Theoria is a 23-week, non-profit program focusing on the timeless art of filmmaking. This innovative school focuses on screenwriting, acting, and directing with the belief that “beauty will save the world” (Dostoevsky). Students learn techniques, styles, and approaches that transcend time.



Five-time Emmy Award Winner Jonathan Jackson is the Associate Dean and Primary Instructor of Theoria School of Filmmaking. Jonathan has worked in the Film and Television industry nearly his whole life, with thirty years of experience in these fields as an actor, writer, director and composer. 


  • 5 Emmy Awards 
  • 3 Hollywood Reporter Young Star Awards  
  • Critic’s Choice Nominee for best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
  • Young Hollywood Award “Breakthrough Performance” for his Supporting Role in The Deep End of the Ocean
  • Author of “Mystery of Art”

As a filmmaker: 

  • Brooklyn Film Festival winner: “Best Narrative Short Drama” and the “Coen Brothers Award for Duo Filmmakers” for Crystal Clear

​As an actor:

  • Leading Role on General Hospital (1993-1999, 2009-2011)
  • Leading Role in Disney’s Tuck Everlasting
  • Supporting Role in Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia   
  • Supporting Role in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles   
  • Leading Role on Network Drama, Nashville (6 Seasons, 124 episodes) 

​Over the course of his career, Jonathan has worked alongside actors such as Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ben Kinsley, William Hurt, Sissy Spacek, Treat Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Linda Hamilton, Cillian Murphy, Judy Davis, Anthony Geary and Christopher Lloyd among many others. 

​With Directors and Producers such as Christopher Nolan, Jim Sheridan, Jay Russel, John Carney, Callie Khouri, Mick Garris, Ulu Grosbard, Steve Nicolaides, Frank Capra III and Marc Abraham 
Jonathan has also worked as a Consultant for “Masterpieces of Spiritual Cinema”

​If you are an artist who feels inspired to create profound works of art for the life of the world, submit your application for our consideration.


What: Orthodox Film Program w/ Jonathan Jackson
When: January 9 -June 30, 2023
Where: Murfreesboro, TN for 11 weeks and online for 12 weeks
How Much: Check the Tuition page


“Approaching the Mystery of Art”
“Acting in the Spirit”
“Parables of Light, Part One: The Art of Screenwriting”
“Parables of Light, Part Two: The Art of Directing and Filmmaking”
“The Mystery of Music in Film”
“Camera Boot Camp” 



Theoria College is led and taught by 5-time Emmy Award winner Jonathan Jackson. Mr. Jackson is present with the students on campus throughout the entire 11-week residency. After the residency, the program continues for another 12 weeks online while the students continue their work in the field. This 23-week program focuses on the timeless art of filmmaking. Close attention is given to filmmakers such as Andrei Tarkovsky, Terrence Malick, and Mel Gibson: true “poets of cinema”. Included with tuition, each student receives their own filmmaking backpack. This backpack includes all the items needed to begin making films. 7+ guest lectures are included to introduce the students to experts in their field. The Theoria program is unique in its approach, focus, and content. We focus on empowering the artistic and spiritual nature of the student by studying the timeless art of filmmaking.​


  • Cohorts start in January.​
    • 2023 Calendar: January 9-June 30
    • Semester 1: 11 weeks in person at the campus, full-time
    • Semester 2: 12 weeks online, once a week.
  • The program is 23 weeks long with a two-week Spring break at the end of April.
  • Students meet Tuesday through Friday from 10 AM to 4 PM local time with a one-hour break for lunch from 12-1 PM.
  • Mondays are free time for students to study, collaborate, and implement what they have learned. 

Confirmed Guest Speakers 2023

  • Jonathan Frakes (yes “Number One”)
  • Genie Francis
  • Clare Bowen
  • Bethany Joy Lenz
  • Scott Teems
  • Richard Lee Jackson


The 11-week residency takes place at St. Elizabeth Antiochian Orthodox Church in Mufreesboro, TN.


Except for Camera Boot Camp, all courses are taught by Mr. Jackson. Each course includes at least one guest lecture from an expert in the field. 

​“Approaching the Mystery of Art”
“Acting in the Spirit”
“Parables of Light, Part One: The Art of Screenwriting”
“Parables of Light, Part Two: The Art of Directing and Filmmaking”
“The Mystery of Music in Film”

​“Approaching the Mystery of Art” is a course on the spiritual vision of the Artist. This course is not focused on details of craft, but rather the orientation of the soul towards Beauty, Goodness and Truth. Once the student’s heart and mind are opened to the Mystery of Art, they can assimilate knowledge-of-craft, without diminishing Beauty or succumbing to vainglory. 

