Jessica Hardin was born in Illinois and moved to South Carolina with her family when she was 12. After graduating high school, she attended Smith College in Massachusetts and received her B.A. cum laude while simultaneously attending the National Theater Institute in Waterford, Conn., and the British American Drama Academy in London, England. She moved to New York City and studied acting under the auspices of world-renowned Meisner instructor William Esper. She signed with Innovative Artists and worked professionally as a model, dancer, singer, and actress while working for Judith Lesley Management, Abrams Artists, and Adrienne Stern Casting. On a family vacation, she discovered the joys of a Los Angeles winter and stayed. She worked with the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga and Boston Court in Pasadena, Judi Farkas Literary Management and The Filmtrix Agency. While attending many film festivals that her husband was involved with, she had the brainchild of founding the Pasadena International Film Festival.
Marco Neves was born in Brazil and grew up in Portugal. With an affinity for languages, he is fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and French. After graduating high school, he was accepted to the prestigious California Institute of the Arts’ acting program. After receiving his degree, he moved to Los Angeles, where he acted with the Knightsbridge Theatre in Silver Lake for many years. He is currently training his scene study skills with up-and-coming director Matthew Currie Holmes. His film credits include Push the Button, Book of Numbers, The Company, Redemption, and the webseries 00:24. He has written screenplays, including Heart of the Dark and The Valiant, in which he plans to produce and act.
Richard S. Stenzinger, CPA
Dick Stenzinger graduated from Olivet Nazarene University with a degree in accounting and began working with Smith, Koelling, Dykstra, and Ohm, P.C. upon graduation. He became a shareholder in the firm in 1986. He serves a broad base of small business clients with special emphasis on tax planning, return preparation and management services. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Illinois CPA Society. He has been very active in church activities, with special emphasis on work with teenagers and young adults. He has been a member of Bourbonnais Rotary Club, Kankakee County Gideons, and served on the board of Dynamo Soccer. He has coached youth sports teams for several years. His family has been involved with foster care and has adopted three boys.
Jordan Williams is senior at California State University, Los Angeles and an actress. She has been working with PIFF since she was 19 years old and has loved every minute of it. While at school she collaborates with the film club to combine her two passions of Public Health and filmmaking together. In her free time, she can be found watching various theatre productions all over Los Angeles. Jordan is incredibly excited for what her future in this industry may hold.
Yidan Xu is a third-year student at UCLA. Native to the San Gabriel Valley, He is an aspiring director, screenwriter, and novelist with a sensibility unique to Los Angeles. Currently working on his first novel, The Rainbow Catcher, he hopes to turn it into a screenplay and a film someday like Stephen Chbosky. You can find his writings at http://yeetdx.com/ for everyday writing and film/literary critiques. He is the PIFF intern for 2021 and is very excited for the in-person PIFF 2021.
Rico E. Anderson
Rico E. Anderson is an award winning actor in television, film, theatre and voice over. He is also an Emmy voter, Host and a lover of all things sci-fi who hails from Chicago Ill, was raised in Berkeley, CA. and studied theatre at San Francisco State University. Rico’s selected Television credits include: Truth Be Told on AppleTV+ (Season 2 is now streaming), B Positive, S.W.A.T., The Rookie, The Orville, Star Trek: Renegades, KC Undercover, Modern Family, Young & Hungry, Grey’s Anatomy, Bones, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Law & Order, The Bold and the Beautiful and Days of our Lives to name a few. Selected Film credits include: Get Gone (WINNER * BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE / AOF FILM FESTIVAL), Dreams My Master (WINNER * BEST ACTOR / PASADENA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL), On Smoother Dirt, 5th Passenger, Mighty Times: The Children’s March, I Hate Kids. Commercial credits include: Direct TV, Honda, Ericsson, Sony, Buffalo Wild Wings, IBM, UPS and Lending Tree. Voice Over credits include: Batman – Arkham Asylum, McDonalds, Sprite, Jeep Grand Cherokee.
