DIRECTOR, PRODUCER, CAMERA
Filmmaker Lisa France transitioned from a pro basketball career into film and television as a stunt performer, working on Spike Lee’s He Got Game and HBO's The Sopranos. She has written and directed three narrative features since, and Roll With Me (2017) is her first documentary. The film follows Gabriel Cordell, a paraplegic in recovery, who he sets out become the first person to roll an unmodified wheelchair 3,100 miles across America. France captured Cordell’s journey while riding a bike alongside her subject. France’s first feature, Anne B. Real (2003), about a young rapper inspired by Anne Frank’s writing, won more than 30 film festival awards and nominations, including two Independent Spirit Award nominations (Debut Performance and the John Cassavetes Award). She then shot two films in rapid succession: Love & Suicide (2005), which was filmed on location in Cuba and released theatrically through AMC Select; and The Unseen (2005), which sold to Netflix, Starz and Encore. France’s award-winning short film debut Love in Tow (1999) starred Zach Braff and Quentin Crisp. In addition to her creative work, France is a passionate educator. As a visiting artist, she has worked for a variety of institutions, including NYU Tisch, UCLA, Marymount, University of Wisconsin, New York Film Academy, Columbus School of Art & Design and Scott Powers Studios. She has worked as a full-time instructor at the University of Texas in Los Angeles. France holds a Masters degree from Ohio State University and a B.A. from Brooklyn College, where she played Division I basketball and graduated with honors. She played professional basketball for the Manchester Giants in Manchester, England.
FILM SUBJECT, PRODUCER
Gabriel (Gabe) Cordell (né Suheil Aghabi) was born in Tripoli, Libya in 1970. The Aghabi family immigrated to the United States in 1976, where they found their first home on Long Island, New York. In 1992, two months after his 22nd birthday, Gabe was en route to his first professional audition when an accident changed his life forever. Only a mile and a half away from home, his Jeep was T-boned and flipped. He was ejected from his vehicle and hit a telephone pole that crushed his spinal cord. The accident left him paralyzed from his mid-chest down. After four months of recovery and physical rehabilitation at the Rusk Institute at New York University, Gabe continued to pursue his dream of being an actor, now as a paraplegic. He established his acting career on stage and screen, with credits including Dexter, Numb3rs and Joan of Arcadia. At the age of 42, Gabe focused on a different kind of role. He set out to become the first person to roll across the United States in a standard, unmodified wheelchair — a 3,100-mile journey from the Pacific to the Atlantic, the final destination being his hometown of West Hempstead, NY. It is the subject of the documentary film Roll With Me (2017). In 2014, Gabe traveled to Israel and mounted a Roll for Peace between the Palestinians and Israelis, completing that 100km journey from Haifa to Tel Aviv in his wheelchair. In 2015, he teamed with the North Shore Animal League America and Bianca's Furry Friends to raise money by rolling 122 miles across Long Island. Gabe has made it his life’s purpose to inspire and empower people all over the world, by showing through his actions that anything is possible. He says, “I have always believed that my accident was an accident, but it wasn't by accident.”
Jeff Buccellato is an award-winning editor and filmmaker whose 20-year career has straddled narrative and documentary films, television, commercials and the non-profit sector. Jeff’s wide-ranging work includes projects for TEDx, PBS, Discovery, National Geographic Channels, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and The Humane Society. Born and raised in New Jersey, Jeff moved to Orlando, Florida to attend Valencia College’s renowned film program. He is currently based in Los Angeles and creates under his own production banner, Expansion Pictures.
Sharon Swart is a writer and producer with more than 15 years of experience covering the entertainment industry as a staff editor at industry bibles Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. During her 12 years at Variety, she curated the publication’s prestigious '10 Directors to Watch' list for a full decade. She was confronted by the immense dearth of female directors and the inherent industry bias against them. Since leaving Variety, Sharon has worked with female filmmakers to help bring their projects to fruition. Lisa France’s documentary Roll With Me is her first film as a producer. Sharon also continues to write. She co-authored the book Filmcraft: Producing (Focal Press, 2013). As a freelance journalist, she has contributed to outlets including Harper’s Bazaar, Screen International, Filmmaker Magazine, The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline.com. Since 2010, Sharon has served on the Board of Directors of humanitarian organization FilmAid International, which taps into the power of film and media to help better the lives of refugees globally.
