Elise Robertson, Writer-Director
Ms. Robertson has been applying her skills as an actor, stage manager, animator, scenic designer and director to stage, television and feature film productions since the mid-1980s. Upon graduation from Northwestern University's Speech/Theatre Department, she turned her attention to film work. Designing and manufacturing her own characters and sets, she crafted a short animated film, Light To Rife and, soon, as a partner in Know Your Monkey Productions, she headed up similar projects for clients like Time Warner, Atari Games, Microsoft. Sony Interactive, and Will Vinton Studios. She also spent several years as supervisor of the Art Department for ABC-TV's stop motion Saturday morning show, Bump In The Night. Her paint and model work is also featured in Martin Scorcese's Kundun, Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Starship Troopers. Elise has directed a number of music videos, and has worked as a director on the acclaimed PBS children's television show Adventures With Kanga Roddy. As founder and Executive Producer for Empathy Films, she has overseen projects for clients like Will Vinton studios and Sony Interactive, as well as developing the concept for the American Storytellers series. She also wrote, co-produced and directed the award winning 35mm short which became the series pilot, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Sensible Thing.
Charlie Schroder, Series Producer
Ms. Schroder's expertise includes sales, marketing and distribution of a variety of creative products to both consumer and corporate markets. In the early 1990s she launched the circulation sales & marketing divisions of two computer magazines, MacHome and NetProfessional, formulating strategy for co-op marketing promotions, direct mail, internet presence, advertising, retail sales and ancillary product development. A graduate of Northwestern University, she has collaborated with series creator Elise Roberston for the past ten years. Ms. Schroder produced threatre in Chicago (including the first non-Who production of the rock musical "Tommy") and Los Angeles (notably the Zephyr Theatre's "Sal"), as well as provided consultation to a number of production companies around the country. Ms. Schroder has partnered with Empathy Films on American Storytellers since the inception of the series.
Tennessee Reid Norton, Producer
T. Reid started in the industry as a camera technician, but quickly developed a love for stop motion animation. He worked on Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas, and was a principal animator on ABC's Bump In The Night. During this period, he also produced and directed the award winning stop motion short, The Lizard Whomper. Whomper has shown on television in several European Countries and has appeared at The Slamdance Film Festival, The New York Underground Film Festival, Cacophony Drive-In Festival (Grand Prize Winner), The Tortured Artists Film Festival (Best Animated Film), the Chicago Underground Festival, and the Film Arts Festival. T. Reid's most recent film, The Misadventures of Spittle and Fudd, Episode One: If I Had a Hammer, followed in the same footsteps by screening at the 1998 The New York and Chicago Underground Film Festivals. He has worked as an animator for Will Vinton Studios on a show for Fox's 1999 line up called The PJ's. The show features the voice of Eddie Murphy as the lead character Thurogood Stubbs. Ron Howard is one of the Executive Producers.
Nicholas Blake, Production Designer
Nicholas Blake is an avid reader of history, science and politics. Knowledge gained from these interests along with an academic background in art and professional work in scenery and design were melded to create the 1925 environs of New York and Tennessee for The Sensible Thing. "Creating sets for a period film not only requires a knowledge of the history of furniture, clothing, product and architectural design but an understanding of the social dynamics of a given era," according to Blake. "Issues such as the economic standing of the characters or the pervading political or theological philosophies of the time were all weighed in creating the look of the film." Mr. Blake majored in both film production and studio art in college, graduating from the University of California at Irvine in 1975. At Irvine, he became friends with a fellow student, stop-motion animator Phil Tippett. During the ensuing years, Mr. Blake worked on a number of Tippett's special effects productions, including the 1985 CBS Dinosaur Special, Robocop 2 and Jurassic Park. Mr. Blake was Set and Scenic Supervisor for the ABC-TV stop motion animated show Bump In The Night. He has worked as a model builder at George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic on a host of feature films, including the new Star Wars movie, and served as the designer and supervisor of FX miniatures for matte painter Mark Sullivan on the production of Starship Troopers and Kundun.
