ROB TREGENZA, PhD, Professor
Rob Tregenza has written, directed and photographed three award-winning independent feature films, films that have been screened at the Cannes Film Festival in the “Certain Regard” category and the Berlin Film Festival in the Panorama section. Over the years, his films have also appeared at the festivals of Toronto, Sundance, Rotterdam and Edinburgh.
His work has been positively reviewed in The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times and by such prominent critics as Vincent Canby, Dave Kehr, Jonathan Rosenbaum and Roger Ebert. A retrospective of his feature films was shown at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. in 1999. But perhaps the highest recognition has been the attentions of one of the most important European Directors of the 20th Century, Jean-Luc Godard, who hand-selected Tregenza’s Talking to Strangers to screen again at the 1996 Toronto International Film Festival. Godard describes passages in Tregenza’s films as “remarkable and at times astonishing, that is, softly imbued with the marvelous.” He further explains that in Tregenza’s cinematic world, “reality walks hand in hand with fiction.”
The essay, “Cinq Lettres a et et sur Rob Tregenza” (Five Letters to and about Rob Tregenza) appears in the book Jean-Luc Godard: Documents, published in 2006 by the modern and contemporary art institution of Paris, Le Centre Pompidou. Tregenza has also had an award-winning career as a television commercial director and cameraman for clients like IBM, DuPont, CSX, Blue Cross Blue Shield and numerous non-profits and has worked as a Director of Photography for other independent filmmakers such as Bela Tarr and Alex Cox.
Rob has shot extensively in Africa, South America, Asia, Eastern Europe, Spain and the United Kingdom. He received his PhD from UCLA and is Founder and Director of the Tampa International Film Festival
MARY BETH REED, MFA, Professor
Mary Beth Reed’s films have screened in major national and international festivals including the Rotterdam International Film Festival, the Denver International Film Festival, MadCat Women’s Film Festival, and the San Francisco International Film Festival.
Her films Moon Streams and Montessori Sword Fight both premiered at the New York Film Festival in Views from the Avant Garde . Recent shows include a Cineprobe at MoMA, a show with Colorado filmmaker Robert Schaller at the San Francisco Cinematheque, shows in Europe with filmmaker Courtney Hoskins, and shows in Japan during the Stan Brakhage Retrospective.
Mary Beth studied independent and experimental cinema at the University of Colorado at Boulder where she received her BFA/BA in film and art history. She received an MFA in film from Bard College in 2001. In 2007 Reed graduated from the California Institute of the Arts with another MFA in animation. She has taught film production at the University of Colorado and for three years she worked closely with Stan Brakhage.
Jodie Keeling of Austin Cinemaker Coop has said, “Reed’s Floating Under a Honey Tree stands as a testimony to filmmaking as an artistic process. Through close attention to detail in optical printing and hand processing, she creates films of exquisite color and imagery that dance across the screen with a mesmerizing rhythmical quality that is uniquely her own.” Reed continues to create narrative and experimental films combining hand-painting, animation, traveling mattes and hand processing.
Her films are distributed by Canyon Cinema and Filmmaker’s Co-op and are in the permanent film collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
KIRK KJELDSEN, MFA, Professor
Kirk studied cinema at the University of Southern California, where he received an MFA in screenwriting and was a student of Frank Daniel’s. He also studied cinema, writing and economics at Lafayette College and Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn in Germany. He was a finalist or semi-finalist in a number of screenwriting fellowships and competitions, including AMPAS’ Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting; he has also optioned and developed material for both Hollywood and independent producers, and his most recent work includes a script he co-wrote with Aaron Henry that was optioned by independent director/producer Jason Wulfsohn.
