Current Student Bios

You can meet our currents students through the links below:

  • Class of 2018


    Chris Hudson

    I grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina watching hours of documentaries and travelogues on Charlotte’s PBS station, WTVI. Rick Steves was my biggest idol and I dreamed that one day I would travel the world, just like him, and share all my fascinating experiences with “Viewers Just Like You” at home.  I earned my B.A. in Communications from Queens University of Charlotte. During my undergraduate studies I pursued my passion for television and film through a documentary production internship at WTVI. A highlight of this experience was being cast as a redcoat soldier and stand-in on the set of Mel Gibson’s The Patriot. After college, I worked for Global Children’s Outreach as Director of Communications, did freelance work for CMS-TV and WTVI, where I directed the Emmy Nominated Documentary How I Survived WWIl and produced a couple of small segments that aired on The Travel Channel and SPEED. I also spent eight years working for Time Warner Cable Media producing and editing local TV commercials, long forms, and some documentaries for clients like Richard Petty. Today I own and operate Creative Drama Children’s Theater and my own production company in Clemmons, NC.

    Yicheng “Jill” Li
    I received my Bachelor’s of Arts degree from Beijing Normal University with a major in Movie and Television Studies. Through my undergraduate coursework and extra-curricular activities I developed a passion for both documentary and experimental film. As an undergraduate student, I interned with CCTV-2 and assisted in the production of a feature-length documentary The Internet Age. I also participated in Looking China, a global documentary activity. With my partner from Boston, I produced a documentary film about my hometown Beijing. My experimental short films work earned several best experimental film nominations in the 21st Beijing College Student Film Festival. I have loved documentary film since my first viewing of Nanook of the North and I agree with Flaherty’s opinion that documentary is discovery. I believe documentaries hold lasting significance because they truly reflect the human experience.

    Dominic Silva
    I graduated with a B.A. in Individualized Studies with an emphasis in Creative Media/Digital Filmmaking from New Mexico State University.  I have been involved in multimedia projects since middle school and started my own small photography and video business shortly after graduating from high school. I have a particular passion for filming and editing sports related projects and have worked with New Mexico State Football and the Wake Forest Athletics Multimedia Department.  I recently completed an internship with NFL Films.

    Xiao Xiao
    I graduated with a B.A. in Broadcasting and Television from Liaoning University in Shenyang, China. My journey into documentary filmmaking began when I attended Shih Hsin University in Taiwan as an exchange student in the Radio, Television and Film department.  During my year in the program, I edited and directed two award-winning short films, one of which was broadcast in Taiwan. Making these films allowed me to find my passion in life—documentary filmmaking. For the past two years, I have been working on a film on the practice of home schooling in China. My work on this film inspired me to think about the different approaches to storytelling and how a program like the DFP could help me become a better non-fiction storyteller. My new life in DFP is amazing! I am enjoying filming documentary stories in a brand new place and reporting on the NBA Hornets for Tencent. Can you believe that six months ago I did not understand the rules of basketball, and now I can report on NBA games? As Hitchcock said, “In documentary films, God is the director.”  For the next three years, I will continue to work on my film on home schooling and seek out every opportunity that allows me to find my voice as a storyteller.


    Stan Wright
    My love affair with visual media has been a long, recurrent one. In middle school, I was part of a morning production team that put on the broadcast announcements. High school became one great experiment in storytelling, as my digital media classes challenged me to make films ranging from flipbook to live action to animation. In college at Drexel University in Philadelphia, I studied Communication with a Journalism emphasis, eventually becoming the editor-in-chief of independent student newspaper The Triangle and pioneering the web series “The Triangle Live.” As a co-op school, Drexel also enabled me to hold internships with myriad media organizations ranging from Comcast to PBS Kids Sprout where I was a production assistant, to PHL-17’s EyeOpener morning show, where I filmed, interviewed and edited content. In my senior year at Drexel, two experiences: attending a weeklong visual storytelling intensive in Kentucky and documenting my medical brigade’s trip to Honduras, provided me the kick in the pants to redirect myself towards what I now realize is my calling – documentary filmmaking.

