CEO and Executive Director
US Space and Rocket Center
Huntsville, Alabama, US
Dr. Barnhart became the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in December 2010. The Center is the official Visitor Center for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, the showcase for Redstone Arsenal and defense programs, an Official Visitor Center for the Tennessee Valley Authority, and a Smithsonian Affiliate. Home to the world renowned U.S. Space Camp®, U.S. Space Academy®, Aviation Challenge®, and Robotics Camp, the Center is Alabama’s leading tourist attraction. Leading technology initiatives in aerospace and defense are showcased along with international space artifacts including the world’s only complete full-scale Space Shuttle stack and the National Historic Landmark Apollo Saturn V moon rocket.
Dr. Barnhart’s career spans four decades of service in commercial industry, government, aerospace and defense. A retired Navy Captain (0-6), she was one of the first ten women assigned to duty aboard ships and commanded five units in her 26 year career.
She was Vice President of three Dow 30 aerospace and defense companies, serving in manufacturing, business development, program and research management, and congressional lobbying for Honeywell International, McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing), and United Technologies Aerospace.
Dr. Barnhart is a recipient of NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest form of recognition awarded by NASA to a non-government individual. In 2015, Honeywell Hometown Solutions awarded Dr. Barnhart with the Hometown Heroes award. In 2017, Dr. Barnhart was as one of the four Alabamians inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor, a list of 100 living Alabamians who have made lasting positive contributions to the State. She serves as a member of the Smithsonian Affiliations Advisory Council and a Trustee on the Board of the University of Alabama in Huntsville Foundation. She is 2018’s Alabama Tourism Executive of the Year and is Vice Chair of the Alabama Space Authority.
Dr. Barnhart earned her doctorate at Vanderbilt University, holds degrees from the University of Maryland, the University of Alabama Huntsville, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she was a Sloan Fellow. She resides in Huntsville, Alabama and Clearwater Beach, Florida.
Statement of Purpose
The INTUITIVE® Planetarium at The U.S. Space and Rocket Center offers an 8K Digital Planetarium and Digital Dome Experience - the only one of its kind in the Southeast.
The theater has 248 comfortable seats and provides a highly enjoyable guest experience including an exciting space-themed lobby and a variety of offerings for food and beverage.
The state-of-the-art projection system features 5 Christie laser projectors synchronized to deliver a seamless theater experience. State-of-the-art projection, combined with a nano seam dome screen and completely updated sound system will provide a theater experience second to none.
The U.S. Space and Rocket center has created a dynamic and exciting schedule of programming including daytime and evening planetarium shows, full dome movies and fun educational events for all ages. The INTUITIVE® Planetarium is available for private functions and corporate events through the U.S. Space and Rocket Center special event sales department.
This immersive digital dome theater offers educational astronomy shows, live entertainment and exciting theater experiences, to include daily shows, Thursday evening shows, Friday evening presentations and featured events.
Director of Commercial Operations and Business Development
Canadian Museum of History
Gatineau, Quebec, Canada
Michele Canto is Director of Commercial Operations and Business Development for the Canadian Museum of History, which also manages the Canadian War Museum. Together, they represent the largest and most popular museum institution in Canada. As a senior museum manager, Michele is responsible for overseeing the Giant Screen Cinema, facility rentals, food services, the box office and pricing structure, the membership program, the on-site and on-line retail operations, as well as commercial events and partnerships. Michele holds a diploma in tourism from the Quebec Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management. Upon graduation, she launched her career in the tourism industry, and joined the Museum Corporation in 1992. She became Director of the IMAX Theatre in 1998 and held this position for four years, after which she was promoted to Director of Marketing and Business Operations in 2002, and was recently appointed to her new role as Director of Commercial Operations and Business Development. Michele is recognized for her outstanding work with the Museum’s giant screen cinema, and the innovative changes she has initiated to the Corporation’s marketing, branding and revenue generating activities. She currently sits on the Board of Directors of Outaouais Tourism, the Regional Tourism Office.
Statement of Purpose
I have been attending Giant Screen Cinema Association conferences since 1998 and have a solid understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing the industry. In the last 21 years, I have witnessed a number of significant changes which have both strengthened and weakened the industry. The GSCA needs to continue to play a leadership role in identifying and addressing these challenges and responding to opportunities that will benefit the industry as a whole. I wish to contribute time and energy to this purpose and therefore ensure the growth and success of the giant screen industry. I served on the GSCA Board for six years in the recent past and hope to have the opportunity of representing all of you again in the coming years.
General Manager Foundation Museum Support Company
Naval Aviation Museum Foundation
Pensacola, Florida, US
Phillip (Phil) Crabtree started his career in the giant screen industry in 1996 when he was part of the team that opened the IMAX Naval Aviation Memorial Theater in Pensacola, Florida. Located inside the National Naval Aviation Museum, the theater was part of a $13 million expansion that helped to usher in a new wave of visitation that has since vaulted the museum to one of the most highly rated in the country and in the world. In 2014, USA Today named it as one of the "10 Best Military Museums” in America.
Under the umbrella of the non-profit Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, Phil has served as the Technical Operations manager for the theater, Operations Manager for all revenue-generating visitor attractions, and now is General Manager of the Foundation Museum Support Company. He was the project manager for the theater’s 2016 conversion to 4K digital laser projection as well as its upgrade featuring new flooring, seating, LED lighting, ticketing and a first-ever refreshments operation. In the fall of that year, TripAdvisor named the museum as the 14th highest rated museum of any kind in the United States.
He has experience in all facets of giant screen theater operations, including operations, film programming, and marketing. He has also served as a certified IMAX chief projectionist.
Phil has established many long-term relationships with both individual professionals as well as organizations that serve as suppliers or exhibitors in the giant screen industry. He continues to be a champion for the format, the quality, the educational value and the attraction value of premium giant screen theaters located in institutional venues throughout the world.
