Our mentors are here to guide you to success in the film industry.
Most schools call them professors or instructors. We call them Mentors.
A mentor is someone who believes in you, who sees your potential, and who wants to help you find your own path to success.
To learn how to make exceptional works of art through film that speaks to your audiences, you need to learn from seasoned industry professionals from around the globe who know the ropes and have dedicated themselves to showing you how to get where you want to go.
Our mentors are chosen carefully with consideration according to their experience in the industry, instructional skills, and – most importantly – the ability to nurture you, the student, in your creative and technical aspirations.
We also routinely enlist top lecturers to give you unique, practical insights into the world of film – ensuring you have faculty on hand to show you the way forward.
IAFT mentors are here to show you how to create your own path. Are you ready to take the first step? Apply now and let our mentors guide you to success in the film industry.
Sean Akers is a producer at the independent production company Before The Door. He was an associate producer on J.C. Chandor’s debut film Margin Call in 2011, starring Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, and Zachary Quinto, and is now co-producer on Chandor’s follow-up feature, All Is Lost, starring Robert Redford.
Sean was also co-producer on Victor Quinaz’s TWV Project and executive producer on Blair Erickson’s horror feature, The Banshee Chapter. He produced Dog Eat Dog, a short film by Sian Heder, starring Zachary Quinto and Philip Baker Hall—it’s a modern fable about pet adoption.
A Pittsburgh native, Sean taught high school in Philadelphia, was a graphic designer in a multimedia company, served as a Director of Marketing for a skin care line, helped launch a theatre company, managed musicians, and developed his own web and graphic design business.
He wrote and published THE SECRETS OF CROWDFUNDING: A Step-By-Step Guide to Getting the Most From Your Kickstarter Campaign last year, after doing a seminar on Crowdsource Funding at IAFT. He teaches Film Finance, Marketing & Distribution for IAFT.
Matthew Ashford is a graduate of North Carolina School of the Arts and is widely known for playing Jack Devereaux on NBC’S Days of Our Lives, in addition to playing contract roles on One Life to Live, Search for Tomorrow, and General Hospital. Matthew’s myriad film and television work includes Species, Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss, Bonfire of the Vanities, Dharma and Greg, Providence, Burke’s Law, Quantum Leap, Pacific Blue, Charmed and Tom Clancy’s miniseries Net Force. Theatrically, Matt has starred in Annie Get Your Gun, The Sound of Music, Funny Girl, 110 In the Shade, and Arsenic and Old Lace. He received rave reviews from the L.A. Times for his portrayal of Officer Lockstock in the L.A. Premiere of Urinetown. He received the Artistic Director Achievement Award for Lead Actor in a Musical for Into the Woods in which he portrayed the Wolf/Prince. Other roles include the Soldier/Alex in Sunday in the Park with George, Carl Magnus in A Little Night Music, Thomas Jefferson in 1776, and Bill Austin in the National touring company of Mamma Mia! He teaches both Stage and Film Acting History at IAFT.
Jeff Bacon grew up and attended college in Nebraska before moving to Los Angeles where he studied screenwriting at UCLA. While working day jobs at movie studios such as MGM and New Line Cinema, Jeff wrote and directed several short films, including Birth of a Salesman (1999), My Life is a Movie (2002), and Distorted (2006). Jeff turned to teaching in 2007, serving as screenwriting mentor, senior mentor, and Program Director for Filmmaking at IAFT in Cebu, through 2010. He has also directed every episode of a comedy web series he wrote and created with Joe Davidson. He and his wife Cindy have a daughter, Liana, born in 2012. Jeff currently resides in Los Angeles and teaches producing.
Frederick Bailey made his debut as a feature director with Shogun Cop, a fantasy adventure unveiled at the Tokyo International Fantastic Film Festival. A total of 23 of his screenplays have made it to film. Frederick has worked extensively with producers as diverse as Roger Corman and Bob Rafelson. His screen acting credits include supporting roles in nearly 20 films, as well as a recurring role on NBC’s Days of Our Lives. Fred has also directed over one hundred stage plays in theatres all across the U.S. Recently, he’s written, directed and on-screen hosted two 45-minute educational documentaries for IAFT: DIRECTING and SCREENWRITING. He’s taught acting, directing, and screenwriting in Japan and the Philippines.
David Michael Barrett
David Michael Barrett has an extensive background in writing and producing reality television, including the internationally syndicated Shop the World series and numerous shows on HGTV, including What’s With That House?, Over Your Head, Man Land, and several network specials. David is the screenwriter and executive producer of the award-winning indie comedy, Bad Actress, which premiered at the Miami International Film Festival, before screening in festivals worldwide and eventually selling to Strand Releasing. David’s contemporary screwball comedy, Such Good People, went into production this spring. After graduating from the California State University Northridge film program, David began his career at Warner Bros. and Spelling Entertainment. He teaches Non-Scripted Television.
