FACULTY

Any or all correspondence to the AFI Conservatory Faculty, please direct to the Admissions Office at admissions@afi.com.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Stephen Lighthill (ASC) | Discipline Head

Lighthill has served as cinematographer on many documentaries including GIMME SHELTER and BERKELEY IN THE '60s. His cinematography credits for independent features include OVER-UNDER, SIDEWAYS-DOWN, HOT SUMMER WINDS and SHIMMER, all produced for PBS' American Playhouse. Lighthill served as Director of Photography on the TV series VIETNAM WAR STORY, EARTH 2 and NASH BRIDGES. He returned to documentaries as the cinematographer on BOFFO! TINSELTOWN'S BOMBS AND BLOCKBUSTERS and THE ALZHEIMER'S PROJECT: CAREGIVERS, both for HBO.

He is on the Board Of Governors of the American Society of Cinematographers and the National Executive Board of the International Cinematographers Guild. In 2010, he received the Deluxe Bud Stone award for Outstanding Educational Contributions to the Art and Craft of Cinematography from the ICG, and the 2010 SMPTE Kodak Education Award for Outstanding Contributions in Film Production Education. He served as President of the American Society of Cinematographers from 2012-2013 and is annually a jury member at CAMERIMAGE cinematography festival.

Bill Dill (ASC) | Senior Lecturer

Dill holds a BA in Communication Studies from Oberlin College. His cinematography credits include SIDEWALK STORIES, B.A.P.S., DANCING IN SEPTEMBER, the Showtime TV series SOUL FOOD and the American Playhouse production of FIRES IN THE MIRROR, based on the Pulitzer-nominated play. Among many productions he has filmed for HBO are the Ace Award-winning children's program MOMMY BUY ME THAT and comedy specials for Robert Townsend, Damon Wayans and Whoopi Goldberg. Dill also lensed a Clio Award-winning commercial campaign for Nickelodeon Television Network.

JACEK LASKUS, ASC, PSC | Senior Lecturer

Born in Warsaw, Poland, Laskus is a graduate of Polish National Film Academy in Lodz. After arriving in NYC, he shot his first feature film, PARTING GLANCES. In Los Angeles he worked with directors such as Donald Petrie Sr., Robert Altman, Michael Pressman, Michael Tolkin and Academy Award®-winning directors such as Jonathan Demme and Zbigniew Rybczynski. His work includes feature films, TV films and series, music videos and documentaries.

He was nominated twice by the ASC for his work on THE CAINE MUTINY COURT-MARTIAL and GARDEN OF REDEMPTION. He was a co–cinematographer on the Academy Award–nominated full-length documentary COLORS STRAIGHT UP.

Laskus shoots films in locations all over the world including Canada, Portugal, New Zealand, Italy, Lithuania, Japan, Nepal, India, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Peru. Laskus is also a published still photographer. He is a member of the American Society of Cinematographers and of the Polish Society of Cinematographers.

Tal Lazar | Lecturer

Cinematographer Lazar's narrative repertoire includes drama, comedy, horror and, most recently, action thrillers, finding recognition at festivals across the globe. He has worked on numerous international box offices successes, with Vietnam at the forefront. Domestically, Lazar's projects have found homes in theatrical as well as online distribution.

Lazar received his MFA in Cinematography at the AFI Conservatory. He earned his BFA in Film & Television studies at Tel Aviv University, where he won the Sharet Foundation Award for Cinematography. He produced the 2004 Tel Aviv Cinematography Masterclass, and participated in the 2005 Budapest Cinematography Masterclass. In 2011, he became a Cinematography faculty member at AFI Conservatory.

Lazar was born and raised in Israel, where he served in the Israeli Defense Forces as a staff sergeant. He received the prestigious President's Award of Excellence for his service from President Ezer Weizman in 2000. Lazar is a member of the International Cinematographers Guild and resides in Los Angeles.

Larry Mole Parker | Lecturer

Executive vice president of Mole-Richardson Co. and the grandson of the company's founder, Peter Mole, Parker was instrumental in designing such familiar cinema lights as the Baby 10K and Baby 1K in the mid-'60s, as well as the Softlite line and the Litewate Banded Cable System. Parker regularly conducts workshops and seminars for film students, on the Mole-Richardson soundstage. He is an associate member of the American Society of Cinematographers.

Michael M. Pessah | Lecturer

Raised in New York, award-winning cinematographer Pessah began his career working with top commercial cinematographer as an assistant at Curious Pictures. Later, he earned a B.A. at Hampshire College, where he was a Kodak Cinematography Scholarship award finalist, and is proud to have received an MFA in Cinematography at the AFI Conservatory.

Pessah has filmed television series for networks including Lifetime, Sundance, History and Discovery. His commercial credits include spots for global brands such as AT&T, Samsonite, Pfizer, Roku, AAG, Red Bull and Anheuser-Busch.

He was named an Outfest "Five in Focus" emerging talent for his cinematography in JOSHUA TREE, 1951: A PORTRAIT OF JAMES DEAN. He was the first cinematographer to receive the recognition, and is one of the few contemporary cinematographers to have photographed two black-and-white features.

Pessah served as cinematographer on "Wrong Side of Heaven," voted Best Rock Video of 2014 by Loudwire. His unscripted work includes the documentary VIVA LA CAUSA, which was shortlisted for an Academy Award®.

Recently, Pessah was interviewed by Columbia Journalist for New York's Museum of the Moving Image retrospective on Gordon Willis, "Celebrating the Prince of Darkness." He is also a trained jazz bassist, and can occasionally be heard sitting-in with local combos when not on set.

Charles Rose | Lecturer

Like many of his professional colleagues, Rose started making Super-8 movies while in high school. He later applied and was accepted to NYU film school. In 1971, NYU partnered with others, including William S. Burroughs, in an international experiment seeking to create the "ideal" school. "The University of the New World" was born and Rose was among the members of the first entering class. The school closed 18 months later and Rose moved to Italy. His next 33 years were spent in Milan, working as a cinematographer.

He was honored in 1986 with an invitation to join the AIC (Italian Cinematographer's Guild) which was presided over by Vittorio Storaro, AIC, ASC.

Rose has worked on several features, as well as hundreds of commercials, documentary films and music videos. His work has been recognized at the Cannes, Venice, Berlin, San Sebastian, New York Clio and Tokyo film festivals.

Sandra Valde-Hansen | Lecturer

Named as one of the 2014 Generation Next cinematographers in ICG magazine, Valde-Hansen holds an MFA from the AFI Conservatory. As well as lensing political and socially conscious documentaries for Al Jazeera America (DAISY AND MAX), PBS (TALES OF MASKED MEN) and MTV (HOUSE OF STYLE), Valde-Hansen has more than fifteen independent feature credits, including JEWTOPIA, directed by Bryan Fogel; LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED, for director Kim Rocco-Shields; and SEATTLE ROAD, directed by Ryan David.

Collaborating with indie darling director Gregg Araki, Valde-Hansen lensed KABOOM, which was an official selection at the Cannes Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival. She then reteamed with Araki on WHITE BIRD IN A BLIZZARD, starring Shailene Woodley and Eva Green, which also premiered at Sundance in 2014.

Valde-Hansen worked her way up through the camera department, and was mentored by luminaries such as Steve Poster, ASC; Stephen Lighthill, ASC; and Nancy Schreiber, ASC. Born in Miami, FL, to a medical family of first generation Filipino immigrants, she received a BFA in film from Florida State University. She resides in Los Angeles and when she is not shooting, teaches in the Cinematography department at AFI.

Steve Yedlin | Guest Lecturer

Yedlin's passions and curiosity are focused on the art and science of motion imaging and photographic lighting. From the broadest emotional scope of visual storytelling to the narrowest mathematical granularity of image science, Yedlin's obsession is not exclusionary.

The cinematographer is a longtime friend and collaborator of director/writer Rian Johnson; their work together began as teenagers on short films, and has evolved today to include celebrated features THE BROTHERS BLOOM and BRICK. Their upcoming project is STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI, set for release in 2017.

Yedlin's range of work has included intense indie dramas, Hollywood visual effects spectacles, broad and dark comedies, horror films and the occasional documentary. He has an ongoing personal project of studying the finer nuances of image science, leading to the development of his own custom methods for the mathematical modeling of physical photochemical processes in order to better emulate traditional film response when using digital image acquisition.

His latest completed feature projects include DANNY COLLINS, directed by Dan Fogelman and starring Al Pacino, and SAN ANDREAS, directed by Brad Peyton and starring Dwayne Johnson.

DIRECTING

Peter Markham | Discipline Head

Markham, who holds a BA in Drama and English from Hull University in the UK, gained considerable experience in TV and film production, serving as first assistant director on Anthony Minghella's TRULY MADLY DEEPLY. Graduating from the BBC Director's Course where his final project, THE TABLE, was developed with and written by Minghella, Markham directed the extensive second unit on THE ENGLISH PATIENT. He directed THE CORMORANT starring Ralph Fiennes and subsequently directed second unit on GANGS OF NEW YORK for Martin Scorsese.

His teaching at AFI has enabled him to incorporate into the program a broad and challenging spectrum of practical and narrative craft that encompasses approaches and techniques now informing the work of alumni active in film and television.

Neema Barnette | Lecturer

Emmy®-winning producer/director Barnette has engaged audiences with a body of socially and politically charged work that defies African American stereotypes in both television and film. She holds the honor of being the first African American woman to receive a three-picture deal from a major studio — Columbia Pictures — and to direct a television sitcom.

In 2015, Barnette sold her series OF CHURCH AND STATE, centered on religion and politics in Harlem, to CBS. She also directed two episodes of BET's hit series BEING MARY JANE.

To date, Barnette has directed more than 40 hours of network television, 10 TV movies and four feature films including CIVIL BRAND and WOMAN THOU ART LOOSED: ON THE 7TH DAY, which won Best Foreign Director from the African Film Critics Association, and an NAACP Image Award nomination. CIVIL BRAND won the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) HBO Audience Blockbuster Award and the Urban World Film Festival Audience and Best Picture awards. It was also an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival and AFI FEST presented by Audi. Barnette's other accolades include a DGA Award nomination, the Sojourner Truth Award at Cannes and a Peabody Award.

Perry Lang | Lecturer

Lang has acted in more than 30 films and 70 hours of television. His film work includes Sam Fuller's THE BIG RED ONE, Steven Spielberg's 1941 and John Sayles's SUNSHINE STATE, as well as EIGHT MEN OUT, in which Lang played one of the indicted eight Chicago White Sox who threw the 1919 World Series.

His television work as an actor includes M*A*S*H, A RUMOR OF WAR, the title character in the Emmy®-winning ABC AFTERSCHOOL SPECIALS episode "Hewitt's Just Different," and numerous guest appearances, including many projects that he has himself either written or directed.

As a writer and director, Lang started writing doing TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE in New York. Among a number of studio assignments, he wrote the first film he directed, LITTLE VEGAS, then rewrote the second, MEN OF WAR.

