Hezekiah Lewis is a filmmaker with a vision to provoke social change through film. He aims to expose personal stories and controversial topics through film that will spark healthy and vibrant conversations. Hezekiah’s heart is wrapped into his work stemming from his upbringing. Putting his heart into his work, Hezekiah produced “Memoirs of a Smoker.” This film earned Hezekiah a DGA award and has achieved success in the festival circuit having screened at multiple festivals worldwide. Hezekiah earned his first Masters degree in theatre from Villanova University and his Masters of Fine Arts from the school of Theater, Film, and Television at UCLA. Prior to earning his Masters degree in Theatre he attended Villanova University on a football scholarship. Hezekiah’s success in filmmaking improved at UCLA where he earned exceptional accolades for his thesis short film, Warrior Queen, which he filmed on location in Ghana, Africa. Lewis received thesis funding from various awards including: the Abraham Polonski Award for Excellence in Screenwriting, the Four Sisters Award, the James Bridges Award for Excellence in Directing and a grant from Technicolor. In addition to ‘Memoirs of a Smoker’ ‘Warrior Queen earned a DGA award for best African American film. Hezekiah also keeps busy as a film professor at Villanova University, where he is the Area Coordinator for the Media Production Specialization in the Department of Communication. Passionate about film, Hezekiah encourages his students to create films that are socially conscious and that are of the utmost quality.
Mark Gornto is a writer, director, actor, and teacher with over 25 years of experience. He is a graduate of Villanova's Masters Program in theatre where he met and began his collaboration with Hezekiah Lewis. He taught theatre and writing, and directed theatrical productions, at Moorestown Friends School from 2003-2015. Additionally, he served as an adjunct theatre professor at West Chester University for five years. In 2006 he served as a producer for the short film Warrior Queen in Ghana, West Africa--written and directed by Hezekiah Lewis. He is a member of Ekiah Productions for whom he serves as a principle writer, with three feature scripts currently in process, and producer.
Darryl Ridgeway has a total of 20 years in sales experience in corporate America. He has worked for Fortune 500 companies such as Schering Plough, Siemens Telecommunications, Verizon and Prudential Fox and Roach Realtors. After graduating from Lincoln University with a B. S. Degree in Business Administration in 1989, Darryl Ridgeway started his professional career in sales while simultaneously assisting his father in his entertainment company, Blue Diamond Entertainment Group (BDEG). This company produced a show called “Artist Discovery” in which Darryl worked as assistant producer. Artist Discovery aired Billboards’ top 100 hit music videos. From this experience he created a show called Hip Hop Vibes which showcased up and coming rap artist while showing Billboards’ top 100 rap videos. In 1998 Darryl embarked on a career in managing and producing local R&B and rap groups. Through his experiences and connections Darryl graduated to film projects. In 2004 he negotiated a speaking part in an independent feature film for Correll Buckhalter of the Philadelphia Eagles, and the rest is history.
Within the last six years Darryl’s film industry career has led down several paths, from raising capital and co-producing to business management and development. The 20 years in corporate America has allowed him to help navigate his clients through the financial and business management maze of the film industry.
Finally, Darryl served on various executive boards in the entertainment and business sectors. Most notables were the Multicultural Film Alliance of Greater Philadelphia Alliance, which created a platform for independent Film professionals to network to find jobs. Darryl currently is a judge for the Media Film Festival in Media, Pennsylvania.
Paola Gadala-Maria studied Philosophy as a major at Villanova University, minoring in French and Engineering Entrepreneurship, from Miami, Florida. She has functioned as a sound operator and writer for BEFORE WE SLEEP and co-directed ONE IS NO ONE, two documentaries in the Villanova Social Justice Documentary program filmed in India and Costa Rica, respectively. She also wrote and directed a short film SEMICOLON dealing with the destruction and rehabilitation of life and happiness. As a filmmaker, she wishes to shed light on significant social issues in the world that are occurring simultaneously alongside indulgent lifestyles and excessive pleasures. Her aim is to influence individuals to step out of their comfort zones and see their lives differently in light of a broadened worldview. Currently, she works as a Creative Producer for Ekiah Productions, a Philadelphia based production company that specializes in producing both long and short form narrative and documentary films of professional quality that raise awareness by evoking positive social change.
John Mullany is a director, writer and producer based out of Phoenixville, PA and is the CEO of Ripples in The Pond Productions. With an MA in Theatre from Villanova University, John believes in the power of storytelling. Ripples in the Pond has produced documentaries, promotional video campaigns, and reality television projects. John's longterm goal for his company is to develop feature films and partner with other production outfits that are seeking to make an impact on the motion picture industry.``
Olivia Bickel is a passionate filmmaker for positive social change and believes film is one of the best mediums for bringing this about. Her drive and creative vision have helped her in many previous projects where she played a valuable role as director, editor, and cinematographer.