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Alumni Spotlight

Spotlight Alums in 2022

Congratulations to Clare Higgins (Honors, FTVM '17) on the Netflix premiere of her first TV episode of The Witcher (season 2, episode 3, co-written with Lauren Schmidt Hissrich).

Clare reflects, "I'm so proud to be a part of this show, and to confidently call myself a TV writer. This industry isn't always an easy one, and victories like this are worth celebrating with the people you love. Thank you to those who I've worked with, leaned on, celebrated, shared, and grown with these past few years."

FTVM '17 Andre Ray’s production company Paris Films (co-founded with Paris Jones) just wrapped the feature film Among The Ashes starring Denise Richards, Richard Gunn, and Ilean Almaguer. 
As an associated production company on the project, Paris Films contributed to script development and casting, production, post-production, and the upcoming distribution deal. While uncredited personally on the film, Ray specifically assisted with script development and other early aspects on the project as part of his role as Head of Content.

FTVM interns contributed to various areas of development on this project: Sydney Bentley ('21) and current undergrads Amira Salloum and Jonah Sobczak.

Photos taken from the Paris Films Website 

Spotlight Alums in 2021



Rebecca Ewing's (FTVM 2000) Love Hard, now streaming on Netflix, made its Michigan premiere at the Maple Theater in Birmingham on November 5, 2021. The film tells the tale of an LA girl, unlucky in love, who falls for an East Coast guy on a dating app and decides to surprise him for the holidays -- only to discover that she's been catfished. This lighthearted romantic comedy chronicles her attempt to reel in love.


Congratulations to Executive Director of Comedy Originals at Hulu Kelci Parker (FTVM '11) who was named one of Shadow and Act's Rising Executives this year. 

Shadow and Act is a website dedicated to cinema, television, and web content of Africa and its global Diaspora. With daily news, interviews, in-depth investigations into the audiovisual industry, and more, Shadow and Act promotes content created by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

FTVM Alums Jordan Frank and Matt Schwarz ('96) of the band Quasar Wut-Wut  Score
Long-Lost Silent Film Soon to Play on TCM

In September of 2021, at the Gene Siskel Film Center, before a near-capacity crowd, director Edward Sedgwick’s five-reel silent film The First Degree said hello again in first public appearance in 97 years. Chicago Tribute author Michael Phillips talked to co-composer and performer Matt Schwarz after the show who told him,"(The music) strove to capture 'the unceasing devilishness' of the villain, and the psychological torment of the beleaguered hero." The Quasar Wut-Wut score has already been recorded and will accompany the forthcoming TCM premiere, which likely will air in late 2021 or early 2022 as part of the “Silent Sundays” programming hosted by Jacqueline Stewart.

Above text extracted from "A long-lost silent movie turned up in a storage closet in Peoria and got its first screening this week in Chicago in almost a century. Next stop: Turner Classic Movies" by Micheal Phillips, Chicago Tribune.To access the full Tribune article about the film, please click here

FTVM Alum David Roston (2011), Producer, NoiseFilter, graduated with a Master’s in Public Health from Tulane University and is now producing a series of educational animations about COVID vaccines. NoiseFilter recently released the first episode: "Valiant Vaccine Versus the Vicious Virus."

Razzaaq Boykin (FTVM '05), currently a directing Fellow at the American Film Institute, is featured in the Voyage LA article "Conversations with Razzaaq Boykin," (March 25, 2021). In the interview, Boykin discusses his professional journey, his challenges, and his work at AFI.

"[My] experiences taught me that any obstacle has a solution. Challenges make us strong; they build our character. Which explains why every time there is a challenge on set, I say to myself, ‘God, I love this game’; I take every moment to appreciate that it is where I want to be, and it’s all I ever wanted."

