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SSOF Judging Panel

The Palm Beaches Student Showcase of Films has assembled a panel of industry professionals from around the globe to judge the 29th Annual SSOF

Categories:
Scholarship | High School Feature | College Feature | Documentary | Music Video | Animation | Environmental PSA | Commercial PSA | Tourism PSA | Poster Design | Screenwriting 


Burt Reynolds Scholarship


 

Frank Eberling is a multi-award-winning film and television Writer, Producer, Director, and Cinematographer with over fifty years’ experience in the field, producing thousands of film and television segments. In addition, Frank served as a high school English, drama, and filmmaking teacher for five years and a college filmmaking instructor for twenty-six years at Palm Beach State College. He has written/directed two full-length feature films that have been distributed internationally and is the author of six novels, five of which are available on Amazon.

EK Keratsis is a film and television producer and production manager of shows such as USA Network’s hit TV show Burn Notice and the upcoming Carl Hiassen's Bad Monkey as well as three recent Miami Film Festival independent film selections including: Vandal, Huracán and Reefa. Currently residing in Miami, EK is a former Massachusetts resident who has been around the world with film crews and on the road directing powerboat racing and professional wrestling. Co-author of the New England true crime bestseller Citizen Somerville, she is a lifelong scribe who took her inspiration for writing and love of words from the eclectic combination of childhood favorite Harriet The Spy and the adult provocateur Charles Bukowski. She lives in the darkness on the edge of town.

 

Suzanne Niedland is an actor, award-winning filmmaker, and Broadway producer, most recently, “Spamalot” on Broadway and “Plaza Suite” on the West End, London. Suzanne serves on boards of The Palm Beach County Film and Television Commission; The International Committee for the Performing Arts, and The President’s Advisory Council at The Kennedy Center; DeVos Institute for Arts Management; and The Film, Animation & Recording Arts Business Partnership Council at PBSC. She earned her master’s in documentary filmmaking and among other interests, Suzanne is an  owner of the Washington Spirit professional women’s soccer team and you can occasionally find her ballroom dancing around PBC!

Aaron Wells has been a maestro in the realm of entertainment, weaving magic through his roles as a producer, director, writer, and editor. His work spans 40 years and runs the gamut from mesmerizing feature films to snappy TV commercials, and riveting documentary series, amassing thousands of hours of enthralling content that has garnered a treasure trove of industry honors. Among his myriad collaborations, his partnership with the iconic Burt Reynolds stands out, producing an array of memorable film and theatrical ventures. Presently, Aaron is at the forefront of a thrilling documentary series unfolding in the vibrant heart of Las Vegas, spotlighting football legend Emmitt Smith, alongside a compelling book of photography that chronicles his rich journey alongside Reynolds. Under Aaron's visionary leadership, audiences are poised to embark on an exhilarating journey filled with awe, inspiration, and storytelling of the highest caliber.

 


High School Feature


Joanne Butcher has a proven track record as a Consulting Producer with 180 feature films in various stages of development, from script to distribution, her specialty lies in helping filmmakers raise funds to get their projects made and distributed globally. As an expert in fundraising, Joanne has supported her clients through various channels including major donors, grants, foundations, corporate sponsorships, and over 40 successful crowdfunding campaigns. She’s a newly published author with her book Getting Your Film Funded, Produced and Distributed Globally giving readers the tools to make their film a success using the steps she takes her clients through with their films. She has been involved with Brown Girls Doc Mafia, Slamdance, The Brazilian Film Festival in Miami and the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festivals as well. As a founder of Unstoppable, a disability film festival, and a frequent judge at the Forever Foundation, Joanne is dedicated to mentoring and developing the careers of young creatives. Joanne's experience extends beyond fundraising and distribution, as she has directed a first-run cinema and film school in Miami Beach, Florida, and created the Florida Feature Film Competition, providing filmmakers with a platform to uplevel their business and marketing packages while competing for a $200,000 prize.

 

Mo Fitzgibbon is a successful and respected writer/producer with persistence and dedication, her hard work helped shape Fitzgibbon into being knowledgeable, professional and a creative force amongst her peers. Fitzgibbon's company, Walker Fitzgibbon TV & Film, located in South Florida, and Los Angeles is considered one of the most diversified and creative production companies. Projects include broadcast television in national commercials, promos, animation, reality, variety, biographies, documentaries, and music specials both in English and Spanish. In her early days, Fitzgibbon became skilled as a line producer. She launched her own production company working with big directors like Ridley Scott, Tony Kaye, Spike Jonze, in videos and national commercials for Coke, Burger King, and other top advertisers. Soon thereafter, she started producing and directing herself, commercials, and music videos. Simultaneously, she gained experience in post-production, graphic design, and special effects for multimedia platforms, like for HBO, MTV, and other channels. Recently Fitzgibbon established a new entity, LAFLA FilmNation, introducing a series of one-on-one workshops and Career Advisement programs for young filmmakers coming out of Florida, to give them a leg up on how to enter the business of creating visual content and navigate the industry to become successful while building their careers and businesses in Florida – just as Fitzgibbon did with her own company.

