Alumni Updates

Alumni Update Form

Screen Arts & Cultures and Film & Video Studies Alumni, What are you up to?  We want to hear from you!  Please click on the Alumni Update Form and send us your news.  

Zach Arnold (SAC '04) currently is the editor of the TV show Burn Notice and is a founder of the film editing company, Fix-It-In-Post.

Katie Barkel's (SAC '08) thesis film, Draggers & Rip Spots, debuted at Indie Memphis 2008 in Memphis, Tennessee.

Tara Billik, (SAC '99), works for GK Films (The Departed, Aviator, Blood Diamond) in Santa Monica.

Yoni Brenner (SAC '04) was a screenwriter on the new Ice Age film and does freelance articles for The New Yorker Magazine.

Ryan Carmichael (SAC '06) was one recipient of the Director's Guild of America Student Award for his film Everything's New in Lost Time. Ryan is currently in the NYU Graduate Directing program.

Danny Cohen (SAC '08) has been working as a production assistant on television shows out in Los Angeles, including TNT's Raising the Bar and Showtime's The Big C. Danny regularly performs with his two improv comedy groups. In his spare time, he edits and writes Minutiæ, a satirical magazine that can be read online at

Matt Dunstone (F/V '95) documentary film Kalamazoo River: U.S. was released in October 2009. The film is a whimsical documentary about the Kalamazoo River,

Zack Evans (SAC '04) finished a trailer for a new horror film. Zack Evans and his producing partner Drew Masters have optioned a unique and disturbing feature-length horror script called Outlier, by two immensely talented writers. They want to get other people as excited about it as they are, so they shot and edited a trailer for the script. 

Elise Freimuth (SAC '04) works for mPRm Public Relations ( Los Angeles. mPRm Public relations is one of Los Angeles Business Journal's Top Five Independent PR Firms.

Oren Goldenberg (SAC Honors '05) is a filmmaker and his film Brewster Douglass, You're My Brother was screened on April 26, 2012 at the the Charles Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit.   

Rylend Grant, (SAC '00) won the Final Draft International Screenwriting Contest in 2004. His screenplay, "Drive," bested the nearly 3000 entries. As the winner, he receives a check for $10,000.

Adam Herz (SAC '96) is the screenwriter of the American Pie films and he runs his own production company called Terra Firma Films.

Ben Ketai (SAC '05) worked as a content creator for Sam Raimi's Ghost House Pictures in Beverly Hills and continues writing and producing web series and short films. He directed a web series for Ghost House which aired on It's called "30 DAYS OF NIGHT: DUST TO DUST" and is a spin-off from the graphic novels and the feature film, "30 DAYS OF NIGHT," was based. 

Adam Knee (SAC '82) is an Assistant Professor and MA Program Coordinator at Ohio University's School of Film. Adam was a Fulbright Scholar in film studies at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand.

Sophia Kruz (SAC '11) produced & directed an hour-long documentary for UMS (University Musical Society) on the 100-year history of UMS performances in Hill Auditorium. Her documentary premiered at Hill Auditorium on February 2, 2013 as part of Hill Auditorium Celebration Day and won a 2014 Michigan Emmy in the "Best Historical Documentary" category.

David Knott (SAC '92) won a national 2012 Daytime EMMY for "Outstanding Directing in an Animated Progrm," Penguins of Madagascar, Nickelodeon. He has been working in animation since '94, working for 2 years at Hanna-Barbera before it was swallowed whole by AOL-Time-Warner, and was worked steadily at Disney TV Animation since 1996. Most Recently, he moved from Nickelodeon to Disney Toon Studios to work on the animated film Tinkerbell.   This new job has been very rewarding and has allowed him to grow even more as an artist and filmmaker.  Some of his past work highlights include storyboard supervisor on the Recess Movie, storyboards on Kim Possible, season 2 and 3, and directed the series The Emperor's New School, based off the movie The Emperor's New Groove.  Contrary to what a lot of production-hungry students think, the study of films and the theory accompanying them was an invaluable tool in developing his story-telling style. David wrote, "you can't intelligently make films without that knowledge and background.  Thanks for continued news of the ole program!  It sure has grown since I was a student!  Keep up the good work Screen Arts/Film & Video."

