Meet Our Professional Mentors …
This core group of professional filmmakers have worked with Cinema Ed over the years to assist the student filmmakers with all phases of creating their short films. They bring their talents and experiences from all areas of filmmaking and teaching. From pre-production to the actual shoot to post-production, our team of mentors help to storyboard, plan, shoot and edit the films that high school and college students create in our FilmBoot24 programs and also teach our in-class programming.
Abigail Zealey Bess
Abigail is an award winning Filmmaker and Theatre Director. Her company, Weird Sisters specializes in developing and producing theatrical and feature film projects. She has worked extensively in New York at EST, The Foundry Theatre, Ohio Theatre, Soho Repertory Theatre, Cherry Lane Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, Here, Cort Theatre Broadway, and internationally on the West End in London. Current projects include the award winning Mary and Louise on the film festival circuit, (Best Short film screenplay LA FF, Brit Penrod Audience Award, Accolade Award Competition Special Merit, Best Composer Score Garden State FF, Best Short Festival Imperia, Short Film Sharer Finalist) and Icarus Stops For Breakfast. She is on the Faculty for the Graduate Film Program at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University and is represented by Access Talent.
Janice C. Molinari was the Co-founder and President of 9 Hill Productions (formerly Brisun Productions.) for fifteen years. An award-winning Producer, Director and Director of Photography—whose work is known and respected throughout the industry, her work has garnered her 6 Emmy Awards and more than 16 Emmy Nominations. Since launching her career in 1991 at MTV, Janice has enjoyed high-profile, professional opportunities. Her work has spanned the fields of sports, documentaries, live stage events, public service campaigns, commercials and series. She has directed some of the biggest names in the entertainment and sports world. During her freelance career, Janice joined the CBS team for the Nagano Olympics, and the NFL Today. For 12 years she worked documenting families raising children with Autism for Comedy Central’s “Night of Too Many Stars”. 2013 marked the tenth season (and 100th episode) of Yankees On Deck, the three time Emmy award winning kids show for the New York Yankees which Janice co-created, produced and directed. Janice’s projects have included producing and directing series’ for CBS, ESPN, MTV, Discovery ID, NBC, FS1, National Geographic and YES Network, documentary and entertainment specials for Discovery Channel, USA Network, Tennis Channel and Comedy Central and corporate work for IBM, JetBlue and Wyndham Hotels. Currently, she is working with Amazon and Stephen David Entertainment on “American Playboy – The Hugh Hefner Story” for release in April 2017. She is also proud to be part of a team of seasoned entertainment veterans creating a new network on the web for women. NetworkBE will be launched on June 1, 2017. An acclaimed filmmaker, Janice also seeks independent projects that she hopes will inspire others to social actions.
Ash S. Patel
Ashish Patel has been involved in filmmaking since 2007. He attended Rutgers University for Computer Science, and during then he developed an interest in photography. He later attended film school at the NJ Film School to learn the art of filmmaking. Ashish always wanted to direct films, and as he delved further into filmmaking, his photogrpahy interest turned into a love for cinematography. He has made three independent short films with his own crew, and he has been recognized for his cinematography efforts. He has also had the chance to work as a director, and various other positions on film sets. His latest film is playing at the Garden State Film Festival.
Born in Newark, NJ, Pamm Malveaux graduated from New York University Tisch School of the Arts. Her first job was as a production assistant at the ad agency BBDO where she worked on Pepsi, Pillsbury, GE and Black & Decker accounts, and with production company Iris Films working with Ridley and Tony Scott, Howard Guard and Richard Avedon. After that, Classic Concepts signed her as a music video director for Sean P. Diddy Combs’ Bad Boy Interscope label, Warner Brothers, EMI, MCA, Sony Music, Capitol Records, Atlantic Records and Motown. Pamm would go on to sign with Riviera Films, where she joined a roster of directors that included “Good Will Hunting director Gus Van Sant. Her first project under the Rivera banner was a video for 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, blues legend Buddy Guy’s song “Some Kind of Wonderful.” She also directed the Disney Channel’s “Brandy and Ray J Summer Concert”. Currently, Pamm freelances directing and producing “branded entertainment” for network, cable and internet syndication, including The SOXSO Festival Collisions Concert honoring BB King and Joe Cocker at the South Orange Performing Arts Center.
