The Team - El Paso Media Fest

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The Team

Chris Hanna
Festival Founder/Co-Director/Festival Programmer
Chris Hanna is a born and bred El Paso filmmaker, documentarian and  editor. He has made a number of short films and documentaries which have  been successful in the festival circuit, including a regional Emmy  nomination for Best Editing in a College Production with his short film  "The Talk in the Night" in 2016 and a regional Emmy award for Best  Editing in a College Production with his more recent film "Pitch Black"  this past year (which was amongst 6 nominations they had received with  the three films they submitted). Chris is also the director,  co-producer, editor and principal cinematographer for a local PBS show  in Oklahoma, "Art of a Cowboy". Currently, Chris is working on a local  documentary in El Paso, "Beyond the Dream", which follows high school  students who tour the east coast Ivy League colleges through the College  Mindset Ivy League Program, in hopes of being accepted to these top  tier schools. He has also made promotional videos for companies in El  Paso, such as Tropicana Properties and Tropicana Homes. He is  collaborating with Shine On El Paso as well, creating content to show  the best of what El Paso has to offer. This past year, Chris had the  privilege of meeting with Tony Romo, to create a feature documentary  detailing the life of the former Cowboys quarterback; the project is  currently entering post-production.



Daniel Valdez
Festival Founder/Co-Director/Session Supervisor
 
Daniel Valdez, is a multi-faceted educator with the goal of helping youth achieve academic excellence. With over 15 years of direct experience in the education field, Mr. Valdez has dedicated his career in developing & in motivating students in their pursuit of achieving a higher educational degree. His previous experience includes working for The University Texas at Austin as a Credit by Examination Specialist & College Advisor. His passion in helping students succeed lead him back to El Paso in 2008 to serve as a Go Center College Readiness Advisor. In 2013 Mr. Valdez concentrated his efforts as a high school Business Cooperative Education Coordinator which established him a community liaison helping to bridge the gap between education, business & city government.in 2014 his vision of transforming the educational landscape of the city took form when he helped co-found UNDERGRADS College Mindset Academy.
 
Mr. Valdez holds a BA in Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin, and an MBA from The University of Texas at El Paso.
 
He currently is serving the El Paso community as a CTE (Career & Technical Education), Department Head within Ysleta ISD, as a Board Member for Shine On El Paso (a local Non Profit), for which he oversees its educational program, as a member of the BorderPlex Alliance Educational committee, & as a member of TACAC (Texas Association for College Admission Counseling).

Mr. Valdez strives to empower today’s youth in expanding their educational horizons with the aim of developing them into the next generation of educated leaders!
 
DREAM IT, BELIEVE IT, ACHIEVE IT!


Rebecca Garcia
Festival Manager/Box Office Supervisor
Rebecca Garcia is the producer, Human Resources coordinator, and an executive producer for ZGN Productions. She has funded and worked on ZGN films since the founding of the company such as the award-winning short film The Talk in the Night, in which she acted and produced. Rebecca is focused on helping ZGN Productions evolve into a well-known and profitable company. She is currently producing the latest ZGN Productions documentary short "A Family" and short film "The Truth of the Sun".   




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Nina Hedberg
Festival Manager
Nina Hedberg is a sound designer and production sound mixer in El  Paso, TX. She has worked on a number of short films and documentaries,  most of which have been successful in the festival circuit. Currently,  she is working alongside director Chris Hanna on Now or Never, a  documentary about football star Tony Romo; she is also a producer, sound  mixer and editor of the local Oklahoma PBS show, Art of a Cowboy. Nina  hopes to push the boundaries of what sound can do for film, bringing  knowledge of the world of sound to the masses.



