Eric Michael Kochmer
WMMINTL Co-Founder & Executive Director
Kochmer is an writer/director/producer with a background in experimental theater, mentored under Elizabeth Swados at LaMama Theatre after graduating from Marymount Manhattan College. Upon relocating to LA he produced and starred in avant garde filmmaker George Landow’s film DIALOGUES (2009). Kochmer’s directorial feature film debut WAY DOWN IN CHINATOWN found distribution through 366WeirdMovies and Amazon. 2018 saw the release of his second feature ABOUT STRANGERS: Road Series Volume I (Best Picture Award, Innuendo International Film Festival). His third feature narrative, HER AND HIM, as well as his fourth feature, the documentary JACK MADE A PLAY ABOUT JOHN, are both slated to premiere in 2021. Kochmer also serves as the Chief of Production for the film collective and production company We Make Movies.
WMMINTL Co-Founder & Programming Director
Whit Spurgeon is an actor, director and producer. Prior to moving to LA in 2009, he spent 20 years in Chicago acting in award-winning plays such as the long-running "Hizzoner" at Prop Theatre, the world premieres of Rebecca Gilman's "The Glory of Living" and "The Crime of the Century" at Circle Theatre, "Awake and Sing!" and “Paradise Lost” at Timeline Theatre. While in Chicago he also appeared in over two dozen TV commercials for clients like Verizon, Citgo, and Pick 'n Save Supermarkets. Since arriving in Los Angeles, his TV appearances include Fresh Off the Boat, Liza On Demand, Cougar Town, and, most recently, To Tell The Truth. He also has featured roles in numerous films, among them the cult horror favorites VICTOR CROWLEY and CHASTITY BITES. When Whit gets the urge, he’s been known to direct a short film here and there – most notably festival favorites PRESENT TENSE, THE INTERVIEW, and the award-winning THUMP.
TEHANA FATIMA WEEKS
Assistant Festival Director
A native Houstonian with Liberian roots, Tehana is an actor, artist, entertainer and business professional who serves, uplifts, inspires, and empowers people to make our communities, societies, and world better. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University with a major in business and minor in drama, she’s an award-winning actor and filmmaker. To date, she’s created and produced the web series Shrink Wrapped, for which she was nominated ‘Oustanding Lead Actress in a Comedy’ by LA Web Fest, wrote, produced, directed and starred in the short film COIN which is the winner of a WorldFest Houston Bronze Remi Award, and most recently, produced and directed the short film Mama Wanna, a 2019 We Make Movies Film Challenge winner (currently in post-production). Tehana is a world traveler, a nature lover, a life-long learner and she delights in all things food!
Submissions Judge (Music Video)
Reena Dutt is a crossover theatre+film director, Project Involve alumni, KRF Producing Fellow, and 2021-2022 Drama League NY Directing fellow. She most recently directed the short films SCATTERED (Honorable Jury Mention from Mumbai Shorts International Film Festival), and FOUND which is about to hit festivals. Dutt directed TOO MANY BODIES, a music video for "Place Called Us" by Alex Mackey and also a socially driven piece advocating for gun reform, which was picked up by NoRAnow.org and SurvivorsEmpowered.org, and won over 11 awards nationally in the festival circuit. She previously directed the short 3 PUFFS OF GOLD, a piece about domestic violence, and was a finalist for New Filmmakers’ Los Angeles: On Location competition with her film "SNAPSHOT!" (2011). On stage, she received an LA Times Critic's Pick for ANTIGONE, PRESENTED BY THE GIRLS OF ST. CATHERINE'S by Madhuri Shekar in Los Angeles, and most recently directed THE SEVENTEENTH CHAPEL by Aditi Brennan Kapil in New York. As a producer (creative+line), her films have been seen at Sundance, LAFF, Outfest, Frameline, Whistler, Cucalorous, and NBCUniversal Shorts to name a few, and she has worked with artists John Legend ("Penthouse Floor" music video) , Lulu Wang ("Touch" NBCUniversal Shorts Award Winner) and Tanuj Chopra ("Chee&T" Special Jury Prize at LAFF). www.ReenaDutt.com
Submissions Judge (Web Series / TV Pilots)
Iowa native Kincaid Walker is an award-winning series creator/actress/producer/writer. Her series about a professional cuddler Hug It Out won awards and played at festivals all across the country, including SeriesFest, Austin Film Festival and Atlanta Film Festival. Her digital pilot The Grown-Up Mermaid (co-written and produced with her husband, Jason Eksuzian) made the virtual and live festival rounds last year. She was also one-half of the DINKS (dual-income-no-kids) in the viral comedy web series. As an actress, Kincaid has also guest-starred or recurred on series such as Parks and Recreation, Speechless (on ABC with Minnie Driver), My Name is Earl, Gilmore Girls, and Castle, and she has appeared in over two dozen national commercials with directors like Ron Howard, Bob Odenkirk, and Phil Morrison. She earned her magna cum laude degree from Northwestern University in Theatre and is currently looking forward to making the feature film Starseed with her husband in Iowa next year.