While attending USC, Kirk was a development assistant at the Sundance Institute and later worked in other development positions. He also worked on television shows that include NBC’s “Whoopi” and FOX’s “The Inside.” In addition to film and television work, Kirk studied theater at HB Studios and is a co-founder of the White Horse Theater Company. He developed material at the LAByrinth Theater Company’s 2009 Summer Intensive and has had workshops and staged readings of his plays at LAB’s “Punching the Clock” month of new play development in 2010 and Kitchen Dog Theater’s 2010 New Works Festival.
Kirk has also worked extensively as a journalist and has been a freelance and staff reporter and writer for a number of publications. He has taught writing and film at both universities and non-academic settings, and he has also worked as a research analyst, a construction laborer, a night watchman and a California-licensed racetrack pari-mutuel.
PENNY ADAMS, BA, Professor
Penny Adams holds a BA in Theatre from Marietta College. After graduation, she began her professional life as an Equity Stage Manager at Hayloft Dinner Theatre in Northern Virginia. She then moved to California and became the eleventh woman to be admitted into the Director’s Guild of America Trainee Program—which would later get her into the DGA, and on her way in a career in film and TV production.
After graduating from the trainee program, she landed the position of Second Assistant Director on THE MUPPET MOVIE. Her responsibilities included setting all of the extras in the film. Continuing her way up the ladder, she then worked positions like First Assistant Director and Unit Production Manager on television shows, including MIAMI VICE, THE WHITE SHADOW, and CHEERS, and many other series and television movies.
Her first assignment as a Producer was on the last two seasons of HILL STREET BLUES. Her producing credits include sitcoms, single-camera comedies, both comedy and drama pilots, as well as drama series–notable among which include COMING OF AGE, MADMAN OF THE PEOPLE, COLUMBO, MIDNIGHT CALLER, THE DIVISION, ER, and RENO 911!
The Live Show of ER, and the feature film RENO 911!: MIAMI presented themselves as special challenges that put her years of learning to the test.
Prof. Adams was also a Production Executive at HBO for two seasons, overseeing several drama and comedy pilots.
Ms. Adams is a struggling novelist, a Benedictine, a certified Spiritual Director, and an Emeritus Trustee of Marietta College.
JAMES “JIM” CONTNER, Adjunct Professor
JAMES CONTNER began his career in New York as an assistant cameraman. During this time, he worked primarily on motion pictures; his most notable assignment First Camera Assistant on JAWS.
After five years as an assistant, he moves up to camera operator on MOVIN’ ON, a television series that shot all around the US. He then continued operating on various movies-for-television, TV series, and over ten feature films including SUPERMAN, THE WIZ, ALL THAT JAZZ, and ON GOLDEN POND. After working with director William Friedkin as an operator on THE BRINKS JOB, Jim was offered the opportunity to step up as the Director of Photography on Mr. Friedkin’s following film, CRUISING, starring Al Pacino.
Jim continued filming motion pictures for the next seven years, of which include: NIGHTHAWKS, SO FINE, THE FLAMINGO KID, EDDIE MACON’S RUN, HEAT, and MONKEY SHINES.
During this time, he was also shooting commercials and music videos, one of which happened to be directed by Michael Mann. Mann, who was also Executive Producer of the then-emerging television series MIAMI VICE, a show that was changing the look of television, invited Jim to take over DP duties on the series.
Jim left MIAMI VICE during its second season to return to work in feature film. A year later, Michael Mann reached out once again with CRIME STORY, a new TV series slated to be shot in Chicago and Las Vegas. To sweeten the deal, Mann offered Jim the chance to direct one of the episodes.
This one episode led to a directing career in television that spanned the next twenty-four years. Over that period, Jim directed about 180 hours of dramatic series and movies for network and cable. Notable credits include 21 JUMP STREET, SISTERS, MIDNIGHT CALLER, STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE, CHARMED, ANGEL, FIREFLY, and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.
KEVIN DOWNS, MFA, Adjunct Professor
Kevin Downs holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in film production from New York University’s prestigious department of film and television, where he studied with such influential filmmakers as Ang Lee, Spike Lee and Jim Jarmusch. After leaving NYU, Kevin moved to Los Angeles where he wrote, developed and critiqued screenplays and film projects for Columbia Pictures, Paramount Pictures and New Line Cinema, among others.