     

    Hao Zhang
    I earned my bachelor’s degree in Digital Media Technology from Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications. I enthusiastically embrace all aspects of the documentary filmmaking process and find it to be the perfect form of expression for me. Documentary storytelling allows me to follow my spirit of curiosity, produce works that address my concerns for underrepresented people, and pursue my passion for photography and music. While I enjoy all types of documentary films, I am particularly drawn to social justice topics and sports, and I am very excited to be studying documentary film with Peter Gilbert.

    MA in Sports Storytelling

    Colin Sylvester
    I received my undergraduate degree in Film/TV Criticism from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. Before coming to the DFP for the MA in Sports Storytelling degree, I covered the entertainment industry and then college sports as a journalist and editor. My first-year project, A Chip Off The Old Rock, examines a die-hard fan base thrown into hysteria when one of its own betrays the group. It’s that unique culture and perspective in sports that draws me to documentary filmmaking and drives me to tells stories not simply about sports but the people and personal stories in sports.

    Milik Robinson
    I originally come from a social science background. My undergraduate degrees are in psychology and social work. I’ve always been interested in film, specifically documentary film because I always love the realness of it. I always find it hard to sit through feature films. When I’m not doing work within the program, I am doing a lot of fashion/editorial photography. In the future I hope to produce films characteristic of myself, yet in a way that everyone from all walks of life can understand. I like to call my style “ghetto sophistication.”

  • Class of 2019

    Acobe Cheek
    I fell in love with the camera at the age of 11.  I was in the sixth  grade and was selected to shoot our school’s live morning news feed.  Born in the trunk and raised in Durham, North Carolina, I went to Hillside High School and provided technical support for Drama club and fine arts productions.  Working behind the scenes in theatre would provide with the opportunity to travel to eastern Africa and South America. After matriculating from Winston Salem State University with a Bachelor of Science in Sports Management, I taught for a few years in middle school and high school before returning to school to obtain a Masters of Arts in African American Literature and, now, an MFA in documentary film.

    Meg Daniels
    I grew up in Upstate NY where I received my BFA in photography from RIT and, shortly after relocating to North Carolina, my MS in Adult and Community College Education from NCSU. For the last 17 years, I have been a freelance photographer telling the stories of people from around the globe. I chose photojournalism as a profession because it allowed me to explore who I was a person. Over time, I realized that the visceral experience I wanted to give my viewers through photography was lacking something: the emotional experience that occurs when hearing the spoken word. I want to tell stories that encourage people to question their roles in this world and examine their belief systems. I hope my future films will resonate with audiences either consciously or unconsciously so that, like me, they may understand a little bit more about who they are as human beings.

    Nick Deel
    I’m a graduate of Ithaca College’s Roy H. Park School of Communications with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film, Photography and Visual Media. I joined the Documentary Film Program after spending five years producing short form video content for the International Business Times and Newsweek magazine in New York City. Frankly, I’m drawn to documentary film because it allows me to be nosy. I get to call up people I find interesting and ask them to let me step into their lives for a while. And some of them are gracious enough to let me. I hope the films I make spark the same curiosity in others that has driven me.

    Thomas Espy
    I was born and raised in northeast Ohio and I have been an artist my entire life. As I grew, I found my interest in creating art, watching films, and reading books grow into an interest of storytelling in general. I received a BBA in Business Management from Kent State University in 2009 and a MS in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Miami University in 2012. During my first year in WFU’s DFP, I have had the opportunity to broaden my understanding of the many theoretical and practical aspects of filmmaking and I have produced two documentary short films: Human Kaleidoscope and Berning for Change.

    I aim to capture and represent life through traditional and experimental filmmaking. I am interested in producing visually inspired films about individuals who have devoted their lives to the arts and explore their inspiration and the creative process behind their final products, producing films about evolutionary psychology and mental illnesses/ disorders and explore how these disorders are related to and/or influence the creative process, and producing films exploring the human condition, memory and nostalgia, nature, and fantasy in ways that have yet to be explored through traditional filmmaking. Roger Ebert once said:

    “Movies are the most powerful empathy machine in all the arts. When I go to a great movie I can live somebody else’s life for a while, I can walk in somebody else’s shoes … The great movies enlarge us, they civilize us, they make us more decent people.”

