Carol Brandt is a filmmaker based out of Milwaukee. A 2014 film graduate of UW-Milwaukee, Brandt’s student feature Things Found on the Ground had its world premiere at the New Orleans Film Festival. Carol recently finished her second official feature film entitled Dear Coward on the Moon, which premiered Oct 1st at the Milwaukee Film Festival as part of the Spotlight Presentations Program.
Meredith Johnston holds a BFA in Acting from the Theatre School at DePaul University. Her previous films include Our Place, Stephen Cone’s Baby, and Shaky Balloon’s Christopher Darling. She toured the country with the all-female improv team DAAANG Judi Dench, and can be seen regularly performing goofs at iO Chicago with her Harold team, Scout. She plays music under the name Warm Human. This is her first writing and starring credit in a feature film.
Rene Cruz is a interdisciplinary performing artist living and working in Chicago. His previous film credits include Silence, Before Rain (Jason Sklaver) and Neighbors (Santino Stoner). He has played venues across the country with folk-rock band The Wilder Society, and regularly performs in Chicago. This is his first lead role in a feature film.
Dana Shihadah is a Milwaukee-based filmmaker who has a special affinity for simplistic lighting and authentic acting. Her work as a cinematographer includes documentaries, narrative films, music videos, web series and experimental pieces. Over the years her award-winning work has been screened at festivals both in the United States and abroad.
CHRIS JAMES THOMPSON
Chris is an award-winning director & producer in Milwaukee. His first feature The Jeffrey Dahmer Files premiered in competition at the SXSW Film Festival (2012), became a New York Times Critics Pick, and was acquired by IFC for distribution. Chris recently completed the short documentary MECCA: The Floor That Made Milwaukee Famous which was released by ESPN as part of their 30-for-30 series. In 2015, he produced the short The 414’s: The Original Teenage Hackers which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was picked up by CNN Films.
Suzanne Jurva created the research department at DreamWorks SKG and was a feature film development executive supervising many Academy Award nominated and winning films including: Saving Private Ryan, Amistad, Minority Report, Gladiator, Prince of Egypt, Lincoln, and others. She is an award-winning documentarian, director, and producer and has been part of many film festivals for Yoopera! (PBS), The Fabulous Ice Age (Netflix), and Changing Keys: Billy McLaughlin & the Mysteries of Dystonia (PBS). Her work has been seen on The Weather Channel, NBC, NBC News, PBS, MTV, FOX, BBC, Showtime, and at The Library of Congress.
Marty is one of the primary producers at Shaky Balloon Productions, and is responsible for bringing several projects to screen in the last five years, including The Big Heavy, Give it Up for the Girl, Dear Coward on the Moon and Christopher Darling. He is currently gearing up to direct his newest feature, By Crook, co-written by himself and Carol Brandt
We are proud to say that Pet Names was funded entirely by strong, incredible, game-changing women. Read about these inspiring ladies below!
Lisa M. Dietlin is an internationally recognized expert on philanthropy, charitable giving, and transformational change who, as a leading figure in the American nonprofit sector, is a highly coveted keynote speaker, media personality and philanthropic consultant. She is the Founder of The Institute of Transformational Philanthropy. Ms. Dietlin is also the author of six books with her latest titled, I Got Hit By A Taxi, But You Look Run Over: Life Lessons about Happiness and Joy based on her real life experience of being hit and run over by a taxi in the loop of Chicago.
E. Kelly Fitzsimmons is a well-known entrepreneur who has founded, led and sold several technology startups. Recently, she co-founded Custom Reality Services, a virtual reality production company whose first project, Across the Line, premiered at the New Frontier program of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Rochester and holds a master’s degree from Harvard University.
Toni Chappell is a former print and broadcast journalist, freelance speechwriter and author of two medical record keeping journals designed to empower healthcare consumers. In 2015, she originated House Bill 1085 (aka Reclaim-the-Name) in the Colorado Legislature vastly simplifying the process by which women may reinstate their maiden names following a divorce. Ms. Chappell is a writer currently studying abroad.
Susan F. Mikulay is a writer and producer in the entertainment industry. She is president of St. Croix Productions, an artistic production company working as a conduit with writers, actors, directors and others to bring meaningful, purpose-driven creative works to stage, film and television.
After serving as a teacher, an administrator, and a coach since 1971, Susan looked for a place to treasure
people and projects that can make a difference in how we relate, learn, and support each other in this
journey called life.
Currently, Susan is involved with guiding 6 grandkids and Bay View Historical Society.