Faculty and Staff

Stephan SchultzeStephan Schultze

Executive Director, Cinematic Arts, Zaki Gordon Center

An active industry professional, both as a writer and cinematographer, Mr. Schultze was the former director of the Zaki Gordon Institute. Schultze was instrumental in the development and oversight of the film school for its first ten years. He holds an MA from Northern Arizona University, and a BS in Communications from Appalachian State.

Mr. Schultze began his career in advertising, before moving to Los Angeles in 1989 to pursue a career in the film industry. Once in Hollywood, he worked his way up through the ranks, while learning the craft from the best, including projects directed by James Cameron and Ron Underwood. Mr. Schultze has worked in every aspect of the industry including major motion pictures (The Abyss, Tremors, Henson Productions), television (Drew Carey Show, HBO, Showtime), music videos, commercials, industrial videos and countless independent films. As a cinematographer he has worked with all media formats, including 70 mm, and High Definition. Schultze’s credits include The Lesser Evil, an independent film he co-authored and co-produced with Jeremy Levine (MGM).


Doug MillerDoug Miller

Associate Professor, Cinematic Arts, Zaki Gordon Center

When Mr. Miller was a little boy, he told his mom that he wanted to tell stories, make pictures and travel the world.  Little did she know that he would indeed do all three and that those activities would become a foundation of passion on which he would build his career.  As a filmmaker, Mr. Miller has worked all over the world.  From Vienna, Austria to Managua, Nicaragua to Hiroshima, Japan to broadcasting from the Capitol Mall in Washington D.C.; from feature films in Nigeria and India to lighting the 700 Club TV show on location in Jerusalem, to shooting hundreds of commercials, he has developed a reputation for being the “calming influence” on the set while getting the job done with grace and style.  Mr. Miller’s work as a Director of Photography and Lighting Designer/Director has been seen on PBS, INSP, The Family Channel, ABC, NBC, The Kennedy Center, and in Africa and India.

As an educator, Mr. Miller has been instrumental in the lives of students now graduated and working in the industry in Europe, Asia and the US including New York City and LA.  He completed his MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts at Goddard College in a program that has allowed him to bring together his belief that God loves the arts and desires to use them for His kingdom, each artist’s voice raised in giving glory to God, and that many artistic expressions are waiting to be revealed in each of God’s children.


Van FlesherVan Flesher

Associate Professor, Cinematic Arts, Zaki Gordon Center

Van Flesher received his M.F.A. in directing from the Florida State University’s Graduate Conservatory for Motion Picture, Television and Recording Arts. He joined the International Cinematographers’ Guild just after graduation and has worked in various photographic capacities on hundreds of films, tv shows, commercials and music videos.

Mr. Flesher directed the Warner Brothers feature film, Burning Annie, an homage to Woody Allen’s masterpiece, Annie Hall. He has taught directing since 1998 and his students have won many awards including several Emmys and an Oscar.
He served as an early faculty hire at the Los Angeles Film School and the Watkins College of Art, Design & Film. He taught lighting and cinematography at the Maine Photographic Workshops and the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema. He comes to Liberty after serving as the Chair of the Film School at the Watkins College of Art, Design & Film.


Michael TorresMichael Torres

Associate Professor, Cinematic Arts, Zaki Gordon Center

In his twenty years as an industry professional, Dr. Michael Torres worked as a writer, producer, and director on projects ranging from 30-second spots to feature-length films. His credits reach across the world on projects produced and broadcast in Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, the South Pacific, Africa, South and Central America, as well as the United States.

For nearly ten years, Dr. Torres worked with the International Programming Department of the Christian Broadcasting Network. During that tenure he was involved in multiple creative roles on drama, docudrama, music video, animation, and combined live-action and animation productions.  One of the highlights of that tenure was managing producing and co-directing an original and Angel award-winning musical drama, Adventures of a Colorful Life, shot on location in Manila, Philippines, and Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Dr. Torres was called to Liberty after teaching production for over a decade in college.  One of his missions is mentoring young Christian artists to worship and glorify God through their art. His passion remains communicating the nature of God through story.

 

Durell NelsonDurrell Nelson

Assistant Professor, Cinematic Arts, Zaki Gordon Center

Mr. Nelson has thirty years in the film industry and has worked in the capacity of actor, stuntman, stunt coordinator, screenwriter, director, and producer. During his career, Mr. Nelson has had the privilege of working on projects directed by Ron Howard, Brian DePalma, Oliver Stone, and Claude LeLouch. As a writer, Mr. Nelson is a recipient of the prestigious Jerome Lawrence Award for his stage play Falling Lightly and first prize winner at the Maryland Film Festival for his screenplay The Home Game, co-written with his wife Rebecca. Most recently he penned the teleplay adaptation for the book Dragonflies, Shadow of Drones. Mr. Nelson holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte, a Masters of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California and is a summa cum laude graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Finance from Woodbury University.  

Also a SAG member for more than 20 years, Mr. Nelson has worked on numerous productions including: Killing Lincoln, JAG, An American Carol, X-Files, General Hospital, Melrose Place, Blow Out, Passions, and the mini-series, Les uns et les autres. Mr. Nelson is a co-founder of Beautiful Feet Productions with his wife Rebecca. Their mission is to create films that impact the world through the redemptive power of a Christian Worldview. As a professor and certified Leadership Coach, Mr. Nelson is devoted to equipping and challenging students toward reaching their full potential, vocationally and spiritually, as purposed by Christ.