    Ebert’s words help explain why cinema is one of the most effective ways to the human heart. As a filmmaker, my leading objective is to produce meaningful films that will, hopefully, help make us more decent people.

    Brad Dillard
    I graduated in 2013 from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. There I received a Bachelor of Arts degree as a double major in English and Media Studies. My media studies degree mainly focused in film production and screenwriting. For two years I served as a staff writer for the UNCG Newspaper, where I wrote weekly music and film reviews. I have just completed a short documentary entitled Regrowth, which is making the festival rounds currently. My goal is to make documentaries that highlight the redemptive nature of the human will that allows individuals to overcome personal, societal, and political ills. I look to tell stories about the people we see everyday but that we don’t understand, be it because they are different from us, or because they face different obstacles.

    Trey Kalny
    After graduating from Wake Forest with a degree in English and History, I followed the natural career trajectory by becoming the Director of Entertainment for the Winston-Salem Dash minor-league baseball team. In the offseason I moonlighted as an improviser, eventually moving to Chicago to graduate from the Second City Training Center’s conservatory. Following the creation of the critically acclaimed yet little-known “Banana Cops” comedy series, I decided it was time to develop a more marketable skill: documentary filmmaking. My hope is to create films that marry my love of language, sports, and performance; balance the serious subjects often found in documentaries with the lighter side of life; and most importantly, allow formerly anonymous individuals to tell their stories in their own authentic voice.

    Miles McKeller-Smith
    I am a 2016 graduate of Wake Forest University from Fayetteville, North Carolina.  During my undergraduate career, I majored in Media Communications and minored in Global Trade & Commerce. I currently serve as a graduate assistant with the Wake Forest University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, as well as a mentor at a local elementary school.  In my free time, I love to make music and indulge in the arts scene around Winston-Salem. I’m drawn to documentary film because I believe that some of the best stories are told in the form of documentaries.  With my films, I aspire to address and create dialogue around social issues, as well as tell the stories of individuals who may not have the platform to do so.

    Huiying Wang
    I received my BA degree in Media and Communication Studies at China Agricultural University. During my undergraduate period, I worked as an intern assistant producer in China Central Television in Beijing. For the past four years in China, I helped my professor to establish the “Documentary Studies Centre of China Agricultural University”, learning a lot from visiting filmmakers and accumulating rich experience in filmmaking. In 2015, I undertook the 2015 China Agricultural University graduation microfilm, which was played at the school’s graduation ceremony. While at Wake Forest, I’m continuing the documentary study. My latest work, “Human Kaleidoscope”, explores the charm of body painting and the changes it gives to people. As a filmmaker, I desire to talk about women’s stories and their roles they play in a family or society.

  • Class of 2020

    Mickey Becker
    During my lifetime I have participated in a wide range of educational and professional pursuits. With a B.S. in Exercise Science, M.A. in Religious Studies, and M.S. in Counseling I have had the opportunity to learn about and interact with the world around me from multiple perspectives. During these interactions one constant has been the integration of film as a medium to teach, learn, share, explain, and entertain. As a mental health counselor and counselor educator, I found that the written word could explain symptoms but the medium of film gave me the ability to present to counselors the lived experience of mental health patients. I believe that as we gain a greater understanding of each other’s lived experience we become more effective at providing support and compassion to one another. Though I have been making films for various reasons since I was 16 years old, it is the desire to use film to tell the stories of people struggling with mental illness that led me to pursue studies in documentary film.

    Bridget Fitzgerald
    I grew up in Massachusetts, the daughter of Irish immigrants, and moved to Florida where I lived many happy years raising my family and working as a social worker. I attended the University of Florida and Florida State University earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in clinical social work. I have always loved being active taking dance and yoga classes, going kayaking and hiking. A Canon AE-1 was my first purchase when I started working at 14, and I’ve always been mesmerized by the beauty and power of photo and film to open eyes, minds, and hearts.

