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VFS Restructures Production Training with New Appointments/Promotions

With the appointment of five high profile industry leaders and four additional department promotions, Vancouver Film School (VFS) has stepped up its strategy for entertainment production training.

The new appointments announced by managing director Marty Hasselbach include:

Larry Bafia, head of 3D Animation & Visual Effects. Bafia previously served as a commercial animation director at PDI/DreamWorks, where he directed for Coca-Cola, Sega, Intel, Kraft, Circle K and Saturn. He also worked as sequence lead animator on ANTZ, BATMAN & ROBIN and A SIMPLE WISH.

Suzy Beugen-Bishop, head of Film Production. Joining VFS from her previous position of vp of production at NBC and Republic Pictures, and producer at Disney and NBC, she has made more than 75 films, including the Emmy award-winning mini-series SEPARATE BUT EQUAL, and the Golden Globe winner, ONE AGAINST THE WIND.

Joseph Gilland, head of 2D Animation and Digital Character Animation (Maya). Gilland brings close to three decades of experience to VFS, including working at Walt Disney Feature Animation, Don Bluth Animation and Nelvana. He served as visual effects supervisor for Disney's LILO & STITCH, as well as a special effects animator on POCAHONTAS and MULAN. Most recently, Gilland served as designer and supervisor for all 2D and 3D vfx on the television series SILVERWING, which is produced by Bardel Animation.

Charles Porlier, head of Make-Up Design for Film & Television. Porlier's list of credits includes X-MEN 2, THE SANTA CLAUS 1 & 2, THIRTEEN GHOSTS, MISSION TO MARS and JUMANJI. He recently earned a 2003 Emmy nomination for TAKEN and an Emmy award for the TNT movie DOOR TO DOOR.

Robert Grieve, head of Sound Design for Visual Media. An accomplished motion picture soundtrack designer for more than two decades, Grieve has won numerous awards, including a Genie, two Golden Reels and an Emmy. He also garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Sound on SILVERDO.

In terms of internal promotions:

Bill Marchant moves from head instructor to head of Department for Acting for Film & Television. Marchant has just completed directing his first feature film, EVERYONE.

Rob Gray has also been promoted from head instructor to head of Department for Writing for Film & Television and Interactive Media.

Jason Murphy assumes the role of head of Foundation Visual Art & Design. Prior to joining VFS, Murphy was project manager, creative director and art director at the Gemini award-winning CTV

Stephen Webster, recruited in January from Ireland to take on the role of head instructor, has been appointed head of Interactive Media. Webster brings formidable experience as creative director at Epionet, where his clients included Intel, Siemens and Bertelsmann (Germany).

Katherine Billings has been named VFS artistic director. In this newly created role, Billings will utilize the vision that she has so expertly employed as creative director for the acting, writing and make-up programs, and apply it throughout all 12 programs.

"The appointment of this new senior team will create a tighter alignment to industry expectations and standards," said Hasselbach. "This team will raise the quality of the student experience, providing VFS students with guidance from real artists. By attracting this caliber of talent to our faculty, we are well positioned to train a new generation of innovative, highly skilled storytellers."

VFS ( is a private, post secondary education facility based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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Bill Desowitz, former editor of VFXWorld, is currently the Crafts Editor of IndieWire.