The Denius Center faculty is comprised of award-winning, industry professionals who have also taught at other leading institutions.
Diana Kerew – Lecturer, Development Process of Film and TV
Diana is an Emmy Award winner who has been both a Producer and a Production Executive and knows both the buying and the selling sides of the business (i.e., developing & pitching as well as casting, producing & nurturing a project into exhibition and distribution). With a substantial history in the television industry, she has worked in all phases of the business, from line production to the executive suite. She is intimately familiar with all phases of production from budgeting through post. She has executive produced over 50 films for television. With her development expertise, Diana has the ability to help a writer shape a script and move it to greenlight status. Her films have won every major award: Peabody Award, 10 Emmys, 26 Emmy nominations, DGA, WGA, Christopher (4), Ohio State (2), Humanitas Finalist (3), and NAACP Image.
Drew Ferrante – Lecturer, Inside the Music Industry
A 30 year veteran of the Music Industry, Drew became a musician at an early age, played in bands throughout his teens, and started and ran his own successful professional recording studio by the time he was 20. While producing countless regional acts, his own band was signed to a major recording contract, and he co-produced their major-label debut album…which was never released. Desperate to understand how the labels worked, he switched gears, spending the next 12 years “inside” the music industry, with various Marketing and Promotion positions at MCA, Columbia, Chaos, Work Group, and Epic labels. After relocating to Los Angeles to help rebuild and revive Disney’s Hollywood Records label, he left the Major Label world to help build and run the independent Connoisseur Records label. With piracy causing Major labels to downsize, he opted to join Yangaroo, Inc., the Entertainment Industry’s leading Digital Media Distribution company, where he works with Major Entertainment companies to make the switch from physical to digital distribution. He has been instrumental in securing deals for The Grammys, The Academy of Country Music Awards, the MTV Music and Video Awards, and many more, helping to move from traditional balloting to a secure online streaming and voting solution. In his “spare” time, he continues to Engineer, Produce, and Mix, having mixed or re-mixed several #1 songs by Jesse McCartney, Breaking Benjamin, and Miley Cyrus.
James Fino – Lecturer, Introduction to New Media
James is a Partner and Executive Producer at Starburns Industries, a full-service design, animation, and visual effects company. He has expanded the scope of production for several companies from traditional film and television to mobile, online entertainment, and branded content. He has had over 16 years of hands-on production experience in high-profile studio/network live-action & animation productions, visual effects production, new media content production, as well as 5 years of corporate advertising concept and design. His clients have included Disney Internet group, Disney Online/DXD, Walt Disney Short Films, Touchstone Television, NBC/Universal Television, 20th Century Fox, Twentieth Television, Comedy Central, New Line Cinema, Discovery Channel's Planet Green, Starz Entertainment Group, Sony Home Entertainment, Google/YouTube, Motorola/Good technology Group, United Online-NetZero, Kyocera Wireless Corp., Vidiator Mobile, Endemol USA, Rainbow Media, Weller/Grossman Productions, Bud Light, Career Builders, Men's Warehouse, The San Antonio Public Library Foundation, and the rock group, Daft Punk.
Cynthia Lieberman – Lecturer, Entertainment Press, and Public Relations
Cynthia Lieberman is a recognized content marketing and media strategist with more than 25 years of leadership experience in entertainment, education, and digital media marketing. Throughout her career, Cynthia has led countless marketing and publicity campaigns for every major Hollywood studio, working on numerous high-profile entertainment projects.
Her extensive media industry experience has contributed to the decade-long success of LieberComm, a content marketing, and digital media relations firm servicing clients in evolving digital technologies, digital literacy education and ed-tech, AR/VR/MR, entertainment, special event planning, and philanthropy. A true storyteller at heart, Cynthia is a frequent guest blogger and her expanded talents include content creation, public relations, social media engagement. She also serves as an Adjunct Professor at The University of Texas at Austin (UTLA) and teaches Social Media/Influencer Marketing and Entertainment PR for UCLA.
Stuart Pollok – Lecturer, Entertainment Industry: Big Picture
Stuart Pollok has worked in various capacities in the film industry for almost 25 years. After a brief stint in marketing for Universal Pictures, Stuart worked in development, production, and business affairs for most of the nineties at Paramount Pictures-based Prelude Pictures, rising to Executive Vice President, the highest-ranking executive at the company. At Prelude, a division of Neufeld/Rehme Productions, the producers of Patriot Games, The Hunt for Red October and Clear And Present Danger, The Omen, and No Way Out, among many others, Stuart originated and shepherded to production Judicial Consent for HBO/Rysher Entertainment, Black Dog for Universal Pictures and tent-pole Lost In Space for New Line Cinema. After Prelude, Stuart produced One of The Hollywood Ten starring Jeff Goldblum for the BBC, Canal+, TVE, and Buena Vista International (BVI). It premiered at the Closing Night of the San Sebastian Film Festival. He then conceived, wrote, and implemented the business plan that leads to the creation of Studio Hamburg International Production (SHIP), the English-language theatrical feature division of Studio Hamburg, then Germany’s largest television producer with an annual turnover in excess of $250m. As Head of Production at SHIP, Stuart oversaw and executive produced three features, including launching the successful The Three Investigators family franchise for BVI, and handled production services in Germany for Flightplan starring Jodie Foster for Imagine Entertainment/Disney. Stuart is a former New York attorney and a graduate of the University of Glasgow, Georgetown University Law Center and the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television, Peter Stark Producing Program. He was a Rotary Scholar at Georgetown, representing Europe on a World Peace Initiative, and at high school graduated as top male of his class and was elected Class President.
Alisha Brophy – Lecturer, The Working Hollywood Writer
Alisha Brophy is a small-town girl who always ends up in big cities. She lives in Los Angeles, but you wouldn’t know it from her cowboy boots and New York accent. She is a Moth GrandSLAM champion, and you can hear her storytelling broadcast nationally on “The Moth” radio hour. Her projects are often inspired by her backstory that includes carnival work, and competitive dog training. She received her MFA in Screenwriting from UT-Austin, where she met her co-writer, Scott Miles. Alisha and Scott won the Academy's 2014 Nicholl Fellowship with their comedy United States of Fuckin' Awesome. They followed this with the feature White Girl Problems, for Elizabeth Banks and Lionsgate. They've also developed animation with ShadowMachine, sold an original pitch to CBS Films, and their DIY animated shorts have been featured on Funny or Die, IndieWire, AV Club, Huffington Post, and GQ. They've recently written the new License to Drive for Fox, and wrote for LEGO. They currently write for Inside Job, an adult animated comedy on Netflix.
Mira Lippold-Johnson – Lecturer, UTLA Internship
Mira K. Lippold-Johnson is the Acting Program Director of UTLA. She has taught in the RTF Department at UT-Austin and at Austin Community College, and she has worked as a director, editor, producer, animator, and cinematographer. Her last short film Bad Things was an Austin Film Society Grant recipient and her work has won awards at Sidewalk Film Festival, Bend Film Festival, Women Texas Film Festival, Austin Revolution Film Festival, and Deep in the Heart Film Festival. She recently edited episodes of the PBS web docuseries Tacos of Texas and was the short film programmer for Flyway Film Festival in 2018. Until returning to independent film in 2014, she was the supervisor of digital media content at Smithsonian Channel. She holds an MFA in film production from the University of Texas at Austin and a bachelor’s degree in linguistics from Harvard University.