Theoria is a non-profit program focusing on the timeless art of filmmaking. This innovative program 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 Institute 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.


On hold due until further notice.

What: Orthodox Film Program w/ Jonathan Jackson
When: May 21 – September 5, 2024, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3 PM Eastern. Sessions are 2-3 hours long, with a break in the middle.
Where: Online (live) through September. An optional one-week residency will be filmed at the end.
How Much: We have two options: 1) $4,900 live online interaction with Jonathan with a maximum capacity of 18 students. 2) $1,500 to audit (no live interaction, some asynchronous Q&A). The optional residency for $2,000 (double occupancy) has a maximum capacity of SEVEN STUDENTS. Room and board are included. The residency will occur in the greater Nashville, TN, area in September 2024.
Special Note: All sessions, including the residency, will be recorded and edited into a self-study program for future students. All current students and alumni are invited to participate in the pre-production, production, and post-production of the new program.

*Until further notice, this is the final cohort.


“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”



Theoria Institute is led and taught by 5-time Emmy Award winner Jonathan Jackson. Mr. Jackson is present with the students throughout the entire program. This 4-month 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.” A minimum of five 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.​


  • Early Bird Application: January 15th, 2024 (priority acceptance rate)
  • The next cohort starts May 21, 2024.
  • The optional residency will take place in September 2024.
  • Students meet two nights a week online for the whole four months. For homework, two to three films a week will be assigned plus a written reflection.

Previous Guest Speakers

  • Clare Bowen
  • Bethany Joy Lenz
  • Scott Teems
  • Richard Lee Jackson
  • Steve Burton
  • Anthony Geary
  • Timothy Patitsas, Ph.D.
  • Professor Tobias Pontara, Ph.D.
  • Professor Roger Stritmatter, Ph.D.
  • Richard Ramsey
  • Peter Strayer
  • Michael Grant
  • Stephanie-Katherine Grant
  • Anna Cumacheva
  • Lisa Vultaggio Jackson


The entire program is online. For 2024, we are not offering an in-person program. The optional residency will take place in the Nashville area.


Mr. Jackson teaches all courses. Each course includes at least one guest instructor.

​“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. 


The total cost of the program for a traditional student is $4,900. There are 18 spots available.

We also offer an “audit” option for $1,500. Auditing allows access to the live sessions and recordings but does not include live interaction with Jonathan and the students. Asynchronous Q&A takes place outside of class time through messaging and email.

The optional residency, with only seven spots available, is $2,000. These seven spots are only available to students. The seven spots are not available to auditors.

​Tuition Payment Schedule

  • Once accepted, a $1,000 non-refundable deposit is required within ten days.
  • The remaining balance of is due by April 21st. If accepted on or after April 21st, the remaining payment is due within five days.


  • Housing (double occupancy) and food is provided during the optional residency. Single occupancy, if available, will require a surcharge.



Does The World Need Another Film Program?

The answer to this question is “no” and “yes”. The world does not need another generic film program. There are many available throughout the world. However, there are no film programs (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 Institute 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 Institute 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 Institute of Filmmaking is committed to the timeless vision of Beauty, Goodness, and Truth. 

​~ Jonathan Jackson​


  • Theoria is an enrichment program of St. Athanasius College 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 the Theoria Institute of Filmmaking and designate Jonathan Jackson as the lead instructor. Theoria was established to equip, inspire, and prepare a new generation of actors, writers, and directors.