To ensure our educational programming and curricula are kept highly relevant and up-to-date, VanArts has assembled and confers regularly with an industry advisory board. These prominent industry experts bring tremendous value to our educational programs, and we are grateful for their insights, contributions and recommendations.
William B. Davis - Director, Actor & Instructor
Before becoming "Cancer Man" on the hit TV series The X-Files, William Davis had a long career as a teacher, director and actor. He has been the Director of Canada's two leading acting schools: the National Theatre School and the Vancouver Playhouse Acting School. He was the founding Artistic Director of Festival Lennoxville in Quebec, Director of the Dundee Repertory Theatre in Scotland and Assistant Director at the National Theatre of Great Britain.
Mr. Davis has directed over 100 professional productions at major theatres in Britain and Canada. He founded the William Davis Centre for Actors' Study in 1989, which now offers its highly regarded curriculum at VanArts, where he now also sits on the Board of Advisors.
Ken Duncan - Founder, Duncan Studio
Ken Duncan's career spans well over twenty years in animation production. After attending Sheridan College, he began working in England and Spain where he collaborated on television commercials and feature films starring the French comic favorite Asterix.
Given his desire to focus on character performance, Ken soon jumped to Walt Disney Feature Animation, where the eight films that he worked on as Animator & Supervising Animator produced some of his most indelible character work, such as "Jane" from Tarzan, "Meg" from Hercules, "Belle" from Beauty & the Beast, and "Jafar" from Aladdin.
After Disney, he worked as Supervising Animator of "Angie" on Dreamworks Animation's Shark Tale. He then established a California studio for Reel FX, where he served as Creative Director and Supervising Animator on several projects including TMNT (Ninja Turtles) and The Wild (as co-director for the opening sequence).
Over the course of his career, Ken has been nominated for three ASIFA-Hollywood Annie Awards in the category of "Best Individual Achievement in Character Animation" for Hercules, Tarzan, and Shark Tale. The Visual Effects Sociey also nominated Ken's work on Shark Tale for "Outstanding Performance" and on 9 for "Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature."
As has been the case throughout his career, Ken's commitment to creating memorable characters continues to propel him forward, this time bringing his love of animation and knowledge of strong character performances to his innovative production house Duncan Studio.
Ken Duncan studio website: www.duncanstudio.com
Ken Duncan at IMDB
Bill Matthews - Manager of Artist Development, Ret'd, Walt Disney Studios
Bill Matthews has been a guest instructor and visiting industry professional at VanArts since 1996. He is one of the founding instructors and directors of the Sheridan College Animation Program and is recently retired as Manager of Artist Development and ongoing consultant for Walt Disney Feature Animation. Bill worked on effects animation for Disney's Sleeping Beauty and for NASA, and has been writing traditional animation curricula for public schools and colleges for over thirty years.
Bonita Versh - Animation Director
Annual guest instructor Bonita Versh majored in Life Drawing at the University of Wisconsin/Milwaukee, which turned out to be the best possible training to bring to her lengthy animation career. She has worked for several studios, including Hanna-Barbera, Film Roman, Chuck Jones, Warner Bros., Walt Disney TV and Merchandise, DePatie-Freleng, Playhouse Pictures, Colosssal Pictures, Duck Soup,Nickelodeon and more.
She has directed projects in Germany, France and China, as well as a CD-ROM for Nintendo, Clay Fighter II, using clay-animation. Bonita worked for several years as a veteran director at Klasky Csupo Commercials, where she enjoyed the cutting-edge styles that the Europeans bring to the studio. Dedicated to continuing the classical tradition of animation, she loves teaching and lecturing, and is always learning more about this exciting field.
John Isaac is a distinguished member of VanArts' Advisory Board. As a photographer for the United Nations, he has photographed some of the world's most shameful tragedies from Afghanistan to Bosnia. After photographing the genocide in Rwanda, John found he was unable to continue working. His journey from despair to inspiration is evidenced in his moving photographs, which are the subject of this unique presentation.
Isaac's work with the UN, UNICEF and the Sierra Club has taken him to over 100 countries around the globe. Since retiring as Chief of the Photo Unit for the UN in 1998 he has continued his travels and produced several important books. The most recent, "The Vale of Kashmir", published in October of this year, takes an intimate look at the people and peaceful beauty of India's Kashmir region.
A graduate of Brown University and NYU’s Graduate Program in Acting, Rob LaBelle has worked as an actor, director and producer in theatre, film and television for over 20 years. He worked on such early features from ground breaking director Todd Haynes as Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story and Poison. Rob has also worked with directors Barry Sonnenfeld, Harold Becker, Roland Joffe, Wes Craven, Bruce MacDonald, Roger Spottiswoode, Stan Douglas and Zack Snyder. He was nominated for a Gemini award for his work as Eddie Nambulous in First Wave, and a Leo Award for his starring role in The Burial Society. Rob has been the Executive in Charge of Television for Infinity Features (Saved, Capote) for several years, and is currently an Executive Producer on their TV series Mental (with Fox TV Studios). He has taught acting at Colorado College and UCLA’s Overseas Program (in Florence, Italy). Rob has also served on the Executive Boards of SAG, ACTRA and UBCP.
