The Postgraduate Academic Team

 

Zulfiqar Choudhry

Principal

Bio

Zulfiqar Choudhry is the exec. Principal for Raindance Educational
services. He is also responsible for maintaining academic standards and developing the core
academic content of the course.

Romana Lakinger - Njari

MA in Filmmaking Programme Leader

Bio

Romana Carén is an award-winning filmmaker, actress and vocal coach from Vienna, Austria who has been working in theatre, film and TV since the age of eight. After graduating from Camillo Sitte Higher Technical College in Structural Engineering she studied Law and Astronomy at University Vienna.

Romana was trained as an actress at Actors Studio Pallas in Vienna and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London. 

Her theatre credits include the prestigious Burgtheater, Theater in der Drachengasse, MuTH and Das OFF-Theater. Her film and TV credits include Universum History: Margarethe Ottillinger, Heartbeat, Where the Wild Rosés Grow, Baa Baa Black Sheep, SOKO Donau, Carlos, The Pillars of the Earth and Jud Süß.

As a filmmaker her main focus is on writing and directing short and feature films, TV and web series revolving around social issues and day-to-day taboos.

Romana studied film (writing & directing) at the London Film Academy, and graduated with a Master of Arts from University of Staffordshire (Raindance Postgraduate Degree in Film). ​Since 2021 Romana has been working on her PhD, undertaking the practice-led research doctoral training program at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK on Mastering The Art Of Self-Directing in Film or TV.

Over the years Romana has been collaborating with production companies such as Bad Motel Movies , Das Rund, R& Film, Stark Films, Cachinnatus Pictures  and  Independent Works.

Her short films Make A Wish (2010), Where the Wild Roses Grow (2011) and Heartbeat (2012) were screened at Cannes Film Festival (2011-2013). Further, Heartbeat (2013) was in the program of Raindance Film Festivals 2014.

Her film No Mother (2021) has been successfully making the rounds in the international film festival circus garnering her with Best Picture/Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actress awards.

​In collaboration with renowned Swiss director Hanspeter Horne she wrote, directed and edited the experimental film Nüt Nothing Nichts Kahich Nahi Nanimonai (2022). This was followed by the award winning film It Could Have Been Me (2022) about domestic violence pre physical violence, the mockumentary The Mysteries of Wilhelminenberg (2023) and Sherlock Bruce (2024), a satirical metaphor on family relationships.

Romana has been a module leader, academic advisor and mentor with Raindance Film School since 2016 and became the MA Filmmaking Program Leader & Postgraduate Academic Team Lead in 2023.

As a mentor Romana wants to share that no matter where your home base is, a solid skillset, that keeps growing with the demands of an ever-changing industry, allows for universal and collaborative work all over Europe and beyond.

Creative areas of interest
Directing yourself, working with child actors, character driven stories, social issue stories, period drama, improvisation in film, worldwide collaboration independent of home location, script development, incorporating actors in the writing process, transitioning between film and TV, new marketing concepts for film and TV. 

Mentoring strengths
Directing, self-directing, working with actors, working with children, micro-budget filmmaking, short filmmaking, screenwriting for short and feature films as well as TV/web-series, social issue topics, pitching.

 

Jenna Hawkins

MA in Screenwriting Programme Leader

Bio

Jenna-Louise Hawkins is an award winning screenwriter. She studied the MA in Filmmaking at Raindance, where she earned the 2021 “Raindance Screenwriting” best student award. Her work has been optioned and produced by Academy Award winning production company, Slick Films. Her TV pilot was featured in the The Golden Script’s 2023 “Golden List”, the best unproduced screenplays of the year, and was ranked as a winner in 2nd place. Her credits include “The Friend”, “What We Wished We Could Be”, and she currently has two feature films in development.

IMDb link: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm14454068/?ref_=ext_shr_lnk

Josh Farrell

MA in Filmmaking Module Leader and MA in Screenwriting Lecturer

Bio

Josh Farrell is a filmmaker and lecturer at the Raindance Film School and teaches screenwriting and film studies across the HND, BA, and MA courses.

Over the years Josh has written and directed many short films, and music videos. In 2023 Josh wrote and directed his first feature film – “Sock” a horror-comedy about a sock that comes to life and embarks on a jealous murderous rampage.

The Postgraduate Mentors

Anji Loman-Field

Screenwriter

Bio

I have worked in drama for film, television and radio since 1994. My skills are in
story research, scriptwriting, storylining, script editing, script doctoring,
producing & executive producing.
Regular clients have included BBC1, BBC Radios 4 & 3, and BBC Media Action.
As a tutor/trainer I have taught Screenwriting for the London Institute, the Central
Film School, West Herts College and BBC Media Action. I also run regular courses
and events for the screenwriter writer training organisation Euroscript.

Anastasios Halas

Writer / Director / Actor

Bio

Anastasios Odysseas Halas is a filmmaker originally from Andros, Greece, and currently based in Plymouth, UK. He graduated from Raindance’s MA in Filmmaking with a Distinction in 2023.

With a background in theatre as a writer, director, and actor, Anastasios took his first creative steps in the fringe scene of Plymouth, UK. Following this creative journey, he finally pursued his true passion for Cinema and became part of Raindance’s MA in Filmmaking, in order to better understand the intricacies of the world of Cinema. During that academic journey, he discovered and researched at great lengths the wealth and breadth of the Visual Language of Cinema, which led him to also seek a path in academia so he could share his knowledge and passion with aspiring filmmakers. 

Currently, Anastasios is in the pre-production stages of his feature film, Waves. Set against the backdrop of Greece, Waves will blend mythology with contemporary storytelling. 

Creative areas of interest

As a filmmaker, his areas of interest encompass: 

  • Visual Storytelling
  • Drama
  • Familial Drama
  • Crime
  • Comedy
  • Character-Driven Stories
  • Psychological Horror 
  • Mental Health Awareness
  • Sci-fi
  • Mythology, with a particular fascination for Greek Mythology 

His aim is to infuse these elements into his projects, delivering narratives that engage and resonate with audiences.

