Sandy Stone Documentary & National Women’s Hall of Fame Induction


I (joey) had the pleasure of helping Girl Island‘s Austin, TX shoot for the Sandy Stone documentary. I worked with Director Marji Vecchio and Danielle Holke to develop a production crew for the shoot in addition to their DP, Shuling Yong. Through the Convergent Media network I was able to get 3 generations of film makers to come and help! Alazar Asrat, graduate of the A&M Media & Gaming Lab student and now co-owner of 2am Productions, UIW Convergent Media graduate Than Niles of Big Ballon Productions and UT Professor Emeritus Andrew Garrison who is an independent filmmaker. We were rounded out by Daniel Leonard, key grip of the shoot based out of Austin. The interview space was made possible by Fredrick Luis Aldama, Director of the LatinX Pop Lab at the University of Texas at Austin. The space was amazing!

Over the multi day shoot I had the helped out with the production by providing equipment and my own services.

I also had the privilege of being interviewed as part of the documentary, I figured I should at least get a 1 second cameo if all goes well.

A second location at a community house space was hosted by Shanta Stevens in Northeast Austin where b-roll and additional interviews were conducted.

The whole experience really took me back, while it was a lot of work, I got to see a lot of Sandy and catch up and jojo, my son got to see her as well, which he had met her when he was 1 year old, so this definitely a chance for him to have a memorable interaction, or at least one for myself to get more photos of.

It was also a time that caused me to reflect on my time and experience with the ACTLab, the Convergent Media Collective and the now the Media & Gaming Lab.

I got to hear ACTLabber’s, aka past ACTLab students/community members, talk about the good ol days, the experiences and the programs they would go on to participate in. It also made me sad because so many reflected on the ACTLab as if nothing was left of it. Which is understandable from their point of view, the program ended in 2010 when I graduated and Sandy retired and became professor Emeritus from the University of Texas at Austin.

However, I assert that ACTLab spirit is still alive and being taught about and learned about, for three generations now, Sandy, myself and now Jonathan Guajardo, there have been programs in place embodying the ACTLab spirit and pedagogical approach to community building through Making Stuff, Taking Risks and Being Awesome, aka the tenets of the ACTLab.

I will say it was inspiring to hear what all the ACTLabber’s have been up to and what they are doing now. Vernon Reed, Honoria Starbuck and Heather Kelly are all teaching and carrying the spirit of the ACTLab with them. And of course it was great to reconnect with so many ACTLabbers, they are all up to such cool stuff. Rich MacKinnon has done so many ventures since leaving the ACTLab and one of his latest is just amazing to me, the Music City PrEP Clinic, an amazing medical resource for Tennessee. Jon Lebkowsky is immersed in the Austin tech scene with his Plutopia Network and support of EFF Austin. Brandon Wiley Ph.D.’s latest venture is Operator Foundation. “Operator makes useable tools to help people around the world with censorship, security, and privacy.” It was cool to see so many people have different projects and initiatives going on that are public good projects and immersed in technology, art and activism. I could go on and on.

A fun side note is that whenever I make it out to Austin, I always make an effort to go see some car folks and on this one I was able to take jojo to go see Zohair at Boost Logic and see some high end builds. A great moment for sure!

After the shoot, I will admit I was tired and worn out, I had done a lot of driving back and forth from Austin to Bryan, TX where we live. But I wanted to see Sandy more, so I traveled a couple times more, one time bringing William Connor Ph.D., TAMU PVFA Faculty, who I have been collaborating with for the past year. It was so great to get to see them interact and also watch Will and Knut Graf jam on eurorack synths and experimental instruments in general.

On another trip we (Corina, jojo and I) got BBQ with Honoria, Knut and Sandy, which was wonderful.

This shoot is something I will never forget and something I want documented here on the Convergent Media Collective website for others to hear about and know how much personal lineage has gone into preserving and upholding all that Sandy has contributed to rethinking how we learn at the collegiate level. How to build authentic community. How a community can build something greater than any single person and offer so much in so many different spaces when all are not expected to be the same, where difference is celebrated together. The ACTLab was not always run this way, but it has evolved over time and it is exciting to see where it will go next.

I think an ACTLab Conference 2024 or 2025 is in the cards for sure!

Last but not least, thank you Marji Vecchio for spear heading this whole effort, without your commitment to getting Sandy’s story told, none of this would have happened. You facilitated an amazing TAZ!

National Women’s Hall of Fame Induction

And finally, a HUGE congratulations to Sandy for being inducted to the National Women’s Hall of Fame, an amazing accomplishment! Check out the video!

