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PanElists & speakers

Catalyst events are key opportunities for creatives to develop professional connections that otherwise would be difficult to find. Here are panelists & speakers from previous festivals. This year's list will be released in the summer.


Senior Manager, Talent & Content Development


Adam Gold is a comedy producer and talent manager based in NYC. He serves as Senior Manager, Talent & Content Development at Rizzle, a video editing app and creator-brand marketplace. He recently co-wrote and produced "Indolent Allen," an animated series for Adult Swim.



Peak Curiosity

AJ Tesler is the founder & president of Peak Curiosity, a bi coastal production company. As a sought after collaborator in the comedy space, AJ has built a thriving business producing for Netflix, Comedy Central, Lionsgate, Sony, CBS Studios and more. Since online content has grown up, AJ has been a part of its growth, founding the Independent Television Festival (now Catalyst Content Fest); helping launch the production arm at one of the first MCNs, Big Frame; running production at Jash, (the digital collective founded by Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera & Adam Carolla); helping enterprises like Omaze build a production infrastructure; and working with established traditional media companies to expedite their move into the digital space. His directorial debut, Magnolia's Hope, a documentary about his daughter's struggles with Rett Syndrome, is due for release in the fall of 2022. His narrative feature directorial debut, Hero Mode, starring Sean Astin, Mia Sorvino & Indiana Massara was picked up for distribution by Blue Fox Entertainment and is currently available on demand. Other recent projects include "Smartless" for Discovery+ and "Rudy Giulliani: A Documusical" that premiered at Tribeca. He serves on the board of advisors for the Rett Syndrome Research Trust.


Executive Director


Andrew Peterson is the Executive Director of FilmNorth, one of the largest filmmaker service organizations in the country. Previously, he was Vice President of Production for Werc Werk Works, where he co-produced the feature films Howl, Life During Wartime, Thin Ice, and Darling Companion. He has been the Director of Programming for the Academy Qualifying Provincetown Film Festival since 2006 and regularly consults independent films and film festivals.



Born and raised in Minneapolis, MN. I’ve been doing comedy for 2, going on 3 years. With the support of my close friends and family I went to an open mic just to see if I’d make the crowd laugh and I’ve been doing comedy ever since. A five-year Army veteran, mother, actress, viral star and stand-up on the rise.



Brandon Riddley, 1/3 co-founder of Baddies Comedy. Minneapolis stand up comedian, content creator, writer & podcaster as seen on Hot Ones the game show, Kevin Hart’s Hart of The City & The City Pages. The man that one day pitched a concept for a sexy comedy club to long time comedy colleague Pierre Douglas whom brought in fellow comedian Bruce Leroy Williams to form Baddies Comedy Co. The rest was history.


Casting Associate

Lynn Blumenthal Casting

She has been casting since 2017 and has had the pleasure of working on numerous projects, such as the upcoming feature DOWNTOWN OWL, the episodic tv shows I WAS THERE and IN AN INSTANT and various national and regional commercial campaigns. Her own sketch comedy company’s work, Locally Grown Comedy, is currently in the Catalyst Story Film Festival this year and she would be remiss to not thank Lynn Blumenthal personally, for the experience and tutelage in this industry.



Kismet Productions

Caissie St.Onge is a comedy writer and TV producer best known for her work on The Late Show with David Letterman, The Rosie O’Donnell Show, Best Week Ever and Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen. She recently moved to Los Angeles when Tina Fey hired her to Executive Produce late night talk show Busy Tonight with actor, Busy Philipps. Fey and Philipps were also Executive Producers. St.Onge also had a long-time side gig writing for Joan Rivers, and has written material for Bette Midler as well. She’s written for the Grammy, Tony and International Emmy Awards. She currently is the co-founder of Kismet Productions with Busy Philipps and she co-hosts the podcast, Busy Philipps is Doing Her Best!



Canusa Street

Carver Diserens is a LA based producer and script/pitch consultant for Almanac Screenwriters and Stage 32. He has 13 years of freelance production experience where he worked on projects such as “Alpha House,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Anchorman 2,” “Person of Interest,” and “Escape at Dannemora.”


Actor/VO Artist

Catherine serves on the SAG-AFTRA board, and has been a working union on-camera & voice talent for 25 years. Some favorite roles have been a foul-mouthed cancer patient on Weeds; a MN Iron Range mom standing up to Charlize Theron in North Country; and a nerdy gamer in the film Silver, written by Diablo Cody. Having been an improviser since she was 11 has helped her build a rewarding voiceover career. Highlights include TV campaigns for Biden's Build Back Better plan, Subaru, United Health and H&R Block; voicing Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow for the Iron Man video game; and Siri, in Ellen's iPhone, on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. Catherine has now added teaching to her skillset, as a Sensei at The VO Dojo, where she specializes in coaching working pros, the business of voiceover, and international/multilingual VO.



Catania Studios

Filmmaker Cirina Catania, the Founder and Lead Creative at Catania Studios, has been involved as a writer, director, producer, cinematographer or marketing exec on over 150 film, television and new media projects for the big screen as well as for networks such as National Geographic, Discovery, etc. She is one of the co-founders and former director of the Sundance Film Festival and former senior executive at MGM-UA and United Artists. She is the Show Runner and Host of OWC RADiO and recently started the non-profit, High School Media Collective with founding sponsor Blackmagic Design and fiscal sponsor, Catalyst. Cirina is a member of Local 600 IATSE, the PGA, WGA, the National Press Club, and the NPPA.


