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C. Thomas Lewis Donor Spotlight

C. Thomas Lewis, M.F.A, is a lecturer of Media Arts & Sciences at the School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI. He has newly established the IUPUI Media Arts and Science Capstone for Social Change Scholarship, available to MAS students interested in creating capstone film projects that encourage social change. Lewis talked to us about what lead him to establish the scholarship and what he hopes it will accomplish.

“I was thinking about the video program one day and what I could do to further benefit my students, while also encouraging more socially conscience filmmaking in the program.” Lewis remembers. “I guess my two years as co-chair of the awards committee unconsciously came to bear, because it suddenly occurred to me that I could do this by funding a scholarship toward a very specific purpose. I teach a course during the spring semester called Video for Social Change. It is one of my favorite courses and yet sometimes it struggles to fill. This might be due in part to a certain percentage of video students not considering their filmmaking potential in terms of creating socially aware, cause-driven projects. I wanted to create a scholarship to demonstrate that the video program values and encourages this type of work.” Lewis has long seen the potential for video production to help enact social change. “I firmly believe that filmmaking can effectively raise awareness of the important issues of our day and potentially effect change. I also believe our video program has a great track record of students with remarkable talent. The trick for MAS to realize a greater potential for effecting change is to better align the two; so that we start to see a critical mass of talented students focusing their efforts on exploring the potential of film to impact lives in meaningful ways. That is the intent of the scholarship.”

Lewis’s own recent filmmaking projects illustrate this commitment, and his experiences making them helped lead to the idea for this new scholarship. “In my recent years at SOIC, I have been concentrating my filmmaking efforts in Kenya and also in Scott County, Indiana to make films with local communities to address various health concerns. In the case of Kenya, it was HIV disclosure and HIV stigma. In Scott County, it is the impact of the opioid crisis. In each case, I have seen local community members take stock in what we are doing. And that positive engagement has solidified my belief that these are valuable experiences for students who are involved in the work. Bringing students into the production or post-production of these films has provided them with a strong taste of the type of filmmaking that can embolden a community. My hope is that this helps students realize that they too can create their own impactful work to address important issues. The scholarship aims to help support theses types of films.”

Lewis explains the criteria for the IUPUI Media Arts and Science Capstone for Social Change Scholarship as follows: “Students must apply for the scholarship with a proposal for a capstone film project that encourages social change. This can be either a documentary film or a narrative film. The recipient will be chosen by the awards committee. We are currently working out the specific details of the application process. Once finalized, students will be able to find the scholarship on the SOIC website where all the other scholarship opportunities are listed.” If are interested in learning how to contribute to this scholarship, or if you would like to contribute to SoIC in another way, please contact SoIC’s director of development Stacy Zearing at szearing@iupui.edu.