-- Razzaaq Boykin

Photo credit, VoyageLA

Director Davy Rothbart's (UM '98) feature documentary 17 Blocks celebrated its national virtual release starting March 5, 2021,  and is streaming in over 100 theaters nationwide.  In 1999, nine-year old Emmanual Sanford-Durant and his Washington, D. C., family began to film their daily lives in America's most dangerous neighborhood - just 17 blocks behind the U. S. Capitol building.  They've been filming ever since.  Made in a unique collaboration with filmmaker and journalist Davy Rothbart, the film focuses on four generations of the Sanford family, including Emmanuel, a promising student, his brother Smurf, a local drug dealer, his sister Denice, an aspiring cop, and his mother Cheryl, who must conquer her own demons for her family to prosper. Spanning two decades, 17 Blocks illuminates a nation's ongoing crisis through one family's raw, stirring, and deeply personal saga.

Rachel Dengiz (FTVM '99) produced this film. 


FTVM alumna Gretchen Andrews ('19) was recently awarded a Fulbright grant to make a documentary in Argentina highlighting young-adult activists and their courageous strives to implement comprehensive sex education into public schools. She will be supplementing the project with graduate classes in documentary and journalism. Gretchen noted about her experience in FTVM: "All of the different skills we were pushed to try to follow through with in FTVM 403 Sketch Comedy certainly gave me more confidence not just in film, but in any creative project."

The February 23, 2021 issue of Deadline reveals Film-makers Justin Powell (FTVM '09, pictured at far left) and David Charbonier, who recently sold their supernatural thriller The Djinn to IFC Midnight, have inked with ICM Partners for representation.The film follows a mute young boy who unleashes a sinister monster after he makes a wish to fulfill his greatest desire: to have a voice. Now trapped in a small apartment with nowhere to hide, he must find a way to survive until the stroke of midnight or pay the ultimate price. Justin Powell is a writer and producer at Fifth Circle Pictures, a motion picture development and production company, specializing in thrillers and old school, suspense driven horror. He co-founded the company in 2015 with his long time friend and director, David Charbonier. 

Photo and portions of text extracted from Deadline's "ICM Signs 'The Djinn' Filmmakers Justin Powell and David Charbonier," by Anthony D'Alessandro

The film Ticket to Paradise, starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts, will be going into production later this year. Co-written by Ol Parker and Daniel Pipski (FTVM '98), the film traces a divorced couple that teams up and travels to Bali to stop their daughter from making the same mistake they think they made 25 years ago. Read the full article in Deadline here   

Photo courtesy of Daniel Pipski

Spotlight Alums in 2020

Paige Wood (FTVM '15) Awarded 2020 Kresge Artist Fellowship

Paige Wood was recently awarded a 2020 Kresge Artist Fellowship (Film & Music). Administered by the College for Creative Studies, Kresge Arts in Detroit represents one aspect of The Kresge Foundation’s investment in the artistic communities of metropolitan Detroit, providing support to artists living and working in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties. 

Paige Wood is an award-winning screenwriter, producer, and creative consultant. Born in Detroit and working worldwide, Paige has produced and/or co-written a number of critically-acclaimed documentary and narrative films since the start of her freelance career in 2018. Currently, she serves as the supervising producer of five narrative-shifting multimedia projects supported by The Ford Foundation, and teaches as an adjunct instructor in the film program at  Wayne State University. Paige is an alumna of Firelight Media’s 2018-2019 Impact Producer Fellowship cohort as well as a recipient of the Sundance Institute’s 2019 Knight Fellowship.Text and photo extracted from

Connie Huang (FTVM '11) Speaks on Panel at Duderstadt Symposium and Conducts Open Session for FTVM Majors


photos courtesy of Connie Huang & Mary Lou Chlipala

(clockwise from top) Connie's diverse experiences on set;
Connie and Terri Sarris; and  FTVM majors Kristi Lindenmuth and Sivert Glarum recording the symposium.



