SOAPIFF hosts veteran movie executive–producer at Pellissippi State

Adam Leipzig is the former president of National Geographic Films, a past senior vice president at Walt Disney Studios, and a longtime film and theatre producer. Many of the films he has been directly involved with—“March of the Penguins,” “Dead Poets Society,” “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”—have become household names. He has also launched more than 300 theatre productions and performance events, written for the New York Times and other publications, designed and built four successful businesses, and consulted with dozens more. He currently serves as the publisher and managing editor of the popular online magazine Cultural Weekly.

You want to make that movie? You need an insider. You need someone who knows filmmaking and Hollywood and sits comfortably at the intersection of creative culture and business.

Meet Adam Leipzig, a former movie executive, an independent producer and the speaker for the Seventh Annual Southern Appalachian International Film Festival at Pellissippi State Community College.

The film festival runs Nov. 12-17 at the college’s five sites: the Hardin Valley, Division Street, Magnolia Avenue, and Strawberry Plains campuses in Knox County and the Blount County Campus.

Leipzig’s remarks follow the showing of the classic film “Dead Poets Society,” a movie he was directly involved with, and they precede the screening of another popular project he acquired, “March of the Penguins.” He’s set to speak at 6:45 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 12, at the Hardin Valley Campus.

With 25 years of experience making movies, Leipzig has plenty of insights about the process of filmmaking.

“I will share behind-the-scenes stories about each movie,” he said. “I’ll pull back the curtain about how movies really get made and what happens off screen.”

Leipzig rose through the ranks at Walt Disney and saw it grow into a big studio with more productions and critical successes. Initially, Leipzig was one of eight executives working in the creative group, which also included legendary Hollywood executives Jeffrey Katzenberg and Michael Eisner.

“After six years, those eight people had become 130 people and we split into three different divisions, and I had been promoted up and up,” Leipzig said. “I was no longer doing at the studio what I came to do, which was make movies. I had been promoted up so far that there were lots of people intermediating the process.”

Leipzig struck out on his own as an independent producer and got the chance to lead a new venture, National Geographic Films.

“In 2003, National Geographic asked me to design a strategy for their successful presence in the motion picture business, which I did. Then they asked me to become the president of that company,” he said.

These days, Leipzig consults, writes, and talks about something integral to moviemaking and close to his heart: creativity. He currently serves as publisher and managing editor of the popular online magazine Cultural Weekly ( The publication examines how creative culture intersects with media, money, technology and entertainment.

He also believes in sharing his experiences with aspiring filmmakers and college students. To that end, he is writing two books on filmmaking.

“Inside Track for Independent Filmmakers: Get Your Movie Made, Get Your Movie Seen, and Turn the Tables on Hollywood” will be available as an e-book in December and as a trade paperback in January 2013. He will be pre-selling autographed first editions at the festival. Leipzig is also co-writing “Filmmaking in the 21st Century,” a new college textbook for Bedford/St. Martin’s (Macmillan). He anticipates its publication in late 2014.

Leipzig’s visit is sponsored by SOAPIFF, the Tennessee Consortium for International Studies, and Pellissippi State’s Art and Media Technologies programs.

View the SOAPIFF screening schedule for Pellissippi State at To learn more about the college, visit or call (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State presents Nov. 29 open house for prospective students, families

Pellissippi State Community College hosts “Pellissippi Preview,” an open house for prospective students of all ages on Thursday, Nov. 29, 5:30-8 p.m. The event takes place in the Goins Administration Building on the Hardin Valley Campus. Family members also are encouraged to attend.

Pellissippi Preview attendees will have the opportunity to meet current students, faculty and staff. There will be a “browse session” for prospective students to talk to faculty and staff about all areas of college life: choosing a major, applying for admission, and pursuing financial aid and scholarships. The event includes presentations by Enrollment Services (Admissions) and Financial Aid as well.

High school seniors in attendance are eligible to win one of two $250 scholarships provided by the Pellissippi State Foundation.

Pellissippi State has nearly 11,000 students at its five sites: Blount County Campus, Division Street Campus, Hardin Valley Campus, Magnolia Avenue Campus and the new Strawberry Plains Campus.

Participants are asked to RSVP to

To learn more about the open house, call (865) 694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or

Film festival returns to Pellissippi State with screenings at all five campuses

With theater screenings at all five Knox and Blount county campuses of Pellissippi State Community College, East Tennessee film enthusiasts will have a myriad of viewing options during the upcoming seventh annual Southern Appalachian Film Festival.