Technical Specialist


David supports color processing and post workflows for Canon’s cinema products as a Technical Specialist. Since 2015, David has been an advocate for HDR reference display use on set, and raises awareness of HDR imaging standards as well as ACES color management for Canon products. Before joining Canon, David worked in post-production at IMAX. He started in the film and television industry as an assistant camera and cinematographer.


Composer | Filmmaker

e. ross studios

Elvin Ross just finished Disney+’s pop/hip hop musical Sneakerella, a beloved, magical story about working hard and the magic that comes along from hard work. Elvin’s an award-winning composer, owner, and executive producer of E. Ross Studios and is well known and widely respected in the television and music industries. For the last twenty years he has composed music for several Tyler Perry’s stage plays, television series and films such as Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea’s Family Reunion, House of Payne and The Haves and The Have Nots, and many many others. He is currently the weekly composer for Tyler Perry’s Too Close to Home (TLC) and just completed Boo! A Madea Halloween. His credits also include serving as Creator and Executive Producer of the television award winning Gospel Dream Talent Search as seen on BET and GMC.




Genevieve Thiers is a founder with proven exits and market expertise. Thiers founded in 2001, and ran it 10 years as CEO, then did 10 years on the board. The company raised 56mm in VC, invented the online care space and served over 10mm users and thousands of companies before selling to Bright Horizons in 2020. She has since invested in 15+ women in tech companies, done some seed rounds including in and is on the boards of 1871 and WEI in Chicago.She is also the tech trainer on RUN the Series, now on Amazon Prime, a reality show helping women run for and win political races. Her latest company, Entertainmint, is redesigning streaming and TV in web3-with a special focus on helping unheard voices shine. She has a podcast on Spotify and teaches classes for beginners on Zoom. See more at



Crash Punks

Grace Ng is an artist, director, and songwriter, who uses emerging technologies like brainwave sensors, AI, VR/AR, and blockchain to create provocative experiences that raise awareness of societal issues. You can follow her work on socials @uxceo and


Producer, Filmmaker


Isaac is an Emmy® nominated producer and filmmaker at WDSE, the PBS station in Duluth, MN. He holds an MFA in Filmmaking and Producing from the Seattle Film Institute and is the co-founder and Managing Director of No Way Theatre, a Minneapolis-based theatre company.


Vice President of Drama Development

20th Television

Jade-Addon Hall is the Vice President of Drama Development at 20th Television recently joining from Lionsgate TV where he oversaw THE POWER UNIVERSE, RUN THE WORLD, STEP UP and HEELS all on STARZ, as well as WELCOME TO FLATCH on FOX and development for the critically acclaimed 1619 PROJECT with Nikole Hannah Jones, Harpo and the New York Times.
Jade is known for his work previously at BET, helping to launch BET+, and shepherding multiple shows including TWENTIES, with Lena Waithe. He also developed multiple series at Disney Channel and Disney XD. Hailing from Hillside, NJ, he is a proud graduate of Syracuse University, holding a BA in Psychology and an MFA in Television Radio and Film. In 2021 he was named Man of the Year by the Leukemia and Lymphoma society of Los Angeles, raising a quarter of a million dollars for cancer research and survivors.


Co-Founder/Chief Executive

Creators Writing Room

Jason Kyle is Co-Founder of The Creators Writing Room, and Head of Development at CWR Productions with Lee Aronsohn (Co-Showrunner/Creator TWO AND A HALF MEN, Executive Producer BIG BANG THEORY). Jason has been a Manager, Development Coordinator and Creative Assistant at major studios such as CBS and Sony, and worked under overall deals with Glenn Geller (former President of CBS Studios), Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa (Creators/Showrunners of HOMELAND). Prior to Hollywood, Jason was a Management Consultant, creating content strategies for large companies such as AT&T and Salesforce. He served in the Peace Corps in Albania from 2010-2012.



Belle City Pictures

Jeffrey Kurz is a producer, writer, educator and former film studio executive. During his eight-year tenure at Miramax Films, he was involved in such varied and diverse films as Neil Jordan’s Academy Award-winning "The Crying Game," Wes Craven’s "Scream," Alex Proyas’s "The Crow," Guillermo del Toro’s "Mimic," Chris Eyre’s "Smoke Signals," Atom Egoyan’s "Exotica," and John Carpenter’s "Halloween" series. Recently produced feature films include "The Vivian Maier Mystery," a documentary about the acclaimed, reclusive Chicago street photographer, Vivian Maier, for the BBC. Recently produced feature films in post-production include: "Popper Baxton’s Sickly Stew," written and directed by John Dylan Roberts; and "Deep Woods," written and directed by Steve Laughlin. Film projects in development include: "An Ocean Apart" with Matt Dillon and Charlotte Gainsbourg and director Fred Garson; and "Dead Girl Walking," written by Stuart Davis. Kurz also teaches professional practice entertainment industry courses in screenwriting and film producing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts, and mentors writers at the annual Writer’s Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. And he serves on the Board of Directors for Milwaukee Film.


Co-Founder & Creative Partner


Head of the Screenwriting Program at Metro State University, Jeremy Bandow has over twenty years of experience working in film and TV, both in Hollywood and in the independent world, and has played a role in the creation of dozens of productions. Heavily influenced by Neorealism and Third World Cinema’s emphasis on film as social practice, Bandow centers his research, his art, and his students' work around inclusive, socially conscious, and cooperative screenwriting and filmmaking. Bandow is also Creative Partner at Wheel·House Creative, a Twin Cities production company committed to creating socially progressive content. Bandow holds an MFA in screenwriting from Augsburg University and a BFA in film and video production from the Colorado Film School.