 

Dominic Gianetti is an independent film producer, writer and director with dozens of feature films under his belt. He has worked with A-List Actors and Directors as well as almost every major Hollywood studio at some point in his 30+ year career. Dominic is proud to have remained a Palm Beach County resident for the past 3 decades and his dedication to the local arts and education has always been something that he’s passionate about. While Dominic is busy producing multiple feature films every year, he still finds time to help the next generation of creators. To this end, Dominic recently launched Subculture Studios with likeminded creatives to help further grow the film industry in Palm Beach County and bring back the biz.


JeanCarlo Ramirez
is a Colombian American award-winning filmmaker, photographer, and travel enthusiast known for his exceptional contributions to the realms of cinema and visual storytelling. Based in West Palm Beach, he founded IndieHouse Films in 2011. Throughout his career, Ramirez has collaborated with renowned entities such as National Geographic, Hilton Hotels, NASA, MLS and Delta Airlines, showcasing his versatility in crafting compelling content across various genres, including commercials, lifestyle photography, narrative storytelling, and documentaries. The impact of his work extends beyond individual projects, with his creations being featured in numerous film festivals and on Apple TV. Ramirez gained valuable experience in New York City, working alongside Academy Award winner Kirk Simon. His educational endeavors played a pivotal role as the coordinator of the Film Program at YoungArts, where he worked alongside many world-renowned artists, contributing to the development of emerging talents in the cinematic world. In addition to his professional pursuits, Ramirez is actively engaged in supporting the arts, sharing his extensive knowledge and passion for filmmaking by conducting workshops in schools and museums across the country, nurturing the next generation of storytellers. Adding a global dimension to his portfolio, Ramirez also founded IndieGlobal Adventures, a company that hosts captivating trips to Iceland and Switzerland. Through these excursions, he provides participants with unique opportunities to explore diverse landscapes and cultures while fostering a global perspective, including photo workshops as well.

 

Rochelle Walters is the owner of the Indie-Art Houses: The Movies of Delray and The Movies of Lake Worth in Palm Beach County. She prides herself in featuring the very best of blockbuster, art, independent, and foreign films, and delivering an exceptional theater experience that is accessible to all. Along with operating the business, Rochelle’s primary role is carefully navigating theater release schedules and selecting films with the most meaningful and intriguing composition of story, characters, tone, and artistry. Rochelle understands that the film selection process is both intuitive and strategic. She knows that watching films on the big screen has the power to educate, entertain, and inspire audiences of all ages. The theater business is truly Rochelle’s labor of love.

 


College Feature


 

Angela Carroll is an Audio/Visual Producer for International Markets and spent her formative years in the Bahamas submersed in a global community of gifted storytellers. For over two decades, Ms. Carroll has specialized in producing projects on islands around the world. Some of her work can be seen in “Modern Marvels” (2021), “Big Crazy Family Adventure”- S. Korea, China, Canada, India (2016). Her recent feature film credits include “The “K” Word” – (2024), “Invisible Ink” - 2023, “Junkanoo Xmas” – Bahamas (2023), “SITE" – USA (2022). Ms. Carroll has a BFA in Multimedia from American InterContinental University and an AA in International Marketing from the College of Boca Raton.

 

Molly Conners is founder and CEO of Phiphen, an independently owned film, television, and digital media company focused on producing creative, smart, and efficiently budgeted productions for a global audience. Currently a member of the Producers Guild of America, The British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the Television Academy, and the advisory board for the production software company, SHOWRUNNER. Molly is Emmy nominated and has produced or executive produced dozens of feature films over the last 15 years that have earned a total of four Academy Awards and 11 Academy Award nominations. Phiphen's current slate includes the upcoming Coup which premiered at the 2023 Venice Film Festival and stars Peter Sarsgaard & Billy Magnussen, Chimera starring Jermaine Fowler, Pauline Chalamet & Brendan Hunt, as well as Julia Stiles' directorial debut, Wish You Were Here starring Isabelle Fuhrman & Mena Massoud, and many more. Some of Molly's notable credits include the 2014 Academy Award-winner BIRDMAN, the 2009 Academy Award-nominated Frozen River starring Melissa Leo, William Friedkin's Killer Joe starring Mathew McConaughey, James Gray's The Imigrant starring Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner, Joe, starring Nicolas Cage, and Warren Beatty's Rules Don’t Apply. She also produced Eli Roth's The Green Inferno, Zach Braff's Wish I Was Here and John Hillcoat's Triple 9 starring Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kate Winslet, Anthony Mackie, Woody Harrelson, Gal Gadot and Aaron Paul.

 

Louise Levison is the President of Business Strategies, and a highly respected financial consultant in the entertainment industry specializing in the creation of film business plans. Her clients have raised money for low-budget films such as The Blair Witch Project, the most profitable independent film in history, and for companies raising money slates of films.  She is the author of Filmmakers & Financing: Business Plans for Independents. The book is the inspiration for the feature documentary Movie Money CONFIDENTIAL in which Levison is interviewed and for which she was the creative and financial consultant. She also is editor of the monthly online newsletter The Film Entrepreneur: A Newsletter for the Independent Filmmaker and Investor which is available for free at moviemoney.com.

