Hollywood Actors Michael Welch and Travis Hammer to Star in SFUAD Student Films

Date published

The fourth annual Shoot the Stars!® invites Hollywood actors to star in short films written, directed and produced by SFUAD film students

Media Contact:

Lauren McDaniel


Santa Fe, N.M.—November 18, 2015—The Film School at Santa Fe University of Art and Design (SFUAD) is hosting actors Michael Welch and Travis Hammer on campus Nov. 16–20 for the fourth annual Shoot the Stars!®, a program that immerses students in fully professional pre-production, production and post-production workflow alongside renowned industry mentors. Hammer and Welch will play lead characters in two student-written, -directed, -produced and -edited short films, “Hate Me Gently” and “Karkutong.”

Welch is best-known for the “Twilight” saga, playing lead character Bella’s (Kristen Stewart) most steadfast high school friend, Mike Newton. Because of the success of “Twilight” Welch makes the rounds of Comic Cons and other fan conventions, and Twilight memes (‘How you likin’ da rain, gurrrrlll?’) featuring the character of Mike populate the web. Welch has also been a regular in the SyFy Network series “Z-Nation” and has racked up guest appearances on episodes of “Scandal,” “Grimm,” “NCIS: New Orleans,” and “CSI: NY” and a host of other series. He was also one of the leads in the feature “Boys of Abu Ghraib” and is now starring in the currently filming “Significance” (a television movie and ‘backdoor pilot’ based on the popular Shelly Crane fantasy fiction series). In total, Welch is credited in 88 productions to date. He will be playing character Ellis in the drama “Hate Me Gently” and Vinnie in the comedy “Karkutong.”

Hammer has been one of the regulars on the television series “Manhattan” (shooting on the SFUAD campus), and will soon be seen in the HBO reboot of “Westworld” and the blockbuster sequel “Independence Day: Resurgence.” Previous credits in the last 24 months include TV series “True Detective,” “The Leftovers,” “Dig,” “The Night Shift,” “Killer Women,” and “Criminal Minds,” along with feature films “The Lone Ranger” and “Frank.” Hammer will be playing Harold in the drama “Hate Me Gently” and George in the comedy “Karkutong.”

“We are honored to have Travis Hammer and Michael Welch join Season 4 of Shoot the Stars! and share their experiences and talent with our students,” said Chris Eyre, chair of The Film School at SFUAD. “This annual program enables our students to work in real-world Hollywood production scenarios, giving them a leg up in the profession when they graduate from Film School. Other departments continue to collaborate with the Film School during Shoot the Stars! as well, including the Contemporary Music Program for original songs, to wardrobe and background actors from the Performing Arts Department, and set design development and support from the Graphic Design Department.”

Film major Alvie Hurt wrote the screenplay for the lively contemporary comedy “Karkutong” and senior Zoe Dahmen will direct. Dahmen previously served as producer on Season 1’s “Max Dangerous” and wrote the screenplay for Season 2’s “Dead Celebrity.” Students Will Gallegos and Kim Blacknall will serve as producers, with Matt Villescas as Director of Photography. Moody neo-noir drama “Hate Me Gently” was written by Creative Writing major Michaela Rempel and will be directed by junior Aly Castro, a Robert Redford/Milagro Initiative Scholar. Students DeAndre Montoya and Jeff Keas will produce and Nate Regier will serve as Director of Photography.

Beyond Welch and Hammer, several local actors will also be involved in the productions, including Ryan Jason Cook, Bridget Kelly, Kristen Rakes, Jackamoe Buzzell, Sam Quinn and more. Professional mentors from the film industry participate across all major departments, including cinematography, directing, grip and electric, production, sound, and hair and makeup. SFUAD students will create a number of promotional videos and “behind-the-scenes” mini-documentaries to support the Shoot the Stars! productions.

During previous seasons of Shoot the Stars!, SFUAD students worked closely with Jordana Spiro (The Mob Doctor, Trespass and Dexter), Richmond Arquette (Se7en, Fight Club and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Laura Harring (Mulholland Drive, Gossip Girl, The Shield), John Diehl (Miami Vice, Scandal, Jurassic Park III), Wes Studi (Avatar, The Last of the Mohicans and Dances With Wolves), as well as top Canadian independent film and TV actor Luke Kirby (Take This Waltz, also starring Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen). Films produced during the previous seasons of Shoot the Stars! have gone on to show in the Coachella Valley’s AMFM Fest and the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival; additionally, Season 3’s “The Disposables” has garnered some 54,000 hits on YouTube through mid-November, 2015 and recently won “Best Comedy Short” at the Gallup Film Festival in New Mexico.

To see trailers and other promotional videos for Season 1, Season 2 and Season 3 of Shoot the Stars! visit the SFUAD website or

About The Film School at SFUAD

The Film School at Santa Fe University of Art and Design offers a relevant, hands-on BFA curriculum that emphasizes production skills, business savvy and storytelling across multiple film and video platforms. Films such as True Grit and Cowboys & Aliens and TV dramas such as Longmire have been shot at the university’s Garson Studios, where students have the opportunity to intern on professional productions on two motion picture soundstages—at 14,000 and 7,500 square feet. The Film School also has its own 2,200-square-foot soundstage and green screen. The Screen, a popular destination within the Garson Communications Center, shows some of the greatest works of world cinema daily for students and the public.

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