Philip Leaman (SAC '08) is currently in the MFA: Digital + Media program at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD.)  His film Three Pilots is a finalist in the 2009 Copenhagen International Film Festival.  The Danish translation of the title is Flying Dreams with Air Under the Wings. The film is described as the dream of flight can have many causes, but distinguishes itself apparently as a human basic features across time and place. Three Pilots lets one understand why. The small, colorful airplanes chugging along over the sky and spin around in somersaults, while three pilots tell of the fascination of flight and freedom in the clouds, so you even get the urge to follow suit. A wonderful short seven-minute film.

Michael O'Leary (SAC '05) won two Emmys at the 2011 Michigan EMMY® Awards as a writer/producer Michael for a historical video on Michigan Football called Timeless.  Michael won an Emmy in 2007 for his producing role on the NASCAR Images production Beyond the Wheel (a national sports Emmy and not a regional or student award).  O'Leary was also a member of the University of Michigan men's lacrosse team.  His spot on the team, along with skills behind the camera were perfect components for the production of the programs' “team video.”  After earning rave reviews for his first attempt, the annual video became one of the most anticipated items of the year for his fellow Wolverines. According to O'Leary, the efforts spent on the team documentaries didn't just pay off with the thanks and gratitude of his teammates, “Producing the team documentaries was the experience that let him step into Beyond the Wheel so quickly.  Each video allowed him to grow creatively and he really made an effort to learn as much as he could about camera work, writing, editing and interviewing.  He used those DVDs as resumes and it was that production experience that opened a lot of doors at both NFL Films and NASCAR Images." The "team documentaries" that are referenced were actually independent studies through Film & Video and that's really what gave him his start.


Jacob Mendel (SAC Honors '11), co-founder of Giant Eel Productions, lead a workshop on the science behind 3D at the Ann Arbor District Library on June 2, 2012.

Danny Mooney (SAC '08), co-founder of Deep Blue Productions, recently directed Love and Honor, a locally-shot film starring Liam Hemsworth and written by SAC faculty Jim Burnstein & partner Garrett K. Schiff.  Danny's Senior SAC film Fingers, and his two Producers Eddie Rubin (SAC '09) and Debashis Mazumder (SAC '07) and the main actor Ben Daniels (Jeff Daniels' son), went to the World Premiere at the Hamptons International Film Festival in October 2008.  At the festival the Golden Star Fish is the most prestigious award that a film in any competition category can win.  For the shorts 50 films were selected to be programmed, but only 5 were selected to actually be judged in competition and be eligible for a Golden Star Fish... Fingers was one of the 5!  (If you win the Golden Star Fish you are then eligible to be nominated for an Academy Award.)   Mooney and Rubin founder their own production company called Deep Blue Productions. They  produced a film called MOOZ-lem that was filmed in Ann Arbor.

Dan Pipski (SAC '99) is a screenwriter and VP of Development at Groundswell Productions.

Tim Pollock (SAC '04) is screenwriter who writes for The Suite Life.

V. Prasad (SAC '97, SAC Screenwriting Faculty) is a screenwriter who is currently teaching SAC 310: Screenwriting. V had two movies out last year: Ocean of Pearls and Before the Rains. 

Phil Ranta (SAC '06) is working as the executive producer of a mobile video content service that powers two channels on Verizon's V-Cast and over 20 other mobile phone video channels worldwide. It's kind of like producing for two dozen public access channels at once!

Jordan Rosenberg (SAC) is a screenwriter and writes for Lost and other shows.

