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Roll Credits: Biographies

Lori Balton is a veteran location scout who was the first Location Professional invited to join AMPAS.  She has had the good fortune to work for some of her favorite directors: Alan Pakula, Cameron Crowe, Alexander Payne, Michael Mann, Tony Scott, Martin Scorsese, Robert Redford, Steven Spielberg, Brad Silberling, Warren Beatty, Mike Nichols, Frank Darabont, Michael Bay, and Quentin Tarantino.  She is grateful to have a challenging job that lets her collaborate with creative people and explore the world.  She is a founding member, past president and current VP of the Location Managers Guild International (LMGI), past member of the Local 399 Hollywood Teamsters Steering Committee, co-editor of the LMGI Compass Magazine, and co-chair of the LMGI Awards.  When not chasing incentives, she lives in Venice, California, with her husband and two rescue dogs.

Tony Jerrels was born and raised in Compton, California, and had never heard of the term “grip.” He also never thought that working in the film Industry was a possibility.  It wasn’t until a family friend who worked as a driver for the TV show Starsky & Hutch suggested that he apply for jobs at the studios. Tony ended up getting a job at Warner Bros where he worked on the Exorcist 2.  From there, he went to MGM where he spent the next 12 years working on shows such as Fame, Dallas and Knots Landing.  He’s worked in all aspects of the Grip Department from key grip to dolly grip to rigging grip.  Tony's also worked at Fox, Universal and CBS Radford Studios. His most recent credits include Ellen, 2 Broke Girls and The Big Bang Theory.

Susan Malerstein-Watkins has been a script supervisor for over thirty-eight years, a member of the Academy since 1992, and a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local 871 as well as SAG-AFTRA.  Having worked on a number of cult and fan favorites, including Forrest Gump, Sully, Suburbia, What About Bob?, Salton Sea, and The Green Mile, Ms. Watkins is most often recognized for her work with Oliver Stone on five of his films, including Platoon, JFK, The Doors, and Born On the Fourth of July.  Her most recent film, Velvet Buzzsaw, coming out in early 2019, is for director Dan Gilroy, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo.

Heidi McGowen earned her degree in marketing & finance from Alabama State University and is a 20-year veteran of film & television.  She interned at CNN/Headline in the sales department.  After graduating, Heidi began working in Atlanta, Georgia, for the ABC affiliate WSB-TV in the television sales department and eventually as a researcher and associate producer for local programming. That work led to her interest in long-form journalism, documentaries and film.  In Atlanta, Heidi was able to work on a variety of film projects including the Oscar-nominated documentary Chasing the Dream... The Hank Aaron Story, feature films: Fried Green Tomatoes, FreeJack, Trespass and The War, which earned her membership into the Directors Guild of America.  In 1996, Heidi worked on the Official Olympic film with legendary director / Olympic historian, Bud Greenspan.  After which she attended NYU's Tisch Summer film program.  She subsequently worked as an assistant director on feature films including Black Dog, Dead Presidents, Big Momma's House, Smoke Signals and Red Tails which was shot entirely in Prague, Czech Republic and Croatia.  She has also worked on numerous television series, which include The Corner, Girlfriends, Ugly Betty, Body of Proof, Silicon Valley, Insecure and is currently the co-producer and unit production manager of the critically acclaimed, award-winning ABC television show Blackish starring Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross.

Alex Almogabar Zahn Since joining the division at Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2011, Alex has been involved in the acquisition and production of dozens of films such as Dope, which he helped bring to Director’s Fortnight in Cannes 2015; Marshall, starring Chadwick Boseman; Bleed for This, starring Miles Teller and executive produced by Martin Scorsese; and most recently at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Searching, starring John Cho and Debra Messing.  As an individual who prides himself in his heritage, he is deeply committed to and passionate about furthering the presence of Latin Americans in film. He has devoted much of his work to highlighting filmmakers, actors, stories, and overall content that accurately and positively represent the modern experience of Latinos in the United States. His division has tapped him to curate a slate of Latinx films and to create a larger Latino content initiative for the studio.  Prior to joining SPWA, Alex worked in casting at 20th Century Fox, and with Avy Kaufman in New York, where he helped cast films including Salt, Taking Woodstock, & Jack Goes Boating. Alex also helped cast the 2011 Sundance Next section film Restless City, directed by Andrew Dosunmu and shot by Bradford Young.  Alex graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Economics & Management.  He currently resides in Los Angeles.

David Valdez was born and raised in East Los Angeles as the youngest of seven children in an immigrant family. He is a product of LAUSD public schools, attending Garfield High School before graduating from Yale University with a degree in Theater Studies. He also has an MFA from the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. David’s passion is centered-around youth development and the arts. He spent years working in community-based agencies and continues to devote a lot of his community service work to organizations like the YMCA, the East Los Angeles Women’s Center, and Jovenes, Inc. which provides transitional housing & workforce development programs to homeless youth, ages 18-24. In 2015, David was appointed to the Los Angeles County Arts Commissioner by Supervisor Hilda Solis. In his role as Arts Commissioner, David participates in the Cultural Equity & Inclusion Initiative, as well as serving on the Civic Art, Arts Internships, and Ad Hoc Grant Guidelines committees. Since 2018, David has been a member of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council. He works for NBCUniversal, where he is the first Latino to oversee over 200 Studio Guides on the world-famous Studio Tour.