Meet the Panelists for DCIFF 2012 Seminars and Workshops

Blake Althen

Blake Althen of Human Factor has composed music for musical artists, indie films, and corporate clients since the early 90’s. With his background as a record producer working with artists on three continents, Blake brings a contemporary, artistic, and world vibe to his film and television compositions.  He has been nominated for 2 Grammys, over 20 Washington Area Music Awards, and his musical artists have reached the peak of Billboard charts; his music has won 1st place in songwriting and scoring contests such as the Billboard Film/TV Scoring Contest, the Just Plain Folks Music Awards and Songwriters Association of Washington.  He is the author of Brand, Buzz & Success:  Your Guide to the New Music Industry.

Blake’s formal education was at Berklee College of Music and George Mason University. He believes, however, that making music is the best way to learn how to make music, and advocates practical experience in the many workshops and seminars he gives at college campuses, music education institutions, and both music and film/video conferences and events.

Blake brings an extraordinary amount of energy, talent, knowledge, professionalism, and experience to all of his musical compositions, productions and education.

Paula Bellenoit

Involved in music and the arts her whole life, a natural mediator, and possessing a passion for bringing people together, Paula has found her niche in business management — keeping composers, artists, and producers focused on their projects while she takes care of business.

Paula is co-founder and co-owner of Human Factor LLC, a music composition and production company.  For the past decade, Paula has been negotiating music and video contracts, licensing music, planning seminars and parties, and of course producing music and writing songs.  Her songs have won 1st
place in songwriting contests such as the Just Plain Folks Music Awards and Songwriters¹ Association of Washington; and she has been nominated for several Wammies (Washington Area Music Awards) for both creative and business work.

When Paula is not writing or keeping the business together, she can be found conducting her music seminar Speed Networking or speaking on various entertainment industry panels such as WAMA¹s Legal Issues in the Music Industry Today, Meet the Managers at Millenium Music Conference, several
varied Women in Music Business panels, and Work/Life Balance for GirlsLead, among others.  Since 2009, Paula co-produces The Scoop, an audio podcast focused on women in the media industry.

Casey Callister

Casey Callister is the founder of Garden Thieves Pictures, a distribution company in Washington, D.C.

Garden Pictures works with indie film producers to help distribute films and represent them to international buyers. Casey also produced Ballou, 7 of the ‘3 Minute Stories’ documentary series for CINELAN (co-founded by Morgan Spurlock) and is currently working distribution and marketing of ten feature documentary films including Emmy Award winning Out in The Silence and Sync or Swim. His company works closely with SnagFilms to deliver content quickly on-line and deliver films directly to Amazon, iTunes, Hulu, Netflix streaming and Youtube movie store.

Keith Carter

Keith Carter, the creator of Orlok, the Vampire in 3D, is a Native American of Coharie descent. Keith began his career in 1986 penciling for a comic book company called Silver Wolf Comics. Since then, his work has appeared in such publications as The Washington Post, USA TODAY and National Geographic. In 1993, he began a career in animation with a D.C.-based studio called News In Motion. While working with clientele such as Disney, NFL, CNN and Lucas Films, Keith developed his craft for animated storytelling. He is also the creator and animator of the Emmy Award-winning campaign ‘Savingsman’ for ABC.

Tom Dziedzic

Tom is an independent filmmaker based in Falls Church, Virginia.  A native of Chicago, Illinois, Tom began his career as a sound engineer and film editor at the legendary Calvin Film Studios in Kansas City, Missouri.  In 1997 Tom launched his own production company Tom Dziedzic Video LLC where he continues to produce award-winning videos for diverse corporate, government and non-profit clients as well as develop documentary projects of his own.

Tom’s Emmy-nominated documentary “Redemption Stone” chronicles the life of retired policeman Tom Lewis who founded The Fishing School, a family service center for at-risk youth located in Northeast Washington, D.C.  The International Documentary Association in Los Angeles recognized the film for outstanding documentary achievement as one of five best short films at the IDA Awards in 2008.  “Redemption Stone” went on to screen at over 20 film festivals including Slamdance in Park City, Utah, and premiered on The Documentary Channel in 2010.

Brian Frankel, Esq.

