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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.


Dean Yamada

  • Associate Professor, Cinema and Media Arts

“I care deeply about young directors finding their voice”. Dean is an accomplished independent filmmaker, directing two feature films and several short films. These award-winning films have screened at Venice, LA Asian Pacific, Heartland, Guam, BEA and many other film festivals around the world. Dean produces a festival-ready short film with students every semester and leads a group to the Sundance Film Festival. He has also filmed with students in Tokyo, Berlin, and Jakarta. MFA USC, BA USC....

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Camille Tucker

  • Associate Professor of Writing for Film and TV

“Nothing in this business happens without the writer.” Camille’s most recent feature was picked up by Lifetime and produced by Queen Latifah. She sold seven other screenplays and a TV pilots. Camille was selected for the PGA's Power of Diversity Master Workshop, was a semi-finalist in the AMPAS Nicholl Screenwriting Competition and is an instructor for The Del-York Academy in Lagos, NGR. As a writer/director she is passionate about breaking barriers for women. MFA LMU, MA Fuller, BA UCLA.

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John Schmidt

  • Associate Professor, Cinema and Media Arts

John Schmidt has taught at Biola since 2002, and brings over 35 years of film industry experience into his teaching.

A graduate of the UCLA film school and Fuller Theological Seminary, John was founder and president of Dean River Productions and John Schmidt Productions, and has worked on over 40 films in various capacities: director, writer, producer and editor, having won numerous awards in the process.

“Each of us in the film industry have a limited amount of time on this earth, and a...

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Lisa Swain

  • Associate Professor, Cinema and Media Arts

"How we  consume and reflect on media is one of our most important habits." Lisa's work and life experience straddles both media production and criticism as well as faith and psychology. She worked in the entertainment industry for over fifteen years as a production supervisor on major films, then shifted to academia. Her research examines the use of media in shaping identity, imagination, and the negotiation of bias and difference through media expression. PhD Fielding, MA Regent, BS...

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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. He has produced two features with two more in development. Abel worked on Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino as a voice actor, an assistant to casting, and as a 2nd unit on the documentary. He is passionate about including students on his sets, mentoring them in their faith and into accomplished storytellers who know how to market to an audience. MFA USC, BS...

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Michael Steffen

  • Assistant Professor of Game Design

"Game design is one of the most powerful new storytelling mediums because it is so immersive and interactive." Michael is a narrative game designer currently prototyping his independent game, Telmahre, which explores using virtual spaces 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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Gerald Fisher

  • Interim Director 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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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 Loyola, BA Immaculate...

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Jack Hafer

  • Assistant Professor, Cinema and Media Arts

Jack Hafer is an assistant professor and director of creative projects for Biola University's Cinema and Media Arts department. Jack's film industry credits include his role as producer of the award-winning feature film, To End All Wars, starring Kiefer Sutherland and Robert Carlyle. It won Best Picture at the Heartland Film Festival, was awarded the Commander in Chief Medal of Service, Honor and Pride by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and showcased the 2003 Cannes Film Festival Cinema for...

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Nancy Wang 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 Associated Press 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. BA UCLA, PhD...

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Chris Masi

  • Adjunct, Cinema & Media Arts

Chris is currently a staff writer for Star (20 episodes, FOX). Prior to Star, he was a writer for Being Mary Jane (5 episodes), Graceland (14 episodes) and White Collar (1 episode). He is an alumnus of NBC's Writers on the Verge. He began as an assistant in the White Collar writer's room after meeting the creator of the show on Twitter. Chris teaches The TV Writer's Room course meeting with students and invited guests to develop serial entertainment, meets weekly in Hollywood. BA Biola.

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Robert Zalk

  • Adjunct, Cinema & Media Arts

A Disney Imagineer for over 35 years, Bob worked stints as Imagineering’s executive producer for Disneyland Anaheim, Hong Kong Disneyland and Disney Cruise Lines. He previously was a creative show producer on entertainment projects for Disney parks and resorts. Bob teaches the Navigating the Creative Project course with CMA, Business, and Art students developing physical storytelling experiences like theme park rides, restaurants, hotels and museums then pitching to executives. MA LMU, BA...

