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Film & Television Program

Meet the faculty

DEPARTMENT FACULTY – LA SIERRA FILM

Writing Faculty - La Sierra Film

Rodney Vance

RODNEY VANCE

With NAPA VALLEY DREAMS, a giant screen film, Rodney Vance pioneered a new model of film education featuring film students and professionals working side by side to create new content.  NAPA VALLEY DREAMS, the first documentary film to use the new Dolby Atmos sound mix, achieved global distribution and demonstrated the workability of the approach.  Using the same model, Rodney next directed THE BUTTERFLY, THE HARP AND THE TIMEPIECE starring Academy Award Winner Melissa Leo and Golden Globe Winner Alex Ebert.  Alex Geringas, 2013 Grammy Winner for Best Pop Album, composed the score.  BUTTERFLY will release through the film festival circuit before opening to the general public in the summer of 2015.  Rodney has worked as Head Writer on two multi-award winning television series (Lifestyle Magazine, The Evidence), sold or was hired to write several screenplays and stage plays, one of which (Token) won the Judge’s Choice Award in the Edward Albee International Playwriting Competition.  He also wrote a children’s book called De’Monte Love (pub. by Visikid Books).  Rodney produced more than thirty stage plays and events, including an event for the Pan American Youth Congress at the Mexico City Sports Palace and one for a World Congress of Seventh-day Adventists at the New Orleans Superdome.  He worked as an expert consultant in writing for the Government Accountability Office in Washington, D.C. and as a classical announcer for WGTS-FM in Washington D.C. and NPR member station WAUS-FM in southwestern Michigan.  Rodney is an active member of the Writers Guild of America, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and, ahem, MENSA.

 

JORDI ROS

Before coming to La Sierra Film, Jordi Ros taught at AFI and UCLA in Los Angeles, Chapman University in Orange County and Singapore, and Northwestern University in Chicago.  He was Senior Vice-President, Production at Touchstone Pictures, The Walt Disney Company; President of Lynda Obst Productions, Paramount Pictures; and President of Production and Acquisitions at Arenas Entertainment, Universal Pictures where he worked with such directors as Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Steve Zaillian, Michael Mann, and Robert Redford.  A few of the many award-winning films he developed include COOL RUNNINGS, CITY OF ANGELS, RANSOM, KUNDUN, THE HORSE WHISPERER, ENEMY OF THE STATE, and THE INSIDER.  His studio connections bring an invaluable resource to the Internship program.  Jordi has his Masters in Business Administration from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, his Masters in Film Production and Media Studies from New School/Parsons School and was a Ph.D. Fellow at Northwestern University.  As an indicator of the breadth of his interests, he double-majored in Chemistry and Philosophy while an undergraduate at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.  Jordi continues to write, primarily animated feature films, and is a member of the Writers Guild of America.  Of particular interest to La Sierra University, Jordi’s great aunt was a founder of the Seventh-day Adventist church in Spain.

 

CHRISTOPH SILBER

Born in Berlin and raised bilingually in a German-English family, Chris studied French and English Literature and History in Berlin and London.  Early success as a journalist and songwriter led him to pursue a professional writing career.  He went on to work as a film critic and saw several of his stage plays produced in Berlin and Vienna.  In 1996 Chris began to focus entirely on film and television.  He has collaborated on over 25 films and dozens of TV episodes in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the UK and the United States.  Dubbed “one of Europe’s hottest new screenwriters” by Screen International, Chris has several international award winners to his name, including GOOD BYE LENIN, ARRANGED and NORTH FACE.  In 2014 he won the International Emmy for A DAY FOR A MIRACLE.  A head writer and creator of sitcoms as well as crime series, his TV experience spans BBC docu-drama and award winning films for TATORT, Europe’s leading crime format.  In 2011 the Vilcek Foundation honored Chris Silber as “an immigrant filmmaker... whose creative spirit enlivens and inspires American cinema."  Based in Los Angeles since 2012, Chris is a co-owner of New York based indie film company Silver Shepherd.  Their recent production MY LAST DAY WITHOUT YOU, which he co-wrote and produced, won the 2012 Black Reels Award and was released by AMC Independent in the fall of 2013.  Chris is currently developing a feature film with renowned Hollywood producer Bill Teitler (Jumanji, Polar Express) and a period TV miniseries for Emmy- and BAFTA-winning London based production Mammoth Screen (Parade’s End).  Based in the US since 2008, he is a member of the German Film Academy and the Writers Guild of America.