Scotty CurleeScotty Curlee

Assistant Professor, Cinematic Arts, Zaki Gordon Center

Mr. Curlee is the Founder and Executive Producer of Red Cloud Productions, LLC. Committed to the vision of "Changing the World through Cinema", he founded RCP in 2007 to produce films that are socially responsible and have a positive impact on our communities. Mr. Curlee's feature length film, 'The Potential Inside' has been endorsed by the American Family Association, DOVE Foundation, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes while receiving 8 festival nominations world wide. It is currently being distributed in the United States by Echolight Studios and has distribution in 13 countries.

Mr. Curlee is a working producer/director with projects in development. He is committed to producing exciting, engaging, and technically accurate films in genres that have been previously unexplored by filmmakers while raising the level of Christian cinema, worldwide. He is excited about integrating his passion of filmmaking with teaching at Liberty University and understands the importance of training a new generation of filmmakers with the foundation of a Christian world view. He is a native of South Korea and currently resides in Forest, Virginia.


James WalzJames Walz

Assistant Professor, Cinematic Arts, Zaki Gordon Center

Mr. Walz is a practicing sound engineer, music producer, and composer. As a recent graduate of Liberty University he holds a Masters of Business Administration and a Bachelors of Music in Piano Performance. Mr. Walz is also an Avid Certified Instructor for Pro Tools. In 2008, he founded Hallow Tree Studios, a full service recording and mixing facility where he wrote, produced, and mixed numerous projects from gospel and worship to rap, rock, classical, and blue grass.

In 2006, Mr. Walz toured with the musical group he helped found “Six Chasing Seven”, where he got the opportunity to work with members of the Dave Matthews Band at Haunted Hallow Studios in Charlottesville, VA. It was during that experience he decided to pursue a career in audio engineering. Mr. Walz’s passion for film and music started at a very young age and was culminated in 2008 where he performed an hour-long senior piano recital that included works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, and Bartok. Mr. Walz is honored to be a part of the faculty at his alma mater. He plans to continue the tradition of Christian mentorship and high academic standards at Liberty University.


Jonathan HoutJonathan Hout

Assistant Professor Cinematic Arts, Zaki Gordon Center

Mr. Hout is a director, cinematographer, editor, and designer who originally hails from Lexington, KY. While he discovered his love for storytelling at a young age, he could never have known how far it would take him. From the beaches of Virginia to the mountains of eastern Europe, he's always looking forward to his next adventure - camera in-hand and ready to go.  When he's not filming, Mr. Hout can usually be found working on his next narrative project or exercising his skills in marketing and web development. Most of all, however, he loves teaching others and sharing the skills and knowledge he's gained over the past 8 years of production experience. If his years on set have taught him anything, it's that hands-on experience is essential to success in the industry, and he attempts to apply this lesson to every class.

Mr. Hout has participated in a number of award-winning projects - most recently he received a Gold Remi Award from Worldfest Houston in April 2014, where his short film, Fragile Witness, was selected and screened in front of an international audience. Currently, he is working on a number of projects at various stages of development, including a new web series that will debut in Summer 2015.
 



micah johnson

Micah Johnson

Technical Director, Cinematic Arts, Zaki Gordon Center

Mr. Johnson is an active industry professional as a cinematographer, visual effects specialist and editor. He has owned and operated his own production company, Micah Johnson Productions, LLC, for more than 10 years. Mr. Johnson began his career as a grip working for Steve David Productions, Inc. in Phoenix, Arizona. He then went on to build several television/recording studios across the United States. He has worked in every aspect of the industry including independent films, music videos, commercials, industrial videos and television.


Won NovalisWon Novalis

Equipment Manager, Cinematic Arts, Zaki Gordon Center

Won Novalis is an award-winning feature film and commercial editor, and a post-production supervisor. In 2007, he co-founded Abandon Films, a creative from all over the world. A student of his craft, he's constantly pushing the boundaries of what has been done before.

In the commercial world, Mr. Novalis has worked with clients like GE, Microsoft, the United Way, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the American Advertising Federation.


jill acostaJill Acosta

Administrative Manager, Cinematic Arts, Zaki Gordon Center

Mrs. Acosta is a California native who grew up in Los Angeles. After meeting actor and entertainer Danny Thomas, she began an acting career at the age of 8, which continued through her early 20’s. Her credits include work in film, television, and commercials. This included The Omega Man with Charlton Heston, The Wild Party with James Coco, The Waltons, KidTalk, and commercials such as Mattel, Cheer, Franco American, Tang, and Sears. She also has stage experience having been in the casts of Peter Pan, Alice In Wonderland and Copelia. She remains a member of the Screen Actors Guild. Mrs. Acosta later married, had 2 sons, and went on to work as an administrative secretary in an award winning school district in California. There she received a Crystal Award for her work in the district, and was a candidate for Classified Employee of the Year in the state of California. She and her family moved to Virginia in August 2011 and she came to work for the Cinematic Arts Department in December of 2011.  She is enjoying working “behind the camera”, and sharing the experience from her years in television and film with the Cinematic Arts Students.


Seth HouserSeth Houser

Operations Assistant, Cinematic Arts, Zaki Gordon Center

Mr. Houser was among the first graduating class in the Cinematic Arts program at Liberty. He participated in the first two feature films that were produced by the Cinematic Arts program, and has had the great pleasure of working as a Production Assistant with filmmakers Jon and Andy Erwin, and as the Teradek Manager for Alex and Stephen Kendrick. He is grateful for the opportunities placed before him because of the Cinematic Arts program, and has a desire to help other students in the program get those same kind of opportunities. Upon his graduation Mr. Houser decided he wanted to continue to be a part of the film program here at Liberty and was brought on as a staff member in the fall of 2014.