After earning an MFA in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Dax Phelan served as the Creative Executive for producer Mace Neufeld (“The Hunt for Red October”) at Sony Pictures where he worked on numerous films, including blockbusters such as “The General’s Daughter,” “The Sum of All Fears,” and “The Equalizer.” After selling a screenplay of his own, Phelan left Sony to write full-time. He co-created the TV series, “At Your Service,” for producer David Engel (“Straight Outta Compton”) and CBS/Paramount and adapted the New York Times bestseller, “In the Sanctuary of Outcasts,” for producer Stratton Leopold (“Mission: Impossible III”). Phelan served as Associate Producer on Paul Schrader’s “The Canyons” starring Lindsay Lohan and Executive Producer on Anja Marquardt’s “She’s Lost Control,” which was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards. In 2015, Phelan wrote, produced, and directed his feature directorial debut, “Jasmine.” Shot in Hong Kong, the film played in 75 film festivals worldwide and won over 100 awards, including 18 for Best Picture, 10 for Best Director, and 5 for Best Screenplay. The film was acquired by Lionsgate and released theatrically on June 16, 2017.
On August 16, 2018, Phelan was included in the LA Film Awards’ list of “Thirty Filmmakers to Watch,” a celebration of the “inspiring, creative, and incredibly talented directors who are making indie filmmaking great right now.” Following “Jasmine,” Phelan co-produced Orson Welles’s final film, “The Other Side of the Wind,” with Oscar-winner Frank Marshall (“Jurassic World”). The film had its world premiere at the 75th Venice Film Festival where it opened to strong reviews and was released theatrically by Netflix on November 2, 2018. The National Board of Review honored the film with the prestigious and rarely given William K. Everson Film History Award. In 2019, Phelan executive produced “Flowers of the Field” with Lodge Kerrigan (“The Girlfriend Experience”). The film won the Barry Avrich Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. In 2020, Phelan wrote, produced, and directed the PSA, “Final Moments,” about the importance of wearing masks during the ongoing fight against COVID-19 and its variants. The PSA won 34 awards internationally, including the Humanitarian Award from the IndieFEST Film Awards. Phelan is currently preparing to produce and direct “The Journeyman,” a boxing film starring retired UFC Champion and Hall of Famer Michael Bisping (“xXx,” “Twin Peaks,” “Warrior”) and Mayling Ng (“Wonder Woman,” “The Suicide Squad”), in Manchester, England. Phelan is a proud member of the Producers Guild of America and repped by Danny Passman at Gang, Tyre, Ramer, & Brown. He divides his time between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.
James Marsters is best known as Spike, the punk-goth vampire he played on UPN's Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the WB's Angel for seven years. Marsters also starred in the Richard LaGravenese film, P.S. I Love You (2007), based on the best-selling novel by Cecilia Ahem, opposite Hillary Swank and Gerard Butler. His other credits include the film Shadow Puppets (2007) and The House of Haunted Hill (1999); the TV series Without a Trace, Smallville, Lie to Me, Supernatural, Hawaii Five O, Torchwood, Witches of East End; the VH1 anthology series Strange Frequency, Gene Roddenbery's Andromeda, and most recently Marvel's Runaways (as Dr. Victor Stein). Born in the remote northern logging town of Greenville, Calif., and raised in Modesto, Calif., Marsters studied acting at New York City's prestigious Julliard School and began his professional career in the theater, performing in such stage productions The Tempest and Red Noses at Chicago's renowned Goodman Theater. He also starred in the Noah Wyle-produced play The Why in Los Angeles. Marsters made his on-screen debut guest-starring on the TV series Northern Exposure.
Producer Monika Skerbelis is the co-author (with Rona Edwards) of the critically acclaimed books The Complete Filmmaker’s Guide to Film Festivals: Your all Access Pass to Launching Your Film on the Festival Circuit and I Liked It, Didn’t Love It: Screenplay Development from the Inside Out. Skerbelis was previously a vice president of creative, and executive story editor at Universal Pictures where she spent 10 years overseeing the story department and developing a number of screenplays. Prior to Universal, she was story editor for 20th Century Fox. She began her career as an assistant in the story department at Paramount Pictures. She is the programming director for The American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the Cannes Film Festival and was the artistic & programming director for the Big Bear Lake International Film Festival for fourteen years. With Edwards, she teaches “Introduction to Feature Film Development” at UCLA Extension and the Riverside Community College course “Story Development Process.” She also taught “Basic Screenwriting Fundamentals” at Chapman University's Dodge College of Film & Media Arts. Also with Edwards, she has formed Edwards Skerbelis Entertainment (ESE) and ESE Film Workshops Online. She was an associate producer on the Lifetime Televsion films Killer Hair and Hostile Makeover based on the Crimes of Fashion novels by Ellen Byerrum. She co-produced the feature-length mocumentary Quest for the Yeti, directed by Victoria Arch. Skerbelis directed the short film Reel Footage: The Secret Lives of Shoes that screened at the Cannes Film Festival's Short Film Corner in 2008. She is a member of the Producers Guild of America.
