guests

Justin Chatwin

Justin Chatwin is a truly authentic actor who succeeds in all genres from drama to comedy, action and then some. Currently Justin is shooting Carol Mendelsohn’s pilot DOOMSDAY for ABC. He plays the role of ‘Chris Wyatt,’ a respected Navy SEAL who is referred to as “Captain America by way of Harvard.” He plays the role of ‘Chris Wyatt,’ a respected Navy SEAL who is referred to as “Captain America by way of Harvard.” In 2016 he played the lead on the CBS series AMERICAN GOTHIC, a one-hour murder mystery series from Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television and CBS Television Studios, which premiered in the summer.

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Emma Bell

Emma recently wrapped starring in the independent feature DIFFERENT FLOWERS. She was most recently seen in the award-winning director Terence Davies’ biopic A QUIET PASSION, starring as the young American poet Emily Dickinson in her late teens, and in her latter years played by Cynthia Nixon. The film had its world premiere at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. After several seasons on DALLAS, she was previously seen starring in Frank Darabont’s first season of the AMC series, THE WALKING DEAD.

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Hope Lauren

Equally at home in both drama and comedy, Hope Lauren is best known for her portrayal of “BizarroGirl” in CW’s Supergirl.  Her feature credits include The Valley and a lead role in the indie Different Flowers. Other screen credits include  TNT’s Major Crimes and MTV’s Awkward.  Off screen, her stage credits include Spring Awakening, Proof, and Almost Maine. Hope was born in New Orleans and raised in Austin, Texas.

Morgan Dameron

Morgan Dameron is a writer, director and producer who has always blazed her own path. Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Dameron was awarded the Women in Film and Television in Kansas City’s “Trailblazer Award” for Up and Coming Women in Film while still in high school. She received a Trustee scholarship to the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, where she graduated summa cum laude. Her award-winning short films have been selected for film festivals worldwide. After graduating, she worked at Bad Robot Productions on such films as STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS, and STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS. Premiering to sold out crowds at the 2017 Santa Barbara International Film Festival and now embarking on a successful festival circuit, DIFFERENT FLOWERS is her first feature film. She lives in Los Angeles with a growing collection of ukuleles.

Nnegest Likké

Nnegest Likké is an award winning, internationally-based filmmaker with a passion for telling unique and uplifting stories that inspire people. From humble beginnings, she grew up in the inner-city of Oakland, but got the rare chance to begin traveling the world at a young age with her mom, visiting countries across Europe and Africa where her father a famous Ethiopian Freedom Fighter is from. Before becoming a professionally recognized writer, director and producer, she was a high school English and Drama teacher in Los Angeles for 4 years where she discovered a calling for mentoring at-risk youth. She got her start in the entertainment industry after one of her screenplays gained the attention of a top Hollywood Producer who helped launch her career. Her first feature film, Phat Girlz was distributed theatrically by Fox Searchlight. Via her Production Company, N’Vision Pictures, she continues to create cutting edge content for film, television and digital platforms.

Blake Robbins

Blake Robbins is an award winning writer, director and actor. THE SCENT OF RAIN & LIGHTNING is his second feature at the helm. He recently played the role of Tim Winter in Taylor Sheridan’s WIND RIVER opposite Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen. His feature film writing and directing debut, THE SUBLIME AND BEAUTIFUL was chosen as one of 10 narrative features to world premiere in competition at the 20th annual Slamdance Film Festival, it went on to play 13 festivals picking up 8 Grand Jury prizes, as well as being awarded the Leonardo Da Vincini Golden Horse Award for Best Actor at the Milan International Film Festival. As an actor, Blake began his career in NYC having performed in over 50 theatrical productions including Broadway and off-Broadway. He’s best known to television audiences for his performances as Dave Brass on the critically acclaimed HBO series OZ, as Tom Halpert (Jim’s older brother) on the hit NBC comedy THE OFFICE, as Mitch Glender on FX’s SONS OF ANARCHY, and as Dennis Evans on the TNT series LEGENDS, as well as another 30 plus television guest appearances.

Nancy Pickard

Nancy Pickard is known to the mystery-loving world as the author of the Jenny Cain series, the Marie Lightfoot series, the 2010 Kansas book of the year, THE VIRGIN OF SMALL PLAINS, and many short stories. This Kansas City native has won virtually every award that can be had in the American mystery field, including the Agatha, the Anthony, the Barry, and the Macavity, and she is a 4-time finalist for the Edgar Alan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America. She is the recipient of two Kansas Notable Book awards.She is a co-founder of Sisters In Crime and was a national board member of MWA. She is the author of the best-selling novel, THE SCENT OF RAIN AND LIGHTNING, on which the movie is based. She lives in Prairie Village, Ks., where she is finishing her 19th novel.

Deborah Maxwell Dion

Deborah Maxwell Dion has been casting for the past 22 years. Having worked on over 90 films, Deborah is known for the quality of the projects she chooses. Scent of Rain and Lightning is one of her favorite projects and is a part of the Kansas City Film Festival this year. She has also had the honor of working with many notable directors such as Tim Burton (Miss Peregrines Home For Peculiar Children, Alice in Wonderland, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory), Wes Anderson (The Grand Budaphest Hotel, Moonrise Kingdom), M. Night Shyamalan (The Visit, The Last Airbender and Split) and PJ Hogan (Peter Pan). Deborah is also known for her work with young actors and is often sought out to do child searches.