Mentoring

As a Mentor at Raindance, Anastasios will seek to share his knowledge and unwavering passion for filmmaking. 

His strengths lie in: 

  • Directing
  • Screenwriting for both short and feature films
  • Script and Character Development
  • Writing Visually
  • Visual Storytelling
  • Navigating no/low-budget filmmaking
  • Pitching strategies
  • Casting and rehearsals
  • Working with actors
  • Production processes 

Anastasios is dedicated to guiding emerging filmmakers, helping them refine their craft and explore their own cinematic journeys. He firmly believes that it is never too late to follow your creative dreams. His mentoring approach focuses on fostering a collaborative and creative environment for students at Raindance.

Bradley Van Rooi

Writer/Director/Producer

Bio

Brad has over 20 years of experience in the broadcast, film and digital media content industries working as an actor, writer, director, producer and video journalist. He is a full ACTRA member, IATSE and Canada Council of the Arts member.

Brad received his MA in Film from Staffordshire University, UK, where he focused on film financing, particularly social impact filmmaking. While at Sundance, Brad focused on screenwriting structure, following that up with a focus on screenwriting at Oxford University’s, Online Screenwriting Academy and at the UCLA Professional Program in Screenwriting at the UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television.

Bradley’s screenplays have placed in the finals at the Ibiza International Independent Film Festival and Cinestory, CA.

Having written long form and short form scripts that placed in competition finals and directed and produced in long and short formats in film, documentary, TV and on the web properties, Brad has a strong understanding of the medium as the message and the utilization of formats for different methods to communicate story.

As a Colored South African immigrant to Canada, Brad is passionate about stories focused around identity, environmentalism, and growth through trauma. He enjoys presenting his themes through engaging plot lines in atmospherically beautiful surroundings, to enhance their impact.

Brad has expertise in the following:
Screenplay writing
Screenplay structure
Character development
Thematic writing
Social Impact funding strategy
Film production
Cinematography
Editing

Awards and Acknowledgements
Finalist in screenwriting, Ibiza International Independent Film Festival, https://ibizacinefest.com/
Quarter finalist in screenwriting, Cinestory foundation and competition
https://cinestory.org/congrats-to-our-2023-feature-contest-quarterfinalists/
Sponsorship and Marketing Council Canada Award for Ford/TIFF with Cinco Interactive.
Properties
https://www.linkedin.com/in/bradley-van-rooi-m-a-070b551b/
https://www.imdb.com/name/nm3951220/?ref_=hm_rvi_nm_i_6

Marcus Anthony Thomas

Writer, Director

Bio

Marcus completed the NFTS Directing Fiction MA course in 2021 and his films have since been screened and won awards at several BAFTA and Oscar Qualifying film festivals. His horror/thriller The Retreat released online via Short of the Week and Alter, and his graduation film Caterpillar won Best Student Film at Norwich Film Festival and a RTS Award. Upon graduating Marcus was selected for an elite 16 month mentorship scheme with WarnerMedia where he shadowed the Showrunners & Directors on HBOs House of the Dragon, finishing in July 2022. Since then Marcus has co-created The Directors’ Take Podcast which aims to demystify the pathway to becoming a working director and has just completed his next project titled SPACE PLUG in partnership with Disney x NFTS, which premiered at BFI London Film Festival 2023.

www.marcusanthonythomas.co.uk

 

Areas of Expertise:

– Character & Story

– Idea generation/Script development

– Working with actors

– Visual language

– Film analysis

– Pre-Production methods

– Practicalities of production

– Directing during Post-Production

– Resourceful filmmaking/Self-Shooting

Dejan Nikolaj Kraljacic, PhD

Director/Writer

Bio

Tutor Bio

Professor of screenwriting at the Academy of Arts, University of Novi Sad in Serbia teaching both graduate and postgraduate students. He holds a BFA/MFA in Film Directing, and a PhD in Film Studies from the Faculty of Dramatic Arts, University of Arts in Belgrade, Serbia. Since the mid-1990s, he wrote, directed and produced a dozen shorts and documentaries, including award winning: Balkan Blues (1998, Golden Medal of Belgrade at the Festival of Documentary and Short Films; Prix Europa, Berlin, official selection), and Shattered Dreams (2002, Special Jury Prize at the Festival of Documentary and Short Films in Belgrade; Special Jury Prize at the Golden Knight International Film Festival, Russia). He wrote and co-wrote a number of screenplays, including critically acclaimed feature film Huddersfield (co-writer, 2007) that won the National award for best screenplay and 2nd best screenplay award at the Film Screenplay Festival in Serbia, as well as Special mention at the Film and Art Festival Film Summer in Warsaw. He has worked as a writer/director in theatre, on radio, TV, and in advertising. Currently works on a textbook on screenwriting, still deals with the film criticism, and develops a couple feature screenplays. He is based between Montreal and Belgrade.

Creative areas of interest

History of cinema, contemporary cinema, film genre, dramaturgy, narrative theory, Classical Hollywood cinema, Hitchcock, SF, books about cinema, comic books

Mentoring strengths 

Writing (all kinds of fiction films), structure and the story analysis, cinephilia, a strong historical/theoretical background    

Contact: dejan.kraljacic@raindance.co.uk

Elliot Grove

Raindance Founder

Bio

Few people know more filmmakers and screenwriters than Elliot Grove. Elliot is the founder of Raindance Film Festival (1993) and the British Independent Film Awards (1998) and Raindance London Film School (2017). He has produced over 700 hundred short films and five feature films: the multi-award-winning The Living and the Dead (2006), Deadly Virtues (2013), THE TAKE DOWN (2017), Love is Thicker Than Water (2018) and the SWSX Grand Jury Prize winner Alice (2019). He teaches screenwriting and producing in the UK, Europe, Asia and America.