Connie Huang (FTVM '11) spoke on the panel "Women in Media Technology" and conducted a session entitled "Filmmaker Working in New York City" at the 2020 Media and Studio Arts Symposium at Duderstadt on Thursday, February 20, 2020. Huang has worked as the professional camera assistant for such films as The Goldfinch, The Greatest Showman, Bridge of Spies, The Post, and West Side Story. Additionally, Connie conducted an open session with FTVM majors on Friday, February 21, 2020, in North Quad's Green Room. 

FTVM Alum Justin Powell ('09) Featured in DEADLINE

The February 4, 2020 issue of Deadline reveals This Is Us star Lonnie Chavis is to topline the indie thriller The Boy Behind The Door, co-written and co-directed by FTVM Alum Justin Powell ('09) and David Charbonier. The film follows Bobby (Chavis), a young boy who is kidnapped alongside his best friend on their way to Little League practice. With no means of calling for help and miles of dark country in every direction, Bobby must rescue his friend and find a way out before they become the latest victims in a collection of lost children. Read the full article in Deadline.


Justin Powell is the co-founder of Fifth Circle Pictures, specializing in thrillers and suspense-driven horror. Photo credit, IMDb

Kevin Tocco ('18) Selected for CBS Page Program

Kevin Tocco (FTVM ‘18) was recently selected for the CBS Page Program in NYC. His current role is an audience management Page at the Ed Sullivan Theatre for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. After this “rotation,” he will have the opportunity to assist CBS news shows as News Page as well as other entertainment shows produced in the CBS Broadcast center. (Kevin wants you to know that no unpaid internships were required!)

photos courtesy of Kevin Tocco

Andrew Ericksen's (FTVM '11) TOXICITY Now Streaming on Amazon



Writer & Director Andrew Ericksen (FTVM '11) directs this suspense drama about a young widower who moves home with his mother; their strained relationship grows even more complicated as he becomes the primary suspect in his wife's suspicious death.

Spotlight Alums in 2019

FTVM Alum Sheonna Mix ('02) Featured in Article by recently featured FTVM Alum Sheonna Mix ('02) in an article entitled, "The Creative Class: Sheonna Mix Is Unscripted Television’s Force To Be Reckoned With."  The article details Mix's career and praises her as "an unstoppable television force" who "As Bravo’s Vice President of Current Programming, [...] is shaping pop culture, one green light at a time. If Sheonna says something is a go, it’s a GO. Buckle up and let Sheonna make magic, it’s what she does best." is the premier destination for African American popular culture and entertainment, with a voice that’s edgy, viciously hilarious, politically aware–and completely unique.


photo source: iOne Digital Creative / Creative Class

FTVM Honors Alum Tricia Williams ('15) Interviewed by VOYAGE L.A.


FTVM Honors Alum Tricia Williams ('15) was interviewed on October 7, 2019, by Voyage LA. In the interview, "Meet Tricia Williams" Tricia shares her story, announces her new e-book The Sewing Club, talks about her involvement with  Magic Punch and Anthill Comedy - and hints at her future projects. To read the full interview and learn more about Tricia, please click here


Photo from Voyage L.A.

Perry Janes (FTVM '12) Interviewed by VOYAGE L.A.

Perry Janes ('12) was recently interviewed for Voyage LA. In "Meet Perry Janes," Perry discusses his artistic journey, talks about his art, and shares the following advice: 1)  Take your learning curve public; 2) Look side-to-side, not up-and-down; 3) Reject scarcity theory; 4) Consume art prodigiously; and 5) Don’t sacrifice your relationships to the myth that art requires suffering.


To access the complete article and Perry's contact information, please click here

Photo from Voyage L.A. 

FTVM Alums Jeremy Cohen (FTVM '99) and Tony Diaz (FTVM '00) Nominated for Emmy Awards

TVM Alums Jeremy Cohen (FTVM '99) and Tony Diaz (FTVM '00) have both been nominated for Emmy Awards. Tony has been nominated in the category of editing for his work on the show "Life Below Zero:" Jeremy, too, has been nominated in the category of editing for his work on the show "Who is America?"

