Alumni Feature: Hunter Brumfield

Hunter Brumfield is currently working as a freelance director and editor. He works on regional and coastal Tv spots, brand anthems or web media. He is also always improving his craft through working on music videos and short films – which at the same time helps him increase his visibility. Hunter began working in the film industry freshman year at VCU when he heard there was a lifetime christmas movie being filmed in downtown Richmond. He jumped at the opportunity to be a production assistant on set. He wanted to get a real feel for how the world operated. “It felt a bit like a thankless job in a sense, but in hindsight it was an invaluable experience and one that everyone should go through as a student.” says Brumfield. “Being on set, even if it’s a schlocky christmas movie, humbles you to the mass amount of positions that a set requires.”

Above is the music video Brumfield directed for Lucy Dacus’ song I Don’t Wanna be Funny Anymore.

Continuing in his undergraduate degree, he worked as an assistant for a corporate photographer where he learned the language of being a creative as well as how to deal with corporate clients. He says there is a deftness and structure in how you handle them. Hunter continued his photo assistant work into his senior year and he was asked to work on a job for the World Trade Center doing data management and C camera. This means he was running the 3rd camera, picking up smaller shots while the A and B cameras gathered the main footage. This was for a production company based downtown that had a very high stress environment. Here, everything he had been learning in previous jobs was culminating into one. After getting back to VA, he was asked to edit the project. He did this job for free, knowing that the company would likely offer him a paid gig the next time if he was able to impress them and sure enough they did. That company was the Branching, where Brumfield is now currently posted. Three years later and he is now one of two primary editors at this space, as well as a director. Each new project he gets is bigger in scope which he says is “…certainly a matter of gained skill and mutual trust.”

“Photo+Film laid out the foundation for the A to Z of filmmaking” Brumfield says. “They gave you the tools, but it was totally up to you whether you want to master them or passively accept them.” He also mentions the importance of his peers from Photo+Film. The network he was able to sustain in Photo+Film is vital for him because they continuously recommend each other for jobs and solicit each other’s specialized skills for their own works. “I absolutely owe them when it comes to where I am at today.”

Hunter Brumfield on the set of “Bones” by Anousheh – a new music video he directed. Coming Soon!

Summer Internship Highlight: Connor Gillooly

“What was great about the internship was being able to see all of the scripts that Hollywood was looking at, and be able to see if my writing would be able to hold up to them.”

In the bustle of New York City, Connor Gillooly – a film senior – interned for two production companies this summer. For both, Staygold Features and Red Crown Productions, he read  every script that came in as a proposal to the company. He then was able to suggest which scripts they should produce. Gillooly says that reading other people’s scripts was so useful for him because he was able to compare his own writing and also learn which types of scripts companies were looking at producing. His experience in VCU Photo+Film learning to work successfully in teams with so many other creative people helped improve his communication skills and prepared him for working professionally with other creatives at his internship.

While in NYC, Connor also wrote and directed a short film called Penumbra as a result of participating in a film intensive based in Greenport Long Island at the Manhattan Film Institute. The program is a privately run intensive with an international pull that brings together big name actors, producers, and writers etc. from the industry to teach and work with a group of aspiring filmmakers to make 25 films in the span of 2 weeks.

The film Penumbra is about exes who find themselves trapped in a cycle of habitual comfort. You can watch the film below.

He stayed extremely busy and was a key crew member on 6 other films as well as directed and edited a 7th film all this summer!

Follow Connor’s vimeo account and keep an eye out for new things coming soon!

Alumni Feature: Heather West

Heather West, a Photo+Film alumni, graduated with her concentration in photography in 2014. She is currently working as an Art Department Production Assistant for TV and Movies. She has worked on numerous projects including Rectify Season 4 (AMC), Logan Lucky by Steven Soderbergh, Pitch Perfect 3 (Universal), and Black Panther (Marvel). The film industry has many niche jobs. Heather’s main duties involve designing all of the signs, labels, vinyl wraps for cars, logos, and menus etc. Almost nothing from the real world can be used because of copyright laws, so West utilizes her photoshop and design skills to produce the graphics content that you see in TV and Film. For the film Pitch Perfect 3, she made all of the passports you see and every single cereal box. She also does a lot of photo manipulation for pictures seen throughout the films and TV shows. Right now she describes her responsibilities as being 50/50 between creative work and administrative work because she also ends up doing a lot of paperwork.

