Panelist’s Bios


Richard Chisolm started making films as a teenager and went on to study, work and teach at the University of Maryland Baltimore County in the film/video area of the Visual Arts department.  In 1982, he received a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from UMBC, and in 2001 was awarded “Distinguished Alumnus of the Year.”

Richard’s freelance career began in the early eighties and he taught film courses part-time at The Johns Hopkins University through 1992. Over the years Richard has done camera work on a wide variety of projects: feature films, TV series, commercials, corporate and educational videos. However, most of his experience continues to be in the realm of documentaries and actuality-style drama, much of it shot hand-held, a particular specialty of his. Cinematography also allows Richard opportunities in international travel.

As image-making technologies  evolve, Richard embraces change with enthusiasm and works in all professional formats of film and video (35mm, 16mm, HD,DSLR,DV, etc.) For more information, please visit Richard’s website at


Brian Dragonuk is a full time Actor, Model, TV Show Host & Radio Personality working the Mid-Atlantic States (PA, NJ, DE, MD, DC, VA & The surrounding Area). He has been cast in over 625 Different Projects (with 163 Principal Roles) since his start on the Set of “The Replacements” in 1999.

He has several years Experience working As an Actor (Standardized Patient) assisting in Training and Evaluating The Student Doctors at Johns Hopkins University, University Of Maryland – Baltimore & Uniformed Services University (Walter Reed) And in the training of Federal Law Enforcement Agents at The U S Secret Service Training Academy, FBI, US Capitol Police As well as Virginia Local police at The Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Academy. He has been involved in Several Mock trials to assist in the Training and Evaluation of Trial Lawyers and worked with the Dept of Homeland Security in Radiation Disaster Dills to Train & Evaluate our 1st responders.

Brian Has worked as a Casting Associate For some of the Region’s Top Agents & Casting Directors Both from their office or from His home on their behalf, As A Casting PA (Wrangler) on Projects like “The WEST WING’, Breach & Step -UP, And as A Casting Director on Several Low / No Budget Feature Films & Shorts, Cable TV Shows & TV Commercials.

Brian Has Owned / Edited 3 Industry Newsletters since 1999 and on 01/01/10 merged them into a new Professional Networking Website. is a Professional Networking Community Covering the Entertainment Industry in the Mid-Atlantic States USA. DragonukConnects is currently the Mid-Atlantic Regions Largest Talent and Production Crew Database With over 6,000 Local Members.

He has assisted Local independent Filmmakers identify their needs and find the resources needed to create quality Projects in over 100 Local Feature Films and/or Shorts. Brian has Produced 12 Cable Talk shows for the local market and is branching out to produce Independent films. He has Several Movie Script in Development As Well as a 1st Book in the making.

Brian feels that Since Scriptwriters, Producers, Casting Directors & Actors each look at the same work from different angles (because their Jobs are Totally Different) his Experience on all 4 sides of the box allows him a Unique perspective to not only see the 4 sides but outside the box as well.

Brian Dragonuk
DragonukConnects.Com profile
Personal Website

Internet Movie Data Base


Brian Frankel is an attorney in Washington D.C. and an award-winning independent filmmaker. Frankel works with creative professionals, tech start-ups, and established businesses to address legal issues including contracts, litigation, intellectual property, management, business organization, and risk assessment. Mr. Frankel was Kodak’s Emerging Filmmaker for 2004. He has produced and/or directed music videos, films, television shows, commercials, and multi-media projects. Frankel’s video clients have included MTV, Spike TV, Motorola, M Audio, Def Jam South Records, the Merchant Marines, and the Independent Feature Project. Frankel earned both his undergraduate degree and his law degree at the University of Florida. He has technical training from the French National Film Academy, the Art Institute of Phoenix, the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, and Miami Dade College. Frankel is admitted to practice in Washington D.C. and Florida. He is the chairman of WALA’s Subcommittee on Film and Television. ( )


Jack Gerbes joined the Maryland Film Office as its location and project manager in 1992. He was appointed Director of the Film Office in 2002. The Maryland Film Office promotes the state to the film and television industry, and works with the productions as a location, logistical and informational resource while they film in Maryland. During the course of his career, Jack has worked on over 125 films or television series in Maryland. His credits include:  “VEEP”, “House of Cards”, “Ladder 49”, “Wedding Crashers”, “Enemy of the State”, “12 Monkeys” “Runaway Bride”, “Step Up” and “Step Up 2”, “Live Free or Die Hard” and “The Blair Witch Project”. He has had the opportunity to work with film directors Terry Gilliam, John Waters, Jodie Foster, Tony Scott, Clint Eastwood and David Fincher.