Iceblink Films

JOSHUA BUTLER is an award-winning independent filmmaker and one of the most prolific writers and directors of his generation, with over 60 hours of content to his name. Joshua wrote and directed the cult horror feature VLOG for the producers of SAW; produced and directed acclaimed LGBTQ+ short films HOUSE NOT HOME and DOGHOUSE; directed multiple episodes of Syfy's THE MAGICIANS, FOX's THE FOLLOWING starring Kevin Bacon, the CW phenomenon THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, Disney/Freeform's PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, CBS’ LIMITLESS produced by Bradley Cooper; El Rey’s MATADOR for Robert Rodriguez; BET’s TALES; and STATE OF AFFAIRS for NBC starring Katherine Heigl and Alfre Woodard. In recognition of his humanitarian and activist work, Joshua was awarded the Scenarios Real Deal Award and The Association of Black Sexologists and Clinicians' Director's Prize. Most recently, he has created, written and directed the streaming horror series RED ROOMS, which will premiere in 2022. .


Writer / Showrunner

Big Sun Productions

Writer showrunner. The King's Man, His Only Living Boy (Ben Affleck) Courage (Charlize Theron). Salvation Day. Oblivion (Tom Cruise), The November Man (Pierce Brosnan) Trespass. Showrunner (S1) Stranger Things. Co-creator Last Resort with Shawn Ryan. Riverview with Daren Aronofsky. Dead Like Me.


Senior Programmer

Catalyst Content Festival

Kimberley is the Head of Programming at Catalyst Content Festival (formerly ITVFest). She is also an Associate Short Film Programmer for Tribeca Film Festival and is the Founder and Festival Director of Hollywood Shorts Film Festival, launched in 1998. She previously served as an Associate Short Film Programmer at LA Film Festival, and the Short Film Programmer at Guadalajara International Film Festival - Los Angeles. She was the Executive Producer for HBO ACCESS Directors Fellowship prior to currently working as the Program Advisor ofTribeca's AT&T Untold Stories feature film grant program. Kimberley Browning began her filmmaking career working in production at Disney's Touchstone Television. Her film credits include Archie’s Final Project which premiered at Berlin Film Festival, Uprooted: The Journey of Jazz Dance which premiered on HBO Max in Feb 2022, and the upcoming feature documentary Acting Like Nothing is Wrong. Additional credits include All Hallow’s Eve 2, Certified, Room 19 and Earbuds: A Podcasting Documentary. Episodic credits includes programming for HBO, A&E Networks, CBS, NBC, ABC Signature,,, Warner Brothers TV, Comedy Central and RealNetworks.


Executive Producer, Showrunner

Creators Writing Room

With over 30 years of experience in Hollywood, Lee has seen it all and done it all. He's served as Showrunner, Director, and Executive Producer for massive global hits such as Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory. He's a pro in Creating / Writing / Directing / Developing TV shows (currently writing and producing his long-time passion project with Jason) and has written for hit shows such as Who's the Boss, Charles in Charge, Cybil, CSI plus numerous others.


Vertical Sales Manager for Higher Education


Lisa Gualtieri Alford is a professional photographer with a passion for travel and is highly adept in the education and technical use of imaging equipment for the professional video, cinema, and photography industries. She is a Vertical Sales Manager for Higher Education at Canon USA where she conducts professional imaging workshops, product demos, training, and learning events for her EDU and B2B accounts in the Eastern United States. Lisa also teaches photography and video workshops to support community engagement, and environmental and social activism in the US and abroad with organizations such as Ronald McDonald House Charities, UNLEASH Labs, Life Through My Own Lens, Eyes on Main Street, and the Kuala Lumpur Photography Festival



Boston College

Mary Conroy is a writer and screenwriting professor at Boston College. Currently, she works with students to promote them in the industry as 'baby' writers. Her students have gone on to work at Warner Bros., CBS, Disney and various production companies.


Co-Founder / Head of Production

Lost Forty Studios

Megan Huber is a commercial and film producer. She produced Four Boxes starring Justin Kirk (Weeds), which premiered at the SXSW and sold to E1 Entertainment, Hollywood Fringe distributed by Comedy Dynamics and 3 Day Weekend with Morgan Krantz (In the Dark) which was acquired by Showtime. She line produced Song of Back and Neck, written, directed by and starring Paul Lieberstein (The Office), Rosemarie DeWitt and Brian d'Arcy James. Song of Back and Neck premiered in competition at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival and was distributed by The Orchard. Additionally, Megan has produced multi-million dollar ad campaigns for Target, Hilton, and The Gap.


Godfather of Black Comedy

Comedy Act Planet

Michael E. Williams dubbed The Godfather of Black comedy is the man behind the modern-day Black comedy movement.

In 1985, Williams opened doors to the first Black-owned comedy club, Comedy Act Theatre (C.A.T.) in historic Leimert Park located in the Crenshaw District in Los Angeles, CA. When Williams opened those doors, he tested unchartered territory only to emerge as a trendsetter who forever changed the comedy entertainment industry landscape.



Mike Scholtz is a documentary filmmaker who lives in the woods of northern Minnesota. His films have screened at SXSW, Slamdance and on your local PBS station. Most recently he produced the web series “Minnesota Historia” for WDSE. As a child, he was inspired to become a filmmaker after watching the short documentary “How Are Crayons Made?” on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.


