Second Year MFA Students

After the completion of the First Year, students are given more opportunities to explore their own interests.  Second Year students can chose to direct their own films or start working on specialized tracks in cinematography, screenwriting or post-production. 

Angela Banks


In 2009 I left a corporate career as a recruiter in the power industry to pursue my passion for art. As a student I began photographing weddings, family and senior portraits, and local bands while working on my fine art photography. I found myself interested in portraying movement in my photographs which led me to explore film and theatre.

Educational Background:

  • Associate of Arts, Focus in Fine Art, Miami University (OH) 2007
  • BFA-Fine Art, Studio Art Concentration in Photography, Miami University (OH) 2011



Jorge Samson Blaires

Jorge Samson Blaires was born and raised in Asunción, Paraguay. Ever since he made his first experiment with a VHS camera at the age of 14, he continued his work and development on narrative short films and a few other non-narrative projects. At the age of 19, he was awarded a scholarship to pursue his Bachelor's Degree in Japan, for a period of 5 years. After returning home, he worked mostly as a freelancer in music videos, television and short narratives, as well as teaching in the field of Audiovisual Media at the Universidad Autónoma de Asunción. Influenced by both Asian and American cinema, he decided to continue his education in the U.S., as a Fulbright Scholar.


  • Delivery  Screenwriter  Short Narrative (2012)
  • Trinidad  Director of Photography  Short Narrative (2011)
  • Wisdom-Sacra Privata  Director/Director of Photography  Music Video (2010)
  • Juggle Me  Director/Screenwriter  Short Narrative (2009)

Educational Background:

  • Bachelor of Liberal Arts in Multimedia Studies, Yokohama National University (Japan)

Wenting Deng

  • Work Experience and Awards: Assisted on script writing and worked as sound recordist in documentary Made in China, which won 2011 Delphic Art Movie Award and screened at 2011 San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival.
  • Interned at Documentary Department of China Business News (CBN, Shanghai Media Group).
  • Worked as Assistant Director in TV documentary Renminbi, Episode 3 & 6.
  • Worked as Assistant Producer in Japanese feature film.
  • Worked on graphic design and hand-painting for canvas shoes in Culture Matters, Shanghai.

Educational Background:

  • BA -TV & Radio Directing, Shanghai Normal University
  • Exchange Program, Cinema Production, San Francisco State University


David Gaddis


Born and raised in Cleveland,  Oh. Attended Hiram College where I earned a BA in psychology.  After working in the mental health field for a few years, I decided to dedicate my life to ministry and served as a youth pastor for 5 years.  I've played over 5 instruments in my life including violin, clarinet, bassoon,  guitar, bass and piano.  Interested in psychological and supernatural thrillers.

Educational Background:

  • BA - Psychology, Hiram College



Vince O'Connell


Born in Rio de Janeiro and raised in a lot of other places, Noel O'Connell, aka Vince to the few friends he still has, became obsessed with the story telling possibilities of film 3 years ago.  After selling a successful business he and his business partner and wife, Kathy Swanson, attended a one year film production program at Selkirk College in Nelson, BC where their film making passion was fanned.  He is excited to be able to take advantage of the great creative opportunity the OU MFA Film Program offers.  With eight shorts under his belt Vince now just wants to know how to convey "deadpan" on film.

Short Films: 

  • 100 Mile Diet  14 minutes, narrative 2012
  • Sleep  2 minutes, experimental 2012
  • Being Billy  14 minutes, narrative 2011
  • Waiting for Ruben  4 minutes, narrative 2010
  • You're Not Cindy  22 minutes, narrative 2010
  • Staying on Track  6 minutes, documentary 2009

Educational Background:

  • BA -Photography and Video, Johnson State College, Johnson, Vermont, Summa Cum Laude
  • Studies at UMass Amherst Intensive Film Production, Selkirk College, Nelson, BC

Cory Pratt


Cory is a filmmaker and writer from Hartford, TN.  He studied Mass Communications with a concentration in Film and TV production at East Tennessee State University. During his time there he produced and directed a number of films including the documentary short This is Kevin, and his first narrative short - The Gatherers, which earned him the 2012 Murvin H. Perry Creative Achievement Award.  


  • John Stone Issue #1: A Day in the Life of a Comic Shop Owner / 8 min. / Digital / Documentary Short / 2011
  • This is Kevin / Digital / 10 min. / Digital / Documentary Short / 2011
  • The Gatherers / 20 min. / Digital / Narrative Short
  • Plastic Flowers / 3 min. / 16mm / Narrative Short / 2012
  • The Glass Cowboy / 5 min. / 16mm / Narrative Short 2012

Educational Background:

  • BA - Mass Communication 2011- East Tennessee State University


Sabrina Renkar


The daughter of a documentary filmmaker, Sabrina Renkar’s love of film began in utero.  Her childhood was split between dreamy, peripatetic wanderings through the Arcadian woodlands of rural central Ohio and playing in the editing rooms of Columbus College of Art & Design as her mother taught video-style filmmaking next door.  This essential bifurcation ultimately yielded a bookworm, boots-and-jeans country girl with eyebrow-raising penchant for westerns, film noir, Barbara Stanwyck movies, and a smattering of sub-genres that Netflix tends to label as “gritty, dark, violent, mind-bending dramas.”  She earned an Honors B.A. in English with a minor in Creative Writing from Wittenberg University, where she received top marks for her senior thesis “Thinking Beyond Their Guns: The Violence and Vision of Sam Peckinpah and Sergio Leone.” That same year, Sabrina road-tripped west with her mom, who strapped Sabrina to the roof of their Jeep to shoot video b-roll of old Route 66 for a documentary currently in production.  In her spare time, Sabrina is also a contributing film critic for the Drexel Theatre Newsletter, the weekly web publication for Columbus’ longest-running and most-beloved independent movie theater.  With ever a foot in both worlds, Sabrina is interested in pursuing both cinema scholarship and narrative screenwriting as she continues to barrel down the highway of film life.

Educational Background:

  • Honors BA -English, Minor in Creative Writing- Wittenberg University, Ohio


Kathy Swanson

Growing up on a dairy farm in Minnesota, Kathy's passion for storytelling began around the time she milked her first cow.  A writer with a voice directed by intuition rather than intellectual intention, Kathy's goal as a filmmaker at OU is to create compelling character driven narratives that convey deceptively simple and intimate stories.


After writing and directing high school plays (that, in hindsight, accidentally always had a beginning middle and an end), working two jobs to pay for college, fire-fighting in the Pacific Northwest, racing bicycles at a national level and growing two successful companies with her husband Vince O'Connell, Kathy feels extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to embark on this next phase of creative life here at Ohio University.

When not in Athens, Kathy divides her time between Vermont and Washington state with Vince and their spoiled pooch, Max.

Short Films:

  • We're Off  18 minutes narrative doc 2011
  • Making Hay  3 minutes animation 2011
  • You're Not Cindy  22 minutes narrative 2010
  • Piece of Cake  6 minutes documentary 2010

Educational Background:

  • BS, Natural Resource Management, Mankato State University, Minnesota
  • MA, Advertising Design, Syracuse University, New York
  • Certificate Degree with Honors, Independent Digital Film, Selkirk College, Nelson BC


Iryna Zhygalyuk

Iryna worked in a few TV projects as a screenwriter and journalist in Ukraine.