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Mark Spicer

  • Production Center Manager

“There is beauty in design and value in process” Mark grew up just 5 miles from Biola playing with audio adapters, home electronics, and electric guitars disassembling and reassembling them to suit. Mark’s love for equipment fuel his role as Production Center Manager. Mark oversees studio facilities, system design, installation, and maintenance of nearly $3 million in equipment. He loves talking shop about the latest equipment with our students and visitors. B.A. Biola University School of...

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Hiram Sarmiento

  • Engineering and Technical Support

“Have you tried turning it off and on again?” Having studied Computer Science, Hiram Sarmiento brings years of experience working with and managing computer systems to the Production Center at the School of Cinema and Media Arts. He works alongside Mark and Josh to keep the facilities and equipment running smoothly for students and faculty. Aside from having an interest in all the latest, filmmaking gear, he is an avid proponent...

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Heather Grossman

  • Asst. to the Interim Director

“I really enjoy helping students develop their understanding of the business side of their craft.” Heather Grossman is the assistant to the Interim Director and Chair, Dr. Gerald Fisher. Along with aiding in the daily operations, Heather manages the nearly 80 student film projects that are completed ever year. She manages both student film budgets, greenlight process, insurance and operating department budgets. When not on campus you can find her at the beach or enjoying time with her...

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Taylor Horky

  • Strategic Initiatives Manager

"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, has directed/produced and consulted 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 film/television and other forms of...

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Sena Shin

  • Impressionist Coordinator

"My favorite part of the job is working with students so please stop by the office to say hello!"  Sena Shin is part of the administrative team for the School of Cinema and Media Arts.  She oversees enrollment into the Cinema and Media Arts Program and also helps manage course curriculum and scheduling for the department amongst various other administrative operations. 

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Andy Cole

  • Adjunct Professor, 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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Patricia Lee

  • Administrative Assistant

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Josh Kozycz

  • Media Technician

“There are stories inside that only we can, and sometimes need to release”. Josh works as a Media Equipment Technician in the Production Center. If it breaks, he will find a way to fix it and keep the equipment in the hands of the students. His passion for creating was birthed in the local scene, working on DIY projects and shooting low budget videos with artists all over LA County, including the Biola community. Josh looks forward to working with students as they tell their stories through...

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Nate Bell

  • Internship Manager, School of Cinema and Media Arts

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.” Nate was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. As internship manager, he is passionate about helping students use their creativity to find their God-given calling within the entertainment and media industry. Nate is also a practicing film critic (L.A. Weekly) and enjoys talking about all things cinematic. B.A., Film, TV, and Radio, Biola University,...

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Elmar Hashimov

  • Associate Professor, English

Elmar Hashimov teaches courses in rhetoric, writing, and language studies. He also directs the Biola Rhetoric & Writing Center, and coordinates Writing Across the Curriculum. With an extensive background in classical philology, Slavic and Germanic linguistics, and English Language Learner pedagogy, he is also passionate about mentoring and supporting global students on campus. In addition to these primary areas of scholarship, he enjoys art, film, philosophy, theology, travel, cooking and...

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Eric Hann

  • Adjunct, Cinema & Media Arts

Armand Serrano

  • Adjunct, Cinema & Media Arts

Michael Warren

  • Adjunct, Cinema & Media Arts

William Hellmuth

  • Adjunct, Cinema & Media Arts

Sydney Patapoff

  • Adjunct, Cinema & Media Arts

Brett McCracken

  • Adjunct, Cinema & Media Arts

Brett McCracken is a writer and journalist based in Southern California. He is the author of Hipster Christianity: When Church & Cool Collide (Baker, 2010) and Gray Matters: Navigating the Space Between Legalism & Liberty (Baker, 2013). He has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Huffington Post, CNN.com, The Princeton Theological Review, Mediascape, Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Relevant, IMAGE Journal, Converge, Mere Orthodoxy and Q Ideas. He speaks and lectures...

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Evelyn Fredrich

  • Adjunct, Cinema & Media Arts