Elliot has written three books which have become industry standards: Raindance Writers’ Lab: Write + Sell the Hot Screenplay, now in its second edition, Raindance Producers’ Lab: Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking and Beginning Filmmaking: 100 Easy Steps from Script to Screen (Professional Media Practice).

In 2009 he was awarded a PhD for services to film education.

Elliot teaches one of the most popular courses at Raindance Film School: Screenwriters Foundation Certificate

Gideon Van Eeden

Director

Bio

Gideon van Eeden is a former television actor and theatre creator with South African roots. After emigrating to the Netherlands in 2008 he has worked as a festival programmer and filmmaker. His films have been selected by numerous Oscar- and BAFTA-qualifying festivals and have received more than 20 international awards. His short film Bijltjesdag (Day of Reckoning) has screened at more than 30 festivals around the world, and marks his debut as a director of narrative fiction. The film won Best Student Film at the Kerry International Film Festival in Ireland. His second short film, The Apricot Tree was selected for PöFF Shorts and nominated for Best Student Film at the Norwich Film Festival. Both productions were made as part of his studies in screenwriting and directing with the Raindance MA Programme, which he completed with distinction in 2018. His third film, God Glitch, is an award winning sci-fi short that screened at Film Quest and the Leeds International Film Festival. Next in the production pipeline is Entgen Luyten’s Executioner – a gritty historical thriller; green- lit by the Limburg Film Fund. He is in development with 3:42AM – a horror web-series and his first feature, a psychological horror: Darkness and Voices

Creative areas of interest

Socially relevant and reconciliatory themes, bigotry & hypocrisy, societies undergoing massive, sudden change, psychological & paranormal horror, sci-fi and fantasy, magical realism, (esoteric) symbolism, creating suspense with camera movement and musical score, aesthetic emotion, synchronicity, education- & redemption plots, coming of age stories, outdoors and nature, myth, occult, character motivation and psychology, popcorn flicks. Festival programming. David Fincher, Darren Aronofsky, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Jordan Peele.

Mentoring strengths

Script development: premise / character / theme, beat-sheets, rewrites, the shooting script. Short, feature and web-series structure. Indie- and guerrilla filmmaking: using limitations to your advantage. Visual design for new directors: directing the camera (movement, composition and blocking), vision statements, look books, sizzle reels, storyboarding and shot lists. Pitch-deck, (crowd-) funding, festival strategy, collaboration techniques: working with key crew and cast. Some hard lessons learnt the hard way – happy to share those practical gems.

Jelena Goldbach

Producer

Julia Verdin

Director/Producer

Bio

Julia Verdin is a British film producer and founder of Rough Diamond Productions, established in 1994. She has established herself as one of Hollywood’s leading producers with over 30 feature films. She is best known for producing the Sony Classics release The Merchant of Venice, directed by Michael Radford, and starring Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons and Joseph Fiennes, the Newmarket release Stander, directed by Bronwen Hughes, and starring Tom Jane, Deborah Unger, Dexter Fletcher and David O’Hara, and the Breaking Glass release 2 Jacks, based on Leo Tolstoy short story “Two Hussars,” directed by Bernard Rose, and starring Danny Huston, Jack Huston, Sienna Miller, Jacqueline Bisset and Billy Zane.

Verdin has recently executive produced Lionsgate release Born of War, directed by Vicky Jewson, and starring James Frain and Sophia Black D’Elia. This year she has just directed her first film Lost Girls staring Bar Paly, Marisol Nichols and Jamie Harris, and produced The Unwilling directed by Academy Award nominated director Jonathan Heap, and starring Dina Meyer, Jake Thomas and Lance Henriksen. Christmas Survival directed by James Dearden starring Gemma Whelan, Joely Richardson, Julian Ovenden and James Fox.

She is currently developing various film and TV projects with writers and directors including Academy Award and Palme d’Or nominated writer/director James Dearden; acclaimed festival award winning writer/director Éva Gárdos; Academy Award Nominated director Jonathan Heap; WGA Autumn Stories 2010 winner screenwriter Cynthia Riddle, and director Vincenzo Natali.

Verdin is a top film consultant having provided consulting services on development and production. She also wrote the critically acclaimed book, Success in Film, a detailed guide to funding, making and finishing independent films.

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Kira Anne-Pelican, PhD

Screenwriter

Bio

I am a script consultant, a researcher and a lecturer in screenwriting, with 25 years of experience working in the British, American and Chinese film and TV industries.

I began my career assisting director Stanley Kubrick in the production of Eyes Wide Shut (1999). Next followed a stint working within the BBC’s ground-breaking Virtual Studios department, after which I took posts as a Visual Effects Technical Director and then VFX Producer for ESC Entertainment, a Warner Bros company. After assisting in the production of The Matrix Revolutions (2003)The Matrix Reloaded (2003)Catwoman (2004) and The Ladykillers (2004), I retrained in screenwriting at UCLA. I wrote two original TV series which were optioned and developed by the BBC and ITV, before founding my screenplay consultancy in 2006. Since then I have worked with hundreds of writers and producers across the world. In 2017, I was awarded a PhD for my research into forecasting a film’s box office from its narrative. 

Creative areas of interest 

I am interested in using psychological approaches towards the creation of compelling and believable characters; cross-cultural universals in film narratives and box office forecasting from the screenplay.

Mentoring strengths

As an experienced script consultant, my strengths are in understanding character, story and structure and how these work together to create emotionally engaging films.

Stepan Sobanov

Composer, Producer, Arranger

Bio

Stepan Sobanov is an Austrian-based media composer known for his versatile contributions to film, TV, video games, and concert compositions. His music for the image film Vienna is like… has been watched over 10 Mio. times on YouTube, while his song Those Memories won the Univision Song Contest in 2018. The video game Tilt Pack, which he wrote and produced music for, won the Deutscher Computerspielpreis (German Computer Game Award) in 2020. The short film Heartbeat (2012), which he composed music for, was screened at Cannes Film Festival (2012) and Raindance Film Festival (2013). He also composed and produced additional music for Tatort Borowski.

