Department News 07-15-19

Congratulations to Dennis Wright who has passed his third year review and is now a candidate for continuing faculty status. For his three examples of creative work as a costume designer, Dennis included designs for the BYU productions of Chariots of Fire and Into the Woods, and the Sundance production of Oklahoma! Dennis has been a faculty member in TMA since 2016. He recently designed over 400 costumes for the China Spectacular which returned last month from the largest tour BYU has ever produced. TMA is grateful to count Dennis as one of our newest faculty members and looks forward to serving with him for many years to come.


Benjamin Thevenin is continuing his “Movies as Mirrors” podcasts, aided by recent grad Max Johnson. There are now 10 episodes posted. In the most recent podcast, Benjamin interviews media arts alum Alexis Romero WalkerAlexis, who is currently in a PhdD program, discusses The Shape of Water and how the film speaks to her. Each week, Benjamin and his guest discuss a movie chosen by the guest that reflects their experience being a part of a marginalized community. Benjamin says, “Our hope is that through our conversations, we can use pop culture to learn more about each other, and about pressing social issues, so we can be better and make the world better in some small way.” You can check out the podcasts on SpotifyApple or Google podcasts. Benjamin would love to hear what you think!


Alumni News

Michelle Gioglio, who graduated from media arts in April 2018 with an emphasis in sound design, has been hired full-time as the Department Secretary in the School of Technology. Her mornings will be in the Snell Building, and she’ll spend the afternoons in the Crabtree. Her first day is today! Michelle worked on the sound for “The Surface” (2015), Lovestruck! The Musical (2015), and “Conflicted Felons” (2016).

Michelle Gioglio

Opportunity 2020: Sundance Film Festival Volunteers

Hey everyone, our friends at the Sundance Institute are opening up their volunteer application for the upcoming Sundance Film Festival, held January 23-Feb. 3, 2020 in Park City, UT. Volunteering with Sundance means being in the heart of the action, getting behind the scenes and gaining real hands-on experience. This is a really great opportunity, and something that can be added to your resume!

If you are interested in applying or learning about volunteering, please click here.

If you are planning on applying to be a Sundance volunteer, please also let BYU know! If we get a large enough group of student volunteers, then the group can get free access to workshops, panels, and other great experiences at Sundance. But we need to know who is planning on volunteering, so once you apply to Sundance, please fill out this form to let us know.

Audition 2019: Sisyphus Theatre Company – Chains of Dew

Sisyphus Theatre Company is proud to announce auditions for their upcoming production of Chains of Dew by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Susan Glaspell. Auditions must be submitted by video by July 17th. Audition information can be found here, and you must fill out the audition form here before you submit your audition.

Audition 2019: American Fork Community Theatre – Clue: The Musical

American Fork Community Theatre is excited to announce auditions for Clue: The Musical! Auditions will be July 13th, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm, at the American Fork Arts Institute, 53 West Main Street, American Fork. Please bring a headshot and resume. Prepare a 1-minute monologue and 32 bars of a Broadway song. An accompanist will be provided, as well as plugins for MP3 players/phones/pads. You can sign up for auditions here.

Department News 07-08-19

Exciting news for Brad Barber‘s documentary series States of America, an ongoing series interviewing one person from each state to answer how our national and state identities shape us. The following announcement can be found on the States of America Facebook page:

“On this July 4th, we are pleased to make a special announcement about States of America! We are very excited to announce that @kqed will be partnering with us as our presenting station to bring States of America to a national public television network soon.  It has been exciting to share these first 24 state films here and on, updated once a month, since 2017.

“We have always envisioned public television as a natural next step for the series and look forward to releasing many more states in this new collaboration we’ll be announcing soon. Stay tuned to find out where our stories will be broadcast (and streaming) later this year!”

KQED is a public media outlet in California. Currently, Brad is off-campus filming in the South, and we’re looking forward to these upcoming episodes. You can find the trailer for States of America here.

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Be sure to catch Dennis Wright’s costume designs in Sundance Theater’s production of Mamma Mia!, which opens July 18 and runs until August 10. The production, directed by BYU MDT alum Matthew Herrick who is full-time at UVU, is the 50th anniversary show of the resort’s summer productions. The Deseret News ran an article about the production yesterday. You can purchase tickets for the event here.

OnStage Blog, a site that promotes theatre “from Broadway to our hometowns” and is one of the most read theatre websites in the world, recently published a list of the best undergraduate theatre programs in each state. BYU is the only program — and thus Utah’s Best — listed for the state. Congrats to our theatre faculty who make the theatre programs at BYU so noteworthy!

Conference 2020: International Conference on the Arts in Society

We are pleased to announce the Call for Papers for the Fifteenth International Conference on the Arts in Society, held 26–26 June 2020 at NUI Galway in Galway, Ireland.