Thom Beers is a three-time Emmy® award-winning television producer. As founder and CEO of Original Productions, he was the creator and driving force behind the Primetime Emmy® and Producer’s Guild of America Award-winning Deadliest Catch. Original Productions has placed more than forty series across leading networks such as A&E, Discovery, HISTORY, National Geographic, Spike TV and truTV. Other top-rated series created by Beers include Ice Road Truckers, Ax Men,1000 Ways To Die, Bering Sea Gold, Monster Garage, Black Gold, Storage Wars and Coal. Beers also narrated many of these hit shows. From 2012-2015, Beers served as chairman and CEO of FremantleMedia North America, the TV giant that acquired a majority stake in Original Productions in 2009. Beers is currently partnered with former Original Productions president Jeff Conroy and Sarah Bernard (a former AOL and IAC executive who served as deputy director of digital strategy for the Obama White House) on BoBCat, a reality-TV digital production company housed at DIGILAND, Beers’ newest business venture. Burbank-based DIGILAND is a unique collaborative workspace for content-driven professionals.
Not long ago, actress Jorja Fox finished a fifteen year run on the international hit show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. She portrayed forensic scientist Sara Sidle, one of the CBS drama’s core characters since its start in 2000. Prior to her success on CSI, Fox graced the small screen as Secret Service agent Gina Toscano in the renowned NBC drama The West Wing and as Dr. Maggie Doyle, on the immensely successful series E.R. On the big screen, Fox’s credits include Chris Nolan’s seminal film Memento, alongside Guy Pearce, as well as indie hits such as How to Make the Cruelest Month and The Kill Off. Fox was a founding member of Los Angeles avant-garde theater company Honeypot Productions. Her production company Seafox Productions has produced five projects to date: one full length musical about rhythm and blues legend Dusty Springfield and four feature documentary films that highlight the human condition and connection to the natural world. Fox serves on the board of the Artists and Athletes Alliance and is also an ambassador for animal-welfare organization ADI.
Jerry was born in New York and educated at MIT and Stanford Business School. He entered the field of real estate development with the Oceanic Properties subsidiary of Castle & Cooke in Honolulu and then San Francisco. At age 26, he became president of a new industrial development company in Seattle, and later ran a national design/build construction firm based in Los Angeles. He then became president of W&K Company in partnership with Ray Watt and developed 2 million square feet of office and industrial projects in southern California, before leaving to form Katell Properties, which developed another 3 million square feet of industrial and office developments as well as a major shopping center in south central Los Angeles. After his wife, Sharon, passed away in 1999, Jerry remade his life, studying acting for four years at Larry Moss Studios and appearing in movies and plays. He had roles in Terminator III and in The Ripple Effect. He performed in Just a Song at Twilight and Maxwell Street, both plays written by Willard Manus. He has produced films and two Broadway musicals, Million Dollar Quartet and Baby It's You. Jerry served as board chair of LA 's BEST for nine years, providing after-school education and enrichment programs to the poorest inner city elementary school students in Los Angeles. He helped it grow from 3,000 students in 21 schools to 28,000 students in 180 schools. Jerry also helped build Walt Disney Concert Hall, serving on the building committee and board as well as the boards of the Music Center and Los Angeles Philharmonic. He served as chair of the YPO Los Angeles chapter. Jerry is an avid photographer, and a member of MENSA.
CHRISTIAN IJIN LINK
CO-PRODUCER, CAMERA, TRIP CREW
Christian Ijin Link is a third-generation Hollywood filmmaker. Christian's father and grandfather were both nominated for Academy Awards for editing: John F. Link II for Die Hard, and John F. Link Sr. for For Whom the Bell Tolls. Over the last several years, Christian has worked almost every position on a film set. As an actor. his credits include Almighty Thor (2011) and Note to Self (2012). He is inspired by stories that urge audiences to reflect on their daily lives.
CO-PRODUCER, CAMERA, TRIP CREW
Christopher Kawas is Gabriel Cordell's nephew. He served as Gabriel's personal caregiver and cameraman on Roll With Me. Originally from Long Island, NY, Christopher moved to Los Angeles in 1999 with his mother and older brother. Shortly after graduating from Santa Clarita’s Hart High School, Christopher began struggling with drug abuse. With the hope of turning his life around, Gabriel invited Christopher to join him on his Roll With Me America journey. Christopher hopes to develop a career focused on animal rescue.
CO-PRODUCER, CAMERA, TRIP CREW
Originally from Seattle, Chris started his career in the finance world and has 15 years of experience in financial planning and real estate finance. Chris began his entertainment career in 2011 as a grip on an indie film set. Four days into his work, the director approached him with a role, placing him on an acting path. On Roll With Me, his many tasks included being the chase-car driver/camera operator, liaison for on-the-road press interviews, and coordinator of events for non-profits such as the YMCA. Chris also took part in Gabriel Cordell’s Roll For Peace in Israel, working on PR, fundraising and as cameraman.
CO-PRODUCER, CAMERA, TRIP CREW
Joshua served among the crew that helped realize Gabriel Cordell’s American crossing on the documentary Roll With Me. He also worked on Cordell’s second journey in Israel, Roll For Peace, from Haifa to Tel Aviv. After spending the last several years on set in various roles, Joshua enrolled in film school. While sharpening his skills as a cinematographer, he also worked on various short films and web series as both a director and DP.
