BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Chair – David Benson
Freelance Productions Ltd. has been serving the communication needs of Canada’s foremost broadcast and corporate clients for over 30 years. At the helm is the Award winning David Benson, a veteran television Producer, Director, and Writer whose documentary production credits include: Hail Mary 11 x 30 min Doc Series for City TV, The Rig (Seasons I & II 13 x30), Lights… Camera.. Alberta, Behind the Screen 1 x 60, Chasing the Sun (Season I 13 x 30), Island of Faith, Adoption Stories, and Canadians in Kentucky. David has worked with a range of television broadcast clients including, CTV, Alliance Atlantis, National Geographic, OLN, Rogers Sportsnet, TSN, ESPN and TBS, just to name a few. He is currently working for the Edmonton Police Service in Corporate Communications as a Producer and Video Solutions Architect handling all the live and productions needs that have arisen during the COVID pandemic. He also has a rich and diverse background of Technical Producing, directing and cinematography for sports programs including segments for several Winter and Summer Olympic Games, the 1996 World Figure Skating Championships and the 2003 Heritage Classic Hockey Game. With this experience, Freelance Productions also brings a team with depth in business and legal affairs, production, and post-production, which enables the ability to produce and facilitate quality, fact-based programming for broadcasters worldwide.
Adam Thom is a writer, director, and producer from Lethbridge, AB. He is the owner/founder of THOM Company and is an associate producer with GOODWORK Studios. Adam’s desire to tell a story, strives from a focus on human nature. He prides himself on telling personal, intimate, and human stories about every day, ordinary people, who so often make the most impact on the world around us.
Adam is a working filmmaker in the narrative, documentary, commercial, and brand space. He has had the opportunity to work on projects for SIA, Leslie Odom Junior, the Western Hockey League, the Lethbridge Hurricanes, and the Exhibition Park Lethbridge. Additionally, he is an associate producer on the IMAX feature documentary Grand Prairie.
Vice-Chair (North) – Bonnie Thompson
Bonnie Thompson is a veteran Canadian media producer, owner of Dreaming Bird Productions in Edmonton. She worked with National Film Board of Canada for many years in marketing and with training programs, followed by 17 years as a producer on over 80 productions with Alberta and Canadian filmmakers and producers, on a slate of documentary, interactive, and animation projects. Thompson’s productions have been broadcast on national (including CBC, History, Doc Channel, SuperChannel, Discovery, APTN) and international television (including NHK, PBS, CCT), screened on the web (including Netfilx, nfb.ca, itunes) and at festivals in Canada and around the world, garnering many prestigious awards, including AMPIA, Webby, Gemini, Genie and Canadian Screen Academy nominations and awards, as well as a nomination for an Academy Award. A recent highlight is the feature documentary nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up (Tasha Hubbard, director) selected as the opening film at Hot Docs 2019, also winning the Best Canadian feature doc, with many festival screenings and awards since, and versioned for television for CBC and APTN.
Brent has produced quality commercials and corporate films in the Western Canadian market for the past 20 years. Before coming to Bamboo, he had worked for and/or with Midnight Hwy Film Co, Combustion Inc., Joe Media group, Corkscrew/Stir and White Iron. Brent has shot projects across North America, working with many agencies and their clients such as ATB, the Calgary Stampede, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Western Canada Lotteries, Sport Chek, WestJet and Tim Hortons.
Brent has also directed and produced award-winning long-form documentaries including Balletlujah, which was awarded a Canadian Screen Award in 2016 and three Alberta Media Production Industries Association (AMPIA) Awards. Brent also received a Gemini nomination for The Cult of Walt: Canada’s Polka King, a fun and engaging documentary that he co-wrote and produced on the legendary Walter Ostanek. He has produced numerous music and performance specials as well as many award-winning commercials. Brent has also produced many awards shows, music specials and music videos. His past work has been recognized with AMPIA Awards, Banff Rocky Awards and Gemini nominations.
On the broadcast side, Brent has written and produced television programming for networks across Canada including CBC, Bravo, YTVand Global. He has worked extensively with kids programming through shows such as Street Cents where he served as the show’s western producer as well as his own national youth magazine program, From The Hip. Before entering television, Brent spent four years as a teacher in Calgary and holds a Bachelor of Education degree. He also holds a Bachelor of Journalism with Distinction and attended the Banff Television Executive Leadership program.
Secretary – Cohen Mill
Born and raised in Spruce Grove, Alberta, Cohen obtained his BA (Hon) in 2016 and his JD in 2019 from the University of Alberta. His practice focuses on intellectual property law, general litigation, and employment law.
Cohen volunteered in law school as a mentor to junior law students, sharing his experiences with to help them navigate midterms, finals and recruitment periods. Cohen enjoys cooking, shopping, attending concerts and travelling, most recently to Japan and Korea, and can sometimes be found bouldering or playing video games.