Shrihari Sathe (SAC '05) recently produced a film It Felt Like Love, which featured at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

Beth Schwartz (SAC) is a screenwriter/TV writer and wrote for TV's Brothers & Sisters.

Sultan Sharrief (SAC '06, SAC production visiting faculty) is a independent director and producer who taught an indie production class SAC 404 during spring 2011 and 2014. Beginning at the young age of 19, he produced The Spiral Project, a 35mm feature film nominated for a 2006 MTV Movie Award. Sharrief was also the filmmaker of Mural (a feature documentary), the associate producer of Mooz-Lum in 2011, the director of Bilal's Stand in 2012, and co-producer of the upcoming feature film, Destined - scheduled to shoot summer 2014 in Detroit.

Dan Shere (SAC '97, SAC Screenwriting Faculty) is currently teaching SAC 310: Screenwriting. He sold his original comedy screenplay, WE ARE FAMILY to 20th Century Fox to be produced by Ralph Winter and Debbie Liebling. He wrote the screenplay for the animated movie EPIC

Audra Sielaff (SAC) is a screenwriter who writes for It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and other shows.

Gaurav Sikka (SAC ’06) launched his own company, Michigan Partners in Bangalore, India. Michigan Partners is a new venture creation firm that shortlists successful businesses around the world and migrates them to the Indian market through Joint Ventures, Technology Transfers or Strategic Alliances.   The company’s web site is:

Craig Silverstein (SAC '97) is a screenwriter and writes for Fox and other networks.  He's sold 3 new cable TV shows in Septemeber 2009.

Marty Stano's (SAC '08) is off to teach in Chile for a 2012-2013 academic year.  Marty's Moon Cake was the Region 2 Student Academy Awards Winner for the Alternative Category in 2007.  It was the #1 film in that category. It then went on as a National Finalist for the Student Academy Awards.

Oliver R. Thornton (SAC/Film&Video’99 and SAC Faculty in TV Writing), Alexander Wright (SAC/Film&Video’99), and Abigail Morris (SAC’08) won at the 2011 Michigan EMMY® Awards, an Emmy for Think Squad for best Children/Youth/Teens Program. Also, Oliver R. Thornton, Alexander Wright, and Donnie Beacham (SAC ’10) were recognized for "Give a Child A Great Start", the series of 42 PSAs produced in fall 2010. He is currently producing a PBS health talk show series Feel Grand hosted by Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actress, artist, and health advocate Jane Seymour.

Michael Toner (SAC '14) won both 2014 Peter and Barbara Benedek awards for Best Screenplay and Best TV Script.

Brandon Verdi (SAC '12) was awarded the 2012 Peter & Barbara Benedek Prize for Best TV script for his TV script, Breaking Bad, "Alone Time.”  The Michigan Creative Film Alliance, the film production collaboration between University of Michigan, Michigan State and Wayne State film programs, selected Brandon's screenplay, Downriver, to be filmed in the 2012 summer. The premiere screening of Downriver will be in March 2013 at the Detroit Institute of Arts.  

Mike Williamson (SAC '04) shot a mini-series called "30 Days of Night: Dust to Dust" for director Ben Ketai (SAC '05). It's being presented by both on the web and on-demand cable. There is a new episode each week with six parts in total. Here's the link: Mike premiered his thesis film "Niña Quebrada" at the American Film Institute where he studied cinematography. Please also take a look at his website

Alexander Wright is a producer with Fox Sports Detroit and has worked as a freelancer at Detroit Public Television.  Alex, Oliver R. Thornton, and Donnie Beacham (SAC '10) were recognized at the 2011 Micigan Emmy Awards  for "Give a Child A Great Start", the series of 42 PSAs produced in fall 2010.  Alex also won a 2011 Michigan Emmy  for Think Squad for best Children/Youth Teens Program created and produced along with Oliver R. Thornton(SAC/Film&Video’99) and Abigail Morris (SAC '08).