    As a social worker and parent, a monumental lesson I learned is to talk less and listen more. I only sometimes succeed but I do understand the importance and aspire to listen deeply with great care, compassion, and empathy. I love filmmaking because, for me, it esteems this careful listening and observation in the same way with the same goal of deep understanding and regard for others and their experience.

    I love the do-gooders who are harnessing their particular brand of genius to serve in some way. There is a lot of beautiful work going on and we all need to know about it and celebrate it and inspire each other to pull out the stops and do what we can for each other and the world. I hope to make films that do just that.

    Dustin Foote
    While other children grew up on cartoons, I was raised on ESPN’s Sportscenter. I spent countless Saturday and Sunday mornings in front of the TV, by myself, memorizing meaningless statistics and idolizing the anchors on set. Since then, my interest in three-point percentage, QBR, and on-camera work has dwindled. Now, I use sport stories as a vehicle to discuss social, political, and environmental issues in American culture. I am also curious to explore other topics including, but not limited to, religion in contemporary society, the natural world, and the concept of the American dream.

    I graduated from Skidmore College in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in American Studies. As an undergraduate, I interned for ONE World Sports, the Adirondack Thunder (ECHL), Sirius XM, the Edge of Sports podcast with Dave Zirin, and the New York Daily News.

    Ed Foster
    I am a United States Air Force veteran. I graduated from Western Carolina University with a BA in Professional Writing.  I continued my education at North Carolina A&T State University where I received my MA in African-American Literature.  As an Adjunct Instructor at Guilford Technical CC I taught English and Humanities courses.  While teaching I coached youth football and basketball for eight years at my local YMCA, also. My interest in filmmaking began at an early age. My grandparents owned a home beside a drive-in theater and I spent many weekend nights sitting in their backyard watching everything from Disney to horror films.  My love of film led me to Theater Arts and Forensics in high school where I achieved honors in both. I hope to help others gain a better understanding of the interconnected tapestry of the human experience through filmmaking and teaching.

    Luke Gloeckner
    I graduated from Rowan University with a B.S. in Radio/TV/Film Studies and also from Kent State University with an M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration. After working in the administrative world for a number of years, I could no longer resist a push to return to the world of film. Since getting my first VHS camcorder for Christmas in high school, I found myself wanting to tell stories with the camera. As an aspiring filmmaker, I’m drawn to stories about life and the explorers and dreamers who choose to live it differently.

    Ryan Howard
    I earned a bachelor’s degree with a major in both Psychology and Communication from Wake Forest University in 2014. Prior to and during my collegiate experience, in which I focused on mass media and film within my communications major, I spent time on student broadcasting teams, creating video content for clubs and organizations, and involved in theatre. After a few years spent working and living in Washington D.C. and experiencing the 2016 election up close, I believe more now than ever that the stories of those on the fringes and in minorities need to be told in a compelling, truthful and relatable ways. As cheesy as it may sound, I often reflect on the Rodgers and Hammerstein lyric “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and hope to create documentary films that reinforce just that; as isolating as life can feel, we share more than we differ and we can all be each others greatest allies.

    Brian McLawhorn
    As a diehard sports fan, raised in the shadows of Tobacco Road, basketball began shaping my career path at an early age. As a teenager I was introduced to the world of basketball recruiting through Hoop Dreams, a film co-directed by Peter Gilbert. The film ignited my passion for recruiting and storytelling, ultimately leading me to Appalachian State University where I received my undergraduate degree in Journalism. As fate would have it, Bob Gibbons, who appeared in Hoop Dreams and is a pioneer in sports recruiting coverage, hired me directly out of college. I have since spent 17 years as a sports journalist with the last 10 covering Duke University athletics for Yahoo! Sports and Rivals.com. Along the way, I received my M.A. in Interactive Media from Elon University, which sparked my interest in film. From there, I attended classes at Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies. While my story idea list is comprised of many topics, I am particularly drawn to sports and man vs. nature subject matter, with an emphasis on exploration and adventure films.