Since then Lang has directed television including NYPD BLUE, ER, ALIAS, NCIS: LOS ANGELES and WEEDS.

Heidi Levitt | Lecturer

Levitt has cast films from the Best Picture Oscar® winner THE ARTIST, directed by Michel Hazanavicius, to a broad range of indie and studio films. She has worked for directors Oliver Stone, Wayne Wang, Sally Potter, Wim Wenders, Diego Luna, Kim Nguyen and Neil LaBute. Films cast include JFK, NIXON, NATURAL BORN KILLERS, THE ROCK, THE JOY LUCK CLUB, SMOKE, NURSE BETTY, LAKEVIEW TERRACE, CHAVEZ, GINGER AND ROSA and DON'T COME KNOCKING. Levitt often collaborates as a producer with the directors she casts for as part of the producing team. She did this most recently on Diego Luna's film MR. PIG, starring Danny Glover and Maya Rudolph which premiered at Sundance 2016; Kim Nguyen's TWO LOVERS AND A BEAR, starring Tatiana Maslany and Dane DeHaan, which premiered at Cannes 2016 and at TIFF 2016; and Sally Potter's latest film THE PARTY, starring Kristen Scott Thomas, Timothy Spall, Emily Mortimer, Cherry Jones, Cillian Murphy and Bruno Ganz. Currently, she is exec-producing, with the Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney, a new series of one-hour dramas that deal with culture clash and the American immigrant experience, called EXILES ON MAIN STREET. Levitt is a graduate of Barnard College and the AFI Conservatory, where she is an adjunct faculty member in the Directing discipline. In addition to her work in film, she is also an active casting director in advertising and theater, having recently cast an award-winning revival of "Bent" for director Moisés Kaufman at Center Theatre Group. For her work in casting, Levitt has won two Artios Awards for Best Casting from the Casting Society of America, for THE ARTIST and THE JOY LUCK CLUB.

Karen Maruyama | Lecturer

In addition to teaching improvisation at AFI, Maruyama was a company member of The Groundlings and teaches, performs and directs shows at The Groundlings Theatre. She directs the acclaimed The Black Version at Largo at the Coronet.

Maruyama is also an actress and has appeared in such films as THE CAMPAIGN, THE BUCKET LIST, PULP FICTION and THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT. Her television credits include 2 BROKE GIRLS, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, NIP/TUCK, CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, HANNAH MONTANA and WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY? She has also lent her voice talents to THE SIMPSONS, FAMILY GUY, AMERICAN DAD and FUTURAMA. One of her first acting jobs was in the AFI film ODD BIRDS with Michael Moriarty.

Robert Spera | Lecturer

Spera has an extensive background in film, television and theater. He most recently completed principal photography on the feature film THE SWEET LIFE, starring Chris Messina and Abigail Spencer. His additional work includes writing and directing "Part One" for the triptych television feature FATHERS AND SONS, starring Bradley Whitford and Samantha Mathis. Spera's television credits include numerous episodes of CRIMINAL MINDS, SUSPECT BEHAVIOR, SUPERNATURAL and ARMY WIVES.

During four seasons as Resident Director at the Tony®-winning Actors Theatre of Louisville, he directed more than 75 productions. His Los Angeles production of "Fran" was hailed by L.A. Weekly and the Los Angeles Times.

His published works include "Actors Write for Actors" and "Encore," and the play "The Field."

Andrew Wagner | Lecturer

Writer and director Wagner graduated from Brown University with a degree in Creative Writing. He attended NYU's Graduate Film School, where his short THE HARDEST HIT won the Francois de Menil Scholarship. He moved to Los Angeles to write WACCABUC, a screenplay for United Artists; he then became a Directing Fellow at AFI Conservatory, where his graduate thesis film, THE LAST DAYS OF HOPE AND TIME, won the Franklin J. Schaffner Fellowship for distinction in directing. Wagner adapted THE MAN WHO GAVE UP HIS NAME — from the collection of novellas LEGENDS OF THE FALL by Jim Harrison — which he developed at the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. He went on to direct the independent shorts SOUTH MAIN and COUNTING.

Wagner's first feature, THE TALENT GIVEN US, was an Official Selection of the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, and also won the Jury Prize at the CineVegas Film Festival and Best First Feature at Michael Moore's Traverse City Film Festival; it went on to play theatrically in over 30 cities and made the New York Times' and other critics' Best Films of 2005 lists. Wagner was a Breakthrough Director nominee at the 2005 Gotham Awards.

His second feature, STARTING OUT IN THE EVENING — starring Frank Langella, Lili Taylor and Lauren Ambrose — premiered in the 2007 Sundance competition and was released theatrically by Roadside Attractions. The film and its actors received praise from the Boston Critics Association, the National Board of Review, The New York Times and Roger Ebert, and was nominated for Independent Spirit Awards for Best Male Lead and Best Screenplay.

This summer, Wagner directed his new film, BREAKABLE YOU, starring Holly Hunter, Tony Shalhoub, Alfred Molina, Cristin Milioti and Omar Metwally.

EDITING

Michael Jablow | Discipline Head

Michael Jablow was born in Washington, DC and lived there for 17 years.  He studied film at NYU, Goddard College and School Of Visual Arts in NYC.

He worked as an Assistant Editor on YOU LIGHT UP MY LIFE, HAIR, and BRUBAKER.  Among the films which he has cut are THROW MAMA FROM THE TRAIN, THE NAKED GUN, THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL, MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND, LITTLE BIG LEAGUE, *61, THE CONTENDER, THE LAST CASTLE and OLD SCHOOL. 

He has also taught film editing at AFI, The School Of Cinema Arts at USC and has lectured at Montclair College, NJ, and College Of the Canyons where a Jack Oakie Scholarship was given in his name.  He is also a member of The De Tao Masters Academy Of China, and has spoken in Beijing and Shanghai.

Matt Chessé | Senior Lecturer

Chessé is the Academy Award®-nominated film editor of FINDING NEVERLAND, for which he was also was nominated for an Eddie in 2005 for Best Edited Feature Film. He has built a body of work principally with director Marc Forster. Their collaborations include MONSTER'S BALL, for which Halle Berry won the Oscar®; STRANGER THAN FICTION with Will Ferrell; THE KITE RUNNER, from the popular novel "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Housseni; and WORLD WAR Z, sort-of-adapted from the novel "WWZ" by Max Brooks. With Rick Pearson, he co-edited the 22nd James Bond film QUANTUM OF SOLACE. He and Pearson shared a nomination for a Satellite Award in 2008 for Best Film Editing for QUANTUM OF SOLACE. He has worked with directors Gavin O'Connor (WARRIOR), Michael Hoffman (THE BEST OF ME) and, most recently, with Jodie Foster on MONEY MONSTER. He has taught in Singapore for Tisch Asia, and has spoken on many panels and workshops for the American Cinema Editors, of which he has been a proud member since 2002.

David Cook | Senior Lecturer

Cook graduated with a BFA in filmmaking, from the University of North Carolina's School of the Arts and is a member of the American Cinema Editors (ACE). He has edited numerous episodic televisions series, feature films and documentaries including IMAX 3D. He has been nominated for the Hollywood Post Alliance award for his work and his thesis film MAN AND DOG won the Student Academy Award in 1998.

His editing credits include: network television series NCIS, THE GOOD WIFE, LIE TO ME, THE EX-LIST and SHARK; feature films THE JOYRIDERS, CLOVER BEND, DYING ON THE EDGE; documentaries GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS (IMAX 3D) and THE LAST MYSTERIES OF TITANIC for James Cameron, and MAN AND DOG.

His producing and post-production supervising credits include: THE FOOT FIST WAY, UNDERTOW, ALL THE REAL GIRLS, GEORGE WASHINGTON, DOOMSDAY MAN, HEARSAY, SURFACING, RECKONING and THE SURPRISE PARTY.

Matthew Friedman | Lecturer

Friedman graduated Bachelor of Science in Radio/Television/Film and Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Northwestern University. He has edited features around the world and has credits in numerous genres, including ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE SQUEAKQUEL, the 3D dance movie STEP UP REVOLUTION, the comedy WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS, the web series HUNTING SEASON and several pilots, including the pilot for the series THE LOOP. His most recent credits include POSTHUMOUS, starring Brit Marling and Jack Huston; SOME KIND OF BEAUTIFUL, starring Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek, and Malcolm McDowell; and ASHBY, which premiered at Tribeca and stars Mickey Rourke, Nat Wolff, Sarah Silverman and Emma Roberts. He edited the short film DOG FOOD, which premiered at SXSW and won San Diego Comic-Con's Best Horror/Suspense Film Award.

He is perhaps best known, however, as the voice of the talking bird in SCARY MOVIE 2.

Benjamin Hershleder | Lecturer

Hershleder is an award-winning producer, director, editor and author, and has been an Avid Certified Instructor for 18 years. His editing work includes THE ORIGINAL LATIN KINGS OF COMEDY, the pilot episode of Fox's IN SEARCH OF..., and two years on staff with E!. His additional credits include directing and editing the Telly and Remi award-winning documentary THE BRONX BOYS, which aired on HBO, Cinemax and PBS. The subjects of the film were subsequently the focus of a TIME magazine story; the follow-up film, THE BRONX BOYS STILL PLAYING AT 80, also garnered a Telly Award and aired on PBS.

Other credits include comedian Andy Kindler's concert film I WISH I WAS BITTER, and THE LEAST OF THESE, directed by Rik Swartzwelder. He has produced, directed and edited several award-winning short films and documentaries of his own, including PAUL MCCALL, MOVIES ARE BETTER and TICKITS. Hershleder has set up two television concepts with Syd Vinnedge Productions.

Hershleder released his book "The Avid Media Composer Cookbook" in 2013. He has taught for Avid Learning Partner institutions, including Moviola Digital Media Training Center in Hollywood since 1998 and the AFI Conservatory since 2007.

Susan Littenberg | Lecturer

Susan Littenberg is a documentary producer and has been the lead picture editor for more than 15 films, including 13 GOING ON 30, CHARLOTTE'S WEB, TADPOLE and A LOT LIKE LOVE. Littenberg was nominated for Best Edited Comedy or Musical for the film EASY A at the 2010 American Cinema Editors Awards. Criterion released the highly acclaimed documentary AND EVERYTHING IS GOING FINE, created from entirely archival footage of the great monologist Spalding Gray and directed by Steven Soderbergh. Littenberg also edited the music documentary THE BALLAD OF RAMBLIN' JACK, which won a Special Jury Prize for Artistic Achievement at Sundance in 2000. As an assistant editor, she has worked with Jim Jarmusch, Hal Hartley, Ang Lee and Paul Auster.

She has taught at The Edit Center in New York, the Maine International Film Workshops and the City College of New York. She is currently producing the documentary THE INDUSTRIAL MUSICALS MOVIE, starring Florence Henderson, Martin Short and more, with David Letterman as executive producer.