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. ( )

Erica Ginsberg

Erica Ginsberg is the Executive Director of Docs In Progress (, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the documentary film community both locally and globally.  The organization will also be presenting a work-in-progress screening of new documentaries from Kosovo on Sunday morning at the festival.  In addition to her work with Docs In Progress, Erica has served as a Curator for the Council on Foundations Film Festival, Juror for the Dokufest Film Festival in Kosovo, the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival in California, and the Michigan Regional Emmy Awards.  She has also been a panelist for cultural grants from the Maryland State Arts Council and the U.S. Department of State, a past Vice President of Women in Film and Video, and has written articles on documentary filmmaking for DOX, The Independent, and Docs In Progress.  Her video work includes Crucible of War about postwar life in Yugoslavia; Talking Threads about international student reactions to 9/11, and her latest project America’s Park about Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park in Washington DC.  Prior to her work in film, she worked for many years in the area of international exchange programs for the U.S. Department of State.  She holds a B.A. in International Affairs from the George Washington University and has an M.A. in Film and Video from American University with additional studies at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland and FAMU (national film school) in Prague, Czech Republic.

Brian Wilbur Grundstrom

Brian Wilbur Grundstrom’s compositions for film, orchestra, piano, quintet and other ensembles demonstrate an innovative use of harmony and melody, which although firmly rooted in the tonal tradition is entirely new. Audiences take to his compositions immediately, finding in his compositions traces of Aaron Copland, Kurt Weill and Samuel Barber. Classically trained in piano as well as music theory from Gettysburg College, he has continued orchestration and composition studies with John David Earnest.

His awards include Encore from American Composers Forum, ASCAPLUS from ASCAP and Composers Assistance Program from the American Music Center. He received three grants from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities , an agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, and was a finalist for the Mayor’s Arts Awards. Brian received a Peer Award for Sadie’s Waltz from Television, Internet, & Video Association of DC (TIVA-DC). The Bridge Club song from his Musical Pepe! The Mail Order Monkey Musical was nominated for a 2009 OUTMusic Award

A member of ASCAP, Brian attended the prestigious prestigious ASCAP/NYU Buddy Baker Film Music Workshop. His features include Nocturnal AgonyArc of Light: A Portrait of Anna Campbell Bliss, and 2 Minutes Later, in addition to writing music for many short films. His studio includes the latest in technologies, including Vienna Symphonic Library, and he is able to render his orchestral compositions at high professional standards.

His music has been performed by SONOS Chamber Orchestra, Shippensburg Festival Orchestra, Trinity Chamber Orchstra, George Washington University Orchestra, NIH PhilharmoniaHolyoke Civic SymphonySymphony of ArlingtonColla Voce and The New Jersey Gay Men’s Chorus. Director Erik E. Ochsner writes “Many audiences cringe at the thought of new music. We had such positive feedback from audiences on how much they enjoyed Grundstrom’s work. It is modern, yet tonal.”   He is represented by Jeffrey James Arts Consulting and his compositions can be heard at

Sam Hampton

With almost 20 years of professional and academic experience, Sam brings broad experience in research and documentation of the human experience. As Director of Operations for Docs In Progress, Sam is dedicated to empowering independent documentary filmmakers and educating the public about documentary as an art form.

Sam has completed two documentary films. Sam’s first film, My Mother’s Journey tells the story of Elizabeth (Liz) Shine Hampton who traveled in the 1950s from the rural South to Rochester, New York. This is a unique case study of an African American woman’s migration to the North and captures the cultural significance and social changes during 1960-1970 in upstate New York communities. My Mother’s Journey received the Bronze Peer Award for Documentary by The Television, Internet and Video Association of DC (TIVA) in 2009.

Sam’s current documentary, Hidden Books – The Art of Kumi Korf is a 30-minute story about a Japanese-American artist who combines architectural design, printmaking, painting, papermaking and artists’ books as part of her creative offerings. The documentary gives a unique perspective on Kumi’s life as an artist, and how the world around her influences her work. The film received the prestigious CINE Golden Eagle Award, widely recognized as a symbol of excellence in professional, independent and student filmmaking for over 50 years.

Prior to his work with Docs In Progress Sam was Executive Director for a national model community technology center in southeast Washington DC, helping to bridge the digital divide for underserved youth and their families. He also was Program Manager for the Executive Leadership Foundation’s Technology Transfer Project, providing strategic planning and grants management for minority-serving colleges and universities. Sam received the first congressional Alexis de Tocqueville Outstanding Citizenship Award and is a Frye Leadership Fellow at Emory University.