Director, Story Institute


Nikki is an actor, writer, producer & the Director of Catalyst Story Institute. Named "Best Creator in a Comedy" by Asia Web Awards for her award-winning series, AWKWARDLY, she is the founder of The Willing Collective Production Company & host of the industry interview series, SCRIBBLE & POINT. Most recently, she was the Story AP for GEEKED WEEK: UNLOCKED - THE SANDMAN on Netflix. Nikki has several projects in the works and is repped by Goodman, Genow, Schenkman, Smelkinson & Christopher, LLP and KMR Talent (Commercial).



Pamela was nominated for a 2020 WGA Award for her Manson episode on Mindhunter. She has two projects in development. In her 30 year career in film, theatre, and live events, she has produced, directed, and written multiple projects in various media. She lives in New York.



Northern Film Alliance

Founding Director-Duluth Superior Film Festival. In my free time, I enjoy staring at large bodies of water.


Senior Development Officer

University of Minnesota Duluth

Robert Hofmann is a playwright, screenwriter and producer who draws from his life experiences as a SAG/AFTRA and Actor's Equity member actor. A 20 year senior professional fundraiser, and husband of 39 years, he is a proud native of Minnesota, who draws stories from life, his encounters with nature and the abundant arts and cultural offerings that his home state has to offer. Mr. Hofmann is an active member of his Duluth community serving as recent Past Chair for the Depot Foundation, as an active member of Rotary Club of Duluth Club #25, and the Knights of Columbus. He completed professional actor training with Trinity Repertory Conservatory earning his master’s degree in theatre and business communications from Rhode Island College, Providence, RI. He his undergraduate degree in theatre from Saint John’s University of Collegeville, MN. He lives with his wife Kathleen and their Blue Heeler dog, Laura, in Hermantown, Minnesota.


Producer / Consultant

Sara Hamilton is an award-winning producer and consultant with more than 30 years of experience in film and media, marketing and branding, strategy and business development. Sara has produced narrative and documentary features and series, corporate and commercial video productions, and international marketing communications campaigns. She is a certified Film Commissioner with the AFCI and a dedicated advocate for the production industry in Minnesota, serving on the Board of Directors of the Gray Duck Film Center and volunteering with Minnesota Film & TV, the Minnesota Film Alliance, and Catalyst Story Institute.


Senior Producer

See It Now Studios, CBS News

Sasha Reuther is an Emmy-winning documentary producer of features and limited series. Notable projects include primetime special Watergate: High Crimes in the White House (CBS), docuseries Boiling Point (BET), and independent feature Brothers On The Line.


Executive Director

Upper Midwest Film Office

Shari Marshik is the Executive Director and founding partner of the Upper Midwest Film Office. A true connector, Shari’s passion lies in bringing people together to do meaningful, fulfilling work that starts ripples of good.



Basilone has been writing for film and television since graduating from Emerson College. In 2007 he sold his first spec with Benderspink. In 2009, Basilone wrote, produced and starred in a pilot for Fox Television Studios. Since then, Steve has written and produced more than 200 episodes of television, working for shows like Happy Endings, Community and The Goldbergs. In 2015, he wrote a feature for Focus Films, and in 2017 Basilone wrote the sequel to the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Devito classic, Twins. This past year, Basilone’s feature directorial debut, Long Weekend, opened nationwide through Sony Pictures. Currently Basilone is working on getting his sophomore feature off the ground, while he develops television projects with Sony, Fox and MGM.


Coordinator/Social Media


Tara Llewellyn is an actress, writer, and producer. After attending last year’s festival as an Official Selection for her pilot, "Under the Influence", Tara joined Catalyst as the company coordinator. She is the host of the Spotify top-charting TV/Film podcast, "Gilmore to Say".



The Second City Film School

Timothy Schmidt is a Chicago based photographer who works in commercial, marketing, and comedic spaces. Freelancing for over a decade with a massive range of experience and proud work.


Founder, Executive Director

EDU Film Festival

Trey Wodele is one of the Twin Cities’ leading educators and advocates for youth in digital arts. He is the co-founder and Executive Director of the EDU Film Festival.

Trey serves as the Associate Campus Director at IPR College of Creative Arts. IPR specializes in media arts with strong programming in digital video, audio production, entertainment business, and live show production. He was formerly the Coordinator and founding teacher at Minneapolis' MTS Digital Media Academy, a high school for digital arts. Under his leadership the academy grew from a loose collection of electives to a thriving career academy and a destination school for digital media, particularly for under-served, at-risk youth.


Actor / Writer / Podcast Host

CULTURELLE Productions

Vongai was the recipient of Catalyst’s award for Best Lead Drama Actress in 2018. Born in Zimbabwe, raised in the UK and China; she holds a B.A in Film & TV Studies from Brunel University and classically trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She also hosts the ZimExcellence podcast.



Wenonah Wilms is a 2018 Academy Nicholl Fellow for her script "Horsehead Girls" which also won the Austin Film Festival's Drama prize the same year. She is co-creator & executive producer of "Firekeeper's Daughter," a Netflix original through the Obama's production company, Higher Ground, was a staff writer for an HBO series, and is co-developing two additional projects for major streamers. Wenonah is a two-time McKnight Media Artist Fellow (2018 & 2007) and was a finalist in the Sundance Episodic Lab & Sundance Screenwriters Lab. She won First Place in the Comedy Category in the Page International Screenwriting Competition (2011) and won the Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition (2008). Her film “Sunshine” played at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in 2006 and her latest short film “Waabooz” garnered ten awards and accolades including the Kumeyaay Award for Best Native American Film at the San Diego Film Festival and Best Native American Film at the 2018 Copa Shorts Film Festival. Wenonah is active in the Minnesota film community both as a writer and mentor. Wenonah is a member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa located in Northern Wisconsin and resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota forever.