Martin Nicholson | Lecturer

Nicholson received a BFA in Film Directing from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. He has edited numerous episodes and movies for TV, cable and the web, as well as documentaries and feature Films. Among his editing credits are NORMAN ROCKWELL: AN AMERICAN PORTRAIT, THE LEGACY OF ROSINA LHEVINNE, THIRTYSOMETHING, JOHN DOE (Co-Producer), DEADWOOD, JOHN FROM CINCINATTI, GAME OF THRONES, REVENGE, ALMOST GOLDEN: THE JESSICA SAVITCH STORY, LITTLE GIRLS IN PRETTY BOXES (ACE Eddie), HALLOWEENTOWN, GRACIE'S CHOICE, THE FORBIDDEN ZONE, THE BIG PICTURE, THICK AS THIEVES and MARY AND MARTHA. He recently edited HAND OF GOD for Amazon, and MARCO POLO for The Weinstein Company and Netflix. His directing credits include THIRTYSOMETHING, the award-winning short MISSING PARENTS, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, and THE DAY MY PARENTS RAN AWAY.

He received a Sundance Institute Fellowship for his screenplay of Tillie Olsen's novel "Yonnondio." He has served multiple terms on the Board of the American Cinema Editors, and is a member of the Motion Picture Editors Guild and the Directors Guild of America.

Brian Scofield | Lecturer

Scofield studied philosophy and literature at the University of Notre Dame and earned his MFA in film production from USC, where his short film BLACKBIRD was nominated for a Student Academy Award. He began his editing career as an apprentice for Terrence Malick on films TO THE WONDER and VOYAGE OF TIME. Scofield worked with Malick for nearly three years, eventually becoming an editor on KNIGHT OF CUPS in addition to contributing to several other upcoming films. Scofield then edited Warren Beatty's RULES DON'T APPLY alongside former mentor Billy Weber, and has since edited five independent features including THE LONER (Tribeca Film Festival 2016), EMMA'S CHANCE (distributed by Sony), an upcoming feature produced by the Duplass Brothers and another feature for Netflix. Shorts he has edited have played at Sundance, SXSW and many other festivals around the world.

PRODUCING

Neil Canton | Discipline Head , Thesis Development Mentor

Canton first worked in Hollywood as assistant to Peter Bogdanovich on WHAT'S UP, DOC?, PAPER MOON and NICKELODEON. He then spent two years on Orson Welles' THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND before leaving to work with Walter Hill on THE WARRIORS. Producing credits include THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI, THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK, BACK TO THE FUTURE (and its sequels), TRESPASS, GERONIMO, MONEY TRAIN, DUETS, GET CARTER, ANGEL EYES, TRAPPED and INTERSTATE 60. Canton is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Producers Guild of America.


Betsy Pollock | Associate Dean, Production and Director, First Year Production Services

Pollock has worked as a producer, associate producer and first AD on feature films, commercials, PSAs and MOWs. She was the co-producer of a short film, TWO SOLDIERS, which won the 2004 Academy Award® for Best Live Action short. She was involved in the production of such films as WIND, STEALING HOME and LADY IN WHITE, and was the head of production of FILMLINK INTERNATIONAL. Pollock has a longtime involvement with Women in Film, currently serving on the Foundation Board as co-chair of the Film Finishing Fund. For three years she was head of the producing discipline at the North Carolina School of the Arts.

Patty West | Director, Thesis Production

West is a Chicago native and graduate of Northwestern University and the AFI Conservatory.

As a programmer at AFI, West has brought filmmakers such as Sam Mendes, David Cronenberg and Luc Besson to the campus. In 2013, she was appointed Program Director for the Directing Workshop for Women where she brought in Artists-in-Residence Patty Jenkins, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Jill Soloway, among others. In 2016, she expanded her role at the AFI and now oversees the thesis program.

As a producer, her first feature film was SOME GIRL(S) (2013), written by acclaimed playwright Neil LaBute. She then went on to serve as an executive producer on ADDICTED TO FRESNO (2015) and THEY (2017), which was an Official Selection of the Cannes Film Festival.

West helped found the AFI Alumni Mentor Program and served as Co-Chair from 2009–2015. She is a proud member of the Producers Guild of America.

Richard Arlook | Senior Lecturer

Arlook is a prominent American talent manager, film and television producer, and the president of The Arlook Group, a talent and literary management, production and consulting company, which specializes in both feature film and TV production. Prior to founding the company in 2008, Arlook was a senior partner and Head of Motion Picture Literature at The Gersh Agency for nearly two decades.

As a feature film producer, Arlook's recent slate includes Sundance premiere I SMILE BACK, with Sarah Silverman; and IT HAD TO BE YOU, written and directed by Sasha Gordon and starring Cristin Milioti. His prior credits include the 2012 film GOATS, which premiered at Sundance and starred David Duchovny, Vera Farmiga and Ty Burrell, as well as WAITING FOR FOREVER which starred Richard Jenkins, Blythe Danner and Rachel Bilson. He has also produced two documentaries, LUCKY DUCKS and TURN IT UP, hosted by Kevin Bacon.

Arlook is working with Disney and Morgan Spurlock on the upcoming PRINCESS OF NORTH SUDAN, along with the top-ranking Black List Script "Rodham" at Lionsgate. He is currently in the process of developing series with a number of premiere networks, including HBO, AMC, Nat Geo, Warner Brothers TV and E! Network. Arlook once worked as an assistant to Scott Rudin, who was then Head of Production at Twentieth Century Fox, and his early work includes the feature film AFTER MIDNGHT for MGM, which he produced when he was 26 years old.

Stan Brooks | Senior Lecturer

A graduate of Brandeis University and the AFI Conservatory, Brooks is an award-winning producer of film and television with more than 30 years of industry experience. He has produced more than 70 works of film and television since 1989, which was the year he founded his first independent production company, Once Upon a Time Film. His producing credits include: the Academy Award®-winning feature RAIN MAN, the miniseries THE CAPTURE OF THE GREEN RIVER KILLER; the Emmy® and Golden Globe Award-nominated telefilm PRAYERS FOR BOBBY; and Walter Hill's Emmy® Award-winning miniseries BROKEN TRAIL, which was also nominated for three Golden Globe Awards, won a Directors Guild of America Award and received four SAG Award nominations and 16 Emmy nominations.

In 2012, under his new production company, Stan & Deliver Films, Brooks produced and directed his first feature film, PERFECT SISTERS, and later produced the docu-reality series, HOLLYWOOD SCANDALS, and the feature THE GRIM SLEEPER.

Robert Kaplan | Senior Lecturer

Kaplan started his career as an entertainment attorney, and he continues to practice today. He has practiced in this area for over 35 years, first with the preeminent firm of Kaplan, Livingston, Goodwin, Berkowitz & Selvin and with his own firm, Stein, Kahan & Kaplan. Mr. Kaplan has been involved with feature film and television production and distribution, film financing, music and intellectual property matters, having represented major studios, talent agencies, production companies, producers, directors, writers and actors.

He also served as a senior business affairs executive at Warner Bros. Pictures in London, handling all European motion picture business affairs for such films as A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (Stanley Kubrick), O LUCKY MAN! (Lindsay Anderson), and DAY FOR NIGHT (François Truffaut).

In recent years, Kaplan has specialized in the financing of independent feature films, having worked as production counsel on more than 20 films. In addition, he has arranged financing in all forms and acted as producer or executive producer on a number of films including PAPILLON, starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman; KRUSH GROOVE (Warner Bros.), starring Run-DMC and other rap artists; NIGHT OF THE COMET; I'LL SLEEP WHEN I'M DEAD (Paramount Classics), starring Clive Owen; SITE 146 for Fox; and NIGHT MOVES, directed by Kelly Reichardt and starring Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Saarsgard.

He currently maintains an active law practice, representing primarily financiers and producers of independent films, and, at the same time, he is actively producing a number of his own film projects, including FORTY LASHES LESS ONE based on the book and script by Elmore Leonard, and BRIDGE TO JABEZ, based on the bestselling book by Bruce Wilkinson, both of which are being produced in partnership with Mike Medavoy and Phoenix Pictures.

Kaplan is a graduate of Dartmouth College (1963) and Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley (1966). He is admitted to the Bar of the State of California. He created and has taught (for more than 34 years) the course on the business aspects of film production at the AFI Conservatory. He is also on the Board of Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, a group of six charter schools located in central Los Angeles.

Caldecot Chubb | Lecturer

After successfully building a small business in New York publishing fine art photography, Chubb has worked in Los Angeles as a producer and senior production executive since 1983: at Pressman Film Corp. from 1988 to 1992, from 1994 to 2003 at Alphaville, and at Groundswell Productions in 2006-2007. Collectively in those 16 years as an executive, he supervised the development and production of several dozen films besides his own, working in a variety of financing and distribution environments.

Mr. Chubb has produced 10 movies, most recently THE DINNER, based on the worldwide best-selling Dutch novel by Herman Koch, written and directed by Oren Moverman, starring Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Steve Coogan and Rebecca Hall. Earlier produced pictures include UNTHINKABLE (Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Sheen; Sony, 2010); DARK BLUE (Kurt Russell, directed by Ron Shelton; UA, 2003); Louis CK's POOTIE TANG (Chris Rock; Paramount, 2001); EVE'S BAYOU, Kasi Lemmons' debut picture, with Samuel L. Jackson; HOFFA (Jack Nicholson, directed by Danny DeVito; Fox, 1992); Charles Burnett's much acclaimed TO SLEEP WITH ANGER (Goldwyn, 1990); and CHERRY 2000 (Orion, 1988).

Chubb has been executive producer of six films: among them, I NOSTRI RAGAZZIan Italian adaptation of the Koch novel; HET DINER, a Dutch adaptation of the Koch novel by Menno Meyjes (2012; Ed Harris's APPALOOSA (New Line/WB, 2007); THE CROW (Miramax, 1994); as well as six films for television.

In 2011 he partnered on a tech startup to create Aerbook, an innovative environment to make, publish and share media-rich eBooks. The company pivoted to enabling digital commerce in social streams and was sold to Ingram Content Group in 2015.

In addition, from 1999 to 2010 Chubb was Executive Director of the Eggleston Artistic Trust, managing the career and business of the distinguished American artist and photographer, William Eggleston, and in 2008 produced WILLIAM EGGLESTON'S STRANDED IN CANTON, a documentary created from videotapes originally shot in 1973.

Chubb is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in the producing branch. He is married with two daughters in college.