Sam holds a Masters in Clinical Psychology and a Doctorate in Urban Education from Cleveland State University.

Stana Benesova Kimball

Stana Benesova Kimball is a filmmaker/attorney who splits her time between Washington, D.C. and Prague, Czech Republic. Currently, her Prague-based production company Shining Pictures is shooting two documentaries in Afghanistan. Stana previously worked on several independent films by another Prague-based production company Jacket Bros., including the feature-length documentary Heaven Hell which had its U.S. premiere at the 2011 South by Southwest festival in Austin, TX. In Washington, D.C., Stana recently produced a short documentary about the indigenous Mexican punk band Hamac Cazíim.

Ross Koenig

Ross Koenig is the Director of Marketing at SnagFilms and is based out of Washington DC.  SnagFilms is committed to find the worlds most compelling films, whether they are established heavyweights or first-time filmmakers.  Ross has organized efforts leading SnagFilms to have over 50 million pageviews and having SnagFilms titles embedded in over 100,000 websites.  Ross has originated and maintains relations with top media organizations including Yahoo, Aol., and Facebook.

John D. Mason, Esq.

John D. Mason of The Intellectual Property Group, PLLC is an art, entertainment and intellectual property attorney, and is also a 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. He is on the Board of Directors for the Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts and serves on the Advisory Board of the Art Directors Club of Metropolitan Washington. His email is and his firm website is

Tareq Mirza 

Tareq started his career working on television visual effects and animation in Los Angeles. After several years he relocated to the San Francisco bay area to work at Industrial Light & Magic on Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. His other credits include Matrix Reloaded, Matrix Revolutions, Pirates of the Caribbean and Van Helsing. Tareq left the film industry to pursue a career in education.   His position as Modeling Lead at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco allowed him to create curriculum, improve his teaching skills and become a better artist. He is currently living in the DC Metro Area pursuing his artistic endeavors.

Jason Osder

Jason Osder is assistant professor at The George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs where he teaches media production, online journalism and documentary. Jason is also a partner with Robbie Carman in Amigo Media, a postproduction boutique and consultancy. Jason and Robbie are co-authors of Final Cut Pro Workflows: The Independent Studio Handbook and Jason is the author of several courses on the Online Training Library. Currently, Jason is directing and producing LET THE FIRE BURN, his first documentary feature. As a work-in-progress, it has won the “So You Think You Can Pitch” contest at the RealScreen Summit, been featured in the Spotlight on Documentaries section of Independent Film Week, and awarded a postproduction grant from the Sundance Institute.

T. Noel Paynter, Esq., CPA

Mr. Paynter is the Owner and Chief Executive Officer of Tax Credit Funding, L.L.C., and Tax Credit Specialist with Ross, Sinclaire & Associates, L.L.C. Prior to joining RSA and forming Tax Credit Funding, L.L.C., Mr. Paynter was a partner and President of another film tax incentive brokering and financing company for six years. Before pursuing the film tax incentive brokering and financing venture, he was a full time practicing attorney and CPA with the Phoenix, Arizona based firm, Woodrow & Paynter, P.L.C. His client base included over 700 individuals, businesses, estates and trusts for which he provided expert legal guidance in the areas of State and Federal Tax Law, Estate and Business Succession Planning, Probate, and Business Formations and Transactions. He also spent several semesters as an adjunct Professor at the Keller Graduate School of Management teaching Tax Law to MBA candidates. His education was earned at the University of Kansas (B.S. Bus.Adm., 1990) and the University of Missouri – Kansas City Law School (J.D., 1993). Mr. Paynter frequently lectures on the topic of state film tax incentive programs and related financing all over the world. During the summer of 2010, after commuting nearly weekly from Scottsdale, Arizona for over 2 years, he relocated with his wife and two children to the Atlanta, Georgia area.

Recent speaking engagements include: Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act ICLE Program; Rome International Film Festival; International Entertainment, Sports and Intellectual Law Conference; BronzLens Film Festival; Nevermore Film Festival; DC Independent Film Festival; Charleston International Film Festival; International Family Film Festival; Sci-fi London Film Festival; Philadelphia Independent Film Festival; and Austin Film Festival.

Laura Possessky, Esq.

Ms. Possessky has a national practice in intellectual property, media, and entertainment law. She counsels artists, nonprofits, associations and small businesses on intellectual property and content transactions in publishing, television, film, media and the internet. She also advises clients on First Amendment issues relating to fair use and intellectual property.

