Our Faculty

Photo of Celik Kayalar

Celik Kayalar, PhD: Founder and Director of "Film Acting Bay Area"
Director / Actor / Producer / Instructor

Celik writes, directs and produces independent films and plays. His first digital short-film "For the Love of Dance" played at local festivals in the San Francisco Bay Area. One of his latest short-film "The Valiant" has been playing at festivals, nationally. Celik's feature-length film "Moonlight Sonata" which he wrote, directed and executive-produced in 2009 features 22 FABA acting-students in speaking roles. It's been accepted to 13 film festivals (US and International) and won 4 prestigious awards:

  • Gold Kahuna Award for "Excellence in Filmmaking" at Honolulu International Film Festival;
  • "Most Memorable Movie" Award at Eugene International Film Festival;
  • Platinum Reel Award for "Excellence in Filmmaking" at Nevada Film Festival, and
  • "Outstanding Cinematography" Award at Sacramento International Film Festival.

Celik's most recent narrative short-film "99%" can be watched at: www.the99percentmovie.com. It already played at two festivals; Studio City and IFQ (where it won the Best Narrative Award) and is short-listed for a Webby Award in May (Equivalent of Oscars for the internet). It will play at the Maryland International Film Festival in April. The film's large cast includes many FABA acting students and four FABA faculty (sixteen in speaking roles and thirty-five in non-speaking roles).

His latest documentary short-film he directed, shot and edited, "Valentin Popov: FACE" has recently played at Sonoma; Albany; and Sacramento International Film Festivals.

Also trained as an actor, Celik recently acted in feature-films "9@Night"; "Presque Isle" and "Take" (by Cannes and Sundance-Winner and FABA faculty, Rob Nilsson); "A Leap to Take" which Celik also produced is now available as video-on-demand at FANDOR (fandor.com). His other roles include those in feature-films such as "Razors Ring" (by Morgan Hampton); "Around June" (by James Savoca); "Two Mothers" (by Jeremiah Birnbaum); "Love on Line" (by Bernadette McCarthy) and in numerous short-films.

His on-stage acting credits include "Couch" (which he wrote, directed and produced at Shelton Theater in San Francisco and Ruby Theater in Hollywood); "Death and the Maiden"(Mystic Bison); "Dirty Story" (Actors Theatre of San Francisco) and "Our Town" (The Playhouse, San Francisco).


Photo of Brian Degan Scott

Brian Degan Scott: Associate Director
Actor / Director / Producer / Instructor

Brian has been a professional actor (SAG, AFTRA, AEA), director and producer in film, television and on stage for many years. He has been teaching film and stage-acting in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles for more than twenty years at a number of prestigious acting schools including the Jean Shelton Acting School, the Daedalus Studio, Mark Monroe Acting Lab, San Francisco State University and the San Francisco School for Digital Film. He also is a well known dialect coach and public speaking teacher.

His film credits include the CBS Movie of the Week "Johnnie Mae Gibson FBI", "Want", the cult classic "Killer Klowns From Outer Space", "Torn" and "Moonlight Sonata". In 2011, he won Best Actor in a Feature Comedy at "The Best Actors (in a) Film Festival" for his lead-role in "Nominated" (which he also co-produced and edited). "Nominated" also featured a number of FABA students and faculty in supporting and non-speaking roles. Television appearances include principle roles on "Trauma", "Nash Bridges", "Hearts Afire", "Renegade", "Midnight Caller" and "The Evidence".

In addition, Brian has appeared in numerous industrial films and theatrical productions locally as well as in Los Angeles. He recently appeared in the critically acclaimed "Our Lady of 121st Street", "The Fantasticks", "Coraline" and "Abraham Lincoln's Big Gay Dance Party" at the SF Playhouse which went on to win "Best of the Fringe" at the New York International Fringe Festival.

Stage Directing credits include "Picasso at the Lapin Agile", "Zero Positive", "Geography of a Horse Dreamer", "The Hothouse" and "House of Blue Leaves" which was nominated for a Bay Area Critics Circle Award. Film directing credits include "The Suitcase", "The Gatherers" and "One El Camino" which he wrote, directed and produced in his Advanced Film Acting classes.

He recently launched a training and resource blog "Film Actors Café" giving advice and information about the many facets of the acting business.

Photo of Celia Shuman

Celia Shuman
Actor / Instructor

An accomplished performer (SAG, AFTRA, AEA) in film, television, theatre and commercials for over 27 years, Celia rounds out her professional expertise as a teacher, director and corporate trainer. In addition to numerous independent and industrial films, on-camera credits include an upcoming role in the new Clint Eastwood movie, "Hereafter", Pixar's "The Incredibles", "Moonlight Sonata" (by Celik Kayalar),"Midnight Caller", "Nash Bridges", the CD-ROM game "Top Gun".