Kevin holds a BA in English from VCU. He previously taught at Georgetown University and has over 20 years of experience in teaching film history, screenwriting and film production.
Currently Kevin is developing a documentary series with Los Angeles-based management company JAM, Inc. He is also the producer-director, director of photography and editor of music videos and electronic press kits for such companies as Epic Records, New West Records and Lost Highway Records. His work has been recognized with awards, grants and fellowships from the Louis B. Mayer Foundation, the Cafritz Foundation, WorldFest Houston and the International Telly Awards.
ANNE CHAPMAN, Casting Director
Anne Chapman has worked in casting or as a talent agent for over 25 years. As Casting Director for the VCUarts Cinema Department, Anne has overseen the casting of scores of 35mm student films since 2007. The first feature she collaborated on was CHILDSPLAY, the original “CHUCKY” movie. Anne has contributed to the casting of numerous features including PUNCHLINE, THREE MEN AND A BABY, UNCLE BUCK, and WHEN HARRY MET SALLY. More recently, Anne served as Virginia Casting Director (w/ Erica Arvold) for Spielberg’s LINCOLN as well as National Geographic’s KILLING LINCOLN. She also cast THE ABOLITIONIST for WGBH American Experience and PBS’ FOR LOVE OF LIBERTY: THE STORY OF AMERICA’S BLACK PATRIOTS.
As an agent at the Geddes Agency in Chicago she had the pleasure of working on behalf of: John C. Reilly, John Cusack, Jeremy Piven, Hope Davis, Lili Taylor, Joel Murray, Dennis Farina, Chris Farley, Jason Weaver, Ian Gomez, David Koechner, Chelcie Ross, Harry J Lennix, Skip Sudduth, Neil Flynn, David Pasquesi, and Christopher Cartmill.
Anne graduated from the University of Kansas in 1985 with a BA in Theatre and Film. She has been living and working in Richmond, Virginia since 1998, Anne loves finding and nurturing new actors and feels nothing is more satisfying than watching an actor’s career take-off.
Additionally, Anne has served on the Board of The Virginia Production Alliance for 9 years including 2 years as President. She is also very appreciative of her husband and son and daughter who always let her watch the credits all the way to the end!!
ART ENG, BFA, Adjunct Assistant Professor
Professor Eng has been an award winning Director of Photography for over thirty years and has also owned and operated Red Eye Camera Rental in Baltimore, Maryland. He has a wide range of professional and artistic experience in motion picture feature film photography and digital imaging and lighting for national television spots and docudramas. He received 16 Emmy Awards for television spots shot in Philly, Baltimore and Washington.
Prof. Eng worked on indie features such as John Water’s POLYESTER, HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW, INSIDE/OUT and also major Hollywood films such as ROCKY 5. For the Dino De Laurentis Entertainment Group he worked on PRANCER and BEDROOM WINDOW and numerous shows in Wilmington, North Carolina. For twelve years, he was an official White House cinematographer for Presidents Reagan and Bush.
As a BFA art student, at the Maryland Institute College of Art, he studied photography with Ansel Adams, glass blowing with Gale Chihuly and also cultural studies with Dr. Margaret Mead.
CHARLIE HARRIS, MFA, Adjunct Assistant Professor
Charlie Harris has been working in the film industry since 1986 and has worked on over 50 feature films and TV movies as well as hundreds of commercials. He has worked on films including The New World, Hannibal and The Blindside as key rigging grip, best boy rigging grip and grip.
He received his BA in Mass Communications from VCU and his MFA in Film Production from Boston University.
Charlie is an adjunct professor at VCU. He teaches workshops on introduction to the camera department, basic lighting, camera movement, and advanced camera. He is also an adviser for the summer intensives.