Tom Heller is an executive and producer.
Most recently, he is an Executive Producer on the true crime drama and Oscar-nominated film "Foxcatcher," directed by Bennett Miller ("Moneyball") and starring Channing Tatum, Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo. He acquired the original life rights to the story and brought Bennett Miller on board the project.
For the last seven years, he ran Everest Entertainment, a New York City-based production and financing company that developed award-winning, high-quality film projects that address important and sometimes difficult issues. He joined the company at its inception in 2008.
At Everest, Heller brought in, oversaw and produced the following projects: the coming-of-age drama "Mud," written and directed by Jeff Nichols ("Take Shelter") and starring Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon and Michael Shannon, which was distributed by Lionsgate Roadside Attractions in April 2013; the comedic-drama "Win Win," written and directed by Tom McCarthy ("The Visitor") and starring Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan and Jeffrey Tambor, which was distributed by Fox Searchlight in the spring of 2011; Danny Boyle’s ("Slumdog Millionaire") survival drama "127 Hours," starring James Franco, which was nominated for six Academy Awards and distributed by Fox Searchlight in the fall of 2010; the mother-daughter relationship drama, "Mother & Child," directed by Rodrigo Garcia ("Nine Lives") starring Annette Bening, Naomi Watts, Samuel L. Jackson and Kerry Washington that Sony Pictures Classics released in the spring of 2010.
Prior to Everest, he was an Executive Producer on the Oscar-winning "Precious, Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"; a Producer on "Monogamy," which was distributed by Oscilloscope; and an Executive Producer on "Tennessee," which was distributed by Vivendi Universal.
He is currently producing an adaptation of the best-selling novel BOY21 by author Matthew Quick (Silver Linings Playbook), which will be directed by Lasse Hallstrom ("What’s Eating Gilbert Grape," "Cider House Rules").
Heller began his career at ICM and has held positions at Lee Daniels Entertainment and Miramax Films and as a motion picture literary agent at Writers and Artists Agency. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and holds an MBA from Columbia University.
Ya’Ke Smith, known for his unflinching and veracious style of storytelling, is a rising voice in independent cinema.
His films have received worldwide acclaim, screening and winning awards at more than 80 film festivals. He has been honored by The Director’s Guild of America, the Student Academy Awards, HBO, Showtime and the City of Buffalo, New York, which proclaimed February 23, 2013, as Ya’Ke Smith Day.
His short film "Katrina’s Son" screened at more than 40 film festivals and won 14 awards. The film was also eligible for the 2012 Academy Award in short film-making. His debut feature, "Wolf," which NPR called “an impressive piece by a young director,” premiered at the SXSW Festival and has gone on to screen and win awards at festivals across North America. The film is now available for download via several Video-on-Demand outlets. His latest short, "dawn.", will make its broadcast premiere in February of 2015 on HBO.
Ya’Ke has been featured on NPR, CNN, HLN, Ebony Online, Indiewire, Filmmaker Magazine and Shadow&Act.
Ya’Ke graduated with his B.A. from the Communication Arts Department at the University of The Incarnate Word and received his M.F.A. from the University of Texas at Austin’s film program. He is currently the Morgan Woodward Distinguished Professor of Film at the University of Texas at Arlington.
Margaret Brown is a producer and director widely known for her award-winning documentaries.
Her third feature, "The Great Invisible," premiered at the 2014 SXSW Film Festival where it won the Documentary Competition's Grand Jury Prize. Radius-TWC distributed the film to rave reviews in the fall of 2014. Brown received the 2010 Peabody Award for her second documentary feature, "The Order of Myths." The film also received the Truer Than Fiction Award at the 2009 Independent Spirit Awards and was nominated for Best Documentary.
Previously, Brown was the recipient of the Cinematic Vision Award at the 2008 Silverdocs Film Festival and won the 2008 Grierson Sheffields Youth Jury Award. She has been nominated for four Cinema Eye awards, including Best Documentary and Best Director. Brown’s first feature was the acclaimed documentary "Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt," which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and received worldwide theatrical distribution. Brown is the recipient of a 2012 United States Artists fellowship.