Claudio Lai
Founder and President of IMPACFest
 
Claudio Lai was born in Rome, Italy and migrated to Sydney, Australia at a young age. He graduated in 1988 from Newington College in Sydney. In 1989, Claudio worked in the News Department for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC-Channel 2) as well as on various independent documentary projects. In 1991 Claudio moved to the U.S. and attended the University of Southern California’s Film School. Over the next few years, Claudio produced and directed numerous documentary projects for (PBS.) In 1999 Claudio directed a Television Series for PBS starring Jane Seymour called “Healthy Living.” In the next few years, Claudio was president and CEO of Vertutech, Inc. a technology development company which specialized in creating automated content management systems (CMS) for websites.

In 2007 Claudio started a new company called FluidCast Technologies devoted to the development of a next generation cloud-based content monetization platform and currently is the CEO and president of FluidCast Technologies, LLC, the exclusive licensee of the FluidCast platform technology.

In 2016 Claudio formed a multiple new branches of FluidCast Technologies focusing on Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technologies. FluidCast VR is a new virtual reality production and software development company providing camera rentals, VR/AR post-production facilities and white label VR/AR software licensing. Implied Motion is a VR/AR production company providing content for licensing. FluidCast AR/VR studios is a new studio in El Paso, Texas
providing state-of-the-art VR/AR studio facilities.

Some of Claudio’s most recent clients include NASA (The Singularity University) and a Hong Kong based Virtual and Augmented reality educational company. Claudio is currently working on educational VR/AR projects which allow viewers to be scored inside VR/AR lesson plans – based on where they look at points of interest in a 360 videos.

Recently, Claudio has produced numerous videos for Borderplex in El Paso, Texas. He has created a groundbreaking film in virtual reality called “The Wall VR” which was shown on PBS. This film has been shown and won multiple awards around the world including: Canada, United States, Spain, United Kingdom and the Netherlands.



Jim McClure
Sound Expert

 
Jim McClure has been working in sound recording for over 30 years. As part of his degree in engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Jim developed machine code algorithms for analog-to-digital conversion and processing and storage of sound recordings using very early CPUs. He also built a variety of analog and hybrid analog/digital synthesizers and gradually established a sound recording studio based on a combination of digital processing and analog tape. Through his current recording studio in southern New Hampshire, Jim provides location sound services to a variety of film projects; he recently completed a two-and-a-half-year stint with award-winning documentary filmmaker Dan Habib, recording location sound for Dan’s latest film, Intelligent Lives. In studio, Jim records music, educational materials, voiceovers, film dialog, audiobooks, and other projects. For the last eight years, he has also served as a part-time instructor, leading courses in music production, sound recording, and filmmaking for young adults interested in careers in these areas.



Danny Hastings
Photographer/Filmmaker/Curator

 
It was a bold move to say the least. Intricately packing up a few essential belongings, leaving behind friends and family, and  transporting yourself to another part of the globe may seem crazy, but not when destiny is calling. Armed with only a 35mm SLR film camera and a few rolls of film, this young Panamanian and Mexican American arrived in the concrete jungles of NYC in the late 80’s and began to lay the groundwork for photography and cinematography genius. Listed in Complex Magazine as one of the 15 rap photographers every rap fan should know, Danny Hastings has been taking photos of some of hip-hop's greatest acts since before Wu-Tang Clan became the legendary group it is today. His most notable work includes Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, Big Pun’s Capital Punishment, Eminem Slim Shady and Nas’ I am, among others.  Danny has also directed over 50 music videos collecting 2 billion hits on youtube, his production company Atomicus Films produces branded content for major brands in the U.S and he is currently finishing his second feature film.
   
Danny resides in New York City and in Coachella CA and is currently the director of the annual Official Latino Film and Arts Festival a national platform with a mission to nurture and support the emerging Latinx Filmmaker in the U.S.  Danny continues to provide photography and video services to various sectors of the entertainment industry and is currently working on his second feature film.



Trae Perry
Performer
Trae Perry is a hip-hop artist from Houston, TX. He started rapping at the age of 13, and recorded his first few songs which got him accommodation in the local scene of Houston. He’s performed for local shows all over south Texas; as well as in New Mexico where he attended college. He was accepted to represent Houston at Mission Underground New York that summer of 2016. After obtaining his bachelor’s degree, he got the opportunity to open up for San Diego artist Ruslan which gave him another outlet into the independent hip-hop scene. He’s collaborated with many other underground acts and has released multiple projects via online. Trae’s overall intention with his music is to add as much value to the listener as possible. He wants to reach and inspire the nations with the message he has to share.