We invite proposals for paper presentations, workshops/interactive sessions, posters/exhibits, colloquia, focused discussions, innovation showcases, virtual posters, or virtual lightning talks. The conference features research addressing the annual themes and the 2020 Special Focus: “Against the Grain: Arts and the Crisis of Democracy.” Papers and proposals must be submitted by July 24th, 2019, with proposals being reviewed within two to four weeks after submission.

Department News 07-01-19

In June, Dr. Wade Hollingshaus spent three weeks in England and Sweden. In London, he visited with TMA’s London Theatre Study Abroad faculty and students and acclimated himself to the city for when he directs the study abroad next year. Then he spent time in Bath, England, conducting research for his book project on Peter Gabriel. While in Stockholm, Sweden, he met with the artistic director of Strindberg’s Intima Theatre and discussed the possibility of bringing one of their productions to our campus next year.

Last week (June 26-28) Benjamin Thevenin attended the National Association for Media Literacy Education’s biennial conference in Washington DC, along with Media Arts students Sam BurtonCristin Dickey and Elias Gold. The group presented “Media Literacy Goes Outside,” based on their experiences in Benjamin’s Space, Place and Media Arts course. The group led a workshop where they applied principles of critical analysis common in media education to examine our relationship with space and place in order to help us be more mindful of our engagement with the world around us. They attended sessions and workshops at the conference, as well as visited sites in the city, including the National Museum of African-American History & Culture and the National Museum of the American Indian. 

The image below shows Dickey, Gold, Thevenin and Burton with TMA graduate Alexis Romero Walker at the Lincoln Memorial. Walker is working on her PhD at UNC and presented “Aliens as ‘Others’: How the Film ‘Arrival’ Demonstrates Racial Otherness” at the conference.


This past weekend, Jeff Parkin and his business partner, Jared Cardon, attended the third annual Center for Latter-day Saint Arts Festival in NYC at Columbia University. Jeff and Jared’s presentation celebrated the 10th anniversary screening of The Book of Jer3miah. The Jer3miah series “was a groundbreaking, interactive, 20-episode web project that inspired an intensely loyal fan base. The project was praised by The New York Times as a ‘tight, suspenseful little series [that] may just have what it takes to get web audiences to utter the words ‘Mormon conspiracy thriller’ without a touch of irony’ and was an honoree for Best Drama at the Webby Awards.” Below is a photo of Jeff and Jared at their conference presentation with Randy Astle, another media arts alum, and author of the book on Mormon Cinema (on Amazon). In case you’re not familiar with what Jeff and Jared have been up to lately,  “they [recently] co-created two immersive digital experiences funded by the National Science Foundation (in partnership with NASA and the Smithsonian), and were selected as Finalists for the Sundance Episodic Story Labs for their scripted drama aLa Linea, which explores the intersection of cartel violence and LDS life in the contemporary Mexican colonies. They are currently developing a movie musical for BYUtv.” (from


Jared Cordon, Jeff Parkin, and Randy Astle presenting at the Center for Latter-day Saint Arts Festival.

The CFAC External Relations team has posted two articles about recent events that our department has been heavily involved with. Written by media arts alum Martha Rallison Duzett (2014), these articles contain follow-up stories about the Spring Writers’ Conference and the China Spectacular.

For those who attended the Spring Writers’ Conference last month, it truly was a tremendous opportunity to not only hone their craft, but to make connections with other writers. Martha recounts some of the highlights from the conference, quoting two attendees, Elise Finlinson and Elena Bender. “It’s a great way to share and hear from some incredible people in the industry,” Finlinson said, “and get professional exposure I wouldn’t get any other way.” For many attendees, this conference gave them feedback from both peers and professionals in their own work, inspiring them to continue writing. Bender said that “[Her] biggest takeaways were to write and rewrite . . . I have a lot to say, and it’s never going to be heard if I don’t write. It’s all about growth.” We would like to thank professors Tom Russell and Courtney Russell for organizing the biennial Writer’s Conference, and all who made this conference possible. Here’s a link to this article.

For those who participated in this year’s China Spectacular, it certainly was the chance of a lifetime. But the performers and backstage crew all had to adapt when much of the show’s equipment didn’t arrive in China with them. In her articleMartha Duzett relates the experience that Sarah Kupferer, the China Spectacular‘s assistant stage manager, had during this time. At first, Kupferer relates the difficulty they had to tackle this unforeseen circumstance. “We had planned and prayed about this show,” Kupferer had said. “We made this show for these people, so why didn’t our equipment come through? Why couldn’t we give them the show that we planned?” But everyone rose to the occasion. They rented sound equipment, found basketball equipment for the Dunk Team, even changed the choreography for the Cougarette’s “Lion King” number because of missing props. In the end, the show was still spectacular, and Kupferer learned from the experience. “Heavenly Father requires a lot of hard things of us,” she said, “but sometimes those things are put in our path so that we can learn from them. It’s our job to overcome them prayerfully and be able to learn and grow from them.”


