7th Annual Careers in Film Summit: Biographies

PANELISTS

PANEL 1 – Anatomy of a Production:  Candyman

NIA DACOSTA
Nia DaCosta is one of the freshest and most in-demand voices in Hollywood having written and directed projects for stage, film and television.  Nia’s latest film is the long-awaited Candyman. Produced by Oscar-winner Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions, the film is a contemporary spiritual sequel of the 1992 cult horror classic of the same name, dealing with the power—and perils—of storytelling, while highlighting timely issues of gentrification, racial profiling and race-based violence. Nia directed and co-wrote the film with Peele and Win Rosenfeld. Candyman, starring Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, and Colman Domingo, was released on August 27, 2021 by Universal Studios and debuted at #1 at the box office, receiving overwhelming critical acclaim.  Nia is currently in production on the highly anticipated Captain Marvel sequel, The Marvels. Directing this film makes her the first Black woman to direct a Marvel Studios picture. The superhero film, starring Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, and Iman Vellani, is scheduled to be released November 11, 2022.  Her debut feature, Little Woods, was developed through the Sundance Institute and starred Tessa Thompson and Lily James. The film dealt with real-world topics including access to health care, poverty and criminal justice through the story of two estranged sisters who must work outside the law to better their lives. It premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival and was released theatrically by Neon in 2019, earning a 96% score on Rotten Tomatoes.  In 2019, she directed two episodes of the third season of the Netflix revival, Top Boy. Nia also worked as a writer for the HBO series Industry with U.K.'s Bad Wolf.  Nia received a BFA in Film and Television from Tisch School of the Arts at NYU and a MA in Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London.  She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.

YAHYA ABDUL-MATEEN II
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is one of the most in-demand actors with a multitude of diverse projects on the horizon. Most recently, Yahya covered The Hollywood Reporter, which deemed him a part of “The New Hollywood A-List” for its August 11, 2021 issue. As Hollywood’s “leading man”, he also covered the June/July 2021 issue of Essence ahead of the release of blockbuster remake Candyman. Last year, Yahya won his first Emmy award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie, for his role as Cal Abar/Dr. Manhattan in HBO’s groundbreaking Watchmen. He was honored by the Critics Choice Association’s Celebration of Black Cinema with the Breakthrough Award in Feb 2021, made theHuffPost’s 2020 Culture Shifters list, and in 2018, he was one of a select group of actors to make the prestigious The Hollywood Reporter’s NextGen list.  Recently, Yahya starred in the highly-anticipated Jordan Peele produced remake of the popular Candyman for MGM/Universal. The 2021 reboot of the 1992 horror classic was billed as a “spiritual sequel” to the original and returns to the neighborhood where the legend began: the now-gentrified section of Chicago where the Cabrini-Green public housing projects once stood. Directed by Nia DaCosta, who set the record with Candyman as ‘the first black female director and filmmaker to open a #1 movie at the domestic box office’, the film also charted as the ‘#1 grossing movie of the weekend’ as theaters settled into reopening amidst the COVID-19 fluctuations.  