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MYLISSA FITZSIMMONS

Mylissa is a filmmaker from Los Angeles, CA. Her films include, Long Way

Home, My First Love, Mercy, and the award wining short films, That Party That

One Night and Who Decides. She was an Associate Producer on the Tribeca

winning film Cul-de-Sac, a Screen Craft finalist for her short story Red Clay Halo,

a 2018 HBO Directing Fellowship semi-finalist and The Sun Valley Film Festival

Short Film Lab winner with her script to screen short film Who Decides. Recently

she was invited to participate in The Reykjavik Talent Lab in Iceland. Her films

have played at various film festivals around the world and can be seen online.

Randy Polk

After graduating from theatre and film programs at Southwest Texas State University (Texas State) and the University of Texas, Randy Polk traveled to Hollywood California for a 23 year career in Television and Film production. He has professional experience in almost all areas of media production and was owner of an equipment rental and production services company serving independent films, major studios, television networks, ad agencies, corporate clients and the emerging cable industry.  He has done staging for a variety of live events from the Emmys and the Golden Globes to major concerts and arena events.  He has provided support services to many of Hollywood’s top production companies.  A member of SAG-AFTRA, Randy also worked on the other side of the camera in over 30 network television shows, films and video games while in Los Angles.  Returning to Texas in 2003, he taught the art of Television and Film production as a Professor at the University of Houston’s Jack J. Valenti School of Communication for 14 years.  Now retired, Randy has been a tireless advocate for the Texas media production industry, volunteering his time with the Texas Motion Picture Alliance and the Texas Film Commission.  He is a member of the SAG-AFTRA Austin Actor’s Conservatory Committee, and remains an advisor and mentor to young filmmakers.   

LI LU

Li Lu is an award-winning filmmaker residing in Los Angeles, CA. She was born in Suzhou, China
and moved to the United States when she was five. Daughter of two physicists, Li discovered
filmmaking via her passion for photography and classical ballet. After an adventurous upbringing
on all three coasts and graduating high school in Sugar Land, TX, Li received her BA from the
University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, graduating cum laude.

Her debut feature “There Is a New World Somewhere” won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature
Film at the Boonies International Film Festival and Special Jury Award for Best First Feature at
both the Las Vegas Film Festival and LA Asian Pacific Film Festival. It was distributed theatrically
in 20 US cities by Emerging Pictures and on demand by Gravitas Ventures. 

Her teleplay "Razorhurst," about street gangs in 1920s Sydney, Australia, won HBO’s Skyway
Film Festival's Grand Jury Award for Best Teleplay and Pitch. Her documentary projects have
garnered support and grants from the Islamic Scholarship Fund, Arri Cameras, and others.

Li has been profiled in the New York Times, IndieWIRE, NPR, Bitch Magazine, IMDb, and
Flavorwire. A maker of both fiction and documentary films, she is focused on work that creates
a positive social impact and defies stereotypes by expanding the representation of minorities.

BETSY ROSS

Betsy is a sometime lawyer, sometime writer, sometime documentary filmmaker who is dedicated to supporting others and their art.  She is a board member and executive director of The David Ross Fetzer Foundation for Emerging Artists (The Davey Foundation), a nonprofit that provides grants, mentoring, and opportunity for emerging artists in memory of actor, filmmaker, and musician, David Fetzer.  The Davey Foundation is a proud partner of Film Exchange.

PATRICK McLAUGHLIN

Patrick is an actor, director, lighting designer and proud native Victorian. He is also an award winning playwright. His play Knock, Knock was the 2008 winner of the McLaren Memorial Comedy Playwriting Competition. It received its world premiere at Midland Community Theatre in 2009. His drama The David Chronicles was the winner of the Texas Playwriting Award from Second Thought Theatre in Dallas, TX. His other works include Bobby Joe Gilroy’s Comin’ Home, The Mutual Acquaintance, Under a Powder Blue Moon, Settling His Affairs and Otherwise Engaged. His most recent work, Until He Wasn’t received its world premiere at MadLab in Columbus Ohio in 2016.

WILLIAM SCOTT HARKEY

William Scott Harkey has been an educator for over twelve years, beginning as a high school English teacher in 2005, an adjunct English instructor in 2009, and now as a lecturer of English at the University of Houston-Victoria. William received both his BA and MA from UHV and began working for the university in 2004 as a writing consultant. Between 2004 and 2014, he worked for UHV as an associate editor for symploka, a research assistant, and a writing coordinator for the Student Success Center. William teaches Freshman Composition I, Professional Writing, The Bible as History and Literature, and Medieval and Renaissance Civilizations. He has also taught classes in The History of Rock and Roll and Introduction to Cinema.