FTVM Alum Bryce Holden Enters AFI as Cinematography Fellow, Fall 2019

Bryce Holden received his BA from the University of Michigan in 2014 with a major in Screen Arts and Cultures. In Terri Sarris' Intro to Production class, where he got the opportunity to work in digital and film formats, he discovered his love for working with cinema cameras. He credits Mark Kligerman's film theory class for teaching him new perspectives on analyzing film. After graduation, he moved to Los Angeles and began working in camera departments on varying projects (as a camera operator, 1st AC and 2nd AC), while also working as a Prep Technician at a local camera rental house. Bryce has worked in over 20 different countries and shot for National Geographic. Bryce’s first feature film as a Director of Photography, I TRAPPED THE DEVIL, was released in theaters earlier this year through IFC Midnight.

photo courtesy of Bryce Holden

Anna Baumgarten (FTVM '15) Works at Jim Cummings' Inaugural Short to Feature Film Lab

Baumgarten, one of ten fellows at the Jim Cummings' Inaugural Short to Feature Film Lab, is currently working alongside industry professionals and peers to transform her short film Disfluency into a feature concept.

Anna Baumgarten's Disfluency is an award-winning short film that follows a young woman through her daily life, from her passive usage of the phrase "I'm sorry," to her being raped and the emotional aftermath. All the while, this habit of apologizing eerily stays with her throughout, begging the question: have we let rape become a cultural disfluency—an expected, almost unnoticeable interruption—in our culture?

Photo courtesy of Veerendra Prasasd

(Pictured above) Anna  Baumgarten (FTVM '15) talks with DP John Fisher (FTVM '14) and Gaffer Walter Lin (FTVM '12). during her Disfluency shoot on Sunday, September 8, 2019, at the MLB. 

Waldemar Centeno to Edit New Comedy Feature, THE BINGE (Hulu)

Waldemar Centeno (FTVM '06) is a professional film and television editor who has cut on many noteworthy projects that include The Goldbergs and Mr. Student Body President. In over a decade, he has edited an array of genres on shows and features for Sony, Disney, HBO, CBS, ABC, FOX, FX, and many more. He recently was the editor on a comedy/drama feature film starring Pete Davidson, Griffin Gluck, and Jon Cryer for American High/LD Entertainment titled Big Time Adolescence, which premiered in the U.S. Dramatic Competition for the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. He has now completed post on another comedy/drama feature film called Bailey & Darla starring Pitch Perfect's Brittany Snow and Veep's Sam Richardson. Centano will soon be heading to edit a new comedy feature titled The Binge for Hulu.  

On Tuesday, September 3, 2019, Centano conducted an editing workshop for FTVM entitled, "How an Editor Organizes a Feature Film, What an Assistant Editor Does Before Moving Up to Editor, and Much More!" 

Photo credit, Mary Lou Chlipala 

Dave Devries Produces PLUS ONE with Studio 71


Dave Devries (FTVM 2011) recently produced PLUS ONE with Studio 71. PLUS ONE is a romantic comedy in which long-time friends Alice and Ben find themselves in that inevitable year that all late 20-somethings experience - in which seemingly every person they know gets married - and agree to be one another’s plus ones as they power through an endless parade of insufferable weddings.

Written and directed by Andrew Rhymer and Jeff Chan and starring Maya Erskine (PEN15 on Hulu), Jack Quaid (THE BOYS on Amazon), Beck Bennet (SNL), and Ed Begley Jr., the film premiered at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award.  


Author and FTVM Alum A. Brad Schwartz Publishes New Book SCARFACE AND THE UNTOUCHABLE


Scarface and the Untouchable: Al Capone, Eliot Ness, and the Battle for Chicago draws upon decades of primary source research -- including the personal papers of Ness and his associates, newly released federal files, and long-forgotten crime magazines containing interviews with the gangsters and G-men themselves. Collins and Schwartz have recaptured a bygone bullet-ridden era while uncovering the previously unrevealed truth behind Scarface's downfall. Together they have crafted the definitive work on Capone, Ness, and the battle for Chicago.