Chaotic Neutral Entertainment

Adam Fratto is an award-winning executive producer and creative executive with a track record in TV development and production, features and new media. He recently ran the scripted department for History, overseeing shows like PROJECT BLUE BOOK and VIKINGS, and has produced shows including CLEVERMAN, HAVEN and GREEK. He is currently a partner in science-oriented production company Cognito Entertainment and is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Southern California.


Executive Producer


Writer/director ANDREW SECUNDA is an executive producer on ABC’s hit THE GOLDBERGS and has written on LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O’BRIEN, SNL’s TV FUNHOUSE, as well as creating LOVE, INC., which ran a season before UPN cancelled itself. He is a three-time Emmy Award loser.


Director of Content


Ashlee Smith is the Director of Content for WDSE•WRPT in Duluth, MN. In addition to leading content strategy & programming across all genres, she also manages production, education, and community engagement. Previously, Ashlee worked as Assistant Director for PBS where she managed programs such as PBS American Portrait and Finding Your Roots.


Director of Locals Administration


Bill serves as Director of Locals Administration with responsibility for operations within the SAG-AFTRA Twin Cities Local. He works to empower members of the union through legislative advocacy, contract enforcement, community partnerships and helping workers organize new bargaining units within the union. He previously worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs assisting veterans with disability benefits. Prior to this he served ten years as an Army medic.



Catalyst Wrestling

Brendan Sokler is an New York City based actor, producer, writer, comic book creator, podcaster, mma color commentator, and owner/ring announcer for Catalyst Wrestling(no relation) on Pluto TV. He is the owner and founder of Punching Up Productions(Catalyst Projects: Grown Up Adventures of Fink and Puzzy, Lose It(win), Superhuman Public Radio(win), The ADULT-ish Podcast). Check out his work at or



A standup comedian, yoga teacher, photographer, digital marketer and producer, Leroy is always looking for new ways to connect with his various audiences.



Maranty Media

Carlo Gonzales-Moss is the Founder and CEO of MARANTY MEDIA, the startup that he created in order to demystify the art of pitching for creators all over the world. Prior to founding Maranty, Carlo was a successful writer, producer, and executive specializing in comedy and animation. He most recently served as the SR. DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT AT THE RUSSO BROS’ OCTOPIE STUDIOS and CCO AT EXTRA CREDIT STUDIOS, the animation studio he co-founded in 2013. In the past, Carlo has developed, sold, and produced television and digital properties with a wide variety of partners, including NBCUNIVERSAL, WARNERMEDIA, VERIZON, TWITTER, CHARLIZE THERON, ERIC ANDRE, RONDA ROUSEY, FREEFORM, and SYFY, among others. Along the way, he also created THE MOST POPULAR GIRLS IN SCHOOL, an independent stop-motion series that ultimately became one of Youtube’s most popular and impactful scripted series ever, boasting more than 150 million views and 1 million subscribers.


Twin Cities Local Board Member


As a member of the SAG-AFTRA Twin Cities Local Board, Casey was an influential team member in the effort to pass the Minnesota Film Production Tax Credit. He chairs the Twin Cities Local Film Festivals Committee, working in partnership with Catalyst Content Festival for the past three years. Casey also serves as co-chair of the Minnesota Film Alliance, a state-wide non-profit trade association that represents Minnesota’s film, episodic & digital content production industry. As an actor in Los Angeles, on-camera credits include USA Network's "Colony," Showtime's "Masters of Sex," "Transparent" on Amazon, and YouTube Red's "Do You Want To See A Dead Body?," as well as multiple independent short films and features, including Princess of the Row. Locally he has worked on Kendra and Beth, Sold Out, Christmas Break-In, and Human Resources.



Chris Pfaff Tech Media LLC

Chris Pfaff is a leading new media and technology producer and strategist. He is renowned for integrating leading-edge technology into the media and entertainment community. He served on the Board of Directors of the PGA for 5 years, and is vice chair of the VR/AR Association.


Board President

Upper Midwest Film Office

As an artist, Dan attended the Lee Strasburg Theatre Institute and The Groundlings School of Improv both in NYC. He has written several award winning screenplays, hosts the podcast Do You Sleep Naked and is the author of the children's book (for adults) Al Luvis Woke Up. As an entrepreneur, Dan brought the Zip-It drain cleaner to market, selling over 40 million worldwide, and quintupled sales at World Block which he sold to his employees as an ESOP. He is Founder & CEO of Buzz Frenzy which automates social media ad creation for small businesses around the globe. He is also the Founder & CEO of the content creation company This Never Happened with the goal of monetizing creative output. As Chief Instigator at The Christine & Dan Stocke Foundation For Excellence In The Arts And Assorted Shenanigans, Dan works to push the name of Duluth beyond its borders and to keep the city weird by sponsoring things like the Catalyst Content Festival. As the Board President of the Upper Midwest Film Office he strives to foster the content creation industry in upper Minnesota. In his spare time he drinks martinis and makes friends with strangers. Producer of 2019 Catalyst award winning podcast Take It With You.




