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Conservatory of Performing Arts

Cinema Arts Faculty

Laura Boyd - Assistant Professor

Documentary filmmaker Laura J. Boyd received her M.F.A. in science and natural history filmmaking from Montana State University. In 2006 she joined the staff at National Geographic Television where she served in many roles, including associate producer for Dangerous Encounters and Explorer, coordinating producer for Wild Chronicles, and produced the award winning children’s series Wild Detectives.  Laura received an Emmy nomination for documentary research on the National Geographic Explorer episode Talibanistan.  Her recent projects include documentary shorts on invasive species for the National Park Service, and conducting research for the remake of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. See faculty page.

Jeremy Braverman - Cinema Chair and Associate Professor

Jeremy Braverman is an independent filmmaker and faculty member in the Department of Cinema Arts at Point Park University, where he serves as the directing concentration coordinator. He received his M.F.A. in film & video from Columbia College Chicago. His short films have played in festivals around the country, including the New Orleans International Film Festival, Columbus International Film Festival (Bronze Plaque winner), The Chicago Collegiate Film Festival (Future of Chicago Award) and on "video i" (KTEH television, San Jose, Calif.). His industry experience includes freelance production work in the Chicago independent film industry and work as an editor and videographer on promotional and industrial videos. Prior to graduate school, he worked as a television personality, freelance translator and altogether rootless vagabond in Budapest, Hungary. He is originally from Chesterfield, Mo. See faculty page.

Nelson Chipman - Graduate Program Director and Associate Professor

Nelson Chipman is a screenwriter, filmmaker and playwright who teaches creative writing and film production. He has served as the chair of the cinema arts department and interim dean for the Conservatory of Performing Arts. He holds a B.S. in commerce from the University of Virginia and an M.F.A. in dramatic writing from New York University. He began his career writing and producing television commercials and writing advertising copy. From there, he began writing feature scripts and has developed work for and optioned work to directors and production companies in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. He has won numerous writing awards and has been a finalist twice for the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. His most recent short films, Squared and Intersection, have screened at festivals across the country. He has also served as producer on the Director's Guild award-winning series, The Chair, and on two feature films, Not Cool and Hollidaysburg. He is currently adapting his most recent feature script, Into the Seam, into a young adult novel. He has previously taught at schools throughout the New York City metropolitan area. See faculty page.

Steve Cuden - Assistant Professor

Steve Cuden, a proud native of Pittsburgh, is a writer-director-producer who holds a B.A. in theater from the University of Southern California and an M.F.A. in screenwriting from the University of California Los Angeles. During more than 30 years in Hollywood, he wrote dozens of teleplays for TV series such as: X-Men, The Batman, Iron Man, Xiaolin Showdown, Loonatics Unleashed, The Mask, Goof Troop, Bonkers, Quack Pack, Gargoyles, Beetlejuice, Savage Dragon, Pink Panther, RoboCop, Extreme Ghostbusters, Stargate Infinity, Skeleton Warriors, ExoSquad and many others. He directed and co-produced the cult-favorite horror-comedy feature Lucky, for which he won Best Director at the Nodance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Lucky also won awards for Best Feature at The New York City Horror Film Festival, Shriekfest in Los Angeles and MicroCineFest in Baltimore. Cuden co-created the Broadway and international stage hit, Jekyll & Hyde The Musical, writing the show’s original book and lyrics with composer Frank Wildhorn. Jekyll & Hyde ran for four years on Broadway, enjoyed three U.S. national tours and has been produced throughout the U.S. by hundreds of theater companies, large and small. After being translated into more than 20 languages, the show has also been staged in numerous venues the world over. See faculty page.

Elise D'Haene - Adjunct Professor

Elise D’Haene is a novelist, screenwriter and editor. Among her screen credits, she was a writer on Disney’s The Little Mermaid II and penned several episodes of the Showtime series Red Shoe Diaries and Chromium Blue. She was a story editor for the NBC series Wind on Water and has written or co-written dozens of pilot scripts for Disney, FOX, FX, NBC and ABC, among others. She also wrote several feature films and was a writer on the feature Sunstorm. Her first novel, Licking our Wounds, won the Small Press Book Award at Book Expo in Chicago and she won the Hemingway Award for her short story, Married. D’Haene has two television series in development, Tell Me Everything and Luna Bay.