 

Rita Powers worked as a SAG agent in the industry for many years placing talent in everything from Broadway to national commercials, films, television shows, voiceovers, print advertisements, as well as feature and independent films. Rita was the casting director for the critically acclaimed "Half Nelson", and the 2011 production of "Musical Chairs" with Academy Award winning Director Susan Seidelman. Based in Tribeca, Ms. Powers has been surrounded by influential producers and casting directors. Since 2003 Rita Powers Casting Group has been working on casting projects for principle, featured and background talent.


Kevin Sharpley
is the founder of Kijik Multimedia, a full-service company with specialties in integrated, branded and convergent media and development. He has produced and directed projects across mediums, including the documentary Sove Nou, narrated by Danny Glover featuring Wyclef Jean, Download for Good narrated by David Lynch, and wrote, produced, and directed the multi-platform project The Beach Chronicles featuring Tommy Flanagan, Michael Chiklis and Daryl Hannah that debuted as an official selection of the Miami International Film Festival. In addition, the animated film The Incredibly Short Life Of Peter Panties is an official selection of 16 festivals, winning eight awards. He is currently in post-production on a feature film, Deadly Night Out. Kevin is a Sundance Institute fellow after having his documentary Purvis Young, Young Purvis selected for the Sundance Miami story development workshop which is currently in production. Additionally, he is an actor and artist with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami and a dual major in motion pictures and psychology, as well as an AA degree from Miami Dade College and was inducted into the Miami Dade College Alumni Hall of Fame in 2014.

 

 


Documentary


Jay Cashmere is a four-time Emmy Award winner from the Suncoast Chapter, and was nominated for 23 Emmys and received a regional Edward R. Murrow Award, over his two-and-a-half decades in local television. He has also won multiple Associated Press awards. Jay has covered a wide range of stories in his career as a journalist, including environmental reports such as the deterioration of the last living reef in the country in the Florida Keys and tracking pythons and Tegus in the Everglades, along with investigating the record number of manatee deaths. Among his many stories, he has featured numerous people in South Florida with inspirational stories of achievement and determination. Jay is a 1997 graduate of the University of Alabama, which means on Saturday in the fall you can find him enjoying Alabama football. Roll Tide! He advocates for healthy living and emcees numerous events, including Forgotten Soldiers Outreach, Humane Society of the Treasure Coast, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Palm Beach County's Business Development Board, the Mayor's Ball for Palm Beach County, Jupiter Medical Center Foundation, Easter Seals, the South Florida Fair and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Palm Beach County and the Palm Beach County Food and Wine Festival, which he has emceed for the last decade, helping to promote local chefs and inspiring South Florida cuisine. Jay enjoys running, surfing, swimming and biking. He and his wife Kelly have two children, their son, Cruz, and daughter, Ella. 


Eric Gordon
is an award-winning director and producer and has worked on major feature films and music videos, serving as cinematographer and associate producer. His recent work includes Rabbit Holes – a very political documentary. Prior to that, he produced, shot, and directed the deeply personal feature length documentary, When All That’s Left Is Love. This film showcases his aging mother’s determination – against nearly impossible odds - to care for her Alzheimer’s husband at home and by herself. The film gives viewers an unprecedented, behind-the-scenes understanding of a medical dilemma that currently has no cure – but has patients who depend heavily on the heroic tenacity and love of the Alzheimer’s caregivers. Gordon holds a Master of Fine Arts in Film Production from the University of Miami, as well as a Certificate in Documentary Arts from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University (with a focus on documentary marketing and distribution). His non-profit fiscal sponsor is the well-known group, From the Heart Productions.

Jack Lighton is the CEO of SeaLegacy, a global nonprofit whose mission is to inspire people to fall in love with the ocean, amplify a network of changemakers around the world, and catalyze hands-on diplomacy through hopeful, world-class visual storytelling.    Founded by legendary National Geographic scientists, artists, and explorers Cristina Mittermeier, Paul Nicklen, and Andy Mann, SeaLegacy has a growing global distribution platform of over 1-billion people. Mr. Lighton leads its global strategy and launched the firm’s newest offerings that enable individuals, impact investors, foundations, and aligned corporations to invest in large scale conservation impact campaigns that put people and our planet - first.  Prior to SeaLegacy, Mr. Lighton spent nearly ten-years as President & CEO of The Sea Turtle Hospital at Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach, Florida.  During that time, he transformed the center’s visibility, visitation, and conservation impact – locally and globally – repositioning the center into one of Florida’s most visited and well respected scientific and cultural facilities. Mr. Lighton’s career began in management consulting where he spent two-decades with the firms of Harris Interactive (Nielsen) and J.D. Power & Associates managing diverse teams based in Detroit, New York, London, and Singapore.
Mr. Lighton lives in Jupiter, Florida and contributes his time to multiple boards including Friends of Manatee Lagoon (founding board member) the nonprofit arm of FPL’s Manatee Lagoon, an eco-discovery Center located in West Palm Beach (2018-Current)
Discover The Palm Beaches (2021-Current) where he is a member of the Executive Committee. In his free time, Mr. Lighton enjoys advocating for animal rescue, being on or next to the ocean, the Great Lakes, and traveling the United States in his family’s motorcoach named, “Karl.”