She is the recipient of a Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award for creating the role of "Jackie-O" in Magic Theatre's "The House of Yes". Other principle theatre venues include ACT, Berkeley Rep, San Jose Rep, Marin Theatre Company, Theatreworks and Center Rep. Her credits include development of new works with award winning playwrights Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, Charles Mee, Michelle Carter, Barbara Dameshek and in the musical and dance realm, Joe Goode, Janine Tesori, and Theatreworks New Works Festival. Her recording credits include on the first ever cast album recording of Kurt Weill's "Happy End", with musical direction by award winning Konstantine Kitsopolus.

Celia holds a BFA in Acting with High Honors from Pennsylvania State University. She has also worked in New York and Los Angeles. She was both founding member and instructor at Full Circle Productions in San Francisco and the San Francisco School of Digital Filmmaking. Her expertise includes teaching advanced film acting, commercials and auditioning for the camera. Celia's well- rounded background influences her technique-based teaching style, creatively drawing from many artforms and styles to challenge her students to achieve self-sufficiency on the set.

Photo of Karla Acosta

Karla Acosta
Actor / Director / Instructor

Karla has worked as a performer for various Bay Area theater companies such as Shotgun Players, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, and Alter Theater, and will soon be appearing in a production for Crowded Fire Theatre this spring. She has performed overseas in the Philippines and for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland as well.

Karla has spent the past 14 years as a performer, teaching artist, and (currently) a director for Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre Programs in Northern California. She holds a BA in Drama and graduated with high honors from San Francisco State University.

Photo of Barbara Scott

Barbara Scott
Actor / Director / Instructor

Always in great demand as one of the best improv instructors in the country, Barbara has been performing in theatre and film for over twenty-five years. She is a company member of the award-winning BATS Improv, and a founding member of the internationally acclaimed improvisation ensemble True Fiction Magazine.

Barbara has toured with improv groups and conducted master classes across the US, Europe and Asia. Steven Winn of the SF Chronicle has called her gifted "and a reliable source of inspired invention."

Photo of Greg Hubbard

Greg Hubbard
Actor / Director / Casting Director / Instructor

Greg Hubbard has almost twenty years of professional theatre and film experience with work as an actor, director, casting director and teacher. His acting credits include plays with Shakespeare Santa Cruz, PCPA, Berkshire Theatre Festival and many others in New York and across the country, as well as numerous commercials, industrials and independent films.

In the Bay Area, Greg has taught with many theatres and schools, including the MFA Program at American Conservatory Theater, California Shakespeare Festival, the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Marin Theatre Company, Marin Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, TheatreWorks, Kids on Camera and the New Conservatory Theatre Center.

Greg has a BFA in Acting from the University of California at Santa Barbara and an MFA in Directing from the Professional Director Training Program at Ohio University. Local directing credits include productions of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, The House of Blue Leaves, A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Country Wife. As the casting director for Calaveras Repertory Theatre in Milpitas, Greg cast such shows as King Lear, Waiting for Godot, The Tempest, Our Country's Good and The Merchant of Venice. Until recently, Greg was the Associate Casting Director at American Conservatory Theater. Greg regularly coaches many talented stage- and film-actors for auditions and career planning.

Photo of Jessica Heidt

Jessica Heidt
Director / Actor / Casting Director / Instructor

Jessica is a highly accomplished, multiple award-winning director, producer, actor and acting instructor. She's been the Associate Artistic Director, as well as the Casting Director (9 years) of the "Magic Theatre," where she directed several world premiere productions. She is currently the Artistic Director of "Climate Theater" in San Francisco, where she most recently directed The Bright River by Tim Barsky.

As a casting director, Jessica is in constant demand for feature-films and plays produced by numerous companies in the Bay Area, such as the Aurora Theater in Berkeley, Reflective Films, and Z Space Studios. She is also a casting consultant at Pixar (Emeryville).

She teaches acting, directing and audition techniques at various prestigious colleges in the Bay Area.


Photo of Jennifer Stuckert

Jennifer Stuckert
Drama Therapist / Actor / Director / Instructor

Jennifer Stuckert is an actor, writer, director, and drama therapist. She received her BFA in acting from NYU and her MA in counseling psychology from CIIS in San Francisco.

She practices drama therapy at the Living Arts Counseling Center, where she works with individuals and couples and facilitates Transform Your Life Script drama therapy groups.

