Collaboration and connection doesn’t end after four years.

Alumni of the Division of Film & Media Arts are recognized nationally and internationally for the outstanding nature of their contributions to the art. Many of our recent graduates have entered the profession with significant success. Film & Media Arts grads enjoy careers as directors, screenwriters, producers, cinematographers, media executives and artistic directors. Their work ranges from documentaries and short and feature length films to broadcast and online videos.

FEATURED | Recent Alumni

About ALEXANDRA BENINGER (B.A. Cinema-Television ’10) 

When I started at Red Car post-production house in 2012, my first position was vault manager. It’s basically the heart of the whole post house since that’s where all of the starting elements for every job are received and where every commercial spot ships out for air. A lot of hours and hard work were put into that position before I moved up to assistant editor in 2014. Since I’ve been assisting, I’ve been able to observe how the editor works with commercial spots and how to carry a room full of clients. Just about every year there is a trailer competition called Camp Kuleshov held in Texas where assistants from different post houses choose a film and edit a totally different genre/story with a 1:30 trailer. I won first place in 2015 for the remake of Office Space as a thriller, and recently won first place this year for my re-edit of Me, Myself, and Irene as if written by Stephen King.

What are you working on now?

Assistant Editor at Republic Editorial. Started in 2012 when Republic Editorial was Red Car Dallas.

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

My experience at SMU has prepared me to get out there with confidence, meet new people in the industry, and to work as a team. It was a bit scary at first when I started at Red Car because the learning curve was intense and a lot to take in. I was thrown into many daunting situations, but managed to pull through by learning how to multitask like I never have before. The big push I got from SMU was the courage and basic knowledge to get my foot in the door of the industry. I have a lot to be thankful for and it all stems back to the professors who believed in me and my work.

What advice would you give students?

If you’re passionate about what you do and want to be a part of this industry, give it your all and don’t ever give up. Take your classes seriously and maintain solid relationships with your professors.


About MARY ADGER BOWEN (B.A. Film & Media Arts ’14)

What are you working on now?

Community and Video Production Manager at DeadSoxy, since spring 2018

How did SMU prepare you for your career?

SMU has prepared me by helping me hone how to pitch myself as a creative and a storyteller as well as pushing me to grow as a creative storyteller beyond what I could even imagine. I took classes outside of Film and was able to apply those to my degree. By taking advantage of every opportunity thrown my way, I was able to hone the skills learned in the classroom in a “real world” setting.

What advice would you give to Meadows students?

Take advantage of every opportunity. You never know where you could end up! Look at classes outside your major and see how you can apply them to your degree.


About BRAD CONLIN (B.A. Cinema-Television ’06)

  • Editor, We Know Where You Live, Dir. Honora Talbott, Finalist – NBCUniversal
  • Short Film Festival, 2018. Synopsis: “When a newlywed Latinx couple moves into a trendy, gentrifying L.A. neighborhood, two hipsters invite themselves over to offer a ‘warm welcome.’ But as the night goes on, it’s clear these neighbors are not what they seem: cold pressed, cold brewed, and cold blooded.”
  • Editor, The Pete Holmes Show, TBS, 2013–14
  • Staff Editor, Digisynd, a division of Disney Interactive, 2008–11

What are you working on now? 

Editor, The Late Late Show with James Corden, CBS; 2015–Present

Nominated, Outstanding Picture Editing for Variety Programming, 70th Emmy Awards

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

My teachers at Meadows encouraged experimentation but also counseled practicality. I prize the education I received in the histories of film, animation and experimental work. I was taught to work in the confines of very tight budgets, something that’s useful on 99.9 percent of all professional productions. I was also encouraged to develop a creative voice in my work. That led to personal projects that became some of my first big breaks in the entertainment industry.

What advice would you give students?

Cast a wide net. Take as many art history classes as you can. Painters were the first cinematographers. If you’re a writer, take an editing class. If you’re a sound engineer, take a photography class. Learn how different disciplines intersect and inform each other. Make lots of short, cheap work. Use public domain footage and music, there’s loads of it! Don’t try to make a film in the style of a current director, steal the style for yourself. Be on time. Save your work in more than one place. Be kind and supportive to the people helping you with your projects, and help them with theirs. You’re not in competition with each other, you’re a collective.

