Heather Lenz

Writer/Director/Producer/Editor

Heather Lenz is passionate about documentaries and biography films. She loves stories about people with creative minds who have not walked the beaten path (such as artist Yayoi Kusama.) In addition to artists and designers, Lenz is also interested in people such as scientists, environmentalists and inventors who push boundaries and blaze new paths. Her first short documentary about a bicycle inventor, Back to Back, was nominated for a Student Academy Award. Lenz has written and lectured about Kusama (Issue 22 of the London based Specialten magazine includes an article about Kusama written by Lenz titled, "Connecting the Dots: Yayoi Kusama's Anti-War Art.") Since earning her MFA in Cinematic Arts from USC, Lenz has worked on film and television projects in various roles including as a researcher on programs for The History Channel and Food Network and as an Associate Producer for a PBS series about the environment.

 

Karen Johnson, Goodmovies Entertainment

Producer

Karen produces film, television and web media, both fiction and non-fiction. Her award-winning productions have been distributed and broadcast throughout the world. She focuses on thought-provoking subject matter with broad commercial appeal, and has a special interest in projects by female writers and directors and/or featuring compelling female characters. Karen originated and produced the award-winning feature documentary Double Dare, about Hollywood stuntwomen directed by Oscar-nominated director Amanda Micheli. Double Dare was in official selection of the Toronto International Film Festival and won numerous film festival audience awards worldwide, screened theatrically in the U.S., was broadcast on Independent Lens, and was distributed worldwide by NBC/Universal. Double Dare was selected one of the top ten documentaries of all time by the Boston-based Chlotrudis Society for Independent Film. Through her prior partnership, Wild Rose Productions, Karen co-produced Twice Upon A Yesterday, starring Penelope Cruz and Lena Heady and directed by Maria Ripoll, which was nominated for an Imagen Award and a Goya Award.  She was the executive producer of the feature documentary Wanda the Wonderfulwhich is currently playing the festival circuit. Karen is the producer of Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound, a feature documentary about the history and artistry of sound in motion pictures, which is currently in post-production. Karen has developed films with Brillstein Grey Entertainment, Original Films, Universal Pictures and Sony Pictures. Her documentaries have been supported by numerous grants and foundationsKaren has a master’s degree from the Peter Stark Graduate Producing Program at USC where she has also taught seminar courses on independent producing. Prior to her career as a producer, she was a transactional attorney with the international law firm Jones Day.

 

Sales Agent, Submarine Entertainment

Submarine is a sales, distribution, and production company based in New York City. Recent titles include Academy winning Citizenfour, Record Man: Story of Henry Stone & TK Records, Troublemakers: the Story of Land Art, Chris Burden: Double Bind, Academy nominated Finding Vivian Maier, Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winner The Wolfpack, Sundance Audience Award Winner Meru, 3-1/2 Minutes, Sneakerheadz, Best of Enemies, The Overnight, City of Gold, Batkid Returns, Tangerine, Being Evel, How to Change the World, Nas: Time is Illmatic, Dior & I, Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict, Blackfish, Keep on Keeping On, Academy Award Winning 20 Feet From Stardom, Academy Award winning Searching for Sugarman, Academy Award winning Man on Wire, among others. Submarine recently launched a theatrical and DVD imprint, Submarine Deluxe; a low budget genre label, Torpedo Pictures; a German distribution imprint with NFP Films called NFP Submarine Doks; and Submarine 360, a museum distribution imprint. Submarine principals also represent comic book libraries Creepy and Eerie which are being developed across all platforms.

 

David Koh, Producer

 David Koh is an independent producer, distributor, sales agent, curator and programmer. He has been involved in the acquisition, distribution, marketing, production, financing, release and sale of over 300 films. He is currently a partner with Josh Braun and Dan Braun at Submarine Entertainment, one of the leading film sales agents based in NYC; and is partnered with Stanley Buchthal and Maja Hoffmann’s Dakota Group, Ltd where he currently co-manages a combined slate and portfolio of approximately 50+ projects a year -- 75% non-fiction and 25% fiction -- in addition to producing and co-producing 10-15 projects a year. Prior to that he ran Chris Blackwell's (founder of Island Records & Island Pictures) label, Palm Pictures, which included Manga Entertainment, RES Media Group, sputnik7, and several music labels and prior to that served as the Head of Acquisitions and Co-Productions for Wellspring Media one of the leading foreign language & independent film distributors in the USA. David founded the boutique distribution imprint Arthouse Films and has worked with world renowned artist Nam June Paik as a Producer and served as an Editor of Film Culture Magazine with Jonas Mekas. He has worked in the Film Curatorial Departments of MoMA, Guggenheim Museum, and Anthology Film Archives and was the Founder & Artistic Director of the Santa Fe Film Festival & Goldeneye Film Festival in Jamaica. He serves as a Curator & Consultant at the Core Club in NYC and the Vincent Van Gogh Museum in Arles, France and co-hosts a series of screenings and Film Salons with the Andre Balazs Hotel Group; and has been Curator for Microsoft. David's most recent and upcoming projects include: the launch of Submarine Deluxe distribution imprint, NFP Submarine Doks - a German distribution imprint; Submarine 360, a museum distribution imprint; and the recent, past and upcoming films and projects include: The Wolfpack, Meru, Best of Enemies, Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict, Chris Burden: Double Bind, Yayoi Kusama: a Life in Polka Dots, Troublemakers: the Story of Land Art, The Heady Days of Hedy Lamarr, Station to Station, The Record Man, Danny Says, Mavis!, Rats NYC, Leica x 100, Kenny Scharf doc, 20 Feet from Stardom, Dior & I, Searching for Sugar Man, Blackfish, Marina Abramovic: the Artist is Present, Jean-Michel Basquiat: the Radiant Child, Waste Land, Cutie & the Boxer, Herb & Dorothy, Chasing Ice, Bill Cunningham New York, Finding Vivian Maier, Muscle Shoals, Nas: Time Is Illmatic, Black White + Gray: a Portrait of Sam Wagstaff & Robert Mapplethorpe. David studied Philosophy & Literature at the New School for Social Research. He most recently served on the selection committee for the Creative Capital Foundation.