Betty Kaplan is an actor, a do-it-all-yourself filmmaker and a member of the Kino movement (founded in Canada in 1999, the community now has about 70 cells around the world). After years in the NYC independent theatre scene and acting in indie film productions around Europe and in Israel, she is now based in Berlin, creating unconventional short films with her international multilingual crew. Her short film A Youtuber and a Demon screened to enthusiastic approval at We Make Movies International Film Festival in 2021, and has received recognition in other festivals and competitions around the world. Betty is excited to connect We Make Movies with like-minded creatives from across the ocean.
Steve is from Pittsburgh. And Chicago. There's a bit of Boston in him too. He doesn't have a ton of film work to include in a bio so instead he likes to talk about Star Wars, literature, and pizza. Pizza without pineapple that is. If you try to talk to him about putting pineapple on pizza he won't be responsible for what happens next.
David Beatty is known for his work on The Wasteland, GET SPY, Lien On Me and his feature film, Surviving New Year's. David is a multidisciplinary artist who works in film, TV, theater, online media, photography, ceramics and more. He embraces DIY creativity and DIY entertainment, and believes artists have the responsibility to provoke positive change in the world. He’s drawn to matters of the environment, sustainability, human rights, feminism, global responsibility and the simple philosophy that forgiveness, love and understanding will make the world a better place. He lives in Los Angeles and you can learn more about his work at his website: www.davidbeatty.net
Marcus J Freed
Marcus J Freed is an actor, author, educator and filmmaker. He trained at Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and has toured 20 countries performing his one-man Biblical comic plays. His music videos include Livin’ La Vida Kosher and The Hebrew Hamilton, and his films include Love & Consent. Marcus writes the popular “Satirical Semite” column for the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, and also wrote a trilogy of award-winning bestseller books including The Kosher Sutras and The Kabbalah Sutras. They are based on a teaching system he created that infuses yoga with Biblical and mystical wisdom. Marcus has been a member of the We Make Movies community since 2017. You can follow his adventures at www.marcusjfreed and on social @marcusjfreed.
Submissions Judge (Horror / Thriller)
Michael Klug was born and raised in South Dakota. He's an actor, screenwriter, screenplay consultant and film critic living in Los Angeles. His screenplays have been selected for, placed in or won over three dozen film festivals and screenplay competitions. His feature spec "Mom Died" was the Horror Genre Winner at 2019's Creative Screenwriting Unique Voices, and his feature spec "Boys" was a Top Five Finalist at 2021's Screamfest. In 2021, he wrapped production in the lead role of Monte Light's BLOOD COVERED CHOCOLATE, an indie horror film expecting a 2022 release. For any and all information on Michael, visit his website at notmymess.com
Submissions Judge (Sci-fi / Fantasy)
Peter McCully is a writer, director, producer and lecturer living in Auckland, New Zealand. Peter worked in visual effects for the film industry for over 25 years, running visual effects company
Albedo VFX, overseeing work for numerous feature films, television films and series, and he has several awards and nominations to show for it. He directed the NZFC funded short film Eeling (2009), and wrote and directed the short film The Gully. He was associate producer of the telefeature “Jean” (2016), and on “Kiwi Christmas” (2017). Peter’s visual effects work for “Jean” earned him a New York Festivals Silver Medal. His first short film with Media Design School, “Kino Ratten,” was selected by several international film festivals in 2020, winning seven awards including Palm Springs Animation Festival, Irvine International Film Festival, and Best Film at the 2020 We Make Movies International Film Festival, as well as nominations for screenwriting.