 

Theodore Melfi is the writer/director/producer of the Academy Award nominated film Hidden Figures. Prior to that, Melfi wrote directed and produced the critically acclaimed comedy, St. Vincent, starring Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts & Chris O’Dowd. The film, nominated for two Golden Globe Awards four Critics Choice Awards and one SAG Award His most recent film, The Starling, starring Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd & Kevin Kline, was number one film on Netflix, recently honored with the Wilbur Award for best feature and the Humanitas Prize for best film. A commercial director by day, Melfi has helmed over one hundred commercials including the infamous MTV spot, “Pizza Guy,” starring Ron Jeremy. The spot contributed to the director being honored at the Clio Awards as one of SHOOT Magazine’s Top 15 Directing Talents. As a screenwriter, Melfi penned the remake of the Martin Brest classic, Going in Style, for New Line Cinema, the animated feature, Cuckoo, for DreamWorks, The 14th Goldfish, for Netflix, the Hit List script, I Am Rose Fatou, American Dreamer, staring Peter Dinklage, Shirley MacLaine, Matt Dillon and Kim Quinn – a film he also produced, and Fruitloops, the story of life inside a psychiatric ward, which will star Michael Keaton and Letitia Wright for Paramount Pictures. His adaptation writing credits include J.R. Moehringer’s NY Times bestselling memoir, The Tender Bar, for Sony Pictures, Every Exquisite Thing, for Spyglass, The Phantom Tollbooth, for Sony Pictures, and Don DeLillo’s International Best Seller and Pulitzer Prize Winning finalist, Underworld, for Netflix, which he will direct and produce. Currently, Melfi is penning and will direct and produce The Goat, starring Kevin Hart and Melissa McCarthy, for Netflix, and he recently signed on to write, direct and produce John Flannigan’s International Best Selling book series, The Ranger’s Apprentice, for Skydance Media. Melfi and his wife, Kim Quinn, are the founders of Goldenlight Films, a production company dedicated to creating filmed entertainment with social relevance.

 

Suzanne Niedland is an actor, award-winning filmmaker, and Broadway producer, most recently, “Spamalot” on Broadway and “Plaza Suite” on the West End, London. Suzanne serves on boards of The Palm Beach County Film and Television Commission; The International Committee for the Performing Arts, and The President’s Advisory Council at The Kennedy Center; DeVos Institute for Arts Management; and The Film, Animation & Recording Arts Business Partnership Council at PBSC. She earned her Master’s degree in documentary filmmaking and keeps herself busy with other interests, including being an  owner of the Washington Spirit professional women’s soccer team and you can occasionally find her ballroom dancing around PBC!

 

 


Music Video


 

 

Damian Fitzsimmons has had a passion for storytelling since his early childhood. Originally from Liverpool, in the North of England, with its strong ties to Ireland, storytelling was an integral part of his culture. His passion for storytelling led him to a career as a filmmaker. Damian has multiple writing credits for the BBC in the UK and is the Creative Director of the video production company, BRAVEMAN Media. Damian directed his first feature film, Across The Rails with Braveman, and two seasons of Life’s Rewards on Amazon Prime, as well as hundreds of commercials and corporate videos.

Vanilla Ice parlayed his love of poetry into music and had a number one hit Ice, Ice Baby at a the young age of 16. His career expanded to include writing and acting with over 30 titles on IMDb, including the Adam Sandler comedies That's My Boy and The Ridiculous Six. He hosted the home improvement and renovation series The Vanilla Ice Project for nine seasons on the DIY Network, and recording a debut single with Jedward, Under Pressure (Ice, Ice Baby), a mash-up of the two songs. He recieved the American Music Award for Favorite Pop Rock Artist and Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist in 1991 and the Oniros Film Award for Best Voice Over for Seaper Powers: Mystery of the Blue Pearls in 2023.

Michael Orland is thrilled to have been a part of the mega-hit TV show American Idol for 16 seasons as the Pianist, Arranger, Vocal Coach and Associate Musical Director for FOX and ABC. In between he served as  Music Director/vocal coach on Little Big Shots and Forever Young hosted by Steve Harvey. Michael has appeared on Oprah, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood and Ellen.  He has collaborated with music industry giants such as Burt Bacharach, Neil Sedaka, Diane Warren, Elton John, Dolly Parton, Harry Connick Jr, Jennifer Lopez, and Keith Urban all as a result of American Idol.

Elsten Torres is a multicultural bilingual artist who has performed on stages all over the world as well as an award-winning songwriter with major international hits. He has earned two GRAMMY nominations, two BMI songwriting awards, and six Billboard top ten hits throughout his career. A musical pioneer, credited as one of the prominent creators of the Latin Alternative Rock sound of the late 90’s in the USA, this eclectic and unconventional musician has cemented his artistic fingerprints in the music industry for over 3 decades. Born in Cuba and raised in NYC, “Be yourself everyone else is already taken” is not only his favorite quote from Oscar Wilde, but also his personal motto.