Sobanov graduated from the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna in Composition & Music Theory, as well as Media Composition and Applied Arts, and is teaching at the Vienna Music Institute since 2022.

Sobanov was able to deepen his musical knowledge thanks to the composition master class at the Academy for Contemporary Music Lucerne and various workshops, including with Georg Friedrich Haas and Alexandre Desplat. The practical know-how was further improved in the form of internships at Igudesman&Joo and MG Sound Studios.

His credits as a music arranger include classical music soloists like Nadine Sierra, Pretty Yende, Hyung-ki Joo and Olga Peretyatko, as well jazz ensembles like Nouvelle Cuisine Big Band.

https://www.sobanov.com

Creative areas of interest

Fusion of Traditional and Electronic Elements in Music + Adaptive Music Systems inspired by Video Games + Storytelling through Music + Incorporating Environmental Sounds into Musical Compositions + Four Stages of Creativity + Time Management and Productivity Methods for Composers + Approaches to Compositional Sketches + Quarter-Tone Tonality + Extended Harmonies + Modern Arranging and Production Techniques + Film Music Orchestration + Exploring Unconventional Instruments and Sounds in Composition

Mentoring strengths

Developing a Unique Musical Language + Film Scoring + Working in a DAW + Music Theory + Studio Workflow + Mixing and Mastering + Collaborating with Music Artists + Music Notation + Dealing with Creative Blocks

Louis Paxton

Writer/Director

Bio

Louis is a Scottish writer and director from Edinburgh. He studied at the Royal Conservatoire in Glasgow then completed an MA in Directing at the National Film and Television School. As a writer, he’s developed projects for the BBC, What Larks productions and Hartswood Films, including Sci-Fi comedy/drama, THE SPARE ROOM, which was selected for the BAFTA Rocliffe drama forum. He was one of ten writers selected for Big Talk and Loco film festivals, Betty and Peter List, celebrating exceptional talent in UK feature film comedy.

As a director, his short films range from Comedy Drama to Musicals and have picked up festival awards worldwide. SATAN HAS A BUSHY TAIL was completed as part of Film London’s shorts scheme and has picked up multiple best comedy awards. His latest short NEVILLE IS DEAD, is nominated for best Scottish Short at Glasgow Short Film Festival. He’s currently in development with the Scottish Film Talent Network on ‘THE INCOMER’ – a twisted comedy folk tale set on a remote Scottish Island, this will be his first feature film as Writer/Director.

Mentoring areas of expertise:

WRITING

General Script feedback and Script Editing for outlines, treatments, short & feature film scripts, TV pilot scripts and bibles.
Idea development – discussing initial ideas, crafting your logline, synopsis, one pagers, beat sheets.
Writing for TV – Crafting your pilot, story lining your series, writing TV bibles, pitch documents, treatments.
Character development.
Theme.

DIRECTING

Breaking down a script/scene by scene analysis.
Working with actors.
Creating mood boards, visual aids, working with cinematographers.
Communicating with crew.
Editing your film and Post.
General feedback on edits.

deepcharacterisation lockdown

Lukasz Konopa

Documentary Filmmaker

Bio

Lukasz’s documentaries have played at festivals, such as Hot Docs, Camerimage, Visions du Reel and SXSW. His film ‘After’ won the CILECT Best Documentary film award, which is chosen by the association of the world’s major film and television schools. His his first full length documentary, Theatre of Violence, premiered at CPH DOX in 2023 and won VIKTOR Award for Best Documentary (DOK.fest Munich), Grand Prix (Movies That Matter), Young Voice Award (Inconvenient Films), Best Documentary – Second Award (Encounters), Best Cinematography (Millennium Docs Against Gravity).

As part of the Raindance mentor team for 10 years, Lukasz specialises in project development: from an idea to treatment writing, pitching and shooting a trailer – creative storytelling, visual language, and international co-productions.

Currently splitting his time between Tel Aviv, where he works as a cinematographer on documentaries produced by one of the Israelis top production companies, Heymann Brothers Films; and Poland where he is currently developing his second feature.

Lukasz has a Master Degree in Documentary Film Directing from the UK’s National Film and Television School (NFTS) and an MA in sociology from the University of Warsaw, Poland.

Louise K. Salter

Producer / Actor

Lukas Agelestos

Documentary Filmmaker / Editor

Bio

Lukas Agelastos is a Greek-German filmmaker, film editor and documentary consultant.

Together with his wife Spiridoula Gouskou, he directed the award-winning feature documentaries “My Human Self” (2017), “Nowhere to Go” (2022), which both screened at Thessaloniki, and the short doc “The Unemployed Man Who Cooks for the Homeless” (2013) that went viral in Greece.

His short fiction film “The Line” (2019) toured many European festivals and aired on Greek national TV (ERT).

He has edited a number of short films, as well as three feature documentaries. 

He consults documentary filmmakers in all stages of production.

He also has experience as a subtitlist on such projects as “Ronaldinho: The Happiest Man in the World” (2020), now streaming on FIFA+, and “Born For This/ Mehr als Fussball” (2022) on German national public TV broadcaster ZDF.

Nicolò Riboni

Writer/Director

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Øyvind Aamli

Documentary Filmmaker

Bio

Øyvind Aamli is a Norwegian film director with a special interest in the human condition. He primarily focuses on creative character-led documentaries where there’s a strong human story at the centre. 

His latest documentary about an autistic / non-neurotypical teenager’s focus on cosplay after being excluded from school, won Best Short Documentary at Children’s International Film Festival Seattle and an Iris Award for Best Non-Fiction Film at UNICEF Innocenti International Film Festival. It was also officially selected for more than 20 festivals in 5 continents, such as Calgary, Rotterdam and Zlín International Film Festivals. 

