Team

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Michal Sinnott // Writer, Producer, Sophie
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Michal Sinnott’s a multi-disciplinary artist of stage, screen, and console. Born Michal Shalom Leamer, to gypsy artist Christian hippies, Michal was gifted her love for travel that would later shape her writing, living in six different US states by the age of five. She made her directorial debut with ‘Unpacking,’ a micro-budget narrative feature she shot in Bali last year that’s currently in Post. Michal’s stage-plays received staged-readings and awards in her home state (Virginia) and Hollywood. As a SAG-AFTRA/Equity member, Michal’s appeared in dozens of plays and over fifty principal /starring roles for radio, television, and film. Performance highlights: roles in Spike Lee’s Inside Man, Quid Pro Quo with Vera Farmiga, three separate characters for Law & Order: CI and a solo performance art piece for The Whitney Museum of American Art. Michal’s best known as the performance capture artist for Tracey De Santa, one the main characters in the billion dollar video-game Grand Theft Auto V. A former flight attendant, she has visited over 35 countries on six continents. She lives in NYC with her husband Joseph and their warbling puggle Jasper.

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KristenMurtha_WAGKristen Murtha // Producer

Kristen Murtha is a producer whose work has been seen on large and small screens around the globe, receiving recognition at over seventy film festivals, including Sundance 2017, as well as millions of views online. Her projects span all mediums: live-action feature, animated feature, documentary, short film, web series, branded content and more. Kristen’s recent releases include Sundance favorite Band Aid (IFC and Sony Worldwide), The Lego Ninjago Movie, and Ike Barinholtz’s feature directorial debut The Oath, (Roadside Attractions), starring Tiffany Haddish and John Cho. She is also currently serving as a Production Executive for Warner Bros. Theatrical Animation Division. Kristen’s passions are compelling stories and unique experiences.

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Emma Berdie Donson // Co-Producer

Emma Berdie Donson grew up in Ossining, NY and graduated with a BFA in Acting (High Honors) from the University of Michigan. For the last two years, she served as the Administrative Business Partner for Next 10 Ventures, a new kind of venture company dedicated to supporting the digital creator economy, helmed by Benjamin Grubbs (Head of Creator Partnerships, YouTube APAC region) and Paul Condolora (SVP Harry Potter Digital, SVP Turner). She is the Executive Producer of the indie horror feature, Moon Lane, featuring her casting choice Jacqueline Toboni (Trubel, Grimm – NBC, Sarah, The L Word: Generation Q – Showtime). Moon Lane will make its rounds on the festival circuit in 2020. She has produced the plays Flu Season and Hamlet (as an immersive experience in a tea shop) in LA as well as 2 showcases for the Michael Laskin Studio. While living in NYC, and now in LA, she has been responsible for a monthly play/screenplay reading that facilitates the creation of new projects and artistic relationships. These prestigious readings have become a staple for many young creators featured on Broadway, in National tours, film, TV, etc. She loves spending sunny days outside with her Fox Terrier, Winnie.

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IMG_0353.jpgMary M. Parr // Writer, Associate Producer

Mary has spent much of the last decade working to help others heal through her art, writing, healing practice, & bread baking. Much of it began with the creation of Born That Way, the feature she co-wrote with her best friend Michal Sinnott during her first cross country move west after college. She and Michal met studying drama together at Catholic University. In addition to writing a feature that emphasizes the need for social justice & spark towards hope for humanity, Mary extended her healing mission into practicing holistic medicine. In 2015 she became a Physician of Chinese Medicine, graduating magna cum laude & as valedictorian of her cohort. She’s in private practice in South Pasadena, CA. While completing her graduate studies degree, she found another way to excite her community towards a more holistic lifestyle by starting her company, Bread Culture. She teaches dough to loaf bread classes to kids & adults all over Southern California.