Robert Cort | Lecturer

Cort has produced 47 feature films, which have grossed over 2.5 billion dollars in worldwide box office, including OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE, THREE MEN AND A BABY, THREE MEN AND A LITTLE LADY, THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, COCKTAIL, CLASS ACTION, BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, BILL & TED'S BOGUS JOURNEY, THE CUTTING EDGE, TERMINAL VELOCITY, OPERATION DUMBO DROP, BIRD ON A WIRE, JUMANJI, RUNAWAY BRIDE, MR. HOLLAND'S OPUS and SAVE THE LAST DANCE. Cort's HBO film, SOMETHING THE LORD MADE, became one of the most honored movies in television history, winning three Emmys®, the Directors and Writers Guild awards, and the Peabody Award. His five other television films have also won multiple honors, including the Emmy® for Best Children's Programming for A MOTHER'S COURAGE: THE MARY THOMAS STORY (1991). Cort entered the motion picture industry in 1976 and one year later was named vice president of advertising, publicity and promotion for Columbia Pictures. In 1980, he became executive vice president of marketing for Fox. In his five years as a marketing chief, Cort planned and supervised the campaigns of such films as CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, THE CHINA SYNDROME, ALL THAT JAZZ, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and 9 TO 5. He then served as executive vice president of production at Twentieth Century Fox, where he oversaw the making of ROMANCING THE STONE, BACHELOR PARTY and REVENGE OF THE NERDS. For the next 11 years, Cort was a partner and president of Interscope Communications. From 1996 to 2001, he was the managing partner of The Cort/Madden Company, a production unit with close ties to Paramount Pictures. In 2001, he formed Robert Cort Productions, an independent feature production company and renewed his relationship with Paramount.

Prior to his career in the entertainment industry, Cort was a management consultant for McKinsey and Company, specializing in consumer marketing. He also served a two-year assignment in the Central Intelligence Agency. In 2003 Random House published Cort's first novel, "Action!," which garnered outstanding critical reviews and became a bestseller. He holds BA and MA degrees in history from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Wharton School.

Narineh Hacopian | Lecturer

Los Angeles native Hacopian is a graduate of the AFI Conservatory and a producer of independent features, award-winning short films, music videos and branded content. She recently wrapped IN A RELATIONSHIP, starring Emma Roberts, Michael Angarano and Patrick Gibson. Her credits include BITCH (Sundance 2017), SOUTHBOUND (TIFF 2015), THE LONER (Tribeca 2016), BAND OF ROBBERS (LA Film Festival 2015), THE FRONTIER (SxSW 2015) and the film adaptation of Neil LaBute's SOME GIRL(S) (SxSW 2013). Prior to her work on these films, she was with Gore Verbinski's Blind Wink Productions for three years.

Narineh's most recent producing effort, LOWLIFE, had its festival debut summer 2017. Her next production, AMY IN THE AIR, is currently in development.

Hilary Hartling | Lecturer

Hartling began her career in marketing and advertising at Cole & Weber in Seattle as an Assistant Media Planner and then at QMark Research & Polling in Honolulu as a Market Research Analyst. After receiving her Master's in Global Marketing Communication and Advertising at Emerson College in Boston, she transitioned to her passion — film — which led her to an internship in Marketing at DreamWorks SKG. Then in 2000, she began her career at Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, where she spent 15 years and grew into an executive running her own department as Vice President, Integrated Marketing & Synergy, playing an integral role in launching and releasing some of the biggest films in Hollywood history — including films such as FROZEN, Marvel's THE AVENGERS; TOY STORY 2 and 3; UP; FINDING NEMO; all four PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN films; NATIONAL TREASURE; CARS and its sequel; ALICE IN WONDERLAND; MALEFICENT; GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY; BIG HERO 6; THE HELP; OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL; TANGLED; BRAVE; IRONMAN 3; WRECK-IT RALPH; MONSTERS UNIVERSITY, and many more. Now she is launching her own marketing consulting business, Hartling Marketing.

Dana Lustig | Lecturer

Lustig has directed five feature films and produced 17. For 10 years, she was a partner at Bergman Lustig Productions along with Ram Bergman. BLP produced BRICK, which was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award and bought by Focus Features at Sundance. Lustig produced Michael Radford's DANCING AT THE BLUE IGUANA. She made her directorial debut with WEDDING BELL BLUES, and later credits include the British Independent Film Award-nominated A THOUSAND KISSES DEEP, WILD CHERRY, CONFESSIONS OF A SOCIOPATHIC SOCIAL CLIMBER and KILL ME LATER, lauded by Leonard Maltin and The Hollywood Reporter.

Recently, Lustig produced JUNGLE, a true story of survival to be shot in Colombia. Lustig's latest production, the film noir THE FRONTIER, premiered at SXSW in March 2015. Lustig was born in Israel and graduated from AFI. She is a member of the DGC, PGA and SAG.

Zachary Matz | Lecturer

Matz is a producer of award-winning independent feature films, and an entertainment industry executive with three decades experience. He is credited with more than a dozen released feature films, including CITY ISLAND, E.L. Doctorow's JOLENE and the critically acclaimed MRS. PALFREY AT THE CLAREMONT. Matz has also produced numerous celebrated indies, including South African historical drama DRUM, winner of the prestigious Gran Prix at FESPACO; PARANOIA 1.0, a Sundance Jury Prize nominee; and WILDFLOWERS, winner of the SXSW Grand Jury Prize.

Born in NYC and transplanted to LA as a teen, Matz began his career in film with an entry level position at Showscan, an innovative production and distribution company founded by acclaimed director and visual effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull. Matz eventually was appointed house producer, providing the foundation to later transition into other related areas including IMAX production, concert and live event production, broadcast television, and commercials. He eventually landed an executive position at New World Pictures in feature and television post-production and marketing. Matz then moved into the burgeoning field of independent filmmaking, incorporating his producing entity Filmsmith in 1995 to develop and produce quality projects with talented young filmmakers.

Matz holds dual citizenship in both the United States and Ireland. He is a member of the PGA and DGA.

Kevin Garrett Monroe | Lecturer

Kevin Garrett Monroe has experience in business and legal affairs in the motion picture, television and digital media industry; including development, production, talent, finance, marketing and distribution arrangements. Monroe is currently General Counsel/VP of Business Affairs at virtual reality start-up company Within. Over the past 15 years, Monroe has served as a senior business affairs and legal executive for several media companies, including Walt Disney Motion Pictures, Focus Features (a film division of NBCUniversal), Oddlot Entertainment (a standalone production entity owned by billionaire Gigi Pritzker), FilmDistrict (an independent mini-major studio previously financed by billionaire Tim Headington and producer Graham King) and Overture Films (an independent motion picture studio previously owned by John Malone's Liberty Media and Starz Media).

During his career, Monroe has worked on major tentpole and franchise projects such as: the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN series; KING ARTHUR; and the NATIONAL TREASURE films. He has also worked on smaller independently financed productions such as: OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN, LAW ABIDING CITIZEN, THE VISITOR, THE RAVEN and HELL OR HIGH WATER. Over the years, he has negotiated talent deals on behalf of media companies for the services of Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks, Jerry Bruckheimer, Gore Verbinski, Nicolas Cage, Chow Yun Fat, Antoine Fuqua, Idris Elba, Keith Richards, Helen Mirren and Orlando Bloom.

Before joining the in-house departments of the above media companies, Monroe was an associate at the law firm of Greenberg Glusker in Century City, where he had an active corporate and entertainment law practice representing direct-broadcast-satellite companies, entertainment entities and various entities owned and operated by professional athletes (including future NFL Hall of Fame running back Jerome "the Bus" Bettis and Earvin "Magic" Johnson). Monroe began his legal career at the prestigious law firm of Latham & Watkins, where he did corporate finance and mergers and acquisition work.

In addition to his law practice, Monroe has served as an adjunct professor at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, and has guest-lectured at the USC Peter Stark Producing Program.

Monroe has also served on the Board of Directors of the Magic Johnson Foundation, Inc., for the past 16 years.

Monroe received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Howard University. He obtained his Juris Doctor from Howard University School of Law, where he graduated with honors.

Avi Quijada | Lecturer

A native of Venezuela, Quijada is a multifaceted writer-producer. She attended the prestigious School of Social Communications at Andres Bello Catholic University in Caracas, where her thesis documentary production MARGARITA: FOLK STORIES IN TWO COMPASSES was selected to be broadcast on national television.

Before earning her MFA in Producing from the AFI Conservatory, she was one of the main producers for Canal Uno/Unolink — one the most prestigious production companies in Venezuela — and developer of the country's first digital-based TV networks. Likewise, she was a senior producer for HBO Latin America and has worked closely with FOX and 1013 Productions to promote THE X-FILES franchise since 2008.

Since her time at AFI, Quijada has been a mentor to numerous budding producers at the Conservatory. She has been involved in a variety of productions in Venezuela, Panama and the U.S., in different production appointments, including working for Syfy/NBCUniversal, and numerous feature and short films. Her productions have been recognized by dozens of different entities, such as the DGA, Tribeca, Newport Film Festival and BIFF, among many others.

Currently, she works for the London-based company Big Light Productions, led by renowned AFI alumnus Frank Spotnitz. She's been part of the company's television endeavors: Amazon's THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, RAI's MEDICI: MASTERS OF FLORENCE, CBS' RANSOM and Bell's THE INDIAN DETECTIVE, including assignments in Canada and France.

Jeff Wachtel | Lecturer

Wachtel is President and Chief Content Officer of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. A veteran television executive and producer, he oversees development and production of content for the company's cable portfolio, including Bravo, E!, Esquire Network, Oxygen, Syfy and USA. He also leads two in-house studios: Universal Cable Productions and Wilshire Studios, and is spearheading the cable portfolio's newly escalated effort to create and own original content, as well as setting up projects at major networks and digital platforms alike. In Wachtel's previous role as co-president of USA Network, he oversaw all original programming for the network for over ten years, including seven consecutive years as the number one cable entertainment network with an unprecedented run of successful series and mini-series launched under his leadership (MONK, BURN NOTICE, PSYCH, WHITE COLLAR and SUITS, among others).

Wachtel's previous stints include President, Alliance Atlantis Television; President of 3 Arts Television; and Executive Vice President of Primetime TV at Columbia Pictures Television, where he developed and supervised a number of long-running hit shows, including PARTY OF FIVE and DAWSON'S CREEK. Wachtel began his career as a theater director and producer, producing the first New York productions of David Mamet's plays SEXUAL PERVERSION IN CHICAGO and DUCK VARIATIONS. A Yale graduate, he is also a founding member of community-based volunteer organization L.A. Works, is on the President's Advisory Board of the Zimmer Children's Museum and the Board of Directors of the Hollywood Radio and Television Society.

PRODUCTION DESIGN

Joseph Garrity | Discipline Head

With a Production Design MFA from the AFI Conservatory and as a graduate of Temple University's School of Communications and Theater, Garrity has designed feature films including RUNAWAY TRAIN (art director), WEEDS, MY GIRL, DROP DEAD FRED, SON-IN-LAW, IMAGINARY CRIMES, FATHER OF INVENTION, THE SIX WIVES OF HENRY LEFAY and SUNSHINE CLEANING. He recently designed CAKE and CHURCH, both features shot in Los Angeles.

Garrity met Christopher Guest in 1988 and was chosen to design Guest's directorial debut feature THE BIG PICTURE. Garrity has designed all of Guest's films since, including WAITING FOR GUFFMAN, BEST IN SHOW, A MIGHTY WIND, FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION and the HBO Series FAMILY TREE.