Heather West with a dollar tree receipt of props for the film Logan Lucky.


Summer Internship Highlight: Riley Goodman

“I had the opportunity to handle and catalogue the original glass plate negative of Abraham Lincoln that was used as the template for the penny.”

Riley Goodman examining a portrait from the Mathew Brady Studio for damage before inputting it into the National Portrait Gallery’s online database.


In the heart of Washington DC, Riley Goodman, a photo senior, interned with the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery in the Department of Photographs. He got his internship as the Collections Intern after applying through the Smithsonian’s SOLAA application program. During his time there he was responsible for cataloguing the Frederick Hill Meserve Collection of glass plate negatives which were taken by the Mathew Brady studio during the Civil War era. This involved handling the negatives, describing their subject matter, and entering the information into the Institution’s online databases. Riley mentions a few of the subjects of the images he worked with included Abraham Lincoln, PT Barnum, and Ulysses S. Grant. While at the National Portrait Gallery, he also worked alongside his boss Jennifer Nikolich, the Collections Manager for Photographs, Prints, and Drawings, to handle, store, and prepare works from the collection for cataloging, display and mailing. Riley says the best part of his internship was the ability to immerse himself in the Institution. He got to “see the collections and behind-the-scenes of various museums and [g0t] to attend lectures, lunches, and events across the entirety of the Institution.” By doing these things, he was able to make great connections that will help him land his first job after graduation. While interning at the National Portrait Gallery, he was able to learn how to catalogue, clean and handle all types of art. He was also able to expand his knowledge of art history and he learned the importance of the Mathew Brady Studio during such a pivotal time in American history.


Dear students, parents, teachers, alumni and friends VCU’s Department of Photography + Film,

I write to share our department highlights of the summer and “Save the Date” information for upcoming public events!




Our second annual Summer Study Abroad Program in Berlin was a smashing success!  Led by artist and affiliated faculty, Matthew Warren, students in this 4-week, 6-credit Berlin: Studio & City course were immersed in the diverse contemporary art community of this most vibrant of cities.  Students spent their time both in the studio, exploring their own independently-driven visual ideas and artistic goals, and outside, discovering the city’s museums, galleries and professional artist spaces.  They also had a culminating public exhibition at GlogauAIR!  Stay tuned for future announcements about how to apply for 2018.

In late May, our Department was well represented at the Richmond Visual Arts Center’s effort to get into the Guinness Book of World Records (!) for the creation of the World’s Largest Cyanotype (see picture above), with participation by Assistant Professor John Freyer; intructors and artists Alyssa Salomon and Sarah Midkiff, and dozens and dozens of volunteers.

In departmental news, as many of you know, Matt Warren is taking a leave of absence this year, to pursue professional and artistic opportunities in New York.  Taking over his many duties is former VCUarts Dean’s Scholar and BFA alumni Kimin Kim.  Intrepid intellect, artist and Gradate Director Paul Thulin will serve as the interim Chair of the department for the fall 2017 semester, for which I am very grateful.  I will be on research re-assignment to complete my four-years-in-the-making feature documentary film, Garry Winogrand: All Things are Photographable, which will have its national broadcast premiere on PBS in 2018-19.



  • TUES AUGUST 29thVCUarts MFA Slide Slam! Studio Arts graduate students introduce their work.  Hardywood Brewery,6-9pm
  • SEPT 6-9The VCU Southern Film Festival with screenings at Cabell Library the Virginia Historical Society and the VMFA. If you haven’t yet seen Loving – producer Nancy Buirski visited our students in 2016 – make sure to catch it on the 9th
  • SEPT 14-17  The Afrikana Film Festival of Richmond, with screenings at the Grace Street theater, the Bijou and with our friends at Candela Gallery, among other venues
  • FRIDAY, SEPT 1st/ THURS SEPT. 7thAlso at Candela, the First Friday Opening (9/1) and Artist Talk (9/7) of Theory of Place, a group show with Marcus DeSienoCourtney JohnsonCamilo Ramirez, and our very own favorite, beloved prof Justin James Reed.
  • FRIDAY, OCT 20th– Our friends at theJames River Film Society host the Award Screening for the Best James River Short Film at the VMFA
  • FRIDAY, NOV 3rd– InLight, Richmond’s one-night-only, spectacular exhibition of light-based art and performance, organized by 1708 Gallery
  • NOV 21 –DEC 12Photography + Film MFA exhibition, FAB Gallery


Kudos to Our Staff!

