Lorraine M. Blackwell is an award-winning writer, talented filmmaker and dedicated media educator. She worked as a staff writer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper for 10 years, then returned to college to complete her bachelor’s degree in creative writing at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she graduated with honors. After briefly working as a writer and editor for the Associated Press, Blackwell decided to pursue her passion for screenwriting and documentary film, and enrolled in film school at Howard University, where she received an MFA in film production.
While in film school, she taught media production to undergraduates at Howard, and taught scriptwriting to adults at the Graduate School USA. Blackwell has written three full-length feature scripts. Her first script, Wrong Side of the Tracks, was a quarter finalist in the 10th annual International BlueCat Scriptwriting Competition and won a Paul Robeson Award for Best Graduate Feature-Length Script.
Blackwell also worked as a media teaching artist for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. As part of a two-member team, she traveled around the United States teaching middle school students and teachers about documentary filmmaking and helped them produce short documentaries about the arts in their communities. She has served as editor, producer, and script supervisor on several short and feature-length films as well as a production coordinator for the Kennedy Center Honors Film Office.
S. Torriano Berry is an award-winning independent filmmaker who has created and executive produced the anthology series Black Independent Showcase and Black Visions/Silver Screen: Howard University Student Film Showcase for WHUT-TV 32, in Washington, D.C. His two half-hour made-for-television movies The Light and When It’s Your Turn were produced through the Minority Advisory Board of WPVI-TV 6, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Berry is creator of the science fiction anthology series The Black Beyond, and his feature-length horror film EMBALMER, is available on Netflix home video. A 30-minute version of EMBALMER was a 1998 finalist in Showtime Network Inc.’s Black Filmmaker’s Short Film Showcase. He is co-creator and director of Noh Matta Wat, the first dramatic television series of Belize, Central America.
As a writer, Berry co-authored the film resource books, "The 50 Most Influential Black Films," published by Citadel Press in 2001, and "Historical Dictionary of African American Cinema," Scarecrow Press, 2007 ("A to Z of African American Cinema" - Paperback). He has also written two fiction novels available as ebooks on Amazon.com: "The TEARS Trilogy," based on his feature-length screenplay addressing the roots of racism in America, and, "Honeyman’s A’Comin’," a coming of age adventure set in the early 1940s.
Berry is an associate professor at Howard University’s Department of Media, Journalism, and Film. He received his BA in Art/Photography from Arizona State University, and earned his MFA in Motion Picture Production from the University of California, Los Angeles. He lives in Washington, D.C.
Jimmy Monack is an award-winning screenwriter, filmmaker and teacher. After earning a bachelor’s degree in social studies from San Jose State University in California he spent 10 years as a drummer in the San Francisco night clubs. Finally putting down his drum sticks he moved to Washington D.C. to pursue a master’s degree in teaching at Howard University. Soon after, he became a history teacher for District of Columbia Public Schools. Six years later he returned to graduate school at Johns Hopkins University earning a master’s degree in Liberal Arts while independently learning film production.
In 2012 he founded Gumshoe Rumpus Productions writing, directing and producing quality childrens films. He has earned accolades from The Beverly Hills Film Festival, The Austin Film Festival, The Charleston Film Festival, The Omaha Film Festival and more. His feature screenplay, Dad-Tastic!, won the International Family Film Festival for Best Comedy Script and his first short film, Charm City Rumpus, won the Garden State Film Festival Best Comedy Award. His two short films, Bully and Homework will air on Shorts International TV in June of 2014.
Monack is currently a teacher at Indian Creek Upper School in Crownsville, Maryland teaching Creative Writing, Advanced Placement Language and Composition and the self-created elective Cinema on the Page. He is also a former Court Appointed Special Advocate for foster children in Anne Arundel County. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland.
Crystal J. Tayloris a graduate of The School Without Walls, a top-ranked admissions-only public high school whose mission is to foster students’ growth and love of academics by using the "city as a classroom." Her in-depth appreciation and adoration for the arts stems from the rigorous Humanities program that she completed while attending SWW. Naturally gifted in the area of client relations, Crystal has served her community through creative and innovative techniques. Her passion and proactive spirit has led to recognition from peers and clients while specializing in the field of e-Commerce with Follett Higher Education Group and The Energy Conscious. This dedication to others has also shown in her volunteerism, especially in the area of historical preservation.
Her most notable volunteer work is with The Historical Society of Washington, D.C. and The Charles Sumner School Museum & Archives. It was through her work with Sumner Museum that she was able to view a documentary created by an alumni of Dunbar High School in October 2014. After the viewing, Crystal was introduced to the current team who was also in attendance. She understood that she could bring greater meaning to her work and was invited to become a photo researcher for the project.
In her spare time, Crystal enjoys spending time at local theaters and museums, always in a quest to seeand learn something new. She currently works as a Merchandising Specialist at a Fast Tech 500 company. She believes that every story deserves its place in history and it’s up to those with a vision and a retrophilia lens to ensure its preservation for generations to come.