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Rob Travalino

Rob Travalino // Co-Executive Producer 

Rob brings two decades of experience in producing, strategizing, story-forming, managing, writing & marketing entertainment & gaming properties, for major clients like Dreamworks, Disney, Lucasfilm, Warner Brothers, Sega of America, Coca-Cola, Hasbro Inc & more. Rob is writer & producer on the upcoming feature On The Wings Of The Phoenix, the amazing true story of Dr. Feng Shan Ho (China’s Oskar Schindler), a man who in pre-war Vienna, saved thousands of Jews from the coming Holocaust. Chow Yun Fat has committed to the project which is out for packaging. In the publishing space, Rob just finished his manuscript for The Snowman, a remarkable look into the personal life and musings of boxing great Muhammad Ali as told by one of his closest confidants. The book is repped by NY lit agent Linda Langton and will be developed for TV next year. Earlier in his career, Rob was a key development force behind helping G.I. Joe & Transformers become feature film franchises for Hasbro Entertainment. Rob also worked as story consultant on How To Train Your Dragon for DreamWorks & has done the same work for the Star Wars, Batman, and Harry Potter franchises. In the kids’ tv space, Rob cocreated & story edited Dragon Booster for Disney & co-created “Growing Up Creepy” for Discovery Kids. Winner of the Emmy, Gemini & Telly Awards, Rob has written & produced nearly 50 half-hours of tv, coauthored several YA novels & created gaming & publishing programs for many of the world’s biggest brands. Rob has produced & directed over 200 TV commercials & is a member of the Directors Guild of America.

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Michelle KantorMichelle Kantor // Associate Producer

Michelle Kantor co-founded Cinefemme, an organization dedicated to female filmmakers, as a graduate student at San Francisco State University & has served as Executive Director since 2007. She is an award-winning director, producer, writer & editor dedicated to advancing women in the professional ranks of cinema. Michelle’s industry credits include work for advertising agency BBDO, Logo’s “Gay for Play Starring RuPaul,” HBO, FYI, OWN, World of Wonder, The History Channel, Sony, Universal, MJA Advertising, & NASA. Michelle’s distinctions include Best Music Video at LA Femme Film Festival, Goldfarb Award for Best Student Film, & Thunen Memorial Scholarship from the Illuminating Engineers Society. She holds an MFA in Cinema from SFSU, & BFA in Film Production from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Michelle is also a certified paralegal, artist, mother & writer. The youngest daughter of political refugees who fled Communist Czechoslovakia in the 1960s, she is producing two projects about her family’s historic escapes: Red Star documents her father’s return on the 50th anniversary of his escape, & The Rebel, a narrative feature film in development.

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Jordan Bruner // Animation Director, Animator
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An ADC Young Gun and Emmy Award nominee, Jordan Bruner is an artist and animation director exploring human and animal experiences in colorful fantasy worlds. She has directed films for clients such as the NYTimes, The Atlantic, Google, Eve Ensler, and TED. Her films have shown at festivals worldwide and her illustration work has been honored by the Society of Illustrators and American Illustration. Jordan enjoys reading, cooking vegan food and hangin’ with her partner Zack and cat Pablo. She recently moved to beautiful Richmond, VA after spending over a decade in New York.

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UK2SyP7ONwaka Onwusa // Producer

Nwaka Ngozi Onwusa is the Curatorial Director of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Prior to that she served as the Curator of the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles. Born in Compton & raised in Fontana, CA, Onwusa began her career at the Grammy Museum in the box office following a degree in Sociology at UC Riverside. With experience in education & in theater & the arts, Onwusa was offered the opportunity to advance as the Education Coordinator. Onwusa immediately became active in this department writing curricula, teaching workshops, booking & interviewing talent for education workshops, & more. She facilitated educational events & programs for inner-city youth, oversaw the Grammy Museum’s summer camp, Summer Sessions, & Music Industry Photography workshop for students, providing exposure to students who would have otherwise never held a camera. She worked at the Museum for a total of 10 years & curated some 20+ exhibitions before moving to The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in January of 2019. Passionate about music, education, & history, she is committed to working in her community & inspiring youth to become involved in the arts & museum studies. She holds a Masters Degree from USC Sol Price School of Public Policy.

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david-picture.jpgDavid Sevuri // Production Manager of the Tanzanian Unit

David Sevuri, who brings decades of experience, heads TRUE VISION PRODUCTION (T) LTD. He joined the film industry in 1995 with his sharp skill of building up the media industry with a keen eye towards film production & a know-how of the business of Tanzania & International Cinema. He holds a degree in Mass Communication & brings a very acute judgment of what works in a particular market. He has often been a consultant to various projects related to audio / visual productions where his role has been to make projects viable for international markets or commercial success in Tanzania & beyond. Add to that, a wonderful circle of friends & networks he has in various film festivals, & broadcasters, which makes him a valuable asset in the African film market. He excels in managing multiple projects from concept development through execution & delivery while meeting all budget & schedule requirements. He’s lauded in establishing win-win relationships with people of diverse cultures, with a proven ability to multitask in a fastpaced environment. David works mainly on directing documentaries, short/experimental films, & corporate films while delivering quality services to clients in the Government, the private sector, NGO’s & International Agencies in Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda & Burundi.