Mr. Crabtree has a B.A. degree in Communication Arts/Public Relations from the University of West Florida. He has served on both the technical and event planning committees of the GSCA since 2016. He was appointed to the GSCA Board of Directors in 2018.
Statement of Purpose
Having proudly served on the GSCA Board for the last two years, I am asking for your vote so that I can continue contributing to the good work we have recently accomplished as an organization. I bring representation from a seasoned, respected and successful institution that is committed to the unique giant screen experience. I am proud to represent one of the three GSCA member institutions, as ranked by USA Today, to be included in the ten best military museums in America.
I am passionate about the continued and future success of the GSCA and believe that greater participation and membership are the keys to both stability and growth of the organization. Our members bring a diverse mix of experience, knowledge, creativity and history of successful strategies and best practices. If re-elected to the board, I will place an emphasis on:
1) Convincing former members to come back to GSCA, as well as recruiting new members.
2) Working to increase attendance at annual conferences and symposiums.
3) Exploring ways to expand qualified annual conference location sites.
We are a small, specialized industry of theaters, producers and distributors offering unique experiences not found anywhere else. If re-elected to the board I will approach every task, project and committee issue keeping that very fact in mind.
Theater Experiences Director
The Tech Interactive
San Jose, California, US
Michelle Duncan started in the large format film industry in 1986 at the IMAX Pictorium in Santa Clara, California where she had seen her first IMAX film in 1976. Beginning as a Theater Attendant, Theater Lead, and then as a Projectionist, she would listen to Walter Cronkite for 8 of their 12 shows a day from February to September, often asking for additional shifts. During the theme park off season, she would run 35mm and 70mm films at the local multiplex while going to school.
In 1990, her career moved toward more traditional Silicon Valley offerings and over the next 15 years Michelle worked as a Senior Disaster Recovery Engineer for Novell, Synopsys, WebTV, and PeopleSoft. During a trip to Seattle in 1997, she visited her first IMAX Dome Theater at the Seattle Aquarium, loved the immersiveness of the experience, and was excited to see another IMAX Dome open in her hometown of San Jose in 1998.
19 years after threading her first IMAX GT Projector, Michelle returned to the booth in 2005, opting to leave the corporate world behind, and began working at The Tech Museum’s Hackworth IMAX Dome Theater. In roles spanning from console operator to Director, Michelle is passionate about her team, their theater, excellence in presentation quality, and the guest experience.
Since attending her first Giant Screen Cinema Association Conference in 2008, she has been an active participant as a committee member, committee co-chair, Dome advocate, volunteer, a two-time host location for Dome Day activities and, most recently, as a member of the Board of Directors. Believing in the power of the giant screen to educate as well entertain, she is an advocate of using our venues to promote community engagement in ways only the large format can do.
Michelle resides in San Jose, California with her husband of 27 years, Terry, their two sons, and a variety of animals. Now a retired high school band and choir mom, she spends her free time playing with her dogs, and trying to stay ahead of the dog hair dust bunnies that come from being loved by furry creatures. When taking time off you can very often find her at a Disney Theme Park or on a Disney Cruise Ship.
Statement of Purpose
During the past two years I have had the honor to have served on the GSCA Board, contributing the dome perspective to conversations and an unyielding passion for the giant screen experience. With a strong background in theater and museum operations, I bring to the board the voice of our theaters having operated both flat and dome giant screen venues.
I am a results-driven team leader and goal-oriented team player with over 20 years of expertise collaborating cross-departmentally. I am asking for your vote so that I can continue to serve you as a member of the Board as we move the organization forward for ongoing growth and success.
Thank you for your consideration.
Heather Anne Farnworth
Director of International Sales, Featured Products and IMAX Dome Film Programming
Ontario Science Centre
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Current Member of GSCA
Affiliated Memberships: ASTC, ACM, AAM, CASC, ASPAC, ECSITE, Travelling Exhibition Network
Ontario Science Centre has held GSCA and former GSTA/LFCA membership for over 20 years, hosting screenings at the Shoppers Drug Mart® OMNIMAX® Theatre during 2003, 2014 and 2016 GSCA conferences.
University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, CANADA MBA 1989
McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, CANADA B. Arts & Sci 1985
Board Experience: Currently Co-Chair of Travelling Exhibition Network (TEN) which is part of AAM (American Alliance of Museums).
Awards: Ontario Public Service Leadership Award in 2014
Expertise: Panelist and Presenter at several International Giant Screen Cinema and Science Centre/Museum Conferences, IAAPA and other theme park related conferences
2005 – Present, Director, International Sales, Featured Products and IMAX DOME Programming, Ontario Science Centre
For the past 15 years, I have successfully managed the International Sales Team's efforts to expand current international marketing activities including sale of products (exhibits, consulting, training services, project management and rental of travelling exhibitions), most recently focussing on China and South East Asia markets. Responsibilities include development and negotiation of sales of exhibits and exhibitions, development and implementation of business strategies for touring travelling exhibitions and support systems for sales process and consulting world-wide.
I was appointed Director of Featured Products and IMAX DOME Programming in March, 2017. This role involves selection, negotiations, and programming for the Ontario Science Centre for films and incoming temporary exhibitions. I oversee a cross-organizational team of Educators, Scientists, Marketing and Business Development staff that review product based on its suitability with the Centre's mission of providing quality, immersive, educational experiences that foster life-long learning, inspire us to make the world a better place, and ensure financial sustainability.
I am also the Lead on the transformation of our IMAX DOME Theatre from 15/70 projector system to a digital system that will provide high quality, science educational immersive theatre experiences. Consequently, I have travelled extensively to research current and developing technologies that best fit with the Centre's mission. I have benefited from attending digital theatre technology presentations at GSCA conferences and recently converted giant screen theatres, to ascertain relevant content and technologies for the Centre in a world of continuous advancements from unique planetarium shows, to AR and VR reality platforms.