Congrats to Graduate Director Paul Thulin whose work is included in two upcoming group exhibitions, at the Denver Month of Photography and the Belo Horizonte International Photography Festival in Brazil. Justin James Reed’s work with collective Piece of Cake was included in For Freedoms at the Aperture Foundation in New York; Justin was also included in Paradise Out-Front at the Southern Gallery, named one of the Ten Best Photo Exhibitions of Winter 2017 by American Photo Magazine.

Work by Justin James Reed (left) Work by Ben Alper (right)


Berlin Summer Studio and MFA L.A. trip

This summer, for the second time, artist and VCUarts tech guru Matthew Warren will bring nearly a dozen students to Germany this summer for his 6-credit Berlin: Studio & City course.  Over four weeks, students will be immersed in both expanding their studio practice and exploring the contemporary art community in this vibrant city – we can’t wait to see what they create on their return!

Berlin Summer Studio 2016 photo by Polina Vetsen

Berlin Summer Studio 2016 photo by Polina Vetsen


Shows, Screenings and Student Awards

The Dept of Photography + Film was well-represented once again in the Anderson Juried Show, featuring works by a record 22 students! Senior Kimin Kim was the recipient of the Award of Distinction in Photography.

Therefore We Exist, by Kimin Kim. Black and white Inkjet prints and Motion Sensor Lights. 2017

This spring the department awarded five Senior Project grants totaling $1700 to Amarise Carreras, Alex Coyle, Monica EscamillaShannon Lowe, Ryan Ly and Alyssa Michener for projects ranging from large-format studies of architecture to video installation; investigations of minority stereotypes, and a film exploring intimate partner violence.  Junior Christina Macauley was awarded the VCUarts Dean’s Scholarship in Photography + Film for the 2017-18 academic year, and Junior Jessica Taylor received the Etta and Bernie Edwards Endowment for the Arts in Visual Arts for the 2017-18

At the BFA Senior Thesis Photography exhibition, awards for Outstanding Sophomore, Junior and Senior were made to Alex Coyle (Photo Senior), Haley Harrington (Photo Junior) and Daniel Disgranados (Photo Sophomore).  These awards are based on faculty nominations for outstanding leadership, integrity, and involvement in the department.  Also receiving awards were Seniors Hei Hei and Devin Hein, for “Independent Spirit” and Amarise Carreras for Best in Show.  Every year also at the Senior Thesis Photography exhibition our friends at Capital One, Art Program Project Manager Francis Thompson and Art Administrator Anne Fletcher, award exhibitions to outstanding seniors.  This year the honors went to Austin Aviles, Monica Escamilla, Shannon Lowe and Becca Schwartz. 

Photo Senior, Amarise Carreras with her award Best in Show at the PHOTO Senior Thesis Exhibition, Highlights and Chateaus.


Visiting Artists, Spring 2017

We had an exciting roster of Visiting Artists this spring, especially filmmakers! Celebrated Canadian Guy Maddin, in town for the James River Film Festival, shared a sneak-preview of new work in advance of its official premiere.  With the help of the VCUarts Inclusion Infusion Initiative, we co-sponsored a visit from Oscar-winning director Ezra Edelman whose 8-hour documentary O.J.:Made in America, screened over two days.  Filmmaker Shashwati Talukdar shared her recent and ongoing work with students, including the exciting doc-in-progress Marriage Cops, supported by the Tribeca Film Institute, while local star director Rick Alverson met with students in our Revolutionary Cinema class. We also hosted Susannah Sayler and Edward Morris of the Canary Project, a collaborative, interdisciplinary team that produces art and media about ecological issues, and Philly-based photographer Shawn Theodore, whose distinct aesthetic inspired the look of Moonlight.   Finally, Margot Norton, Associate Curator at the New Museum in New York, returned this week to work with our MFA students.