Kiley Kraskouskas

Kiley Kraskouskas is an award-winning producer and co-founder and president of Thinking Forward Media with a passion for independent media.  Before launching Thinking Forward Media she worked as a producer and business developer for two top Virginia film companies, Rock Creek Productions of Reston, and Cortina Productions of McLean.  She then served as producer and the principal fundraiser for the independent feature documentary, Essakane Film, which received a National Endowment for the Arts grant for completion and outreach in 2012.

Kiley is a sought-after instructor, speaker, and consultant whose expertise includes crowd funding, video production, and project management.  Recent films for which she has consulted include: Teach me How to SeaCoded Stories, Fame High, The Africa Film Project and The Last Battlefront.  Additional production and consulting clients include: The George Washington University, Daring or Nothing Productions, and The University of Maryland Small Business Development Center.  Kiley serves on the board of Docs in Progress and is a longtime member of Women in Film and Video (WIFV).  WIFV recently honored her with their Randy Goldman Scholarship, which provided tuition to the Maine Media Institute for the course, “Writing and Developing the Documentary.”  She holds a Master Degree in Sociology from New York University and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Political Science from the University of Denver.  Kiley can be reached for video production work as well as crowd funding speaking and consulting opportunities at


John D. Mason of The Intellectual Property Group, PLLC is an art, entertainment and intellectual property attorney, and literary agent. He is based in the Washington DC/Maryland area. His practice focuses on copyright and trademark transactional matters, litigation, publishing and media issues, contracts, and commercial matters. He works with writers, artists, filmmakers and creative people and companies to protect, promote and exploit their work. In addition to his law practice, Mr. Mason is adjunct faculty teaching Art and the Law at George Mason University, on the Advisory Board of the Film and Video Studies program at George Mason University, on the Board of Directors for the Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts, and on the Advisory Board of the Art Directors Club of Metropolitan Washington. His email is and his firm website is


Herbert Niles is an experienced and accomplished entertainment/media industry executive with over 20 years of experience serving in various industry-specific professional capacities, including hands-on film production crew member, creative development executive at a major motion picture studio (Orion Pictures), independent screenwriter, independent film producer, corporate executive/department head at a major television cable broadcast company (BET Networks), and now as a Special Advisor, Business Development & Strategic Partnerships with the DC Office of Motion Picture & Television Development. Herbert Niles’ experience over the course of his professional career as both a creative artist and a media industry executive includes creating, developing, acquiring, managing, and distributing creative content, as well as managing, supervising, and training a diverse pool of talent with various levels of previous experience in the industry. During Herbert Niles’ time at BET Networks, he wore many hats. He began his time at BET Networks managing, staffing, and supervising BET’s JOURNEYS IN BLACK on-air biography profile/documentary series; BET’s Arabesque original made-for-TV movie franchise; and was the lead liaison executive that oversaw and supervised a key creative and business partnership with the Oxygen Network on the NAMIC Vision Award-winning original animated series, “Hey Monie”. Mr. Niles also served as BET Networks’ Vice President, Film Development and Program Acquisitions where he participated in BET’s efforts to establish a new film division. This role involved building and staffing a new department at BET Networks, requiring the implementation and management of an integrated jobs and skills training program, training men and women with various levels of previous training and experience to serve as full time, part time, and freelance staff in various development, production, content management, and distribution capacities. The array of skills and talents Mr. Niles’ has acquired during his career that have allowed him to succeed in the dynamic and competitive entertainment/media industry include, but are not limited to: screenplay writing and analysis; audience research and reporting; project development; pre-production/production/post-production; and corporate/charitable foundation/film festival sponsorship coordination. Mr. Niles is a graduate of Stanford University and a member of the Writers Guild of America. Mr. Niles was born and raised in Washington, DC, where he currently resides with his wife and 2 sons.


Anna Reid Jhirad, founder of Marigold Productions, LLC, is a nationally recognized film artist and writer whose programs have won major awards, among them an Academy Award Nomination, Emmys, Cine Golden Eagle, Jade Award for Excellence in Writing, Best Environmental Film, and others.

Ms. Jhirad has long been a writer and producer of documentary films for primetime national television, theatrical release, museums, educational markets, IMAX films, and international media markets. Her programs cover the gamut of fields in history, biography, science, medicine, art, environmental issues, and literature.  She has worked with WGBH, WNET, WQED, WETA, MPT, National Geographic, NBC, the BBC, IMAX Media, and major American and international film producers. Recently, she moved into producing, directing, and writing her own films, working with production teams in Washington, DC, New York, and Boston.

