Melanie Backer (Producer) started out in independent film in New York working for New Line Cinema as their East Coast Story Editor. She then worked for Glenn Gordon Caron as his V.P of Development in Los Angeles. As an independent producer, Backer produced the features, “The Amati Girls” and “Pumpkin” (Sundance 2002), as well as the short films, “Women Without Implants” (Lifetime/Cable ACE nomination) and “The Clearing.” Backer is currently working on film projects with Academy Award-winning producers Jeremy Thomas and Fred Roos. She also serves as a producer’s representative, selling completed films to domestic distributors. Backer is delighted to be working with Doug Sadler on “Swimmers” after representing his first film, “Riders.”
D.W. Leitner (Producer) has over 40 credits as director, DP, or producer in feature documentary and dramatic films produced here and abroad – including five that screened in competition at Sundance: “Spark Amongst The Ashes” (1987), “For All Mankind” (1989, winner of the Jury and Audience Awards for Best Documentary), “Vienna Is Different” (1990), “Trembling Before G-D” (2001), and “The Technical Writer” (2003). Leitner’s first drama as director, “My Sister’s Wedding” (2000), marked the film debuts of Patrick Wilson (Mike Nichols’ “Angels’ In America,” “ Alamo”) and Blanchard Ryan (“Open Water”). In April 2002, he co-founded Manhattan-based independent production company Damage Control Filmproduction, which specializes in bringing innovative technologies to low-budget feature filmmaking.
Michael Yanko (Producer) entered the independent movie arena three years ago. He has already produced two successful full-length features and built the Horizen Global Productions team. Between 1999 and 2000, Yanko helped finance and co-produce two off-Broadway shows. His love and dedication to independent film production set him on a journey that created a system which supports the artist but never undermines the investor.
Ophira Dagan (Executive Producer) has been producing, developing content, and serving as a television executive producer for more than a decade. Credited as a producer on more than 50 documentary films, TV shows and mini-series, Dagan’s experience includes project development, acquisition, financing and production, as well as the branding, marketing and development of TV channels for major networks in both Israel and Europe. In 2002, Dagan founded FrameWork Pictures, an independent film production company in New York City. She co-executive produced “The Technical Writer,” an official 2003 Sundance Film Festival dramatic competition selection. In 2004, Dagan joined Horizen Global Productions as Executive Vice President of Development and Production.
Lisa Green (Executive Producer) began her acting career in her native Australia. A noteworthy actress in theater, television and film, her credits include principal roles in two of Australia’s most popular prime-time television series, “ A Country Practice” and “Neighbours .” Green then followed her dream to study with Uta Hagen in New York. Since her arrival, she has appeared in a number of off-Broadway productions, including “ The Misanthrope” and “The Grand Guignol .” Her passion for the creative arts and her extensive experience in acting prove invaluable in her foray into production. Green has been an executive producer in off-Broadway shows, and shortly thereafter, she began producing films. She was the executive producer for the film, “The Technical Writer,” an official 2003 Sundance Film Festival dramatic competition selection.
Eran Conforty ’s (Executive Producer) creative background spans a multitude of disciplines. To begin, he was senior art director for leading advertising agencies in Israel, where he took part in designing campaigns for numerous clients including Bank Leumi (Israel’s second largest bank), El- Al (Israel’s national airline) and The Israeli Postal Service. His creative work includes writing, producing and directing the National Aids Awareness Campaign for the Israeli Ministry of Health, for which he was awarded the 1993 gold medal for best television service broadcast. Conforty also wrote, directed and produced a Holocaust documentary for the Israeli Army, which is displayed in Yad Va Shem (the central memorial for the Holocaust in Jerusalem). He took part in writing, producing and directing a video clip for one of Israel’s leading singers, which opened the 1992 Jerusalem Film Festival.
Eli Gonda (Executive Producer) has extensive experience in stage and screen – as the assistant director for two years for the Broadway productions of “Fiddler on the Roof,” starring Alfred Molina; the Tony Award-winning revivals of “Henry IV,” starring Kevin Kline; “Nine,” starring Antonio Banderas; Nora Ephron’s “Imaginary Friends”; and “Major Barbara,” starring Cherry Jones. He also served as assistant director at the National Theatre of Great Britain on John Guare’s adaptation of “His Girl Friday.” Gonda’s film credits include assisting director Trevor Nunn in the BBC’s productions of “The Merchant of Venice” and assistant director on “The Queens Nose” and the independent film “Wish You Were Dead”. Gonda most recently teamed with David Leveaux as associate director on the Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie,” starring Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson.
Chris Huddleston (Executive Producer) has gained broad experience through a variety of studio and independent films. He worked closely with Charles Shyer on “The Affair of the Necklace,” Steve Bickel on “Love Comes to the Executioner,” and Nancy Meyers and Bruce Block on “Something’s Gotta Give.”
Belton Lee (Executive Producer) has over 15 years of experience in the real estate industry. In the early 90s, he managed and supervised a $50 million portfolio with assets that included commercial buildings, a hotel, and a bakery franchise with 19 retail stores nationwide. In the late 90s, Lee was involved with real estate finance, investment and risk management with a finance company with over $350 million assets. As an investment banker, Lee most recently obtained financing in excess of $100 million dollars for various projects in real estate, entertainment, communications, and apparel industries in the U.S. and Asia. He has successfully completed business ventures in movies, men and women's clothing, and real estate.
As President of Grand Pacific USA, Michael Linn (Executive Producer) oversees the operation of a $350 million financial services institution, with offices in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Apart from normal executive responsibilities, Linn works closely with his team of financial professionals in strategic planning, product development, and investment analysis and asset acquisition. In addition, he is responsible for the supervision of activities of the group's real estate holding entities and supports business and investment ventures by Grand Pacific's affiliate enterprises in the U.S. Grand Pacific Finance Corporation is the U.S. subsidiary of Koos Group, a premier Taiwan-based business conglomerate with over 20,000 employees worldwide and $30 billion in assets. It caters to the needs of businesses and individuals nationwide in equipment leasing, commercial mortgages, real estate development and acquisition and merchant banking.
Eli Navon (Executive Producer) is a businessman whose involvement extends throughout the film and shipping industries. Three years ago, he entered the film industry with the launch of FrameWork Pictures, an independent film production company, which he co-founded. Since then, he has co-executive produced “The Technical Writer” and “Swimmers.” Navon’s contribution to film spans from American to Israeli film markets.
Daniel Bickel (Co-producer) started his early production work on the Academy Award-winning “Kiss of the Spider Woman.” Over the next several years, Bickel worked as production coordinator and art director on numerous feature films and television movies, including “Ironweed,” “A Rage in Harlem,” “Deep Cover” and several Disney television movies. With a brief break to work as President Jimmy Carter's Director at Habitat for Humanity, Bickel's passion for filmmaking continues today. He recently developed and produced several projects, including the award-winning film “Talent,” Sundance Channel favorite “Riders,” and the just completed horror picture, “Dark Ride,” for Lions Gate Films. Most recently, Bickel produced the thriller, “Danika,” starring Marisa Tomei.