Katie Taylor – Executive Director/Board Member/Founder
Katie Taylor serves as the Executive Director and is the founder of Film School Africa. She studied communications at Taylor University in Indiana and during her time at university, she spent a semester at the LA Film Study Center learning film production and doing an internship with 20th Century Fox in their feature-casting department.
After university, Taylor returned to Hollywood and began assisting executive producers in television. She became more interested in screenwriting during this time, and even sold a story for one of the series. As a result of this sale, she was included into the WGA (Writers Guild of America).
She soon found that her love for the casting process was taking over, and made the jump to work with Francine Maisler, one of the world’s premiere casting directors. With Francine, she assisted on several big budget features like Spider-man 3 and Michael Mann’s Miami Vice, as well as more artistic fare like Into the Wild and Babel. Eventually she started jumping around to work with different casting directors and numerous studios for producers and directors like Adam Sandler, Tim Burton, Alexander Payne, Ben Stiller, Marc Forster and Steven Spielberg.
Katie spent 6 years working as an Associate Casting Director for various productions, but some of her most rewarding work was helping her super talented friends – like when she cast the short film Short Term 12 for director Destin Cretton – which went on to win Best Short Film at Sundance in 2009. Or the film Day Labor, for director Lowell Frank, which tells the story of a Columbian day laborer in the US and his battle to provide for his family. Day Labor went on to become a student Oscar finalist.
Katie had a quickly growing career but soon came to the realization that not all of her talents were being utilized in the Hollywood system, and that making a difference in the lives of people and sharing the love and grace of Jesus was her greatest passion. So she called on her broad knowledge of filmmaking, and the tremendous power of storytelling, and moved to the township of Kayamandi, South Africa in 2008 to launch the pilot program that would later become Film School Africa.
Howard Taylor – CEO
Howard brings more than forty years of experience in the solicitation of funds for nonprofit organizations and ministries. His professional endeavors have included the writing of direct mail copy for mission agency executive directors and college and university presidents. His development responsibilities have included being directly involved in the solicitation of major gifts for annual, capital, endowment, and programmatic needs. He also brings a great deal of leadership experience including the development of boards of trustees and significant volunteer enterprises. Howard recently completed sixteen years at Malone University, having served as Vice President for Advancement and Senior Gifts Officer. He continues to be a Principal and Senior Consultant with the Rediger Taylor Group LLC, serving the greater non profit community.
Marie Midcalf — Associate FSA Director/Editor/Teacher
Marie has a film degree from AFDA with an emphasis in editing. In addition to her studies in the area of film, Marie also graduated from the Waterfront Theatre School and has performed professionally on stages around the world. She runs her own company, PureLiquid Editing, and has worked on projects with RichRed Productions, The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, Global Initiative, Bloomberg TV, Sanlam, and Deloitte among others. Marie works full time for Film School Africa as a teacher and mentor.
Tristram Atkins — FSA College Screenwriting Lecturer
Tristram’s film, Ongeriewe, received a Palme d'Or nomination at Festival de Cannes in 2006 and won Best South African Short Film at the Durban International Film Festival. He has written on many South African television dramas, worked on internationally acclaimed documentary productions, judged at film festivals and a national award show and also served on a broadcaster’s programme selection panel. He worked as a scriptwriting lecturer at a South African film school. Tristram has an honours degree in motion picture medium and is a Mandela Rhodes Alumni.
Gasthon Lewis — Strand Coordinator/Teacher
Gasthon has lived in the Strand area with his family for a number of years. He was delivered from a life of drugs and dealing, and became a leader in his church and an example for the youth. Gasthon testifies that in 2011 he felt like God told him to make a movie, and later a friend led him to FSA Kayamandi for further guidance on that project. He joined the 2012 class and traveled by train and walked for miles to attend classes for the next several years. His talent as a director, dedication and heart for ministry made for a natural fit with Film School Africa, and helped to launch FSA classes in his community in 2014. He currently coordinates classes and serves as a teacher and mentor.
Sonia Zulu — Strand Level 1 Photography Teacher/Jungle Arts Teacher
Sonia Zulu attended two levels of photography classes and one level of film at Film School Africa before she was selected for a full scholarship to the Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography. Here is what she says about the impact of FSA in her life.
"FSÁ is a school close to my heart, it’s a home away from home. I have learned what love is, I have learned to forgive and to trust in God, I have learned to be happy and to allow people into my heart. I am extremely grateful to have been able to attend classes at FSA, they connected me to one of the best photographers I know, Samantha du Toit, and they helped me to see life through the viewfinder...The Academy of Design and Photography in Stellenbosch gave me the oppertunity to study free of charge, through the help of the team at FSA.
My life was never the same again.
Happy to be able to now give back what was invested in me to those who are eager to learn about photography. I see myself in some of the photography students in Strand."
Nathan Midcalf — FSA College Sound Recording Lecturer
Nate has a film degree from AFDA with an emphasis in sound. In addition to his studies in the area of film, Nathan has been recording and booming for local and international series and commercials.
John and Jeanne Back — FSA College Dean of Student Programming and Residence Life
John and Jeanne been blessed with nearly 60 years of combined professional engagement with college students. They met over 30 years ago in graduate school at Azuza Pacific University and quickly realized their mutual desire to create and provide students with varied opportunities and experiences that would cause them to thrive and flourish—spiritually and in their chosen careers. A Taylor University graduate, John has spent years working with Biola University as the Dean of Student Development, where he started Biola's Orientation Program, and later became the Dean of Student Engagement. Jeanne is a seasoned professional career counselor working with adolescent and college-aged students career transition and life planning related issues.
FSA College is privileged to have numerous other guest lecturers that share their areas of expertise on a regular basis.