Luis Moro served as producer on all three of Lisa France’s narrative feature films, Anne B. Real, Love & Suicide and The Unseen. He received Independent Spirit Award nominations for co-writing and producing Anne B. Real. Luis also co-wrote the hip-hop lyrics performed by the film’s lead character. He was nominated for Best Actor at the American Black Film Festival for his role as Alberto in Cuba-set Love & Suicide. Beyond his film work, Luis is the founder of Transparent Technologies, a strategic marketing, sales and training company with a range of clients from entertainment, technology, law and real estate. Luis is a graduate of Rutgers, where he received NCAA awards for football. He studied acting at Mason Gross School of The Arts. Luis lives in Santa Barbara, CA with his two daughters.
Milena Rimassa enjoys a melded career as a producer/global licensor of independent films and entrepreneurial global marketer of unique products. She has licensed thousands of hours of programming to 120 countries in all broadcast formats. She works on content funding for select projects and facilitates distribution across new and traditional platforms. She executive produced films Other Voices, Graduation Day and Mel, which continue to air on HBO. She also holds the position of Marketing Manager for Convaid and R82, communicating how these brands improve quality of life for children across the globe. She is a former financial editor of The Hollywood Reporter and got her start in journalism working with United Press International and the Daily News.
Hikari (aka Mitsuyo Miyazaki) is an award-winning writer, director and producer. Her debut short film Tsuyako (2011) visited more than 100 film festivals worldwide, receiving 47 awards, including a DGA student filmmaker award and grand jury prizes at Oscar-qualifying film festivals. Hikari’s other short films include Where We Begin (Tribeca Film Festival), A Better Tomorrow (presented by Lexus and The Weinstein Company), Can & Sulochan (Avex Japan), and work for the Subaru Dramatic Cinema Series (commercials and shorts featuring old and new Subarus). She is currently developing her first feature Cantering, about a naïve paraplegic comicbook artist who starts illustrating for an erotic manga, putting her on an unexpected journey of self-discovery. Hikari was a participant in the 2016 Sundance Institute/NHK Screenwriting Lab, Film Independent’s Screenwriting Lab and 2017 Directing Lab.
Founder of the RED Group of companies, Wayne Scholes has been involved in the music and entertainment industry for more than 20 years as a senior executive and consultant. After 10 years of music industry management, working with Top 10 artists and NBA players, Wayne joined Virgin Entertainment Group as Director for Strategic Marketing for North America. Recognizing the entertainment industry evolution to digital, Wayne joined Mediaport as SVP Corporate and Strategic Development where he pioneered digital content deliveries via mobile devices for brands such as SPT and NBC Universal. In the last several years, Wayne has helped set up a CNN affiliate news channel in Africa, produced movies and music albums, and founded the Really Epic Dog (RED) Group, a Salt Lake City content licensing and entertainment technology company with operations in Africa, Europe and North America. He is currently serving as Chief Executive Officer and Executive Board Member of several entertainment focused businesses.
DAVID & NANCY GARRISON
Dave supercharges executive and board potential by exploring story at Garrison Growth. Nancy uses humanist and critical frameworks in her work as an education professor and an employee-engagement facilitator at Profitable Engagements. Park City, Utah-based, both are dedicated community volunteers: Nancy serves on the Sundance Institute’s Utah Advisory Board, focusing on development and visioning. Dave coaches female non-profit leaders. Their combined passion for documentary film as a vehicle for personal, social and global change prompted their support of Roll With Me, their first film.
Edward McGrath is an architect based in Panama City, Panama. His family immigrated to Panama in the early 1900s, when his grandfather helped build the original Panama Canal. Edward graduated from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana in 1993 and returned to Panama to launch a career in architecture and urban design. His firm EM&A has grown to 50 employees and covers a wide range of architecture and New Urbanist developments, garnering several local and regional awards. Edward met filmmaker Lisa France on the island of Chiloé in southern Chile and he immediately volunteered to support Roll With Me. Edward also was a minor investor in Hands of Stone (2016), the story of Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran starring Edgar Ramírez and Robert De Niro.
Peter Maestrey is an award-winning producer and a longtime DGA 1st assistant director. Over the past twenty years, he has created and worked on content across a wide spectrum, working with more than 400 directors for companies such as The Weinstein Company, Oprah Winfrey Network and MTV. From 2010 to 2013, he supported fellows participating in Sundance Institute’s Directors Labs. In 2016, he participated in Film Independent’s Producing Lab as a fellow, and in 2017 was part of Film Independent’s Fast Track film-finance market with the project Cantering. His producing credits include Lisa France’s Love and Suicide and feature documentary A Sacred Journey, currently in post production.
POST PRODUCTION COMPANY