Prior to working in private practice, Ms. Possessky worked with the Smithsonian Institution and as Director of Legal Services for Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts.  She currently serves as the President of Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts, the Chair of the D.C. Bar Technology Committee, and on the board of the Women’s Bar Association of D.C.

In 2011, she was awarded the Woman of Vision Award by Women in Film and Video.  She received her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and her B.A., magna cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania. She is licensed to practice in Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Nancy C. Prager, Esq.

Nancy C. Prager provides strategic legal services to clients in industries ranging from consumer electronics manufacturing to magazine and music publishing.  Her primary role is to provide solutions to her clients’ legal issues whether it is forming a new entity to developing a licensing program.  Often she is called upon to address cutting edge legal issues for her clients as they develop new technologies and business models.

Significantly, Nancy is well versed in the legal issues related to licensing. She has represented parties on all sides of the licensing process.  Nancy has clients who license third party owned properties from Elvis Presley to Hello Kitty, as well as clients who license their music and designs to third parties.  Additionally, Nancy has unique experience representing licensees with proprietary interests that require special treatment in licensing agreements.

Nancy is currently based in Washington, D.C. but has previously practiced in Atlanta, Georgia and Memphis, Tennessee.  She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the Wake Forest University School of Law.  She is a member of a variety of organizations including the American Bar Association and the Promotions Marketing Association.  In addition to providing direct legal services on a pro bono basis to clients in need, she has served on boards of directors for organizations that provide services to children and families.

Rahima Rice-Marsh

Rahima Rice-Marsh was born, raised, and educated in Washington, DC. She is the Founder, President and CEO of DC’s Own Entertainment Group, an entertainment company that works to highlight DC artists in the African-American community. Through her company, Rahima writes and directs stage and film productions. Rahima graduated from the University of the District of Columbia in 2003 with a BA in Mass Media.

Jorge Saralegui

Born in Cuba, Jorge Saralegui emigrated to Bronxville, New York with his family when he was seven.  He received a B.A. in creative writing from Antioch College in 1976. Saralegui then moved to San Francisco, where he lived as the only male in a feminist art collective and worked his way up from usher to film booker at an art house movie theater.

In 1985 Putnam Berkley published Saralegui’s first novel, Last Rites, followed by Shadow Stalker in 1987.  Prior to the 1990 release of his third book, Looker, Saralegui relocated to Los Angeles and became a script reader for Universal.

He then segued to 20th Century Fox, rising from creative executive to executive vice president in five years. Among his projects were Jan de Bont’s SPEED; Roland Emmerich’s INDEPENDENCE DAY; John Woo’s BROKEN ARROW; Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s ALIEN RESURRECTION; and Alfonso Cuaron’s GREAT EXPECTATIONS.

In 1998, Saralegui moved to Warner Bros. as a producer.   His production company Material  made five projects in five years.  These include Micahel Rymer’s QUEEN OF THE DAMNED, based on Anne Rice’s novel; THE TIME MACHINE, a co-production with Dreamworks; and SHOWTIME, starring Robert DeNiro and Eddie Murphy, based on Saralegui’s original story.

In 2004, Saralegui launched a partnership with Clive Barker called the Midnight Picture Show.  Its goal was to bring the stories from Barker’s seminal Books of Blood to the screen, without the creative dilution that comes with studio involvement.  After securing independent financing, they have made THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN, BOOK OF BLOOD and DREAD. Saralegui has also written their upcoming RESURRECTION MAN.

Saralegui also writes his own screenplays, and still writes fiction.  He has had short stories published in literary magazines and the anthology Latinos in Lotusland.   He recently finished a historical novel, Sentimental Surgery.

Ellie Walton

Ellie Walton is a filmmaker and educator, dedicated to building and sharing intimate stories as transformational acts that reveal and inspire. Ellie’s feature length documentaries include, Chocolate City, which explores the gentrification of Washington, DC, and Igual Que Tú, which takes you through a week in the life of an immigrant day laborer. Ellie believes that art as a whole, and film in particular, has the power to celebrate our humanity, transform perspectives and make a better future irresistible. Her unique, collaborative approach to filmmaking has been recognized by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is the recipient of the 2011 Mayor’s Arts Award, the highest honor given to an individual artist in Washington, DC.