BondIt Grant Fund


Every 6 months, up to two filmmakers will be awarded the BondIt Grant Fund of up to $30,000 in production funds. They announce the winner(s) 6 weeks after each final deadline, which is June 30. See Application Guidelines below for all deadlines and more info.

Whether you have a simple screenplay or a film that’s already in production, we want to consider it for our grant program. We consider a range of projects, from standalone screenplays, to fully packaged projects seeking finishing funds.

If your aspirations are solely to become a produced screenwriter, you can rely on ScreenCraft and BondIt to package the winning script with a talented director and in-house production resources with up to $30,000 in cash financing, judged on a case-by-case basis, depending on each project’s budget and needs as determined by our internal jury of industry professionals.

In partnership with BondIt Media Capital, a film & media fund based in Beverly Hills, ScreenCraft is offering two production grants per year to talented filmmakers for narrative features, short films and TV pilot series scripts and documentaries that display originality, vision & exceptional potential. Grant amounts will vary from $10,000 to $30,000 depending on the scale and merit of each project. This program includes creative development from the ScreenCraft team and production guidance and resources from BondIt Media Capital and Buffalo 8 Productions.

To apply you will need:

  1. A Script —  this doesn’t have to be a completed screenplay if you’re applying for a documentary or if your film is already in production. It can be a treatment, a PDF with links to footage, or any other pitch document that shows the project’s potential.
  2. A Cover Letter —  A letter that expresses your vision for your project. Help the judges get a sense of your creative vision and professional experience. Let us know if you’ve begun production and what you’d be able to use the funding for. We recommend 1-2 pages in length.

You can find out more about the grant here.

Department News 06-24-19

You may have noticed that room F-348 of the HFAC is in the middle of being remodeled. It’s because we’re making room for Professor Tony Gunn, who will be joining our faculty this week. Tony got both his BA and MA from BYU, and received his PhD in Theatre Studies from Florida State University. Recently, Tony’s play, Volition, was performed as a part of Odyssey Theatre’s most recent 10-minute play festival from May 9 – 12 in Sarasota, FL. There were over 80 plays submitted and nine were chosen for production. You can find details and the names of the plays at Odyssey Theatre’s website. Tony has accepted a one-year faculty appointment in the TMA department, and we’re looking forward to having him with us!

Tony Gunn Pic

Rodger Sorensen directs the musical Freaky Friday at the Sandy Hale Center Theatre, which opened last week. New MDT faculty member, Korianne Johnson, plays the mom, Katherine Blake, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday performances. Deseret News gives the production a glowing review and looks at how the show offers something new to the story after two Disney movies. Although many performances are sold out, there are still nights toward the end of the run (the musical closes on August 24) that have tickets available. For tickets, go to Hale Center Theatre’s website.


Photo courtesy of Hale Center Theatre.

Student News

We would like to congratulate film student Rollins Wimber for his summer internship with Lionsgate. He originally learned about the internship through a friend of his, who helped Rollins get his foot in the door. Rollins strongly recommends networking with students and alumni to find internships and work in the industry. Once accepted, Rollins had to find the funding for the internship. “My advice,” he says, “is to apply for scholarships and grants as soon as you qualify . . . many students don’t know about all the money that’s available there.” Working with Lionsgate has taught Rollins some of the ins and outs of the film industry and that he can be a part of this industry. “I’ve realized it’s possible,” Rollins says. “It’s not like the people here have some gift you don’t. You’re just as good, and probably better. Don’t underestimate your BYU education.”

We’d like to thank Rollins for his advice, and wish him, and all our TMA students the best in their careers.

Rollins Wimber at Lionsgate

Film student Rollins Wimber at Lionsgate headquarters.

At long last, London Theatre Study Abroad‘s (LSA) time in London came to a close. After finals were over, they convened at a farmer’s market for one last celebration. They ate lunch together on the lush lawns of the nearby college. But the fun didn’t stop there! LSA‘s final play, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, was the perfect play to finish off the program, combining Shakespeare with what can best be described as a giant party. Students also rushed to fill the last of their London bucket lists before parting ways. While their London adventure may be over, LSA can’t wait to hit the ground running back in the States!

We hope that everyone in LSA had the experience of a lifetime in London, and again thank Brittany Vance, our LSA corespondent, for writing this article.


Audition 2019: Pleasant Grove Players – Wait Until Dark

Pleasant Grove Players will be holding auditions for their upcoming production of the suspenseful drama, Wait Until Dark by Frederick Knott and adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher, on Tuesday, August 20 and Wednesday, August 21 from 7:00pm – 9:00pm in the Keith Christeson Theater on the first floor of the PG Library (30 E. Center). Auditions will consist of cold readings from the script. No appointment is needed. Callbacks, by invitation, will be on August 23. Howard and Kathryn Little will be directing this production. Performance dates are October 18 – November 4 on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday evenings. There will also be a Saturday matinee on November 2.