MEET OUR INSTRUCTORS!
Born in Bogotá, Colombia, Katherine Borda began her career in the film industry as a unit
production manager for the feature film, Know Thy Enemy. After moving from Miami to Los
Angeles, Mrs. Borda got into the entertainment marketing business making her an award-
winning Executive Creative Director. Her experience abroad in Entertainment Marketing, both
domestically and internationally, includes over 200 Hispanic creative campaigns for Disney,
Paramount, Sony, and Warner Bros., with titles including The Avengers, Lego Ninjago,
Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Roma and Deadpool 2.
Jim Brennan is a producer, screenwriter (Apartment 212) and the owner of Hooligan Nation
Productions, which provides production services, equipment rentals, and consultation for indie
filmmakers, corporate and non-profit clients, as well as other production companies. He has
worked in the Colorado Film Industry for over 15 years with an office located at The [email protected]
He also really likes to eat.
Laura Carson is an actress, filmmaker and photographer who brings over 30 years of
entertainment industry experience to her headshot photography. As a working SAG-AFTRA
performer in LA, Albuquerque and Denver, she has current industry knowledge about how to
photograph actors to showcase their brand. She is the Chief Creative Officer of Working Artist
Group where she also teaches On-Camera acting and offers audition coaching.
Trai Cartwright, MFA, is a 30-year entertainment industry veteran and creative writing and business development specialist. While in Los Angeles, she was a screenwriter, independent film
producer, and story consultant and development executive for HBO, Paramount Pictures,
Universal Studios, and New Line Cinema. She was the Assistant Director of Leonardo
DiCaprio’s online endeavors and the Manager for 20 th Century Fox’s Mobile Studios. Trai
currently teaches creative writing, screenwriting, and producing for Western State Colorado
University, Denver University and CU Denver, conferences and cons, and one-on-one as a
development and story editor. She is the producer of docu-web series Hidden Tigers, and short
film Sundown Road. She is the current President of Women in Film and Media Colorado.
Lee Cipolla studied film at the University of Central Florida. His first two features, Harder They
Fall and Know Thy Enemy, were acquired by Lionsgate and distributed on Netflix. His third
feature, The Shift, starring Danny Glover, released on Amazon Prime along with his film
Reflection (made as part of Ron Howard’s “Imagination” program) and Lights Over Chautuaqua.
His film, Thunderdance was shot on the Warner Bros. lot and was a prize winner at AT&T’s
Create-a-thon. His recent film, Horizon, was purchased and distributed by Time Warner.
Story Driven Founder, Michael Collins is a long‐time performer and instructor, graduating from the renowned Second City Training Center in Chicago. Michael has performed on stage and in front of the camera in Chicago, Los Angeles and Denver, and was a national host for Outside TV. He is still active in the Denver improv community and can be seen on occasion performing at The Clocktower Caberet and The Avenue Theater.
Mitch Dickman, Industry Fair Consultant, is a producer and assistant director of both documentaries and narrative films. Among his many credits are Rolling Papers (2015), Hanna Ranch (2014), Being Evel (2015), Hoax (2019), Walden: Life in the Woods (2017) and Casting JonBenet (2017).
Shauna Earp-Ballinger has stood on all sides of the casting desk. She started as an actor; attended The College of Santa Fe in the world-renowned theatre arts program, was a working actor in NYC from 1992-2005 and continues to perform in the Denver theatre and film scene today. She was also in the talent agency world both in NYC with GoldStar Entertainment learning under Marty Fischer, Don Buchwold and Jackie Green and here in Denver at Big Fish Talent working side by side with Peter DeAnello. As a Casting Director she got her feet wet with Futuristic Films, then went on to freelance cast for several years before partnering with Annie Hamilton and Hamilton Casting in 2017.
Meryem Ersoz, Industry Fair Consultant, has produced feature films in budgets ranging from $200,000 to $3 million. Meryem is the only high-end producer in Colorado who also has her own cinematography reel, which gives her a unique grasp of not only the technical and creative arts, but also of the logistical and financial aspects of production. Meryem also runs operations for Blackwing ASL, Colorado’s premiere arm car company.
Tara Feiman is a Producer, Director, Casting Director, and Technical Advisor, working most
notably in the “Collaboration for the Hoopah!” Campaign from Dish Network; the University of
Colorado, The Disabilities Council of Denver, Reel Kids, and several others to create works in
Film, Theater, and Web series. Tara holds a MFA in Producing from The Academy of Art
University; a BFA in Theater, Film, and Television from The University of Colorado and
Goldsmiths College; she was also an intern with ICM (International Creative Management).