“Acting in the Spirit” focuses on the art of acting as a spiritual vocation. In this course, students will learn all the basic skills an actor needs to pursue his or her career in this field. Students will learn through lectures, scene studies, watching great performances on film—as well as shared personal stories and experiences from Emmy Award winner, Jonathan Jackson.  

​“The Art of Screenwriting” surveys the writing of a life-changing screenplay. Before light is captured and a film is made—the dream is written on paper. In this course, students will study some of the most influential screenplays and also walk through the process of creating their own parable of Light and Dark. 

​“The Art of Filmmaking” is a series on the craft and poetry of film. This course focuses on the art of directing—the spiritual vision of filmmakers such as Andrei Tarkovsky, Mel Gibson and Terrence Malick. Students will be immersed in the power of film as an artistic medium capable of transforming the lives of those who witness true works of art. This course will take future filmmakers from the page of a screenplay to the screen—where they will experience the vast landscape of what it takes to make a life-changing film. 

​“The Mystery of Music in Film” evaluates the role of music in film. Students will study some of the best original scores and learn how these compositions enhance the visual journey of a film. “The Mystery of Music in Film” explores themes of Silence, Anticipation and Transcendence. 

​”Camera Boot Camp” takes place during the first week of the program to equip students with a guerilla style of filming, also known in the industry as a “run and gun” style. Many documentaries have won awards using this style. Robert Rodriguez intentionally used this style with his El Mariachi series. Students will also study solving problems with creativity instead of money.

​The program includes several guest speakers. Here is a list of speakers from before (in alphabetical order)


The total cost of the 23-week program is $9,450. All required equipment and books are provided. Here is a breakdown of the cost.

Program, $9,450

  • Tuition
  • Filmmaking Backpack
  • Books

​Tuition Payment Schedule

  • Once accepted, a $1,000 non-refundable deposit is required within five days.
  • The remaining balance of is due by December 1st. If accepted on or after December 1st, the remaining payment is due within five days.


  • Housing is available through Theoria for the residency. Housing is $1,950 for the entire residency ($650 per month). Mark on the application if you are interested in housing.



Does The World Need Another Film School?

The answer to this question is “no” and “yes”. The world does not need another generic film school. There are many available throughout the world. However, there are no film schools (that I am aware of) with the central vision and purpose being the artistic and spiritual empowerment of its students; and certainly, none with an Orthodox, Patristic Vision of Art and Man’s relationship with Beauty.  

The vision of Theoria College of Filmmaking is to equip, inspire and prepare a generation of actors, writers and directors to create profound works of art for the life of the world. The great Russian novelist, Dostoevsky said, “Beauty Will Save the World”. What is this beauty? Is it not the Mercy of the Great Physician? The Suffering of the Most Excellent Artist? The Mysteries of the Eternal Poet? The Revelations of the Master of Story? In the Mystery of the Holy Trinity, the artist discovers the Story of the Divine-Martyr, the Hero of Heroes, the Suffering-Victory of the Logos. Walking the same path of self-emptying love for the world, the artist begins to experience synergy with the Holy Spirit and create genuine works of art.  

We are not preparing our students to preach, but to reveal; not to be polemical filmmakers—but poets of cinema. Theoria College is a place where craft and spirit meet and work hand in hand. Our dream is to equip young filmmakers with the vision, courage, faith and skill to make works of art in the tradition of Andrei Tarkovsky, Terrence Malick, Mel Gibson and Christopher Nolan. 

It has been said that “Theology cannot be taught—it can only be caught”. The same is true with art. Ultimately, it has to be “caught” and experienced personally, as a revelation. Therefore, Theoria’s primary goal is to create an atmosphere where this mystery can be glimpsed, caught and personalized in the lives of each student. 
Saint Porphyrios says, “For a person to become a Christian, he must have a poetic soul. He must become a poet.” The world cannot see Christ through ideology or intellectualism—but it can experience Him through poetry, parable and revelation. More than ever, the world needs Artists who possess an authentic vision and experience of Beauty. Is it not the same in our times, as it was in Christ’s? The world needs the Grace of Parables. 

Theoria College of Filmmaking is committed to the timeless vision of Beauty, Goodness and Truth. 

​~ Jonathan Jackson​


  • Theoria College of Filmmaking is a subsidiary of St. Athanasius of Academy of Orthodox Theology which was founded in the State of California in 1976 and is a registered non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
  • In 2021, the St. Athanasius Board voted to establish Theoria College of Filmmaking and designate Jonathan Jackson as the Associate Dean of the college. Theoria College was established to equip, inspire, and prepare a new generation of actors, writers, and directors.