Based in Los Angeles, Jeff Allen is president of ShortsTV (U.S.), the first and only 24/7 linear and OTT HD TV channel dedicated to short form video entertainment, and its Latin American channel TVCortos. He is an industry veteran with over a decade of experience at the intersection of entertainment and technology. Prior to ShortsTV, he was vice president of operations at Hallmark Labs, LLC, the subsidiary of Hallmark Cards, Inc., that enables their digital, direct-to-consumer (DTC) businesses including Hallmark Movies Now, Hallmark eCards, and Hallmark Shoebox. Prior to Hallmark Labs, LLC, Allen began his career wearing many hats and serving the many needs of a successful short form SVOD startup called SpiritClips that was acquired by Hallmark in 2012. ShortsTV has world’s largest catalogue of high quality short movies and series available on TV, online and in theaters, and also produce original short film content for broadcasters and brands. ShortsTV acquires only professionally produced live action, animation and documentary short movies from the world’s most famous film festivals and independent suppliers. On TV, their channel is the world’s first and only 24/7 HD channel dedicated to short movies. Available around the world, ShortsTV brings short stories to life in stunning high definition and covers the latest events in the short film industry. Online, they offer hundreds of the world’s best independent shorts for download from stores in over 90 countries, including iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Instant Video. In theaters, ShortsTV produces and distributes the annual Oscar Nominated Short Films theatrical release, bringing the world’s top awarded short movies to the big screen. ShortsTV produces original short film content through their production division, Shorts Factory. They have also recently introduced the ShortsTV app, giving filmmakers the power to create their own movie channel with thousands of the world’s best short movies.
Clare Kramer is an award-winning actress, entertainment correspondent and pop culture authority, whose career has taken her from the role of vengeful goddess Glory on Buffy the Vampire Slayer to launching her own pop-culture website, GeekNation.com. Clare’s roles in TV and film include the headstrong cheerleader Courtney opposite Kirsten Dunst and Eliza Dushku in Bring It On; Glory in the cult classic series Buffy, in a role that was declared by TV Guide as one of the best villains of all time. Other credits include roles in The Rules of Attraction; Sabrina, The Teenage Witch; Tru Calling; The Skulls; House; The Gravedancers and Big Ass Spider!, for which she won a Saturn Award. She has also been featured as a correspondent for CNN, Access Hollywood, HuffPost and E!, among others. In 2013, Clare launched GeekNation, an entertainment and pop culture website. The online network serves as a home for inside entertainment news and commentary, covering everything from genre and sci-fi series and movies, to videogames, sports and technology. Podcasts and web series are shot in GeekNation’s 5,000-square-foot soundstage in Los Angeles for the site, which averages 6 million visitors per month. Clare’s wealth of knowledge as both an entertainer and new media executive has led to her newest role, as one of the most sought-after moderators for comic cons around the world. In this position, she has hosted internationally live-streamed interviews and standing-room only panels with icons including Stan Lee, Chris Hemsworth, Gal Gadot, William Shatner, Lena Headey, Gwendoline Christie, Michael Rooker and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
Greg Laemmle is the president of Laemmle Theatres, LLC, the top exhibitor of art and foreign films in Los Angeles. Founded in 1938 by Greg's grandfather Max Laemmle, Laemmle Theatres began its first growth phase in the mid ’60s under the guidance of Greg's father, Robert. The chain grew from a single screen in 1964 to 15 screens by the time Greg joined the company in 1992. After an aggressive expansion program, the chain now includes 47 screens owned and operated by Laemmle, and an additional 13 screens included as part of an independent booking service. Synonymous with art house films in Los Angeles, the name of Laemmle is now linked with fine films nationwide through the company's website (laemmle.com) which, with little fanfare, routinely attracts thousands of visitors a week from throughout the country. Actively involved in the industry, Greg currently serves on the Board of Directors of Film Independent, where he is actively involved with the organization's film festival.