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pic-katherin-machalekKatherin Machalek // Cinematographer of the Tanzanian Unit
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Katherin is a documentary filmmaker, cinematographer, and photographer based in Brooklyn, NY. Her work tends to blur the borders of narrative and experimental documentary and is deeply inspired by sound and technology. In May 2014, she released her first feature documentary, CLIM8, at the Altitudes Festival in Switzerland. Katherin was a fellow at the UnionDocs Collaborative Studioin 2014-15 where she co-directed and shot, Animal Landlords and I Was Here FirstThe latter premiered at the DOC NYC Film Festival in November 2015.  Katherin also contributed to the Sisters of the Wicked Wig, a documentary on Brooklyn drag culture, which premiered at the LA Indie Film Festival in March 2016. Born That Way is her first narrative feature film.

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Digital Marketing Team

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Riley Pranian // Marketing Director
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Riley Pranian is originally from Skokie, Illinois, and is currently a junior at Pace University in New York City. She is pursuing a degree in Business Economics with a minor in Arts and Entertainment Management. She has obtained multiple leadership positions on her college campus, including being an Orientation Leader, a Resident Assistant, and the Philanthropy Chair for the Delta Theta chapter of Sigma Delta Tau. Over the past three years, she has worked and interned with multiple Chicagoland theatre companies (Mudlark Theater, The Miracle Center) and Broadway Offices (Stacey Mindich Productions, 101 Productions, Ltd.). In her free time, she loves horseback riding, listening to music, and eating good pizza.”

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AlanaAlana Maiello // Media Consultant

Alana believes art is a powerful medium to change conversation & change the world. After working at Goldman Sachs for 3 years, her brain was STARVING for creative work. She quit her finance job & started helping tech startups & CEOs tell their stories through videos & social media strategy. When Alana started producing & directing digital commercials, she witnessed how powerful videos can impact an audience to change, to see issues in a new light, & find solutions that improve their lives. As a marketing & video consultant to the band The Killers (Mr, Brightside), entertainment/tech Blue Fever, & BI startup Grow, Alana crafts creative & manages strategy aimed at impacting audiences to believe & engage with powerful stories.

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Claire FishmanClaire Fishman // Assistant Editor

A freelance editor and award-winning filmmaker, Claire has been a storyteller all of her life. Her two short films, Fat Ass (2013) and Never Been Sicker (2015), were official selections at several festivals across the country, where Never Been Sicker won Best Director & Best Actor Awards in several fests. Her music video, Hair Lockets (2014), won the Best New Media Award at the 2014 Trenton Film Festival and the Best Student Experimental Award at the 2015 Brightside Tavern Film Festival. As a writer, she is drawn towards stories about young people battling with themselves, and how they find hope in their situations. She is absolutely thrilled to be a part of the Born That Way team.

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dyna dronesDyna Drones
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Dyna Drones, LLC is an FAA approved aerial cinematography company that captures stunning shots from the air using state of the art technology. As experts in the field, their pilots have over 15 years of experience with remote-controlled aircraft. As one of Born That Way’s Partners, Dyna Drones accompanied the Born That Way Team to Tanzania in July & August 2017 for the African portion of production.

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Bianca Grimshaw // Production Counsel

Ganderson Des Rochers LLP (GDR) is one of the premier entertainment law firms
focusing on independent film. Bianca has provided legal services on a wide array of titles
including The 40-Year-Old Version, Cutie and the Boxer, Certain Women, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Skeleton Twins, Premature, and more.

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Big Vision Empty Walletbvew_diversity_recipient_badge-square // Kickstart Diversity
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Born That Way is a recipient of Big Vision Empty Wallet’s Kickstart Diversity Program. The program encourages diversity in storytelling at the independent level by supporting projects written, directed, and/or produced by Women, People of Color and Members of the LGBTQ Community.

Through the program, Born That Way will receive 15-75% discounts from vendors nationwide for everything from camera rentals to sound design to deliverables to marketing, saving money through all stages of production, and giving the investor more bang for your buck. The program also offers exclusive access to education and distribution opportunities, that will aid Born That Way in building and activating its audience.