Director / Producer / Writer
Since earning her BFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Phyllis Stuart followed a winding creative path developing her personal potential while also serving the community. After three decades testing the elasticity of her skills, Stuart is now an accomplished creative force across a variety of disciplines. Using art, media and advocacy filmmaker, Stuart directs, writes and produces media to protect the innocent and exploited and to advance gender parity.
Her latest film, Wild Daze was forged by a fierce desire to save the African wildlife and protect women, children and indigenous forest peoples. For the last six years, Stuart has crafted a film that focuses on the many threats facing African wildlife including human population explosion, human / wildlife conflict, climate change, trophy hunting, poaching, rebel militias, and crime and corruption.
Stuart traveled to nine countries to film 100 activists, artists, scientists and conservationists. Though Wild Daze was independently created, it has been supported by Emmy-winning actor and narrator Keith David and a cast that includes Jane Goodall, Will Travers, Ofir Drori, Tony Fitzjohn, Richard Bonham and other amazing souls. These conservation soldiers have been at this task for decades and all conclude that to save the wild you must help those living with the wild.
To produce this feature length documentary, Wild Daze., Stuart raised its budget and served as its Director, Producer and Writer. Stuart secured additional financial support from WildIze Foundation, The Pollination Project, The David Buntzman Foundation, among others. Apple contributed gear because in some dangerous areas of Africa, Stuart filmed alone, without the safety of a crew, just using an iPhone to capture the truth.
Wild Daze premiered in San Francisco during the 41st Mill Valley Film Festival and releases October 27, 2020 by the distribution company Cinedigm.
Previously for the Wild Daze conservation campaign, Stuart produced The Tooth Fairy Project a live event rallying the public, children and wildlife photographers to save African elephants in Jackson, Wyoming.
In 2014, to raise awareness for the endangered Asian elephant, Stuart helped save wild elephants by participating in the Elephant Parade USA art show for which she created The Prettiest Pachyderm, a beautiful baby elephant sculpture. She also commissioned sculptures from Khloe Kardashian, Li Bingbing, Lily Tomlin and Loree Rodkin who donated their time, fame and hearts to this urgent cause.
To protect nature, Stuart also created a conservation series Jungle Rescue in which she and her team rescued wild animals, like primates and big cats from American basements and backyards. For its pilot she rescued and filmed the re-homing of two ten year old Siberian tigers from a backyard in Washington to a big cat sanctuary in Nevada. She secured a leading show sponsor, Canidae Pet Food company and wrapped a Jeep in a wild jungle scene that drove all over America.
Stuart previously directed and produced two feature-length documentaries: The Paranormal Portal: Where Science & Sprit Meet and I Think I Cannes. Stuart also produced Bert Stern: Original Madman, a documentary feature film acquired by First Run Features. Other conservation media projects include directing and producing the Elephant Daze PSA which thanks to NCM, screened inside US theaters, engaging over a million film-goers.
In 1995, Stuart created and Executive Produced her first television show 50 Years of Funny Females, an ABC primetime television special, which starred John Ritter, Debbie Allen, Paula Poundstone and Annie Potts. She delivered this show ‘client-supplied’, meaning Stuart bought an hour of primetime television and sold 16 thirty-second spots to advertisers including Universal Studios, Sears, 7-Up, Honda, Colgate Palmolive and Unilever. This special aired twice on ABC and then aired again on Lifetime.
Stuart has also volunteered in the non-profit sector, founding and leading Women’s Image Network (WIN). Each year for WIN, Stuart produces The Women's Image Awards and collaborates with artists, studios and networks to celebrate those who create dimensional female media images whose outstanding work also advances gender parity. Launching in 1993, now in its 22nd year, (and far ahead of the current female in media empowerment movement), due to the pandemic, The Women's Image Awards, will have its first virtual show.
For WIN Stuart has collaborated with hundreds of esteemed film, television and advertising creatives including Sherry Lansing, Angelina Jolie, Senator Barbara Boxer, Elizabeth Taylor, Lauren Bacall, Brian Roberts, Carl Reiner, Anjelica Huston, Abby Disney, Tom Cruise, Mickey Rooney, Katie Holmes, Ambassador Swanee Hunt and countless more femme-friendly people.
Before creating The Women's Image Awards, Stuart founded and produced The WINFemme Film Festival which ran four years in Los Angeles and programmed the work of independent male and female artists who created documentaries, short and feature films which told a woman’s story.
Beginning her career as a performer in New York theatre, Stuart moved to Los Angeles to create a one-woman show. She secured Sears as its sponsor and wrote, produced and for six weeks performed her award-winning A Raging Volcano Goddess to benefit Gilda's Club, the charity founded by Gene Wilder.