FEATURED STORY: Spotlight on Young Alumni: Brad Conlin Nabs Emmy Nom


About SAMANTHA DOCTOR (B.A. Film & Media Arts ’17)

Fox Networks group apprentice; Paramount Pictures marketing operations intern; Morocco Partners entertainment publicity/promotions intern.

What are you working on now?

Research Operations Analyst at trueX, a 21st Century Fox company in Los Angeles

How did SMU prepare you for your career?

Valuable connections, self-led projects and presentations.

What advice would you give to Meadows students?

Take action! Take advantage of the incredible resources and faculty who want to help you launch a great career.


About THANE ECONOMOU (B.A. Cinema-Television; B.B.A. General Business ’10)

Writer and director of the 2017 feature film The Wedding Party, a romantic comedy filmed in one continuous 119-minute shot.

What are you working on now?

I’m a screenwriter and director.

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

During my time at Meadows, I was received hands-on experience during various student film shoots. Additionally, the majority of my production team on my first feature film was SMU alums with whom I had become friends with while at school.

What advice would you give students?

Try to gain as much experience as you can during your time at Meadows. A film and television student should volunteer for student film shoots, apply to summer internships, and shoot as many of their own short films as they can during the school year. 


About MICHAEL GONZALEZ (B.A. Film & Media Arts ’15)

I produced several commercials, and online media material for several multi-million dollar companies such as Peregrine Petroleum, Megatel Homes, Flooring Services, Kruto Vodka and several others. Filmed and produced videos in Mexico, Brazil and Hong Kong.

What are you working on now?

Founder and owner of Visual Voice Media, a full-service media company specializing in cinematic storytelling located in Dallas, Texas.

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

My SMU experience helped me in networking and making connections. During my time at SMU, I met several influential people who have helped me get to where I am now and whom I currently work with on a daily basis.

What advice would you give students?

My advice I would give to a current student would be to stay creative, motivated, and work hard. Don’t look at what other people in your field are doing and achieving but focus on your own work and art and try to make that the best that it can be and everything else will follow.


About LAUREN HADAWAY (B.F.A. Film & Media Arts; B.B.A. Marketing ’11)

What are you working on now?

  • Sound editor/mixer/dialogue & ADR supervisor, freelance. Various credits, please refer to IMDb.
  • Writer/director – working on securing financing for my first feature; writing other projects.

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

Film is a career built on relationships, and I haven’t given anyone a résumé since I moved to L.A. in 2012. One of the producers on my film is someone I met at SMU, and who I’ve stayed friends with since. One of my professors gave me my first sound contacts, which helped me get my foot in the door.

What advice would you give students?

Hustle. And start before you graduate. Also, you get out of your education what you put into it.

FEATURED STORY: SMU Film and Media Studies Alum Lauren Hadaway Doesn’t Settle


About KIM KOOKER (B.A. Film & Media Arts; B.B.A. Marketing ’17)

What are you working on now?

Media Coordinator, Theatrical Marketing, Lionsgate Entertainment, 2017–Present

How did SMU prepare you for your career?

While at SMU, I was able to take a variety of film/media courses that focused specifically on working in the business of entertainment, and these were invaluable as I prepared to interview for jobs post-graduation. Being able to speak to the real-world applications of the principles I had learned and discussed in class helped me stand out as a candidate and as a new hire.

What advice would you give to Meadows students?

The best advice I can give current Meadows students is to use every resource available to you—whether that is your fellow students, faculty, or alumni. You should be reaching out to anyone with connections/expertise in your desired career path because you never know when an informational interview could lead to an opportunity down the road.


About JONATHAN LESTER (B.A. Cinema-Television ’11)

  • Assistant Video Editor, 1820 Productions (2011–13)
  • Lead Video Editor, 214 Media (2013–15)
  • M.A. Animation, Savannah College of Art and Design

What are you working on now?

3D Animator for “RWBY” at Rooster Teeth (2018)

How did SMU prepare you for your career?

It taught me visual storytelling techniques and proper film language to help establish and promote my ideas and projects. Having a better understanding of the platform and all areas of the pipeline made me a valuable asset to any team. As a video editor, I understood and could easily apply techniques from post production into my work to better convey the story I wanted to tell.

What advice would you give to Meadows students?

Don’t be afraid to try new things. If you want to learn something new, do it. Find a way to learn and don’t rely strictly on class projects to improve your skills. I wanted to animate, so I learned principles outside of class and applied them to my projects.

