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Greg LeSar: More Than Just a Professor

By JENNA MANTO

For Adjunct Professor of Film Greg LeSar, growing up with a sheltered childhood from a small town in Ohio sparked his initial interest in philosophy.

“I realized that I was naive and sheltered,” LeSar said. “My only sense of culture was television and movies. I was seeking different ways of looking at the world.”

Since 2009, LeSar has taught at UT and now teaches Sound, Image, and Motion as well as a theory course for beginners, called Digital Citizenship, with a focus on learning how new modes of communication are used and how they can be implemented effectively.

“I think the best thing about teaching and learning is that you can have fun along the way,” LeSar said in a phone interview. “I tend to relate to like a sort of stand up comedian conversation. I think you can have fun and make a connection at the same time.”

Kelly Hauck, a junior communications major, is currently taking LeSar’s Sound, Image, and Motion class to fulfill her minor requirements.

“He finds different ways to help us,” Hauck said. “Last class he showed us a bunch of short films that he made and he told us what’s good and what’s not good. He gave us different examples of a lot of different films which I thought was nice because he was using his own stuff.”

She says that LeSar is passionate about teaching the course and clearly has experience.

“He’s one of my favorite professors here, if not he is my favorite professor. Just say that — ‘He is my favorite professor,’cause then maybe he’ll give me extra credit,” Hauck said jokingly.

LeSar said that his teaching philosophy is similar to great cinema: students have to be willing to connect with the material to learn something from it. Recently, LeSar was discussing the movie The Notebook, and how most people have seen it and most people end up crying by the end. “That’s great, really great, it means you connect to it with your heart but you learn about people, the world, justice and you gain wisdom from seeing it,” LeSar said.

Based off his experiences while receiving his doctorate in education, LeSar stressed that a professor must recognize that there are different learning styles and assess how his students learn in order to best teach them.

When speaking about his secret to success in the classroom, LeSar said that what really matters for college students is that their professor cares about them as individuals and cares about the work that they produce.

“It was always important for me to know that my teacher cared about what I was doing. I actually care what my students are doing and what they’re learning,” LeSar said.

LeSar also holds numerous positions across Tampa such as Resident Video Artist at The Venture Compound, teaching staff member at the Tampa Museum of Art and digital art teaching staff member at Bryan Glazer Family Jewish Community Center in Tampa. LeSar also collaborates with music video artist Justin Barnes.

Currently, LeSar is working with Barnes on, as LeSar describes, a “multi-channel audio/video installation experience that has an incredible amount of complex moving parts and involves work in disciplines like photography, ceramics, fibers and robotics.”

Before taking on these positions, LeSar graduated with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Xavier University and later on an MFA in Film and Digital Media from The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).

During his time at SCAD, LeSar was focused on listening his inner voice — “not the one that doubts you, the one that encourages you.”

“So much of what I had accomplished there has shaped me into the person I am today. Intoxicating to me, was that all of these people are there to live and work and grow in this incredibly stimulating environment where you had to be sharp and bring your best ideas to the table,” LeSar said in a pre-interview e-mail correspondence.

LeSar also mentioned a moment during his undergraduate and graduate studies where he spent a weekend at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. At this particular exhibition, he was drawn to a painting called “Girl with Ball” that had a background painted in a shade of yellow that LeSar describes as “the best yellow, the perfect yellow.” He ended up purchasing the postcard of this painting and eventually bringing it with him to The Savannah College of Art and Design. One day he went to Home Depot, scanned the postcard to this machine, and was presented with the exact same shade of yellow paint.

“I used my loan money. I painted everything this super beautiful primary yellow,” LeSar said.

He went on to say that while he is no professional painter, “There’s something so beautiful about smearing paint around and it makes me so happy.”

Upon graduating with an MFA, LeSar was faced with the question, “Now what?” His mentor and professor at SCAD advised him, “Greg, go make art.”

“So I did. I travelled the country and the world ever since and worked on all kinds of TV, movie, and art projects,” LeSar said.

Last summer LeSar worked and lived in Beijing with a Chinese contemporary arts and entertainment company, Cheetah Yassa, under executive producer and feature filmmaker Pauline Chan who Lesar describes as his “fairy godmother.” He had brought a former UT student, Michael Musselman, to work alongside him creating broadcast packages “out of thin air.”

Currently, LeSar and Musselman are co-writing a feature length screenplay auctioned by the Chinese animation company.

Jenna Manto can be reached at jenna.manto@spartans.ut.edu.

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