Cecilia DeMille Presley
Cecilia DeMille Presley has long fulfilled the film preservation goals of her grandfather, Cecil B. DeMille. Cece is known for her many philanthropic and animal welfare endeavors having been a long time benefactor to The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Her other interests include supporting children's causes and animal welfare and is involved with World Society for the Protection of Animals and serves on the Advisory Board of Red Bucket Equine Rescue. A trustee of the Cecil B. DeMille Foundation, Cece is a General Partner of the Motion Picture Associates, LLC and Vice President of Presley Petroleum. Cece also serves on the Board of Councilors of the UCLA Foundation, and on the Board of Trustees for Chapman University School of Film & Cinema Association, the American Film Institute, Defense Orientation Conference, The Film Foundation, UCLA School of Film & Television and is the Vice Chairman of National Film Preservation Foundation.
For the past 30 years, Andrew Sugerman has been involved in the production of a diverse range of motion pictures and television shows. He runs Pantheon Entertainment and is currently in post-production on Foster Boy, a feature film drama, directed by Youssef Delara, starring Mathew Modine and Lou Gossett Jr., based on a true story about an attorney taking on the issue of child abuse in the foster care system. Also under his Pantheon banner Sugerman produced the feature films: Conviction and Any Day, co-executive produced the television series, The Divide, and executive produced Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer, Death Sentence, Shopgirl, Grilled and Johnson Family Vacation. Sugerman previously also produced Undisputed and Boat Trip and line produced The Whole Ten Yards, Prozac Nation, The Prophet's Game, The Sterling Chase, Blue Motel and Spiders.
A longtime conservationist and nature photographer, Eli Weiss grew up in Illinois, Wyoming, Colorado and from extensive international travel. In 1979, Eli settled in Woody Creek, CO. Eli has been involved in wilderness and wildlife conservation for more than forty years, thirty of which have focused on Sub-Saharan Africa. Combining her passion and talent to benefit our planet, in 2000, Eli founded and is President and Director of WildiZe Foundation® which provides targeted support for individuals and institutions specializing in the conservation of wildlife, wildlife habitats and the indigenous peoples of Africa.
Eli is also the host of the long-running and globally recognized podcast Our Wild World on VoiceAmerica Talk Radio, conversing with experts from around the world on a wide variety of conservation challenges facing our rapidly changing world. These rich experiences provide Eli with diverse and effective strategies to implement lasting, science-based, ecological and culturally sensitive solutions to today's most pressing conservation challenges.
Elaine Hastings Edell
Elaine Hastings Edell has developed and produced films and had an in-house production deal at Harvey Entertainment. Prior to producing, she worked at Percy Main Productions (Paramount) for director, Ridley Scott, and producer, Mimi Polk. Previously, she held the positions of Director of Production Finance at MGM/Pathe'(Thelma & Louise, The Russia House, Quigley Down Under, The Man in the Moon); Controller at Simcom International/Norstar Entertainment; Assistant Controller at New World Pictures and CPA/auditor at KPMG (Twentieth Century Fox, Pebble Beach Co., ABC Tv, Hanna Barbera,Sunn Pics., Quinn Martin Prod.)
Keith David is a classically trained actor, Emmy Award winner and Tony Award nominee. Born and raised in New York City, Keith is a graduate of the New York High School of the Performing Arts and the Julliard School. On Broadway, he starred in Seven Guitars and Jelly's Last Jam (Tony nomination). His expansive film credits include 21 Bridges, Horizon Line, Night School, Tales from the Hood 2, Disney's The Princess and the Frog, Requiem for a Dream, Men at Work, They Live, Crash, There's Something About Mary, The Thing, Platoon and many others. Keith currently stars in "Greenleaf" for Oprah Winfrey's OWN network. Other TV credits include "NCIS: New Orleans", "Blackish," MacGyver", and "Fresh Off the Boat," "Community", "ER", "Enlisted", and "Mister Roger's Neighborhood." His voice over work has earned him three Emmys for Ken Burns' "Jackie Robinson", "The War", and "Unforgivable Blackness – The Jack Johnson Story". Some of his other voice acting credits include "Adventure Time", "Bojack Horseman," "Rick & Morty", "Spawn", and "Gargoyles."
Lolita Ritmanis is a ten-time Emmy Nominated music composer, who in 2002 won an Emmy Award for Batman Beyond. Her recent career highlights include: the Carnegie Hall U.S. premiere of her symphonic work Overture to Light, her original score for Wild DaZe (featuring Jane Goodall) and Flip the Script (a television series starring Lake Bell). Other television credits include composing the Emmy nominated theme for Justice League, Teen Titans, Ben 10, Wacky Races, Spectacular Spider-Man, and Batman: The Animated Series. She also garnered an Emmy for her score and songs in the “Mayhem of the Music Meister” episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, starring Neil Patrick Harris.