 

With an 18 year career in the TV, film and music industry (BBC, ITV,  A+E, BSkyB, Universal, Sony), a postgraduate degree in documentary film from Raindance and an Kids Kino Docs Lab alumni, Øyvind continues to grow his voice as a documentary writer and director.

 

Special interests and Mentoring Strengths: 

Story/Project Development (long and short-form), Character, Form & Approach, Creative documentary, Coming-of-age stories, Strong point-of-view, Collaborative Approach, Stories with vulnerable and young people. 

Filmography

Being Someone Else / 2020 / Writer, Director, Producer

Through Exile / 2018 / Writer, Director, Producer

Belonging / 2017 /  Writer, Director, Producer

The Chocolate Factory / 2016 / Writer, Director, Producer, Composer

Contact 

Øyvind Aamli – E-mail: oyvind.aamli@raindance.ac.uk

Bio

Louise is an award-winning actress and BAFTA Connect film producer, who made her mark with the internationally acclaimed short film, “How to be Human.” Featuring an ensemble of esteemed BAFTA and Tony award winners, the film garnered widespread recognition, multiple awards and prestigious selections at BAFTA and Academy Award-qualifying festivals including Encounters, Raindance, Sci-Fi London and Sitges. In the words of Raindance and BIFA founder, Elliot Grove, “Movies can change the world. How to be Human certainly does”.

Following this success, Louise attracted private funding to bring her feature film projects to life through her co-founded production company, Slowcooked Productions. Guided by an unwavering commitment to story and performance, Louise stands on the verge of an exciting new chapter in her journey as Slowcooked produces its first feature film.

Through an appreciation for the opportunities and mentorship that she has received throughout her career, Louise enjoys paying it forward and sharing her ongoing experience and industry insights with postgraduate students on the Writing for Performance (MSt) course at Cambridge University and up-and-coming filmmakers on the Raindance Masters Degree Programme; always with the aim of developing their creative confidence to help them achieve their filmmaking and storytelling goals.

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Ruth Paxton

Writer/Director

Bio

Ruth Paxton is a filmmaker named in Canongate’s FUTURE 40, a list of storytellers anticipated to dominate the next 40 years of creative life in Scotland. In 2019 Screen Daily featured her as one of ‘Six emerging Scotland based Directors you need to know.’ Her award-winning short films have been exhibited and nominated in competition at numerous international events and prominent film festivals. Short drama PARIS/SEXY won the UK Film Council’s award for Best British Short at the 2011 London Short Film Festival and Paxton won Best Woman Director at the same festival in 2015 for her film, PULSE.

Paxton is alumnus of a number of labs and development programmes, including Guiding Lights 8, the UK’s most prestigious professional mentoring scheme. She was selected for BFI NETWORK’s development programme during London Film Festival 2017, and has been participant of the Toronto Talent Lab, EIFF Talent Lab, Wellcome Trust’s Ideas Lab, CPH:PIX Sessions, British Council’s Film and Music Archive Lab in association with PRS for Music Foundation, BFI and Manchester’s HOME, and also jury member at Ukraine’s Wiz-Art International Short Film Festival. In 2014 Paxton was Artist in Residence at the Cucalorus Film Foundation in NC, USA.

Other commissions include BAROQUE for Milan’s Festival Delle Lettere, ROCKHAVEN for the Royal Philharmonic Society and NEVADA, commissioned and featuring music by folk trio, LAU. Ruth recently directed the performance element of a 360VR piece with producer Ashley McPherson and BBC Scotland, viscerally examining the nature of anxiety. And completed production of her new short horror BE STILL MY BEATING HEART starring Maxine Peake, commissioned for production via BBC Films and SFTN, produced by BFI Vision Award recipients barry crerar with whom she is developing her feature, THE FLAMING HEART with script development finance from BBC Films. BE STILL MY BEATING HEART had its world premiere at the BFI London Film Festival 2019 and was nominated for Best British Short at London Short Film Festival 2020.

Ruth is currently attached to direct an untitled feature project set in Portland, Oregon with producer Linda Reisman (USA) and British writer Deborah Haywood inspired by Peter Rock’s novel, KLICKITAT. With script development and director support financed by Film Four.

She is currently in pre-production on a horror feature, A BANQUET, written by Justin Bull and produced by Leonora Darby, James Harris and Mark Lane of Tea Shop. The script has just won the Filmaka prize for best screenplay, in conjunction with Riverstone films and will begin principal photography in May 2020.

Ruth has directed two blocks of BBC Continuing Drama RIVER CITY, comprising four episodes in total. She is a professional mentor with Raindance’s International MA film students and Associate Lecturer at Screen Academy Scotland working. She makes commercial content with leading Scottish company, Mallinson Television Productions, and is represented by Mark Casarotto of Casarotto Ramsay & Associates.

Creative areas of interest

Psychologial Horror + Mental Health Issues + Psychosexual and Romantic Drama + Fables, Mythology, Legends, Fairytales, Folklore + Death Awareness + Vanitas Theme + Renaissance and Baroque Art + Surrealism + Marilyn Monroe and Hollywood’s Golden Era + Crime Scene Photography + Editorial Fashion + Interior Design + Gothica + Storytelling therapy + Classic Gangster Genre + Cinematic Television + Francis Ford Coppola, Yorgos Lanthimos, Jonathan Glazer, Jane Campion, Jacques Audiard, Cate Shortland

Mentoring strengths

+ Across Short and Feature filmmaking (drama / experimental / music)

Development:

*Seed Idea, Character and Story development

*Packaging (Supporting Documents, STORY & LOOK BOOKS)

*Pitching

Production:

*Visual Storytelling + Production Design

*Casting, Rehearsal, Working with actors

Contact: ruth.paxton@raindance.co.uk

Romana Lakinger-Njari

Writer/Director/Actor

Bio

Romana Carén is an award-winning filmmaker, actress and vocal coach from Vienna, Austria who has been working in theatre, film and TV since the age of eight. After graduating from Camillo Sitte Higher Technical College in Structural Engineering she studied Law and Astronomy at University Vienna.