 

DONALD DAVENPORT

Although he writes for many formats, few people can write movies for television better than Don.  His CHRISTMAS IN CANAAN was Hallmark’s highest rated movie in 2009 and anchored Hallmark’s all-time highest rated week.  Both CHRISTMAS and EXPECTING A MIRACLE, another movie by Don, were #1-rated weekly movies on ad-supported cable.  As President of Casa Francisca Productions, Don as writer and producer partnered to create content with Hallmark Entertainment, Larry Levinson Productions and The Hatchery.  He wrote the independent feature HELL AND MR. FUDGET and worked as in-house producer/director for over 300 hours of multi-camera talk and live-to-tape shows, including the award-winning LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE, Lloyd Ogilvie’s weekly syndicated show from Hollywood Presbyterian Church and THE NEW NOEL, an ABC-TV Christmas Eve special.  Don is a member of the Writers Guild of America.

Production Faculty - La Sierra Film

Carrie Specht poses with Stephen Sobel(Writer), and Barry Wilson (Cinematographer), during filming of "The Road Trip."

CARRIE SPECHT

Top ten finalist of the ABC/Disney Director’s Fellowship of 2005, Three-time recipient of the NYU Producing Award, Three-time recipient of the Writers Guild of America Scholarship at NYU, produced Short Films earned two Student Academy Awards, A Princess Grace Award, An African American Student Filmmaker Award and a Best Drama of the New York International Short Film Festival – Carrie Specht brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Production Emphasis. 

A member of the Directors Guild of America, she worked on CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION; STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE; MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE; ALIAS and many more.  Her MFA in Film from New York University is in Producing and she runs two film blogs: ClassicFilmSchool.com and RetroSpecht.com.

 

STEWART HARTY

AVID is the editing software system used by the studios and large production companies.  In the late 80’s, Stew was an early adopter of the AVID, a digital editing system.  After a brief time working as an editor and assistant editor, he started a business training and renting the AVID systems to Ad Agencies, Hollywood Studios, Television Networks and Independent Production companies.  During that time he became the official trainer, and his facility became the official training site, for the Editors Guild.  In the early 90’s Stew co-founded LA Digital, an AVID rental and post-production facility.  The company went from just under a million dollars in sales in the first ten months to 12 million in gross revenue by the third year.  The company started with two AVID’s and a 2500 square foot office and grew to over 100 AVID’s and three facilities strategically located throughout Los Angeles and San Francisco.  Through this time Stew worked on such television projects as FRIENDS, ER, JAG, DREW CAREY and THE WEST WING.  He also worked on such feature film projects as LA CONFIDENTIAL, DRAGONHEART, THE ROCK and all three MATRIX films.  In his over 27 years of experience Stew has enjoyed working on a wide range of single camera and multi-camera projects.  He has also trained numerous assistant editors and editors on the AVID, many being Emmy or Oscar winners.   This work provided opportunity to interface with Actors, Directors, Producers and Studio Executive facilitating a broad experience with the entire production process.  Throughout his career, Stew has often sought opportunities to work on innovative faith based projects.  He loves to teach and has a real passion to inspire students to produce compelling content that matters.

 

JEREMY VANNIX

Jeremy has been working in the Industry for the past 14 years as a Post-Production Supervisor, Editor, and Visual Effects Artist.  Projects include; National Television shows, Commercials and Award Winning Feature Films.  His creative and technical skills cover all aspects of the filmmaking process (development, filming, post and delivery to market).  His knowledge of broadcast & theatrical delivery requirements provide clients with an individual who can effectively deal with Film Festivals, TV and Cable Networks and Theatrical Distributors.  In 2002 Jeremy was a Visual Effects Artist on “The Conscientious Objector”, a feature film that won Best Documentary at Cinequest Film Festival. Jeremy was nominated for Best Film Editing in 2010 at the Action On Film Festival in Pasadena for his work on "Pizza With Bullets" a theatrical feature starring two time Academy Award Nominee Talia Shire.  Later in 2010 he won the Award for Achievement In Filmmaking at the Las Vegas International Film Festival for his work on this film.  In 2010 he worked on the DRIVE4COPD PSA sponsored by NASCAR© and Boehringer Ingelheim featuring Danica Patrick, Billy Ray Cyrus, Patty Loveless, Bruce Jenner & Michael Strahan.  During the Spring of 2012 Jeremy directed and edited the short film “Favor” which was nominated for Best Comedy at the 168 Film Festival in Los Angeles. In 2013 he handled all Post & Visual Effects Supervision on the documentary “Napa Valley Dreams” a film finished in 4K (IMAX Resolution) and with state of the art Dolby© ATMOS sound.