1989-2005, Director, Worldwide Strategic Partnerships, IMAX Corporation
I worked for IMAX Corporation for 18 years in a variety of Senior Management positions including being promoted to Director of the Natural History, Zoo and Aquarium market, I developed and expanded the number of large format theatres in a short period of time, resulting in significant revenues for the company. Promoted to Director of Sales, I was relocated to Singapore to help establish a new Asia Pacific office. I travelled extensively throughout China and South East Asia building the IMAX brand, providing marketing and promotional support to existing clients and selling giant screen theatres. I returned to Toronto for six years to lead a Sponsorship/Partnership initiative which became the new strategic direction for the company and eventually I held the position, Director of Strategic Partnerships for six years until my move to Ontario Science Centre.
Statement of Purpose
Throughout my career, I have worked directly and indirectly supporting the giant screen industry. I am passionate about this industry and would like to be more active in helping shape the future and ensuring we are all successful – from film makers to film distributors to our diverse theatres around the world. In fact, I was so inspired by this past GSCA in Victoria/Vancouver, and by the many conversations with all of you, that I joined Taran Davies and Mike Lutz as a member of their newly formed GSCA Industry Development Committee.
A few years ago, I was thrilled to be appointed Director of Featured Products and IMAX DOME Film Programming in addition to my role as Director of International Sales at the Ontario Science Centre. I have actively participated in the GSCA Annual Conferences and Trade Shows ever since. Over the past few years I have also been leading the conversion of our IMAX DOME Theatre to digitalized format and believe I have a true appreciation and understanding of the unique needs of DOME theatres and institutional markets.
I held several Senior Management portfolios including Director of the Natural History, Zoo and Aquarium market while working at IMAX® Corporation, where I developed and expanded giant screen theatres in a short period of time. Promoted to Director of Sales, I was relocated to Singapore to help establish a new Asia Pacific office and grow the market. During that time, I travelled extensively throughout China and South East Asia, expanding the giant screen brand, selling projector systems and providing marketing and promotional support to new theatres.
I returned to Toronto to lead a Sponsorship/Partnership initiative and held the position of Director of Strategic Partnerships for six years. I worked closely with many past and present GSCA producers, directors and technicians during the development and in-film production periods. Quality of cinematic image, meaningful educational content, and partnerships were shared aspirations of all involved, as it was understood that to be financially sustainable and to provide meaningful content, it was necessary to provide an exceptional, relevant experience in a way that only the giant screen can convey.
I would like to bring my broad perspective, extensive knowledge, and vast experience to support the current and future viability goals, educational aspirations, and mission of the GSCA. At a time where personal electronic devices increasingly deliver a wealth of information and immediate experiences to end-users, we need to distinguish the unique and extraordinary experiences only giant screen theatres can continue to provide.
We need to promote and support the revolutionary digital technologies that have emerged and are evolving and ensure giant screen theatres continue to deliver high quality experiences to our diverse audiences. Not only for entertainment purposes, but with the shared mission to inform, educate and inspire life-long learning and develop global citizens through immersive experiences that are relevant, fun, and make a positive and enduring impact on the lives of individuals and communities around the world.
I look forward to serving all of you and hope you will consider voting for me as your newest Board Member.
Amy Louise Leidel
Senior Director of Guest Operations and Giant Screen Experience
The Henry Ford
I am a versatile administrative executive and veteran of the museum & attraction field, currently serving as the Senior Director of Guest Operations & Giant Screen Experience (GSE) at The Henry Ford. In Museums, I discovered a passion for service management in a nonprofit setting. I am also passionate about creating welcoming environments for guests of all abilities and coaching others to professional excellence.
The Henry Ford is the leading cultural attraction in the state drawing nearly 1.8 million visits per year. As a venue leader (GSE) and the leader of a support unit (Guest Services), I have had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of initiatives. Aside from my role in the theater and in gate operations, I have facilitated several cross-departmental teams focused in the areas of large-scale operations, traveling exhibitions, pricing, hospitality, amenities, accessibility, parking, and of course, GSE programming and marketing. I define scope quickly and scale new projects well due to the variety of initiatives I've completed with success inside a dynamic organization.
From 2013-2016, I led a 3-year initiative to convert the Henry Ford's classic IMAX film theater to our own brand, digital theater experience. The Giant Screen Experience, now in its fourth year of operation, remains a robust part of the overall experience at The Henry Ford.
I’ve also led our accessibility programming for all venues the past four years. The Henry Ford provides an array of quality programming aimed to better serve guests with a variety of individual needs and abilities. Our team was integral in the founding of MACA, the Michigan Alliance for Cultural Accessibility, a consortium of cultural attraction professionals working together to provide accessible experiences and increase attendance of disabled populations to their institutions.
Statement of Purpose
My first experience with a Giant Screen was in 1999 when I was hired as the sales specialist for the IMAX Theatre. I eventually moved into gate operations and took more opportunities as they arose. In 2005, I was promoted to Director of Guest Services including the overall responsibility of the IMAX Theatre, the projection staff and the Film Selection Committee. At that time, our theater was consistently drawing 250k–300k in attendance and regularly landing within the top tier of IMAX Hollywood and documentary box office sales.
By 2015, our market and movie-patron behavior had changed drastically. Film prints became scarce, attendance “legs” became shorter, marketing resources got tighter, and as a result attendance levels dipped under 100k annually. Shortly before we converted to digital, ours was one of nine IMAXs in the state, most within a 45-minute drive from the Detroit metro-area. Closing the theater was an option that we seriously considered. Ultimately and fortunately, our board and leaders believed that our theater extends our mission and adds significant value to our core experiences.