Garrity serves as a council member in the Art Directors Branch of the Art Directors Guild, Local 800.

Suzanne Feller-Otto | Senior Lecturer

Feller-Otto received her degree in architecture from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Before her film career, she lived in Tokyo and worked on the Puroland Theme Park. Her set design credits include five seasons of SEINFELD, episodes of ALLY McBEAL, 8 SIMPLE RULES and the feature films OUT ON A LIMB and TRIAL AND ERROR.


Ernie Marjoram | Senior Lecturer

Marjoram holds a BS from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He has been a registered professional architect for more than 15 years and has been working as a freelance designer/illustrator in advertising and entertainment since 1995. He has developed concepts for Walt Disney Imagineering, created sketches for Steven Spielberg's Movie Magic, executed concept design of the Lost World of Jules Verne theme park and handled visual development for Spagna 2000.

Lauren Polizzi | Senior Lecturer

Polizzi graduated with a BFA from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, where she discovered a love and aptitude for set design. She honed her drawing skills on many features including DEATH BECOMES HER, JURASSIC PARK, FORREST GUMP, LEMONY SNICKET, MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN franchise and J. EDGAR. In 1994, she was promoted to assistant art director, contributing to such films as SPECIES, AMISTAD, PANIC ROOM and INDEPENDENCE DAY. After serving as art director on the film THE LOST WORLD in 1997, related credits include DR. SEUSS'S HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS, THE ALAMO, THE X-FILES television series, INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL, TRANSFORMERS 2: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN, COWBOYS AND ALIENS, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, SAVING MR. BANKS, HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY 1 & 2 and TOMORROWLAND.

Polizzi received Art Directors Guild and Oscar® nominations for Art Direction on HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS, and an Art Directors Guild Award and Emmy® nomination for her work on THE X-FILES. Other ADG nominations as art director include COWBOYS & ALIENS, INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS and SAVING MR. BANKS.

Todd Cherniawsky | Lecturer

A graduate of AFI, Cherniawsky has over 15 years of experience in feature film production. After graduation at the Conservatory, he worked his way up the art department as a set designer, assistant art director and art director. Opportunities on films such as ARMAGEDDON (1998), PLANET OF THE APES (2001), LEMONY SNICKET'S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS (2004), WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005), MONSTER HOUSE (2006), NANCY DREW (2007) and OCEAN'S 13 (2007) allowed him to refine traditional techniques and explore and implement the early use of computers in the art department.

Those abilities to understand and utilize digital tools became more and more important — CGI was becoming the VFX solution more and more — and led to a two-year commitment as supervising art director on AVATAR (2009). Recent feature credits include ALICE IN WONDERLAND (2010), SUCKER PUNCH (2011) and OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL (2013).

His production design work includes SPLICE (2010) and the GINGER SNAPS trilogy (2001-04).

David Morong | Lecturer

Morong received his MFA in Scene Design from New York University. Upon graduation he came across a fledgling network called MTV on something called cable and ended up being the resident production designer, designing scores of shows over 15 years. His cable connections led to design work for VH1, HBO Comedy Channel, TNN and Fox. He has worked as an Art Director on the HBO series CARNIVALE, for which he received an Emmy® nomination, and BIG LOVE. He has also designed and Art-Directed a number of feature films, including the recent release, KING OF CALIFORNIA. In the fall of 2006, he accepted a faculty position at San Diego State University where he currently teaches Design for Television and Film. A focus of his interest has been design software, and he currently teaches SketchUp and Vectorworks in association with go-2-school and Studio Arts.

SCREENWRITING

Anna Thomas | Discipline Head

Thomas is an Academy Award®-nominated screenwriter, as well as a producer, director and author. She is both producer and co-writer of the film EL NORTE, which was nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Original Screenplay and was elected to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. She is also co-writer and producer of the acclaimed MY FAMILY, MI FAMILIA, and the William Hurt-starring drama A TIME OF DESTINY, and a writer of FRIDA, starring Salma Hayek. Thomas made her first feature in 1977 when she wrote, produced and directed THE HAUNTING OF M as her Master's thesis film at UCLA, where she earned her MFA. Other credits include episodes of the PBS one-hour drama series AMERICAN FAMILY. Thomas also produced the feature documentary INFINITE SPACE: THE ARCHITECTURE OF JOHN LAUTNER. She is a founder of the IFP West, now Film Independent.

Jacob Forman | Senior Lecturer, Thesis Development Mentor

Forman grew up between East Timor, Rio de Janeiro and New York City. He was one of five fiction writers accepted into the Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Brown University, where he wrote his first screenplay. Forman worked as a journalist in Telluride, Colorado, and as National Features Editor for America Online's city guide before earning an MFA in Screenwriting from the AFI Conservatory in 2004. His first produced feature, ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE, screened at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival, where it was acquired by The Weinstein Company for worldwide distribution. The film received its much-anticipated U.S. theatrical release in October 2013. In 2007, MTV Films bought Forman's spec "Handsome Devil" in a bidding war with several studios. Forman has features in development at Paramount Pictures, as well as projects with Davis Entertainment, the Mark Gordon Company, and Liddell Entertainment, and has held television development deals with ABC and CBS. His second produced feature, THE WELL, completed principal photography in January 2013.

Karen Janszen | Senior Lecturer, Thesis Development Mentor

Janszen is a LA-based screenwriter with more than 20 years of experience writing for film studios, cable outlets and network television. While she has worked on thrillers, comedies and historical epics — and done uncredited polishes on animated films — she is best known for dramas.

Janszen recently wrote MARS, a sci-fi series for Imagine that aired on Nat Geo. She also wrote DOLPHIN TALE, a box office hit in 2011, and DUMA, directed by Carroll Ballard and named among the LA Times' top 10 picks of 2005. Janszen also wrote A WALK TO REMEMBER, the indies GRACIE, DIGGING TO CHINA and THE MATCHMAKER, and an episode of HBO's FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON. During the last two years, she adapted a biblical drama, MARY CALLED MAGDALENE, and rewrote another, RISEN. Most recently, Janszen wrote the pilot for HIGH STRANGENESS, a crime drama series she created and optioned to Epix.

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Janszen holds degrees from AFI, Harvard and UC Santa Cruz. In addition, she studied science journalism at MIT, situation comedy writing at Warner Bros., and animation writing at Hanna-Barbera. Before moving to LA, Janszen worked for book publisher Houghton Mifflin and public television's flagship station WGBH-Boston. Janszen was named by Variety as one of 1999's 10 Screenwriters to Watch.

Stan Chervin | Lecturer

Chervin was nominated for an Academy Award®, a WGA Award and a Golden Globe for his adaption MONEYBALL. He began his career in New York non-profit theater, where he helped develop the work of playwrights at The New Dramatists and the Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference. Returning to LA, he served as Staff Reader, Story Editor and then Director of Creative Affairs at TriStar Pictures before becoming a full-time screenwriter when he adapted the W.P. Kinsella short story "The Dixon Cornbelt League" for the studio. For Sony Pictures, in addition to MONEYBALL, he has written the film biographies "J-Mac," the story of autistic high school basketball player Jason McElwain, and "P.T. Barnum," for Sacha Baron Cohen to star. He also adapted "The Catcher Was a Spy," about baseball player-turned-spy Moe Berg, for George Clooney and Warner Bros.; and wrote "Quantum Hoops," the story of Cal Tech's winless basketball team, for producers Ben Stiller and Stuart Cornfeld at Disney; and "Sarge," about the oldest American player ever drafted by the NBA for Gidden Media. For television, he wrote the movie EXTREME TEAM (starring Chris Pratt); the series pilot COURTHOUSE (with John Eisendrath) for ABC; and 7TH PRECINCT, for actor/producer Samuel L. Jackson at Fox. Currently, he is writing a true-life script, "Ramona Pierson," for TriStar, and is co-writing with Annie Mumolo an adaptation of the novel "Auntie Mame" for Tilda Swinton to star.

Ed Decter | Lecturer

Decter is a television showrunner, film screenwriter, director and novelist. He co-wrote the feature films THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, THE SANTA CLAUSE 2, THE SANTA CLAUSE 3, THE WILD and THE LIZZY MCGUIRE MOVIE. As a television showrunner he has executive-produced IN PLAIN SIGHT, THE CLIENT LIST, HELIX, UNFORGETTABLE and most recently created and executive-produced SHADOWHUNTERS. He has directed the Sony feature THE NEW GUY, and has written six novels for Simon & Schuster.

Jonathan Fernandez | Lecturer

Fernandez is a writer, producer and Writers Guild of America board member. His film ROB THE MOB (2014) closed the Miami International Film Festival and made multiple top 10 lists.

He is currently writing a thriller for Universal Pictures, a limited series for Lifetime and a television pilot for A+E Networks. He also served as a story editor on STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE.

Fernandez produced the Kurt Russell film BREAKDOWN (1997) and wrote Y2K (1999), the top-rated television movie of the year for NBC. He began his career running the production companies of legendary filmmakers Roger Corman and Dino De Laurentiis.

Antonio Macia | Lecturer

The son of Argentine and Chilean immigrants, Macia is a graduate of Middlebury College and a WGA member. He has more than 10 years' experience as an independent filmmaker, with three feature films (AFFLUENZA, ANNE B. REAL, HOLY ROLLERS) to his credit.

He wrote and co-starred in his first feature, ANNE B. REAL, in 2003. The coming-of-age drama went on to win several awards, and was nominated for the John Cassateves Award at the Film Independent Spirit Awards.

HOLY ROLLERS is a drama that tells the story of a young Hasidic Jew swept into the world of ecstasy drug smuggling. The film's cast is led by Academy Award® nominee Jesse Eisenberg, and premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival in Dramatic Competition and France's prestigious Deauville Film Festival. HOLY ROLLERS received theatrical distribution and played in theaters nationwide, culminating in an IFP Gotham Spirit Award Win for Breakthrough Film.

Macia's third film, AFFLUENZA, was released by FilmBuff in July 2014. He wrote and co-produced the film, again collaborating with Kevin Asch as director. AFFLUENZA is a teenage coming-of-age drama set in the Long Island suburbs in the final weeks of the summer leading up to the financial crisis of 2008.

Macia lives in LA, where he has been writing for some of Hollywood's most prolific producers. He wrote "Jackie Ryan," a family drama set in the world of NYC street basketball, for Rick and Julie Yorn of LBI Entertainment.

Prior to that, Macia adapted the controversial biography "Rough Stone Rolling," about Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church. He has also completed "One Night Only," a drama set in the world of EDM music for Boss Media, and "Kings Highway" with Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way Productions. Set in the 1980s, this gritty crime drama centers on a former Mossad agent living in New York.

