Break Thru Films is the production company headed by Emmy nominated directors, writers, and producers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg. Break Thru Film's productions include the Emmy nominated "Joan Rivers - A Piece of Work" directed by Ricki Stern, and co-directed by Annie Sundberg, which premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival where it won the US Documentary Prize for Best Editing.
They were commissioned by Vogue to direct the new six-part series “The Fashion Fund” which premiered in January 2012 on Hulu. The original series follows 10 hopeful designers on their journey to win the influential Vogue/CFDA Fashion Fund award.
Additional television projects include a two-hour special, “Secret Access: UFOs Off The Record” (2011) for the History Channel and a new pilot about to go into production for the National Geographic Channel on the mail order bride industry. They are expanding their work into short form, multi-media and other commercial projects, including the recent Human Rights Campaign spots for Marriage Equality, a comedic short for Kenneth Cole that premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, and a commissioned piece for the GE/Cinelan Focus/Forward film series. Their next project takes them into multi-media territory with a series of short films created for the Sundance/Skoll Stories of Change initiative, focused on the innovative anti-poverty and education program YouthBuild.
Their recent film "Burma Soldier” premiered on HBO in May 2011, and tells the story of a former junta member and Burmese soldier who risks everything to become a pro-democracy activist. "Burma Soldier" was nominated for a 2011 Irish Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary, and was the centerpiece screening at the 2011 Full Frame Festival in North Carolina, where Ricki and Annie received the Career Achievement Award.
Annie and Ricki directed the 2008 Emmy and Gotham nominated documentary feature "The Devil Came On Horseback,” and their 2007 Emmy nominated feature "The Trials of Darryl Hunt" won over twenty film festival audience awards, the Columbia DuPont award, and was a Spirit Award nominee for Best Documentary, airing on HBO. Annie and Ricki are well known for producing and creating critically acclaimed documentaries and are sought after for their experience in directing dynamic personal journeys close to home, as well as mounting large international productions in challenging locations.
Accomplished writers and directors in their own right, Ricki and Annie are the leading creative forces behind Break Thru Film's productions and are known for crafting deft and cinematic journeys through unexpected territory. Each project tracks new landscape – from criminal injustice in the American South, to Darfur, to stand up comedy and celebrity culture – but all are centered on unforgettable people and their most human experiences.
In 2009, Annie and Ricki received a Sundance/Skoll "Stories of Change" production grant to support a feature film about the innovative education and anti-poverty program YouthBuild. Their new short for the Sundance Institute / Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) was recently released as part of the BMGF focus on the United Nations' Millennium Goals. They have been recognized with A Lifetime Achievement Award from Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, the Best Female Filmmakers Award-San Diego Film Festival, Adrienne Shelly Excellence in Filmmaking Award and Lena Sharpe/Women in Cinema Persistence of Vision Award–Seattle International Film Festival.
Dan Cogan is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Impact Partners, a fund and advisory service for investors and philanthropists who seek to promote social change through film.
Since its inception in 2007, Impact Partners has been involved in the financing of over 35 films, including: THE COVE, which won the 2010 Academy Award for Documentary Feature; FREEHELD, which won the 2008 Academy Award for Documentary Short Film; THE GARDEN, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Documentary Feature in 2009; and HELL AND BACK AGAIN, which won the Documentary Grand Jury Prize and Cinematography Award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Documentary Feature in 2012.
Mr. Cogan has spoken on documentary film and film finance at film festivals, conferences and classes around the world, including The Sundance Film Festival, The Toronto Film Festival, Silverdocs, Hot Docs, The Tribeca Film Festival, the IFP’s Independent Film Week, Film Independent’s Filmmaker Forum, and Columbia University. Mr. Cogan received his B.A. from Harvard University, Magna Cum Laude, and attended the Film Division at Columbia University's Graduate School of the Arts.