Cara Friez - Assistant Professor

Cara Friez, a native of Pittsburgh, is a media production professional with experience producing, shooting and editing a wide range of productions. Some of her most notable production opportunities include working for the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, As the World Turns, NightTalk on PCNC, and a short film Moving in Together, which was selected to screen at the 2011 Broad Humor Festival. See faculty page.

Andrew Halasz - Associate Professor

Andrew Halasz is a filmmaker and media artist originally from New Jersey. His works include films, web art and mixed-media installations. Halasz worked as a sound designer/editor for motion pictures and television in NYC before moving to Pittsburgh to teach at Point Park University. His work has exhibited theatrically and on television, both nationally and internationally. Some of his post-production sound credits include the Sundance Film Festival award-winner Family Portrait and the Berlin Film Festival award-winner Vanaja, which was named by Roger Ebert as one of the top foreign films of 2007. Halasz is the co-creator and coordinator of Greetings from Pittsburgh: Neighborhood Narratives, a film in which nine local filmmakers tell stories of nine Pittsburgh neighborhoods. This project received a Pittsburgh 250 Community Connections Grant, a Heinz Endowment Small Arts Initiative Grant and a Pittsburgh Foundation A.W. Mellon Special Projects Grant. See faculty page.

Rick Hawkins - Artist in Residence

Rick Hawkins is an Emmy-winning screenwriter whose career in Hollywood includes successes as a producer, studio executive and international media consultant. Beginning with The Carol Burnett Show —where his now iconic “Went With the Wind” sketch contains the longest-sustained laugh in television history — Hawkins went on to pen the ABC telefilm, The Love Boat, which piloted the long-running series. Hawkins’ writing credits include landmark variety series and top-rated sitcoms and dramas, for which he has earned seven Emmy Award nominations and five WGA Award nominations. Hawkins has served as lecturer and teacher at the University of California Los Angeles and the University of Moscow, as well as the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Warner Brothers Comedy Writing workshops. See faculty page.

Pahl Hluchan - Associate Professor

Pahl Hluchan studied animation at Rhode Island School of Design. After graduating, he worked in video production for five years. He also acted as art director and head puppet designer on a series of children's programs. In 1992, he left video production to study painting at Yale University. He was awarded the George R. Bunker Prize for excellence in painting and printmaking. Since graduating Yale, he taught at Southern Connecticut State University, Savannah College of Art and Design, Dartmouth and University of the Arts. For the past fourteen years he taught at the Delaware College of Art and Design where he created and ran the animation department. Currently, he works as a painter and an animator. He has been in several national juried exhibitions. His paintings have been published in Harpers Magazine, Art Alternative Magazine and the Artist Magazine. He was awarded a Delaware Division of the Arts individual artist fellowship in 2008. His animation won first-and-second-prize in the Newark Film Festival commercial competition in 2009 and 2010. See faculty page.

Fredrick Johnson - Associate Professor and Assistant Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs

Fredrick Johnson has over fifteen years of media production experience, principally in Los Angeles, where his work included productions for MTV, VH1, Ford Motor Company, Coca-Cola, Warner Bros., and Universal Studios Theme Parks. As a writer and director, his work has won many awards and screened at festivals around the world, including the Clermont-Ferrand Film Festival, the Deauville Festival of American Film, the AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival, the Atlanta Film Festival, CineAsia Hong Kong, ShoWest Las Vegas, the One World Human Rights Film Festival (Prague, Czech Republic) and the Pan-African Film Festival (Los Angeles). Johnson has more than 10 years of experience in media production education, previously at the University of California Los Angeles and the University of Southern California, where he also earned an M.F.A. at the School of Cinematic Arts. See faculty page.

Randy Kovitz - Adjunct Professor

Randy Kovitz has worked in the entertainment industry for most of his life. After graduating from the acting program at Carnegie Mellon University, he worked in Pittsburgh for a time, acting in theater and doing his first film and television work at WQED and in Dawn of the Dead and Knightriders for George Romero. In 2005, after 10 years in New York and nearly 20 in Los Angeles, he came back to Pittsburgh. Along the way, Kovitz has worked as an actor, director, musician, fight director, writer, stunt coordinator, teacher and sound designer. He led the award-winning L.A. spoken word band Lies Like Truth for more than a decade, garnering Drama-Logue and LA Weekly awards. His short film The Specials, which he wrote, produced, co-directed and acted in, has played at film festivals across the country. Lightweight, a script he co-wrote, was a finalist in the Steeltown Film Factory competition in 2009 and was subsequently produced with Kovitz directing and is currently on the film festival track. Kovitz received an M.F.A. from Point Park in 2008. Along with co-director and Point Park colleague Jeremy Braverman, Kovitz recently completed shooting the Internet-based project 17 Days.