Michael Maley, Cinematographer
Mr. Maley started in the film industry as a teenager working for his father, legendary gaffer Bill Maley. Mike's first feature work was as the "Car Detailer" on American Graffiti. He worked his way up through the ranks until he became a gaffer himself, working on such studio films as Raising Cain, Shadow Of A Doubt, Radio Flyer, Look Who's Talking Too, and Wolf, among others. The transition to cinematography was a natural for Mike, and he got his first big break as a camera effects operator on Honey I Shrunk The Kids. Mike continues to do SFX camera work on features like Flubber, in addition to "D. P.-ing" commercials for national ad agencies and clients such as Quaker Oats, Toyota, GMC, Budget, and MTV. He photographed The IMAX Special Effects Documentary which was nominated for an Academy Award last year, as well as a host of independent short films and features including The Magic Boat, Liar's Dice, Palooka, San Francisco: The Movie, Boy's Night Out and American Storytellers' The Sensible Thing.
Jason Cole as George O'Kelly
For Jason Cole, the seeds of acting were planted during childhood, by an irresistible fantasy life as the Bionic Boy. When he came of age, Jason put down his eccentric dreams - for good, he thought. It wasn't until his first year of college, in the Drama department at U.C., Berkeley, that the "acting bug" again took hold. He has continuously sought out roles in film and theater ever since. After college, he attended graduate school at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Acting. In addition to The Sensible Thing, Jason has two new films in release: Ultimate Reality and Pitch, both of which will tour film festivals in the coming year. On stage, he has performed in twenty nine plays, twelve of them by Shakespeare. Since playing Orlando in As You Like It in three different productions, he has tried, with limited success, to eradicate the word "thee" from his daily vocabulary. After living in San Francisco for several years, Jason now pursues his acting career in Los Angeles, where he is a resident member of the Knightsbridge and Colony Studio theaters.
Kristina Robbins as Jonquil Cary
Kristina Robbins began her career performing improvisational theater in San Francisco in 1993. In 1994, she combined her penchant for improv with a lifelong love of film with her lead role in First Love Second Planet; a festival award winning independent short, which was developed through improvisational workshops. Since then she has had lead roles in several independent shorts. In addition to The Sensible Thing, Kristina Robbins has appeared in several films including Dream with the Fishes and City Girls. She writes and performs solo theater and won Best Solo Performance in 1997 from the San Francisco Weekly for her acclaimed play The Face by the Door. Kristina is also a founding member of an improvisational troupe Scratch Theater. She currently lives and works in Los Angeles.
Executive Producers: Elise Robertson & T. Reid Norton
George O'Kelly: Jason Cole
American Storytellers: The Sensible Thing is the most recent project in a long line of successful associations between Public Television Station KTEH San Jose and the community of independent program-makers. KTEH works with independent filmmakers on a case-by-case basis, offering collaborative services ranging from fiscal sponsorship to partial fundraising, to production or post-production support, to broadcast and distribution. Since its 1980 collaborations with Carol Mon Pere and Jon Else (respectively, The Battle of Westlands and The Day After Trinity), the station has helped more than 60 independent producers bring their projects to fruition and national public television recognition. Many of these collaborations have brought the project "partners" numerous honors including Emmys, Golden Eagles, the Prix Italia, Peabody, DuPont/Columbia awards and Oscar nominations. Its most recent collaboration - another with Jon Else - was the highly-acclaimed 4-part documentary series about the politics of water, Cadillac Desert.
KTEH's commitment to independent producers is also visible in its weekly primetime broadcasts of video i, which acquires and showcases diverse works by local and national filmmakers and documentarians.
American Storytellers: The Sensible Thing is produced by Empathy Films in Association with KTEH, San Jose Public Television.
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