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Faculty and Staff

The faculty at Biola’s School of Cinema and Media Arts are experienced professionals with award-winning work and degrees from some of the best film schools in the world. They bring academic rigor, cinematic prowess and spiritual insight to every classroom.


Tom Halleen

  • Dean, School of Cinema and Media Arts

Tom Halleen, former executive vice president of programming strategy, acquisitions and scheduling at AMC Networks, is the founding dean of Biola’s School of Cinema and Media Arts. Through his nearly 30 years as an entertainment industry executive, Halleen has experience in all divisions of programming national television networks including acquisitions, scheduling, development, production, operations, viewer services, research, legal, standards and practices, and promo/media planning. With...

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Camille Tucker

  • Associate Professor of Writing for Film and TV

Camille Tucker is a Sundance alum who has sold scripts to major studios such as Sony, Universal, New Line, Fox TV and Disney. She holds a BA in Creative Writing from UCLA, an MFA in screenwriting from Loyola Marymount and an MA in theology and film from Fuller Seminary. Camille is the proud co-writer of Lifetime’s hit TV movie, The Clark Sisters: The First Ladies of Gospel which debuted with 2.7 million viewers, is the highest-rated Lifetime movie since 2016, and has had over 13.4 million...

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Dean Yamada

  • Professor, Cinema and Media Arts

“As an educator it is my job to challenge students to find their voices and then empower them to tell their stories.” Dean is an accomplished independent filmmaker, having directed two features and several short films in Tokyo, Berlin and Jakarta. His films have screened around the world at festivals such as the Venice Film Festival and Clermont-Ferrand and have won awards at the Rhode Island Int’l Film Festival, Heartland Film Festival and Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. BA MFA USC

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Brett McCracken

  • Adjunct, Cinema & Media Arts

Brett McCracken is a writer and journalist based in Southern California. He is the senior editor for The Gospel Coalition, and author of Hipster Christianity: When Church & Cool Collide (Baker, 2010), Gray Matters: Navigating the Space Between Legalism & Liberty (Baker, 2013) and his most recent book Uncomfortable (Crossway, 2017). He has written for Huffington Post, CNN.com, The Princeton Theological Review, Mediascape, Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Relevant, IMAGE...

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Lisa Swain

  • Associate Professor, Cinema and Media Arts

“Media is not just something we consume, it is something we engage.” Lisa's work and life experience straddle the fields of media production, media criticism, religion and psychology. Before shifting into academia, she worked in the entertainment industry for 15 years as a production coordinator on major films such as Anger Management, Face-Off and Varsity Blues. Lisa holds a PhD in Media Psychology and is an active member in the Producers Guild of America (PGA). PhD, Fielding. MA, Regent....

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Michael Gonzales

  • Professor, Cinema and Media Arts

“Filmmaking is a collaborative and creative process. Preparation includes developing a deep understanding of God's world, His mission for His people and their place in loving others.” Mike has sold three scripts and optioned two. He has directed national commercials, produced corporate videos and consulted with studio executives. He served as a cultural affairs delegate with the US State Department and is a POST Instructor for LA Sheriffs'. PhD Biola, MPW USC, MA LMU, BA Immaculate Heart

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Michael Steffen

  • Assistant Professor of Game Design

“Game design is a powerful storytelling medium because players become part of a story and explore consequences of choices.” Michael is a narrative game designer prototyping his independent game, Telmahre, which explores using virtual space as a metaphor for a character’s mental state. In his first year at Biola, he has developed the new Game Design program for CMA. Michael has also taught game design, digital technology, digital art or computer science at several colleges. MFA USC, BA UCSD.

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Nancy Yuen

  • Associate Professor of Sociology

Nancy is a scholar of race and ethnicity in film, television and new media. Her book, Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism, examines the barriers actors of color face in Hollywood and how they creatively challenge stereotypes. She is a sought-after expert by news outlets such as the AP and New Republic and appears on numerous newscasts. She enjoys helping her students view media through a critical lens in her popular culture and visual sociology courses. 

She earned her bachelor’...

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Armand Serrano

  • Adjunct, Cinema & Media Arts

“I draw, I play, I teach, and I pray.” Armand is an animation industry professional for over 28 years and living life with a purpose. He is currently in visual development and production design for Marvel but has worked for Disney, Sony, Blizzard, and Riot on many major animated films. Armand is a contributor to the Bible Project, creating animated videos that walk through the literary structure of the Bible. He teaches Digital Sketching and Visual Development & Concept Art. BA UST

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Eric Hann

  • Adjunct, Cinema & Media Arts

"I am passionate about developing great stories because of what they bring to our lives." Eric brings together the worlds of computer animation, visual effects and cinematography for both traditional media and VR. Among his many projects, he was DP for the Coast Guard and Legal Zoom, VR DP for The Bus to Canton documentary and in visual effects he contributed to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Eric is in development on several live-action VR projects. He teaches visual effects. BA Biola.

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Michael Warren

  • Adjunct, Cinema & Media Arts

Michael is a prolific television writer/producer with almost 800 credits. He has been a significant supporter of Cinema and Media Arts for many years and the Warren Sound Stage is named in his honor. He has worked on classic shows such as The Partridge Family, Happy Days, Love Boat, Family Matters, Perfect Strangers, Family Man, Step By Step and Getting By and is a member of the TV Academy. He brings wisdom and mentoring into teaching the Writing the Scene course. MA USC, BS SIU

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Abel Vang

  • Assistant Professor of Entertainment Producing

“Producers make movies happen!” Abel is an independent film producer, director, and writer. He won the Academy's 2011 Nicholl Fellowship award with his screenplay The Tiger’s Child, and has produced and sold several features. Abel worked on Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino as an assistant to casting, and as a 2nd unit on its documentary. He is passionate about mentoring students in faith and in filmmaking, and cultivating them into accomplished storytellers who know how to market to an audience....