Also, don’t work for “exposure” or “hype.” To quote the Joker: “If you’re good at something, never do it for free.”


About DAN CARILLO LEVY (B.A. Cinema-Television ’09)

  • Producer of Little Bitches feature film by Moxie 88 and Sony Pictures, 2017
  • Director of new projects for Lemon Films USA, 2012–15. Under my tenure, projects included Spider-Man on Broadway and Casa De Mi Padre with Will Ferrell.
  • Director of Creative and Interactive H&M Communications, 2010–12. Created and supervised creative content, marketing, publicity campaigns and multi-media experiences for Universal Pictures, Disney Studios and Lionsgate, among others. Working on projects like The Lorax, The Muppets, Snow White and The Huntsman, the Fast & Furious franchise and others.
  • Director of DreamGazer, a production company that among its projects produced the multi-award winning short Zero Hour with Camilla Belle, written by Guillermo Arriaga, 2007 Academy Award nominee for Babel.
  • Music Video Director for Universal Music
  • Production team for Cannes Best Screenplay winner Guillermo Arriaga (The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada [2005]). Among the projects I collaborated on are The Burning Plain starring Charlize Theron and Jennifer Lawrence, and Words with Gods with Peter Gabriel and Damián Bichir.
  • Director, writer and producer for Televisa on a special segment on the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics broadcast.

What are you working on now? 

Chief Creative Officer, Co-founder (2015) of Moxie 88 Film Studio.

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

SMU gave me some of the best friends I still collaborate with. And it gave me the tools to appreciate my craft even more.

What advice would you give students?

Enjoy the experience. I messed up by working too much and not enjoying learning enough. Make friends and connections. You are gonna need them! Challenge yourself and even your teachers — that way, you can grow as an artist.


About AMANDA PRESMYK (B.A. Film & Media Arts; B.A. Journalism ’14)

With Cinestate/Fangoria, I have produced four feature films, all of which have had/will have theatrical distribution and notable festival runs:

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018)
Dragged Across Concrete (2019); premiered at Venice Film Festival 2018
The Standoff at Sparrow Creek (2019); premiered at Toronto International Film Festival 2018
Satanic Panic (2019)

See IMDb and LinkedIn for multiple additional projects.

What are you doing now?

VP of Production, Cinestate/Fangoria Magazine. Held position since November 2017; previously served as Creative Executive Jan. 2016–Nov. 2017

How did SMU prepare you for your career?

Supportive faculty (with whom I still keep in touch!), opportunities to lead, and a great academic environment. Meadows School of the Arts was an amazing place to create and experiment.

What advice would you give to Meadows students?

Be diligent and relentless in getting involved in the things you want to do, then keep doing them. Keep asking thoughtful and probing questions of the mentors around you. Most importantly, keep working your ass off.

All of the best opportunities that have come my way have been because whenever someone with whom I had crossed paths was next asked “Do you know anyone who _________?”, I was the first person they thought of. “Right place, right time” only happens if you keep showing up and working hard.


About RYAN REED (B.A. Film & Media Arts ’15)

I directed two national commercials for Kruto Vodka, and have also been director and cinematographer on a number of other video projects for major companies and corporations

What are you working on now?

I am the Creative Director and Lead Cinematographer at Visual Voice Media.

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

I use what I learned in my film production classes every day. Also during my time at SMU I met some of the most talented and creative people I have ever come across in my life, all of whom I continue to work with in my professional career. For example, Michael Gonzalez and I met at SMU and started Visual Voice Media shortly after graduating. The connections we have made with other SMU alumni across all departments have helped grow our business larger and faster than we could have ever imagined.

What advice would you give students?

My advice would be to take advantage of every opportunity SMU hands you. Also, the key to success in any industry is building a network and strong relationships with the people around you. And there is truly no better network to help you build a successful career than the SMU alumni community.


About ROB THOMSON (B.A. Cinema-Television ’11)

Production Coordinator at Reel FX, The Book of Life; Free Birds”

What are you working on now?

Producer at Rooster Teeth Animation

How did SMU prepare you for your work life?

I learned how to learn. Film production is a series of new challenges and problems, and problem solving with my classmates at SMU prepared me to take on those challenges in the real world head-on.

What advice would you give students?

As soon as you graduate, get a job in the industry. Even if that PA job is something you think is below you, do it. Put in the work and make connections. This is an industry built off relationships, and those connections you make will pay off in the years to come.