AMC Networks exec to head Biola's new film school

Tuesday, July 21, 2020
Michael F. Haverluck (

Biola film students at workA Southern California-based Christian university is adding both industry expertise and recognized leadership to its growing cinematic arts program.

Biola University has announced that Tom Halleen – whose Emmy Award-winning television shows won acclaim while serving as AMC Networks' executive vice president – will be the founding dean of the university's School of Cinema and Media Arts. Biola president Barry H. Corey is excited about the godly direction in which Halleen will lead Christian students as they strive to powerfully influence the world for Jesus Christ.

"We are so thankful that God has led Tom Halleen to join Biola," Corey says in a press release. "His credentials as a leader in the entertainment industry are impeccable, but even more important are his Christian character and witness. This appointment is a major step for our film school as we shape the next generation of students to be ambassadors of Christ who are excellent at their craft."


Christian entertainment upping its game …

Halleen will share his expertise with Biola students seeking to enter the entertainment industry by sharing his nearly two decades of experience in acquisitions, scheduling and programming strategy.

"During Halleen's 18 years at AMC Networks, he was a key team member in the transition of AMC into one of the most innovative cable networks on television in part through the launch of groundbreaking and Emmy Award-winning series, including Breaking Bad, Mad Men and The Walking Dead – the highest rated basic cable series in television history," the release states.

Biola's School of Cinema and Media Arts is looking to utilize the integrity, ingenuity and transformative leadership that Halleen displayed while leading a 43-member programming strategy team at AMC Networks, when he oversaw linear and on-demand platforms for its AMC, BBC America, IFC, WEtv and Sundance TV entertainment services.

New programs slated to launch over the next five years at Biola include directing, executive producing, animation, game design, writing and short form production; and Halleen will oversee around 30 faculty and instructors teaching students in these areas as the evangelical campus continues to expand.

"Biola hopes to double the [film] school in size to 750 students by 2027," the university shares in the release. "[Halleen] will also oversee the $76 million building project for the new school – a new state-of-the-art 50,000-plus square-foot facility."

The film school is designed to provide a gamut of opportunities for Biola students, which include a number of off-campus programs, along with an on-campus production center that is furnished with cutting-edge equipment estimated at around $4 million.

"Biola's School of Cinema and Media Arts – launched in 2018 – has been ranked as one of the top film schools in the nation by multiple industry-leading sources," the university notes. "It was listed as one of the 50 best film schools around the world in Variety's Entertainment Education Report in 2018, 2019 and 2020."

Biola University is located in La Mirada, California, about 20 miles from Hollywood and the prestigious USC School of Cinematic Arts.

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