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CNN Today

Hollywood Filmmakers Educate Cuban Film Students

Aired June 26, 2000 - 1:57 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: For generations Cubans have done without a lot of things their neighbors take for granted.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: That includes 80-foot monsters and spaceships that fly at the speed of light, but not for much longer.

WATERS: That's good news.

CNN's John Zarrella reports Cubans finally are learning some of America's most lucrative secrets: cinematic special effects.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Godzilla has come to Havana. Students studying film-making here watched the creature beat up New York. Then the people who brought the beast to life on the big screen taught them how it was done.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want to, you know, pan with the creature and run with the people in the streets and stuff like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZARRELLA: A program sponsored by San Diego State University has brought some of Hollywood's brightest animators and special effects wizards and photographers to Cuba. For two weeks the experts who worked on films like Godzilla, Titanic, and Stuart Little are teaching young film-makers here how to create special effects and how to use them to enhance their work.

CLAUDIA FERNANDEZ, FILM STUDENT: When I realized these were the guys of that kind of films, I said, "Wow! This is going to be huge."

ZARRELLA: The technology needed for "gee whiz" effects hasn't been available to Cuban film-makers. Compared to Hollywood, their efforts were rudimentary. Now with a desktop computer and inexpensive software, the magic is no longer out of reach.

KEN WIATRAK, DIRECTOR: The situation and the technology in effects is changing and its gotten to the point where they can now start to dream and start to think up using special effects in the stories that they create. ORIEL HERRERA, FILM STUDENT: If you have the right tools, and the right software and mainly the idea, I think you are all set.

ZARRELLA: It may still be a while before the use of computer- generated magic takes hold in Cuba. Money, even for basic computers and software, is extremely tight. And beyond that, there's a bit of a philosophical difference. The Cubans emphasize story telling and content in their films. Hollywood, they say, is all flash and little substance.

(on camera): The Hollywood experts say they hope the students have gained from them at least one thing: a realization that a world of new possibilities is available if they want it. And it's only a computer click away.

John Zarrella, CNN, Havana.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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