Scheduled for Nov. 12-17, SOAPIFF promotes and preserves the work of independent filmmakers. It also encourages film production and film culture in Southern Appalachia.

The six-day festival is sponsored by the Tennessee Consortium for International Studies. TnCIS ( is located on the Hardin Valley Campus of Pellissippi State. The Hardin Valley Campus is in Knox County, as are the Division Street, Magnolia Avenue and Strawberry Plains campuses. The Blount County Campus is the fifth of the college’s locations.

SOAPIFF features full-length and short films in the following genres: Appalachian, art/experimental, children’s, cultural minorities, documentary, environmental, foreign/international, gender/women’s, gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender, independent and young filmmakers.

As part of this year’s festival, SOAPIFF welcomes film industry veteran Adam Leipzig to Pellissippi State. Leipzig, who has served as a Disney executive and as director of National Geographic Films, has brought more than 25 movies to the screen. A reception in his honor takes place on Nov. 12 at 6:45 p.m. in the Goins Building Auditorium on the Hardin Valley Campus.

The director of one of the documentaries being screened also makes an appearance. Documentarian Nancy Ghertner, who directed “After I Pick the Fruit,” visits the Hardin Valley Campus on Nov. 13. The screening of her film begins at 7:55 p.m. in the Goins Building Auditorium.

SOAPIFF also brings to Knoxville a well-known international artist, Lori Zimmerman. Zimmerman presents and discusses current trends in fiber art on Nov. 13 at noon in the gallery of the Bagwell Center for Media and Art on the Hardin Valley Campus.

A complete schedule of SOAPIFF screenings and activities can be found at

For more about Pellissippi State, call (865) 694-6400 or visit To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or

Pellissippi State announces Veterans Day activities

The campuses of Pellissippi State Community College have events scheduled throughout the week leading up to Veterans Day. Veterans Day is celebrated Monday, Nov. 12, to honor veterans for their service.

Here are the highlights of the activities:

Hardin Valley Campus

  • Thursday and Friday, Nov. 8-9—The campus hosts a display called “In Their Own Words.” The exhibit is a collection of stories, photos, and memorabilia by Pellissippi State veterans and their loved ones. The display is in the Rotunda of the Goins Building.
  • Thursday, Nov. 8, 7:30 a.m.—Pellissippi State presents a breakfast for veterans in the Cafeteria Annex of the Goins Building.
  • Thursday, Nov. 8, 11:30 a.m.—Gathering to thank veterans for their service. Cake and punch will be served in the Rotunda of the Goins Building.

The Hardin Valley Campus is located at 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

Blount County Campus

  • Thursday and Friday, Nov. 8-9—The campus hosts a display of veterans’ memorabilia in the William “Keith” McCord Lobby.
  • Friday, Nov. 9, 10:30 a.m.—Pellissippi State thanks veterans for their service at a gathering in the McCord Lobby. Cake will be served.
  • Monday, Nov. 12, 2:30 p.m.—The campus hosts the “Military Uniform Through the Eyes of God,” a presentation by veteran Thomas Vananda in the West Chevrolet Auditorium. The event is sponsored by the Blount County Bible Club.

The Blount County Campus is located at 2731 W. Lamar Alexander Pkwy., Friendsville.

Magnolia Avenue Campus

  • Friday, Nov. 9, 9:30 a.m.—Participants gather in the plaza to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” There will be a display of military memorabilia provided by staff, faculty and students. Cake will be served in the Lobby.
  • Nov. 9, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.—Luncheon for veterans by invitation only has been scheduled in the campus Community Room. Retired Major Max Lemons will be the luncheon speaker and his topic will be “Words of Encouragement.”

The Magnolia Avenue Campus is located at 1610 E. Magnolia Ave.

Strawberry Plains Campus

  • Tuesday, Nov. 6, 10 a.m.—A screening of the movie “The Guardian” is scheduled in Room 2500 on the main floor. Popcorn will be served.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 7—It’s Camo Day, and Pellissippi State is giving away footballs and lanyards donated by the National Guard. Pellissippi State’s Service-Learning program oversees the giveaway.
  • Thursday, Nov. 8, 9:30 a.m.—American Legion Post 104 will raise the flag, display a military vehicle and set up a rock-climbing wall. Volunteers and canines with Smoky Mountain Service Dogs also will be present. The nonprofit group trains dogs to help people with disabilities, including disabled veterans.

