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DePaul University and Columbia College Alumni Spotlight

By: Julia Jakubow As a new up-in-coming center of film, Chicago offers some of the top film schools for educating today’s filmmakers. DePaul University and Columbia College, with its facilities located right in the Loop, provide high quality education in film and amass a wide community of filmmakers and crew. This blog spotlights alumni that are making moves in the film industry from both DePaul University and Columbia College Chicago.

DePaul University

DePaul’s School of Cinema and Interactive Media was ranked 17 of the top 25 film schools in the United States in The Hollywood Recorder. Actor alum David Dastmalchian from Prisoners says, “It has that perfect blend of edgy, indie-spirited faculty who know the craft and industry”, DePaul has resources for cinema students, who have the opportunity to work with pros at the new Cinespace Film Studios and use the facilities for their own filmmaking studies.

 Notable DePaul University alumni include:

David Dastmalchian David studied acting and playwriting at The Theatre School, DePaul University and continued to act and write after college. He starred as the Joker’s henchman, Thomas Schiff, in Christopher Nolan’s movie The Dark Knight. He made an appearance in the 2013 crime thriller, Prisoners. In 2014, he was the lead actor and screenwriter for the hit narrative feature at the SXSW Film Festival, Animals, which was about a couple dealing with homelessness and addiction. David received the festival’s prestigious Special Jury Recognition for Courage in Storytelling. Amanda Pflieger Amanda received her Bachelor of Arts in Digital Cinema with a Film Production concentration at DePaul. She is a producer/ assistant director for commercials for the Alario Group and a producer for Black Apple Media. She has also worked on productions for TV, advertising, and music videos. She co-produced the feature, Animals, which was a major success at the SXSW Film Festival. She is currently producing The View From Tall Eyes Fall, an adaptation from the play, which is set to film this October-November. Stana Katic Stana studied from 2000 to 2002 at DePaul’s Goodman School of Drama and went on to star in Canadian-American film and TV. She plays Detective Kate Beckett on the ABC drama series Castle. She received the PRISM Award for Performance for her performance of a woman suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the Castle episode “Killshot”. Stana won the Favorite Dramatic TV Actress category at the 40th People’s Choice Awards. Lourdes Duarte WGN Television Reporter at WGN-TV, Lourdes graduated at DePaul in ’99. She is the Co-Anchor of WGN Evening News on weekdays from 5-6pm and host of “Adelante Chicago” on Saturdays. Lourdes started at WGN-TV in 2007, already having worked for three years as a reporter and fill-in anchor for WJBK-TV in Detroit, Michigan. Judy Greer Judy graduated from The Theatre School at DePaul University in 1997 and has become a well-known actor, producer, and writer.  She starred in The Wedding Planner in 2001, 13 Going on 30 in 2004, 27 Dresses in 2008, and Love Happens in 2009. Judy also starred in TV, appearing as Kitty Sanchez in the Fox comedy series Arrested Development. In 2014, Greer made her directorial debut with a short film for AOL called Quiet Time.

Columbia College Chicago

The Cinema Art + Science Film Program at Columbia College Chicago provides its students with top-notch filming facilities and a far reaching filmmaking community. It claims to be the largest U.S. film school with over a thousand BA, BFA and MFA students in its cinema program. The program offers a semester in L.A. at Raleigh Studios, where students work alongside filmmaking professionals. It is ranked 20 of the top 25 Film schools in the country.

Notable Columbia College alumni include:

Robert Teitel Film producer and writer Robert Teitel graduated from Columbia College in 1990. He produced several notable films with writer/director George Tillman, another Columbia College alum. These include Soul Food in 1997, Men of Honor in 2000, and Faster in 2010. He also co-produced of the television series Barbershop: The Series, in addition to producing the three films to the Barbershop series.

George Tillman In 1991, George graduated from Columbia College and partnered with Robert Teitel to make their own films. In addition to writing and producing, George directed his hit films, Men of Honor in 2000 and Soul Food in 1997. George was nominated for the Black Film Award for Best Director for his work in Soul Food. He also worked for TV, producing the Soul Food: The Series, which ran for five seasons. In 2009, George was nominated for the Black Reel Award for Best Director and Best Screenplay for Notorious. His most recent work is the upcoming romantic drama film, The Longest Ride, based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks.

Navid McIlhargey Navid was an executive producer for Rocknrolla in 2008 and the Echelon Conspiracy in 2009. In 2012, Navid became the President of FilmEngine Entertainment, after serving as Senior Vice President for New Regency. Navid worked as Studio Executive for Revolution Studios in 2003 and 2004, producing several films such as White Chicks in 2004. He is currently producing For the Dogs, an action thriller about a hit-man who teams up with a college girl to get revenge for the murder of her family.

Aidy Bryant Actress and comedian Aidy Bryant is a cast member on Saturday Night Live, making her first appearance in season 38 in 2012. Her notable character impressions include Tonkerbell in “Peter Pan” and Worst Lady on an Airplane in the “Weekend Update.” Aidy was also nominated for an Emmy award for her digital short, “Do It on My Twin Bed.” In 2013, she appeared in the second season of IFC’s Comedy Bang Bang, along with appearing in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. She also performed at iO Chicago Theater, which regularly features sketch comedy and improv.

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