Screenwriter/director Haylar Garcia is represented by UTA and Heitmann Entertainment in LA.
During his decade plus career in the film industry, he has written and developed screenplays and
treatments for the following companies and producers: Sony, WB, Fox, Universal, Dimension,
Laika, Intrepid Films, Virgin Produced, Thunder Road, Dark Horse Comics, State Street
Pictures, Red Wagon, Image Comics, Temple Hill, Lloyd Levin (Hellboy),Bernie Goldman
(300), Joe Roth (Alice in Wonderland), Doug Wick (Gladiator) and a growing list of others. He
has written or co-written and directed three feature films, all of which have achieved VOD
and/or limited theatrical distribution.
Krista Gano has over 25 years in the entertainment industry. She started her career producing
and acting in the feature Chicks, Man. She then immersed herself in the business aspect of
Hollywood by spending the next five years as an assistant to Dustin Hoffman. Krista eventually
moved back to theatre, working with Tony Award-winning producers Steven Eich and Randall
Arney at the Geffen Playhouse. In 2002, Krista took on the role of Executive Director of The
Groundlings Theatre where she worked with actors such as Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo, Jim
Rash, Nat Faxon, Michaela Watkins, Will Forte, Edi Patterson, Melissa McCarthy, Steve
Mallory, Ben Falcone, Liz Feldman, Catherine Reitman, Kent Sublette & Mikey Day. In 2014,
she founded and is the director of The Working Artist Group, which offers career coaching,
classes and services for actors and creative entrepreneurs. Most recently, Krista directed and
produced the award-nominated short films Dime Short, The Family Hood and Losing Antonia,
the last of which is currently on the festival circuit. workingartistgroup.com
Kathryn Gould is a writer and actor with multiple local and national credits. Her writing has
won several awards, including a Best Original Theatre Award at the Trimedia Film Festival in
Fort Collins, Best Short Screenplay at the Visionfest film festival in New York, and Best
Comedy Feature Script at the Austin Revolution Film Festival. She was also one of three finalists
in the 2018 Seriesfest Storytellers’ Initiative. Seven years ago she joined Haylar Garcia and Jim
Brennan at the creative group Rumblepack. Apartment 212, co-written by all three and directed
by Haylar Garcia, is currently available on Amazon Prime. Now working with manager Tarik
Heitmann in Los Angeles, Kathryn recently wrote a sci-fi script for an up-and-coming German
director and has just been paired up with a successful animation director to write one of his
feature screenplay ideas. She is the current Vice President and founding President of Women in
Film and Media Colorado.
Victoria Lynne Hannu is an entrepreneur, the founder of Heart & Soul CEO and has a passion
for businesses with heart. As a business consultant, coach and mentor, her super-power is to
navigate and mitigate chaos, overwhelm and confusion while helping her clients to do what
they’re here to do. She is a bridge builder and guides high-achieving women create more
freedom for themselves and make a greater impact in the world.
Kathleen Ross Ham, co-owner and agent at local talent house Radical Artists Agency has 25
plus years in the industry. Starting out in NYC she worked in casting for Film, Television,
Commercials and Voice-Over. As co-owner of Radical, Kathleen is one of Denver’s premiere
talent agents. Ms. Ham also teaches an annual advanced voice over class at the Denver Center
Academy, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and represents the industry in a variety of
national and regional groups. She is also a regular guest speaker at a half dozen or more national
performing arts organizations and academic institutions.
Cassie Keefe began an interest in communications and media back in high school where she was
a host/producer/editor for the weekly announcement show. Falling in love with the idea of
creating something that was used to either entertain or inform the public, Cassie went to
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville to obtain a degree in Mass Communications, emphasis
on television production and public relations. While in college she worked as a production
assistant for Barlow Productions in St. Louis, working on corporate videos for Anheuser Busch,
Energizer and Disney. From 2007 – 2013 she worked as coordinating producer for several talk
shows at NBC Universal. In 2013, Cassie and her husband made the move cross-country to
Denver where she worked as a freelance field producer for MTV’s MADE. Since 2014 she has
been in her current position as the on-camera director and talent agent at Wilhelmina Denver, a
direct affiliate of Wilhelmina International. Cassie believes in supporting the media community
in Colorado and has been on the board of directors for the Colorado Film and Video Association
since 2014 and is the current president of the organization.
