Dr. Sheila Laffey lectures on the importance of green screens

Students and community members congregated to Santa Monica College's Bundy campus last Tuesday to attend the last installment of the spring Environmental Lecture Series. Dr. Sheila Laffey, SMC professor and environmental filmmaker headlined the event, speaking to attendees about an ever-growing number of social and environmental documentaries. "We are in a golden age of documentaries.There is a whole range of incredible environmental films," said Laffey.

A part time professor, Dr. Laffey teaches several film studies courses at SMC including Green Screen: Films on the Environment and Transformation, a course which revolves around ‘green films.' "First of all, we study the dynamics of film; the second goal is to understand the environmental issues and to see what we might be able to do," said Laffey.

Dr. Laffey started teaching in 1979 at Ithica College in New York. She has directed and or produced numerous films, most recently Heroes at Ballona Wetlands, which has won several awards including Best Documentary at the ION Film Festival, Los Angeles. All of Laffey's films reflect her passion for the environmental movement.

Laffey's lecture exposed attendees to a slew of social and environmental films covering a diverse range of subjects. She screened trailers and showed clips from several films, giving the audience a sample of her Green Screen course. Among others, Laffey introduced I Am, a film by Tom Shadyac, director of Ace Ventura and Bruce Almighty among many other films.

After a near fatal bike accident, Shadyac set out to ask two questions: what is wrong with the world?, and what can we do about it? This film, said Laffey, compliments the newly added aspect of her Green Screen course. This is the first semester Laffey has included transformation in the Green Screen course title saying: "How can we expect to change the world, if we ourselves have karma that we haven't worked through?"

Laffey's lecture fell in keeping with the goal of the Environmental Lecture Series which has covered topics like electric cars, water issues, and sustainable living practices. Geography and environmental science professor William Selby hosts the lectures. "This is part of our Environmental and Urban Issues Lecture Series" said Selby, "our center for Environmental andUrban Studies sponsors the lecture series."

Neha Sharma, one of Selby's students, is an environmental studies major and works for the Santa Monica based non-profit, Sustainable Works. "I eat, live, and breathe this," said Sharma, "I like these lectures because they invite people to become more active."