David Siev Screens YEAR ZERO at 2019 Media and Studio Arts Symposium

David Siev (FTVM '15) presented his award-winning short film Year Zero with an introduction and Q&A to follow the screening at the Duderstadt 2019 Media and Studio Arts Symposium in February.

When Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge regime seized control of Cambodia in 1975, the country plunged into civil war and was ravaged by mass killings, famine, torture and disease. With no end in sight to the hunger and starvation and nothing left to lose, two young brothers stop at nothing for a chance to survive.

Other FTVM Alums involved in the film are as follows: Michael Wylie (Film Editing), Joey Ostrander (Production Designer), Kyle Weber (Production Management), Victoria Reacklof (Second Assistant Director), and Dylan Hancook (Second Assistant Camera)

FTVM Alum Shooting Feature-Length Musical Entitled DUELERS in Pontiac, MI

FVTM Alums are shooting a feature-length musical film entitled DUELERS in Pontiac, Michigan. DUELERS was written and composed by U of M alum, Drew De Four (‘06) who recently composed the additional music for The Trail to Oregon. Danny Mooney (FTVM ‘08, Love and Honor), and Anthony Kalil (FTVM ‘15) are producing the show, and several other FTVM alums are contributing to the project.

(Pictured from left to right) Danny Mooney, FTVM '08; Josh Ficken, FTVM '08; Anthony Kalil, FTVM '15; Joey Ostrander, A&D 07; Hannah Noël, FTVM '17; Drew Hill, Eng '10; Calvin Shin, FTVM '19.

FTVM Alum Shihari Sathe Wins 2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards Producers Award

FTVM Alum Shrihari Sathe ('05) recently won the 2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards Producers Award, an award that honors emerging producers who, despite limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity, and vision required to produce quality independent films. Barbara Twist (FTVM '12) of Dear Producer, sat down with Sathe and discussed the struggles of producing a Tibetan language film, how he raises money for non-English language projects, and how for six years he didn’t have an apartment and lived from festival to festival and market to market. To access Twist's profile on Sathe, please click here

Roddy Hyduk's PIZZAIOLO (2017) Distributed by THE NEW YORKER

Roddy Hyduk's (FTVM '13) Pizzaiolo (2017), a short film about Di Fara Pizza in Brooklyn and the living legend behind the magic, Domenico DeMarco, was distributed by The New Yorker. Hyduk and crew (including two other U-M graduates: Morgan Wynne '16, Producer, and Matthew Infante '13, IAC) were recently nominated for a Webby Award for their work on the film. 

Andrew Laurich Featured in VOYAGE LA

FTVM Alum Andrew Laurich ('05) was recently featured in Voyage LA in an April 15, 2019 article entitled "Art & Life with Andrew Laurich."  The feature details Laurich's work in the industry, provides background information on his art, shares some of his advice, and provides links to his work. Access the full article here.

Image Credits: Voyage LA - Scott Uhlfelder. Mousa Kraish

FTVM Alums Screen Films at Multiple Film Festivals

Jeremy Borison (FTVM '15) directed a short film called Boxes, which was recently accepted into both the Ann Arbor Jewish Film Festival and the Detroit Jewish Film Festival. Boxes also recently played at the Cleveland International Film Festival with another FTVM film, Disfluency (Produced by Anna Baumgarten, FTVM '15).


(Pictured above) At the Cleveland Film Festival, Anna Baumgarten (FTVM '15), Producer and Actor, Disfluency; Jeremy Borison (FTVM '15), director of Boxes; Shira Steiner (FTVM '15 ), Producer of Boxes. 

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Borison