Idyllwild Arts: Shut Up and Listen

Published : Tuesday, November 7, 2017 | 12:20 PM

“Anybody can make a movie out of their house now that has the look of a big Hollywood production.”

Jon Alvord, in his second year of teaching Film & Digital Media at Idyllwild Arts Academy, doesn’t mean that filmmaking requires no skill.

“But if you can learn the skills, the technology costs a fraction of what it did when I was new to the industry.”

That wasn’t long ago: Jon graduated from USC in 1992. He began as a student of makeup effects, moving later into editing and visual effects. He established professional credibility by surviving as a member of the team led by the gifted but notoriously demanding film editor Dennis Virkler for Batman Forever (1995).

“Technology has changed the industry, but the challenges of working with the people in it are the same. Idyllwild students learn that they need to be ready to work impossibly long hours and to be told all day long that they know nothing.”

Jon makes work in the film industry sound like something only a passionate movie-lover could want.

“That was me,” he says. “I’m from three generations of attorneys, but my parents always supported my love of film.”

Conveying that love—and the necessity to sacrifice oneself in order to consummate it—to students is something he admits he “fell into” in 2007, during an industry strike. To pay the bills he started teaching at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), in Georgia.

While there, Jon edited teaching colleague Annette Haywood-Carter’s Savannah, in 2013. Bringing him to Idyllwild was only a matter of time once she became the Academy’s Film & Digital Media Chair, two years later.

“The biggest thing I learned by working for pros like Dennis Virkler was to shut up and listen. It’s still a great lesson.”


Idyllwild Arts, 52500 Temecula Road, Idyllwild, CA 92549-0038, (951) 659-2171 or visit





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