My purpose, if I were to be chosen for the GSCA board, is to use this experience and my expertise in both theater management, special audience programming and ticketing/admissions to help keep this industry relevant and make theaters more sustainable. I would like to focus on 2 main areas:
- Digital Presence / 3rd Party Ticket Integration
The purchasing habits of our public have changed, and the multiplex theaters have led the way. Print-at-home / print-to-device technologies have revolutionized this market. Institutional theaters need to keep up with the rest of the world (and their smart phones) and provide seamless ticket integration into digital spaces such as Google 1 referral and Trip Advisor, the csXpress database is not enough. A GSCA group focused on 3rd party ticketing integration could identify software solutions or partners, and/or put pressure on ticketing system providers to provide this functionality.
- Marketing & PR Solutions for Non-Traditional Markets
I will be candid that I have less concrete ideas around the issue of dwindling marketing dollars in institutional theaters. I believe I am not alone in constantly worrying about how to market all the fabulous titles that the digital world has opened for us, without the luxury of an ever-expanding marketing budget. (And the luxury of a large theater staff). Though traditional launch events still work for many theaters, they do not work well in markets like Detroit. New ideas are needed, especially for those with limited resources. We have had some success recently with a new business model giving members free films, paid digital and social media campaigns and packaged tickets for tourists. I was also intrigued by some of the town hall ideas that emerged at the conference that I’d like to explore (most specifically paying more in royalties to distributors who market on behalf of theaters.)
I am so grateful to the GSCA and truly believe we would not have a theater here at THF without it. The industry knowledge and professional development I have gained through GSCA is irreplaceable. I would be honored to give even a portion of that back through service on the GSCA board.
Director of Guest Services and Operations
Chattanooga, Tennessee, US
I’m Don Walker, Director of Guest Services and Operations for the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’ve been employed with this institution for 24 years in an executive and leadership role.
On behalf of the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater, I would like to request consideration for nomination to the Giant Screen Cinema Association Board of Directors in the role of an Institutional Theater in good standing.
My responsibility over the years has included theater operations from 1996 to present, but has also included ticketing, reservations, visitor services, housekeeping, security, parking lot, concessions and boat operations for the Tennessee Aquarium. I served as the project manager for the evaluation of laser systems and responsible for the theater conversion to IMAX laser and chief communicator to our board of trustees for approval and funding. Also, I’m responsible for film licensing and heading up the committee that oversees programming. My current staffing responsibility is 64 full-time, part-time and seasonal employees. Our attendance for 2019 at the aquarium is expected to reach 770,000 and 180,000 for the theater. Over the years, these numbers have fluctuated but we continue to provide a financially stable and successful operation that meets board approval and exceeds guests expectations and voted the #1 Aquarium in the United States for Guests Satisfaction, as measured by an independent source and backed up by our constant need to measure our overall experience monthly as seen through the eyes of our visitors. I have served as a board director for the Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau for 6 years, and co-founder of the International Aquarium Visitor Operations Conference established in 1997.
It is evident; we support GSCA after hosting two international conferences and having Gordon Stalans in the role of board chair for several years, and having 5 attendees at the 2019 conference in Victoria. I would like to continue this support by becoming a board member and serving at the will of the board and association.
I would like to support GSCA in a more meaningful way from discussions, planning and implementation to grow the membership base, best practices, alternative programming, to communicating the possibilities and impact of new technologies, and strategic planning for the association’s future.
My previous experience includes 13 years of management in the hotel and conference center business might prove to be helpful in event planning, however I also believe in lifelong learning and willing to participate on other committees. It is truly my desire to assist and help GSCA stay in a position of strength with membership, offerings and relevant to how theaters, distributors and producers use available resources to improve and enhance their organization and deliverables.
Cosmic Picture Distribution
Industry veteran Antonietta Monteleone joined Cosmic Picture to launch the distribution business and expand the company’s position in the giant screen industry. Prior to Cosmic Picture, she was Vice President of Film Distribution for National Geographic, where she released over 20 iconic and award-winning giant screen films. She started in the industry managing film distribution for nWave Pictures, a Belgian film studio that produced films for both commercial and giant screen theaters.
Statement of Purpose
As an active member of the GSCA for the last 19 years, I would like to further my involvement and support in the association and its mission, by putting myself forward for election to the Board of Directors.
I hope to bring a new perspective to these meetings and the association. Our association is going through a challenging time. We must work together to grow this industry and the association. Inspiring and educating our youth through a fun, immersive and entertaining medium keeps me fully dedicated to this format and our organization.
By you electing me to serve on the GSCA board, I can help to bring a new outlook to the conversation of how we advance the business of creating and presenting educational and immersive cinema experiences globally.
Digital Crossing Films
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
An adventurer with nearly 20 years of experience filming in some of the most remote and challenging places in the world. From the giant screen to cutting-edge 8K TV, Michael has been a pioneer in using technology to lead the way in high-end factual programming. He is the Director/Producer of the giant screen film Volcanoes - the Fires of Creation, camera man on Angkor - The Lost Civilization, and is currently working on Serengeti. He has a number of international TV series to his credit including, Volcanic Odysseys, Kenya Wildlife Diaries, and Nomads of the Serengeti which air on Smithsonian, National Geographic and Discovery Channel.
A relative newcomer to the giant screen, Michael has quickly made his mark by being very active on the technical committee, where he participated in the world’s first demo of 8K material on the giant screen, use of drones in the GS, as well as helping others by providing footage for demos.
Statement of Purpose
In the 4 years I have been a member of the GSCA, I’ve gone through a steep learning curve producing and directing my first film, and had the chance to promote the launch of the film in a number of markets where I was able to gain firsthand experience of the realities facing exhibitors. This journey has given me valuable insight facing new producers coming into the industry, the challenges they will undertake, and how to adapt new and sustainable models so we can keep the next generation of filmmakers. I stand committed to the high quality of the giant screen and want to build on the incredible work and legacy of those before me to ensure a strong future.