Dave is a Canadian born writer/director/producer. His feature film credits include the cult classic JET BOY, the period drama 45 RPM, the coming of age vampire thriller RUFUS, and the quirky friendship adventure CONSIDERING LOVE AND OTHER MAGIC, starring Will and Grace’s Eric McCormack. Schultz specializes in the writing and directing of character driven drama. His writing credits include the Nicolas Cage sci-fi THE HUMANITY BUREAU, the Samuel L. Jackson caper film STONES (currently in pre-production), and screenplay adaptations for New York Times bestselling authors Joy Fielding and Daniel Kalla.
Documentary credits include the six-part television series REBELS – A JOURNEY UNDERGROUND, narrated by Kiefer Sutherland, TLC’s CHROME DREAMS, and the History Television special THE LONGEST ROAD, coproduced with the National Film Board of Canada. Dave Schultz lives in Calgary, Alberta. Projects in development include THE GARDEN and MAROONED ON PLANET EARTH.
Treasurer – Janet Hamley
Janet is the Chief Operating Officer and Co-Executive Producer at Prairie Dog Film + Television. Janet supports the Showrunner by helping produce the television series, providing feedback and notes on scripts, pitches, media, and the development of future projects. She focuses on business matters and is responsible for all aspects of accounting and business affairs, including financing, budgeting, cost reporting, cashflow, and contracts, as well as the overall corporate operations.
Janet is educated as a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and Applied Business Administration from Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta. She began her Accounting career in 2003, shifting her focus to the Film & Television industry in 2006. Since then, her experience has led her to work on multiple dramatic television series, feature films, a movie of the week, short films, documentaries, docu-series, a lifestyle TV series, promotional videos, web/television commercials, public service announcements and corporate event videos. These projects have aired on NETFLIX, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, CBC, Rogers, ABC, CTV, APTN, BRAVO, CMT Live, Discovery Channel, ESPN, The Food Network, Muchmusic, and OMNI.
Janet was recently acknowledged by CPA Alberta with an Early Achievement Award in 2020, was celebrated as one of Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2019 and received a Community Service Award for her volunteering efforts in 2018. Janet is currently the Treasurer on the Board of the Alberta Media Production Industries Association (AMPIA) and is a member of the Canada Media Producers Association, and Women in Film & Television Alberta (WIFTA).
Justine Gamez-Huckabay is the President & Founder of Intercommunicate, a strategic marketing and communications firm helping entertainment and technology clients navigate international media.
Justine is an Award Winning International Publicist, who worked in Worldwide Marketing for Warner Bros. Pictures in Los Angeles. She led successful theatrical film campaigns such as The Hobbit trilogy, Gravity, Argo, Man Of Steel, San Andreas, among others. Her extensive global media experience was established through daily communication with top-tier international media in 75+ territories and consistent travel to key film markets, 15+ countries each year across North and South America, Europe, Asia, Middle East and Pacific. Justine has worked on over 100 projects from films to episodic content, commercial blockbusters to artistic festival selections promoting them all over the world. In addition to working with traditional content, Justine is passionate about the convergence of entertainment and technology working with new media formats. She promotes XR works internationally at events including Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, Tribeca Film Festival and Venice Film Festival. She started her career at 20th Century Fox in New York and Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles.
Following Warner Bros., Justine was the Head of Strategic Communications and Marketing at the British Embassy for the British Council in Washington D.C. She focused on the United Kingdom’s arts, culture, education and civil society priorities with the United States before moving to Canada with her husband.
Justine is currently an AMPIA Board Member in Alberta. In Italy, she is a tutor for the Biennale College Cinema dedicated to the education of emerging filmmakers for La Biennale di Venezia. In collaboration with the Torino Film Lab and festival executives from Sundance, Cannes, Venice and Dubai Film Festival, Justine is working with the Red Sea Film Festival in Saudi Arabia, helping to re-open the Saudi film market after being closed for nearly 30 years. She is also a tutor for the Red Sea Lodge, working with Arab filmmakers.
Justine is a three-time honoree by the IATSE International Cinematographers Guild in the United States. She is a Senior Publicist for Local 669 in Canada and Local 600 in the United States. In London, Justine was nominated for the Women of the Future Awards, celebrating Britain’s future pipeline of influential leaders.
Justine graduated with an MBA from the University of Oxford in England. For undergraduate studies, she completed a Business Marketing degree at the University of Notre Dame in the United States.
Laura O’Grady likes to keep busy. In 2017, Queer Hutterite received Canadian
Screen Award nominations for Best Direction (Laura O’Grady) and Best Digital
Documentary. TELUS Originals (produced by Laura) received 3 Rosies (Best
Short, Best Lifestyle, Best Director – Laura O’Grady) at the 2017 Alberta Film and Television Awards, and the short documentary Cafe-Nation was accepted into the 2017 Hot Docs International Film Festival.
In 2018, Secret Alberta: The Former Life of Amber Valley won a Canadian Screen Award for Best Web Program Non-Fiction. 2018 also saw the world premiere of Eviction Notice, marking Laura’s
second appearance at Hot Docs. In her former role as Vice President of Production at Spotlight Productions (2012-2018), Laura oversaw production crews and post-production teams in multiple markets including production offices in Calgary and Vancouver. In June of 2018 Laura launched her latest endeavour: Snapshot Studios. Founded by O’Grady, this boutique production house specializes in documentaries and compelling branded content.