Spring 2024 Write Up



This Spring 2024 is one for the books.  The Media & Gaming Lab hosted 3 conferences, multiple weekly workshops, meetings and helped other organizations with media production.  We onboarded a new social media crew.  Multiple Media & Gaming Lab students, faculty and community members hit personal goals as well.  Below you will find our documentation of this semester and all the cool happenings.  We hope you enjoy!  We will be around this summer as well, so if you want to get involved feel free to reach out to joey (

Hosted Conferences

The Media & Gaming Lab officially hosted three conferences this semester.  Through the help of so many (students, faculty, alumni & friends of the MGL), all three conferences were amazing and were great successes with more planned for the future.  

Synthposium (2/4)

On February 4th, 2024, the Texas A&M Media & Gaming Lab, along with faculty from the School of Performance Visualization and Fine Arts hosted Synthposium, an event which brought together local synthesizer enthusiasts, musicians, engineers and academics to discuss and explore the cultural and technical aspects of the art form. (Full Article)

Music & Movie Making in Texas Conference (2/24)

The 2nd annual Music and Movie Making in Texas Conference was a success this year.  With around 60 people in attendance on Saturday and over (get amount from Zayno) at the School of Performance Visualization and Fine Arts Friday concert at the Grand Stafford Theatre.  (Full Article)

Organized by the Texas A&M Media & Gaming Lab, the three main organizers were student Zayno Rayne, Professor Jonathan Guajardo and joey lopez phd.  We would like to thank them for all their hard work.

Storytelling in the 21st Century – Our Academic Selves – Conference, Spring 2024

Storytelling in the 21st Century – Our Academic Selves was a smash success. With roughly 70 attendees from all over central Texas, it was an amazing crowd of film makers, artists and academics showcasing their approaches to both teaching and practicing storytelling in the 21st century. The stories and lived realities shared by those about experiences inside and outside the classroom was inspiring and set an amazing tone for the conference. Below you will find a short summary of each presentation, along with photos and video that document them, we hope you enjoy them and can join us at next years conference. (Full Article)

Co-Hosted and Documented Conferences

LatinX BIPOC POP UT Austin (March 7th-10th)

BIPOC Pop 2024 was definitely a new perspective for me (joey phd).  Both times I came in the past I was highly involved with panels or workshops and definitely working on producing photos and video as primary content to document the event.  This time I attended as a co workshop leader and then just as an attendee.  It was much more of my “anthropologist hat on,” kinda attendance where I get to just sit and absorb what’s going on around me.  I spoke with a lot of different attendees, artists, academics, students, people from the community in general.  I went to some dinners and in general just took it all in.  This year’s blog post is definitely a reflective one. (Full Article)

Guadalupe Pop Up (March 25th)

Wheelz Studio and Dreamonoid’s HiFi hosted Guadalupe Pop Shop to celebrate the opening of Wheelz Studio, a barber shop located in co-owner of Dreamonoid’s Christian Rios’ 1711 Guadalupe building in San Antonio, TX.  Media & Gaming Lab director joey lopez is co-owner of the Dreamonoid’s HiFi and provided a full PA and lined up performers for the event.  (Full Article)

Afro Latinx Writing Symposium (2/29)

Hosted by the Glasscock Center, the Afro Latinx Writing Symposium was a continuation of programing from Fall 2024:

“In collaboration with faculty and graduate students from English, Africana Studies, GLAC, and Communications, this Spring the HLSS Initiative is organizing a 1-day symposium called “AfroLatinx Life and Writing” to bring together AfroLatinx artists and AfroLatinx studies scholars at both the senior and early-career phase. This event follows up the Fall event we supported, “Landscapes of Belonging” which provided poetry workshops from Raina J. León and Janel Pineda and a recital and open mic poetry space for TAMU faculty, students, and community members. This Spring symposium will go beyond scholarly panels. We plan to create a space for scholars and artists to be in conversation. Many of our invitees refuse the rigid division between scholarship and creativity. The event will include a conversation between scholars and artists about the art/scholarship divide, a recital/public reading, a panel on “The State of AfroLatinx Life and Writing,” and a discussion of Regina Mills’ forthcoming book, Invisibility and Influence: A Literary History of AfroLatinidades (Spring 2024 from University of Texas Press). For more information and a list of cosponsors, visit”

Connor and Dr. Joey Lopez were able to take photos and document the events that took place. 


Silent Disco

Media & Gaming Lab student Connor McKormick attend the College of Performance, Visualization and Fine Art’s Silent Disco where we captured the events moments and enjoyed some tunes himself.  We love supporting our colleagues and their ventures!


