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Sycamore Film Festival
2011 Filmmakers

The Festival featured films by the following:

Mark Medoff
Mark Medoff is a playwright, screenwriter, and director. He received a Tony Award for CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD as well as London’s Olivier Award for Best Play. He was nominated for an Academy Award and a Writers Guild of America Best Adapted Screenplay Award for the film script of CHILDREN and for a Cable ACE Award (now EMMY) for his HBO Premiere movie, APOLOGY. He received an OBIE Award for WHEN YOU COMIN BACK, RED RYDER.
Read Mark's Full Bio (pdf)
View Behind the Scenes Footage of "Refuge"

Barbara Turner
Barbara Turner is an American writer, producer and actress. Born in New York, Turner has been involved in the film industry for quite some time. Turner has been honored by being nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award, an Emmy Award and won the Christopher Award for her television movie, Eye on the Sparrow. Turner is known for working with her daughter, writer, producer and director Jennifer Jason Leigh. The two teamed up together for the film Georgia (1995). Turner has worked with countless well known actors, such as Marcia Gay Harden, Ed Harris and Neve Campbell. Most recently, Turner has stayed busy writing a screenplay for the HBO film, Hemingway & Gellhorn, which Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman will lead in.
View "Georgia" Trailer

Ron Lazzeretti

A veteran commercial director and independent filmmaker, Ron recently wrote and directed the independent feature “Something Better Somewhere Else,” which Roger Ebert hailed as “a delightful film, and in some stretches a flawless one.”

 Ron also wrote and produced “The Merry Gentleman,” starring Keaton and Kelly Macdonald (“No Country For Old Men,” “Boardwalk Empire). The film had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and went on to earn rave reviews in the LA Times, The NY Times as well as 3 ½ stars from Roger Ebert.
His award winning commercial work has been featured in Adweek, Creativity Magazine, and Creative Arts.
In addition to his commercial work, he is working on “Graveyard,” a 26-episode comedy web series, and developing his next independent feature, “The New Judy Blue.”

Christopher Grimes
Christopher Grimes and Leigh Cavich-Grimes started 5414 Productions in 2008 with the goal of building a small, independent production company focused exclusively on documentaries that deal with complex issues in public policy from both a macro and micro perspective. 5414 Productions is co-located in Chicago and Washington D.C.

With experience in both government and politics as well as a Master's degree in Public Policy & Administration from Northwestern University, Christopher brings a unique set of real world and research skills to his directorial debut, A Second Knock at the Door, 5414 Productions' first feature-length documentary.
Washington Post Article

Marsie Wallach
Marsie Wallach is a Chicago based Freelance Line Producer, primarily focused on television commercials, both national and international, with the occasional short film or documentary, reflecting her broad industry knowledge. Marsie’s accomplishments landed her the distinguished role of Executive Producer for Sedelmaier Film Productions, working side-by-side legendary Director, Joe Sedelmaier for over a decade. Her dedication to the craft has allowed her to play a key role on hundreds of television productions throughout her career. She has been recognized for her work on numerous productions, winning awards including Clios, Cannes: Gold, Silver and Bronze Lions, International Festival of New York, D & AD, Hollywood IBA, for Sedelmaier Film Productions –best Category and/or overall.

Ms. Wallach graduated from the University of Michigan and immediately began working her way up through the industry. She has had the good fortune to collaborate with many outstanding Directors across the globe and is very proud to be back in touch with her Midwest roots participating in the first Sycamore Film Festival.

Mina Badie
The daughter of well known actress, writer and producer, Barbara Turner, Mina Badie has also made a name for herself in the film industry as an actress. After graduating from Oxford’s British American Drama Academy, she has appeared in various films with numerous well known Hollywood actors. In The Weekend, Badie acted alongside with Gena Rowlands and Brooke Shields and in Georgia, she appeared with half sister Jennifer Jason Leigh and Mare Winningham. Badie is not only a well known film actress, but also a notable theatre actress and has appeared on stages worldwide in “A Night in Queens Clothing”, “The Two Noble Kingsmen”, “The Vagina Monologues”, and “Girl Play”.