Matt Watterworth was born in Edmonton and attended Victoria School of the Arts where he discovered a passion for storytelling through the arts and filmmaking. A graduate of SAIT’s Film & Video Production Program and, Matt was selected by Canada’s 7th largest production company, SEVEN24 Films, as a practicum student and subsequently succeeded with two mentorship programs at the company; one through the CMPA and one through AMPIA.
Matt also co-founded Full Swing Productions with Scott Westby, creating shorts and web series and went on to become the first team from Alberta to attend the National Screen Institute’s Features First program in 16 years. They followed that up with a green light from Telefilm for their first feature film, In Plainview, and were selected as part of The Calgary Film Centre’s Project Lab twice in a row to bring their second feature, Jonesin’, to camera.
In Plainview was nominated for 8 Rosie Awards at AMPIA’s film & television awards and Matt is the recipient of SAIT’s 2015 Outstanding Young Alumni Award and Best of Calgary’s 2017 Best Filmmaker Award.
Vice-Chair (South) – Michelle Gayse-Leader
With a passion for storytelling, Michelle Gayse began her diverse media career nearly three decades ago. She excels as a journalist, host, production coordinator, producer and director. Michelle launched her career after graduating with honours from the Broadcast News program at SAIT in 1990. She started as a Television Anchor/Producer/Reporter in small town British Columbia the day Iraq invaded Kuwait and worked her way up covering a wide variety of stories and interviewing fascinating people from around the world at stations across Western Canada.
In 2002, along with Director of Photography Allan Leader, Michelle founded Calgary-based Leader Production Services. Michelle’s storytelling ability, coupled with her business acumen, has helped the video production company grow exponentially since inception. Michelle’s work includes producing and directing for broadcast clients such as Discovery Channel, NHL Network and Vice TV. Michelle is also sought-after for voiceover projects and as on-camera talent for television commercials. Michelle is committed to sharing her expertise to benefit Alberta’s growing media industry.
After receiving her Bachelor of Education degree (with Honours) from the University of Alberta, Michelle began her formal film training at the National Film Board (NFB) of Canada working with the Oscar award winning Studio D where she directed and produced her first documentary Return Home, and following up with the emotionally powerful Pieces of a Dream: A Story of Gambling.
Michelle has worked in a variety of film and television programs including television movies, international co-productions, lifestyle/reality shows, music/live events, features and documentaries (Corus, CBC, CMT, NFB, CBS, NBC, ABC Family, TNT, and Dreamworks) Recent theatrical features include El Chicano (WarParty Films) and the indie feature Come True (Copperheart Entertainment). Michelle currently works as the Head of Business Affairs for Seven 24 Films on the television series Heartland (CBC), Wynonna Earp (Bell Media, Syfy), Jann (Bell Media – CTV), and Fortunate Son (CBC).
Michelle has served on a number of media organizational boards including The Quick Draw Animation Society, The Fairy Tales Society, The New University Television Society, The Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers, and the Alberta Media Production Industries Association (AMPIA). Michelle is Chair of AMPIA’s Diversity & Inclusiveness Committee and the Finance & Regulatory Affairs Committee.
Scott Lepp was born and raised in small-town Southern Alberta. After completing his broadcast journalism diploma in Lethbridge he worked in Radio/TV for 3 years before shifting focus to film and television production. Scott graduated from Vancouver Film School in December 2007 and now calls Okotoks, Alberta home.
Lepp is the executive producer of indie feature “ICE BLUE” which garnered several festival awards including Best Canadian Feature: Regina 2018, Best Feature Director: LA Femme Los Angeles 2017 and Audience Favourite: Blue Whiskey 2018. He’s a recent grad of the highly-competitive NSI Features First and Whistler Producer’s Lab with his next feature “HAILEY ROSE”, and produced two digital series released in 2019, the digital original “HUDSON” for CBC Gem and the digital original “REALIZATION” for Telus Originals.
Lepp has more than 200 episodes of network television experience, serving as a producer for the hit CBCTV series Heartland, is currently an Associate Producer for the APTN series Tribal, and sits on the board of directors for the Okotoks Film Society.
On the broadcast side, Brent has written and produced television programming for networks across Canada including CBC, Bravo, YTV and Global. He has worked extensively with kids programming through shows such as Street Cents where he served as the show’s western producer as well as his own national youth magazine program, From The Hip. Before entering television, Brent spent four years as a teacher in Calgary and holds a Bachelor of Education degree. He also holds a Bachelor of Journalism with Distinction and attended the Banff Television Executive Leadership program.
Neil Campbell – Special Advisor
Neil has been in the movie industry for over three decades. He has spent his time in the fields of distribution & exhibition with Sony Releasing – formerly Columbia Pictures – and Cineplex Odeon Films, and is currently the COO/Partner of Landmark Cinemas of Canada Inc., the third largest Canadian exhibition chain, based in Calgary, serving Western Canada. His passion for the movies began while watching Saturday matinees at his hometown’s single screen cinema. Neil also serves on the boards of the Motion Picture Theatre Association of Canada, the Calgary International Film Festival and the Motion Picture Pioneers of Canada. His passions and joy are found in his family and on the big screen.