Drew Mayer-Oakes
Film Commissioner at the El Paso Film Commission
Drew Mayer-Oakes has worked both in Austin/San Antonio and the Dallas-Fort Worth area as a production manager, post production facility manager, commercial coordinator and business theater specialist.  With an interest in promoting independent film, Drew has promoted filmmakers in Texas by creating events such as the Texas FIlmmaker’s Showcase, the Austin Digital Storytellers Alliance, and the San Antonio 48 HR Film Experience, and has organized events and participated on panels at Slamdance Film Festival, South by Southwest Film Conference, Austin Film Festival, Monterrey International Film Festival, Filmmakers Across Borders, AFCI Location Expo/Cineposium and Cinefestival in San Antonio.

Under his leadership, the City of San Antonio established one of the country’s first local incentive programs, and he was a founding executive board member of the Texas Motion Picture Alliance.

Drew currently serves as film commissioner at the El Paso Film Commission, after eleven years at the San Antonio Film Commission. While his travel to film industry events in the U.S. and abroad has given him a global perspective on the changing landscape of film incentives, film production and film distribution, he still finds time to make a short film or two every year.



Joe Lujan
American Film Producer / Screenwriter / Film Director
Joe Lujan is an American film producer, screenwriter and film director. He is widely known for directing the Sci-Fi film The Immortal Wars. Lujan has also directed Rust & Atelophobia.
Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, Lujan and his 3 siblings were raised by his parents Joe and Norma Lujan. Film was not Lujan's first career goal. His Fascination with animals lead him to pursue a career as a Veterinarian, But with the inspiration of horror films such as "Scream", "I know what you did Last Summer", and "Wrong Turn" his interests began to shift. In 2002 his older sister took him and his younger brother out of school to watch a film they had all been waiting for. At the end of the film, as the roll credits began, Lujan made his decision "That's what I'm going to do", the title of the film was Resident Evil. He then grew up performing in his own short films along with his siblings, and relatives. He graduated from Montwood High School in 2007. Lujan landed a set of jobs producing and directing commercials for local businesses.

Before his success in the Sci-Fi/Action genre, he focused mainly in Horror. In 2014 His film Rust, began as a short film. With no budget he had his friends as his cast and shot the entire film in one day. Lujan screened the film at a number of film festivals and received overwhelming compliments and requests to see more of the menacing character of "Travis McLennan". Lujan then Wrote & Directed the feature film followed by its sequel Ru2t which won "Best Horror Feature Honorable Mention" at the Upstate NY Horror Film Festival in 2017.

Prior to 2013, Lujan had begun writing a script based for a horror film, citing the fears of being imperfect and the experiences of events that took place when he was in high school. Upon completing the script Lujan wanted to express his artistic vision through every element of the film, He then designed the sets, props, costumes, and went on to creating a set of artistic fashionable promotional trailers winning him awards for "Best Costumes", "Best Trailer", and "Best Horror Feature". The film soon received wide exposure from media. In 2015 a live action experience based on the film opened its doors in Las Vegas and has been labeled "Best Horror Escape Room in Nevada" Lujan continued on with a sequel and begins production on the 3rd installment in 2018 completing the trilogy. This film is known as Atelophobia.

In 2015 Lujan began writing an adaptation of an online comic book series he created back in 2009. This adaption was a Sci-Fi /Action tale of fictional characters, introducing a shared universe of all his feature films. He introduced "Trikalypse" a character that lead the story of the film known as The Immortal Wars. Production on the sequel The Immortal Wars: Resurgence was completed in late 2017. The 3rd and final installment begins production in late 2018. This story has spread into a mini series called "The Dawning" and a published comic books series "The Vanquishers".



                       


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