The Strawberry Plains Campus is located at 7210 Strawberry Plains Pike.

To learn more about Pellissippi State, call (865) 694-6400 or visit

To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or

Pellissippi State student artist displays landscapes at Strawberry Plains Campus

The oil landscapes of artist and Pellissippi State Community College student Matthew Lawson are now on display in the Lobby of the College’s Strawberry Plains Campus. Lawson is the first artist to exhibit a collection at the newly opened campus, but Mike North, campus dean, says he hopes to see many more.

“At the start of the year, the staff and I talked about wanting to bring art on campus,” said North. “We talked about wanting it to come from the community here and, ideally, a student. That’s exactly what happened when we learned about Matt’s artwork, and we’re excited to feature him at the Strawberry Plains Campus.”

The community is invited to view Lawson’s paintings Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and Tuesday and Thursday, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. The campus is at 7201 Strawberry Plains Pike.

Lawson’s painting career began, ironically, when he couldn’t join other students in an art class at Carter High School. His classmates were working with clay, but because of allergies, Lawson sat in the hallway painting. His teacher took a photograph of him and asked him to paint a self-portrait. The painting was entered into an art contest sponsored by VSA, the international organization on arts and disability. Ultimately, it was displayed around the country, even spending time in the Smithsonian.

That success, coupled with the inspiration Lawson got by watching artist Bob Ross on television, spurred him to pursue oil painting. So far, the aspiring pharmacist has given all his paintings to family members.

For more information about the display, call (865) 694-6400 or email Catherine Adaska,

Testing deadlines announced for prospective Pellissippi State Nursing students

Students who wish to apply for admission to the Nursing program at Pellissippi State Community College for fall 2013 have a critical testing deadline to meet before the start of February 2013.

New applicants must complete the TEAS V (Test of Essential Academic Skills, version 5) exam no later than Jan. 31. Day, evening and weekend testing hours are available.

Although the deadline is three months away, testing slots fill quickly, so early registration is recommended. Classes for the fall 2013 term begin in August.

Nursing applications and transcripts also must be submitted to Pellissippi State by the deadline of Jan. 31. Admission to Pellissippi State is required before applying to the Nursing program.

The TEAS V exam is offered at all five locations of Pellissippi State. The cost of the test is $40. Registration may be completed online at

For more information on the exam, call (865) 694-6400 or visit

Pellissippi State hosts art exhibit featuring student study abroad perceptions

Scott McGugin's "Tracks of Confusion"

A dictionary definition of “paper trail” explains that it is “documentary evidence of one’s actions … a track record of opinions that tells, literally, where one is coming from.”

For art and culture enthusiasts, “Paper Trail” is an exhibit at Pellissippi State Community College that offers attendees the chance to experience cities such as Vienna and Rome through the eyes of student artists.

Slated for Nov. 6-23, “Paper Trail” features drawings, photos and sketchbooks created by Pellissippi State students who studied abroad in Austria and Italy during the summer 2012 Tennessee Consortium for International Studies programs. The collection explores landscapes, people, food, and cultures the students encountered while studying photography, drawing, art history, and economics.

TnCIS is sponsoring the exhibit. The consortium, which is headquartered at Pellissippi State, coordinates study abroad opportunities as part of its mission of boosting international experience and culture in higher education across the state. The organization provides affordable, high-quality study abroad opportunities to students enrolled at Pellissippi State and other Tennessee Board of Regents institutions.

More than 400 students and 50 faculty from Tennessee—183 students and 22 faculty from Pellissippi State—participated in this past summer’s study abroad. TnCIS has planned 18 study abroad programs for summer 2013.

“Paper Trail” is one of the events that make up Pellissippi State’s new arts series, The Arts at Pellissippi State. The series brings to the community cultural activities ranging from music and theatre to international celebrations, lectures and the fine arts.

An opening reception is scheduled for Nov. 8, 3-5 p.m. Regular exhibit hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The showing is in the gallery of the Bagwell Center for Media and Art on the Hardin Valley Campus. The reception and exhibit are free and open to the public. Group tours from schools, art classes or artist groups are welcome and may be arranged with advance notice.

To learn more or to schedule a group tour of the exhibit, call (865) 694-6400 or email Linnette Legg at To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or

International photographer to speak at Pellissippi State

His clients range from the National Basketball Association and Cigar Aficionado Magazine to Continental Airlines and the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.