Recently, Macia has written "Porter Rockwell," a Western set in the Utah Territory of 1850, for Michael Mailis of Hyperion Media Group. He also wrote and directed "Fountain & Never," an original web series that examines the lives of six foster kids who have aged out of the system, and are left to struggle on the unforgiving streets of LA.

Steve Mazur | Lecturer

Mazur has taught screenwriting for the past 10 years, including four years at AFI and five years with the Professional Writing Program at USC. He's written or co-written scripts for Universal, DreamWorks, Warner Bros., MGM, Imagine, Paramount, Sony, CBS, A&E, Spike TV, and Disney, including HEARTBREAKERS (MGM, 2001), LIAR, LIAR (Universal, 1997), THE LITTLE RASCALS (Universal, 1994), WITHOUT A PADDLE II (Paramount, 2008), THE CROOKED E (CBS, 2003) and WEDDING WARS (A&E, 2006).

Peter Murrieta | Lecturer

Two-time Emmy® Award winner Peter Murrieta is a versatile performer, producer and writer. His roots, grounded in improv and sketch comedy, with his 15-year tenure as the owner of Bang Comedy Theater helped established him as a teacher and performer, before he became an executive producer and show runner for the live-action series for Cartoon Network LEVEL UP and for Disney Channel's WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE. He was also the creator/showrunner of the WB's GREETINGS FROM TUCSON.

Murrieta's primetime television background made the Disney Channel franchise WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE and the network's telefilm WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE: THE MOVIE a huge hit. Nominated for a total of three Emmy® Awards for both WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE the series and the telefilm, Murrieta took home the award for Outstanding Children's Programming for his work on WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE: THE MOVIE in 2010 and for the series in 2009.

Murrieta got his start at Second City in Chicago as an improv/sketch comedian, and after moving to Los Angeles earned a coveted writing fellowship from Walt Disney Television. That led to writing stints for JESSE, THREE SISTERS and ALL ABOUT THE ANDERSONS before creating the critically acclaimed GREETINGS FROM TUCSON, which was based on his own experiences growing up in Tucson. Most recently he was a producer/writer on ABC's half hour comedy CRISTELA. And he's excited about writing for the new Netflix comedy ONE DAY AT A TIME.

Most recently, Murrieta has enjoyed being a guest lecturer at CSUN for Ted Frank, and going back to his alma mater, the University of Arizona, to teach graduate level workshops in TV pilot writing.

Murrieta has written feature films for Revolution Studios and Paramount and currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

Jack Olsen | Lecturer

Screenwriter Jack Olsen has worked for the past two decades on dozens of projects for Warner Bros, Paramount, Fox, Sony, Disney, Universal, MGM and others. The number of times he has sold a a pitch, booked an assignment or set up a spec gives him a unique and nuanced understanding of the ins and outs of studio feature script development. Sony released his original thriller WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS in September of 2016. More recently, he wrote and executive produced the indie psychological thriller SLEEPWALKER, which screened at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival before its release in the spring of 2017.

Dawn Atkinson Prestwich | Lecturer

Prestwich is a TV writer/producer who's most recently been executive producer/showrunner of Z: THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING (Amazon), and of THE KILLING (AMCTV/Netflix), alongside her writing partner Nicole Yorkin. Before that, Prestwich and Yorkin were on FLASHFORWARD on ABC, were showrunners on THE RICHES (FX), co-executive producers on BROTHERHOOD on Showtime and co-executive producers on CARNIVALE on HBO, among many other shows. They won the Writers Guild Award for Best Drama Episode for the pilot of their show THE EDUCATION OF MAX BICKFORD and a Peabody Award for BROTHERHOOD, and were nominated for an Emmy® for CHICAGO HOPE. In her spare time, Prestwich teaches writing to incarcerated juveniles in the Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall. Her oldest son lives in Chicago and writes for The Onion (ClickHole), and her youngest is a freshman at Pomona College. They are both the funniest, kindest, smartest people she knows.

Austin Reynolds | Lecturer

Reynolds is a graduate of the AFI Conservatory Screenwriting program and Emory University. He placed on the 2012 Black List for his AFI Conservatory thesis screenplay "From New York to Florida," which is currently in development with Jon Shestack Productions and White Horse Pictures. He has worked for Amblin Entertainment, DreamWorks Studios, Funny Or Die and Sony Pictures Television, and on AMC's MAD MEN.

He wrote THE FIRST HOPE, a short film directed by frequent collaborator Jeremy David White, which screened at several major festivals, including Fantasia Film Festival, Glasgow Shorts, the Los Angeles Film Festival and VisionFest. Reynolds has an overall deal with Walt Disney Studios as a feature staff writer, developing and writing live-action theatrical scripts directly for the studio.

Mark Steen | Lecturer

A former member of The Groundlings, where he both taught and performed, Steen has also written for television, including sitcoms, sketch comedy and animation. Among his writing and/or producing credits are SPARKS, DILBERT, AAAHH!!! REAL MONSTERS, GOOD NEWS, CULTURE CLASH, THE SUNDAY COMICS, HAYWIRE, THE WILD THORNBERRYS, TEACHER'S PET and ROCKET POWER. In addition to AFI, Steen also teaches in the UCLA Extension Writer's Program.

Michael Urban | Lecturer, Thesis Development Mentor

Urban is a graduate of the AFI Screenwriting program (Class of 2000). His first feature film SAVED! (co-written with Brian Dannelly) was produced by MGM/UA in 2004. He has since completed writing assignments for several major film and television studios including Twentieth Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. Television, ABC Television, Lionsgate and HBO. His most recent feature film, WAVW, premiered at Outfest 2013.

CINEMA STUDIES

Barry Sabath | Senior Lecturer, Thesis Development Mentor

Holding an MA and PhD in Cinema Studies from New York University, Sabath has nearly two decades of feature film development experience. He ran the film division of Marsha and Robin Williams' Blue Wolf Productions, whose productions include MRS. DOUBTFIRE, PATCH ADAMS and JAKOB THE LIAR. At Twentieth Century Fox, he was senior vice president of production for Paul Schiff Productions, where he oversaw MY COUSIN VINNY and was co-producer on GHOST IN THE MACHINE and PCU. He spent four years at Columbia Pictures, as executive story editor and vice president of production, and supervised FLATLINERS and IMMEDIATE FAMILY. Sabath also taught film history and criticism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Illinois State University.

Elvis Mitchell | Senior Lecturer

Mitchell is an American film critic and host of KCRW's nationally syndicated pop culture and entertainment show, "The Treatment," since its inception in 1996. Mitchell was born in Highland Park, MI, and graduated in 1980 from Wayne State University, where he majored in English. He has served as a film critic for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, where he received the 1999 AASFE award for criticism, the LA Weekly, the Detroit Free Press and The New York Times. He served for a number of years as a pop culture commentator for "Weekend Edition" on NPR. In 2008, ELVIS MITCHELL: UNDER THE INFLUENCE began airing on Turner Classic Movies. On the program, Mitchell interviewed actors and directors about their favorite classic films.

In 2002, he gave the prestigious Alain Locke lectures on African American culture at Harvard University, and subsequently, has been a visiting lecturer at Harvard in Visual and Environmental Studies, and in African American Studies. A WGA Award nominee for his work on THE AFI LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: A TRIBUTE TO SIDNEY POITIER, Mitchell has also served as editor-at-large at Spin magazine and is currently special correspondent for Interview magazine.

Mitchell is the producer and co-creator of THE BLACK LIST: VOLUME ONE, a documentary film about race, culture and the seeds of success, with director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders. It premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and went on to win the NAACP Image Award. The film includes Toni Morrison, Chris Rock and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, among others. THE BLACK LIST: VOLUME TWO was carried by HBO in February 2009, and the third and final installment premiered in 2010.

In 2011, Mitchell became the Curator for the Film Independent program at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Film Independent at LACMA is a year-round weekly film series that offers unique cinematic experiences for the Los Angeles creative community and the general public.

Mitchell is featured in the 2009 documentary film FOR THE LOVE OF MOVIES: THE STORY OF AMERICAN FILM CRITICISM discussing how he was championed as a young writer by Pauline Kael, and the impact on him as an adolescent of the Herschell Gordon Lewis film TWO THOUSAND MANIACS!

Pieter Jan Brugge | Senior Lecturer

Brugge is a producer and director, born and raised in the Netherlands, and is a graduate of both De Nederlandse Filmacademie and the AFI Center for Advanced Film and Television Studies in Los Angeles.

In 1995, Brugge began a series of collaborations with writer/producer/director Michael Mann, first serving as executive producer on HEAT, then as producer on THE INSIDER, which earned seven Academy Award® nominations, including one for Best Picture for Mann and Brugge. In 2006, the pair produced MIAMI VICE.

He produced the international box-office hit THE PELICAN BRIEF in 1993 with the late Alan J. Pakula. In 1998, with writer/producer/director Warren Beatty, he produced the political satire BULWORTH.

In 2004, Brugge produced and directed THE CLEARING, starring Robert Redford, Helen Mirren and Willem Dafoe. He conceived the story based upon a true event that occurred in the Netherlands and collaborated with writer Justin Haythe on the screenplay.

He produced LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS in 2010, his third collaboration with director/producer/writer Edward Zwick, for whom he co-produced the Civil War classic GLORY, winner of three Academy Awards®. Brugge produced DEFIANCE in 2008.

Currently, Brugge serves as the executive producer on BOSCH, the Amazon Studios series based on the bestselling crime novels by Michael Connelly.

Brugge is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Directors Guild of America and the Producers Guild of America.

MENTORS

Destin Cretton | Thesis Development Mentor

Cretton was born and raised in Maui, Hawaii, where he spent three of his summers picking pineapples in the fields near his home. He has a BA in Communications from Point Loma Nazarene University and a Master's in Film from San Diego State University.

He's written and directed four award-winning short films: LONGBRANCH: A SUBURBAN PARABLE (Premiered at the 2002 Tribeca Film Festival), BARTHOLOMEW'S SONG (2006 Student Academy Finalist), DEACON'S MONDAYS (2007 Student Academy Finalist, 2007 Angelus Winner, HBO Films Best Student Film Award) and SHORT TERM 12, which won the U.S. Jury Prize at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, followed by top awards at Seattle International, Aspen Shorts Fest, Independent Film Festival Boston, CineVegas and GenArt.

Along with his narrative work, Cretton has also directed two feature-length documentaries. DRAKMAR: A VASSAL'S JOURNEY premiered on HBO Family in 2007 and won the Best Documentary Award at the 2006 Comic Con. BORN WITHOUT ARMS premiered on TLC/Discovery in 2009.

Cretton's feature film debut, I AM NOT A HIPSTER, premiered at Sundance in 2012. His feature film SHORT TERM 12 (based on the short of the same title) premiered at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival where it won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award.

Cretton's recent film THE GLASS CASTLE stars Brie Larson, Naomi Watts and Woody Harrelson. While in post-production. He is also working on an adaptation of the memoir "Just Mercy," with Michael B. Jordan attached to star.