Alysha is currently a Producer/Videographer for America’s largest hip hop radio station HOT 97, WBLS and LIB and handles Public Relations and Communications at Emmis Communications . She is also a cast member of Black Girl Podcast, a recently launched audio show about sisterhood, pop culture and the personal experiences as 20-something-year-old, career-focused black women. The five-woman cast all hail from Hot 97, hip-hop’s most notorious radio station, and its parent company, Emmis Communications. It was there that the podcast idea evolved from a 10-second Snapchat video to a blueprint for a new venture. Alysha graduated from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-Newark with a Bachelor of Arts in Video Production. Her many skills include After Effects, Video Production, Video Editing, Final Cut Pro, Film Production, Studio Camera Operation, Professional Lighting, Script-writing, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Social Media, Public Relations, Digital Media, Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Event Planning, Videography, Creative Direction, Acting, Screenwriting, Video, Facebook, Television, Photography, Photoshop, Blogging, Event Management, and Editing.
Eric Richardson-Hagans is a self taught award winning director/producer. As a producer he won his first award for the short "Anguish." Then, inspired by the book "Rebel Without a Crew", he wrote, directed, scored and edited the award winning film "DAMON". He has directed two original stageplays, “Truth Between the Sheets” written by Michael Francis and “If Only Yesterday”, written by Eric. His 2012 screenplay “The Ballad of John Henry,” was a semi-finalist at the Hollywood Black Film Festival. It tells the legendary story of the former slave who raced a machine in the West Virginia mountains. His latest short film “Chance Encounter” written by Paul J. Williams, to date has won 5 awards and screens at the SOMA film festival March 17th, 2018. He is currently in pre-production for his next project, a crime drama written by Paul J. Williams, entitled “Rolling Dark.”
At the age of 18, Don Riemer’s life ambition shifted from Oceanography to film making. He studied photography, graphic design and related disciplines at Brookdale Community College, later at the University of Wisconsin. A string of beer-and-rent jobs unexpectedly led to a consulting position at AT&T in 1986, where things suddenly became interesting. Collaborating here with brother Chris, Don suddenly found use for all those creative skills picked up years before. After four years as staff writer/director at New York Television, he went independent in 1992. Today, Don offers media design, writing, and production services to a variety of clients in the corporate, nonprofit and education sectors. He pursues screenwriting on his own, and is the award winning author of 25 short scripts and four features. Don also teaches Film Post Production at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Zach is a film producer, director and writer. Director of “The Not-So-Wright Brothers” and "You, Me and Bananas?" which was screened at the Hampton International Film Festival. Zach also serves on editorial staff of Films in Review magazine. Learn more at www.zacharytowlen.com. In Zach's own words: "There is no fine line when it comes to film and me. If one tried to separate the two, it would be impossible. Believe me, I fully understand how dramatic this sounds. I can't remember a time in my life where I wasn't focused on film making, but at a young age, one has their limitations. I stuck mostly to writing plays and participating in the theater. I always tried to outdo myself with every small film project. The movies would be short, barely pieced together, and starring the only actor available at the time, me. Through each film, I learned from my failures. A jumpy cut, a lighting issue, or how you don't need words to tell the story, all were teaching me how to make movies.."
Joanna 'Priss' Medina
Joanna is an assistant director and director, known for Eyeless Jack (2018), Curiosity (2018) and Simple Wishes (2019), and has always had her hands in the arts. She began to pursue a career in filmmaking early in her college years at Union County College. After the Film Club had been abandoned she had re-established and gave students the opportunity to be involved on non-Union sets all around New Jersey and New York. Since then Joanna has made a name for herself as an independent director, a writer and a sound technician on multiple film projects as well as her own. Ranging from working on live sets to short films, no set is ever too big or too small.
Vicki Speegle is an ice cream addict, movie fanatic, and writer who lives in New Jersey. She grew up the daughter of a gay pastor in Akron, Ohio where she played second mom to two rowdy younger brothers. Her infatuation with storytelling began at the age of five when she sent a love letter to Donny Osmond, and since then she's worked an odd mix of jobs to support her writing, including 4 years in the U.S. Navy tracking submarines and a brief bout as the world's worst waitress. She earned her BFA in Film Production from NYU. Her script LOVED ONES was in development at Amazon Studios and was finalist for Best Screenplay of the Year there. Recently it was a finalist for the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. Vicki's work has also placed in the top 5 of Bluecat and 2nd place on Francis Ford Coppola's Zoetrope.com. She is currently producing a documentary about her mother's struggle with faith in the wake of Alzheimers, IN THE NIGHT I REMEMBER YOUR NAME. Her credits include a teen comedy for Applause Films and some really rhythmic radio scripts for jazz great Wynton Marsalis. When she can't make enough to buy ice cream she works as a web producer. And she is still waiting for Donny's response.
