Van Flesher (2002) – Professor and Chair – BA English (1988) Marshall University; MA English (1990) Marshall University; MFA Motion Picture, Television, and Recording Arts (1992) Florida State University
Professor Flesher joined the Watkins Film faculty in 2002 as the cinematography specialist. He has also taught classes in directing, film studies and screenwriting. He taught cinema production at the University of Southern California, the Los Angeles Film School and the Maine Photographic Workshops (now Maine Media Workshops). He holds degrees from the Florida State University Graduate Film Conservatory—film directing—and Marshall University—medieval English studies and creative writing. His media career spans from the late 1980s—writer in local public television—through over 400 commercials, music videos and films. He is especially proud of photographing Amy Everhart in Nashville, Tennessee and directing Burning Annie in Huntington, West Virginia.
Steven Womack (1995) – Professor – BA English Honors (1974) Tulane University; MFA English and Writing (2003) Long Island University
Co-wrote the television films Volcano: Fire On The Mountain and Proudheart, which was nominated for the CableAce Award. He is a member of the Writers Guild of America and an award-winning author of ten novels including Dirty Money. His novel Dead Folks’ Blues was awarded the Edgar Allan Poe Award by the Mystery Writers of America. He also co-edited and wrote the introduction for The True Crime Files Of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Berkley Books). His latest novel is By Blood Written.
Valorie Stover Quarles (1995) – Professor – BA English Education (1985) University of Central Florida; MFA Motion Picture, Television, and Recording Arts (1992) Florida State University
Founding Chair of the Watkins Film School and over twenty years as a filmmaker and educator. For her creative work she has received numerous festival awards as well as several production and cultural arts grants for projects and programs from the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Florida Department of Cultural Affairs and the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences. Quarles has served as the President of the Nashville Film Festival (nashvillefilmfestival.org), a member of the Nashville Screenwriting Conference Advisory Board and the Film Nashville Board.
Robert Gordon (2009) – Associate Professor — BA Film, UCLA
Editor of more than 30 Hollywood films (Toy Story, Return of the Living Dead, The Blue Lagoon) and many documentaries (World War II), as well as director of Revenge of the Red Baron, starring Tobey Maguire and Mickey Rooney. Virtual inventor of the process by which today’s CG Animated Features are edited.
Sam Dalton (2012) – Visiting Faculty — Writer/producer/director/acting teacher
Sam Dalton is experienced in all phases of film and television creation and production on both sides of a camera. He is the founder and director of “Actors Asylum”, a nationally recognized professional acting and film/video production training facility, creator, producer and host of Family Adventures and Boomer Adventures, both television travel program series, producer and host of Scrunch, an award winning nationally syndicated children’s television program. Mr. Dalton has been a professional actor and teacher for many years and is the executive writer, producer and director of the Illusion Factory, an entertainment, promotion, and Public Relations Company located in Los Angeles, responsible for the on-going development of multiple entertainment programs, infomercials and commercials.
Franne Lee — Seeded Member of United Scenic Artist, local 829, Member of Metro Arts Commission-Artist Registry
Franne Lee’s professional design career started in the theatre in New York, with Andre Gregory’s Alice in Wonderland, for which she received an Obie Award. Her Tony Awards for Costume and Set Design include Hal Prince’s productions of Candide and Sweeney Todd. Her movie credits include John Sayles’ Baby, It’s You, Paul Simon’s One Trick Pony, and David Lynch’s Industrial Symphony #1. Franne’s TV credits include Saturday Night Live, for which she won an Emmy award for Production Design: she created the looks for many of the best-loved SNL characters. In 1999, Franne moved to Nashville and began designing for music videos, commercials, and local theatre, including the People’s Branch Theatre, and the Nashville Shakespeare Festival. She began at Watkins in 2002. She also teaches Costume Design at Belmont University. In the fall of 2008 she participated in “Curtain Call: Celebrating a Century of Outstanding Woman Designers for Live Performance,” at Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts, where they displayed her designs for Sweeney Todd, Candide, A Winter’s Tale, and Gilda Radner Live. She was one of 33 woman costume designers chosen for this honor.