New Social Media Team Development

We are proud to announce we have a newly formed Social Media Duo (plus more joining) of Sasha and Connor!  At the beginning of the semester they teamed up at a meeting and began the back end work to develop a social media team for the Media & Gaming Lab.  Previous to this joey phd and then student Dr. Ramirez headed up the social media accounts.  It’s been amazing to watch our IG grow and coverage of our events and collaborator events show up all over social media.  Stay tuned for further initiatives from the Media & Gaming Lab Social Media Group.

Synth Workshop

joey phd and Kang hosted an audio and video synth workshop and got to give demos and have Media & Gaming Lab workshop attendees interact with the audio and video synth setup.  It was a great hands-on workshop, we hope to have more and also to journey over to PVFA’s Will Connor Ph.D. ‘s synth lab.

Gaming Analysis Meetup

Ph.D. student David Dockery has developed a Gaming Analysis Meetup.  This spring it was hosted on Wednesdays from 5-7pm.  David would provide snacks and Media & Gaming Lab attendees would come and play through videos games.  The titles they cover this spring was:

  • In Stars & Time
  • Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2
  • LA Noir
  • Mass Effect
  • Halo:  Combat Evolved
  • Star Wars: Jedi Outcast
  • Journey

We will continue to build interest in the Gaming Analysis Meet Up and we will also be developing more Gaming meetups in the fall so stay tuned!

Virtual Reality Initiative 

Thanks for Leo Garza for the push to start a Virtual Reality Initiative, Leo Garza and Connor McCormick have worked together, Leo securing 4 Meta Quest 2 head sets from engineering for the Media & Gaming Lab and Connor setting them up and preparing them to be used in the lab for testing and exploration of research topics and initiatives.  We are still working with IT to get the IOT (internet of things) wifi setup and are hopeful that by the end of the summer we will be full operational.

Skateboard Deck Art Project (cont.)

The Skateboard Deck Art Project is still in full swing with multiple Skateboards coming in this past semester and a few still out for the summer.  While this project has taken longer than anticipated to come together, we are excited to put a full gallery installation together for Fall of 2024.  Here are some sneak peeks of some of the boards we have so far.  

A special thanks to our artists submissions so far:

  • Clayton Bever
  • Duvalin
  • Grace Barr
  • Gabrien “Gabe” Deutsch
  • Jose M
  • Drew Tiritilli

Aggie Robotics Documentation

This semester we were approached by Evert of the Aggie Robotics team.  He asked if we could with their social media content and covering their world competition with them in Dallas, TX.  Connor McCormick volunteered and what has transpired is truly what our lab is all about.  Developing bonds with other organizations at a personal level and elevating each other’s profiles through experiential learning.  Check out some of the photos and videos on IG.  We look forward to seeing where this collaboration goes.

Podcasting Check In

Media & Gaming Lab podcast producer Professor Jonathan Guajardo has been working with students and facilitating multiple shows:

  • 12 Woman Podcast
  • The Passback
  • Climbing Zion, Catholic Podcast
  • Aggie SAMA, SAMA- cast

LSU Field Trip, Electric LaTex Student Music Conference 2024 (1/26-27)

Media & Gaming Lab collaborator Professor Will Connor of the College of Performance, Visualization and Fine Arts led students on a trip to LSU for a music conference:

“Over the weekend of January 26-27, 2024, students from the School of Performance, Visualization, and Fine Arts at Texas A&M University attended Electric LaTex, a student electronic and experimental music conference in Baton Rouge, LA, on the Louisiana State University campus. The event focuses on university students from Texas and Louisiana, and is hosted by those same universities on a rotating basis. The event gives the students in music and/or music technology schools or departments the opportunity to exhibit their new works and installations, perform improvised pieces, and present discussions on their compositional and creative processes.”