As an actor, some of her favorite roles include "Sam" in the feature film Alarmed, “Carly” in Reasons to Be Pretty and "Alma" in Honey Brown Eyes at SF Playhouse, and "Peggy" in Pleasure and Pain and "Claire" in The Long Christmas Ride Home at the Magic Theatre. Her plays include What Evie Wants, Far From Home, and the solo-show Taming the Wolf. She develops and directs autobiographical therapeutic theatre, and she recently directed Finding the Michaels, which performed at the Marsh Rising Series in San Francisco and off-Broadway at the United Solo Festival and Estrogenius in New York.

At "Film Acting Bay Area", she'll teach the novel "Rehearsal for Life" Class, starting Fall 2013.

Photo of Rob Nilsson

Rob Nilsson
Director / Producer / Actor / Instructor

Rob Nilsson directed 30 feature-length films to date. He won the Camera d'Or at Cannes for NORTHERN LIGHTS and the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival for HEAT AND SUNLIGHT. He is the first American film director to have won both awards.

He is also the creator of the Direct Action style of digital filmmaking taught in the Tenderloin yGroup Actor's Ensemble, San Francisco and featured in workshops conducted around the world. Nilsson is a pioneer in the techniques of video to film transfer which led to today's digital revolution. In 1985 SIGNAL 7 was the first small format video feature to be blown up to film and distributed around the world.

Seven of Nilsson's 9@NIGHT film series, nine Direct Action digital features cast from the yGroup, STROKE (2000), SINGING (2000), SCHEME C6 (2001) and NEED (2004), PAN (2006), USED (2007) and GO TOGETHER (2007 had their World Premieres at the Mill Valley International Film Festival. ATTITUDE had its World Premiere at the Hong Kong International Film Festival in 2003 and NOISE at the Virginia Film Festival in October, also in 2003.

His more recent awards include the Ted M. Larson Award for "outstanding contributions to the film industry" from the Fargo International Film Festival, the Indie Pioneer Award from the Kansas City Filmmaker's Jubilee, Filmmaker of the Year award from the Silver Lake Film Festival, Los Angeles, Milley Award from the city of Mill Valley for achievement in the Arts, and San Francisco Critics Circle Marlon Riggs Award. The Moscow International Film Festival held a retrospective of his films in June, 2011. In November, Solzhenitsyn inspired "Russia Abroad" Film Festival gave the Moscow Press Prize to Nilsson's recent feature film "Steppes".

Photo of Hester Schell

Hester Schell
Author / Director / Actor / Casting Director

Hester has taught film-acting at De Anza College, Notre Dame de Namur University, SF School of Digital Filmmaking and Film Arts Foundation. She is the creator of The Directors' Retreat: Working with Actors, a weekend intensive for directors. Speaking engagements include The British Film Institute, University Film and Video Association, Indie-Club, the Connecticut Screen Writers Association and the San Francisco Black Film Festival. Hester in the author of highly acclaimed book "Casting Revealed: A Guide for Film Directors"(available at amazon.com).

She is currently writing and directing a pilot for episode TV, Colony Collapse. Her original plays and screenplays include: Colony Collapse, The Dark Room, Soul's Messenger, and A Cup Of Coffee, written for the New England Russian Theatre Festival.

Directing credits: Provincetown Playwrights Festival, New England Russian Theatre Festival. Shorts: Ju$T Under A Million (narrative comedy), which premiered at the Beverly Hills High Definition Film Festival and airing on cable in Austin, Dallas and Atlanta on the Hottv channel.; Blankets for Afghanistan (documentary) broadcast through Free Speech TV. Other film festivals include: Cannes, Cinequest, San Francisco International Film Festival, Rochester and Boston Film Festivals and others.

Hester's education includes: Master of Fine Arts: University of Utah; Bachelor of Arts: Portland State University; Associates of Arts: American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. Conservatory training: Trinity Square Repertory Theatre Conservatory, Providence, Rhode Island.

Photo of Zehra Berkman

Zehra Berkman
Actor / Instructor

In her film and stage acting career spanning 20 years, Zehra has been recognized by the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle with a "best actress" award. She has been showcasing her acting talents in an array of dramas, musicals, and in her favorite roles, comedies. She is a company member and regular performer for the local and highly acclaimed Shotgun Players. She has also performed for the Aurora Theatre Company, Center Rep, Magic Theatre, and the San Francisco Playhouse, Her numerous film roles include a lead in the feature film "One Half Gone" and a supporting role in "Nominated".

On film-sets, Zehra has consistently received praise as a highly skillful script supervisor, as well as an assistant director, production assistant and other key, behind-the-camera positions.

Her passion for teaching is a natural extension of her dedication to the performance arts. For many years, she has received accolades for her teaching young acting students at the Ann Arbor Public Schools in Michigan, and more recently, as a Teaching Artist, at the Berkeley Rep Outreach Program.