 

Dan Braun, Producer

Dan Braun is the co-founder and co-president of New York based sales, production and distribution company Submarine Entertainment. Mr. Braun has been involved with the sale of many feature films and documentaries including Sunshine Superman, The Battered Bastards of Baseball, Blackfish, The Wolfpack, Citizenfour, 20 Feet From Stardom, Batkid Begins, The Overnight, Finding Vivian Maier, Best of Enemies, Man on Wire, Woody Allen Untitled Documentary, Searching for Sugar Man, Tiny Furniture, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, Cutie and the Boxer, Black Rock, Food Inc, Muscle Shoals, Buck, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, Peace Officer, The Cave of Forgotten Dreams, among others. Braun also heads the distribution label Submarine Deluxe whose releases include Chasing Ice, Love Marilyn, Peace Officer, Station to Station, Drug Lord, Wild Style, Downtown 81, Dear Mr. Watterson, and Sneakerheadz. Mr. Braun has executive produced New York-centric documentaries Kill Your Idols, and Blank City; base jumping doc Sunshine Superman; upcoming feature adaptation Batkid Begins; upcoming TV Anthology Creepy; upcoming feature adaptation The Battered Bastards of Baseball. Braun is producing the upcoming documentaries Fire Music, Chris Burden: Double Bind, Yayoi Kusama: a Life in Polka Dots and produced the documentary Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict. Braun was a producer on two TV specials for the Independent Film Channel; Focus on Bill Murray and Focus on Jim Jarmusch. Braun created and produced The Instant Talk Show, a web based talk show featuring host Nick Scoullar with guests Jeff Garlin, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Elijah Wood, Jeff Goldblum and Ileana Douglass among others. Mr. Braun also writes and edits two quarterly comic book series CREEPY and EERIE at Dark Horse Comics. Braun won an Eisner Award in 2009 for his work on the Creepy Archives hardcover series. Mr. Braun was SVP/Creative Director on Absolut Vodka at TBWA Chiat/Day where he led the creative on the famous campaign for over 7 years and has won virtually every award in advertising for his work.

Jed Dannenbaum, Ph.D. /Consulting Producer

Jed is a non-fiction producer, director, and writer, and is Professor of Practice at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. He co-authored the book Creative Filmmaking from the Inside Out: Five Keys to Making Inspired Movies and Television. Dannenbaum earned his Ph.D. in American History at the University of California, Davis; his historical documentary Dawn’s Early Light: Ralph McGill and the Segregated South, a national prime-time PBS special, received a media production grant from the NEH and grants from 10 state humanities councils. Dr. Dannenbaum subsequently served twice on NEH grant selection panels.

 

Hart Perry/Cinematographer

 has carved out three distinct reputations during his 30 years as a filmmaker: social and music documentarian and cameraman. In 1969 he was the youngest cameraman at the legendary Woodstock music festival and in 1977 he shot the Academy Award-winning Harlan County: USA with Barbara Kopple, and in the 80s shot Kopple’s American Dream, which also won an Academy Award. In 1992 he teamed up with Jonathan Demme to make Haiti: Killing the Dream, a film about the rise and deposing of peoples' hero, Jean-Claude Aristide. Perry has been personally acquainted with Yayoi Kusama since his childhood through his mother who was an art collector and Kusama’s first New York art dealer. Hart shot our interviews in New York.

 

Hide Itaya/Additional Cinematography

 is a Japanese cinematographer with 30 years experience whose work is widely aired in Japan on NHK, TV Asahi, TBX, Fuji TV and MBS. His credits include the documentaries A Sonata Dedicated to the Memory of My Late MentorCarving One’s Soul in Marble (about well known Japanese sculptor Kan Yasuda), Sammy Nestico as well as numerous Japanese television shows. Hide shot our film’s interviews in Japan.

 

Ken Kobland/Additional Cinematography 

Ken has been involved in independent film and video since the 1970s with works that have screened in festivals and on television internationally. Kobland has received awards and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation; the New York Foundation on the Arts; the D.A.A.D. Berliner Kunstprogramm; the International Center for Video Creation in Montbeliard, France; the Jerome Foundation; and the American Film Institute.

 

Shinpei Takeda/Associate Producer/Additional Editing and Cinematography/Translator: 

is a documentary filmmaker and artist whose work reflects his interest in memory and history. His credits include: The Last Atomic BombThe Closest Japan to Mexico, and Hiroshima Nagasaki Download. He has also worked with the Nagasaki National Memorial Museum collecting oral histories of Atomic Bomb survivors. Shinpei grew up in Japan and currently resides in Tijuana.

 

Reina Higashitani/Associate Producer/Translator: 

Reina Higashitani is a filmmaker based in New York City. Her credits include the broadcast documentary Shall We Sing? which won the Excellence and People’s Choice Awards at the 2007 Tokyo Video Festival and aired on PBS. Reina is a frequently published film critic, programmer for various film festivals and translator of Japanese films for US distribution. She is currently producing and directing non-profit promotional videos for DCTV. Reina grew up in Japan and currently resides in California.

Photo credit: Harrie Verstappen

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