Submissions Judge (Comedy)
Anna Keizer originally hails from the Chicagoland area but now calls LA home. After receiving her B.A. in Film/Video from Columbia College Chicago, she moved to California and finished her M.A. in Film Studies from Chapman University. She has also graduated from UCLA’s Writing for
Television Professional Program and just finished the festival circuit on her dark comedy short She Had It Coming, which she wrote and executive produced. The film was an Official Selection of 25 film festivals with several awards won for it among them. In her spare time, Anna cohosts the podcast ‘80s Movie Montage with her husband, Derek.
Submissions Judge (Mobile Film)
Described as a “tornado in a linen closet,” Aubrey is a NYU and William Esper Studio trained actor who made the leap to Los Angeles. She got her start playing Daddy Warbucks in her grade school play (it was an all-girls’ school) and fell in love with performing (but not with wearing bald caps). She produced and acted in,WMM's first 1/2 hour comedy series, OFF THE GRID. Thanks to an early interest in technology, and parents who didn’t think extracurricular computer classes would be socially impairing, Aubrey began working with various small companies building their online communities. Able to apply her geeky tendencies to her true passion – film (apologies to slow cooked bbq ribs), she is thrilled to be working with her fellow eccentrics at WMM.
Sharon A. Mooney
Submissions Judge (Experimental)
Sharon A. Mooney is a filmmaker and editor working in experimental and narrative modes focused on investigating desire and the human condition. Her short films and installations have screened internationally in festivals and galleries. Her editing work ranges from experimental narrative, to drama, to horror, to comedy, to a tv kids show, to whatever it takes to keep her from being bored. She watches an excessive amount of tv but says it's for "work."
Stephanie is a writer/actor/filmmaker from Broken Heart, Missouri, the subject of her feature film (Tribeca All Access Award for New Voices in Screenwriting). She recently wrote Heathen, a 60-million dollar Lesbian-Viking Epic based on the Vault Comic with Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight) directing. Her sexy female boxing feature, Perfect Addiction she wrote for Constantin Films (Resident Evil) and Endeavor Content just wrapped shooting in Poland. She wrote Talking Tom, a live-action-comedy based on the APP with Raja Gosnell (Smurfs) directing for Marla Studios and optioned body-positive dance-comedy Dance Party to AGC Studios. She is currently adapting petticoat soldier film My Last Skirt for Grand Slam Productions, and developing feature Eve:The Escape From Eden with DiNovi Pictures and Margaret French-Isaac. She sold her original comedy Pyramid to FX w Rob McElhenney (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) EPs and sold a pitch to Mila Kunis’ Orchard Farms & ABC Signature, then wrote, starred and produced autobiographical pilot The High Life, starring opposite Amy Landecker, winning multiple awards at the Austin Film Festival, Hollywood Reel Independent, Dances With Films and Bentonville Film Festivals. Before all of that she wrote, produced and showran short form series Chat. Like. Love. to Dreamworks' AwesomenessTV., has adapted over nine books to features, and as an actress, has performed in many series and films, including co-starring in Amazon's 37 Problems and the upcoming Netflix feature The List.
Tara Samuel is a Canadian award-winning actor, writer, producer and filmmaker (and proud co-founder of We Make Movies). She is a professor of film performance at George Brown Theatre School, has been published in Moviemaker Magazine, wrote and recorded the kid-empowering children’s album "Be Who You Are" with Paula Tiberius, and is the founder of YourWritingChampion.com. Recent acting roles include the award-winning film The Magnitude Of All Things (dir. Jennifer Abbott), Polarized (dir. Shamim Sarif), the Netflix series Painkiller, and playing “Rose” in award winning Wild Prairie Rose (dir. Deborah LaVine and opposite Oscar winner Troy Kotsur). Tara is a recipient of a Canadian Screen Award Nomination for Best Lead Actress in a series for her role “Vangeline Neddeaus” in award-winning CBC original The Neddeaus of Duqesne Island, and is widely known for her role of "Tara Williams" in long-running series Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye, which continues to air around the world. She is also producer-actor of the films Ruby Booby, Prairie Sonata, The Rwanda Blend, and Find (Nominated Best Narrative Short at the Austin Film Festival). Her company Baubo’s Plan produces tv and film scripts that illuminate the ferocity and complexity of women’s journeys and triumphs, with the goal of igniting love, awakening and empowerment in all humans.