Mina Badie was featured in Roger Dodger, a film that won at the Tribecca Film Festival. Mina also starred in Anniversary Party, written and directed by her sister, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cummings. We will be showing Anniversary Party as part of our festival and Mina will be speaking about the acting process in film.
View "Anniversary Party" Trailer

Ruth Somalo

Ruth Somalo, a Spanish filmmaker, is an accomplished editor, producer, director and cinematographer. Ruth is currently living in New York City where she is working on her new documentaries Sweeping the Streets, The Tear Project and a documentary about the making of a new musical, “Loserville”. Somalo graduated from Complutense University of Madrid in 1998 in Communications and specialized in documentary film in Spain and England. Somalo is a well known director and producer of music videos and short films and has produced works for television, advertisement and corporate clients. Later in her life, Somalo founded the production company Horns and Tails Productions. Somalo’s Till You’re Told to Stop: James Blunt, a documentary on the British singer/songwriter James Blunt and his rise to fame, won Best Director, Best Documentary and Best Film of the Tenerife Festival and Best International Documentary in Puerto Rico.
View "Til You're Told to Stop" Trailer

Michael Caplan

Michael Caplan has been producing independent feature and documentary films for over twenty years. His films, such as the PBS-aired Stones from the Soil and the critically-acclaimed The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me, are designed to educate, engage, and entertain. He is currently in production on a feature documentary about the writer Nelson Algren. Michael lives in Chicago, Illinois, where he received his Master of Fine Arts in Film from Northwestern University. He is an Associate Professor and Associate Chair of the Film/Video Department at Columbia College Chicago.

Sean J.S. Jourdan

Sean J.S. Jourdan is a notable screenwriter and director based out of Denver, Colorado. After receiving a MFA degree in film and video from Columbia College Chicago and a MA degree in drama at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, he transitioned from theatre to filmmaking. Within a short time, Jourdan was a top 5 finalist in MTVu Best Filmmaker on Campus Competition. Now, Jourdan is best known for his documentary Who's Ma Ma! Jo Ma Ma! and his short films The Beekeeper and An Open Door. Jourdan has shown his work at numerous film festivals such as Beverly Hills Film Festival and the Geneva Film Festival. Not to mention, Jourdan has won Best Short Film from Castle Rock Film Festival for his film, The Beekeeper, which was also a finalist for the Sundance Screenwriter's Lab.
View "The Beekeeper" Trailer
View "An Open Door" Trailer

Michael Dunker

Michael Dunker is a writer/director at 24-Hour Films bringing fun,
truthful, and entertaining films to audiences. In addition to
screenwriting and directing, Michael authors a blog and is an
accomplished photographer. After graduating from Sycamore High School in 1999, Michael enlisted in the United States Air Force as a radio communications operator and deployed to the Middle East and South America. It was during his time in the service that he became interested in writing and film. Using his G.I. Bill, Michael attended Michigan State University earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology and film. His degree enhanced Michael's ability to understand and bring to life characters in his writing and films. He lives in Los Angeles, California continuing his dream.
View "Hard" Trailer

Kelley Katzenmeyer
Kelley Katzenmeyer is a nineteen-year-old American filmmaker and visual artist. As a high school senior, she won the 2010 YoungArts Gold Award in Cinema, a $10,000 prize, and was nominated as a Presidential Scholar in the Arts, meeting President Obama. During high school, her short film "To Be Remembered" screened at film festivals across America, including the Nashville Film Festival, one of the oldest, longest-running film festivals in the United States. After graduating from the NC School of the Arts in 2010, Kelley received a full scholarship from the U.S. Department of State to study abroad in South Korea. Recently accepted into Columbia University, she has deferred admission in order to direct a documentary feature film on Korean high school students. Currently, Kelley lives in Seoul, South Korea. You can see her latest work at www.KoreanHighSchool.com
View Photo Gallery for "To Be Remembered"

Edward Heffernan
Edward Heffernan is a 18-year-old filmmaker and a freshman at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Mr. Heffernan began his professional career as a child actor, appearing in dramatic and comedic plays as well as national television commercials. His passion for film began at a very young age and he has shot numerous short films with his siblings prior to making The Letter in 2009 with a professional cast and crew and Pencil in 2011 as a Senior at Northside Prep High School.
View "The Letter" Trailer

Nancy Hays
Nancy Hays is President and CEO of Nancy Hays Entertainment, Inc., a corporation that specializes in producing celebrity talent for private events. NHE also produces CD and DVD dance instructional products that have received critical acclaim in national publications including Billboard, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, theWashington Post and many others. Ms. Hays has also appeared on national network TV shows as a guest and worked as a professional singer in major venues throughout the US and Europe. In the 1980s Ms. Hays also appeared as an actress and singer in a made-for-TV film The Minnesota Connection and worked as a voice-over and commercial talent. Nancy Hays works as a professional speaker for National conferences on the topic of Emerging Trends in the Entertainment business. She also has written articles for American Entertainment Magazine and other publications. She is a founding member of IACEP (International Association of Corporate Entertainment Professionals) and AEP(Association of Entertainment Producers).

The Letter is Nancy Hays Entertainment’s debut film project.

Geoffray Barbier
Geoffray Barbier grew up in France in the 80’s, at a time when the Fleshtones were omnipresent in the lives of anyone who was into rock n’ roll yet Geoffray wasn’t particularly a fan.