Last year, Yahya co-starred amongst an all-star cast in Aaron Sorkin's The Trial Of The Chicago 7 for which he played Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale. The film was released on Netflix in October 2020 and received critical acclaim including multiple award nominations, with unanimous praise for Yahya’s performance.   Up next, Yahya will star in The Matrix 4, led by original director/writer Lana Wachowski set to hit theaters December 22, 2021 as well as Ambulance, the Michael Bay-directed thriller opposite Jake Gyllenhaal which is slated for early 2022. He is currently in production on Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom, reprising his role as ‘Black Manta’. Yahya has many projects on the horizon including Emergency Contact which he is set to star and Executive Produce and By All for Warner Bros. It has also been announced that he is attached to star and Executive Produce The Scent Of Burnt Flowers with Macro TV, created by Blitz Bazawule.  In Fall 2019, Yahya also starred in HBO’s Watchmen, the highly-praised series which hailed from Damon Lindelof, which debuted to largest ratings in three years on October 20, 2019.  The show was declared one of the best of the last decade, resulting in 26 Emmy nominations including a Best Supporting Actor nomination (and win) for Yahya.  In previous years, Yahya starred as the coveted villain role of Black Manta in James Wan’s Aquaman opposite Jason Momoa for DC Comics and Warner Bros. It released December 21, 2018 and quickly crossed the $1 billion mark. Also that year, Yahya received critical acclaim for First Match, based on an award-winning script by Olivia Newman that won the Audience Award at SXSW, with The New York Times stating “I don’t think I’ve seen better screen acting in 2018 than Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s work as Darrel…”. It released on Netflix in March 2018.  Past roles include the “Striking Vipers” episode of Black Mirror, a role in Jordan Peele’s Us, The Greatest Showman, opposite Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams and Zendaya for Twentieth Century Fox. Additional credits include Sony Pictures Classic’s Boundaries, a haunting guest role in Hulu award-winning series The Handmaid’s Tale, a scene-stealing performance opposite Dwayne Johnson in Paramount’s Baywatch, Netflix’s All Day And A Night and Sweetness In The Belly opposite Dakota Fanning, which premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. In August 2016, in his first role post drama school, Yahya originated the role of Cadillac, the prince of disco, in Baz Luhrmann’s visionary television series, The Get Down. The series was a musical drama about the rise of hip-hop in the 1970s. The first six episodes debuted on Netflix in August 2016, with the latter six episodes following in April 2017. Yahya was born in New Orleans but grew up in Oakland, California. He was a gifted athlete in high school, who in addition to being a class clown, participated in the debate and chess teams. Yahya took his skills to UC Berkeley where he majored in architecture. After graduating, he went on to work in the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing in city planning & community development. After the market crashed and Yahya’s team was laid off, he decided to pursue his interest in acting and was accepted into the Yale School of Drama. In 2015, Yahya graduated Yale with an MFA in drama and was the sole recipient of the prestigious Herschel Williams Prize, awarded to one acting student per graduating class with outstanding ability. Yahya is a winner of Sun Valley Film Festival’s 2018 Rising Star Award.