Electric LaTex Student Music Conference 2024

Media & Gaming Lab Member Accomplishments

  • Rick PulosRick Pulos – Ph.D. Candidate Rick Pulos completed his comprehensive exams this spring and is now headed to dissertating. We are very proud of all of Rick’s accomplishments. At the start of the year Rick collaborated with Will Connor on a short video for the Performance Studies faculty and Assistant Directed Sister Act: A Divine Musical Comedy at The Theatre Company of Bryan-College Station (TTC). At TTC, he started TTC Teaches, a low cost series of workshops aimed to inspire the BCS community to be creative and collaborate at the theatre. Not one to slow down, Rick joined Valentina Aduen’s documentary team on location in Texas during spring break. After completing his exam, Rick auditioned and was cast in the musical The Prom and went straight into rehearsals in April. And somehow he still managed to attend multiple Madonna concerts across the US! Rick’s dissertation will be on the Star Trek fandom and is tentatively titled “Gaaays in Spaaace: Queering, Diversifying, and Transforming the Fan Convention.” Live long and prosper and don’t let them assimilate you! 
  • Nathan Carr – We would like to congratulate Nathan Carr on his completion of his masters degree.  His final project was based around video games and mental health, which he presented at the spring Storytelling in the 21st Century – Our Academic Selves – Conference.  Nathan Carr has been an active member of the Media & Gaming Lab and is someone who has always offered ideas and feedback on projects and someone we have valued as a member.  Congratulations Nate!  
  • Valentina Aduen – Valentia Aduen has been hard at work this spring beginning  production on her documentary and research for her dissertation.  Valentina assembled a film crew and shot on location for her dissertation in east Texas; flying in participants for her documentary from around the U.S.  Here are some behind the scene photos of the production!  We are very proud of Valentina’s work, she had two opportunities this spring to present her work in progress.  Seeing her work come to life has been inspiring for us in the Media & Gaming Lab.
  • Jonathan Guajardo – In addition to teaching full time, professor Guajardo has been diligently working away on his Ph.D. at Texas Tech in Higher Education.  He is currently finishing up his course work and will be dissertating in the fall.  We are very proud of his accomplishments.  Additionally he has been producing multiple podcasts as mentioned above, he taught a hullabaloo course this year and has continually supported all the lab initiatives.  
  • Zayno Rayne – Congratulations to Zayno Rayne for completing his degree in Public Health Administration and graduating this spring!  Zayno joined our lab interested in music and as documented (click here), he has dove knee deep in it while also interning with MD Anderson.  We are so proud of Zayno and all his accomplishments! 

Media & Gaming Lab Award Announced

The inaugural Joey Lopez Award for Community building was awarded to joey lopez phd. In conversation and collaboration with current and former students, the annual award was created to recognize students, faculty, and staff who take the time to create community in the Department of Communication & Journalism through compassion and leadership. Joey’s award this year came with a booklet with quotes from current and former students that celebrated him as mentor, colleague, friend, and teacher.


This semester has been one of the busiest as of yet. The goal of the lab has been to facilitate creativity and community collaboration. As we have grown, it has been amazing to see so many diverse projects come to fruition. We are excited about next academic year, we have plans to host more conferences, workshops and reach out to local community organizations and university orgs and departments to collaborate on new projects and initiatives, so stay tune!

Storytelling in the 21st Century – Our Academic Selves – Conference, Spring 2024



Storytelling in the 21st Century – Our Academic Selves was a smash success. With roughly 70 attendees from all over central Texas, it was an amazing crowd of film makers, artists and academics showcasing their approaches to both teaching and practicing storytelling in the 21st century. The stories and lived realities shared by those about experiences inside and outside the classroom was inspiring and set an amazing tone for the conference. Below you will find a short summary of each presentation, along with photos and video that document them, we hope you enjoy them and can join us at next years conference.


Texas A&M University, Department of Communication & Journalism, Media & Gaming Lab

The Media Gaming Lab was presented by professor Jonathan Guajardo and graduate student Rick Pulos, they introduced the approach of lab in terms of facilitating student, faculty and community engagement. Then student Connor McCormick presented experience as a year student. Senior and graduating student Zayno Rayne gave a presentation about his experiences of wanting to be part of the music scene, to becoming a booking agent for the Grand Stafford Theatre in Bryan, TX. Doctoral student David Dockery then gave a presentation about gaming and personalized experiences of narratives and spoke about the lab’s facilitation of a weekly gaming meet up. Overall the presentation was well received, great questions fielded, check out the video for more.

University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown made their presence known at the 21st Century Storytelling Conference. Dr. Albert DeJesus, Dr. Anthony Ramirez, who are the co-directors of the Center for Latino Studies at the University of Houston-Downtown along with their student assistant Jasmin Rojas, brought various student organizations and alumni including Latinas Achieve, Conjunto Cultural Appreciation Group, and Que Onda Magazine. During the presentation, each group had an opportunity to share their experiences at UHD and their collaborative efforts with the Center for Latino Studies. What made this presentation special was how closely tied the group was. They called themselves “familia” or family. This was evident throughout the presentation as each presenter was very open and vulnerable while sharing their work, experiences, and more. During the Q&A portion of the presentation, led to a further discussion about Latinidad and identity with the audience as many of the audience members felt a connection to the presentation. This led to a very powerful emotional moment for everyone at the conference. It was a real honor and privilege for the University of Houston-Downtown’s Center for Latino Studies and our various student organizations to be at this conference. We hope to make this an on-going tradition. 


