American Film Institute Receives $3 Million Gift From Trustee Emeritus Lawrence Herbert To Establish Alumni Center, Digital Portal

Lawrence Herbet AFI
Lawrence Herbert; the AFI logo Shutterstock; AFI

The American Film Institute announced on Wednesday it has received a $3 million gift from AFI Trustee Emeritus Lawrence Herbert to establish the Lawrence Herbert Alumni Center on the AFI Campus in Los Angeles. The gift will also establish a digital portal, called AFI Backlot, to magnify the center’s reach to AFI alumni globally.

The leadership gift from Herbert is part of AFI’s “Focus on the Future” campaign to ensure alumni have every opportunity to continue their successes once they graduate. The grant will enable AFI to increase its Alumni Affairs staff capacity, technical infrastructure and physical resources. The center’s programs will provide career development resources for alumni, engage AFI’s network of mentors to support alumni and champion their accomplishments.

“This gift will prove transformational for AFI alumni — and for the future of the art form,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI President and CEO. “Mr. Herbert’s continued commitment to AFI will inspire the careers of America’s next generation of storytellers.

“Film is the universal language of our modern day,” said Herbert. “And the AFI Conservatory is educating new and inspiring voices. At this time in history, it is my honor to create a place at AFI that will drive the future of this global connection between all of us who love a story well-told.”

Herbert joined the AFI Board of Trustees in 1987 and served until 2017. He is the former chairman and CEO of Pantone, Inc., and developed the Pantone Matching System, a global standard for communication of color.

Just last month, the AFI Movie Club was inagurated. The initiative is designed to be “a daily virtual gathering to leverage our collective love of film on behalf of optimism in this time of global uncertainty.” Steven Spielberg, an AFI Trustee and 1995 recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award, introduced the first movie chosen — 1939’s Oscar-winning classic The Wizard of Oz .

The AFI Conservatory opened its doors in 1969 to an inaugural class that included Terrence Malick, Caleb Deschanel and Paul Schrader. Today, the Conservatory offers a two-year MFA degree in six filmmaking disciplines: Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design and Screenwriting. In a collaborative production environment, AFI Fellows learn to master the art of storytelling, collectively creating up to 175 films a year. Fellows actively participate in the entire life cycle of a film, from development through production and exhibition.

Alumni of this elite program, ranging from modern masters to bold new voices defining the state of the art form, include Andrea Arnold, Darren Aronofsky, Ari Aster, Sam Esmail, Brad Falchuk, Liz Hannah, Patty Jenkins, Janusz Kamiński, Matthew Libatique, David Lynch, Melina Matsoukas, Polly Morgan, Rachel Morrison and Wally Pfister, among others.

Established in 1967, the American Film Institute is the nation’s non-profit organization dedicated to educating and inspiring artists and audiences through initiatives that champion the past, present and future of the moving image. AFI’s pioneering programs include filmmaker training at the AFI Conservatory; year-round exhibition at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center and at AFI Festivals across the nation; workshops aimed at increasing diversity in the storytelling community; honoring today’s masters through the AFI Life Achievement Award and AFI AWARDS; and scholarly efforts such as the AFI Catalog of Feature Films that uphold film history for future generations.

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