Guest Filmmaker Lecturers

The Film School is pleased to welcome guest lecturers to speak to the students about the industry and career advancement.  Recent guests have included:


Kendall Bennett – (Watkins 2005) Recently employed as the Production Designer for the television series, Nashville, but has also worked on Body of Proof, Law and Order, Dexter and more.  He has worked in other areas such as Graphic Design for television.

Bill Cornelius – (Watkins, 2005) An award-winning filmmaker, music video director, writer, and visual artist whose work, including the Emmy-nominated Nashville Rises, has appeared on CMT, FOX, PBS, and in numerous film festivals across the nation. Having dealt with bullying himself while in middle school, his experiences have fueled his desire to help others and tackle the subject matter in a creative and effective way.

Steve Gomer – Steve Gomer is in Nashville preparing his independent feature for Sony/Affirm entitled All Saints.  Steve is an award-winning director: Filmmakers Trophy at the 1993 Sundance Festival for Fly by Night and the Sakura Prize at the Tokyo Film Festival for Sweet Loraine. He has also directed extensively for television.  His credits include Blue Bloods, The Unit, Ally McBeal, Joan of Arcadia, The Guardian, Huff and Private Practice.  He has directed plays at the Circle Repertory Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club and the Public Theatre and has been a visiting instructor at Princeton University.

Bethany Rooney – Director of over 200 episodes of television series such as, Parenthood, Nashville, Criminal Minds, 90210, Private Practice, Brothers & Sisters, Desperate Housewives and author of Directors Tell the Story.

Eric Summer – Writer/Producer/Director.  Mr. Summer is a French writer and director currently at work on an animated film, Ballerina.  He has directed extensively in France and Canada, working on over 140 episodes of television including the series, St. Tropez, Profilage, Interpol, and Interventions. Mr. Summer will share his experience working internationally and talk about early career choices and working in the French and Canadian systems. He also will discuss and show the progress on his upcoming animated film, Ballerina.


Zach Adams – Alumnus and local filmmaker, owner of Skydive Films. Zack has directed commercials, music videos and more recently, an award winning documentary, Hunger In America.

Prashant Bhargava – An award winning designer and filmmaker.  He directed the acclaimed feature, Patang about one of India’s largest the kite festival and created the stirring visuals in the musical presentation by Vijay Iyer: Music of Transformation, entitled Radhe Radhe: Rites of Holi.

William Leaman – An AFTRA/SAG stunt coordinator, rigger and player has worked on over a 100 film and TV projects, such as Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Furious 7, Scandal, True Blood, Leverage and Grimm.  He has also been an adjunct instructor and advisor to student films at USC.

Peter Kurland – A production sound mixer with a long association with the Coen Brothers, Peter has worked on Fargo, True Grit, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, No Country For Old Men, The Big Lebowski, Men In Black and others.  He has been nominated for 4 Academy Awards.

Andy Van Roon – A long time advocate of the film industry in Nashville, Andy is the founder of FilmNashville and FilmCom which brings together filmmakers and industry professionals to Nashville every June.


Ken Ceizler – Director of Austin & Ally, Pair of Kings, Wizards of Waverly Place, The Chelsea Handler Show, Lizzie McGuire, That’s So Raven, Even Stevens and Kenan & Kel and DGA member.

Faith Conroy – Writer of the feature film, 50 to 1.

John Heath  – Producer of television series, Shark, The Guardian, Roswell, Chicago Hope and director of The Guardian, Chicago Hope and St. Elsewhere.  Also author of Concrete Wedding Cake.

Todd Lowe – Actor in True Blood, Gilmore Girls and 50 to 1.

Bethany Rooney – Director of over 100 episodes of television series such as, Parenthood, Nashville, Criminal Minds, 90210, Private Practice, Brothers & Sisters, Desperate Housewives and author of Directors Tell the Story.

Eric Small – Producer of Penn & Teller’s Bullsh*t, Producer and Director of The Dust Factory starring Hayden Panettiere and Armin Mueller-Stahl and the web-series, 10,000 Days starring John Schneider.

Skeet Ulrich – Actor in As Good As It Gets, Scream, Jericho, and 50 to 1.

Jim Wilson – Producer and Academy Award winner of Dances with Wolves, My Bodyguard, Mr. Brooks, Producer/Director/Writer of 50 to 1.

In addition, Watkins regularly partners with the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Zeitgiest Gallery, Nashville Film Festival, and other members of the local visual arts community on panel discussions, workshops and artist lecture events.