURGH, Oct. 5, 2018 – La Roche College’s Film, Video and Media (FVM) program recently underwent innovative changes, including the creation of a filmmaker-in-residence position.

Crystal Fortwangler, Ph.D. is the University’s first filmmaker-in-residence. She earned her undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown; her master’s in international relations from the University of Chicago and her doctorate in anthropology and natural resources from the University of Michigan.

Dr. Fortwangler’s film about the influx of green iguanas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, “It Ain’t Easy Being Green,” was accepted into 12 film festivals, and was named Best Documentary in one and Best Short Film in another.

La Roche now offers FVM courses in a blended classroom format that combines online materials from LinkedIn Learning with in-person instruction from Dr. Fortwangler. Each week students access and view a playlist Dr. Fortwangler creates. The students then meet with her in a film and video colloquium where they explore filmmaking and work on group projects. Teaching assistant Rishi Sethi, a Pittsburgh-based filmmaker who has worked on numerous film crews, provides day-to-day support.

“Using in-depth, well-produced, expert material from LinkedIn Learning, along with the face-to-face classroom collaborative experience with our filmmaker-in-residence, really gives students the best of both worlds,” Jeff Ritter, Ph.D., department chair of communications, media and technology, said.

Prior to this semester, students in the FVM program took classes at Pittsburgh Filmmakers, which has since cancelled those programs. La Roche students will still be able to meet and work with local and national filmmakers either in person or via Skype during the weekly film colloquium. Upcoming presentations include Meg Koleck on the topic of 360 video production and a teleconference with Ricardo Sarmiento, a cinematographer and first camera on Spike Lee’s recent film, “BlacKkKlansman.”

“Not only will students learn from online tutorials, but they will have access to people who work in the field,” Dr. Fortwangler said. “One of my goals is to keep students connected to the broad and diverse Pittsburgh film community.”

To learn more about the Film, Video and Media program, visit


About La Roche University: A private liberal arts college in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, La Roche University offers more than 50 undergraduate majors, six graduate degree programs and one doctoral program, with particular strengths in education, business, criminal justice, psychology, and health and medical sciences as well as interior design and graphic design. This residential college provides a vibrant campus community for more than 1,400 men and women enjoying 30-plus student organizations and an exciting NCAA Div. III athletics program. Founded by the Sisters of Divine Providence in 1963, La Roche University embraces its Catholic heritage while welcoming people of all faiths and backgrounds. With a legacy of social justice and a commitment to international exchange, La Roche University educates students to be lifelong learners and achievers in an increasingly diverse and global society.