Before becoming a music composer, Lolita worked as a film orchestrator on over one hundred films, mini-series and television programs including Lethal Weapon 4, X-Files Movie and Robin Hood-Prince of Thieves. Her music has graced Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, The Krakow International Film Music Festival, Fimucité International Film Music Festival and Playfest. Her concert work includes four original musicals, which traveled throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Taiwan and Australia. In 2018, Ritmanis will score an epic war film Dvēseļu Putenis in Latvia working with a full orchestra and its award-winning state choir. Ritmanis co-founded Dynamic Music Partners with Michael McCuistion and Kristopher Carter who together have created and produces music including shows like Avengers Assemble, Young Justice, Batman vs. Two-Face, (produced by James Tucke, featuring the late Adam West in his final performance as Batman) and The Killing Joke, (produced by Bruce Timm, starring Mark Hamill as the voice of The Joker). Lolita is member of the Television Academy, NARAS, SCL, and WIF. In addition to her work as a film and television composer, Ritmanis serves the president of the Alliance for Women Film Composers.
Cosmus Mwongela is a busy Kenyan news cameraman and passionate wildlife conservationist who says: “Peace-building is very much about having courageous conversations and creating a space for these conversations to take place.”
Dave Summers loved to shoot on his red cameras but his primary passion was acting. In July, 2018 Dave left us all quite suddenly but his generosity and kindness will remain with us forever. RIP, Dave!
Gilbert Maina was born in central Kenya where his first language was Kikuyu then Swahili then English. He loves birds, elephants, soccer and cameras, all in equal measure. Wild DaZe marks his first feature film shoot having previously filmed dozens of live elephant conservation events across Kenya. Maina says a “person comes into this world with a specific destiny- he has something to fulfill, some message has to be delivered and some work has to be completed. You are not here accidentally-you are here meaningfully.”
Meryem Ersoz is based in Colorado and works as a commercial and feature film cinematographer and producer whose primary passion is filming nature. A few former clients include Discovery Channel, National Geographic and NOVA. She may be best known as having provided production services for the Kevin Connolly feature film, DEAR ELEANOR, which starred Luke Wilson and Jessica Alba. Ersoz just launched her new company Blackwing Air Sea & Land Cinematography which supplies specialty cinema services rigging to all air, sea, and land transports by providing the equipment for the fastest, most difficult camera moves, whether by car crane, specialty rig, drone, or jib.
Yumeng Chen was born and raised in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China. She finished her graduate degree in Film Production emphasize in editing at Chapman University. Currently she is pursuing her dream as a film editor in China.
Ting Yu just cut the award-winning film Cotton Twines found on Netflix. Her work ranges from indie to studio in a wide array of genres. Though this Chinese national recently graduated Chapman University film school, Yu landed the assistant editing gig on the big budget Jean-Claude Van Damme film Kickboxer: Retaliation and now is assistant editing the film Asura, the biggest budget feature in Chinese film history.
Musician (Alice and the Rabbit), Editor, Filmmaker and Writer. Soon she aims to add "animator" to her talents. She "likes to make music videos and little shorts to make people smile and think". Raised in Silverlake before it was hip, Laura is the happiest new mother of a brilliant baby girl while pursing her editing and music career in Los Angeles.
Founder and lead colorist of Big Game Color, James is a Davinci Resolve specialist located in Los Angeles, California. His breadth of work ranges from commercials to music videos, from documentaries to feature films and television shows big and small. James has worked for over 9 years in the post production world running a machine room & assisting online editors. This gave him the experience to master the tricks of the trade in this ever-evolving industry.
Jamie Coupar grew up outside of DC where she started as an audio engineer for theater. She later switched to audio post, working at Defacto Sound in Silver Spring, MD before hitting the road and moving to LA. She currently works as a sound editor and mixer at 48 Windows in Santa Monica. She has worked on many short films, web-episodes, reality shows, and commercials and her past documentary work includes Finding Home, The Sax Man, and Baby Brother.
Scott Crisp is an sound engineer and sound mixer at 48 Windows Music and Mix whose work ranges from mixing countless music videos for stars like Mariah Carey, Beyoncé and Joss Stone to mixing commercial for clients from AAA to Zumba. While his reality television shows range from Addicted to Beauty to While You Were Out, his recent credits include the Starz series Insomnia, and an ultimate fantasy football documentary, Fandom. But Scott’s favorite documentary is Wild DaZe…because he always wanted to be an ocean explorer. Wild is his nature.
Kai McLaughlin, an upstate New York native, is a sound and picture editor who has worked as a dialogue, sound effects, and a music and picture editor. When working as a development editor she cut dozens of sizzle reels that resulted in series sales to Nat Geo, Sci Fi and MTV. McLaughlin edited audio at 48 Windows on features, docs and TV shows like Insomnia, Ozzy and Jack’s World Detour, Ink, Paper, Scissors and A Wish for Christmas. Now she works as a lead assistant editor, having worked on Fail Army Season 6. She currently also edits at TMZ on shows such as Harvey Levin's Objectified. She has spent her life immersed in classical music training in viola and voice, which produced her super sharp ears and keen, resonant soul.