Taran Davies founded Cosmic Picture in 2005 to produce and distribute giant screen and IMAX documentary films. Taran has since produced Superpower Dogs (2019), Jerusalem (2013) and Journey to Mecca (2009) and is currently producing an untitled IMAX film for the Museum of Science, Boston. Taran has served as a Director on the Board of the Giant Screen Association from 2018 and is Co-Chair of the Industry Development Committee.
Distributed by Cosmic Picture and IMAX, Superpower Dogs won Best Film, Best VFX and Best Music at the 2019 Giant Screen Achievement Awards, and Cosmic Picture and IMAX won Best Marketing by a Distributor. Distributed by National Geographic and described by the Washington Post as “awe inspiring and intimate” and the Boston Globe as “a mesmerizing vision”, Jerusalem won Best Film and Best Cinematography in 2014. Journey to Mecca was premiered on the world’s largest outdoor screen with stadium seating for 1,500 people, specially constructed for the event. The documentary is the second film to be publicly shown in Saudi Arabia since theaters were closed there in the 1970’s. Described by Total Film as ‘Wondrous to Behold’ and Sight and Sound as “something never before seen on such a breathtaking scale”, Journey to Mecca is an epic IMAX film featuring 4,500 extras and the largest animal caravan ever assembled on film since the movie Lawrence of Arabia.
Under the banner of his film company Wicklow Films, which he founded in 1994, Taran has produced, directed and written several critically acclaimed films for television and theatrical release. His first documentary, Around the Sacred Sea, told the story of his five-month horseback expedition to ride around Siberia's Lake Baikal. While on this journey, he developed a fascination with Russia, its southern borderlands, and the many cultures and religions of the region, especially Islam. His next documentary, The Land Beyond the River, about his journey through Central Asia, was the first film shot entirely in Hi 8 to be broadcast nationwide by PBS in the United States.
In the mid 1990’s Taran left the world of filmmaking for Wall Street for 5 years where he worked as an investment banker with Loeb Partners, a merchant banking firm, where he worked on venture capital deals in the communications, media and real estate industry. Just a block away from the World Trade Center, he witnessed their collapse on 9/11, quit his job, shelved plans for business school, and picked up his camera again and decided to make films that might shed light on conflict, its causes and effects, in the region he knew best.
Taran’s Afghan Stories, a feature documentary, premiered less than a year later at the Venice Film Festival in September 2002, and was described by the New York Times as “invaluable” and the Anthology of Cult Movies as one of the best documentary films ever made. He then produced the documentary Mountain Men and Holy Wars, "an eye-opening look at the centuries-old roots of Russia's bloody struggle with Islamic separatists in Chechnya and Daghestan," which premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. His films, described by TV Guide as "Must See TV," were featured on the Sundance Channel in 2003.
Born in New York City, Taran lives in London with his wife and three children.
Statement of Purpose
Over the past couple of years I have had the privilege to serve on the Board of the Giant Screen Association, work as Co-Chair of the Industry Development Committee and conceive and help establish the 2020 Vision Theater Symposium for 2020.
For the past 14 years I have been a member of the Giant Screen Association and have attended every conference since 2005 and still haven’t lost all my hair. I would hugely appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve on the Board to help bring about my mandate that I first expressed when I applied to join the Board two years ago:
“Over the past several months I’ve worked to save the Johnson IMAX theater at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. While our mission might not have been successful, it was an honour (and an education!) to collaborate with many members of the giant screen community with a common purpose, and find ways to express the value of the giant screen experience to our various stakeholders: the general public, government, teachers, schools, the local community, and the museum itself. It became clear to me that there is little public appreciation or understanding of the value of the giant screen experience in a museum or science center. One of the key questions that arose in the process of trying to stop the destruction of one of the most successful theaters in our industry is how the giant screen complements the key offerings of a successful museum experience, making the sum very much greater than its parts.
I would like to serve the giant screen community by listening to all its participants and working alongside them on any effort which will help it prosper. I wish to commit myself to show how the IMAX and giant screen educational experience is relevant and uniquely valuable in our modern world so that we continue to invest in it over the coming years, rather than just expecting it to provide value. The unfortunate and premature closing of the Johnson IMAX theater is a call on all of us to redouble our efforts to revitalize our industry so it can stand proud amongst other forms of education and entertainment. I am eager to work with you and on your behalf to achieve this goal.”
Thank you for your consideration, and support.
David Gross, founder of Definition Films has worked in the film industry for twenty years and in that time gained experience in numerous positions in the film and television industry.
Starting in film production in picture editorial at the age of 18 David’s theatrical drama and documentary television training and production roles have helped him to craft a holistic approach to filmmaking for the Giant Screen. He is current work and roles include:
Recent Giant Screen/IMAX releases including:
- Turtle Odyssey,
- Australia’s Wild Top End,
The following GS titles currently completing post production:
- Out of Bounds (Director Caspar Mazzotti)
- Sea Lions: Life by a Whisker (Directors Amelia McCarten & Paul Phelan)
- Angkor: The lost Empire of Cambodia (Director Murray Pope)
- Ocean Currents 3D (Director Nick Robinson)
And the following titles in production (filming currently)
- Shark Heroes (Director Amelia McCarten)
- Serengeti (Director Michael Dalton)
- Cool Cities
Australian Film Industry mentorship from respected film makers has been a very key part of David’s training. Andrew Mason (Producer of the Matrix Trilogy) has guided him over the past six years and helped David hone his negotiation and producing skills. Legendary Australian producer John Maynard has educated and assisted David with his primary goal—to better link film financing, production and distribution to create more sustainable models for all parties. His father Bernard Gross, QC has also provided David with a very solid understanding of the law when it comes to working in film and television including copyright protection, cast and crew contracting, and distribution agreements.
David’s 20-year film career has resulted in a strong vertically integrated business in Australia. From initially developing and financing a project, through to obtaining large government grant finance and tax credits, then from production to post production and delivery, and finally distribution. Vertical integration is a key part of maintaining and growing a healthy business.