Drew Moniot - Adjunct Professor

Drew Moniot, Ph.D., is the creative development manager at KDKA-TV, where he writes, produces and directs award-winning television commercials. He won a regional Emmy for the documentary Thistledown: A Day at the Races. His commercials have won numerous local, regional, national and international awards. Moniot earned a B.S. from Slippery Rock University with a double major in psychology and art.  He earned an M.S. in radio-TV-film from the University of Kansas and a Ph.D. from Temple University. His paper James Bond and America: An Investigation of the Formula Film in Popular Culture was published in the Journal of the University Film Association and has been quoted in articles and books about the 007 movie franchise and its social and cultural impact. As a graduate assistant at Temple University, Moniot taught courses in the history of feature film, as well as the history of documentary film.  He also wrote, directed, shot and edited a short 16mm documentary film. He has studied with directors Robert Wise and Michael Pressman. He is currently a regular guest movie reviewer on “Pittsburgh Today Live” on KDKA-TV, as well as a freelance photographer, director and producer.

Molly Rice - Adjunct Professor

Molly Rice is a playwright, songwriter and experience designer who gravitates toward offbeat musicality, multigenre/ multimedia collaborations and site-specificity. Her plays have been developed and produced at New York City theaters like the Public, Playwrights Horizons, Rattlestick, and the Women's Project, and regional and experimental theaters like ART (Cambridge), Montana Rep, Kitchen Dog and Salvage Vanguard. She’s been published by American Theater Magazine, Heinemann Press, Kenyon Review, Austin Chronicle, Play: A Journal and Indie Theater Now, and commissioned by NYU/Tisch Graduate Acting, Visible Theater, The Drilling Company and Montclair State University. Honors include International Women’s Playwriting Festival, New York Innovative Theater Awards (nomination), Brown’s Weston Prize For Graduate Playwriting. She is currently working on The Saints Tour, a site-specific play seen in Louisville, NYC, and Pittsburgh, featuring scores of local artists, residents and community organizations. Molly has taught at Brown, Kenyon College, Marymount Manhattan, Montclair State, and Pace University. She received her M.F.A. in playwriting from Brown University in 2006.

John Reilly - Adjunct Professor

John Reilly received his B.A. in communication arts from Allegheny College and his M.F.A. in film directing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. His short films have screened at film festivals across the country, while his critical work on the horror genre has earned awards at research conferences. Reilly has also appeared in The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Promised Land (2012) and will next appear in Foxcatcher (2013). He is currently writing a feature length screenplay and is revising a critical piece that examines evolving perceptions of insanity and masculinity in slasher films.

John Rice - Senior Teaching Artist

John Rice began his career in feature films working on George Romero’s zombie classic Dawn of the Dead. As director and director of photography, Rice’s commercial work has garnered Clio, Addy, Mobius, and Art Director's Club awards. His work as director of photography for features and documentaries has been broadcast nationally on PBS and screened at the Sundance Film Festival and numerous other film festivals around the world. Recent work directed by Rice includes: Dumpster (winner of Best Drama/Comedy at The Indie Gathering Festival; winner of Best International Comedy–Mid Length Film at the Calgary Fringe Festival), Milk Crate (Greetings from Pittsburgh: Neighborhood Narratives, Beverly Hills Hi-Def Film Festival) and Mr. Pleasant (Three Rivers Film Festival and numerous other screenings around the country). Rice is a founding member and former programmer for Silk Screen, an Asian-American Film Festival. Recent work includes collaboration on Tony Buba projects, We are Alive!, The Fight to Save Braddock Hospital and the Sierra Leone Amistad Africans project. See faculty page.

