Professor produces films in free time

Pictured above: Jason Knowles, visiting instructor of communication, digital arts and new media. (Tessa Castor/ Staff Reporter)

By Chandler Hall

Staff reporter

When he isn’t teaching, Jason Knowles, visiting instructor of communication, digital arts and new media, creates films.
He works on independent films, making sets around the country, and has experience on a professional film set. The professional set he worked on was a promo pilot episode for a television show. He has worked in television and 3D animation and had an internship in KTKA in Topeka.

Knowles’ film, “Relics of the Modern Vena,” won an award at the Hollywood Independent Motion Pictures Film Festival for best trailer in 2016. He has also been an official selection in seven festivals.

After seven years of research, Knowles and his partner Shawn Spears, a theatre director at a small college in central Missouri, started filming. They continue to work on a feature length project and a documentary.

Knowles said, “I am finishing up short films and hope to get them entered into a few festivals this semester.”

Knowles learned about Southwestern College in the past year and a half from researching to stay current on what the college media departments are doing.

He wanted to move back to Kansas to be closer to his parents, who are retired and need more help from family.

“I thought this would be a great fit,” Knowles said. “I’m glad I got the position here, because I think it is a very good fit.”
Michelle Boucher, associate professor of English, was on the team that hired Knowles.

“There were two teaching positions to fill,” said Boucher, who was open to combinations that would meet the needs to fill both positions.
There were 12 applications and out of those, three were interviewed.

“He had done filmmaking and video. He had taught in a similar program and similar classes offered here,” Boucher said. “He was excited about what he did. He likes being in Kansas. His research is in the Ozarks.”

These qualities made Knowles the prime candidate for the job.

Boucher likes that Knowles is refocusing video production programs, both the production of formal and informal video, that he is reestablishing the studio, and has a lot of skills with different equipment.

Knowles loves this area and his favorite restaurant is Biederman’s. “They have a great cobb salad there,” said Knowles.
Tanner Carlson, communication senior, is in one of Knowles’ courses this semester.

“Jason has done a lot in such a short amount of time. He has been extremely efficient and effective,” Carlson said. “In only a month or two, we are going to have more done in the studio and more upcoming projects than I’ve had in my two previous years here. I think that’s a testament to his determination and his want to help us.”

His goals for the department are to have a regular newscast going. He has bought a new switcher in order for that to be possible.

He wants to be involved with athletics to broadcast more games and create sports shows. Long term, he wants to have a full-fledged station. Knowles is the E-Sports advisor.

He hopes the team will win a bunch of competitions to put that program on the map.

On the film side, he wants to involve students in film projects, and to boost the number of students on the broadcasting side of the program in order to accomplish those goals.

Knowles teaches the gaming courses, digital sound, two video broadcasting courses, digital media, and 3D animation, which is one of his passions.

Next semester he is teaching a narrative film course.

“It’s a great school. The program has a lot of potential,” Knowles said. “I’d love to see that potential come into reality. I’d love to be a part of that.”

Knowles went to Kansas State University to sing in the concert choir and to study radio and television.

He transferred to Kansas University for filmmaking, to explore the imaginative side of creating video.
He earned his masters of education with an emphasis in instructional design from Emporia State University.
He earned an MFA in digital filmmaking (which is equivalent to a PHD in film) from the University of Central Arkansas.

Knowles has taught at Georgia Southern University and was the director of interdisciplinary film studies minor for about two years at Georgia Southern.

He helped coordinate course delivery and taught lighting and cinematography, post-production, and digital media writing.
Jason Knowles grew up in northeast Kansas in a town called Ozawkie. He is from a family of educators.
His father was a principal and his mother was a family and consumer scientist teacher.
In his free time, Knowles loves to play “Indiana Jones.” He loves to find old abandoned towns to research and photograph. He is into caving and he loves to ski in Colorado.

Chandler Hall is a sophomore majoring in communication. You may email him at

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