 


Animation


Chris 'CB' Brown most recently worked on The Morning Show for Apple and Little Fires Everywhere for Hulu, a long way from Shaw and Stratford Festivals, where he began as a stage manager and assistant director to acclaimed director Derek Goldby. Afterwards, he made a shift to film working as an assistant to John Schlesinger on The Believers. He was later recruited by creators Mark Frost and David Lynch to work on the critically acclaimed series Twin Peaks. Since then, CB has worked as a visual effects producer and supervisor, starting with Boss Film Studios where he was visual effects producer on features, Outbreak, Waterworld, Turbulence, and Airforce One, and later as a visual effects supervisor and second unit director for Wing Commander. Afterwards he joined Sassoon Film Design, where he supervised Life is A House, Dark Blue, David Mamet’s film Spartan and Irwin Winkler’s De Lovely and Lars and the Real Girl. He co-founded 49th Parallel Theatre in Los Angeles with Sara Botsford in 2006 and produced and directed several award-winning plays over the course of 8 years. Later, he and Sara created, produced, and directed 10 episodes of the award-winning web-series Those Damn Canadians. He is currently producing and directing new commercials for Flex Seal as well as prepping a new season of Those Damn Canadians.

 

Adam Howard is the winner of four Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Special Visual Effects and has been nominated a total of nine times for his VFX work on multiple Star Trek series. He originally trained in his home town of Melbourne Australia as a graphic designer, illustrator and animator, using very traditional artist tools. His passion for visual effects in film and television led him to be one of the first digital artists creating ground breaking digital effects and animation for ABC-TV Melbourne and AAV Studios. Since relocating to Los Angeles, Adam has worked on over 140 feature films and created visual effects and animation for television series including; Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise, Will & Grace, That 70's Show and the iconic opening title chalkboards for The Simpsons. He also served as senior VFX Supervisor for the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride experience at Universal Studios Orlando, Tokyo and Los Angeles. Adam recently completed work as VFX Supervisor for M. Night Shyamalan’s TV series Servant and is now Supervising VFX for Season 4 of Evil on CBS and Co-Visual Effects Supervisor on Rush Hour 3.

 

Dean Lyon was a pioneer in developing computer graphics for film and television co-inventing Colorgraphics DP Max - the first real-time paint and 2D/3D compositing system. At the peak of his Hollywood career, Dean led the startup of Oktobor in New Zealand. He was recruited to define the future for da Vinci Systems, developing a 3D computer graphics finishing system utilizing supercomputing processing that made the completion of ‘Avatar’ and dozens of other 3D feature films possible. Dean then launched - Splinter Studios to streamline visual effects-led content production through disruptive technological integration with the creative process. During the pandemic, Dean helped launch Ada Animation in Nairobi, Kenya in order to identify talent, and helped develop Ada Animation Boot Camp bringing international mentors to train mentees virtually. Dean is currently working on Simba VFX Studios, his vision of the future that goes beyond the current trend of LED-wall studios and Virtual Production. He has been an active member of both SMPTE and ACM/SIGGRAPH since 1984. He was elected to the Visual Effects Society in recognition of his VFX Supervisor roles on Without a Paddle, Spooked, Bogeyman and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

 

John Thomason is the managing editor of the award-winning Boca Raton and Delray Beach magazines. He also serves as arts and entertainment editor and features writer covering the Arts & Entertainment for Bocamag.com. He contributes freelance film reviews for Palm Beach Arts Paper and theatre reviews for Florida Theater On Stage. He is a voting member of the Florida Film Critics Circle and has served as a judge for Carbonell Awards, honoring excellence in South Florida theatre.

Monte Young is a producer/writer, producing a number of feature films, including Billy Todd's War, Hitters Anonymous, Gasp, and The Wave, starring Justin Long and Tommy Flanagan, and a short titled Survivors -produced with Marco Shepherd at Centropolis Entertainment. In 2020 Monte produced the feature films, Scarlettville, and The Old Way. Mr. Young is currently producing a reality medical show, Dr. East meet West, which explores the best of both Chinese and Western medical practices. Previously, Mr. Young partnered with Mana Animation, headed by VFX professional Dean Lyon, developing children’s animated educational series, including Sparx, Bookends, Earth 101 and First Pets, as well as a live-action feature film trilogy, Dragon Wars. Prior to entering the entertainment industry, Monte Young worked as a finance attorney, developing and structuring infrastructure investments in Asia.

 


Environmental PSA


James Currie is an expert in the fields of sustainable development and environmental management and a life-long wildlife enthusiast, elephant expert and native of South Africa. He is the Head of Sales & New Development for the Americas for Great Plains Conservation. James hosted the popular birding TV show, Nikon’s Birding Adventures, for 10 seasons on Discovery Channel’s Destination America and NBC. He currently hosts the show, A WILD Connection and produced the multiple award-winning documentary on elephants Last of the Big Tuskers. As well as hosting a National Geographic 24-part video lecture series on birding and another on African Safaris, he hosted the popular action-birding show Aerial Assassins on National Geographic WILD, that aired worldwide and appeared as himself in the reality birding show, Twitchers. James has appeared as a special guest on various TV shows and radio, including Martha Stewart Radio, and WGN and has been the subject of several newspaper articles including the Wall Street Journal, The Palm Beach Post and the Orlando Sentinel. James filmed for, consulted for and provided footage for the Hollywood birding movie, The Big Year, starring Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson.