JOHN GULESERIAN
John Guleserian aspired to be a filmmaker from a young age.  He studied cinematography as an undergrad at Columbia College Chicago and then as a graduate student at The American Film Institute.
While at AFI, Guleserian began a longstanding collaboration with writer–director Drake Doremus.  Guleserian and Doremus have paired up to shoot five feature films including Like Crazy, a romantic drama that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and won the festival's Grand Jury Prize. John went on to shoot many critically acclaimed films including Richard Curtis’s About Time, The Overnight, directed by Patrick Brice, and Equals, a VFX driven Sci-fi romance, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival.  Equals star Kristen Stewart then asked Guleserian to shoot her directorial debut, Come Swim, which premiered at Sundance in 2017 and screened at the Cannes Film Festival the same year. Some of Guleserian's noteworthy television credits include Amazon’s hit series Transparent, Hulu’s Casual, and the Netflix series Friends from College, created by Nick Stoller.  In addition to Candyman, John has recently shot Greg Berlanti’s Love, Simon, Ed Zwick’s, Trial by Fire, HBO Max’s first released feature film, An American Pickle, and Clea Duvall’s Happiest Season.  He is currently in production on Cocaine Bear directed by Elizabeth Banks.

CATRIN HEDSTRÖM
Born and raised in Sweden, Catrin Hedström’s lifelong passion for filmmaking brought her to the United States to study film at NYU’s Tisch School of The Arts.
After graduation, Hedström quickly found her knack for editing and cut every indie feature she could get her hands on. She also cut her teeth on advertisements at Droga5, Vox, Condé Nast and Sony Music, and edited content for artists such as Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Lil Wayne, Taylor Swift, and Justin Bieber. Hedström is a frequent collaborator of director Nia DaCosta, having met while students at NYU.  She has cut all of DaCosta’s projects, including the features Little Woods, Candyman, and the Netflix series Top Boy. Earlier this year Hedström edited Sharp Stick, directed by Lena Dunham, starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jon Bernthal, Taylour Paige and Kristine Froseth.  Hedström is currently editing The Marvels, directed by DaCosta.

J. ANTHONY KOSAR
J. Anthony Kosar is an Emmy® Nominated Special FX Make-Up Artist and Prosthetics Designer through his company Kosart Studios, LLC. Anthony was the Special FX Make-Up Department Head and Make-Up FX Designer on Candyman (2021), Fargo (Season 4), and the upcoming Shining Girls (Season 1) and Paper Girls (Season 1) creating all the character and trauma make-up FX and prosthetics for these productions. Kosar created the trauma make-up FX for Lovecraft Country episode 1 "Sundown," earning him an Emmy Nomination for “Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup.” Some of Anthony's other credits also include: Power Book IV : Force, Empire, Chicago PD, Station Eleven, Shameless, and many others. With every project, Kosar strives to continue growing as an artist. In 2013, Kosar became the FACE OFF
Season 4 Champion, winning 6 of 11 Spotlight Challenges, holding the record of most consecutive wins in a row and most wins by a single contestant on a single season. Besides FX, Kosar also designs and sculpts prototypes for toys, masks, and collectibles, illustrates for novels and comic books, and creates fine art paintings and sculptures. Follow Kosar and his company on social media @KOSARTstudios and @janthonykosar and view his work: www.kosart.com

MIKE MUSE (Moderator)
Mike Muse is a former Record Label Co-Founder, Pop Culture Expert, Political Expert, and Change Agent. By intersecting politics and pop culture, Mike uses his platform to create social change. As an industrial engineer turned media entrepreneur, Mike is host of SiriusXM’s award winning show, The Mike Muse Show, Co-host of Sway in the Morning, and recently named ABC News Contributor for ABC News Live and the Good Morning America Family. Most recently, Mike became the founder of Vote Quadrant, a non-profit dedicated to strategic voting to end police brutality. He leverages his platform to show policy as lifestyle, the topic of his first of two TED Talks.  And he is a guest lecturer on various topics dealing with the business of music and politics at our nations top universities.  Mike served as a member of President Barack Obama’s National Finance Committee, to which he was was recognized as one of the youngest people in America to raise over $1 million dollars for any American President in one year. He was appointed to serve as the United States Small Business Administration, My Brother’s Keeper and Millennial Entrepreneurial Champion, which was designed to support President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, as well as the United States Small Business Administration Federal Commission for the Council of Underserved Communities as the Millennials in Business Representative. His passion will always be tech which is evident with his newly minted fellowship with Google, as a NextGen Tech Policy Fellow.

PANEL 2 – Roll Credits:  Other Jobs In the Industry

JIMMY CHOW
Property Master, Jimmy Chow, has a legacy of over 40 years of feature film experience, consisting of blockbuster movies, historical period films, science fiction fantasy and art house films.  Credits include:  The BFG, Warcraft, X-Men 2, Fantastic 4, Watchman, Tron Legacy, Man of Steel – Superman, Legends of the Fall, Little Women, Seven Years in Tibet, Snow Falling on Cedars, Shanghai Noon, The Shipping News, among others.  He began his career on local television at CBC and gained valuable experience through numerous TV commercials and TV series.  Jimmy has also worked as a Set Decorator and Art Director.  It has given him a deeper global understanding of the Art Department and Production and ultimately has strengthened his skills as a Property Master.  He has worked in California, Alaska, Newfoundland, Argentina, England, France, Italy, Jamaica, Tahiti and Macao, China.  He guest lectures at Capilano University Film Program for the past 20 years.  He is dedicated to excellence and is very passionate about his work, and as a result, he has built strong teams who carry on his spirit.  Jimmy currently resides in Vancouver, Canada.