Romana was trained as an actress at Actors Studio Pallas in Vienna and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London. 

Her theatre credits include the prestigious Burgtheater, Theater in der Drachengasse, MuTH and Das OFF-Theater. Her film and TV credits include Universum History: Margarethe Ottillinger, Heartbeat, Where the Wild Rosés Grow, Baa Baa Black Sheep, SOKO Donau, Carlos, The Pillars of the Earth and Jud Süß.

As a filmmaker her main focus is on writing and directing short and feature films, TV and web series revolving around social issues and day-to-day taboos.

Romana studied film (writing & directing) at the London Film Academy, and graduated with a Master of Arts from University of Staffordshire (Raindance Postgraduate Degree in Film). ​Since 2021 Romana has been working on her PhD, undertaking the practice-led research doctoral training program at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK on Mastering The Art Of Self-Directing in Film or TV.

Over the years Romana has been collaborating with production companies such as Bad Motel Movies , Das Rund, R& Film, Stark Films, Cachinnatus Pictures  and  Independent Works.

Her short films Make A Wish (2010), Where the Wild Roses Grow (2011) and Heartbeat (2012) were screened at Cannes Film Festival (2011-2013). Further, Heartbeat (2013) was in the program of Raindance Film Festivals 2014.

Her film No Mother (2021) has been successfully making the rounds in the international film festival circus garnering her with Best Picture/Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actress awards.

​In collaboration with renowned Swiss director Hanspeter Horne she wrote, directed and edited the experimental film Nüt Nothing Nichts Kahich Nahi Nanimonai (2022). This was followed by the award winning film It Could Have Been Me (2022) about domestic violence pre physical violence, the mockumentary The Mysteries of Wilhelminenberg (2023) and Sherlock Bruce (2024), a satirical metaphor on family relationships.

Romana has been a module leader, academic advisor and mentor with Raindance Film School since 2016 and became the MA Filmmaking Program Leader & Postgraduate Academic Team Lead in 2023.

As a mentor Romana wants to share that no matter where your home base is, a solid skillset, that keeps growing with the demands of an ever-changing industry, allows for universal and collaborative work all over Europe and beyond.

Creative areas of interest
Directing yourself, working with child actors, character driven stories, social issue stories, period drama, improvisation in film, worldwide collaboration independent of home location, script development, incorporating actors in the writing process, transitioning between film and TV, new marketing concepts for film and TV. 

Mentoring strengths
Directing, self-directing, working with actors, working with children, micro-budget filmmaking, short filmmaking, screenwriting for short and feature films as well as TV/web-series, social issue topics, pitching.

 

Bio

Nicolò is a self starter with a degree in film directing from a prestigious UK university and 6 years
of filmmaking experience working commercially in different sizes’ productions.
His passion for film started from a very young age and he gained experience in all areas of film
production working with production companies and on independent projects.
Thanks to his skills, he can work across different departments and thanks to his degree in business
administration he also understand the business side of the craft.
When he is not working he likes to read, to develop ideas for short and long form content and
travels around the world for inspiration.

Viktoria Szemeredy

Director/Screenwriter

Bio

Viktoria is a film director, scriptwriter, psychotherapist and intensive care doctor. In reverse chronological order.
Her past professions helped her develop a diagnostic capability that penetrates the surface and an understanding of deep human emotions.

Built on her previous two degrees (Doctor of Medicine and MA in Psychology), Viktoria completed her MA in screenplay writing and directing at Staffordshire University in 2019.
Her short films, Pintu (2016), Butterfly Daughter (2018), Metaphorms (2019), U up? (2020) were internationally screened awarded. Her latest work, Dividing Line (2021), is in post-production.

Viktoria started to work with Raindance Film School in its MA programme in 2020.

Mentoring areas of expertise:

WRITING
idea development – the basics of storytelling
character development
characters with psychological conditions
crafting synopsis, treatment and script
writing dialogue

DIRECTING
breaking down the script
creating a strong visual world – working with the cinematographer
bringing the best performances out – working with the actors
collaboration with the crew
retelling the story in cuts – working with the editor
strengthening the story with sound or silence – working with the sound designer and composer

Giulia Arcovito

Writer, Story Editor

Bio

As an experienced writer and story editor with a solid and significant career in development for mainstream production companies, I’ve made my mark on projects such as The Good Mothers (Disney+), recipient of the Best Series Award at Berlin International Festival 2023, Everybody Loves Diamonds (Amazon Prime Video), and My Brilliant Friend (Rai – HBO), alongside other internationally distributed tv series and feature films.

Independent at core, I’m currently working on an environmentalist documentary to be released in 2024 and I’m strongly committed to using storytelling to shape and support human consciousness in times of evolution and change.

 

My approach is based on identifying and amplifying the deeper, thematic, emotional, and spiritual dimensions each single story carries within.

Whether in fiction or documentary, I ensure your narrative resonates not only with your audience, but also with the essence of human experience by incorporating the fundamentals of traditional story structure and letting the story and characters be guided by the archetypical authenticity of their Transformational Arc – the hidden, inner journey your characters embark upon while navigating the external events of the plot. 

