Relativity School Offering BFA Degrees Despite Studio's Bankruptcy

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Students at Relativity School.

Students at the school, which is financed independently of the struggling Relativity Media, can take courses like Stage Combat 1: Unarmed & Single Sword and, yes, Entertainment Finance.

Ryan Kavanaugh has had some pretty far-out ideas while running Relativity Media — like the time he tried to turn the rooftop of the Sofitel hotel near the studio's Beverly Hills offices into his own private helicopter pad — but none has been more out-of-the-box than Relativity School, the first accredited four-year college launched by a Hollywood film studio.

Kavanaugh greenlighted the school two years ago, opening a campus at downtown's Los Angeles Center Studios. So far it's doing pretty well — at least better than Kavanaugh's film company. "For acting students, it's an opportunity to train while immersed in a studio setting," says Glenn Kalison, director of Relativity School. "The students are right in the middle of it. The first class came in 2014, just as Mad Men was shooting its finale at L.A. Center. The school inherited some of the sets."

You'd think there would be a downside to getting your undergraduate degree from a school created by a studio — particularly one that went bankrupt a year after classrooms opened. Fortunately for its 76 students, though, Relativity School is independently financed (it's accredited through Hussian College in Philadelphia), so it didn't get tangled in Relativity's Chapter 11 restructuring. Instead, students (the first graduating class will receive degrees in 2018) can continue pursuing their BFAs by taking such courses as Stage Combat 1: Unarmed & Single Sword, History of Broadway & Popular Song and — a class Kavanaugh probably should have taken — Entertainment Finance.

This story first appeared in the May 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.