The keynote was presented by joey lopez phd and focused on the theme of the conference Storytelling in the 21st Century, Our Academic Selves. His presentation works through his own lived reality and how he uses storying telling as his way of publishing works.

Texas A&M University, Department of Communication & Journalism 

The Texas A&M Department of Communication & Journalism’s Graduate Program presenters were Dr. George Villanueva and Dr. Anna Wolfe. They both contextualized the program and it’s efforts to foster multimodal works, as well as provided insight into course work performed in their courses. Then Ph.D. students Rick Pulos and Valentina Aduen presented their multimodal works with a great response from the audience. Master student Nathan Carr presented on video gaming and it’s role in mental health and it’s impact on society.

Texas A&M University, College of Performance, Visualization & Fine Arts

Representing the School of Performance, Visualization, and Fine Arts, Dr. Michelle Simms reflected on her adjusted approach to teaching that she expanded to embrace a master-apprentice style model. Dr. Matthew Campbell went on to discuss project-based education, involving STEM students in liberal arts studies, and a festival supported by the PVFA Performance Studies program, Lorefest, in which students were charged to research local or glocal folklore, then take that research and creative a performative presentation with the information uncovered and gathered. Campbell’s argument being that an approach to exposing non-humanities students to the benefits of humanities research may be through the production of creative output related to that research. Dr. Will Connor wrapped up the panel with a discussion of teaching methodologies incorporating a traditional Presentation-Practice-Production model and Constructionism philosophy that encourages a personalization and therefore internalization of materials taught by inviting the students to build an asset based on the course material. In his case, Connor’s students build noise-making devices and musical instruments and performed with them in “real-world” settings to solidify connections and understandings of the related practices and cultures associated with the instruments.

Community Panel

Curated by professor joey lopez, the community panel consisted of three unique individuals who practice community building through art in varying ways. Than Niles presented about his journey of community building as a film maker and then showed a trailer to one of his films that was suppose to be released right when COVID occured, he ended up working with the San Antonio Food Bank to put together a drive in theater experience which raised funds for the food bank. Then Victoria Snaith gave an amazing “academic self” performance jamming and riffing on the presentations and her own lived reality, bringing an energy and breath to the space that thespians are so good at doing! Inspired by the artists before him, Ernesto Cuevas seized the opportunity to expand upon the energy and incorporated some of Dr. William Connors presentation to do perform a live mural building exercise using the whiteboard and volunteers. What was created were intermodal works of art that built community and meaning through the sharing of symbols and their meanings. Check out the video:

Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, Film Production Program

Professors Gabriel Duran, John Darbonne, alongside student Sara Carlson, delivered an enlightening presentation on TAMUCC’s Advanced Narrative Pedagogy. Professor Duran provided a comprehensive insight into the Advanced Narrative Film course, a distinguished 4000-level program meticulously crafted to immerse students in real-world film production scenarios. From the intricate art of casting to the nuanced orchestration of crew dynamics, and from the meticulous management of budgets to the seamless coordination of departments, this course stands as the bedrock of professional filmmaking education.

Expanding on this discourse, Professor Darbonne underscored the collaborative ethos of the curriculum, underscoring how students actively engage with complementary courses such as Advanced Editing. As a unified department, the goal is to amalgamate diverse talents into a singular project, pooling resources and expertise with the audacious ambition of clinching a nomination for the revered Student Academy Awards. This collective endeavor not only marks the pinnacle Capstone project for the department but also serves as a testament to the university’s unwavering commitment to nurturing cinematic excellence.

During the presentation, TAMUCC student Sara Carlson, who is enrolled in both Advanced Narrative and Advanced Editing, shared her firsthand experiences as the project lead. She elaborated on the challenges encountered and the invaluable lessons gleaned from participating in a class structured to mirror real-world environments. Following the presentation, an engaging Q&A session ensued, with attendees eagerly seeking insights into the implementation and outcomes of such an immersive educational approach.


joey concluded the conference speaking about building community and reflecting on our own journey’s and how they impact each other.

What’s Next?

Our take away’s from this conference is that we are definitely having another! We have begun working on one to take place in San Antonio, TX. We will see where that goes, our hope is to include k-12 and higher education alternative pedagogically based programs. So stay tuned!