YU JUNG HOU
Yu Jung Hou was born and raised in Taiwan. She grew up a self-conscious girl who escaped into the world of novels and manga, giving her the perfect storytelling roots for her present-day career. During her three years at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, Yu Jung developed a reputation as an editor/director. One of the films she worked on, Drone, was a Student Academy Award finalist in 2015. Her directorial debut, FaFu, received the nod from multiple festivals. She has since worked on some of America's favorite shows and movies, such as THE MANDALORIAN and SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS. In light of how movies and shows have entertained as well as saved and transformed her, Yu Jung is dedicated to creating narratives that convey the world in a unique light that reveals itself once you give it a chance. Her favorite animal is the capybara and her favorite animated movie is My Neighbor Totoro.
After graduating from SUNY Purchase in the early aughts, Allen Cordell directed music videos for Beach House, Dan Deacon, Girl Talk, Future Islands, Spank Rock and a handful of other notable indie acts... while simultaneously learning the nuts and bolts of commercial production / post-production in NYC. After moving to Los Angeles in 2015, he spent the next several years churning out content for the internet-obsessed at Super Deluxe, where he created the hybrid horror-comedy / art-instruction / interview show Drawing with Skinner. Cordell’s 2022 short film, The Lizard Laughed, adapted from a comic by Noah Van Sciver, is his narrative debut. He's excited to be a judge in the We Make Movies 2022 International Film Festival.
Gabriela, born and raised in Dothan, Alabama, landed her first role as Carlita in the ABC Family movie, Teen Spirit, now on Disney+. Since, she can be seen in UPtv's movie Coffee Shop alongside Laura Vandervoort, Disney's Million Dollar Arm, and plays Lizbeth, the best friend of Cassie Sullivan (Chloe Grace Moretz) in Sony’s The 5th Wave. Additional acting credits include: iCarly, Rosewood, Casual, The Browsing Effect. Gabriela also wrote, starred and produced award- winning short film, Unrelated. She is set to star in the film Skate God, alongside Evan Ross and Chloe Bridges, and is currently producing and starring in feature film Better Get Lit with Academy Award winner Sam Rockwell. Set to release this year: Gabriela produced and starred in Divine Air with Josh Pafchek (Love, Victor) and is starring in an indie feature directed by Noam Kroll, as she also just wrapped season one of her recurring role on Disney+ The Crossover. In addition to acting, Gabriela is in the Directing Certificate program at UCLA and owns glö acting studio.
Marketing & PR
Sapna Gandhi is an actor, singer-songwriter, and content creator. In addition to TV credits such as Bosch, Shameless and Scandal, she has appeared in numerous shorts, features, and series, including festival darlings In Absentia (Raindance) and Thumper (Tribeca). Gandhi created the comedic series Broad Strokes, has produced and starred in projects under the umbrella of her production company Elegant Grotesque), and has produced several series and films (most recently Scrap, starring Anthony Rapp and Vivian Kerr, and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds’ Stranded On The Earth). She is also 1/2 of the musical duo, VATAVARAN, was born in England, raised all over the states, studied English and Women’s Studies, and trained at San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre. firstname.lastname@example.org
We Make Movies Co-Founder & CEO
Sam Mestman is the CEO of We Make Movies, the Founder of Lumaforge (www.lumaforge.com) and the lead contributor for the largest Final Cut Pro X website in the world, fcp.co (www.fcp.co). As a professional editor and colorist, he has worked for Apple, ESPN, Glee, and Break Media (to name a few), and has edited or colored hundreds of shorts, features, web series, and probably every other type of content you can think of. He is also the architect behind some of the largest FCPX integrations in the world, including Focus, the world’s first studio feature edited with Final Cut Pro X. His current passion is video literacy and bringing We Make Movies' Smartphone Studio mobile filmmaking workshops to communities around the world.