Dorothy Fontana | Senior Lecturer

Fontana's numerous writing credits include STAR TREK, BONANZA, THE WALTONS, THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO and DALLAS. She has served as story editor on the original STAR TREK series, FANTASTIC JOURNEY and LOGAN'S RUN; as associate producer on STAR TREK ANIMATED and STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION; and as producer on a series of science fiction comedy sketches for Galaxy Online. She has written children's shows, science fiction, Westerns, action adventure, mysteries, animation and interactive games. She is the author of novels "The Brazos River," "The Questor Tapes" and "Vulcan's Glory," and the short story "Cut To: Murder," included in the mystery anthology "Murder in Los Angeles."

Fontana was nominated for a Writers Guild Award in 1969 for her THEN CAME BRONSON script, "Two Percent of Nothing," and won a Film-Con Award for her STAR TREK: THE ANIMATED SERIES script, "Yesteryear." Two of her SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN scripts were nominated for Film-Con Awards. In 1987, she wrote the premiere episode of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, which was nominated for a Hugo Award. Fontana was honored with the Writers Guild's Morgan Cox Award and was twice elected as a member of the Board of Directors of the Guild. She was previously inducted into the American Screenwriters Association Hall of Fame and the "She Made It" program of the Paley Center for Media.

She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America and the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators, as well as the Writers Guild of America, West, and Writers Guild of Canada.

Her current projects include two proposed TV series being readied for presentation.

George Walczak | Senior Lecturer

Walczak holds an MFA in Screenwriting from the AFI Conservatory, and has been on the Conservatory faculty for 17 years teaching a variety of screenwriting courses, including the Great Screenplays course. Walczak also holds an MA in Depth Psychology from the Pacifica Graduate Institute and has a special interest in developing characters and story for screenplays from a psychological and depth perspective. He is currently finishing a book on psychology for screenwriters.

Cathy Wischner-Sola | Senior Lecturer, Faculty Director, Internships

Wischner-Sola is an award-winning executive producer. She executive-produced HBO's TAKING CHANCE starring Kevin Bacon, which debuted in the Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival and won WGA and DGA awards and the Humanitas Prize. The film garnered 10 Emmy® nominations, including Outstanding Television Movie, and the Golden Globe nomination for Best Movie. She won the Christopher Award and Television Academy Honors, and was nominated for the Television Producer of the Year Award from the Producers Guild.

Wischner-Sola served as Vice President, Original Programming at TNT Originals, where she shepherded and supervised an extensive slate of distinguished movies, miniseries and high-budget international co-productions, earning network ratings and critical acclaim. Her projects include Emmy®-nominated PIRATES OF SILICON VALLEY, DAVID COPPERFIELD, Patrick Stewart's A CHRISTMAS CAROL and ANIMAL FARM.

Additional producing credits include the CBS miniseries COMMON GROUND and Emmy®-nominated A WINNER NEVER QUITS with Daniel H. Blatt Productions, where she previously served as Vice President, Creative Affairs. Wischner-Sola holds a BA from The New School for Social Research and attended Northwestern University. She is a member of the Television Academy.

James Hosney | AFI Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence

With a BA in Anglo-American Literature from Occidental College, Hosney created and taught courses in literature, American Studies and film at the Westlake School for Girls from 1970 to 1980, where he was director of the Film and Video Program. He created the renowned film program at Crossroads School, where he taught from 1982 until retiring in 2007. In addition, he taught a two-year Honors English course, "Great Books of the Western World." He has published articles in Film Quarterly, the South Atlantic Quarterly and the Los Angeles Times. He has taught classes in film history and genres for 20th Century Fox, DreamWorks, Pixar and UCLA Extension. He has been teaching at AFI since 1980.

Sandy Stern | Mentor

Stern's first feature was the critically acclaimed teen anthem PUMP UP THE VOLUME starring Christian Slater and Samantha Mathis. Stern's additional credits include Paul Haggis' RED HOT, Lynn Littman's FREAK CITY, Spike Jonze's BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, Todd Haynes' VELVET GOLDMINE, Jill Sprecher's THIRTEEN CONVERSATIONS ABOUT ONE THING and Brian Dannelly's SAVED. He also produced the musical version of SAVED, which premiered at Playwrights Horizons in New York City.

For the past decade, he has been partnered with REM frontman Michael Stipe and their films have drawn such talent as Cameron Diaz, Marisa Tomei, Catherine Keener, Peter Sarsgaard, Mary-Louise Parker, John Cusack, Matthew McConaughey, Ewan McGregor, Christian Bale and Macaulay Culkin. Prior to Stipe, Stern was partnered with Sean Penn.

He has won an Independent Spirit Award, a Producers Guild Visionary Awar, and a Satellite Award. He has been nominated for a Golden Globe and a Lucille Lortel, and his films have garnered three Academy Awards® nominations.

Stern graduated cum laude from Vassar College and summa cum laude from New York University. He is also a published author.

Simone Ling | Thesis Development Mentor

Ling is a story consultant and independent producer working within both the Hollywood studio system and indie film arena. Clients include Universal Pictures, on projects such as MAMA MIA, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY and THE LITTLE MERMAID, and the Sundance Institute's Labs for Screenwriters, Directors and Episodic Story. Additionally she spearheads outreach for the Institute's Asian American Fellowship.

Ling began her producing career with Japan's NHK documentary division, including award-winning INTUITIVE TECHNOLOGY, CHILD ABUSE and THE FAMILY WELFARE SYSTEM IN LOS ANGELES, and ART THIEVES. Feature producing credits include British romantic comedy LOVE'S KITCHEN, and Aurora Guerrero's coming-of-age directorial debut MOSQUITA Y MARI, a 2013 Independent Spirit Award nominee. With a particular interest in stories by and of women, she is helping to develop Guerrero's next project LOS VALIENTES, and Project Involve 2016 Writing Fellow Donna Choo's SMALL KID TIME.

A dual U.S./UK citizen, Ling is a member of MPEG/IATSE and BAFTA and sits on the BAFTA/LA Student Shorts jury. She holds a degree in Modern History from the University of Oxford, and, as a Fulbright Scholar, earned a Master's in Media Studies/Journalism from Stanford University.

Charlie McDowell | Thesis Development Mentor

After attending the AFI Conservatory Directing program, Charlie McDowell went on to direct his first feature film, THE ONE I LOVE, which had its premiere at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. It went on to play at some of the top film festivals in the world including Sarasota (where McDowell won the Breakthrough Director award), Tribeca, Seattle International and Sundance London. Radius/The Weinstein Company bought the film at Sundance and released it domestically in August 2014 to strong reviews.

That same year, Charlie took his wildly successful Twitter feed, "Dear Girls Above Me" — which was ranked 6th on TIME Magazine's top Twitter accounts of 2012 — and turned it into a book with the same title. "Dear Girls Above Me" is a comedic look at a young man who can hear the young women who live in the apartment above him, as they talk about their comings and goings in Los Angeles. It was released by The Crown Publishing Group and received glowing reviews. It has since gone on to second-edition printing.

In 2016, McDowell reunited with THE ONE I LOVE screenwriter Justin Lader to co-write and direct THE DISCOVERY. The film stars Jason Segel, Rooney Mara, Jesse Plemons, Riley Keough and Robert Redford. Netflix released the film worldwide in 2017, including a theatrical run.

TV directing credits include two episodes of Emmy®-nominated SILICON VALLEY and UNTITLED SARAH SILVERMAN pilot for HBO.

Jennie Lew Tugend | Thesis Development Mentor

A film veteran in the Hollywood movie business, Jennie Lew Tugend's expertise bridges film and TV development, production, financing, marketing and distribution. She has produced and co-produced some of the industry's most memorable franchises: FREE WILLY, LETHAL WEAPON and HBO's TALES FROM THE CRYPT.

As former Co-President of Kadokawa Pictures USA, Tugend was a producer on ONE MISSED CALL, a WB release, and two episodes of Showtime's MASTER OF HORROR. Today, she is developing four new IP's from Kadokawa Publishing, which are in development at various production companies.

Tugend has produced family films, including LOCAL BOYS, starring Mark Harmon and STAR KID, which received an Award of Excellence by the Film Advisory Board; and for MGM, the romantic comedy RETURN TO ME, starring David Duchovny and Minnie Driver.

Serving as Executive VP of Richard Donner Productions, Tugend co-produced RADIO FLYER for Columbia Pictures and SCROOGED, starring Bill Murray, for Paramount Pictures. For HBO, she was also instrumental in the development and production of THE GOONIES and THE LOST BOYS.

Tugend was a mentor in the prestigious Peter Stark Producing Program at USC for 15 years and is an active member of the Producer's Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Producers Guild of America. She is currently teaching film production at UCLA Extension and Columbia College Hollywood, where she is also a member of the Academic Council.

Elaine Dysinger | Thesis Production Mentor

Dysinger is an independent line producer and UPM on feature films. Her most recent project was the thriller WOLVES AT THE DOOR for New Line Cinema. Her 25-year career started in commercial work in Miami, FL, and she entered the film business on Sean Cunningham's THE NEW KIDS. Dysinger transitioned to television movies upon moving to New York City. A cold call took her to North Carolina to work for Sam Raimi on EVIL DEAD II. She pursued further work in Los Angeles on feature films including THE DESPERATE TRAIL and BIODOME. Her other credits include Christopher Nolan's MEMENTO and BOTTLE SHOCK. Dysinger's work has taken her to numerous locations including Kenya, the Yukon Territory, Brazil and New Zealand. Whenever time allows she returns as much as possible to her 30-year passion for cycling both on the road and the velodrome.

Robert "Scott" Fort | Thesis Production Mentor

Fort has been a working professional in the film industry for over 20 years. During the first stage of his career, Scott worked as a Director of Development at Walt Disney Studios for Stuart Gordon, the director of RE-ANIMATOR, developing projects such as DYNOTOPIA, AMERICAN PSYCHO and the sequel to HONEY I SHRUNK THE KIDS. He also worked with indie film producer David Lancaster on various Showtime projects, and later with writer/producer Jim Kouf, also at Walt Disney Studios.

Fort began working in physical production as a Production Coordinator and Production Supervisor for Full Moon Pictures, where he supervised over 25 low-budget horror films. From there, he worked on numerous television pilots and movies of the week at such studios as Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Sony Television, Showtime and Lifetime.

Fort has also worked as a UPM and Line Producer on numerous independent features with directors such as Ken Loach, Christopher Coppola, Andy Fleming and Joe Dante. He has worked in locations as diverse as Utah, Arizona, Missouri, Mississippi, New Mexico, Louisiana, Texas and North Carolina, and has developed an expertise in creating budgets and shooting schedules for film financing packages. Credits include KISS KISS BANG BANG, WAITRESS, NIP/TUCK and ACT OF VALOR.

Most recently Fort was the executive producer on BONE TOMAHAWK, which was on more than 40 best film lists. Other recent credits include BURYING THE EX for Voltage Pictures, BLOOD IN THE WATER for Level 33 Entertainment and PUBLIC DISTURBANCE for Lionsgate Studios. Future credits include a horror film for Blumhouse Studios and a romantic comedy for Netflix. Fort is a member of the DGA and PGA.