 

William serves as the president of the UHV Rosebud Film Society and as a faculty advisor for the History and Humanities Association. William has published works in cultural and literary criticism, short fiction, and poetry. His primary interests lie in the fields of philosophy, psychoanalysis, sociology, and theology, with emphasis on how these disciplines contribute to our understanding of culture, identity, and our attitudes toward mortality.

JOE FRIAR

Joe Friar is a film critic for The Victoria Advocate and 104.7 KVIC where he hosts the Breakfast Buzz
morning show. He is a member of the Houston Film Critics Society and the Broadcast Film Critics
Association in Los Angeles. You can read his reviews every Thursday in the Flix newspaper column or
online at RottenTomatoes.com. In 2016 he received the First Place Comment and Criticism Award by
the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors. To promote the advancement of film in the Victoria area,
Joe co-founded the Victoria Film Society to give local cinephiles a chance to see independent films,
foreign films, and documentaries that don’t get booked at the local cineplex. He spent a large portion of his childhood in Victoria movie theaters owned by theatre mogul Rubin Frels who passed away in 2014. To honor his legacy Joe co-founded the Frels Fright Fest film festival with VTXIFF executive director Anthony Pedone. Joe’s love for film can be attributed to his mother who introduced him to “The
Godfather,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” and “Cabaret” at an early age over more family-friendly films. His
fondest memories of cinema life include forging notes to get into R-rated films, watching “Jaws” 32
times by age 11, and arguing with a theatre manager over “All the President’s Men.” The Watergate
thriller was listed as an R-rated film by mistake so in the spirit of Woodward and Bernstein, 12-year old
Joe fought for his rights and convinced the manager to step outside and explain to him why the poster
clearly listed the film as rated PG. He watched it twice that day.

NINA DI LEO

Nina Di Leo is the Executive Director of the Victoria Bach Festival, which brings artists from across the nation to Victoria for an extraordinary week of music.  Prior to her work with VBF, Di Leo taught at the University of Houston-Victoria in the English and Communications departments and taught film at Indiana University.  She designed multimedia education programs and exhibits for the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago.  Di Leo’s stage play Shelter in Place had its workshop premiere at the Five Points Museum of Contemporary Art in August 2016, directed by Randy Wachtel.

LOU ALLISTER

Louise Allister is a writer and free lance artist from England. After studying three dimensional design at Middlesex University she went on to design and build sets for local theatre productions including Shakespeare's The Tempest and Bertolt Brecht's The Good Person of Sichuan with Director Mark Babych. Louise now spends her time script writing and editing films with her husband Stuart.

STU ALLISTER

Stuart Allister started out in commercial photography after leaving school where he developed a passion for the visual arts. He went on to work behind the scenes in local theatre where he worked on various concerts and comedy gigs including Steve Coogan's sell out live tour. Stuart decided soon after to move into film as well as photography and now divides his time between working with 8mm cine film and digital formats.

GARY BRANFMAN

Gary Branfman studied radio, television, and film at New York City’s Queens College. While playing keyboards in a band, free-lancing as a photographer, and performing a magic act, he accepted a position producing educational films for Audiovisual Instructional Devices Inc. of Massachusetts, and as an audio technician for its subsidiary, Jazzways. Branfman subsequently served as Base photographer for Kelly Air Force Base and audio-visual technician for Incarnate Word College. 

 

Somewhere along the way he completed medical school, two residencies and two fellowships to became a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, Victoria's "Best of the Best" plastic surgeon year after year, and one of the Golden Crescent Magazine's "Top 5 Doctors".

 

"Although medicine became my profession, film has remained my passion", says Branfman. In 2004 he completed the Hollywood Film Institute's Feature Film Production and Screenwriting course. Dr. Branfman's first screenplay, INTOLERANCE was a finalist in the Beverly Hills Film Festival Screenplay Competition, as well as Creative Screenwriter’s Magazine International Screenwriter’s Competition.  

CASSIE CAMERON

Cassie C. Cameron is a student at University of Houston-Victoria where she is currently working to gain her Bachelors of Art in History as well as her Bachelor of Science in Psychology. She works as a writing consultant for the university and has tutored other Humanities such as Gender Studies, Ethics, and US History with a focus on the Civil Rights Era.

Cassie serves as president of the History and Humanities Association at UHV who pride themselves in connecting students to local art and history, as well as providing a fun environment to further their knowledge of the humanities.

To add to her time at UHV, Cassie has committed to documenting oral histories of community members in order to shed light on the ways in which rhetoric contributes to the unification of the working class. She will use some of her work to present with a panel in Minneapolis at this year’s Rhetoric Conference in May.

After graduation Cassie plans to continue her education and research by gaining her Masters and Doctorate in Psychology to work as a Forensic Psychologist and Behavioral Analyst. Her interest in History dictates her love of Sociology and the ways in which trends and the media alter behavior in America. These catalysts provoke changes vastly evident in American culture and the people of the working class, which Cassie feels her research will help to elucidate.