Definition Films (David’s Post House) offers world class post production services, including the only 56 Speaker Dolby accredited Theatrical Dolby Atmos Dubbing Stage in Sydney Australia, supporting industry leaders: Netflix, PBS, Entertainment One (eOne), 20th Century Fox, and Warner Brothers. This facility Attracts a myriad of some of the most sought after theatrical work in Australia, and is the has been the perfect platform for completing high end, technically sound Giant Screen productions.
As David’s work in the IMAX and Giant Screen Industry continues to develop, he continues to seek the expertise of and mentorship of some of the most respected veterans in the field including IMAX Corp’s David and Patricia Keighley, K2 Communications Bob and Mark Kresser, respected directors Mike Slee and Mark Krenzien, as well as the many theatre owners and operators of whom provide an invaluable insight into the giant screen audience for whom these films are produced.
For further examples of David’s portfolio of work, please refer to the following imdb link: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1453736/
Statement of Purpose
I’M A RELATIVE NEW COMER
As a newcomer to the GSCA in Toronto 2016 – I found it daunting, spectacular, and almost unattainable.
But thanks to a host of networking and mentoring opportunities offered by many members of the GSCA I have been able to navigate the filmmaking and distribution process to having now produced two completed giant screen feature films, with others currently in production.
My focus, and first priority if granted a leadership role within the GSCA community, will be to nurture and encourage other up-and-coming filmmakers and producers to join our community.
Bringing with them fresh ideas, perspectives, and quality product, attracting more professionals to our industry will serve to reinvigorate our product and to push the boundaries of what can be achieved both creatively and technically.
I believe this is the key to not only our industry’s survival, but to its long-term ability to thrive.
I feel many ‘first time’ filmmakers have a sometimes negative (primarily financially related) experience after producing their first IMAX film, and as a result, are likely to leave the industry all together.
COMMUNICATION & PROTECTING FILMMAKERS
I think the GSCA Board and the newly formed filmmakers committee needs to establish and document effective pathways for new filmmakers to successfully navigate the GSCA world.
Key focus areas would be:
A. The sometimes choppy waters of filmmaker/distributor relationships,
B. Assist in managing expectations of filmmaker financial return,
C. Theatres guidance on the content and style of films that are most likely to succeed with our audience.
D. Being honest with film makers about how the process works
THE HARD TRUTH
The hard truth is that the vast majority of producers and independent filmmakers in the GSCA are seeing no financial return on films other than receiving small fees during the production.
The current cycle is not working and is unsustainable for most film makers except for the lucky few who are earning a decent wage on films.
Revenues are down for most if not all distributors, theatres have access to more and more content.
Films in development are rarely succeeding in attracting funding/theatre commitments/distribution guarantees and as a result are falling over before they ever get going.
We need to face these hard truths together. With a little help the future can be brighter for the entire GSCA community.
Nurturing young producers, writers, and cinematographers is a crucial part of our future.
I know it. I am relatively new to the world of the Giant Screen, but having worked on over fifty feature films over the last twenty years, I believe that strong relationships between financiers, filmmakers, and distributors is key to the holistic health of our industry. We need to engage with our audiences, and work closely with theatres and distributors in a transparent, and productive manner.
Thank you for your consideration.
Unit Production Manager
MacGilivray Freeman Films
Laguna Beach, California, US
Meghan grew up in Laguna Beach surrounded by the ocean and a film legacy. Daughter to Greg and Barbara MacGillivray, she was able to hone her filmmaking skills from an early age, interning at MacGillivray Freeman Films during the summers and traveling with the film crew to worldwide locations. Realizing her passions lay deep-rooted in the family business, Meghan pursued an educational path to further her creative abilities and value as an MFF team member, receiving a BA in English and Literature from USCB and then a Masters in English from Chapman University. Since then, Meghan has settled into a myriad of full-time positions at MacGillivray Freeman, working as an assistant to her father, research specialist, outreach manager, and finally, social media manager and production manager. Though she’s worked extensively on numerous MFF projects, Meghan has served as Unit Production Manager on such acclaimed MacGillivray Freeman films as Humpback Whales, Journey to the South Pacific, National Parks Adventure, Dream Big, America’s Musical Journey, and most recently, Into America’s Wild. Meghan’s position requires her to manage all aspects of pre-production and then travel on location to ensure those logistics flow seamlessly. When she’s not working, Meghan enjoys spending time with her husband and two small sons, whom she hopes to give the same incredible experience she had growing up amidst giant-screen filmmaking.
Statement of Purpose
Having grown up in the business my whole life, I have long been exposed to my family’s passion for giant screen filmmaking. Some of my fondest memories as a child are attending GSCA trade shows, watching giant-screen films in awe of their uniquely immersive capability. And what’s more, as my parents traveled on location with my brother and I as much as they could, I was able to witness the process of taking words and ideas and translating them into those very visual feasts to enrapture audiences everywhere. I was hooked. My entryway into the industry became just as educational as the films themselves, and I am now striving to involve my own children in the same way. Giant-screen filmmaking is more than a job to me—the process from start to finish has become my passion, and the industry, a family.
For these reasons, I am very interested in continuing to be a part of the GSCA and representing MacGillivray Freeman Films and our ongoing productions as a representative of the Board of Directors. As I have been on the Board for two years, as well as having served on the Membership Committee and Industry Development Committee, I will bring a level of commitment and expertise to the position as well as a demonstrated enthusiasm for all things giant-screen.
I am also interested in encouraging younger filmmakers and producers to get involved in our industry and move it forward in a positive fashion. I am eager for the opportunity to bring my own ideas for growth and success to meetings and committees. The GSCA has been a part of my extended family for as long as I can remember, and I would be honored to be able to give back to the industry that has done so much to inspire the next generation of creative thinkers, visionaries and passionate individuals.