Chris Sepesy - Adjunct Professor

Christopher Sepesy brings an entire career in government and a base of the political, financial and legal side of filmmaking to Point Park. A Pittsburgh native, he intended to head for Hollywood after obtaining training in writing and economics from the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and The London School of Economics, but took an unorthodox side route through Washington, D.C., when he was hired to be an aide for United States Senator H. John Heinz IV. From there, an apprenticeship in policy development and lobbying led to an extended stint under Jack Valenti at the Motion Picture Association of America. During his time with Valenti, he was able not only to observe and sometimes assist feature films in production, but he was also able to construct and help to implement many of the policies governing all of the production, sales and distribution of American motion pictures, specifically in international markets. He has overseen the incubation of no less than three production company start-up ventures, and is currently involved with a joint Franco-Italian production venture. He teaches many of the cinema history and analysis courses at Point Park.

Lisa Smith-Reed - Adjunct Professor

Lisa Smith-Reed is a native of Dormont and received her B.A. in theater from Gannon University in Erie. Smith-Reed spent more than 10 years working in film and documentary television, including the Emmy-nominated Project Greenlight for HBO; the feature film Abduction, directed by John Singleton; and The People Speak, directed by Chris Moore and featuring Howard Zinn, Josh Brolin, Matt Damon, Bob Dylan, Marisa Tomei, among many others. Smith-Reed was also a line producer for the Pollie Award-winning First Tuesday Media and worked on political ads with diverse talents like Christopher Keyser, Jenno Topping, Bruce Cohen, J.J. Abrams, Cameron Crowe, Jeffrey Nachmanoff and Larry Fong. Smith-Reed also produced several Discovery Channel series, including Fit Nation and SOS: Coast Guard, as well as numerous MTV and VH1 series. Prior to that, she was on staff at both Pittsburgh Public Theater and City Theatre where she worked with noted artists such as August Wilson, Marsha Mason, Keith Reddin and Spalding Gray. Smith-Reed also sits on the planning committee for the Building Change Film Festival and is the producer of the Steeltown Film Factory, a filmmaking competition based in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Tanya Stadelmann - Adjunct Professor

Tanya Stadelmann is a Swiss-Australian filmmaker and media artist who has been working in Australia and the United States for the last 15 years. Stadelmann began studying photography and film in San Francisco and then completed her Bachelor of Arts in film & TV at the Australian Film, Television & Radio School in Sydney. She has worked internationally as a cinematographer, director and editor on dramas, documentaries and music videos, and also as a publicity photographer for television and theater. Her work as a cinematographer has been broadcast nationally on Australian television and has screened at Cannes Film Festival and numerous film festivals around the world. She has created multi-media projections for Sydney Arts Festival, Sydney Opera House, The Art Institute in San Francisco and Det Apne Theater in Oslo, Norway. Her publicity photography has been published in the U.S., Australia, Switzerland and Norway. Since moving to Pittsburgh in October 2008, Stadelmann has performed at the Andy Warhol Museum with The Jilted Brides, made video projections for local theater troupe Squonk Opera and has worked on commissioned short documentaries for Citiparks Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Glass Center, as well as various personal video and photography projects. She began teaching film production as an adjunct faculty member at Point Park University in January 2009. 

Jonathan Trueblood - Assistant Professor

Jonathan Trueblood holds a B.F.A. in applied media art and animation from Edinboro University and an M.F.A. in fine arts from Carnegie Mellon University. He joined the Department of Cinema Arts at Point Park University in 2014 and teaches courses in the animation and visual effects program. See faculty page.

Sam Turich - Adjunct Professor

Sam Turich is a film and stage director. Credits include MOMBIES, an official selection at film festivals in Europe and the United States that airs regularly on WQED-TV (and on YouTube) and public service announcements for local not-for-profits. Upcoming: the feature film Progression. Stage directing credits in New York include Off the Top of Our Heads, winner of the 6th Big Apple Improv Festival and the title "Best Improv Group in New York," Prussia: 1866, The Magnificent Hour, Insecurity Guards, Itamar Moses' Dorothy & Alice, the sketch comedy troupes Pressing Charges and Key Grip and the Best Boys, and the upcoming The 2nd American Revolution. He has directed As You Like It at the Charity Randall Theatre, Darwin and the Kid, Shakespeare's Lovers & Fighters, and two projects co-directed with Tamara Goldbogen, Alice and Tomato Plant Girl. He serves as the educational outreach artist at Quantum Theatre.