 

Linda Moreno is the Executive Director of Keep Palm Beach County Beautiful, a non-profit, volunteer-based organization that serves as Palm Beach County’s affiliate of Keep America Beautiful and Keep Florida Beautiful. Their mission is to enhance the quality of life in Palm Beach County through programs and partnerships that encourage public agencies, private entities, residents, and visitors to reduce litter and waste. These programs and partnerships will increase recycling, beautify the county, maintain public spaces, and inspire future generations to be great environmental stewards. She attended Palm Beach State College and has worked for the Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County since 2003. She has extensive knowledge in litter abatement, illegal dumping, neighborhood beautification, community service initiatives, waste prevention, and recycling. Linda uses her strong leadership skills coupled with dynamic vision to give back and serve in various capacities.


Benji Studt
is a scientist, conservation photographer, nature communicator, and explorer.  After graduating from the University of Florida, he spent 3 years working for South Florida Water Management District before moving on to Palm Beach County’s Department of Environmental Resources Management (ERM) where for almost 10 years he designed wetland restoration projects, conducted biological monitoring and assisted in land management activities like prescribed fire.  For the last 8 years, Benji has led ERM’s Outreach and Science Communication team with the goal of inspiring real connections between the residents and visitors of the Palm Beaches, and the incredible public lands system that makes this area so special. Benji served as executive producer for Hidden Wild and uses his expertise on camera through many different appearances on shows like Wild Palm Beaches, Hooked on the Palm Beaches, On the Town with Frank Licari and Travels & Traditions with Burt Wolf.  In his time away from work, he, his wife and their fur-babies are exploring the most beautiful and wild places in the US.

 

 


Commercial PSA


 

Ric Blackwell  worked for years as a news and sports anchor/reporter at three CBS TV stations. He currently creates videos for the Palm Beach County School District. Ric also appears on national commercials as a spokesperson, has played a reporter on a number of popular TV shows and films, and has hosted hundreds of internet videos for non-profit organizations, doctors, lawyers, corporations, and local businesses. Ric is a skilled videographer, editor, writer, producer, and on-air talent who has created beautiful videos and documentaries. Ric and his wife Meredith have four children Taylor, Owen, Charlie and Drew.

Carla Bryant is a Director for AE Strategies, a Washington, DC-based human resources management consulting firm. For over 35 years, Ms. Bryant has successfully managed human resource and training initiatives in a variety of industries, including technology, aerospace, intelligence, engineering, nonprofit, education, and government. She currently consults with several Federal agencies that are engaged in highly complex projects involving numerous stakeholders. She delivers effective solutions within budget by applying a rigorous analysis of qualitative and quantitative data and her vast knowledge of industry best practices. Her expertise includes defining challenges and articulating complex ideas for stakeholders to achieve buy-in and promote effective decision-making. Her hobbies include golf, puzzles, travel, and of course – movies!

 

Leah Sokolowsky has helped shape some of the most memorable and iconic visual images of South Florida that exist in film and television. She possesses an extensive network of industry and business connections throughout the State of Florida, the Bahamas, the Caribbean and various other locales, along with extensive knowledge of grants, rebates and other incentives potentially available to qualifying productions throughout the State of Florida. Her previous employers include Netflix, Amazon, Warner Bros., Disney, Universal, 20th Century Fox, United Artists, NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, USA, A&E, Showtime, HBO, Netflix, Amazon and countless other independent production companies. Representative projects include Miami Rhapsody, The Specialist, Donnie Brasco, The Insider, There’s Something About Mary, Any Given Sunday, All About the Benjamins, Maximum Bob, The Manchurian Candidate, Miami Vice, The Glades, Graceland, Ballers, The Irishman, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Rap Sh!t, and Justified: City Primeval. Leah currently serves on the Board of Directors of Film Florida, representing Teamsters Local 769, and has previously served as the organization’s President, Secretary, and Legislative Chair. She is also a current member of the Location Managers Guild International (LMGI). Leah is committed to creating an environment in the State of Florida where the film and entertainment production industries can not only succeed but thrive.

 


Tourism PSA


Erika Constantine is Vice President of Marketing for Discover The Palm Beaches, Palm Beach County’s official tourism marketing agency, where she spearheads all advertising, PR, digital and social media initiatives for The Palm Beaches brand.  A passionate marketing professional, she joined Discover The Palm Beaches in 2019 bringing extensive experience in integrated marketing, branding, communications and special events with a focus in tourism.  Since then, she has led the creative brand development for The Palm Beaches, as well as key partnership initiatives with top brands and events including Brightline, Lilly Pulitzer, Miami Dolphins, the Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches, SunFest and more.  Erika grew up in Jupiter, FL and is a graduate of Florida State University.