Producer | Director | Co-Founder
Pleasantville, New York, US
Academy Award-nominated, Emmy Award-winning Producer/Director Susan Todd has been making cutting-edge, natural history and social impact films for the past three decades. She co-founded Archipelago Films in 1991, with partner Andrew Young, to make films and media that entertain and inspire through high-quality, visual storytelling. With a well-established track record of producing, directing, and writing both documentary and fiction films, for television and theatrical release, Archipelago Films is now producing award-winning 3D Giant Screen/IMAX films.
Backyard Wilderness, their recently released 3D Giant Screen/IMAX film, won the top industry awards in 2018, including “Best Film Short Subject,” “Best Cinematography,” “Best Film Lifelong Learning” as well as numerous other accolades including “Best Children’s Film” from the International Wildlife Film Festival. Pushing the boundaries of storytelling and technology, Backyard Wilderness combines blue chip natural history techniques to reveal the amazing wildlife and plants that live around a typical suburban home, along with a dramatic narrative arc about a human family, obsessed with its digital screens. The film has premiered in over 50 IMAX and Giant Screen theaters so far, throughout the US, Canada, Mexico, Europe, China, South America and the Middle East.
Beyond nature, Todd and Young’s credits include their Academy Award-nominated Children of Fate, which revisits a family in Sicily filmed by Young's father, director Robert M. Young in 1961. The film received the Grand Jury Prize and the Cinematography Award at the Sundance Film Festival, top awards at many international festivals, played theatrically in over 30 US cities, and had its television premiere on HBO/Cinemax. Other Archipelago award-winning films include It Ain't Love; about dating violence in teenagers, Lives in Hazard; which profiles gang members in East LA and was introduced by President Clinton on NBC, and Americanos, featuring the contributions of Latinos like Carlos Santana and Tito Puente to the culture of the United States, Executive Produced by Edward James Olmos and broadcast on HBO.
Within the realm of natural history filmmaking, Todd and Young have made television programs and films around the globe that capture some of the most unique and endangered animals, cultures and habitats. Some of these include their award-winning documentary, Madagascar: A World Apart, for the PBS series The Living Edens, many permanent Wildlife Conservation Society/Bronx Zoo film exhibits, such as Congo Gorilla Forest, Tiger Mountain, and Madagascar, and extensive work for the BBC and the World Wildlife Fund.
After working in New York at Lionheart Television and ABC News, Todd went to graduate school to get her masters at Columbia University’s School of Journalism. Shortly after graduating, she began work at WNET public television. When a show Todd produced on the Nature of Love was broadcast on Valentine’s Day, Young proposed after the credits, and they have enjoyed collaborating on films at Archipelago ever since.
Statement of Purpose
As a relatively new 3D Giant Screen producer/director, I have felt extremely fortunate to be part of the GSCA community. I’ve grown to understand the important shared mission we have of inspiring, entertaining and educating our audiences, as well as the challenge of making these films work for kids and families in different cultures around the world. The Association emphasizes the sharing of ideas, resources and talents, and that is very much needed in order to improve the quality of the films and give theaters the means to successfully grow the audience, despite some of the current economic realities. Everyone in the GSCA needs to understand the process from the film producers’ point of view. And when we’re hard at work managing both a vision, the pressures of filming, and passion for a topic, we need encouragement and also straightforward, honest feedback.
I would like to join the Board as a means to help bolster the kinds of production and distribution that will create more supportive working relationships and allow for sustainability and ideally profit sharing for independent production companies who are often the teams bringing new approaches to the industry. I want to help build on the technical expertise and innovation that has been learned through hard work about what can work and what doesn’t in the museum marketplace. At every GSCA convention, I have seen certain films break the rules and try new approaches with new topics and that change needs to be encouraged as media consumption in the world evolves.
I am most interested in finding support for a fund for producers that will foster early development and/or post production for promising projects. There are partnerships in the non-profit and corporate worlds that could be brought into the GSCA if there were more multi-platform projects that offered additional distribution possibilities in television, on-line, streaming and social media.
Our company Archipelago Films is currently in production on Wings Over Water, which I am co-producing/directing and writing, to be distributed by SK Films, and is scheduled for release in March 2021. We’re all in this together and I’m committed to strategizing for new ways to bring attention and improved profitability into the industry as a whole.
Other Related Businesses
Michael Daut Productions
Santa Clarita, California, US
Michael Daut is an immersive media specialist, working as an independent writer/producer/ director in Los Angeles, CA. Michael brings a wealth of experience within the giant screen cinema and digital fulldome industries. He is an award-winning writer, producer, and director for fulldome videos, theatrical productions, music videos, live concert videos, commercials, documentaries, corporate videos, and trade show presentations. He most recently served as the Director of New Business Development for Mousetrappe, an experience design and production studio in Burbank. Previously he worked for over 20 years at Evans & Sutherland, where he was instrumental in acquiring numerous large accounts, expanding the product line, and developing a library of shows for the digital fulldome community. Michael’s current clients include K2 Studios, a giant screen film production and distribution company, and Moodswings, LLC, creators of the visual music show Mesmerica, currently playing in digital dome theaters across North America.
He has a BA in Media Communications with a video/film emphasis from Webster University, where he also served as an adjunct professor. He created the world's first digital fulldome film for SIGGRAPH, 1999 in Los Angeles, and also helped create the world's first digital fulldome transfer of a giant screen film, Africa the Serengeti in 2007. As a result of this groundbreaking first step, there are now more than 50 giant screen films that have been converted to digital fulldome.
Michael is a member of the Producer's Guild of America, the Themed Entertainment Association, a founding member of the Association of Fulldome Innovators, a member of the Telly Awards' Silver Council, a board member of the Giant Screen Cinema Association, and a board member of IMERSA.org, the Immersive Media Entertainment, Research, Science and Arts organization dedicated to raising the visibility of immersive media across a variety of disciplines throughout the world.