Her films include prime-time PBS documentaries, among them: Impressionists on the Seine (Writer:  Emmy) Kate Chopin: A Re-Awakening (Writer: Two Cines, an International Cine Award and the Jade Award for Excellence in Writing); The Forest Where We Live (Writer: Best Environmental Documentary). Louisiana, A History, a six-hour series covering the state’s history from the 16th century to today (Writer: script and narration for four of six hours; DuPont Columbia Award); One Woman, One Vote (Contributing Writer: the first hour of two hours) produced by the Educational Film Center and Ruth Pollak for THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE. She wrote A. Philip Randolph: For Jobs and Freedom (Contributing Writer) and William Kennedy’s Albany (Writer), for WETA.   She was a contributing writer (first cut) of Jerome Robbins, Something to Dance About, a two-hour documentary for PBS’s on-going series, AMERICAN MASTERS with Thirteen/WNET in New York; as well as the first cut of Dolley Madison, a 90-minute special for Twin Cities and Middlemarch Films, which appeared on WGBH’s AMERICAN EXPERIENCE.

She worked on a series of films with Guggenheim Productions (Charles, Grace, and Davis):  The Art of Norton Simon (Contributing Writer:  Awarded the Chris Statue at the Columbus International Film and Video Festival); A Place in the Land (Contributing Writer: Academy Award nomination for Documentary Short Subject, the Flagstaff International Film Festival Gold Award, a CINE Golden Eagle, and an Earth Watch Institute Award); Truman (Columbus International Film and Video Festival Bronze Plaque Award); and others.

Hannes Rall

As Professor for animation at the research intensive Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and an independent animation film director Hannes Rall integrates academic research with a scientific approach and content creation for animated film. In his research Hannes Rall explores the creation of genuinely Asian animation styles, which are not derived from Western concepts in two major research projects:

“Wayang Kulit” explores ways to adapt the traditional Asian shadow puppet play (which had already inspired Lotte Reiniger) in novel ways for digital animation. “Tradigital Mythmaking” explores the adaptation of a traditional Vietnamese folk-tale in a line-style evoking the artistic qualities of traditional Chinese painting. Both projects are highly interdisciplinary, with researchers from the fields of arts, anthropology, computer science and literature collaborating closely.

For his film “The Cold Heart”, based on a famous German fairy tale, he worked with a multi-cultural team comprising artists from Germany, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. Here the challenge was to achieve cohesive artistic outcomes in a trans-cultural collaboration.


Ms. Skyrme has been a filmmaker for over 20 years, she began her filmography career as a Casting Director in Washington DC. Her projects for film, television, and radio number in the hundreds, spanning geographically from Washington DC to Boston, New York City to Tampa and many locations between as well as an HBO Pilot in Los Angeles. Clients include Hollywood studios, National and Regional Advertising Agencies and numerous Regional Production Companies. Kimberly considers herself and artist… she paints the screen with faces. Working as a Regional Casting Director for Studio feature films and on the long running docudrama/crime series Unsolved Mysteries she gained an interest in producing. While working on James Cameron’s True Lies, she produced her first short film for a fellow American University Student and it was the first of many producing endeavors. Her close interactions with producers and production managers on the feature films and television series it enabled her to garner producing skills from some of Hollywood and New York’s “A Listers”. Producing credits include film shorts and features, commercials and interactive training programs. Kimberly’s background in acting, dance and teaching are apparent in her commitment to the numerous service and educational organizations. She is currently the Chair of the Board for Women in Film and Television International (WIFTI) Member of Women in Film and Video – Washington DC (WIFV-DC) and New York Women in Film and Television (NYWIFT). She is also on the Board of Directors of The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts (NCDA). Additional Membership and organizational involvement include The New York Junior League – Sustainer Committee (NYJL), Dancing Classrooms-NYC Gala Committee and Dancing Classrooms-DC Steering Committee.


Jaia Thomas is the founder of The Law Office of Jaia Thomas, a multi-faceted law firm specializing in sports, entertainment and intellectual property. A graduate of Colgate University (BA) and The George Washington University Law School (JD), Jaia Thomas also holds a Certificate in Producing from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.

Jaia Thomas prepares and negotiates option agreements, below-the-line agreements, above-the-line agreements, product placement agreements and distribution agreements on behalf of independent filmmakers and film production companies. She also advises filmmakers and film production companies on all aspects of film finance, from private equity to slate financing. Her clients have had films featured at Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival and most recently, ESPN’s 30 for 30.