Rob LaBelle at IMDB
With post-secondary training focussed on Marketing and Public Relations, Gibson became a Talent Agent in 1986 and has worked with Characters, Canada's largest full service Talent Agency with offices in both Vancouver and Toronto, since 1991. He represents Canadian actors for film, television, theatre, and radio in Canada, and around the globe. He produced a short film to gain a more thorough knowledge of all aspects of the entertainment industry. He also travels extensively, and relaxes by scuba diving, rock climbing, white water rafting, and sky diving. Mr. Gibson was one of the founding members of the Talent Agents and Managers Association of Canada (TAMAC), a self-governing body of the professional Talent Agents in Canada, and served on its Board. In a highly competitive industry, he is known for both his sense of humour, and his ethics.
A 4 time Emmy Nominee, based in Vancouver since 1995, Candice Elzinga has been responsible for casting some of the leading feature films, television series and movies for television shot in Western Canada. A trained actor with her BFA in Acting from the University of Alberta, Candice brings a profound understanding of the acting process to her work. Boasting a keen eye for new talent, she has earned a reputation for her in-depth knowledge of the Canadian acting community, as well as her knack for bringing a fresh, innovative eye to the projects she casts.
Rob Oliveira - Art Director/Founder, United Front Games
Rob has over 18 years of experience in the gaming industry, starting his career with 6 years at Radical Entertainment working on platforms for the Nintendo NES. From there he became the Co-Founder of Black Box Games and served there for over 3 years hiring & training their artists. When Electronic Arts bought the company, he contined there as Art Director on NFS Most Wanted and directing the character department on Skate. Since 2007, he has been the Co-Founder and Art Director at United Front Games, where he directed Modnation Racers for Sony.
Sean Murch - Head of Business Development, Next Level Games
Sean worked on his first video game in 1994, while working as a producer at Radical Entertainment. Before this, he enjoyed a successful career as a writer and development executive in the film and television industry, most notably as Head of Development & Sales for Nelvana Enterprises, a $550M company focused on children and youth programming; and as a development producer for director Francis Ford Coppola. More recently, Sean worked at Electronic Arts, where he designed, built and managed a department of over 100 content creators, tasked with providing art content to all of the EA Sports line of products. Before joining Next Level Games, Sean was CEO of Playful Entertainment, a boutique publishing company based in Vancouver.
Mark Pullyblank - Animation Director, Goldtooth Creative
Mark Pullyblank is one of our most successful VanArts graduates and keeps in touch with us as a mentor and advisory board member. He has worked as an animator for Rainmaker Entertainment and Frantic Films in Vancouver, WETA Digital in New Zealand (as a senior layout technical director on James Cameron's Avatar), Sony Imageworks, and his current position as animation director for Goldtooth Creative. His other lead and supervisory animation credits include The Smurfs, Garfield, Dr. Dolittle 3, Stargate:Atlantis, Elektra, Night at the Museum, Blades of Glory, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Watchmen and many other projects.
Award-winning photographer Alan Jacques has been involved in photography since 1972, starting out as a freelancer and instructor. He started his own film & video production company in 1981, which won him a Canadian Film & Television Association First Choice Award for his first film, Marathon - The Ultimate Challenge. In 1985 he left the film & video industry to pursue his interest in business and marketing, beginning a period of personal work.
In 2001 Alan re-discovered his passion for street photography, and continues to expand into new areas. His recent projects include Wires (a series of B/W photographs shot at Broadway & Main in Vancouver) and 3 Minutes 30 seconds (a study of the beauty and sensuality of the female form). His work has appeared in 14 gallery shows in Canada and the US, and in Black & White Magazine. He utilizes all 3 photographic media: digital, film and instant film. Alan lives in Langley, BC and has two teenage daughters. Though he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1991, the past 2 years have been the most photographically productive of his life.
Charlie Bonifacio's animation career spans over 34 years, beginning after graduation from Sheridan College's Animation program in 1976. His early career included character animation & design, layout, posing supervision, story development and directing at Nelvana Inc in Toronto, as an integral part of their holiday special series and features Rock & Rule and The Care Bears Movie.