This arc generates deep resonance in the audience, mirroring universal and archetypical life experiences. Every plotline, every twist, and every turn only truly matter if they lead us to a greater understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

Mentoring strengths

– In-depth story/script analysis and feedback 

– Guidance on character development and emotional resonance

– Tailored advice on thematic integration and narrative depth

– Writers’ room simulation

– Insider hints on the industry’s inner workings / What happens when script meets reality

 

Sean McConville

Writer/Director/Producer

Bio

Sean began his career as a SFX technician on big budget studio films, including Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and James Bond movies GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies. Sean has a Master of Arts Degree in Screenwriting from the London College of Communications (LCC). After graduating LCC Sean moved to Los Angeles to attend UCLA, and graduated in 2004. Sean’s debut feature film as a writer/director/producer, Deadline, starring Brittany Murphy and Thora Birch, showcased at Berlin, Cannes, and the American Film Market in Los Angeles, where it sold for distribution to 40 territories around the world including the U.S. In 2014 Sean produced The Quiet Hour, a micro-budget sci-fi thriller starring Dakota Blue Richards which premiered at the Galway Film Fleah, was nominated Best British Film at Raindance, won Best Film at Kansas City Filmfest, sold to Sky Cinema in the UK and to multiple territories around the world including North-America. Sean is now preparing his next feature film The Last Moon, a contained supernatural horror. He’s a Berlinale Talent and Cannes Producers Network alumnus and was one of the 10 Winners of 4000 entries of Scriptapalooza Competition. He is also a lecturer at University of the Arts London. 

Creative areas of interest

Creative areas of interest include writing, producing, and directing genre films, particularly with Gothic, Supernatural, Tragic, and Romantic elements. Sean’s inspired by the German Expressionism movement and the genre that movement influenced: Film Noir. Consequently, Noseferatu,The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari, and M are among favourite films. As a filmmaker Sean’s influenced by Hitchcock, Polanski, and Kubrick, and by contemporary independent writer/directors who also produce their films, such as Christopher Nolan, Roberto Rodriguez, and Ben Wheatley.

Mentoring strengths

Mentoring strengths would cover all aspects of the film industry, but with particular focus on writing, producing, directing. As a filmmaker who produces as well as writes/directs I can advice on story development, creating business plans, finance plans, budget & schedules, attending film markets and festivals, as well as how to create pre-visualization (pre-viz) elements (concept art, mood boards, proof of concept shorts, etc) that will inspire students to be proactive in their careers.

Stéphanie Joalland

Writer/Director/Producer

Bio

Originally from Brittany in France but now a Londoner, Stéphanie holds an MBA from Audencia Business School and studied filmmaking at UCLA. She began her career at Canal Plus and has extensive experience developing projects for the international market, having worked for a number of years in development for TV coproductions for TF1 and co-created the animated version of VALERIAN for EuropaCorp. Through her UK company Frenzy Films Stéphanie produced her debut feature film THE QUIET HOUR, a sci-fi thriller which starred Dakota Blue Richards, premiered on Sky Cinema in the UK and is available on Netflix all around the world. Her projects have been selected for the European Genre Forum, Sofia Meetings, Frontières, BiFan’s NAFF, BIF Market, Film London PFM, JETS Co-Production Initiative, Bridging the Dragon during Berlinale and BFI New Waves France/UK co-production meetings. Her next production will be THE LAST MOON which is scheduled to go to camera in early 2024. Stéphanie is an alumna of Berlinale Talents and BIFA’s Springboard Scheme. Stéphanie also lectures at NFTS, METFilm School and the University of Cambridge. She is represented by Zero Gravity Management in the U.S.

Creative areas of interest

Story Development – Elevated Genre Films – Hard, Soft, Speculative and Philosophical Science Fiction in cinema and literature – Science and Technology driven films – Supernatural films – Existential and Psychological Horror – Suspense films – Film Noir – Asian Horror – Investgating S. Freud’s concept of The Uncanny – Manipulation of Time and Space in cinema – Creating strong female protagonists – American independent cinema – Studying filmmaking of: Alfred Hitchcock – Jean-Pierre Melville – Roman Polanski – Ridley Scott – Stanley Kubrick – Peter Weir – David Lynch – Christopher Nolan

 Mentoring strengths

  • Script development from idea to final draft for short films, feature films, and TV pilots
  • Development of TV bibles
  • Adapting short stories, novels, and comics for the screen
  • Development of animation projects (script and visuals)
  • Short filmmaking
  • Low-to-no budget film production
  • Project packaging (look book, business plans, previsualization, pitch deck)
  • Director’s preparation work from mood boards, proof-of-concept short films to story-boards.
  • Casting, rehearsal, working with actors and workshopping scenes and scripts with actors
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Stephan Mallmann

Producer

Bio

A graduate in European Business Administration, Stephan Mallmann has extensive experience in film production and sales, in Germany and the UK. In 1989 he started out in a business affairs capacity at Recorded Releasing, a London based distribution and sales company for high quality arthouse films (Wings of DesireWithnail & I etc.).

Stephan subsequently served as Financial Controller at Constantin Film in Munich, one of Europe’s leading film production, distribution and exhibition companies.

In January 1994 he joined Recorded Picture Company in London (The Last Emperor, Sexy Beast, among numerous others), and by 1996 had become a director of the company. In 1998 he worked on the launch of RPC’s sister company, the sales agency Hanway Films (Carol, Brooklyn and hundreds more), of which he is a founding shareholder. In 2001 he was appointed COO of both RPC and Hanway.

During his almost 20 year tenure, he handled the financial structuring of many of RPC’s and HanWay’s projects, including David Mackenzie’s Young Adam, David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method, Wim Wenders’ Pina or Roenning & Sandberg’s Kon-Tiki (the latter two films were Oscar-nominated).

In 2012 he stepped down from his day-to-day roles in RPC/Hanway, and moved back to Germany, as an independent consultant. He retains close links to the group. His most recent credits as an independent producer are on Wim Wenders’ Submergence, Marcus Rosenmüller’s Trautmann and Rupert Everett’s The Happy Prince.

Full credit list on http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1040781/

Creative areas of interest

Stephan’s professional focus is on high-end auteur films (Wenders, Cronenberg etc.), a speciality of RPC and Hanway, and something that is continuing in his independent career. A key relationship is with Wim Wenders, on five of whose films Stephan acted as a producer.