 

Joyce Belloise A 28-year media professional, Joyce Belloise currently serves as Sr. Vice President of Content and Community Partnerships at South Florida PBS. She oversees a creative and dynamic team of producers, videographers, editors and interactive staff who are passionate about serving the community with educational content that celebrates the diversity of South Florida. From compelling documentaries to innovative children’s programming and cutting-edge NextGen content, Joyce manages over a dozen South Florida PBS original productions. Committed to making public television more inclusive, she also works closely with local independent producers and filmmakers to shape and develop their content for broadcast. Joyce joined WPBT’s production team in 1994 and was promoted to Executive Producer in 2021 and to Managing Director of Content in 2015. Over the years, Joyce’s work as a producer has garnered eight regional Emmy Awards, six Telly Awards, three National Communicator Awards and a Louis Wolfson Film & Television Award. Passionate about the stories of her home state, the Miami native has produced a number of documentaries and television series over the years, from the weekly magazine program, New Florida… to the travel series Florida Roadtrip…. to the popular restaurant review show, Check, Please! South Florida. Her documentary work focuses on history and culture, with such notable programs as Imagining a New Florida and the Emmy award-winning Buen Provecho! Florida’s Spanish Flavor. She also wrote and produced the internationally distributed Art Basel: A Portrait, tracing the rise of the world’s most established contemporary and Taste the Florida Keys, which delved into the delicious history of Keys cuisine. Joyce received a Bachelor of Art in Communications from Barry University in 1993. She has previously served on the Board of the Suncoast Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and is a recipient of the NATAS Suncoast Chapter 2022 Silver Circle Award.


Ellen Jacoby
is a Miami native, raised in New Jersey and made her way full circle back to Florida. A former professional singer and dancer, she travelled the world as an international backgammon champion, before returning to her beloved hometown. Ellen worked with Hollywood directors, including Steven Soderbergh, Joel Schumacher, Sidney Pollack, The Farrelly Bros., Bob Zemeckis, Ron Howard, Mike Nicols, Michael Bay, Randa Haines, Tom Shadyac, Martin Scorsese, Tim Burton, Garry Marshall, John Landis, James Cameron, Joe Roth, Mira Nair and Tony Scott. Some of her credits include: The Birdcage, Ace Ventura, There’s Something About Mary, Contact at Cape Canaveral, True Lies.  Entourage, A Change Of Heart, Plastic, Chef, Rock Of Ages, and TV series Burn Notice, Justified, and CSI: Miami. She is the former Chair of the Infrastructure Committee of the GMCVB and is currently the VP of the FFPC, Florida Film Production Coalition.  Ellen has traveled to Tallahassee to work with legislators regarding the Florida film incentives. As founder, and President, of Ellen Jacoby Casting International, with separate film, television, commercial and Hispanic divisions, she has employed over 250,000 Florida actors, dancers, performers through the years. These days she finds time to lecture, teach and coach acting courses; spends time with various local charities, including Cystic Fibrosis and the YWCA; and working with the local police to provide alternative life style programs for youth with rap sheets; and often donates time to give lectures to various schools throughout the state. 

 

Tania Rogers co-anchors newscasts on WPTV NewsChannel 5 and on WFLX Fox 29. She also reports on stories that impact the community. She was born in New York where she spent part of her childhood years, then in Panama, Central America, then moved to Florida. She volunteers with her church’s youth group where she mentors young women. Tania has also volunteered with other organizations, including with Hospice and Student Aces, a high school mentoring program. Tania is married with two children.

 


Poster Design


Rolando Chang Barrero is an outspoken artist, community leader, and curator and has been featured nationally and internationally on CNN, CNN en Español, the New York Times, The MIT Review, and Soledad O’Brien’s “Matter of Fact." He is also the founder of The Boynton Beach Art District, the president and co-founder of Art Synergy and The Florida Arts Association. His curatorial background includes, Latino Fine Arts in Chicago, Center Gallery (Director/ Curator), The Frances Wolfson Art Gallery (Director/Curator), The InterAmerican Fine Art Gallery (Director/Curator), Ground Level on Lincoln Road (Co-founder/ curator) He is the host and founder of Hola Palm Beach. Rolando is an experimental media artist, a visionary, a cultural leader, and an arts advocate for over 40 years. Rolando moved to Palm Beach County from Miami Beach where he has maintained a residence since 1980. Best known for his “Social Justice” art in film, video, painting and art installations. He is the recipient of Congressional Letter of Commendation and various Proclamation for Cultural Leadership throughout the years.


Laurence Gartel
is known to the world as the “FATHER” of Digital Art. His career started working with video guru Nam June Paik at Media Study/Buffalo in New York. He taught Andy Warhol how to use the Amiga Computer to produce the album cover for Debbie Harry. Creating Digital Art before the birth of the personal computer, his work has been exhibited with the Museum of Modern Art, Long Beach Museum of Art, Princeton Art Museum, Norton Museum of Art as well as included in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History, Bibliotheque Nationale Paris and Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Gartel has traveled the world exhibiting and projecting his work in Australia, Spain, Germany, Italy, as well as India, creating a Bollywood Music/Video for Universal Entertainment. He has been commissioned to produce artwork on Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Red Hot Chili Peppers, as well as corporations such as Coca-Cola, Philip Morris, Walt Disney, National Basketball Association, Gibson Guitars, Bang & Olufsen, and known most for his ABSOLUT GARTEL ad for Absolut Vodka. As a working artist, 2015 stands out as he was the Official Artist of the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, Los Angeles.

