After years of working in the theater, television, and film industries, Aaron Daniel (AD) Annas, recently took on a new role. The assistant professor of communication who joined Buffalo State in 2015 now serves as director of the college’s television and film arts program.
“I feel like my background in musical theater, stage acting, and film prepared me for this,” he said. “I love storytelling regardless of the medium. Now, my job is to help students tell their stories.”
Annas succeeds founding TFA director Jeffrey Hirschberg who oversaw the program since its inception in 2006. Hirschberg stepped down last summer in order to spend more time on his personal writing projects, including a debut novel.
During his stint as director, Hirschberg took students annually to the Toronto Film Festival, instituted the TFA Semester in New York City, shepherded the student-run TFA annual Night at the Oscars, and helped students obtain more than 100 entertainment industry internships. He remains a TFA professor.
“I’m so proud of how TFA has evolved and the caliber of students we’ve been able to attract to the program,” Hirschberg said. “I have full confidence that Aaron Daniel will continue to lead this important program in the best way possible.”
Originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, Annas received a master of fine arts degree in Independent Film and Digital Imaging from Governors State University in 2011. He worked in Chicago in television post-production roles for networks including the National Geographic and History channels and TVONE. He’s also made and continues to make independent films.
Since joining this faculty, Annas has designed a new film festival class and taught a range of courses within media production and TFA.
“One of the coolest parts of the job is getting to work with other departments and to hear what students are doing in creative writing and theater, to see how these collaborations work,” he said. “We’re tweaking required and elective courses to allow students to have more experiences among the three departments—English, theater, and communication—that come together to create TFA,” he said.
Annas plans to double the TFA program from its current admission of 15 students over the next three years.
“We will still be just as selective, but through new recruiting efforts we plan to double our application pool and eventually double our admission to 30 students per year,” he said. “We have such a nice mix of students overall. They are all dedicated and committed. I believe we have one of the highest retention rates of any major on campus.”
Other changes include an optional trip for TFA students to attend the Cannes Film Festival in France and a TFA Visiting Artists Series. The annual series was kicked off October 15 with alumna and Emmy-winning producer Marcie Mulé who addressed the #TimesUp and gender/minority issues in Hollywood.
“Students were so excited to talk face to face with an alum currently ‘making it’ in the industry they plan to enter,” Annas said. “In addition to her lecture, Mule’ visited classes for two days. After every talk, students lined up to ask questions and thank her for her encouragement.
“I look forward to sharing a professional’s perspective every year with our students. It’s invaluable insight.”
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