Then, in the late 90’s, Geoffray found himself doing research on the New York punk scene of the late 70’s, and connected to that whole era. He felt deeply for the Richard Hells, Tom Verlaine and Dee Dee Ramone. He became somewhat obsessed with all those bands. Full Bio (pdf)

Brad Tucker
Brad Tucker grew up in Miami, Florida, then attended Georgia Tech with a prestigious four-year President's Scholarship and went on to graduate with highest honors in Mechanical Engineering, and was awarded the institute's first minor in Filim Studies. His first short, a Russian-language film titled FANYA KAPLAN about the 1918 attempted assassination of Vladimir Lenin by a peasant woman, garnered many awards including top prizes at the state, region and evenutally winning the Campus MovieFest National Best Pictuer Award in 2007. He then won a McEver Fellowship to bring his short film to the 2008 Cannes Film Fetival. Brad is currently a Directing Fellow at the American Film Institute.

Steven Berger
Steven Berger is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago witha B.A. in Audio Ats and Acoustics with concentration in Audioo for Visual Media. Steven previously worked at Sony Picture's Post Production Sound department, where he contributed to over three dozen feature films, including THE BOURNE SUPREMACY, MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, and THE INCREDIBLES, and worked as the In-House Producer at Flashpoint Academy in Chicago. Steven as been professionally producing film and HD projects in Chicago and Los Angeles, including his directorial debut, LEED BY EXAMPLE, a documentary on Green Building, commissioned by the City of Chicago. Steven is currently a Producing Fellow at the American Film Institute.

Laura Vazquez
Laura Vazquez is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois, where she teaches media theory and production courses. She has taught at NIU since August 2000. Vazquez completed her Ph.D. in Radio/TV/Film at Northwestern University. Vazquez teaches the introduction to media production and various advanced courses including documentary production. Full Bio (pdf)

Ken Ross
Ken Ross, son of Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (deceased), pioneering legend in hospice and bereavement education in the United States, and noted author of 24 books in 35 languages about death and dying is President, of the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation, 2005 – present (ekrfoundation.org). Ken was the principal care provider for his mother in the last 9 years of her life. His responsibilities included handling over 80 publishers of Dr. Ross’s work, public relations, archiving her video and audio recordings, as well as preserving her research papers. While growing up, he traveled with her extensively while on her numerous foreign trips witnessing her lectures and workshops. Ken has made a series of lectures on his mother for hospices around the US & Japan in 2009-2011.

Tim Warren
Tim Warren has been trying his best to make films since he was 16. He is currently the Resident Writer/ Director at Artex Productions in Miami, where he directs commercials, corporate videos, music videos, and narrative films. He is most interested in exploring films that deal with moral ambiguity, personal vulnerability, and errors in self-perception. He is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in Film Production at the University of Miami.
View "The Dive" Trailer

Byron Czopek
Byron Czopek is a graduate student at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL. He graduated from Beloit College with a bachelors in Communications. Since graduating from Beloit, Byron has worked for WMTV NBC 15 in Madison, WI and on various shows for PBS, HGTV and The Speed Network.

Andrew McLaughlin
Andrew McLaughlin is a graduate student at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, IL where he received his bachelors in Communications. Andy is a veteran of the Iraq War serving in the Army Infantry. Andy has also presented a paper at the Rhetoric Society of America’s biannual conference.

Steven Simon

Steven Simon is a Chicago-based writer and director who works by day as a video editor. He is a graduate of Grand Valley State University’s film and video program in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Simon has worked on both television and independent film in Chicago and Los Angeles, including shows for Fox and TruTV. He is currently writing a feature that draws on his experiences growing up outside of Detroit.

John Otterbacher
John Otterbacher is an award-winning independent filmmaker and Emmy nominated television producer. As an educator, he has taught film and video for the past seven years at a number of higher learning institutions, and has worked with and and taught at risk youth in the Chicago area.

When not teaching, John's company, Orange Chair Productions, is busy developing film and tv projects as well as working with not for profit organizations to help them fill their media needs.

Ryder Cooley & Bart Bridger
Ryder Cooley is an inter-disciplinary artist, musician and performer. Weaving together chimeric visions with hypnotic music and projections, her work reveals a terrain of lost dreams and phantom memories. Ryder has collaborated in numerous bands from San Francisco to New York, including Fall Harbor, The Jug Stompers, The Darklings, Corner Tourand Down River.

