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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

A life in film

Film instructor Nathan Schemel brings his experience as is a new addition to City College’s faculty. Tony Wallin | [email protected]


Wheeling more than 100 pounds of camera equipment into the room, professor Nathan Schemel sets up a complicated system of metal poles, gears, and wheels that grip across the room as his students watch, fascinated and bemused. With the film lights turned on and heating up the room, he shows how it works with ease.

Schemel, 34, teaches filmmaking classes at City College.

“I believe the world’s full of opportunity, and being ready for that opportunity is an important part of being a professional,” the Sacramento native says.

Schemel produced a show for the Sacramento Kings called “House Party”. As a wrap-up and a set-up for Kings’ games, the show ran for five years, according to Schemel, and introduced him to his next gig: a show for the DIY network. Bill Swan presented an opportunity for Schemel to produce a show on the network called “Turf War.”

“I had the creative side, but I also had the sports mind,” says Schemel. In Swan’s eyes, Schemel says, this made him ideal for a competitive landscaping show.

A former student, Skip Smith, 55, touts  Schemel’s filmmaking experience as a major factor in the class’s effectiveness.

“It makes the difference,” he says.

Schemel initially didn’t break into filmmaking for the artistic aspect.

“If I got into filmmaking, that would give me diversity in my life,” remembers Schemel, who earned a business degree. “It wasn’t so much that I loved film as an art, it was having a life that brought new challenges to my life.”

He says he has since grown to appreciate it.
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“Call it maturity,” he laughs. “When you start to study it, you start to get into it. You see how important it is as an art form.”

When he worked in the sound department for a film directed by William Shatner of “Star Trek” fame, he says the sound department’s advice was neglected and he even experienced a 21-hour workday. But that didn’t turn him away from feature films.

“The problem with doing feature films is that you’ll work from three to six weeks, and then immediately you’ll have to find another project,” he says.

Ever the pragmatist, Schemel also says he can’t simply work for the artistic aspect of film, as he doesn’t have the luxury.

“Even TV makes people nauseous sometimes,” he jokes, referring to the inevitable cancellations that even the most successful shows face.

Opportunities have found their ways to Schemel throughout his life. Pragmatism and preparation are parts of his career, as is diversity. Schemel has made a filmmaking career in order to have a life of variety.

Now, he focuses solely on teaching and the occasional freelance work. As a new father, he also tends to his infant child.

“I enjoy teaching to light a fire in people,” he says about his job.

He takes an informal, loose approach to teaching, not adhering to any rigid structures.

“In art, rules are meant to be broken.”

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