Local studio offers free training to veterans

The VET 200 boot camp at LIMS Studios for post-9/11 veterans provides free training for TV and film jobs, including dolly operators and grips. Courtesy photo.

A local trade school wants to put up to 200 military veterans through a different sort of boot camp, one aimed at landing them jobs in TV and film production.

LIMS, the Lifton Institute of Media Arts & Sciences, is looking for post 9/11 vets for the free 10-week entertainment industry training program at its four-acre complex.

The facility on Fantastic Lane in Castaic includes six sound stages, post-production facilities and screening rooms.

LIMS is offering free job training to military veterans because they have proven to be especially suited for jobs in film and TV production due to their military training, said Jimmy Lifton, LIMS Studios founder and president, in a statement.

The VET 200 boot camp at LIMS Studios for post-9/11 veterans provides free training for TV and film jobs, including stunts. Courtesy photo.

“The men and women coming out of the military already have the mindset, work ethic, desire and ability to work as a team, which is also imperative in production. I just find that military veterans have so much of the built-in gumption that makes an excellent crew member.”

“Certainly, if something breaks, they don’t sit there and worry about it,” he added. They fix it or work around it. And that’s a perfect movie crew member. That’s what they do.”

Once accepted, VET 200 students pay nothing out of pocket for their free job training. Tuition is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.

It took 18 months for LIMS to secure all required approvals from local, state and federal job placement authorities. The school works with U.S. Vets, AMVETS, the Salvation Army, Volunteers of America, Goodwill Industries, and state and local WorkSource centers, Lifton said.

Since starting the program for vets in 2015 with 50 students, LIMS says it has placed more than 80 percent of graduates in well-paying industry jobs in their chosen fields.

Guided by instructors, students work on production of a real 90-minute feature film for 8-10 hours daily five days a week for two and a half months – a fairly typical production timeframe – gaining first-hand experience and developing immediately marketable skills.

Students choose a department that suits their existing skills and passion, including camera/lighting, stunts, art, visual effects, production management, picture editorial, audio editing, wardrobe, and makeup and hair.

The program is designed to create stability for veterans, especially homeless veterans, by offering immersive hands-on training, job placement, and a path toward financial independence, while fulfilling the industry’s ongoing need for a dependable production workforce.

“We put up the money for people to actually work on a real feature film and give them enough time on the film to mess things up and fix the mistakes,” Lifton said. “With that kind of completely hands-on training, they can walk into a paid job position.”

Lifton’s goal is to increase enrollment to 300 and build student housing on land next to the studio. Students can come from anywhere, have to live in the Los Angeles-Hollywood-Santa Clarita Valley area during the boot camp.

The school helps with transportation and provides meals to students. Interested veterans can attend a free orientation at the studio weekdays at 10 a.m. before making a final decision.

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