A North Dakota native, Elizabeth Chatelain has directed several documentary and narrative shorts including MY SISTER SARAH, winner of the International Documentary Association’s Award for Best Student Documentary and a Student Academy Award Finalist.


Casting Director

Hart Casting

Erica A. Hart, CSA has appeared in THR as a rising artist and has cast films that have screened at many festivals. THE SURROGATE earned Erica her first Artios win in 2021. TV: THAT DAMN MICHAEL CHE S1 + S2 (HBO MAX), BUST DOWN (PEACOCK) and THE GIRLS ON THE BUS (HBO MAX). BWAY: PASS OVER, CHICKEN & BISCUITS and DEATH OF A SALESMAN.


VP of Programming

Seeka TV

George is a filmmaker, technologist, and entrepreneur. Co-founder of the streaming company Seeka TV, he is also the director of Minnesota WebFest and the creator of the series Utopia Planitia.



Founder/CEO, Bridgebuilder Cinematic Arts

Hollis Meminger is an award-winning Cinematographer with countless credits in film and TV spanning two decades. His most recent credits include Partner Track (Netflix), Tom Swift (The CW) and Younger (Paramount+). He is also the founder of BBCAP, a non-profit focused on the advancement of youth from underserved communities. He is an advocate for social justice and he’s also a dad.


Founder, Jacob Krueger Studio

Jacob Krueger Studio

The founder of Jacob Krueger Studio and host of the popular Write Your Screenplay Podcast, Jacob has worked with thousands of writers, from Academy and Tony Award Winners, to beginning writers picking up the pen for the first time. Jacob’s writing includes the Emmy Award-winning “Matthew Shepard Story” (2002), which also won him the Writers Guild of America Paul Selvin Award and a Gemini Nomination for Best Screenplay. He has collaborated on original film musicals with Tony Award-winning composers Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg (Les Miserables, Miss Saigon) and with four-time Academy Award Composer Michel Legrand (Yentl, The Thomas Crown Affair), as well as a full slate of solo projects ranging from Feature Films to TV and Miniseries. Join Jacob for a free class every Thursday night:


Vice President of Scripted Programming

Onyx Collective

Janice Park is Vice President of Scripted Programming at Onyx Collective. She previously served as SVP of Development and Production at Made Up Stories, the production banner behind HBO’s The Undoing, Hulu’s Nine Perfect Strangers and Netflix’s Pieces of Her, where she oversaw TV and feature film projects set up at Amazon, Apple, Hulu, HBO, Netflix, and Universal. Most recently, she produced Pam Veasey’s original series Long Slow Exhale for Spectrum Originals and BET. She is an active supporter of CAPE, NALIP, and Colour Entertainment. Park began her career as an assistant at UTA in the Independent Film Packaging Group and TV Literary Department.


Director, Faculty

The Second City Film School

Jeff Griggs is the author of the book Guru; My Days with Del Close and is a current director for the Second City National Touring Company. He teaches History and Analysis of Modern Comedy in the Comedy Studies program and is an adjunct professor at Columbia College and DePaul University, and a faculty member at The Harold Ramis Film School, the Second City Training Center and IO Theater.


Director of Mentoring & Partnerships

Catalyst Story Institute

Jennifer Plotzke is an award winning actress and producer, Director of Mentoring for the Catalyst Story Institute, a Creative Team Executive at IFT Network and founder of Poor Monster Productions. Her work has been seen on NBC, HBO, HBO Max and Prime. Her film LOST + FOUND aired recently on PBS and she can currently be seen in the film FIZZLE opposite Peter Friedman and Geoffrey Owens.


Head of Filmed Content

The Green Room

Jon is a producer and Head of Filmed Content at The Green Room, founded by legacy media executive Bob Greenblatt. Previously, he served as Vice President of Film & Television at Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine, where he oversaw Where the Crawdads Sing (Sony), The Morning Show (Apple), and Surface (Apple). He began his career as an executive at 20th Century Fox, working on the development, production, and acquisition of feature films, including Bohemian Rhapsody, Deadpool 2, Murder on the Orient Express, and The Greatest Showman. Jon is a graduate of Yale University (B.A., African American Studies) and the University of Southern California (M.F.A., Peter Stark Producing Program).


Editor, Colorist, Post-Producer


Justin Joseph Hall is an award-winning, multilingual multimedia storyteller and founder of Fourwind Films and Quatre-Vents. He’s worked on projects that received industry recognition including The Emmys, TriBeCa Film Festival, and Brooklyn Film Festival.



Edwardian Pictures

Kelly Edwards has been a producer, TV writer, executive, and is now author of The Executive Chair, A Writer's Guide to TV Series Development.



No Big Production

Kris Lefcoe is a multi-award-winning director-writer whose work has screened at SXSW, TIFF, NBC, IFC, and the Sundance Channel. Kris’ half-hour pilot Giving Up, Executive Produced by David Wain (Wet Hot American Summer) and developed with Imagine Television, won top prizes at Seriesfest and New York Television Festival. Her audience award-winning feature film Public Domain premiered at SXSW and was installed at Miami Basel. Kris made her network directing debut on the NBC comedy Superstore. Her animated short Tiny Riot Project was developed with Shadowmachine Films and sold to the Sundance Channel. Kris teaches on the faculty of the MFA Film and TV program at Stonybrook University, SUNY, and is currently developing her second feature film as well as a new series with Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Mary Rohlich (Atypical).