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Elmar Hashimov

  • Associate Professor of English

Elmar Hashimov researches and teaches writing, philology, rhetoric, digital literacy and film. Elmar’s work seeks to bridge the classical liberal arts tradition and current empirical research. His focus areas include genre studies, epistemic and ontological rhetoric, activity and network theories, qualitative research methods, European and (post-)Soviet literature and cinema, and artificial intelligence. He also directs the Rhetoric & Writing Center and coordinates writing in the disciplines...

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Evelyn Fredrich

  • Adjunct, Cinema & Media Arts

“Matt and I run a non-profit organization called marriage. I work for profit for the TV commercial business suggesting that people buy themselves things they don't need with money they don't have.” Evy supervises commercial productions for some of the largest corporations. She has the ability to bring everything together in the right place, the right time, at the right budget for the director. Evy teaches PA set etiquette and serves on the CMA Program Development Council. BA Biola. 

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Gerald Fisher

  • Associate Dean School of Cinema and Media Arts

“Art is created in infrastructure whether a frame, an altar, a chapel ceiling or a 90-minute feature.” Gerry has 35 years of experience in media education and is using that to expand CMA's infrastructure in equipment, faculty, facilities, courses, and funding since taking over the leadership role in 2016. The CMA program has since been endorsed by several industry publications, students are winning in film festivals, and classes and enrollment have been expanded. PhD UCI, MA Regent, BA FWBC.

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Andy Cole

  • Visiting Assistant Professor & Technical Director, Theatre

Andrew Cole received his Master of Fine Arts and began his career as an art director in film and television, working for some of Hollywood’s biggest studios and production companies. His love for its immediacy, combined with a passion for artistry, led him to the world of theatrical design where he has worked as prop master and scenic designer for over a decade. Recent shows include: Prop master for Revenger’s Tragedy, projection designer for Spring Awakening, fly operator for The Little...

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John Schmidt

  • Associate Professor, Cinema and Media Arts

"I love my students! My greatest desire is to see them excel not only in their chosen field, but in life." John has worked on over 40 films as director, writer, producer or editor. His feature credits include The Climb, Trade of Innocents, and Bobby Jones. In television: A Vow to Cherish, Road to Redemption and Something to Sing About. His feature screenplay, Mountain of Fire, is in pre-production. John teaches cinematography, editing, sound design and documentary. MA Fuller, BA UCLA.

John...

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Taylor Horky

  • Strategic Initiatives Manager / Adjunct, Cinema and Media Arts

“The power of story and its ability to change people is what drives me.” Taylor's focus is on extending the influence and impact of the School of Cinema and Media Arts throughout the industry. Taylor has experience working on network shows, directing/producing and consulting with some of the most influential leaders, authors and speakers and has produced well over 50 series and dozens of music videos all over the country. He is still active in producing. BA Biola

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Sena Shin

  • Academic Coordinator

"My favorite part of the job is working with students so please stop by the office to say hello!" Sena brings administrative and organizational excellence to CMA as the program’s Academic Coordinator. Her coordination of CMA courses and curriculum support students during their time at school. Sena processes applications and assists students in enrolling into their first semester of courses. She also monitors student scholarships, answers questions about what courses are being offered and...

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Nate Bell

  • Internship Manager, School of Cinema and Media Arts

“I experience joy when a student discovers their God-given calling.” Nate is passionate about helping CMA students use their knowledge and creativity to find their vocation within the entertainment and media industry through internships, mentorships, and job placement. He assists students with film festivals and tracks and supports alumni as they progress in their careers. Nate is a practicing film critic for LA Weekly and loves chatting about all things cinematic. MA Chapman, BA Biola.

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Heather Grossman

  • Budget Coordinator

“I really enjoy helping students develop their understanding of the business side of their craft.” Heather manages the budgets, insurance, permits, equipment access and other logistics for nearly 80 major student film projects that are completed each year. Along with aiding in daily office operations and events, Heather is the budget administrator tracking all budgets and grants for compliance. When not at her job you can find her at the beach or enjoying time with her grandkids.

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Mark Spicer

  • Production Center Manager

“There is beauty in design and value in the process.” Mark grew up playing with audio adapters, home electronics, games, and electric guitars, disassembling and reassembling them to suit. Mark’s love for every level of gear fuels his role as Production Center Manager. He oversees studio facilities, system design, installation, and $3 million in media production equipment with a passion for making it all work for students. He loves talking shop about the latest equipment with anyone. BA Biola

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Josh Kozycz Curiel

  • Media Equipment Technician

“There are stories inside that only we can, and sometimes need to release”. Josh maintains the production equipment. If it breaks, he will find a way to fix it and keep equipment in the hands of the students. His passion for creating was birthed in the local scene, working on projects and shooting videos with artists all over LA County. Josh looks forward to working with students as they tell their stories through the visual medium of film, television, or game design.

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Luke Aleckson

  • Professor of Art

Luke Aleckson is a Professor of Art at Biola University. He received his M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Sculpture and a B.S. in Art from the University of Northwestern, St. Paul, Summa Cum Laude. Past positions have included serving as Department Chair and Professor of Art and Design at the University of Northwestern, St. Paul, Director of Denler Gallery in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Instructor of Sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Past...

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