Liz Keyishian is currently Head Writer for a new animated preschool comedy series for Sesame Workshop and Apple Productions. She has written freelance kids’ animation writer for Sesame Street, Disney, Jr., Nickelodeon, PBS Kids and Mattel, among others. Her recent shows include Sesame Street – Season 49, Barbie Dreamtopia, Enchantimals, Kuu Kuu Harajuku, Sofia the First, Paw Patrol, and Astroblast. Her favorite show was Rolie Polie Olie, based on William Joyce’s book. She’s also been a one-hour drama writer/producer on westerns (Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years) science fiction, (Mutant X) and action adventure (Queen of Swords). She has her MFA in Screenwriting and teaches at USC School of Cinematic Arts. She has also taught at Pixar Animation Studios, Pepperdine, Cal State Northridge and Stephens College Low Residency MFA in Screenwriting and Television. In addition to her work at Sesame Workshop, she is currently developing a half-hour dramedy.
Betsy Marino Leighton has worked in the film and television industry for twenty-five years, beginning as a Page at NBC Studios. She then went on to work for Scorsese Productions and Clinica Estetica before producing and directing an award-winning documentary, A Six Voice Home. Betsy has produced long form reality and other TV series for Starz, Ovation, Animal Planet, and High Noon Entertainment. In 2014 she cofounded Unreal Media which recently sold their first independent horror feature, Apartment 212. Betsy heads Unreal’s Content Development, overseeing an exciting creative slate of television and web series. Betsy has also written a YA novel for Dutton and is presently finishing her first adult novel, ‘My Life on the Stage’, which she recently adapted into a series called Progress Life. Betsy holds an undergraduate degree from Barnard College, an MSW from Hunter College, and an MFA in Screenwriting & Television from Stephens College.
Marin Lepore is a screenwriter, and current WIFMCO Student-at-Large board member. After
studying at the Colorado Film School, she is now completing a Film/TV BFA at the University
of Colorado, Denver. Marin is passionate about minority representation in film, and her stories
often highlight LGBT and POC communities. She's the co-founder of Sad Girl Productions, a
film production company that creates diverse, inclusive, female-centric films, her award-
winning, multi-season, comedy webseries "I Put the Bi in Bitter" being one of them.
Sarah Liles, Industry Fair Consultant, is the Executive Producer/Head of Production at Futuristic Films. Freelance producing on commercials, documentaries and long format projects with budgets ranging from the tens of thousands to several million for many years laid the foundation and motivation for her to move into her current position. Futuristic Films produces commercials, branded content, feature length projects, and new digital media. The Futuristic team has tons of VFX experience and has worked in multiple international regions including: Iceland, Ireland, India, Germany, England and more.
Barbara Lopez-Nash is a 30-year Senior Human Resources professional who worked for
Fortune 500 companies like Tribune Broadcast and Unisys. She has deep expertise in the
alignment of labor and HR Strategies with business goals, and boosting employee growth,
organizational development, and talent acquisition. She became well-known for the management
of union grievances, conflict resolution, and performance management. Currently a consultant
for those seeking assistance in resume and interview presentation development, Barbara is also
the Chairperson of WIFMCO.
Ericka Maestas, Industry Fair Consultant, is a Denver Based Professional makeup artist and has been a makeup artist for 6 years. Vivid Raye Artistry provides on-sight services for a multitude of occasions. Ericka takes pride in listening to her clients to give them the look they ask for. Providing a lasting good impression with her client, is just as important as the quality of service she provides.
Rachel Noall is the Chief Digital Strategist at EX-IQ and holds an MA in Creative Writing. She
hosts a poetry podcast, Poems for People, and is the founding editor of a Denver lit mag, From
Whispers to Roars. From her work to her creative pursuits, Rachel emphasizes efficiency,
effectiveness, and creativity in all that she does.
Andrea Nordgren, Industry Fair Consultant, is an independent director and producer focused on commercial and branded content, with a specialty in documentary-style storytelling. Much of her directorial work is centered around telling human and emotional stories. Her interest in people started with a degree in psychology and working as a drug counselor before launching her 20+ year in advertising and media. After working for many years in Chicago and Milwaukee, Andrea recently moved to Boulder, Colorado. She is a board member at large for WIFMCPO and is the Executive Producer/Director for The 3% Movement, an advocacy group for diversity and inclusion in the advertising and media industries.