Westbone Productions

Leonard is an award-winning actor, coach, director, writer, and producer from Minneapolis, MN. He has made a name for himself through his dynamic ability to act and embody characters in both the theater and film industry. His work extends from acting in theater productions like "Waiting for Lefty," written by Clifford Oddets to landing key roles on ABC’s “In an Instant” and feature-length films like “The Great War”, “Black”, “The Protectors”, “American Tender” and more. He's most known for his award-winning role as John Donaldson in the Docu-film "39 Seconds." Leonard has also starred in several films, produced multiple films.


Owner / Casting Director

Lynn Blumenthal Casting

Lynn Blumenthal has been casting for over 30 years. Since returning to the Twin Cities from working in Los Angeles and Chicago, she casts for all projects “actor driven” including Feature Film, Television and Commercial work. LBC recently cast the Indy films “Downtown Owl” (shot in Twin Cities) and “Merry Kiss Cam” (shot in Duluth) LBC has cast for Netflix, HBO, ABC, and all the major studios. The Sundance darlings “Dear White People” and “Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter” were also cast at LBC. We are beginning to work on two new features that will be shooting locally (Mpls and Duluth) this fall.


Literary Agent

Kneerim & Williams Literary Agency

Matthew Valentinas advises an array of clients covering all transactional entertainment matters including authors, screenwriters, directors, producers, production companies, publishers, life-story rights, estate rights, comedians, broadcasters, actors, podcasters, and radio and television personalities. Matthew has also held business affairs positions for a major studio, an international sales agency, and two independent film and television distributors. In his role as production counsel for projects Matthew handles everything from loan-out company formation and production financing through development, pre-production, production, post-production, sales and exhibition. Matthew also serves as an Executive Producer on numerous film and television and digital media productions through Mom’s Basement Media Inc. which packages and produces projects based on rights acquired or represented by Matthew. He joined Kneerim & Williams as an agent in 2018 and is selectively representing new authors on a referral basis. Matthew received his BFA in film and television production from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and earned his JD from Suffolk University Law School. He is admitted to practice in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts.


Executive Director

Minnesota FilmTV

Melodie Bahan was appointed Executive Director of MN Film & TV in June 2017. She previously served as the first Vice President of Communications for Artspace, the nation’s leading developer of affordable space for artists. She developed an integrated strategic communications plan to advance Artspace’s brand identity; broaden awareness of its projects and priorities; and increase the visibility of its projects. She also served as leader of community engagement activities in numerous cities throughout U.S., developing relationships with artists, funders, government officials, and community stakeholders.



A Little Bit of Good Productions

Michelle is an educator, screenwriter and playwright, director, and six-time Emmy nominated producer. She brings her passion for storytelling and collaborating with creatives to her work in business development for Entertainmint. In addition to her work with Catalyst, Michelle is part of the education team of the Scout Film Festival, which is a non-profit that empowers and educates young filmmakers under the age of 24. She is a visiting professor/director at Boston College, and a professor at The University of Kansas.


All around Hyphenate and CEO

Streamin' Garage

Mike Rotman is an Emmy nominated television comedy writer, producer, director, and pioneer in new media content and live streaming. Mike has written, produced, and directed hundreds of hours of television throughout his career including Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher (Primetime Emmy nominee), The Simple Life (Fox), South Park (Comedy Central), Nanny 911 (Fox) Mike also is founder and CEO of Streamin' Garage one of the first live streaming web companies. Under his leadership Streamin' Garage produced and sold such innovative shows as, "Kids Court" “Stupid for Movies,” “Stripped Down Live with Curt Smith,” and the first ever online global game show, “Take My Bitcoins” in which Mike gave away 86 Bitcoins to hundreds of contestants in 22 countries.




Noah Jones is the CEO of FWRD MGMT, an independent management and consulting company representing writers, directors and producers in the Film/TV industry.



Co-Founder, Baddies Comedy Club

Pierre Douglas, better known as "Cool P Comedy", is a host and entertainer. He was born in Chicago IL, and raised in Minneapolis MN. After finding success and gaining a Twitter following as a humor personality, Douglas decided to purse a career in stand up comedy in 2012. Since then he has opened up for comedians such as Darnell Rawling, Ali Siddiq, and Michael Blackson.

In 2016 he co-founded a comedy club called Baddies Comedy Co. with fellow Twin Cities-based comedians Brandon Riddley & Bruce Leroy Williams. The club eventually received the opportunity to be the hosting venue for the taping of an Episode of Kevin Hart's Hart of the City series that premiered on Comedy Central. Douglas is also an actor who has held leading roles in the stage plays I'm Going To Chuuch, Mind Games, and Riot. He also played in the comic book-based action thriller, 3 Million Villains.

Tapping into his skills as a writer, he co-produced a stage production titled A Stereotype Removed. He's graced the stage of many comedy clubs, including Mall of America's House of Comedy, The Joke Joint, The Laugh Factory Chicago, The Laugh Factory Hollywood, Wiley's Comedy Club, Goonies Comedy club and many others.


Chief Production Officer

Upper Midwest Film Office

McManus was part of a group that formed the first MN film commission, MN Film and TV Board. She was past President of the Board as well as Interim Director. She then went on to open MN first casting company, Riki Wuolle Casting Company and her first Feature Film Casting was Purple Rain. After moving to Duluth she started the Upper MN Film Office. The office was just recently changed to a full time non profit office with the birth of the St. Louis County Incentive and also changing the name to the Upper Midwest Film Office with the intent of serving a larger geographic area.