Photographer Patrice Argant, a native of France whose work has included extensive travel throughout Asia and Africa, maintains studios in Manhattan and in Knoxville. On Nov. 5, he offers a presentation on his photography at Pellissippi State Community College. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.

Argant’s images have appeared on multiple national and international magazine covers, and his fine art pieces have served as the focus of exhibits in the United States and France. The photographer has produced work for the news industry, as well as for the fashion and advertising fields.

The presentation by Argant is one of the events that make up Pellissippi State’s new arts series, The Arts at Pellissippi State. The series brings to the community cultural activities ranging from music and theatre to international celebrations, lectures and the fine arts.

The event takes place 6:30-8 p.m. in the Goins Building Auditorium on the Hardin Valley Campus. Plenty of free parking is available.

For additional information about Argant’s presentation or The Arts at Pellissippi State,” call (865) 694-6400 or visit To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or

Two-for-one special on handgun carry-permit class at Pellissippi State

Always a popular course, the Tennessee Handgun Carry-Permit Class at Pellissippi State Community College is sure to fill up quickly, thanks to special two-for-one pricing on the Saturday, Nov. 17, session at the Hardin Valley Campus.

The non-credit course is being offered through Pellissippi State’s Business and Community Services Division at the rate of $75 for any two students who register at the same time. Space is limited, and one person must register both students simultaneously in order for the two-for-one rate to apply.

Those who satisfactorily complete the eight-hour course earn a certificate to apply for a state carry permit. Completion of this or another training course is required before applying for a Tennessee handgun carry permit.

The Pellissippi State course covers handgun parts, function, and operation; safety, cleaning, and storage; legal responsibilities of carrying a handgun; course review and testing; and firing range exercises.

Included are four to five hours of classroom instruction and approximately three hours of range training. The person leading the class is certified both as a firearms instructor with the National Rifle Association and as a handgun instructor with the state of Tennessee.

The course meets at the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road, for classroom instruction. Range training takes place at the John Sevier Hunter Education Center, 2327 Rifle Range Road. Class hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Students must supply their own gun and ammunition. A $5 range fee for each student is payable to the instructor during class.

Two additional sessions of the course will be offered before the end of 2012 for those unable to attend the two-for-one class on Nov. 17. The regular rate of $65 per person applies to classes offered on Dec. 1 at Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus and on Dec. 15 at the Hardin Valley Campus.

For information or registration, visit or call (865) 694-6400. The BCS website also lists updated class scheduling and information on new course offerings.

Pellissippi State professor gives input to improve math understanding in Tennessee

Dave Vinson has taught college students at Pellissippi State Community College math for the past 21 years. Now the associate professor is taking on an educational challenge aimed at a younger population.

Vinson has agreed to serve as Tennessee’s lead math curriculum writer for a project that could potentially change the way high school math is taught and learned. The Tennessee Board of Regents, the college’s governing body, contacted Vinson when the Tennessee Higher Education Commission sought TBR’s input on someone to work on the project.

The project is being done for the Southern Regional Education Board. SREB is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works with member states to improve public pre-kindergarten through grade 12 and higher education.

SREB is targeting high school seniors, after tests revealed that many haven’t comprehended previously taught math skills. Vinson is leading the team on restructuring the curriculum.

“The format is a modified version of what are called ‘active learning strategies,’” Vinson said. “In a pure active learning format, there are no lectures. The teacher moderates, but the goal is to get the students in a small group using the math skills they’re supposed to already know. The lessons, as designed, cannot be completed without an understanding of these forgotten skills. This is especially good for students who don’t learn well by sitting and listening.”

The hope is that having actively participated in the learning and recall process in high school, students will better understand the math they were taught early on. If so, they will be better prepared for college math, and some will be able to avoid developmental prerequisites.

Once the SREB curriculum is complete, it will become public domain. If state legislators ultimately decide to embrace the material, Vinson believes it will have a direct impact on future college freshmen.

The project is part of a larger push by SREB to develop math and English curricula that will help students who graduate from high school be better prepared to succeed in first-year college courses. The undertaking is grounded in Common Core State Standards that have been adopted by 45 states. Those standards dictate the skills that students should have mastered at each grade level.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators and experts to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare students for college and the workforce.

For more information on Vinson’s role in the project, call (865) 694-6400. To learn more about Pellissippi State in general, call 694-6400 or visit

Pellissippi State Community College, Knoxville, TN