About ACM

UHWO ACM Building
UHWO ACM Building Exterior (Photo Credit: Gensler/Ryan Gobuty)

THE IDEA FOR THE ACADEMY FOR CREATIVE MEDIA SYSTEM began in 2002 in response to the long held desire to establish a “film school” at the University of Hawai‘i.  Hawaiʻi-raised Hollywood executive Chris Lee was hired to explore options for UH. Mr. Lee spent a year on  meetings and consultations on all ten campuses throughout the islands with faculty, administrators, students and staff of the university. In addition,  he visited local high school media programs, met with the Governor, members of the Legislature, the business community, and craftspeople in the local motion picture and television industry. 

What emerged from these discussions were two guiding questions: 

  1. How do we make this an opportunity to move Hawai‘i’s economy away from our over reliance on the service industry and keep our talented students in the islands with living wage jobs in this field?
  2. How do we tell visual stories that are true to ourselves and speak to the broadest possible audience?

The result was a more encompassing proposal to start with a traditional single campus program focused on filmmaking and grow into a system-wide endeavor designed as a catalyst for developing 21st century jobs in the global creative marketplace right here in Hawai‘i and as a platform for our indigenous stories to be told through cinema, video games, computer animation, and emerging media.

In January, 2004, the University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents officially approved the Academy for Creative Media (ACM) noting, “the ACM will engage all of the campuses within the University of Hawai‘i system and will work collaboratively across the system, drawing upon programs, faculty, and students system-wide. Because of the challenges associated with building a media school from the ground up in the 21st century, ACM’s initial strategy is to leverage existing resources and faculty assets across the ten-campus University of Hawai‘i system.” (Collaborative Minutes of the Regents’ Committee on Academic Affairs January 15, 2004 Page 3)

UHWO ACM Building Interior (Photo Credit: Gensler/Ryan Gobuty)

By leveraging UH’s existing creative media assets and responsibly building new ones where needed, ACM System recognizes that content production in all its forms — films, television, software, video games, immersive environments, VR/AR, animation, visual effects, smart phone applications,  social and transmedia  production — offer Hawai‘i our best chance of diversifying our economy.

Why? Broadband connects us to the global economy in ways that ships and planes cannot. Generating creative intellectual property only requires realizing the natural talent of our students; it doesnʻt require importation of raw materials and the physical shipping of the finished product, vast tracks of land or resources that threaten our environment, or relocation to the mainland in success.

But ACM System is also founded on the proposition that creative media skills cut across all disciplines and are essential tools for employment in virtually any field today. Whether you’re looking for a job in an office, a hotel, a restaurant, or teaching, any potential employer would prefer someone who can be the in-house YouTube producer, build a smart phone app for the business, create an animation to demonstrate a product or simply be able to tell a story visually through social media. Creative Media Literacy for all students is at the heart of ACM Systemʻs educational philosophy.

ACM System also embraces the Do It Yourself/Employ Yourself model that stresses entrepreneurship, building your own brand, and utilizing free, global platforms to market your IP to the world. Beyond that, ACM System is dedicated to fostering UH’s emerging strengths in Computational Media – the nexus of science with art and storytelling – bringing together students and faculty in Creative Media, Computer Science, and Engineering to lead Hawaii’s growing Innovation and Maker Economy.

Starting with the founding of what is now called the UHM ACM:School of Cinematic Arts in 2004 and the creation of the Transmedia School at UHWO ACM in 2013, ACM System now supports UH Maui College ACM, Kauaʻi  Community College Creative Media, Honolulu Community Collegeʻs Music and Entertainment Learning Experience (MELE), Kapiolani Community Collegeʻs New Media Arts, Windward Community College ACM Conservatory of Performing Arts, UH Mānoa ESports, UH Mānoa Electrical Engineering Ambient Computing Lab, UH Mānoa Laboratory for Advanced Visualization & Applications (LAVA), Hawaiʻi Community College Hilo Creative Media, UH Hilo Arts and Computer Science,  Leeward Community College Digital Media and TVPro for the Web, and UH West Oʻahuʻs ʻUluʻulu: the Henry Kuʻualoha Giugni Moving Image Archive of Hawaiʻi.  Collectively, the ACM supported campuses make up the first system-wide program in UH history, with articulation agreements between all seven community colleges to UHWO ACM.  Most recently, ACM System opened our $37 million dollar Student Production Center at UHWO ACM – the most advanced production and post production facility in the state and technologically equal to any film school in the world. ACM System is part of the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation at the University of Hawaiʻi.

Mahalo and e komo mai!

Dolby Atmos Theater
Dolby Atmos Theater