Andy House | Thesis Production Mentor

House most recently served as the Head of Production for Gaumont International TV, where he set up and supervised the productions of HANNIBAL for NBC and HEMLOCK GROVE for Netflix. He has 30-plus years of production management experience supervising television series and movies across the U.S. and Canada, as well as locations around the world. Before moving to Gaumont, he was based in Moscow, Russia, where as senior vice president of production for Sony Pictures Int. he represented the studio in a joint venture company producing Russian language TV series for broadcast across the Russian Federation. In 1998, House was based in Hong Kong where he was in charge of Sony TV's production in China and Southeast Asia. During his 18-year tenure with Sony Pictures he supervised more than 25 TV series (including BREAKING BAD, JOAN OF ARCADIA and MAD ABOUT YOU), 50 pilots and 30 television movies for U.S. networks. Before joining Sony, he worked as an assistant director and production manager for nearly every major studio in Hollywood.

His credits appeared on, among others, THE A TEAM, FALCON CREST, E.T. THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL (second unit) and PUMPKINHEAD. He earned a Master of Arts Degree in Communications from Michigan State University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business & Advertising from the University of Southern California.

Kool Marder | Thesis Production Mentor

Marder began her industry career as an assistant to the Emmy® and Academy Award®-winning director and cinematographer Haskell Wexler. She quickly worked her way up the Hollywood ladder, becoming a production coordinator on numerous films including THE BIG EASY, MOON OVER PARADOR and DOWN AND OUT IN BEVERLY HILLS.

Marder was one of the first production coordinators to rise to the position of unit production manager on such films as NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, THE DREAM CHILD and David Lynch's WILD AT HEART (1990 Palme d'Or winner). She was also the associate producer on the original motion picture HALLOWEEN.

Marder spent the next 11 years as Vice President of Production for Universal Studios, where she oversaw upwards of over 50 feature films, including FRIED GREEN TOMATOES, CASINO, CARLITO'S WAY, OUT OF SIGHT, MAN ON THE MOON, AMERICAN PIE, THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, ERIN BROCKOVICH and THE BOURNE IDENTITY.

She has collaborated with such filmmakers as Steven Spielberg, Brian De Palma, Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh, Miloš Forman, Robert Zemeckis, Peter Jackson, Ang Lee, Terry Gilliam and Kathryn Bigelow.

Marder has filled the role as Head of Production for numerous production companies including Incentive Film Entertainment, where she oversaw three films including Derek Cianfrance's BLUE VALENTINE. Marder also operated as Head of Production for a bond company with the responsibility of overseeing approximately 60 feature films, five of them in China. They include: THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM; Ang Lee's, LUST, CAUTION; and John Woo's RED CLIFF. Other films that Marder bonded are 3:10 TO YUMA, THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR. PARNASSUS (Heath Ledger's last film), WHITE RIBBON (2009 Palme D'Or winner) and the 2010 Academy Award®-winning film THE HURT LOCKER.

Vanessa Hayes | Thesis Post-Production Mentor

With over three decades of production and post-production experience, Hayes landed as a post producer through her love of editing (the final re-write) mixed with the alchemy of image capture, sound design, CGI/visual effects and music — ingredients that transform narrative storytelling into the world of moving action. Most recently, she was the Visual Effects Producer on season one of SHADOWHUNTERS, and served as co-producer on season one of the DirectTV series KINGDOM; AMC series THE DIVIDE; CW series RINGER; Fox series NEW AMSTERDAM and AGAINST THE LAW; NBC series LOVE BITES and RAINES; TNT's SAVED; ABC's NOTHING SACRED; and the Robert Altman-executive-produced pilot GUN. All told she has post-produced and delivered over 375 hours of network and cable programming including television movies, miniseries, and two "fat" reality shows, AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL and STARTING OVER. Additionally, Hayes post-supervised features for Warner Brothers, Miramax, New Line Cinema, LIVE Entertainment, HBO Films including writer/director John Ridley's first feature, COLD AROUND THE HEART, Oliver Stone's FREEWAY and the Pate Brothers' THE GRAVE — the latter two premiering at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival.

Furtherance to her long career in post-production, Hayes was Production Executive for Dove Entertainment, where she oversaw international feature and miniseries co-productions in Canada and Croatia. At one point she injected herself into a more corporate landscape as Vice-President/Post Production for the Kushner Locke Company, where she directly supervised post on a laundry list of television and feature film projects shot in Canada, Europe, New Zealand and Mexico. Working with many A-level producers and directors, she counts David Manson, John Landgraf, Robert Lovenheim, Barbara Bloom, Pam Veasey, Preston Fischer, Steve Schott, Tony Goldwyn, Richard Pearce, Frank Pierson and Abel Ferrara as mentors and influencers.

Since she first entered the production business, Hayes has experienced the shift and growth of a film-based world to a completely digital landscape that included the amazing morphing of moviolas to AVIDs, celluloid opticals/stop-motion effects to the most advanced forms of CGI/2D and 3D visual effects. She has a deep and abiding interest in how technology has and can continue to advance the art of filmmaking with a passion for discovering new alternate paths to content creation and distribution. Her motto: "Post is not above or below the line … it is on the line!"

Thomas Mahoney | Thesis Production Mentor

Producer Mahoney is a graduate of the AFI Conservatory Producing program and the University of Nevada Las Vegas. His recent credits include THE GIRL IN THE PHOTOGRAPHS (executive-produced by Wes Craven) and ANARCHY PARLOR. Out of AFI, Mahoney produced REMOVAL, based on one of his short films, directed by Nick Simon, which was distributed in 2010 by Lionsgate. Following their theatrical releases, all of his projects can currently be found on Netlfix, iTunes, Hulu and Amazon.

Previously, he was VP of Production at Cinipix, where he guided the production and post-production of the independent feature RAZE, released by IFC Midnight. Mahoney also instructs film producing at Marymount California University, and resides on the Board of Jurors for the Las Vegas Film Festival. Along the way, he has worked with some industry mavens that have helped influence his career moving forward including Wes Craven and Roger Corman. Mahoney is currently developing a slate of independent genre films.

Jaki West | Thesis Production Mentor

Jaki West has been a DGA Unit Production Manger for the past 15 years. Her UPM credits include STREET, SENSITIVE MEN, APPLAUSE FOR MISS E, OF GOD AND KINGS and FAIR GAME. Credits include the documentary MOST SECRET: THE GREATEST ESPIONAGE STORY NEVER TOLD, and independent features UNFILTERED and DRY GULCH KID. AUPM credits include DECODING ANNIE PARKER, THE LIST, FREE FALL, WILD ABOUT HARRY, JUNCTION and POLITICS OF LOVE.

Prior to her work in independent features, West worked as first assistant director and production manager on feature film promotions, staged entertainment promotions and TV commercials. Her work included several Cirque Du Soleil productions, Ringling Brothers and Marvel stage shows, and literally hundreds of commercials, filming across the United States and around the world.

Wendy Bricmont | Thesis Editorial Mentors

Bricmont received a BAFTA Award for her first film, ANNIE HALL. Most recently she edited THE LAYOVER, with William H. Macy directing. She edited THE DUFF and the David Frankel film ONE CHANCE for The Weinstein Company. Bricmont helped launch the film franchise DIARY OF A WIMPY KID. She has edited HOTEL FOR DOGS, MAD MONEY for director Callie Khouri and I THINK I LOVE MY WIFE for director Chris Rock. Other film editing credits include MEAN GIRLS for AFI alumnus Mark Waters, HERBIE FULLY LOADED, MY FIRST MISTER for director Christine Lahti and MY GIRL for director Howard Zieff.

She has worked with Ivan Reitman on six films, editing KINDERGARTEN COP, SIX DAYS SEVEN NIGHTS, EVOLUTION, FATHER'S DAY, JUNIOR and MY SUPER X GIRLFRIEND. Other film credits include THE SWEETEST THING, MY GIRL 2, LICENSE TO DRIVE, THE RICH MAN'S WIFE, RACE THE SUN, LIGHT IT UP, SURRENDER, CALENDAR GIRL and THE CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR. Her television credits include Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg's AMAZING STORIES, and HBO's PERFECT WITNESS, directed by Robert Mandel. Bricmont is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, American Cinema Editors and Motion Picture Editors Guild.

Kelley Dixon | Thesis Editorial Mentors

Dixon grew up with a single mom who taught school on Chicago's south side.

After graduating from Colorado State University with a Journalism degree, she headed west and landed a production assistant job on CBS's THIRTYSOMETHING. Learning the ropes with editors there, Dixon became a switch-hitting film-and-digital/features-and-TV assistant editor. This spring-boarded her into a ridiculously extended and embarrassingly long period of assistant editing.

She worked on features FREDDY'S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE, RESERVOIR DOGS, HOODLUM and GOOD WILL HUNTING. In television, she has worked on HBO's TYSON, CBS's CITY OF ANGELS and WITHOUT A TRACE, Showtime's HUFF and NBC's REVELATIONS. Somewhere between it all, she even did a year-long stint doing tech support for the editing system Lightworks.

Winning the "Assistant Editor Lottery" in 2007 when her editor, Lynne Willingham cut the BREAKING BAD pilot, Dixon became the series' second editor. She has been nominated for five ACE Awards and eight Emmys® — winning one Emmy® in 2013 — for her work on BREAKING BAD.

Dixon has also been editing on HBO's LUCK, Showtime's SHAMELESS, and AMC's THE WALKING DEAD, HALT AND CATCH FIRE and PREACHER. She has also served as an editor on the BREAKING BAD spinoff BETTER CALL SAUL.

Lynzee Klingman | Thesis Editorial Mentors

With a degree in 20th Century History from Columbia University, Klingman spent her early career working on documentaries, notably Emile de Antonio's Oscar®-nominated IN THE YEAR OF THE PIG, and HEARTS AND MINDS, which won the Academy Award® for the Best Documentary Feature. She won the BAFTA Award and was nominated for an Academy Award® for her work on ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST and worked again with director Miloš Forman on the musical HAIR and on MAN ON THE MOON. Some other credits include TRUE CONFESSIONS, BABY BOOM, OUTBREAK, PROTOCOL, ALI and A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT. She edited LITTLE MAN TATE, HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, as well as THE BEAVER for director Jodie Foster, and WAR OF THE ROSES, MATILDA and HOFFA for Danny DeVito. Some independent films include Sundance Audience Award winner PICTURE BRIDE, LIVING OUT LOUD and PANIC.

Klingman is a member of American Cinema Editors, a Governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and on the Advisory Board Member for the Brooks Institute and the Liberty Hill Foundation. She has been an advisor to the Sundance Institute's Summer Film Lab and the National Film Institute in Beaconsfield, UK. She is also on the faculty of USC School of Cinematic Arts.