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About the Teacher...

I was born and raised in Downers Grove, Illinois, a small suburb near Chicago.  As a young student I spent many years playing French horn in orchestras and composing classical music. I attended the Berklee College of Music and graduated in May 2000 with a degree in Film Scoring.

In my first few years in Los Angeles I worked really hard and had luck finding jobs as a freelance music editor in the film and television industry.  I got to work with several of my heroes including John Williams, Danny Elfman, Tim Burton, James Cameron, and Steven Spielberg.  It was while I was working on Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones that I began to feel that something was missing.  I just wasn't happy with the work even though there wasn't a better gig in town!  After some soul searching I realized teaching was my calling.  I told Ken Wannberg and John Williams who were so sweet and supportive of my decision and allowed me to continue working with them on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban while I took my credentialing classes.  


I ended up finding a job as an English and history teacher at Millikan Middle School and Performing Arts Magnet in Los Angeles.  I began making documentary films during summer vacation and soon after, I began to develop a filmmaking program for the students that developed into the Cinematic Arts Academy.  Something clicked into place and the program began to thrive.  My students were smart and dedicated.  They began to tell stories that were funny, clever, meaningful, passionate, and profound.  By 2017 the Cinematic Arts Academy had won countless awards all over the world.  My students participated as festival jurors traveling as far as Italy and Australia for international film festivals.  

In the fall of 2017 I published Teaching the Art of Filmmaking in an attempt to share what I had learned with other film teachers.  A really sweet article was written about my program in Los Angeles Magazine.  With the Cinematic Arts Academy established and thriving I found myself wanting to pass the baton to a new teacher and begin a new chapter in my life.

In 2018 I began working with high school students at St. Margaret's Episcopal School in San Juan Capistrano and also joined the Board of Directors for the National Film Festival for Talented youth. It's been really rewarding to work with older filmmakers and build a new program from the ground up.



Adobe Certified Associate in Digital Video Using Adobe Premiere Pro

Career Technical Education (CTE) Credential

Multiple Subject Credential 


Karen Bennett

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