Faculty - VCUarts Department of Cinema

ROB TREGENZA, PhD, Professor, Program Director

Dr. Tregenza on set.

Dr. Tregenza on set.

Rob Tregenza is a writer, director, producer, and cinematographer. He has written, directed, and photographed three independent feature films that have each screened at the Cannes Film Festival under “Un Certain Regard,” and the Berlin Film Festival under “Panorama.” Over the years, these films have also appeared at festivals such as Toronto, Sundance, Rotterdam, and Edinburgh.

Tregenza’s directorial work has been positively reviewed in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Los Angeles Times by prominent critics such as Vincent Canby, Dave Kehr, Jonathan Rosenbaum, and Roger Ebert. In 1999, a retrospective of his feature films was shown at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.

Perhaps the highest recognition of Tregenza’s work comes from one of the most important European directors of the 20th century, Jean-Luc Godard, who hand selected Tregenza’s Talking to Strangers to screen at Toronto in 1996. 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 sur Rob Tregenza” (Five Letters to and About Rob Tregenza) may be found in the book Jean-Luc Godard: Documents, published in 2006 by the modern and contemporary art institution Le Centre Pompidou.

In addition to feature filmmaking, Tregenza’s award-winning career as a television commercial director and cameraman for clients such as IBM, DuPont, CSX, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and numerous non-profits; as well his cinematography work for other independent filmmakers such as Bela Tarr and Alex Cox, has allowed him to have shot extensively in Africa, South America, Asia, Eastern Europe, Spain and the United Kingdom.

He received his PhD from UCLA and was the founder and director of the Tampa International Film Festival.



Professor Kjeldsen on the set of "Last Spring."

Professor Kjeldsen on the set of “Last Spring.”

Kirk Kjeldsen studied cinema at the University of Southern California, where he received an MFA in screenwriting under the tutelage of Frank Daniel. He also studied at Lafayette College and Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn in Germany. He has been a finalist and semi-finalist in a number of screenwriting fellowships and competitions, including the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, and Scriptapalooza. Kjeldsen has sold, optioned, and developed material for a number of producers in various markets.

While attending USC, Kjeldsen worked as a development assistant at Sundance. He also worked on television shows including NBC’s Whoopi and FOX’s The Inside. In addition to film and TV work, he studied theater at HB Studios and is a co-founder of the White Horse Theater Company. Kjeldsen developed material with LAByrinth Theater Company and has had workshops and staged readings of his plays there, as well as Kitchen Dog Theater’s 2010 New Works Festival.

Kjeldsen has worked extensively as a journalist, and has served as a freelance and staff reporter and writer for a number of publications. His first novel, Tomorrow City, was named one of the top ten books of 2013 by the New Jersey Star-Ledger.


J.M. TYREE, MFA, Distinguished Visiting Professor

Professor Tyree.

Image courtesy of J.M. Tyree.

J.M. Tyree is the Nonfiction Editor at The New England Review. A former Truman Capote–Wallace Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer at Stanford University, he is the author of BFI Film Classics: Salesman and coauthor (with Ben Walters) of BFI Film Classics: The Big Lebowski, via the British Film Institute. His writing has appeared in The Nation, Lapham’s Quarterly, The Believer, Film Quarterly, KQED’s The Writers’ Block, and in the anthologies Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans: Best of McSweeney’s Humor Category and Best of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. He has spoken at London’s National Film Theatre and contributed to Sight & Sound magazine’s “2012 Greatest Films Poll,” as well as its “2014 Greatest Documentaries Poll.” His newest book, Our Secret Life in the Movies, a work of fiction coauthored with Michael McGriff, has received critical acclaim within the literary community and has received positive reviews from NPR, Vogue, and BBC.


PENNY ADAMS, DGA, Adjunct Professor

Professor Adams on the set of "Prima Donna."

Professor Adams on the set of “Prima Donna.”

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 moved to California and became the eleventh woman admitted to the Director’s Guild of America Trainee Program—from which she advanced into the guild as a full-fledged member, thus marking the beginning of a long career in film and TV.

After graduating from the trainee program, Adams immediately landed the position of Second Assistant Director on The Muppet Movie. She then worked in positions such as First Assistant Director and Unit Production Manager on a variety of television shows including Miami Vice, The White Shadow, and Cheers.

Her first assignment as Producer was on the final two seasons of Hill Street Blues. Adams would then continue to produce sitcoms, single-camera comedies, comedy and drama pilots, and drama series. Notable among the array include Coming of Age, Madman of the People, Columbo, Midnight Caller, The Division, ER, and Reno 911! According to Adams, The Live Show of ER and feature film Reno 911: Miami both presented themselves as special challenges that put her years of learning to the test.

Adams served as a Production Executive at HBO for two seasons, overseeing several drama and comedy pilots. Currently, she is a struggling novelist, a Benedictine, a certified Spiritual Director, and an Emeritus Trustee of Marietta College.


JAMES CONTNER, DGA, Adjunct Professor

Professor Contner on the set of "A Creative Use for a Straw."

Professor Contner on the set of “A Creative Use for a Straw.”

