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Faculty and Staff

The faculty at Biola’s Snyder School of Cinema & 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. Explore their expertise on The Faculty Cut.

Tom Halleen

  • Dean, Snyder 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 Snyder 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....

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Marcieanna Klaustermeyer

  • Assistant Dean, Snyder School of Cinema and Media Arts

Marcieanna began working professionally on both Broadway and in Hollywood over 15 years ago. It all began as an associate for the late Benjamin Mordecai and August Wilson. Her early Playbill production credits include King Hedley, Jitney and If It Was [sic] Easy (Off-Broadway). She earned an M.F.A. in Producing for TV/Film at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts to foster her passion for the stage and screen. A few years later Marcieanna would...

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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. 


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Jim Hope

  • Assistant Professor, Cinema and Media Arts and Writing for Film and Television

James (Jim) Hope is a three-time Emmy nominated writer/producer who has worked on everything from feature films and network sitcoms to talk shows, game shows and animated web series. His credits include NBC’s “Later,” FOX’s “Titus", ABC’s “George Lopez,” Nickelodeon’s “Planet Sheen,” and Disney’s “Dog with a Blog.” He is currently developing animated and live-action projects with various studios and networks. Hope is also a stand-up comedian and actor who has made over fifty TV appearances....

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Michael Steffen

  • Associate Professor of Game Design & Interactive Media

“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 Biola's Snyder School of Cinema and Media Arts. Michael has also taught game design, digital technology, digital art or computer...

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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. 

John Schmidt has...

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Angela Ang

  • Adjunct, Cinema and Media Arts

“Those hungry film students…always eager to know how to ‘kill it’ with sound.” Angela is an established sound editor whose work can be heard in films such as Tenet (2020), Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) and Bill and Ted Face the Music (2020). Her unforeseen career in sound began when she was admitted into a tight crew of twelve film students who traveled with Professor-Director Dean Yamada to shoot his film in Japan. And the rest, as they say, is history. 

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William Hellmuth

  • Adjunct, Cinema and Media Arts

William is a director of photography who strives to create meaningful images that visually reinforce the story or themes of whatever he is shooting whether drama or docs. He has shot for brands like NERF, Blizzard, Sony, Honda, Listerine, and many more. He has a keen eye for detail and the work he delivers is always outstanding. Besides filmmaking, William enjoys spending time with his wife and kids and playing nerdy tabletop games. He teaches a course in Advanced Cinematography.

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Jonathan Hensley

  • Adjunct, Cinema and Media Arts

Jonathan Hensley is an award-winning trailer editor. Since graduating Biola in 2012, Jonathan has worked for some of the top entertainment marketing firms in Hollywood, editing trailers and TV spots for clients including Netflix, HBO, Sony, Universal, and Amazon Prime Video; as well as montages that aired during the 90th and 91st Academy Awards.

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Davy McCall

  • Adjunct, Cinema and Media Arts

Originally from wine country in Northern California, Davy has been writing, directing, and producing award winning films for over 10 years, and also happens to be a Biola cinema and media arts alumnus. Having recently graduated USC grad school for film and television production, Davy has had the opportunity to craft an original graduate level course at USC; and one of his first feature scripts will be going into production in fall 2021, filming in LA. Teaching is one of Davy’s greatest...

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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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Justin Wells

  • Adjunct, Cinema and Media Arts

Justin Wells has an eclectic educational background, having studied Communications at Vanguard University of Southern California (B.A.), Philosophy at California State University Long Beach (M.A.), Theology and Art at Fuller Theological Seminary, and finally Art and Documentary Film at Art Center College of Design (M.F.A). He is a member of the International Cinematographer’s Guild and actively works in the business as a camera technician and documentarian. His recent book, How To Film Truth...

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Sena Shin

  • Executive Assistant, Academic Office Manager

"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 Snyder School of Cinema and Media Arts as the cinema and media arts 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...

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Nate Bell

  • Internship Manager, Snyder 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. 

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Mark Spicer

  • Director of Studio Operations

“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. 

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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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Sandra Lee

  • Professor, Cinema and Media Arts, Writing for Film and Television

Ellie LaFrombois

  • Administrative Coordinator

“I’m always here to help answer questions and talk about movies!” Ellie is a graduate of the Snyder School of Cinema & Media Arts. She now helps oversee the CMA office and does a variety of tasks including managing department calendars, working on the weekly newsletters, and helping coordinate the details of school events. Feel free to stop by and say hello!

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Matthew Hawksworth

  • Manager, Production Office

"Bringing a story to life is a complicated process but sometimes you just have to jump in and learn by actually doing it."
As Production Coordinator for the Snyder School of Cinema & Media Arts, Matthew helps students navigate the production workflow: whether by answering questions about greenlight approval, location permits, industry guild compliance, safety guidelines, insurance issues, or any of the other details it takes to to complete a production. Matthew brings a range of experience...

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Lisa Kim

  • Manager of Strategic Marketing and Events