Statement of Purpose
As one of the pioneers of the fulldome medium, I am passionate about giant screen cinema, both flat screen and dome formats, because of its unique ability to immerse audiences and virtually transport them to locations they have never seen or could never visit. This immersion is very powerful, yet deeply intimate at the same time. In this ever-changing digital landscape in which 15/70 film projection and capture is going away at an increasing pace, I believe it is critical to develop ways that we can preserve the technical quality of the film experience while embracing the significant benefits that digital technology offers.
Before starting my own production company, I spent 20 years at Evans & Sutherland, where I worked as an immersive media writer, producer, and director; led the marketing group; established the show distribution business; and opened a pathway for giant screen films to be displayed in digital fulldome. During that time I worked with the GSCA to produce a number of groundbreaking 6K and 8K digital dome demos from 2014 to 2017.
In my four years of service on the GSCA Board, I have had the privilege of serving on a number of committees including the Member Services committee as co-chair (1 year), the Technical Committee as co-chair (3 years), and as a member of the Event Planning committee. With my years of experience in digital immersive technology and production, I have consistently endeavored to produce demonstrations of the latest technologies and trends that impact the future of the giant screen industry. These demos included multiple sessions that showed 6K and 8K digital dome systems with HFR, multiple projectors, and a wide variety of content remastered for these demonstrations. Other demos included the HDDCC, a 6K/8K camera shoot-out, the Save Our Aspect Ratio 4:3 shooting and mastering demo, and a 3D demo that compared the benefits of shooting 3D natively vs. post-converting 2D shots into 3D. I have also helped lead development of standards including DIGSS, the P3W, and the DSM standards currently in progress.
With the Technical Committee, we have mapped out a number of informative and exciting demonstrations over the next few years, consistently focusing on helping raise the awareness of new tools and best practices that will help raise the bar of quality for films in production and for the technology in the theaters themselves. We are at a critical time in our industry where we must maintain and increase the quality / impact of our films and our theaters.
It would be an honor to be re-elected to the GSCA Board to continue to serve our community as we move fully into our digital future. As a returning board member, I would focus on 1) helping explain and demonstrate the latest relevant digital technologies that will help keep the giant screen experience uniquely immersive as the digital conversion steps into high gear; 2) developing more opportunities for delegates to experience the latest digital technology for filmmaking and exhibition firsthand; and 3) building a bridge between existing film dome theaters and digital fulldome theaters to deepen the synergy between the two groups and help keep licensing models strong and encourage even more effective marketing to audiences in our members’ theaters.
I believe that my experience as a producer, vendor, educator, and distributor give me unique insights into the giant screen business and as a returning GSCA board member, I would be honored to continue to devote my efforts to contribute to its bright future.
Thanks for your consideration.
Sound Designer/Re-recording Mixer
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
In my 30 yrs as part of the audio post industry, I've been a sound designer, supervising sound editor, and re-recording mixer. I’ve been fortunate to apply my creative experience and in-depth knowledge of the industry to a vast array of projects which include Large Format films, feature films, themed attractions and television. I believe that as a story has an arc, so does the sound. Sound can be used in many ways, to help tell the story. It’s the unique story of each project that inspires my approach to sound design.
My facility has kept up with leading edge technology for the latest in playback formats. I can deliver in formats including IMAX immersive 12.0, IMAX 6.0, IMAX 5.0, Dolby Atmos (theatrical and home theatre), Dolby Digital, 5.1 for broadcast, and of course stereo. The facility is in the heart of Toronto’s entertainment district, in downtown Toronto.
As an established industry professional I have been recognized worldwide with several awards, including multiple GSCA Achievement Awards, Golden Reels from the Motion Picture Sound Editors in Los Angeles, along with several nominations from the Canadian Screen Awards.
Statement of Purpose
I believe the best soundtracks are the most immersive, and the giant screen experience brings the best of immersive imagery together with the best in immersive sound to create an amazing audience experience. The ability of giant screen films to transport audiences to places they’ve never been and introduce them to such a wide range of topics, is what makes working in this industry exciting and challenging.
I’ve done sound design on giant screen films for over 25yrs and been a member of GSTA/GSCA since 2004. I’m an active member of the technical committee and produced several conference technical sessions informing the membership about the advancements of audio and its importance in giant screen filmmaking. I’ve also participated in the P3W, and film symposium taskforces.
I believe that fostering new members into the GSCA is important for the future of the association, bringing in new perspectives and ideas to our industry, while making sure to maintain our high level of immersive imagery and sound. At our core, continue to inspire audiences.
Evanston, Illinois, US
Don is President of cinema integrator D3D Cinema and large-format film company Giant Screen Films. Don previously served on the GSCA Board of Directors for three successive terms between 2008 and 2014, and is now hoping to return for a second stint. Don is the longtime Chairman of the Distributor’s Interest Group, which among other things has provided GSCA delegates with many “festive” evenings over the years! He has been an active member of the giant screen industry for over twenty years.
Statement of Purpose
I believe that GSCA ought to focus on growing the number of giant screen theaters as well as strengthening current giant screen industry economics. Our company D3D Cinema recently announced its role in the June, 2020 opening of a new giant screen theater at Imagination Station in Toledo, Ohio. It is my belief that giant screens offer a strong value proposition to all types of museums, and that GSCA can play a central role in advocating this case, invigorating the current base and expanding our industry into new markets. Current GSCA Chair Alan Nursall has laid out this value proposition quite convincingly in several forums over the past few years, and it was affirmed by Royal BC Museum President Jack Lohman in his opening comments to GSCA delegates in Victoria. It is my belief that we are now in a position to enter an exciting period of growth, fueled in part by an association that has a renewed confidence in the resiliency and core strength of the giant screen market and all it has to offer.