Mike Brown – Director
New York-based filmmaker Michael L. Brown began his film training at Howard University where he worked closely with filmmakers Bill Duke (Sister Act 2, Rage In Harlem) and Haile Gerima (Sankofa). Michael later obtained his MFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he was mentored by Spike Lee and worked on When the Levees Broke. Michael received NYU’s Carl Lerner Award for Best Film with Social Significance for his award winning short, A Riot in the Dark. He has directed and produced several short films including the recently filmed The Feeling You Get, starring Julito McCullum (The Wire). Michael has worked as the personal videographer to Sean “Diddy” Combs’ where he contributed to Combs’ fashion documentary, If I Were King.
Leah Natasha Thomas – Producer
Ms. Thomas started her career at Revolution Studios where she worked on MONA LISA SMILE with Julia Roberts and LITTLE BLACK BOOK with Brittany Murphy, prior to becoming the former Director of Industry Relations for Ghetto Film School. She was recently a producer on, 3.5 MINUTES with director Marc Silver (Who is Dayani Cristal) on the murder trial of Michael Dunn, accused killer of teenager Jordan Davis. She is currently producing the independent features LOVESTRUCK and FOOTNOTE. She was named one of the Top Ten Rising Women Executives in Entertainment by Uptown Magazine. She holds a BFA and an MA from NYU-Tisch School of the Arts.
Khaliah Neal – Producer
Khaliah Nealstarted her film career as an intern on Michael Moore’s record-breaking documentary, FAHRENHEIT 9/11. Upon graduating from Howard University with a BA in Broadcast Journalism, she worked at an array of prominent production companies and film studios including, The Weinstein Company, Jean Doumanian Productions–where she worked on such Broadway hits as Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize winning play AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY–and Focus Features, where she worked on Oscar nominated films, TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, MOONRISE KINGDOM, DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, among many others. Neal also served as Alternative Marketing and Outreach Manager on the Oscar nominated documentary TROUBLE THE WATER. Neal is now an independent producer, working on a diverse selection of film, television, and theater projects including, AN ILLUMINATED LIFE, a narrative feature film Dee Rees (PARIAH) is slated to direct; HURT VILLAGE, a stage-to-film adaptation by Olivier winning playwright, Katori Hall (THE MOUNTAINTOP), that went throughthe Sundance Writers Lab and she was also a Field Producer on director Marc Silver’s (WHO IS DAYANI CRISTAL?) newest documentary, 3.5 MINUTES, that addresses Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground laws via the recent Michael Dunn murder trial. Neal also has several other exciting projects at various stages of development.
Ron Simons Executive Producer
Founder and President, Ron Simons, is a two-time Tony Award-winning producer and actor. Ron leads the strategic planning/development of Theatre and Film projects including the critically acclaimed films: Night Catches Us, Gun Hill Road, Blue Caprice and Mother of George (all premiered at Sundance). He also produced the Broadway productions of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (currently on Broadway), Porgy & Bess (Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical), Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Tony Award for Best Play, Drama Desk, New Drama Critics and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Play, Drama League Award for Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Play), Streetcar Named Desire and an investor in August Wilson’s Radio Golf on Broadway. Off-Broadway projects include Bedlam’s St. Joan and Bedlam’s Hamlet (currently running).
As an actor, Ron has appeared on stage, in film and television. He and fellow cast members won the London Stage Award for Acting Excellence for the play Boy Steals Train which he co-developed. He has performed in numerous regional theaters including Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Utah Shakespeare Featival and the Classical Theatre of Harlem. Film and television credits include Blue Caprice, Night Catches Us, 27 Dresses, Mystery Team , Phoebe in Wonderland, Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, As the World Turns and Nowhere Man.
Ron’s corporate experience includes positions as Software Engineer having developed systems at Hewlett-Packard, IBM and later, as a Knowledge Engineer, he developed Artificial Intelligence systems for F500 companies such as GM, Chrysler and Morton Thiokol. He is a former Marketing Executive at the Microsoft Corporation having managed multi-million dollar marketing campaigns for the Microsoft Mail family of products.
Ron is a recipient of the Heritage Award from Columbia College’s Black Alumni Council, 150 Distinguished Alumni Award from University of Washington, and is a Johnson & Johnson Leadership Award Fellow, IFP Cannes’ Producer’s Network Fellow and a Sundance Producers’ Summit Fellow. He holds a BA from Columbia College, an MBA from Columbia Business School and an MFA from the University of Washington’s Professional Actor Training Program.