Michael Taylor has 35 years experience in the media and entertainment industry, served as Chair of Film and Television Production at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts for 10 years, and currently serves as Executive Director of USC’s Media Institute for Social Change. Taylor also maintains an active career as a producer of theatrical and television films. He produces within the studio system as well as in the independent film arena. Mr. Taylor’s credits include Last Embrace, Bottle Rocket, Phenomenon, The Hi-Line, Instinct, The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper, Mrs. Munck, Princess of Thieves, Phenomenon II, The Commuters, and Copying Beethoven.
Among other honors, Taylor is the recipient of an Emmy Award, the National Board of Review Award, the Fourteenth Annual Genesis Award for Outstanding Feature Film, the Santa Clarita International Film Award for best Tele-Feature, the Variety/EDI $100 Million Award and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Executive Director and Founder, USC Media Institute for Social Change at USC School of Cinematic Arts
After winning a student Emmy for technical achievement in 2005 for a local public service announcement, John Berardo ventured to California to begin his career as a director. Before starting the Cinema Production MFA program at USC, John graduated Magna Cum Laude from UCLA with a BA in Theatre directing and playwriting. During his time at USC, John has directed, written, and produced a number of short films and projects for CBS, Disney, Vimeo, MTV, a fresh artist Subway webseries, and for non-profit organizations such as the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and True Spark. John recently directed Strings, produced by James Franco as part of a feature anthology. The Labyrinth is set to release in 2015. After graduating USC, John co-founded the production company, Shatterproof Films, which is currently writing, directing, and producing music videos and commercials with plans for television and feature development and production.
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Sara Fenton is a Groundlings and Meisner trained multi-hyphenate (dancer-actor-writer-filmmaker) originally from Toronto, Canada. Her love of dance prompted her move to Los Angeles where she caught the acting bug. A graduate of Ryerson University's RTA program, Fenton got her start in production as the coordinator for the documentary series Canadian Geographic Presents... and has since brought to the stage Take me to the Poorhouse, Rise and Shine [I thought I was White] and the monthly storytelling series Rant and Rave.
Throughout her career, Sara Fenton worked with dance, theatre, and film as tools for fostering change. At Diavolo Dance Theatre, she used dance to instill trust and build teams. At the Gabriella Axelrad Foundation, she used art to teach character and reinforce concepts learned in other subjects. While producing Take Me to the Poorhouse, Fenton partnered with NGO Mama Hope in its efforts to reshape the narrative of African children portrayed to the western world, portraying them as individuals with relatable hopes and dreams.
Sara is an alumnus of the Directors Lab West at Pasadena Playhouse, a company member at Rogue Machine Theatre, and a writer for Backstage.com
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A journalist, researcher, lecturer and filmmaker, Jenna Cavelle brings over fifteen years of experience in multi-media communication with an emphasis on environmental issues within marginalized communities to the USC Media Institute for Social Change. Her work has been published both domestically and internationally in prominent academic journals, magazines, newspapers, and she has lectured and presented her research at UC Berkeley, Stanford University, the California Environmental Protection Agency, and at various government institutions in Indonesia. Cavelle graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BS in Environmental Science, Policy & Management from the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently an MFAc in Film & Television Production at USC's School of Cinematic Arts, an Annenberg Graduate Fellow, Stronach Baccalaureate Prize Recipient, and served as a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholar at Malang State University in East Java, Indonesia. She speaks fluent Indonesian.
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Miriam Arghandiwal is a former conflict reporter turned filmmaker from the Bay Area, California. During her time reporting for Thomson Reuters, Miriam focused on human rights issues and her articles monitored Afghanistan’s governing of women and caused numerous NATO countries to change their conditions of aid to Afghanistan in order to ensure the protection of women.
Miriam is a graduate of California State University, Sacramento’s political science program. After graduating she spent time working in the California State Capitol, where she researched and developed early legislature bills for California’s Contra Costa County.
Miriam has mentored young artists in developing countries and ran successful multilingual marketing campaigns to promote artistic platforms for oppressed youth to express themselves.