Michelle Davidson

Michelle Davidson is a four-time regional Emmy Award-winning writer, producer and TV host. Michelle co-wrote the feature film ARBOR DEMON with Director Patrick Rea, starring Fiona Dourif and Jake Busey. The thriller had a limited theatrical release and was distributed on VOD by Gravitas Ventures in 2017. Michelle is a writer for the TV show THE INSPECTORS, on the CBS Saturday morning line-up. She directed “The Perfect Note,” which won the Best Heartland Short Film at KC FilmFest in 2016. Her acting credits include the AMC TV show HALT & CATCH FIRE, the STARZ TV series BOSS, feature films LUCKY, NAILBITER and THE PROFIT. You can see Michelle on the small screen daily with the local entertainment show “Kansas City Live”

Katina Biticas

Katina Bitsicas is a new media artist who utilizes video, photography, and performance in her art works.  Her works explore the effects of crime, traumatic personal events, and architectural containments on the human psyche.  Shown both nationally and internationally, Katina has exhibited in multiple galleries, museums and festivals. Born in East Lansing, Michigan, Katina currently resides in Columbia, MO. She received her BA from Kalamazoo College, Post-Baccalaureate from SACI in Florence, Italy, and her MFA from the University of South Florida.  She is currently an Assistant Teaching Professor of Digital Storytelling at the University of Missouri.

Christina Campagnola

Christina Campagnola is an agent in the Independent Film Group at the Agency for the Performing Arts where she helps to package and sell independent films in the festival circuit. She also represents screenwriters and directors and consults for independent productions and film funds. Prior to joining the APA, Christina worked in production on various independent films and major television shows. She started her career in distribution at Screen Media, where she managed their SVOD platform. Campagnola also serves on the advisory board for the IFP, as well as on the Dean’s Council of the Florida State University Film School and as a mentor at the Ghetto Film School in the Bronx.

Mike White

Often mistaken for the ginger screenwriter/actor of the same name, Mike White began publishing the film fanzine Cashiers du Cinemart in 1994 and has been a contributor to publications such as CinemaScope, Paracinema, Detroit’s Metro Times, and Detour-Mag.com. He’s served on juries at the Slamdance, Cinekink, MicroCineFest, Blue Water, and Kansas City film festivals. Additionally, he’s been featured in the documentaries David Goodis: To a Pulp and The People Vs. George Lucas. In 2010, BearManor Media published Impossibly Funky: A Cashiers du Cinemart Collection. A collection of film reviews, Cinema Detours, was released in May, 2013.  He currently produces and hosts The Projection Booth podcast.

John Schwartz

Jonathan Schwartz held the position as President and Chief Operating Officer of Madonna’s Maverick Films. Under his leadership, Maverick was responsible for the launch of “Twilight” series, “Cody Banks,” and the “Percy Jackson” franchises.  After Schwartz left Maverick Films, he joined Relativity Media, where he was instrumental in creating the joint-venture partnership between Relativity and The Weinstein Company. This joint venture led to the  production of a list of titles, including “Nine” and the award winning film, “The Fighter.”  Most Recently, Mr. Schwartz has joined the amazing team at Critical Content as the Executive Producer for studio and new media projects for narrative scripted content.

 

Jeff Robison

Jeff Robison and writing and producing partner Casey Twenter, along with producer Jeff Johnson, made their first feature, THE JOGGER, in 2014. The film, which he co-directed with Twenter, was the recipient of three Best Narrative Feature awards. His second, RUDDERLESS, the directorial debut of William H. Macy, was chosen as the prestigious closing night film at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. In addition to THE SCENT OF RAIN AND LIGHTNING, Robison executive produced, wrote and directed the Verizon/go90 web series IN THE ROUGH, debuting this summer, and is currently in pre-production on his next feature film, THE SWIMMING LESSON. Robison, a 19-year public school teacher, still teaches part time in the Oklahoma City suburb of Piedmont, where he lives with his wife, Jeni, and their two children, Grace and Jake.

Matt Jacobson

Matt Jacobson is a cinematographer, producer, and director, with over 40 feature film and video credits to his name. Matt is also a Professor in the Department of Film and Media Studies at the University of Kansas, where has been teaching film and media production since 1999. As Director of Photography, Matt has taken three feature films to the Sundance Film Festival—a rare achievement for most working filmmakers, much less those who teach full-time. Matt’s latest project is the feature film THE PROFIT, written and directed by his creative partner, Kevin Willmott.

Casey Twenter

Kansas City native Casey Twenter is an award-winning screenwriter, producer, director and graphic designer.
Twenter completed his first full-length feature film, The Jogger, in 2013. For the project he partnered with his long time friend and collaborator Jeff Robison. The two wrote and directed the film, which went on to play well on the festival circuit picking up honors as Best Narrative Feature at its World Premiere in the LA Indie Festival and received the Heartland Award at the Kansas City Film Festival.
From there Twenter landed William H. Macy to direct his feature script, Rudderless, also co-written with Robison. The film boasts an acclaimed cast anchored by the talented Billy Crudup and Oscar nominated actors Laurence Fishburne and Felicity Huffman. Rudderless played to outstanding reviews as the coveted “Closing Night Film” at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was released later that year by Samuel Goldwyn & Paramount Pictures.
Twenter’s third film, THE SCENT OF RAIN AND LIGHTNING, is based upon the best-selling novel by Nancy Pickard. Starring Maika Monroe, Maggie Grace, Will Patton, Brad Carter, Logan Miller, Mark Webber, Bonnie Bedilia and Justin Chatwin. It will debut in 2017.
Most recently, Twenter helped Robison write and produce IN THE ROUGH, an 8-episode comedy series, for Verizon Hearst Media Partners.