Ryder Cooley has participated in a wide range of public works, educational projects and international shows. Selected works have been performed and installed at locations including: Governors Island, White Box and Exit Art galleries in NYC, Yerba Buena and Theater Artaud in San Francisco, El Visio Theater in Mexico City, the Robert Wilson Watermill Center on Long Island, Pan American Art Projects in Miami (FL), and public art projects in Indonesia, El Salvador, France and the Czech Republic. Ryder received an MFA in Electronic Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a BFA in Sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design. From 1993-2004 she was an active member of the San Francisco art and music communities. Ryder currently lives in Hudson, New York. carolynrydercooley.org

New Media artist Bart Bridger Woodstrup's work takes the form of traditional musical composition, real-time interactive audio/video performance, multimedia installation and networked experience. Hiswork lies within the union of electronic sound/image, space/object, and science/technology. A formal training in the visual arts provided the underpinning of his approach to sonic composition, in essence remapping Kandinsky's studies back onto sound. Symbiotically, Bart's visual works are often articulators of sonic realizations - a synesthesia.

He holds a Masters of Music from Northern Illinois University and a Masters of Fine Art from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His work is shown regularly throughout the U.S. and abroad, and has been included at Siggraph, Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts, Society for Electro Acoustic Music, Spark Festival of Electronic Music and Arts, Not Still Art Festival, Version>03, and the Chicago Underground Film Festival. bartwoodstrup.com

Bart and Ryder met in the MFA program at Rensselaer Polytechnic, where they performed together in Pauline Oliveros’ music ensemble, Tintinnabulate. They began working on the Animalia animation in the spring of 2009.

Bob Cain
Monocerus is Bob’s first feature film, which he greatly enjoyed shooting entirely in Norway.

Bob has been acting, directing, and designing theater sets and lights for 35 years. He is a member of Stage Coach Players Inc. in DeKalb, IL. He has played such roles as Ben Rumson in Paint your Wagon, HC in the Rainmaker, Stage manager in Our Town, Hector Nations in Foxfire and Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman.

Bob Cain is a retired tool and dye maker. He grew up in Chicago but moved to the DeKalb/Sycamore area in 1956. Bob is looking forward to engaging in Q&A after screenings of Monocerus.

Nathan and Seth Anderson

Raised in Iron Mountain, Michigan, brothers Seth and Nathan Anderson have been working creatively together since they could walk, with Nathan displaying talent as a visual artist, and Seth developing as a writer and editor. After going separate ways to earn art degrees, the duo gravitated back together and moved to Los Angeles in 2004 to continue where they left off. With Producer Jason Hagen, a native of Minnesota who formed a friendship with Nathan during college, the brothers co-formed Lullskull Ltd. in 2006 and have since created two short character-driven genre films.

Jason Hagen

In addition to producing Lullskull Ltd.'s films, Jason has also worked as a post-production supervisor on television series in LA/NY. Jason is currently overseeing the East Coast division of Lullskull Ltd., where he continues to develop films and produce challenging work with Nathan and Seth Anderson. A native of Minnesota, he currently resides in New York City, NY.

Chuck Kelly

Chuck Kelly (Producer, Director, Cinematographer) has been working in the Entertainment business since 1990. . He served 4 years in communication operations in the United States Army; He has attended University Of Texas, Aurora University and Collage of Dupage for Multi Media Arts. He has done freelance camera work for various production companies and produced an award winning cable TV show Spinnin Wheels. Chuck has produced and directed many Cable TV specials, music videos, infomercials, corporate demos and short films.feature films include Space Daze, Co-Producer. Michael Morlock, Executive Producer. Not Another B Movie, Producer. Dr.Spine, Producer, Animals, Earth & Us, Producer.

Andrew Marcus McCormick
Born and raised in Sycamore, Il., Mr. McCormick traveled to Milwaukee, WI, where he earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. After a year abroad he returned to the US and completed a Master of Arts in Communication from Northern Illinois University, where he created The Legendary Dee Palmer and His Fantastic Band as part of his thesis work.

Other work Mr. McCormick has participated in includes REACH: Connect Your Children to an Education (Director, Post- Production) and On the Edge (Co-editor). He spent the summer of 2009 as a Post-Production intern for Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in California. Most recently, he worked as an editor on On the Edge, the latest documentary produced by Diane Nilan, the CEO of Hear Us Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading awareness of homelessness. Andrew is currently living in Los Angeles, CA, and is working in television.

Michael McMillan
Michael McMillan's reputation for creative thinking and delivering innovative results is well deserved. Early in his career, Michael founded a visual communication firm that soon attracted a client roster that read like the Who’s Who of Business. His diverse portfolio of award-winning work has been recognized by major design, marketing, advertising and communication organizations around the world.

After 20 consecutive years of growth, Michael sold his firm to pursue other interests and to share his unique insight on creative thinking. Michael’s breadth of knowledge and experience, combined with his story-telling ability, make him a much-sought-after public speaker, panelist, and consultant. michaelmcmillan.com