David Fury is an Emmy-award winning writer, producer and director. His credits include ABC's Lost (WGA Award); FOX’s 24, Fringe (Saturn Award) and 24: Live Another Day; FX's Tyrant; and the WB's Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. In addition to directing episodes of Buffy and Angel and providing second-unit directing for J.J. Abram’s Alias, he has also freelanced scripts for NBC’s Hannibal and Showtime’s Homeland. As an actor, he’s been seen on 24, the Buffy musical Once More With Feeling, the Angel puppet episode “Smile Time,” and as a singing anchorman in the Emmy-winning web cult hit Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Other writing credits include HBO’s Dream On, ABC’s The Jackie Thomas Show, Pinky and the Brain and the sketch series House of Buggin’ with John Leguizamo, all with former writing partner Elin Hampton.
Matthew Aversa, originally from New York, has owned and operated Twenty One PR for 11 years and is now based in Los Angeles. In January of 2018, Aversa became the Interim Senior Vice President of Communications for Rio Vista Universal where he focused on new business development and familiarizing the publicity department and executive teams with changing broadcast, podcast and new media platforms. Aversa ventured into the agency world by joining Allied Global Marketing in the spring of 2019. While directing the National Publicity team, Aversa oversaw the launch of three Cirque du Soleil shows and Hulu Original Series among other entertainment adjacent companies. In November of 2018, Aversa transitioned back to Twenty One PR where he continued his decade of experience focusing on entertainment and hospitality, Aversa oversees all media and influencer relations and campaigns for charitable organizations, hotels, celebrity talent, and other lifestyle brands. While at Twenty One PR, Aversa and his team brought new light to a changing media landscape and worked with clients to showcase their brands on a national level through new media channels and traditional outlets.
Hillary Jones is the Head of Business and Legal Affairs at Smith Global Media, an international distribution company that packages, acquires, markets, and distributes compelling motion pictures, television programs and series, and other entertainment content. The focus is micro-targeted independent product with key-branded, franchisable themes and characters, cast with worldwide recognizable talent, high production value, and strong commercial appeal. Smith Global Media has a partnership with Sony, which grants direct access to all of Sony’s output deals internationally, including Theatrical Releasing, VOD, SVOD, Cable TV (which will be handled by Sony Television), Digital, Retail, DVD, Merchandising, and Manufacturing. The company is proud to offer independent filmmakers access to large studio placement, with the attention of an independent company. Additionally, Hillary is the Founding Partner at Jones & Jones Law Group. Within the Entertainment group, her focus is on Copyright and Trademark infringement. She represents producers, writers, actors and directors.
Jennifer C. Duval
Jennifer C. Duval is an entertainment attorney in Los Angeles, with a concentration in television production. In her role as counsel at MTV Networks, Jennifer negotiates and drafts above- and below- the-line agreements for the original and music programming departments and tentpole productions. She received her law degree from Southwestern Law School in 2013. At Southwestern, she was a member of the Student Faculty Relations Committee, Journal of International Media and Entertainment Law, Entertainment and Sports Law Association, Dean’s Fellow Program, Frederick Douglas Moot Court Competition and President of the Black Law Student Association. Jennifer was a recipient of the Elliott A Gottfurcht Foundation Scholarship Endowment, the CALI Excellence Award in Drafting Technology Agreements and two-time First Place Black Law Student Association Essay Scholarship. Prior to law school, she was a Sociology major at the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated with her Bachelor’s in 2009. Jennifer is a first generation Haitian American from Long Island, NY. She is a member of the American Bar Association, the Langston Bar Association, American Media and Entertainment Counsel and Black Women Lawyers Association.
Glen Reynolds founded Circus Road Films in 2006 to provide strategic advisory services to filmmakers. Circus Road guides filmmakers through the festival and distribution process and negotiates licensing agreements on their behalf. Circus Road has participated in the sales of over 600 narrative and documentary feature films with many films premiering at Sundance, Slamdance, SXSW, Tribeca, Hot Docs, Fantastic, Telluride and Toronto. Distributors include Fox, Sony, Universal, Lions Gate, Magnolia, IFC, Strand, Oscilloscope, Drafthouse, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Showtime, Starz, Lifetime, ESPN and Syfy. Glen has also co-produced twenty films to date including Conversations with Other Women with Aaron Eckhart, Helena Bonham Carter and Olivia Wilde. Glen holds a JD from the University of Texas at Austin, a BA in English from NYU and is a graduate of the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York.