 

 

Scott Glinski has been part of the Palm Beach County Sports Commission since 2007. As the Senior Business Development Manager, he has extensive experience in marketing and advertising including website content, in-house design and national publications. Scott has found innovative solutions to grow tourism in The Palm Beaches and enjoys working with events and projects including The Honda Classic, Winter Equestrian Festival, NCAA Golf National Championships, and the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award which is given annually to the nation’s best place-kicker in Division I collegiate football. Scott is a native of Michigan and moved to West Palm Beach to attend Northwood University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in the field of entertainment, sports, and promotion management.

Adrienne Mazzone  is the President of TransMedia Group and TMGroup Productions, as well as MaddenTalent.com. Working extensively with film academies, festivals, award winning films, content to show runners, seminars and panels at Global summits for decades. Adrienne’s advice, tips and recaps have been published in The Entreprenette Gazzette, COMMPR.Biz; cited in MEDILL Reports; Examiner.com; Million Dollar PR Advice and MobileCause.com and fitsmallbusiness.com for her fundraising advice. Secured distribution for many products, brought brands and products to market.  Executive Producer for “What’s In A Name” Versace Story and Co-Executive Producer, Abella’s First Tooth; The Picasso of Thieves documentary, a TMG Productions & New Heat Media Film is currently on Prime. Casting credits; Who's Who books and Professional Women Honors Edition; editor of DietarySupplementNews.com; published in Nat’l Poetry Society, Poster Judge for the Student Showcase of Films #SSOF for many years.

 


Screenwriting


Fabio Arber Arber has enjoyed a distinguished career as an executive-in-charge of production, line producer and producer spanning over 40 years in film and television. He started as a location manager on Miami Vice before transitioning successfully to line producer from scripted series, and features, to reality TV and docu-series, Fabio served as line producer for TLC's hit series, Miami Ink. Overseeing the production from conception through network delivery enhanced his reputation in the fledgling industry of reality TV. Fabio's producing expertise also includes production supervising Confessions of a Shopaholic, and the pilot for FXX's Justified. Fabio has produced compelling reality and docu-series TV shows that have aired on networks such as Travel, Oxygen, Nat Geo Wild, and WEtv, showcasing his ability to take a project from conception through delivery. Fabio is highly respected in the industry and continues to provide valuable consultation to writers, directors, and producers in preparing their projects for investment opportunities.

 

 

Michael Chasin is a South Florida based award winning screenwriter and screenplay consultant. Michael's passion for storytelling has also returned him to the classroom where he teaches screenwriting to CSB Media Arts Center students in Connecticut, North Carolina, and Florida. In addition to being a film school graduate, Michael holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in business administration, and a master’s degree in human resources management. In his spare time Michael reads widely, severely neglects his lawn (but his neighbors still love him), and exercises just enough to delude himself that he is still in black belt shape.

 

Jaimie Engle is a multiple award-winning writer of stories with a magic touch. With 15 published books, she is an expert in all things storytelling and has taught at national conferences, state libraries, and local schools on writing, publishing, and marketing books. She wrote the feature film JUST JAKE produced by TrueBrand Entertainment and distributed through UpTV Network (2023) and the novel adaptation published through Vinspire Publishing (2023). Several of her features and tv projects are optioned and in development with major producers and networks, all from connections on LinkedIn. Besides writing, Jaimie enjoys kickboxing, baking grain free treats, and supports her sons in professional theater and varsity football with her husband in Florida. Fun  fact- Jaimie was an alien on Seaquest.

Kim Festa Gelnaw  has had a varied entertainment career. She is currently a writer and voice-over artist. Kim is a published children’s picture book author. Her project, Lets Zoo Lunch is being developed further. Additionally, Kim is working on more children’s programming and screenwriting projects. Kim was influenced creatively from 20+ years working with Oscar-winning film producer Stanley Jaffe. She began at Jaffe/Lansing. During most of her tenure, she was involved in the production process of commercial feature films, working closely with creative executives and movie studio staff at both Paramount Pictures and the Sony Studios. Later she was promoted to Executive Assistant to Mr. Jaffe. At the time, Paramount owned Paramount Pictures, Simon & Schuster Publishers, Madison Square Garden, The NY Knicks, The NY Rangers and more. While in that role, Kim experienced a diverse array of responsibility. Following that position, she continued her professional relationship with Mr. Jaffe, at Jaffilms. Other pursuits have included work as a production coordinator for an outdoor advertising company and with a residential interior design professional. She enjoys many hobbies—photography, golf and singing in particular. Kim was born in Montclair, NJ. After a stint in Los Angeles and many years in New York City, Kim now resides most of the year in South Florida.