The Goldroom, a hub of film equipment located in Chapman University’s Marion Knott Studios, is home to about 10,000 gadgets which students can check out free of charge. Despite the seeming convenience of having a range of professional equipment available upon request, many students are unsatisfied with how the Goldroom functions on a day-to-day basis.
“It’s over-impacted and we need more equipment. I’m shooting my AP soon and we’re worried about not being able to get the equipment we need if other productions are renting it out,” said Scarlett Turner, a junior film production major.
If the Goldroom does not have the equipment Turner needs, she will have to spend more money to rent it from another production company.
Dodge College of Film and Media Arts has 1,465 enrolled students, and was ranked as the sixth best film school in the nation in The Hollywood Reporter’s 2017 list. Marion Knott Studios, a 76,000-square-foot building designed to replicate a working production studio, is Dodge’s crown jewel. It houses sound stages, classrooms, computer labs, editing suites, and the Goldroom. Considering Dodge’s high ranking and professional grade facilities, some students say the Goldroom makes it hard to get the equipment they need without complications.
“The past two projects I have done have been stressful communicating with the Goldroom,” said Madi Geihs, a junior TV writing and production major. “I ordered the equipment on a Monday and said I was picking it up on Friday, but they never contacted me to confirm my order and didn’t have it ready when I came in.”
The Goldroom rents out damaged equipment to students, according to Anna Maria Nicosia, a junior film production major who said the Goldroom has given her broken sound equipment in the past. Ted Morissette, a junior film production major, said broken equipment often goes unreplaced.
Tim Wolf, a Senior TV writing and producing and broadcast journalism major, claims to have even been fined for equipment that he returned.
“Multiple times I’ve turned in gear and they tell me that they will take care of it later. Then I’ll get an email that says I didn’t turn in something that I know I did, but I have no proof that I did and I get fined,” he said.
Wolf has also received broken equipment from the Goldroom that he expressed “affects the quality” of his work.
Problems like these arise between students and the Goldroom frequently, but there are some factors to consider before pointing fingers at who’s to blame.
Casey Donovan, a junior creative producing major and the longest tenured student employee to work in the Goldroom, started his job in 2015. After working there for 3 years, Donovan feels that the students are often at fault for the disagreements between them and the Goldroom.
“Sometimes students take a class one semester that allows them certain equipment, but then they take classes the following semester which do not allow that equipment, which they get angry about,” he said. “Other times, people have certain items reserved for pickup, but other patrons have not returned that equipment yet, so we have to be the bad guys to tell them they have to wait.”
Donovan believes that the “myth” of the Goldroom being understocked is often due to students’ carelessness or unrealistic expectation of the Goldroom’s abilities.
“People expect to be able to walk in and check out whatever they want on the spot which is just ridiculous. It’s this cycle of people not reserving orders and people renewing their orders too often and people returning stuff late or damaged that creates these intermittent shortages of equipment that make people so hostile toward the Goldroom.”
However, being both a Dodge student and Golroom employee, Donovan understands the struggles students face. He believes that there should be a mandatory workshop to teach students how to navigate the website portal.
“I think most students are kind of left in the dark and forced to learn it themselves. Professors don’t teach it in classes and Goldroom employees don’t have the time to explain it to every student, so it creates a divide,” he said.
The 3rd floor administrators are the ones who determine which equipment students are authorized to check out depending on their major or currently enrolled classes.
Eunyoung Kim, Dodge’s Production Operations Coordinator, works on the 3rd floor in accordance with Nick Peterson, Dodge’s Production Support Manager, who works at the Goldroom.
Peterson credits the majority of student complaints to the fact that there has been two vacant staff positions in the Goldroom.
“Everything has been falling on one person and a small crew of student employees. We have two new full-time staff members who are expected to offer insight to our producers,” he said.
In terms of broken equipment, Peterson stressed the unrealistic expectation students have in terms of quality of equipment.
“It is impossible for us to carefully inspect each of the three or four thousand items that get returned every week, so if something isn’t labelled, chances are high that the piece will go out again and impact more students,” he said.
With limited resources, it can be difficult for employees to complete repairs in the allotted turnaround time, Kim said.
“To provide all the equipment necessary for every production would be great, but that’s not the reality. More equipment needs more storage space. More equipment needs more funding. On the other hand, I believe the Goldroom provides enough equipment for smaller projects and productions,” she said.
Kim and Peterson advise all students using the Goldroom’s services to read their confirmation emails, don’t assume anything is available, and start asking for copies of their rental agreements.
Students can read Goldroom policies and procedures on ftvstudents.chapman.edu/Goldroom or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.