Stephan’s experience as to genre is very broad, mostly quality drama, but also documentaries (PinaGlastonbury etc.), and even children’s animation (Impy’s Island, Happy Family (aka Monster Family), or the upcoming Monster Family 2). 

Mentoring strengths

Best suited for budding producers, directors and writers, which already have a modicum of experience.

Stephan’s key background is in production (not “on set” line production, but development, finance and legal structuring), but due to his work in the management team of a major sales agency, Stephan has a good “feel” for what the international market wants, and an eye for good screenwriting.

Samantha Brockhausen

Editor

Bio

 

Born in São Paulo, Samantha moved to London to pursue a career in cinema. Her early works in Brazil include a script collaboration with Uruguayan feature director, Mauro Baptista, and with the script-writing team on Fernando Meirelles’s ‘City of Men’. In London, Samantha has been involved in experimental and mainstream documentaries and dramas, including Phyllida Lloyd’s ‘The Iron Lady’, Kevin Macdonald’s ‘Life in a Day‘ and ‘Marley‘ and Stephen Frear’s ‘Lay the Favourite’. She has also worked on TV pieces such as BBC3‘s TV series ‘Some Girls’ and Sky Art’s drama ‘Walking the dogs’. Her collaboration with Italian Artist Valentina Lari resulted in the experimental film ‘The Deformity of Beauty’, shot at ‘The Mütter Museum’ (Philadelphia, USA) and awarded best experimental short film at the Amsterdam Film Festival. Graduated in Journalism with post graduation in Semiotics and MA in Film and TV Theory, Samantha’s present interests include scriptwriting, editing, postmodernism, pshychoanalitic film theory and femininity in cinema. Her approach to teaching is one that aims the full development of the student: improvement of the critical thinking, encouragement of the creative potential, and conceptual learning through practical experience.

Contact: samantha.brockhausen@raindance.co.uk

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Zack Winfield

Producer

Bio

In 2003 Zack joined the production team at NDF International, one of the UK’s most successful independent production and financing companies with sixteen Oscar nominations to its credit, working on a wide range of NDF’s development projects including Franco Zeffirelli’s ‘The Florentines’.

 
Then in 2011 Zack, together with two other producers set up Native State, to produce independent film and TV across various genres. Productions include Last Passenger and City of Tiny Lights. A number of projects are currently in development or financing stages with partners both international and at at home.
 
Zack also consults to various companies within the industry, having several years as consultant head of film at Milkwood productions, and acted as production executive for Global Road on the 2018 family Film ‘Showdogs’.
 
Zack is a specialist in film development, working in particular with writers, directors and producers on scripts, sizzle reels, financing and marketing materials to get films ready for the market.
 
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Thomas Rondinella

Award Winning Filmmaker / Editor

Bio
Thomas R. Rondinella is an award-winning independent film maker. He has edited sixteen
feature films (including A Fool and his Money starring Sandra Bullock), written three produced
feature films (All’s Fair starring George Segal and Sally Kellerman, Blades, A Girls’ Guide)
directed three feature films (Blades, A Girls’ Guide and Scrappers) and produced seven feature
films (Against the Spread, Charming Billy, Unholy starring Adrienne Barbeau and Nicholas
Brendon, Morris County, Sankofa, Scrappers and Good Day for It starring Hal Holbrook.). In
addition, he has produced over fifty short films. His films have had national theatrical release,
played in the major United States and international Film Festivals (including American Film
Institute-Los Angeles, Chicago International, Orlando, Northampton, Edinboro, Scotland,
Belfast, Ireland, RioFan in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Ft. Lauderdale) and aired on Cinemax,
HBO, USA Network, Starz, Public Television, Fearnet.com, Netflix and the IFC.
Thomas is president of Catfish Studios which specializes in media production. He produced and
directed the web cooking series, Cooking with Nonna and NJ Today with John McKeon.
In addition, Thomas is Head of Development for Nazz Films based in Santa Barbara, CA. and
Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Thomas (M.F.A, New York University) is also Professor of Media Production at Seton Hall
University in New Jersey USA. 

 

 

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Chris Overton

Director/Producer

Bio

Chris Overton is an Academy Award® winning director/producer, founder of Slick Films and a member of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He began his career as an actor working with directors such as Joel Schumacher and Roman Polanski. 

Chris made his directorial debut with ‘The Silent Child’, for which he received the

Academy Award® for Best Live Action Short, as well as over 50 other international

awards with ‘The Silent Child’ and his second short, ‘Leader’. His 3rd short film ‘In too deep’ is screening at the Oscar® Qualifying Rhode Island and Hollyshorts film festivals in August.

Chris is working in collaboration with Aardman on children’s animation series ‘Libby’s Silent World’, winner of the BFI’s Young Audiences Development Award. He is attached to produce feature films backed by Broadway Cinema and BFI Network.

Chris has also directed commercials. His Huawei Story Sign Christmas campaign, won seven Lions at Cannes, eight One Show awards, three D&ADs and a Grand Prix at Eurobest.

Through his company Slick Films, Chris advocates first time filmmakers in bringing their stories to life.

Mentoring strengths:

short filmmaking

producing

directing

script assessment

 

 

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Fady Gamal Atallah

Director/Producer

Bio

Fady Gamal Atallah (b. 1983) is an Egyptian/Swedish producer and director based in Stockholm.
Coming from an engineering background, Fady studied film at Stockholm Film School and

achieved his MA in filmmaking at Raindance Film School. He is a current PhD candidate in audio-
visual film studies at University of Birmingham in the UK (remote based). Fady implemented

several award-winning short films that have toured worldwide. His works in development have
received grants from bodies like Swedish Film Institute, Doha Film Institute and Sardegna Film
Commission. He also teaches his own module in film in Stockholm.