News & Events

SCT alumni not doctors, but they play them on TV

(L-R): Jason George and Jesse Williams

(L-R): Jason George and Jesse Williams (Willams' photo by John Russo)

Side by side in makeup chairs as they prepared to shoot their scenes on the set of Grey’s Anatomy, two actors struck up a conversation.

Jason George, THEA ’96, who guest starred for a few episodes this season as Ben Warren, and Jesse Williams, FMA ’03, a series regular who plays Jackson Avery, soon realized they shared a connection – an education at Temple’s School of Communications and Theater.

But while they both started their paths toward success at the same place, Williams and George ended up at Grey’s Anatomy through very different journeys.

Williams’ friends in the Film and Media Arts Department drew him into the major. They consistently discussed film as an art form and the details of their current projects. “It was something that seemed very malleable through which you were really able to communicate and express yourself.”

Williams entered the program with aspirations to become a director of photography – possibly with screen writing or directing in the mix, too.

He said the FMA faculty instilled the importance of collaboration in film making and mastering the basic skills. “They made it clear to us that you have to know the rules in order to break the rules.”

Williams gained a huge appreciation for the art and history of film, but something kept pulling him in front of the camera. First, it was a campus fashion show sponsored by Source magazine, which then led to modeling opportunities and commercials.

Upon graduation, Williams chose to leave his film aspirations behind and teach in a Philadelphia charter school. After a few years in the classroom, Williams decided to revisit his dream of becoming a director of photography and moved to New York, only to be sidetracked by a “temporary” job at a law firm that soon took up 80 to 90 hours a week. A year and a half later, his creative side emerged again and he reached out to his old commercial agent to give acting a try. He eventually got an audition for Grey’s Anatomy and landed his current role.

Williams says his FMA training has proven beneficial during his acting career.

“I have a respect for the frame and respect for what the frame can’t do,” he says.

Williams also recognizes that “the camera will capture how you’re feeling,” so he knows he doesn’t have to play his emotions on a larger scale like a stage actor.

In addition to acting, Williams hopes to return to his spot behind the camera as a director and he’s also pitching a screenplay he wrote while at Temple.

In contrast, Jason George has always known he wanted to act. He credits his training in the Theater Department for instilling in him “tons of professionalism.” He was told several times at the start of his career, “you’re new, but you’re not green.”

George says his theater education taught him the importance of “making your first choice and committing to it” because “you don’t always have a lot of rehearsal time.”

George was featured as a guest actor in several episodes this season as a love interest for Miranda Bailey, played by Chandra Wilson.

“She’s a very giving actress,” he says of Wilson, who directed the last episode in which he appeared. That was the first time he was ever directed by his scene partner. “It was amazing how fluid she was” when switching between her acting and directing duties.

George isn’t sure how he gained Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes as a fan, but he’s not complaining. He was recently in Puerto Rico filming a pilot for her new creation, Off the Map, about traveling doctors. He’s unsure of the future of his character on Grey’s Anatomy, but has high hopes for his return.

George, a member of SCT’s Board of Visitors and a native of Virginia Beach, Va., says he recalls Philadelphia as a city to which he instantly connected and the place where he learned that one can buy great food from a truck. He says SCT students should remain connected to their professors. That way, those who experience trying times in their career can “go back to the people who have watched you grow.”

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FMA alumna joins library Board of Trustees

Leslie Esdaile Banks, FMA ’98, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, has been named to the Board of Trustees at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Banks has written more than 40 novels and 12 novellas in a wide range of genres, including romance, women’s fiction, suspense and paranormal. Recently featured as a guest on HBO’s special prelude to the True Blood premiere, Banks received the 2008 Essence Magazine Storyteller of the Year Award and was named one of Pennsylvania’s Best 50 Women in Business. She has written for a variety of major publishers, such as St. Martin’s Press, Simon and Schuster, Harlequin and Harper, and has contributed to magazines and newspapers, as well as the Chicken Soup for the African-American Soul anthology.

Before devoting herself full-time to writing, Banks worked as director of marketing for Milligan and Company and director of the Competitive Edge loan Program at Ben Franklin Technology Partners. She has also worked as an independent grant consultant, serving clients within the Milken Young Entrepreneurs Program at the Wharton School.

Banks completed her undergraduate education at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School before earning her master’s degree at Temple. She is a member of the Philly Liars Club, a group of Philadelphia-based authors, and writes under several pseudonyms, including L.A. Banks, Leslie Esdaile and Leslie Banks. Her bestselling series include the Vampire Huntress and Crimson Moon novels.

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FMA master’s student sends film to two festivals

Seen/Unseen, a short animated film by MFA candidate Sara Suleman, FMA, will appear in two festivals in April 2010 , the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and San Francisco Women’s Film Festival.

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April 2: Water, Food, Shelter

Apr
2
6:00 pm

Friday, April 2
6 p.m. to midnight
Media Bureau Networks
725 N. 4th St., Philadelphia
Free

Termite TV’s Life Size Action Pictures: A three-ring circus of three dimensional life-size action.

