Students of the silver screen

Alumni reflect on Biola’s influence in wake of independent film premier.


Ryan Grant (‘06) both acts in and works behind the scenes on the film. | Courtesy Ryan Schneider

Jessica Reynolds, Writer

As graduates of Biola University, the alumni are proof that connections made and skills honed at Biola can last a lifetime. For alumni Nikole Sparks, Eric Hann, Ryan Grant and Garett Wycoff, the connections and knowledge they gained brought them success within their given fields. Now the four alumni work together on the new independent film “The Curious Story of Spurious Falls”.

The independent film premieres Thursday, Nov. 13 at the Lido Live theatre in Newport Beach with event proceeds going to the McKenna Claire Foundation to help fund research for brain cancer. However, these four alum did not begin their careers with the upcoming movie, but with Biola.

Garett Wycoff, who graduated in 2011 with his degree in film, began his immersion into the film industry with an internship at The Mill, a commercial visual effects house. With his foot in the door and a degree in his hand, he got his first job with Luma Pictures and has worked there for the past three years, before working in special effects for “The Curious Story of Spurious Falls”.


While attending Biola, Eric Hann, who works as the director of photography on “Spurious Falls” as well as professor of  began plugging into the fast-paced Hollywood film industry as soon as possible to learn more about the field.

“I was blessed with the opportunity to meet more industry people established in Hollywood because of the professors at Biola,” Hann said. “They would help us students meet people through relationships they had.”

Ryan Grant, who plays Peter in the film and works behind the scenes as sound technician, received his big break into the industry only six months after graduating.

“Biola has consistently been a source for jobs,” says Grant.

Grant was offered a big role as a full time producer on a Christian television talk show, “Helpline,” through a good friend who worked with Biola’s film department, Mark Spicer.

“The most important thing to remember are the relationships you have with the people with whom you are working,” Grant said.

Nikole Sparks’ immediate acquisition of a full-time job as graphic design for her church helped her get connected to the film through a fellow church member, Ryan Schneider.

Several Biola alum worked on the upcoming independent film “The Curious Story of Spurious Falls”, which premieres at the Lido Live Theater on Nov. 13. | Courtesy Ryan Schneider


One thing Sparks attributes her work on the visual arts of the film to Biola’s focus on honing conceptual skills.

“[The graphic design program] was less like ‘here is how you do certain things like use Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator’ and more like how to cultivate good ideas and how to come up with something that is better than your first knee jerk reaction,” Sparks said.

This first-hand involvement characterizes the Biola film and art departments for the alum, helping them establish habits and gain experience for their later careers.

“Biola’s film department was a place of creative freedom and exploration with the wisdom and guidance of the professor,” Hann said. “We just got to make a lot of movies while we were there. There is no better way to learn about making movies than to make more movies.”

Wycoff also pays his respects for his degree to the knowledge gained from a visual effects class taught by Eric Hann during Wycoff’s time at Biola.

“His passion for the technological aspect of filmmaking sparked my interest in learning the technology behind visual effects,” says Wycoff.

The industry standard programs at Biola gave Wycoff a leg up in the competitive field due to experience with the programs, he said. The programs provided integral tools to have, but the professors who knew how to build your skills with those tools possessed even more value.

“Half of getting started in anything is just feeling encouraged to keep going,” Hann emphasized. “That was one of the components of what Biola gave me — the enthusiasm this is something I enjoy, I want to keep doing more.”

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