Jarin Blaschke has multiple feature films and shorts to his credit, along with music videos, national commercials, and branded work with high profile clients. He was chosen as one of only four cinematographers in the U.S. to collaborate at the 2008 Sundance Director’s Lab, and he’s photographed numerous films selected for Sundance as well as dozens of other landmark festivals, including Berlin, SXSW, Toronto, and New York. His work has been distributed by Lionsgate. A web series he recently shot was nominated for an Emmy award.
Steven Boe began his career in front of the camera working as an actor on several features and television series including Wild Bill, The 60’s, L.A. Law, Baywatch Nights, and most notably as Cam Cutler in Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion. He is the co-founder and President of Imaginal Cells FilmWorks, a production and post-production company in Los Angeles. In addition to working with film studios and network television, Steven has independently produced and directed several award-winning films, including the dark comedy Ugly On The Inside (currently being developed as a television series), and the animated documentary Mythic Journeys, featuring the voices of Tim Curry and Mark Hamill. Boe has been a guest speaker and panelist at multiple film festivals, schools, conferences and organizations. He’s a member of Film Independent; the International Documentary Association; SAG; AEA; the Joseph Campbell Foundation, and on the board of directors for The Brittany Foundation (a non-profit group dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of abandoned dogs). Steven teaches Cinematography, Producing, PSA, and Locations.
After cutting trailers and promos for the Starz block of channels and winning many awards, David progressed to teaching editing at the Colorado Film School. When he moved to the Los Angeles area, he started putting together promos for the array of Disney/ABC Channels. He now continues his career as one of the mentors at IAFT with his Editing course.
Lana holds an MFA in Acting from Arizona State University and a BFA from the University of South Dakota. She has taught at Cal State Pomona, Texas Lutheran University, Arizona State University, the Shakespeare Society in NYC, and for the last seven years has been specializing in the teaching, developing and directing of physical-based, long-form improvisation at The Hothouse here in Los Angeles. Professionally she has performed with the Southwest Shakespeare Company and Shakespeare Sedona in Arizona, the Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company, The Judith Shakespeare Company in NYC, The Shakespeare Theatre in DC, and the Black Hills Playhouse in South Dakota. Most recently, she performed opposite Kevin Kline in The Lover and The Poet with the Southwest Shakespeare Company. Lana mentors Movement, Voice and Improvisation at IAFT.
Doug Dearth directed and produced the award-winning documentary, 9000 Needles, and has produced documentaries for the critically acclaimed Vanguard Documentary Series on Current TV. He’s served in various positions from Music Coordinator to Associate Producer and Second Unit Director on multiple films for John Cusack’s New Crime Productions, including Grosse Pointe Blank and High Fidelity. He’s also worked as an actor with noted directors Stephen Frears, Bruce Beresford, Clint Eastwood and Harold Ramis. Doug directed and produced the feature ﬁlm Underdogs, ﬁlmed on location in Canton, Ohio. He is currently slated to direct the feature ﬁlm Three Dog Night, on which he’s also co-writer. Doug’s production company, One In A Row Films, is based in Santa Monica. He teaches Documentary production.
Armed with an MFA in Film & Video from the California Institute of the Arts, Rich Hyatt has broadcast editing credits on multiple episodes of A&E Biography, including one (Sylvester Stallone) that won a 2005 Cine Golden Eagle. He has also handled editing projects for SPEEDtv and Outdoor Life Network. Rich mentors in Cinematography, Editing, and Class Film.
Russell P. Marleau
Originally from the Bay Area of California, Russell Marleau spent his formative years in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He attended San Jose State University where he received a B.A. in Film & Television. Since moving to Los Angeles in 1989, Marleau has worked as screenwriter, producer and director. He’s done many animated television series, including The Adventures of Hyperman, Life With Louie, The Proud Family, and The Grimm Kids. Expanding into live-action television, Marleau was show runner for The New Adventures of A.R.K.: Animal Rescue Kids and consulted on Bone Chillers. In the realm of feature films, Marleau wrote and produced 3-Way, and made his directorial debut with the coming-of-age teen comedy, The Curiosity of Chance, a multiple festival award-winner. He has since written numerous work-for-hire screenplays for various studios. Russ teaches Screenwriting and Producing.
Angela Martinez has been in love with post-production for the last 11 years. She is Final Cut Pro certified and has worked as an editor or graphic artist at some of the most interesting post houses and production companies in L.A., including Magic Elevator, Steakhaus Productions, Red Mango Studios, Pixel Dust Productions, Main Street Pictures and Umanistic Features. Her various projects have included promos, independents, mock commercials, and an animatic, all of which were very heavy in After Effects and Cinema 4D. She knows how to tell a story and how to meet a deadline. She holds a B.A. in Cinema & Television Arts with an emphasis in editing from California State University Northridge. She has also studied at Video Symphony in Burbank. Angela teaches Advanced Editing.