1. Screening room: Termite Triple feature with three showings of Water, Food, Shelter at 6p.m., 8p.m. and 10 p.m.
This screening features Termite’s latest series of shows based on basic human essentials water, food and shelter. It features work by Associate Professor Michael Kuetemeyer, FMA, and FMA alumni Meg Knowles, ‘02; Sara Zia Ebrahimi, ‘04, ‘08; Sarah Christman, ‘06; Anula Shetty, ‘97; Dorothea Braemer, ‘97; and Carl Lee, ‘00.

2. Café lounge: “Human Essentials,” spoken word performance by students from the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts’ Creative Writing Department.

3. Gallery: “The Basics,” photography and painting exhibition by Caroline Savage, Jim Brossy, Collette Boylan and Gralin Hughes

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Directors Guild honors former RTF student

Ross Katz shows off his DGA award.

Ross Katz shows off his DGA award.

Ross Katz, a former Radio, Television and Film Department student, won a Directors Guild of America Award Jan. 31 for his HBO film Taking Chance.

Last year, the film won and Emmy for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries or Movie. The editors were Lee Percy and Brian A. Kates. The story of a marine who escorts the body of a soldier killed in Iraq, Taking Chance was nominated for 10 Emmys, including Outstanding Director, Outstanding Writing, Outstanding Made for TV Movie, Outstanding Art Direction and Outstanding Lead Actor (Kevin Bacon).

The film also was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television. Bacon won the Golden Globe for his performance in Taking Chance.

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Professor Coover publishes work on link between visual research, documentary

“On Verite To Virtual” by Professor Roderick Coover, FMA, has been published in the Journal of Visual Studies. The publication features conversations on the evolving relationship between visual research and documentary filmmaking.

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FMA student examines divorce through The New Year Parade

An MFA candidate in the Film and Media Arts Department is returning to Temple’s School of Communications and Theater this semester after being sidetracked in some very good ways.

Tom Quinn, who wrote and directed The New Year Parade, has been kept busy by the numerous honors the film has earned over the past several months. Its honors have come from the Slamdance Film Festival, the IFP Gotham Awards, the Philadelphia Film Festival and the Bend Film Festival, among many others.

Set against the backdrop of the Philadelphia Mummer’s Parade, the film follows Jack and Kat McMonogul over the course of a year as their parents divorce. It features real members of the South Philadelphia String Band. While the band initially agreed to let Quinn film them for two weeks, the members embraced the production, resulting in a two-year collaboration.

Quinn was recently interviewed about the film on NBC10’s The 10! Show. Here’s the video:

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FMA student, alumna earn Leeway Foundation awards

Heidi Saman, FMA ’07, and student bex* Lawrence, FMA, have been named 2009 recipients of a Leeway Foundation Transformation Award.

The Transformation Awards are granted annually to women and trans artists who have a demonstrable practice of art and social change. The 2009 awards were made to a diverse group of artists working in a wide range of disciplines including printmaking, folk art and documentary filmmaking. The $15,000 award is unrestricted—no project is required. The goal of Leeway’s Transformation Award is to recognize women and trans artists who create art for social change that impacts a larger group, audience, or community; and have been creating art for social change for the past five years or more, indicating a long-term commitment to this work.

bex* Lawrence

bex* Lawrence

bex* is primarily a graphic artist, filmmaker and photographer.  In 2005 and 2006, bex* helped bring together a group of artists to form the queer/leftist Searing Images Collective [sic] responsible for numerous local artist-driven social change campaigns.

Heidi Saman

Heidi Saman

Born in California to immigrant parents, Heidi has written and directed several successful short films including Pears (2006) and The Maid (Il Shaghala) (2008); the latter premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival and went on to screen at the Dubai International Film Festival, Slamdance and other festivals worldwide. She is currently working on a feature-length script about an Egyptian female flight attendant.

A national panel consisting of artists and cultural workers convened to review applications and work samples in two stages. The 2009 panel consisted of writer, curator and multimedia artist Dara Greenwald; theater director, performer, and music producer D’Lo; vocalist and composer Imani Uzuri; dancer and choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar; and multimedia performance artist Michelle Posadas. Distinguished writer, singer and organizer Adrienne Maree Brown facilitated the second stage.

bex* and Heidi are the latest in a series of SCT students and alumni who have earned this award. The others include: Amanda Whittenberger, FMA ’00; Ursula Rucker, JOUR ’91; Anula Shetty, FMA ’97; former student Sara Felder, THEA; Maori Karmael Holmes, FMA ’05; and Zilan Munas, FMA ’85.

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Tom Quinn awarded Slamdance Grand Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature

new year parade

The New Year Parade by MFA student Tom Quinn was chosen as the Grand Jury Narrative Feature winner at the 14th annual Slamdance Film Festival. Website

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A Trip to Swadades



Daniel Kremer’s film A Trip to Swadades was screened at the WildRivers 101 Film Festival in Eureka, California and the Iowa Independent Film Festival. It has been invited to screen at the Fantasporto Film Festival in Portugal, and has been submitted to a great many others, many of which are in Europe. The film picked up a Best Feature Film prize and a quick review in an INDIEwire Magazine article. To see a trailer of the film click here.

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