Paul J. Williams
Born and raised in the Great State of New Jersey, Paul J. Williams started film school at the age of eight when his parents took him to the theater to see his first movie: "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial." Since then, he has become a multi-award-winning screenwriter, producer, director, and consultant based in the New York City-area. In 2010, he founded Rolling Dark Productions and has had several movies screen at film festivals throughout the world. His screenplays have reached the Quarterfinals, Top 10%, Top 15%, and the Top 20% in the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting; the Semifinals and Second Round in the Austin Film Festival; and the Semifinals in the CineStory Feature Retreat Competition. Paul is an alumnus of the New Jersey Film School; a member of the New Jersey Screenwriters' Group; and a screenplay reader/analyst for the Austin Film Festival's Screenplay Competition (First and Second/Quarterfinal Rounds) and for Catch & Release Films (PRECIOUS, 127 HOURS, FOXCATCHER, MUD, WIN WIN). Paul is currently in production on a documentary series about the legalization of marijuana in New Jersey.
Christopher Barcia grew up in Edison NJ, and started his film career in Middlesex County College. When he decided to switch majors from business to film he opened his world to the creativity and industry he always longed for. Chris pushed the limits of self teaching following online tutorials, and hands on experiences with his own equipment, to become the filmmaker he is today. Christopher has multiple credits on IMDb from various productions as a director, writer, editor, cinematographer, and continues to grow his experience in the film industry today. Among the many films he is known for are Eyeless Jack (2018), Curiosity (2018) and Simple Wishes (2019).
Danielle is an awarding winning Producer/Director known for the LA Web Series Award Winning Series "Brooklyn Is In Love.” Danielle has been working in the film industry for 8 years. She is a member of the Writer's Guild of America East, and has been recognized in the media for the critically acclaimed films and featured in many publications such as Curve Magazine, AfterEllen, SheWired, Women of Upstate New York, and News 12 New Jersey. She has won three awards, including the Award of Recognition for the Best In Shorts Competition, and Best Audience Choice of the Month Award at Direct Monthly Online Festival, and LA Independent Film Festival Awards. Danielle is also proud to be the Film Teacher at Orange High School.
Nina-Simone Brie Crawford
Nina Simone Brie Crawford is an independent filmmaker from Orange New Jersey. In 2020 she graduated from John P Stevens High School in Edison then enrolled at The New School in New York. Nina-Simone first began making photo series in 2018 where she covered topics from motion sickness to self-expression, and deeper topics such as bullying and vulnerability in the black community. She then started to incorporate videography by writing and directing trailers for her series’. Her love for filmmaking grew over the years which led up to her writing and directing two independent short films, ‘The Cleaning Lady’ and ‘Vegan Diet’, which were featured at the 2022 SOMA Film Festival. Nina-Simone has proudly collaborated with Cinema Ed and Drew University for the past 4 years where she’s worked on six short films. Recently, she began mentoring film students at Orange High School in New Jersey.
Xyon Lucas & Kadin Cook
Cinema Ed is excited to bring on board for the first time, two former Orange High School students as Mentors! Xyon Lucas and Kadin Cook both participated in all of the previous FilmBoot24 events over the past years, and each of them have won several awards, including Grand Jury Prizes for “The Game of Life,” “Tides of Time” and “Where are They Now?” as well as awards for several other films, including “All In” and “Wake Up”. Xyon’s focus is photography and Kadin specializes in music composition, but both are excellent filmmakers and we are glad that they have taken time from their college studies to come and help mentor the students from their former high school. This is what FilmBoot24 is all about!
Cinema Ed is also excited to bring on board Nia Hargrove, who participated in all of the previous FilmBoot24 events over the past years, and has won several awards, including awards for “#Hear Henrietta,” which was based on the story of Henrietta Lacks as portrayed in an HBO production "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks". "#Hear Henrietta" was praised by HBO's President of Global Distribution and was even viewed by the director of the HBO production, George C. Wolfe. We are so excited to have a veteran of FilmBoot24 as our mentor!