His other credits include: Nelvana's The Thief of Always & Ruby Gloom, Sullivan-Bluth Studio's The Land Before Time, All Dogs go to Heaven & Rock-a-Doodle, Squeeze Animation's Wicked Wendolyn & The Christmas Pony, Walt Disney Animation Canada's Peter Pan: Return to Neverland, Tarzan 2, & The Legend of Mulan, Walt Disney Feature Animation's Hunchback of Notre Dame & Lilo and Stitch, and Starz Animation's 9 & Gnomeo and Juliet. Charlie continues to contribute and stay current with the Canadian animation industry.
Antonio Rabelo - Designer/Developer at Ecubed Media Synthesis
Antonio is currently a programmer at Ecubed Media, with over 7 years of experience in the web development industry and a 4-year degree in Information Systems. He has performed functions in networking, programming, analysis, website construction and maintenance, bringing a broad range of experience and skills for offering feedback to our full-time Web Development & Interactive Design program.
Jason Dowdeswell - Head of Production, Digital Domain Vancouver
Jason Dowdeswell is known for his major contributions on blockbuster hits such as Twilight, Salt and Night at the Museum. He has worked in many studios including Rainmaker, Boss Film, CIS Vancouver & Image Engine and has had a diverse career in the film industry. He is currently the Head of Production at Digital Domain Vancouver and actively involved in the Visual Effects community, both locally and abroad.
Koen Vroeijenstijn - Lead FX Technical Director, Image Engine Vancouver
Koen Vroeijenstijn brings over a decade of experience and knowledge to his role as a program advisory committee member. After starting his own effects studio in Amsterdam and working on European features and shorts for 8 years, his career took him to Guerrilla Games working on the successful PS3 game Killzone 2. Next Koen moved to the US and contributed effects to Kung Fu Panda, Megamind, Monsters vs. Aliens, Puss in Boots and Rise of the Guardians for Dreamworks Animation. Currently he is re-located to Vancouver as Lead Technical Director at Image Engine.
Shawn Dunn - Head of Layout & Animation Technologies, WETA Digital
Shawn Dunn, an engineer by training, is Head of Layout and Animation Technologies at WETA Digital, and has worked on Oscar-winning blockbuster feature films such as Avatar, King Kong and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Shawn also worked on the Oscar-winning short Ryan, and is the author of the best-selling book Learning Maya: MEL Fundamentals.
Ian Koeningsfest - News Director, CKNW / Program Director-AM730 Vancouver
Ian Koeningsfest started his career in broadcasting as the Station Director of UCT Radio (University of Cape Town), South Africa in 1985. After graduating from BCIT in 1990, Ian was a talk show producer at CKNW for ten years. In 2001, he became their Public Affairs Director, and in 2006 was promoted to Corus Radio Vancouver's Senior Management Team, which included directing their 2010 Winter Olympic Games coverage.
For the past three years, Ian has also been the National Vice-President (Radio) for the RTNDA (Radio and Television News Directors Association of Canada) and Chairperson Elect of the National Editorial Committee with Canadian Press.
Patrick Zulinov - Assistant Program Director / Music Director, Host, Shore 104
Patrick Zulinov (who strangely began his broadcasting career riding dolphins and orcas as host of the Aquatic Mammal Show at Marineland in Niagara Falls), graduated from Niagara College's Broadcasting program and worked on-air at a variety of radio stations in Ontario before heading west 19 years ago to become Promotions Manager for Sony BMG Music Canada.
In 2008, when the opportunity to help start a new Vancouver radio station (Shore 104) presented itself, Patrick jumped at the chance to be part of something focusing on new, vintage and local music.
Aaron Buckley - Event Production Specialist, Sonic 104.9, Jack 96.9, News 1130
Aaron Buckley's love of people and music took him from marketing and promoting Toronto clubs to Humber College's broadcasting program in 1995. That same year, Aaron became the Special Event Manager at Mix 99.9 in Toronto, a position he held for over 11 years.
In 2006, Aaron moved west and became Promotions Coordinator for Standard Radio (now Astral Media - Virgin Radio/AM 650) and in 2009 joined Corus Entertainment Vancouver as Promotions Director for Rock 101.
Christa has been working in the visual and production arts for over a decade, beginning with a BA from Queen's University. After her career in film and television production brought her to Vancouver she began her career in photography, receiving her technical training from Langara College. In addition to freelance photography and teaching, Christa has worked as the Assistant Manager at Lens & Shutter, served as our former Program Director for Digital Photography at VanArts, and currently works with Vancouver Photo Workshops. Christa brings the complexity of digital photography to our students in a most accessible, comprehensive and inspiring environment for even the most techno-phobic amateurs.
Hiroshi Tamate - Developer/Production Engineer, Station X Communications Inc.
Hiroshi is a master of CMS systems such as Marqui, Wordpress and Drupal. His many years of web development experience includes working for NEC Infrontia Corporation and Surround Design in Japan, and LIV Connected H&D and Station X Communications, Inc. in Vancouver.