Development Coordinator

Sony Pictures Television Kids

Samuela Brenda Noumtchuet is the Director of Operations for the Catalyst Story Institute. She is also the Development Coordinator at Sony Pictures Television- Kids (formerly Silvergate Media), which develops world class children's content, including the Emmy award-winning programs Octonauts, Hilda, and Peter Rabbit. Samuela is a graduate of Boston College (B.A., Theatre) and she serves on the Board of Directors for Chicago Youth Shakespeare (CYS), a nonprofit organization dedicated to putting Shakespeare's timeless works in the hands of teenagers.


Film Designer & Worldbuilder

Sarah Cogan Design Industries

Sarah Cogan is a multi-hyphenate designer and worldbuilder for film and tv. She's pioneered a process to help filmmakers build cohesive worlds across all genres and media types. Her experience includes indie and majors films, episodics, and branded content across all platforms. Some of her credits include designing the costumes for 18 1/2 starring John Maggaro and Willa Fitzpatrick and Tapawingo with Jon Heder, Billy Zane, and Gina Gershon and assisting on shows such as Blindspot Season 5, Kevin Can Wait, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. She’s been nominated for best design in costumes, production and lighting design and turned that cross departmental knowledge into a course to teach filmmakers the psychology 5 tenants of design—color, line and form, texture, scale and space and movement — and how to utilize them to enhance their storytelling.


Actor, Board Member


Shaan Sharma is a working actor, SAG-AFTRA union leader, acting educator, writer, and former top casting session director. Shaan is currently acting on the international hit TV show "The Chosen" playing Shmuel (, Founder of The Storytellers Conservatory, an on-camera acting studio (, Guest Lecturer for the University of Southern California, and an Adjunct Professor for PACE University’s School of Drama, a proud founding-member of SOLIDARITY, a grassroots SAG-AFTRA education group (, and spent more than a decade working as a casting session director with over 45 of the top commercial casting directors in Los Angeles. Shaan is also a Backstage Expert Contributing writer with over 50 published advice articles for performers and the author of the book and audiobook, “Commercial Acting in LA: A Session Director’s Guide.”


Founder/CEO/Producer/Director/Community Strategist

Daymaker Productions

Sofia Monroe is an Entrepreneur, Producer, Director and Community Strategist.She is a part of several teams and owns Daymaker Productions which develops programs, consults and creates quality content for social and community impact, commercial and entertainment purposes.


Host & Anchor

NBC 10, Telemundo & NECN

O'Connell is also the co-publisher of Bay Windows, New England's largest newspaper serving the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community and The South End News, a Boston weekly, and a co-owner of The EDGE Media Network, a national network of LGBT news web portals. She appears regularly as a contributor on WGBH's Boston Public Radio, and WGBH's Under the Radar with Callie Crossley.


Managing Partner/Executive Producer

Sugar Hill Associates

Tim is a specialist in broadcast and web based video content services for marketing and media affairs, practicing in New England & Canada. Via offices in Sugar Hill, NH, & Boston, MA he researches; builds relationships with; creatively implements; and analyzes the power of - media for business, education and government clients. He is a Board Member & Media Advisor for Catalyst Story Institute/Content Festival in Duluth, MN guiding the development of digital video content. As well, a Consulting Executive Producer of broadcast television programming for Moody Street TV in Waltham, MA. He has two New England Emmy Awards as Writer/Director/Producer, among his 28 Emmy Nominations during his 25 plus year career in New England. He is a Part-Time Professor at sister schools in the Vermont State College System: since January 2014 teaching in the Visual Arts, English/Philosophy/Film and Business Departments at NVU-Lyndon; since Spring of 2016 teaching in the Business department at NVU-Johnson.


Creator, CEO, and Master Sensei

The V.O. Dojo

Tish Hicks is an accomplished, successful LA voiceover artist and the creator, CEO, and Master Sensei of the V.O. Dojo, a holistic, full-training voiceover program that guides, supports, connects, and accelerates every step of the way from "I don’t know" to “working pro”. She has been sharing her voice in all genres of voiceover (commercials, animation, video games, tv narration, promo, audiobooks et al) for 25+ years including being the voice of many high-profile and long-running campaigns like Subaru and Citibank.


Festival Liaison

Upper Midwest Film Office

Film Festival Circuiter specializing in Development and Event Production. Community Development Enthusiast.


Managing Partner

Lehmann PLC

Walter G. Lehmann is managing partner of Lehmann PLC (formerly Lehmann Strobel PC). With over 25 years of experience as an attorney and business consultant, Lehmann has represented independent producers, artists, and writers, as well as museums and arts and cultural organizations of all kinds. Lehmann is also an appraiser of fine and decorative art. He has served on the board of directors of numerous arts-related nonprofits, including the Landis Valley Museum Associates and the North Museum of Natural History and Science, where he also served as interim Curator of Collections. Lehmann was also a member of the Walters Art Museum Collections Committee. He is currently a board member of The M and the Friends of The M.



Canusa Street

Zack Morrison is a comedy writer/director from New Jersey, and is a big fan of Bruce Springsteen and homemade tomato sauce. His half-hour pilot, Canusa Street, won the 2021 Catalyst Story Festival teleplay competition and was featured by The Black List, and his short musical, Everything's Fine: A Panic Attack in D Major, won an Emmy at the Television Academy's 2019 student awards. Zack has written and produced short form material for major brands like Buzzfeed, Esquire, MTV, Cartoon Network, and TIME Magazine; and he previously worked as a writers assistant at The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and a writers PA at Late Night with Seth Meyers and Saturday Night Live. Zack has a MFA degree in television writing from Columbia University.

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