Department News (4-27-15)

The Department of Theatre and Media Arts is pleased to announce that Scott Christopherson has accepted the full-time faculty position in Non-fiction Film and Digital Media. As an undergraduate Scott worked for Ross McElwee of Harvard University on his film In Paraguay. Ross helped guide Scott’s first film titled “Only the Pizza Man Knows,” which was broadcast internationally for over a year on the satellite cable network BYUtv. After his undergraduate work, Scott worked as the Documentary Arts Director/Instructor for Spy Hop Productions and the Sundance Institute’s youth documentary workshops. His students’ films went on to win multiple awards locally and internationally and were nominated as the top short film in Utah two consecutive years. While living in San Francisco for graduate school, Scott shot, directed, and edited over 20 short films for Project Runway’s season six website. Scott received his MFA in documentary cinema from San Francisco State University, and he also earned an MA degree in Anthropology from UW-Madison. He [was most recently] an Assistant Professor of documentary film at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. Earlier this year, Scott and his co-director, co-producer and co-cinematographer Brad Barber, were recognized at the SXSW Film Festival for their full-length documentary, Peace Officer.  Scott is excited about using cinema as a tool for social change that can impact communities.  He is increasingly interested in exploring the relationships of urban and rural landscapes in all parts of the world. When Scott isn’t working or filming, he is spending time with his lovely wife and his three children.   For more about Scott, go to



Many of our BYU Animators attended the 36th College Television Awards, more commonly known as “Student Emmy’s,” this last weekend in Los Angeles where they took 3rd place for the animated short  Ram’s Horn, produced by Garrett Hoyos and directed by Jenna Hamzawi. This is the 17th award our animators have won in the last 12 years.Ram’s Horn is a “comedic piece documenting the ascent of an oblivious, cocky mountaineer on a quest to the peak of a daunting mountain.” To read the full press release about Ram’s Horn, visit



Media arts student Elisabeth Weagel was one of only thirty honors students that graduated from BYU this year.  Elisabeth’s faculty mentor was Sharon Swenson. Her thesis was titled, “Cine-Linguistic Conflicts Created by Beautiful Violence in Cinema.”Elisabeth also represented the TMA student body as the speaker in last Friday’s convocation. She will be attending graduate school at King’s College in England. Congratulations to Elisabeth!



Stephanie Breinholt and 8 TMA students went to the National KCACTF Festival at the Kennedy Center April 13-18. Participants attended workshops and performances with professionals and theatre makers in the national arena, including National Fellows from BYU:  Haley Flanders (Dramaturgy), Crystal Powell (Stage Management), Amy Castro(Society of Directors and Choreographers), Joseph Skousen, Billy Hagee, Mackenzie Larsen (Acting), Jordan Kamalu (Musical Theatre and Playwrighting),  and Ashley Cook(Costume Design). Billy Hagee won the National Acting “Kingsley Colton Award for Outstanding Partner” and Jordan Kamalu and George Nelson were awarded the Blanche and Irving Laurie Musical Theater Award for their writing in Single Wide. Our Townand those affiliated with the production won 13 awards. Dr. Harold Oaks and his wife attended festival as national fellows of the arts and met with the BYU group on Friday night during the Irene Ryan festivities.  They said they decided to attend national festival in support of the many BYU students and faculty attending.



On Friday, April 17, our illustrious Janet Swenson gave her last final in her advanced makeup class, TMA 467.  She posted in Facebook, “Yesterday I gave the final for my last class at BYU. Heartfelt thanks and much love to all of you colleagues and former students who made my 42 years (good grief!) in the theatre department so joyous!”  She then received over 240 likes and over 100 comments.  The comments came from all over the U.S. And read like the who’s who of our theatre alums.  We will miss you, Janet!  Janet continues designing in major theaters in Utah and beyond.  This summer, she is designing Beauty and the Beast and When You Wish at Tuacahn.  You will not be forgotten, and always loved!

And here is a photo of the amazing mask that Dallin Blankenship and Michelle Bascomb made for Janet’s final final.



On April 11 our Makeup Students from TMA 267, TMA 367, and TMA 467 participated in “Disaster Day” to help support the campus EMS students training in Emergency Response. The scenario was a shooting held in the portable arena at Raintree apartments and was supervised by M’Lisa Hansen and Jennine Hollingshaus. There were 43 students involved; 10 intermediate and advanced makeup students did most of the makeup with the help of some beginning students. Our department has been involved with the mock disasters at the University for the past 20 years, and the event is typically done once a year. Below are some pictures of the Disaster Day.




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