Amy Bertram Read – PhD (Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures, ABD), MA (French, 2004) University of Tennessee, Knoxville, BA (French, 1994), Davidson College, Davidson, NC
A film critic and teacher, Amy Bertram Read currently teaches special topics courses in French film and Elements of Film Art. A member of the Modern Language Association and the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, she is completing work toward a PhD in French, Cinema Studies, Women’s Studies and Spanish. Her dissertation is a comparative study of contemporary French filmmakers Claire Denis and François Ozon. In 2004, she received an M.A. in French from UT with concentrations in French Film and Theater. She has taught beginning to intermediate French at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and beginning Spanish at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, TN and spent a year teaching French and Spanish at the Cedar Springs Waldorf School in Placerville, CA prior to starting graduate studies.
Nancy McGuire Roche - MFA Creative Writing (1991) Brown University; PhD. English, Concentration in Film Studies (2011) Middle Tennessee State University.
Nancy Roche specializes in Women and Film, American Independent Film and Contemporary International Cinema with an emphasis on culture studies, narrative and gender and identity performance. She is the recipient of various academic awards, including the Harris Award and the Feldman Prize in Fiction while at Brown University and a Provost Writing Fellowship at MTSU. She has taught at Watkins College for ten years, in both the General Education and Film Departments. Publications include: The Southern Poetry Review, Vanderbilt Poetry Review, The Nashville Scene, Jacket Magazine and contributions to The LGBTQ America Today Encyclopedia, Greenwood Press and The Essential Sopranos, University of Kentucky Press. Academic affiliations include the Modern Language Association and the Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association.
Chuck Stephens - BFA (Visual Arts: Filmmaking, 1984), University of Maryland, MA (Cinema Studies, 1987) New York University
A freelance writer, film critic and specialist in Japanese and other Asian cinemas, Chuck Stephens is a member of the National Society of Film Critics, and has been teaching Film Studies since 1988. A Contributing Editor to Film Comment magazine, former West Coast Editor of Filmmaker magazine, and a former columnist for Kinema Jumpo (Japan’s oldest and leading film periodical), Chuck has written for the Village Voice, San Francisco Bay Guardian, Interview, Cinema Scope, The New York Daily News and publications around the world. He is also a frequent contributor to Criterion.com and has authored numerous essays for laser discs and DVDs in The Criterion Collection.
George Yanok teaches screenwriting and a variety of special topics classes on the history of television. He began his career as a comic in campus coffee houses in the San Francisco Bay area and has worked as an actor, stand-up comedian, jazz musician, and radio-TV announcer. He eventually settled into television writing and producing with CBS’s Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, in company of such fellow writer/performers as Steve Martin, Lorenzo Music and Jack Burns. One of the originators of Hee Haw, he was a staff writer on the first hundred episodes of the long-running series. Nominated for numerous awards for writing, he has won two EMMY Awards (for Lily Tomlin specials) and a Writer’s Guild of America Award (The Burns & Schreiber Special). His TV writing and producing credits include Bob Newhart, Sanford & Son, Welcome Back, Kotter and The Ted Knight Show. He has produced series for Lynn Redgrave and Stockard Channing, and has several movies for television to his credit, among them Time To Triumph starring Patty Duke, and Go West, Young Girl.
Scott Hallgren – BA Music (1992), University of Miami, FL; Certificate (2003), Pacific Northwest Film Scoring
Film School advisors
The Film School’s advisors are an essential part of the Watkins Film School. These professionals share their knowledge, time, and resources in support of the school and its students. By teaching seminars and specialized courses as well as providing opportunities for internship and job placement, these advisors help the Film School remain connected with a constantly changing industry. The following is a partial list of our current advisors:
Bruce Beresford - Academy-award winning Director of Tender Mercies and Driving Miss Daisy
James Cromwell - Actor – The Green Mile, Babe, ER
Olympia Dukakis - Actor and winner of an Academy Award and Golden Globe for Moonstruck
Steven Haft - Producer of Dead Poets Society and Last Dance
Michael Lehman - Director of 40 Days and 40 Nights, The Truth about Cats and Dogs, Heathers, The West Wing, Homicide.
John McNaughton - Director of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Wild Things
Joan Tewkesbury - Screenwriter of Nashville and Director of Old Boyfriends, Cold Sassy Tree
Peggy Walton Walker - Screenwriter of Free Willy
Chris Zarpas - Golden Globe-winning Producer of RKO 281, G.I. Jane, Where the Money Is, Clay Pigeons