James Contner began his career in New York as an assistant cameraman. During this time, he worked primarily on motion pictures. Notably, Contner was First Camera Assistant on Jaws.

After five years as an assistant, Contner moved up to Camera Operator on the trans-American television series Movin’ On. He then continued operating on various movies-for-television, TV series’, and over ten feature films of which include Superman, The Wiz, All That Jazz, and On Golden Pond. After working with director William Friedkin as an operator on The Brinks Job, Contner was promoted to Director of Photography for Friedkin’s, Cruising, starring Al Pacino.

Contner continued filming motion pictures for the next seven years, lending his talents to films such as 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. Contner photographed a small project for Michael Mann, who was, at the time, executive producer of the then-emerging television series Miami Vice, a show that was changing the look of television. Mann invited Contner to take over DP duties on the series.

Contner 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 Contner the chance to direct one of the episodes.

This one episode led to a directing career in television would span the next twenty-four years. Over this period, Contner 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 Campire Slayer.









Danny Caporaletti is a writer/filmmaker based in Richmond, Virginia and New Orleans, Louisiana.  His work has been published in PoictesmeSink/SwimBluestem. Perversion Magazine, and New Orleans&Me.

He is currently an MFA candidate in fiction writing at the University of New Orleans. He’s worked as a crew member on various commercial and independent film and television projects, including Lincoln and Mercy Street. He’s also produced and directed several short films that have screened at events in New Orleans. He is an alumni of the VCUarts Cinema program.



JOCHEN KUNSTLER, Adjunct Professor

Professor Kunstler teaching a workshop.

Professor Kunstler teaching a workshop.

Born and raised in Germany, Jochen Kunstler got his start at ZDF German Television in production management. He moved to the United States in 1997 for the Film, Television, Video, and New Media program at UCLA Extension in Los Angeles, CA.

After finishing the program, Kunstler produced and directed the documentary Deeds Not Words about the Wildlife Way Station in the Angeles National Forest, which aired on Discovery UK. Since 2000 Kunstler has edited a variety of programs for Percy Adlon (acclaimed director of Bagdad Café) among other directors. Percy Adlon’s feature film Mahler on the Couch made its world premiere at the 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival. The Hollywood Reporter prizes Kunstler’s editorial talent: “Benedict Neuenfels’ cinematography is lush and romantic, and Jochen Kunstler’s editing neatly entwines past and present.”

Kunstler was also praised for his work in Adlon’s feature film Hawaiian Gardens, hailed “a brilliantly edited real life drama” by the Hollywood Reporter after its premiere at the Munich Film Festival. Koenig’s Sphere (a documentary about sculptor Fritz Koenig in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11th) premiered at the Tribeca Film festival 2003 and will be part of the collection at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City. Kunstler continues to refine and expand his expertise in new formats through work on narrative short films including No Destination, with John Savage (Method Fest 2007, Staten Island Film Festival 2007), and Innocence Remains, which premiered at Frameline 33 in San Francisco. He edited the Sony Web series Angel of Death (directed by Paul Etheredge), which became the most watched program on Sony’s Crackle.com. Kunstler’s latest feature, the Pakistani film Josh (Against the Grain) by director Iram Parveen Bilal, premiered at the Mumbai Film Festival in 2012, and has consequently received theatrical distribution in Pakistan, the US, and now UK and France.

A filmmaker in his own right, Kunstler has produced and directed three documentaries which have shown at US film festivals, National University of Film and Video Association conferences, and aired on Discovery UK.


ART ENG, Industry Professional, DP

Professor Eng on the set of "A/C."

Professor Eng on the set of “A/C.”

Art 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, digital imaging, and lighting for national television spots and docudramas. He received 16 Emmy Awards for television spots shot in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington.

Eng worked on indie features such as John Waters’ Polyester, Mark Rosman’s The House on Sorority Row, Rob Tregenza’s Inside/Out, and major Hollywood films such as Rocky 5. For the Dino De Laurentis Entertainment Group, he worked on Prancer, Bedroom Window, and numerous shows in Wilmington, North Carolina. For twelve years, Eng 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.



ANNE CHAPMAN, Industry Professional, Casting Director

From Anne Chapman Casting.

From Anne Chapman Casting.

Anne Chapman has worked in casting and talent for over 25 years. As Casting Director for VCUarts Cinema, Chapman has overseen the casting of almost ever 35mm student film since 2007.

The first feature Chapman worked on was Childsplay, the original “Chucky” movie. She contributed to the casting of numerous features including Punchline, Three Men and a Baby, Uncle Buck, and When Harry Met Sally. More recently, she served as Virginia Casting Director (with Erica Arvold) for Spielberg’s Lincoln as well as National Geographic’s Killing Lincoln. She 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.

Chapman 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. She loves finding and nurturing new actors and feels nothing is more satisfying than watching an actor’s career take off. Additionally, she has served on the Board of The Virginia Production Alliance for 9 years including 2 years as President. She is very appreciative of her husband, son, and daughter, who always let her watch the credits all the way to the end!



CHARLIE HARRIS, Industry Professional, G&E Specialist

Professor Harris teaching a workshop.

Professor Harris teaching a workshop.

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. Harris 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.