 

CHRIS JAMES

With extensive experience as an audio engineer, Chris knows Pro Tools systems inside and out and has a working knowledge in other DAWS including: Saw Pro, Cubase, Nuendo, GarageBand etc.  He has worked extensively on Avid D-Command and Pro Control consoles, Neve VR consoles as well as 8078’s and SSL G+ series with Ultimation.  He has immense experience with digital audio equipment, DA-88’s, ADAT’s, 3348’s, etc. as well as working with digital consoles such as Digico, Yamaha, Panasonic etc.  He knows video synchronization and clocking issues well and has worked with Lynx systems, Aardvark, and Apogee equipment daily.  He is also skilled in numerous types of outboard gear, microphones, preamps etc.  Now, if you don’t know what all that means, it means La Sierra Film is the right place to learn Production and Post-Production Audio – and Chris is the right man to teach you.  Chris has done sound, sound mixing, and Foley for more than 30 films and 12 TV projects.  He’s passionate about his work and after you meet him, you will be too.

Collaborating Faculty - La Sierra Film

Faculty from Other Departments whose Courses Regularly Enhance the Film Major

 

FRANKIE FARRELL

 

Teaches Production Sound, Recording Technology, and Audio Processing as part of the Music Technology Major housed in the Music Department.

 

ANDREW HOWE

 

As Chair of the History Department, Andrew oversees the Film Minor, a degree focused on Film History and Theory.  Delve into the relationships between popular culture and film studies with courses from this minor.

 

MARILYNN LOVELESS

 

Dr. Loveless is the artistic director of the theater program at La Sierra University where she teaches script writing, acting, directing and performance classes.  An award-winning director and writer, Marilynn has earned meritorious achievement awards from the Kennedy Center American Colleges Theatre Festival, for her direction of "Othello" (2005), "The Taming of the Shrew" (2006), "The Accidental Death of An Anarchist" (2007) and "A Midsummer's Night Dream" (2011).  In 2004 Marilynn received a Ph.D.— and a citation of academic excellence for achieving perfect scores from all of the examiners of her dissertation—from the School of Arts at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, for her renegade study that proves the plausibility of Mrs. Shakespeare’s authorship of the canon usually attributed to her husband William.  Since 1986 Marilynn has worked as a television producer and writer, producing more than 135 half-hour televisions shows in Australia and New Zealand, a series of television shows "Medicine and the Law" for the Australian Satellite television network and has co-written two award-winning Christmas specials which were screened on the Hallmark channel in 2006 and 2007.  In the past 11 years Marilynn has directed and/or produced more than 50 live performances at both university theaters and at local community theaters in Washington Stage and at La Sierra University.

 

TY RUST

 

Teaches Post-Production Sound and Electronic Music Systems as part of the Music Technology Major housed in the Music Department.

 

TERRILL THOMAS

 

Chair of the Art Department, Terrill’s specialty is Animation, Interactive Media and Graphic Design.  He graduated from Art Center College of Design and worked in the technology and entertainment industries for 10 years as a digital illustrator and graphic designer.  He directed a flash animation studio for Atomfilms.com in Hollywood.  Terrill currently develops and teaches web, multimedia, video, digital photography and illustration courses at the Art Department.  Working professionally with select clients allows him to stay current in these disciplines.  All design projects are based on real world projects.  Past Clients include: Microsoft, Western Digital, Nokia, Swatch, Motown Records, M Records, and Warner Brothers.  The Art Department is also a good place to take Color, Design, and Composition, especially useful for those who want to work as Directors, Cinematographers, or Art Designers.

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