Frederick Ponzlov starred in Forfeit of Grace, for which he was nominated for Best Actor at the Method Film Festival. He’s appeared in numerous features and TV episodes and is a winner of three Dramalogue Awards for acting, but took a hiatus nine years ago to start a career as a screenwriter. His first screenplay, Undertaking Betty, starring Christopher Walken, Naomi Watts, Alfred Molina and Brenda Blethyn, received rave reviews at Cannes and won a BAFTA Award for Best Comedy. He’s got two other scripts under option. His book, Solomon Speaks on Reconnecting Your Life, written with Dr. Eric Pearl, has received great critical praise and is being published throughout the globe. A graduate of the famous Neighborhood Playhouse in New York, Fred’s currently the Artistic Director of the Long Beach Repertory Theatre. Throughout his 30-year career, he’s taught the Meisner Acting Technique. He teaches acting in Long Beach and now at IAFT in Burbank.
Jeff is an Art Director for films and commercials, as well as a theatrical Set Designer. He has worked at Disney on Con-Air, Flubber, Mighty Joe Young, Kundun, and as a lead model-maker on Armageddon. He was also a sculptor on Tim Burton’s remake of Planet of the Apes. Jeff was the Art Director on the cult film, CYXORK VII, as well as The SCI-FI Boys, a documentary on Ray Bradbury, Ray Harryhausen and Forrest J. Ackerman. As for ride-show vehicles, Jeff was involved in the Back to the Future Ride for Universal Studios, Disney’s Flying Wing for the Indiana Jones stunt show, Earthquake cars for Universal Studios, and a documentary film on the development and construction of a proprietary aircraft for Lockheed. He teaches Production Design.
Joe brings over 25 years of experience in the sound recording and post-production industry. Joe says, “Sound is my life.” In high school he won a College Competition Award in Electronic Futuristic Music using Musique Concrete, a technique used to manipulate sounds. He’s also worked with legends of the music industry and recorded a Grammy-winner. He has years of experience in sound engineering, working in some of the largest professional studios in Los Angeles, recording everything from simple, single microphone sessions, to full band and orchestra, location recording and mixing. He’s created sound design in many Anime titles, including Ghost In the Shell and Street Fighter II, as well as video games (Resident Evil 5). He is incredibly experienced in Foley, ADR and voice direction, and has taught engineering at the American Recording Institute. He has used Pro Tools since its inception and knows Logic and Digital Performer as well. As a songwriter, he has written songs for Silent Hill, and runs his own sound establishment, Shadow Box Studio.
Roy Samuelson has over 20 years experience as a voice actor. He’s booked national voice-over ad campaigns for TV, including Intel, Jeep, Dodge, and Nestle Wonka. He voiced the killer in Midnight Movie, various voices in The Beacon, Universal’s The Express and Van Helsing, as well as the Jerry Bruckheimer/Disney feature G-Force. He has recorded many promo spots for KCRW, a service of Santa Monica College and NPR affiliate.
Angel Vasquez is an Emmy-nominated Producer/Educator who began as a public relations specialist, photojournalist and graphic designer for the U.S. Air Force. He pursued a BA in Cinema and an MFA at San Francisco State University while crewing for USA Television, Discovery Channel, California Highway Patrol, Genius for the Weinstein Company and the Visual Effects Division of The Orphanage in San Francisco .
A Princess Grace Foundation Film Award Fellow, Vasquez has worked on more than 20 short films, in addition to television and theatrical feature-length documentary and narrative productions in New York and Los Angeles. He’s recognized internationally for his experimental films including DAN, AZUL and his 9-11 film A Change of Faith. He served as Executive Producer on Bearing Witness, a documentary for PBS-WGTE, and was nominated for an Emmy. He was also Associate Producer on Colma: The Musical for Roadside Attractions/Lions Gate and was line producer on Cachao: Uno Mas! for the PBS American Masters Series.
Vasquez is a fellow of the National Association of Television Program Executives and a member of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Alberto Veloso has taught screenwriting at the Florida Center for Literary Arts. He has also served as writer on a dramatic feature, THE DUEL. He has been the producer/writer/director/editor of about a dozen short videos. Alberto has been named winner, second runner-up or finalist in four different screenwriting competitions, including Screenwriters Challenge and WriteMovies.com. Alberto graduated magna cum laude from Florida International University with a Bachelor of Arts in English.
Kenneth Wiatrak is a professional director of photography, live-action cameraman, and visual effects supervisor with a BFA in Filmmaking and Photography from the University of Michigan. He’s a member of the International Cinematographer’s Guild, the Visual Effects Society, and the Animation Guild. He’s served as D.P. on countless live-action features and TV shows, plus trailers, titles and shorts for Warner Brothers, Universal, Disney, and New Line, and has shot promos for the major U.S. television networks. He was the D.P., Visual Effects Supervisor and Pre-Visualization Artist on the live-action/animated short, The Cat Who Talked to a King, for the Disney studio. He’s worked on myriad broadcast commercials, frequently acting as both director and D.P. He has been the cinematographer on multiple music videos, including Widespread Panic/Live at the Georgia Theatre for director Billy Bob Thornton, and on many documentaries. Kenneth also has lectured on visual effects at the International School of Film and Television in Cuba.