Elisa Piesman has been a booking assistant at Big Fish Talent agency for 6 years. She holds a
bachelor’s degree in Speech Communications and has a background as an on-camera talent,
acting coach, and general industry consultant. She was born and raised in Denver, and enjoys
Nuggets (both the food and the basketball team.)
Paul Rohrer, Industry Fair Consultant, has been an acting coach for over 25 years, and is the author of the book, “Acting on Camera,” published by Players Press. More information about his classes and experience can be found at http://roaringsuccess.org/rohrering-success-acting-workshop.
Mariel Rodriguez-McGill is an Emmy Award-Winning creative producer, director and editor
focused on documentary filmmaking with a passion for telling inspirational and compelling
stories. While at Rocky Mountain PBS in Denver, Colorado, Mariel helped develop the web-
series Great Ingredients, and the historical documentary series Colorado Experience. Currently
at the Office of Economic Development and International Trade, Mariel serves as the Deputy
Film Commissioner for the Colorado Office of Film, Television & Media. Mariel received a BA
from Boston College and holds a Masters Degree from University of Denver in Media, Film &
Oksana Starling is a professional makeup artist with over 15 years of experience working in film, tv and print. Credits and clients include Andre Agassi, Amy Purdy, Kara Hayward, Elvira, Phil Collins, Zac Brown, Winter Olympics, Guess Editorial Ad Campaign, Food Network, VH1, and MTV.
Corey Taylor Bryant, Industry Fair Consultant, is a professional, award-winning freelance makeup artist and special makeup effects artist. She has been a member of the IATSE Local 7 since 2014 with over 20 years industry experience. Based in Denver, Colorado, she covers Colorado, Texas, Wyoming, and California, specializing in Makeup/Grooming, SFX/Character/Aging, Period HMU, Prosthetics, and Hairstyling.
Claire Taylor currently serves as the Director of Programming for SeriesFest, a non-profit organization dedicated to championing artists at the forefront of episodic storytelling. With year-round educational programs, initiatives supporting underserved voices, and professional development opportunities, SeriesFest inspires, educates, and connects a worldwide community of creators. Each June, SeriesFest culminates in a highly-curated Denver-based festival and marketplace. As Director of Programming, Claire oversees all programming for year-round initiatives and the festival including the Pitch-A-Thon!, Digital Short Series, Late Night, Storytellers Initiative, and Independent Pilot Competitions. www.seriesfest.com
Jon Vandergriff received his MFA in Screenwriting at the University of Southern California and immediately segued into professional sitcom writing with his debut freelance script for the ABC hit show, Coach. That was followed by a six-year stint on the even bigger ABC hit, Home Improvement, where he rose from Staff Writer to Supervising Producer. He attained the title of Co-Executive Producer on the popular WB show, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Along the way, Jon wrote sitcom pilots for NBC and The WB and has also had two screenplays optioned by Hollywood-based production companies. A life-long lover of board games, Jon is also a board game inventor who has had three games published, including Anger Management, and A Way With Words, which is also an app and was recently picked up by EA to publish on their website, pogo.com. Jon currently teaches screenwriting and television writing at Stephens College, Chapman University, Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Northridge.
John Van Wyck is Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Denver-based nonprofit film collaborative Cine Fe. John spent 8 years at the New York-based independent film production company, financier and foundation Cinereach, where as a Creative Executive he helped discover new filmmakers and nurture their projects. During John’s tenure, Cinereach supported, financed, or produced over 200 films, including the Academy Award-nominated films STRONG ISLAND, I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, CUTIE AND THE BOXER, CITIZENFOUR, and BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, as well as SORRY TO BOTHER YOU, THE FLORIDA PROJECT, and SHIRKERS. Prior to joining Cinereach in 2010, John worked at the strategic communications firm Abernathy MacGregor in Los Angeles as well as for multiple political campaigns. In 2018, John left Cinereach to volunteer for the political organizing group Swing Left, where he served as a Regional Organizing Coordinator and SW Field Director during the 2018 midterm elections, before helping found Cine Fe. John received a B.A. in Government from Claremont McKenna College in 2006 and an M.A. in American Government from Georgetown University in 2010.
almost every aspect of production you can imagine – feature films, television series (scripted and
reality), commercials, network promos, corporate videos and digital content. When not working
on company projects, he devotes his time to experimental filmmaking, creative non-narrative
films that focus on mood, emotion and theme. His films have screened at numerous festivals
worldwide, garnered notable media attention, and won the coveted Golden Remy for Best
Experimental Film at Worldfest several times.