TODD CHRISTENSEN
Todd Christensen is originally from Yankton, South Dakota, and attended college in ABQ at the University of New Mexico in 1967- 1971.  He lived in Taos off and on from 1971 – 1982. Todd did scenic painting in Los Angeles from 1992 to 1995, and started working in film in 1995 as an Assistant Location Manager and became a Location Manager in 1999. He has worked on such films as Syriana, Off the Map, There Will Be Blood, Moneyball, The Hunger Games, Sicario (1 & 2) and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs working with directors Paul Thomas Anderson, Denis Villeneuve, Joe Kosinski, Joel and Ethan Coen and many others.  Todd has been location manager on over 30 movies and another 25 as location scout.  He is an original founding member of the Location Mangers Guild International.   He has won the “California On Location” Award for Moneyball for Best Team and Professional of the year as well as the first LMGI Award that was International for Best Locations on Sicario.   Todd was the Shop Steward for Teamster Local 399 for 8 years and the NMFO Director from 2019-2020. He has worked out of Los Angeles starting in 1995 and moved back to New Mexico in 2006 to continue his work as a Location Manager/Scout.   Todd is also an accomplished artist having had over 55 shows in the last 45 years.

MIKE MUSE (Moderator)
Mike Muse is a former Record Label Co-Founder, Pop Culture Expert, Political Expert, and Change Agent. By intersecting politics and pop culture, Mike uses his platform to create social change. As an industrial engineer turned media entrepreneur, Mike is host of SiriusXM’s award winning show, The Mike Muse Show, Co-host of Sway in the Morning, and recently named ABC News Contributor for ABC News Live and the Good Morning America Family. Most recently, Mike became the founder of Vote Quadrant, a non-profit dedicated to strategic voting to end police brutality. He leverages his platform to show policy as lifestyle, the topic of his first of two TED Talks.  And he is a guest lecturer on various topics dealing with the business of music and politics at our nations top universities.  Mike served as a member of President Barack Obama’s National Finance Committee, to which he was was recognized as one of the youngest people in America to raise over $1 million dollars for any American President in one year. He was appointed to serve as the United States Small Business Administration, My Brother’s Keeper and Millennial Entrepreneurial Champion, which was designed to support President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, as well as the United States Small Business Administration Federal Commission for the Council of Underserved Communities as the Millennials in Business Representative. His passion will always be tech which is evident with his newly minted fellowship with Google, as a NextGen Tech Policy Fellow.


PANEL 3 – VFX in Film

MIKE MUSE (Moderator)
Mike Muse is a former Record Label Co-Founder, Pop Culture Expert, Political Expert, and Change Agent. By intersecting politics and pop culture, Mike uses his platform to create social change. As an industrial engineer turned media entrepreneur, Mike is host of SiriusXM’s award winning show, The Mike Muse Show, Co-host of Sway in the Morning, and recently named ABC News Contributor for ABC News Live and the Good Morning America Family. Most recently, Mike became the founder of Vote Quadrant, a non-profit dedicated to strategic voting to end police brutality. He leverages his platform to show policy as lifestyle, the topic of his first of two TED Talks.  And he is a guest lecturer on various topics dealing with the business of music and politics at our nation’s top universities.  Mike served as a member of President Barack Obama’s National Finance Committee, to which he was recognized as one of the youngest people in America to raise over $1 million dollars for any American President in one year. He was appointed to serve as the United States Small Business Administration, My Brother’s Keeper and Millennial Entrepreneurial Champion, which was designed to support President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, as well as the United States Small Business Administration Federal Commission for the Council of Underserved Communities as the Millennials in Business Representative. His passion will always be tech which is evident with his newly minted fellowship with Google, as a NextGen Tech Policy Fellow.