Christine Schomer is a writer and producer based in New York City. She won three Emmy Awards as a producer on the nationally syndicated Warner Brothers’ talk show, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”, and has worked on television talk shows dating back to the early 90’s. She has worked as a producer for David Letterman, the late broadcaster Tom Snyder, and filmmaker Michael Moore, among others. Schomer began her career in television as a researcher, where she first conceived of the idea for a documentary about the knuckleball. She has written articles and stories for MSNBC, Salon.com, Filmmaker Magazine, and the online literary journal, McSweeneys. Schomer is a co-founder and the former Executive Director of the Newport International Film Festival in Newport, Rhode Island, a critically acclaimed regional film festival where she oversaw fundraising, event production and programming. A graduate of Duke University, she is married and is raising two young daughters in Brooklyn. She grew up in Rhode Island as a diehard Red Sox fan, but thanks to RA Dickey, she has forgiven the Mets for 1986.
Neil Barsky is currently directing How Am I Doing?, a feature-length documentary about former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, scheduled for completion this summer.
He has had a varied career in the fields of journalism and finance. Between 1984 and 1993, he was an award-winning newspaper reporter, working for the New York Daily News and the Wall Street Journal. In 1993, he embarked on a career in finance, and served as an equity research analyst in the areas of real estate, casinos and hotels for Morgan Stanley. Neil next went on to build two hedge fund businesses, Midtown Capital and Alson Capital Partners, before retiring from the financial world in 2009.
In 2009, Neil taught economics at Oberlin College. He sits on the board of trustees at Oberlin College, and on the board of directors of Youth Communication. He is also the Chairman of the Columbia Journalism Review's Board of Overseers.
William T. Conway is a veteran writer and producer of feature films and prime time television series. His writing credits include “Matlock”, “Walker Texas Ranger” and “Miami Vice”, for which he co-wrote the final episode. In addition to “Knuckleball” Mr. Conway has recently been an Executive Producer on “Another Happy Day” starring Ellen Barkin, Ellen Burstyn and Demi Moore, and writer/director Richard Linklater’s “Bernie”, starring Shirley MacLaine, Jack Black and Mathew McConaghey.
Morgan Spurlock is a New York based writer, director and producer. His first film, Super Size Me, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004 and won him Best Directing honors. The film went on to win the inaugural Writers Guild of America best documentary screenplay award as well as garner an Academy Award nomination for best feature documentary. Since then he has directed, produced and distributed multiple film and TV projects, including the critically acclaimed FX television series, “30 Days,” and the films Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden, Confessions of a Superhero, Czech Dream, Chalk, The Future of Food, What Would Jesus Buy?, and Freakonomics.
In 2010 Morgan was nominated for a primetime Emmy Award as well as a Writer’s Guild Award for The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special: In 3-D! On Ice!. His film The Greatest Movie Ever Sold and its accompanying TED talk explore the world of product placement and advertising, while being completely funded by product placement and advertising. The film premiered at Sundance 2011 and was the first film to sell.
Currently Morgan is in post-production on his next feature documentary Comic-Con Episode Four: A Fan’s Hope.
Charles Miller works as a Director of Photography in both motion and still mediums. He has done work domestically and internationally for commercial clients such a Vogue, Google, Target, The History Channel, NatGeo and the BBC. Charles has also worked with various NGOs whose subjects vary from the victims of the civil war in Uganda to hurricane relief efforts in Haiti. Charles' first feature documentary, "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work" was an official selection at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and he also had two films ("Knuckleball!" and "CatCam") premiere at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival. Charles is based in Brooklyn, NY and cannot throw a knuckleball.
Pax Wasserman is a New York-based editor and producer with 20 years experience in feature films, television and documentaries. His work includes Full Battle Rattle (dir: Tony Gerber and Jesse Moss), as well as the Sally Mann film What Remains (dir: Steven Cantor), and Amish teen documentary Devil's Playground (dir: Lucy Walker). An Emmy award winner for his 2002 film Willie Nelson: Still is Still Moving, he also edited Which Way Home (dir: Rebecca Cammisa), which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2009 for best feature documentary. A graduate of the UC Santa Barbara Film Studies program, he lives in Brooklyn with his wife Sashy Bogdanovich and their two sons.
Paul Brill's compositions for numerous award-winning films, TV series, NPR program themes, and several acclaimed CDs of original and innovative songwriting show that youthful adventures as an herbal smokes salesman, street performer, valet, corporate errand boy, and a marine biology instructor can server the creative spirit well.
Paul has received 3 EMMY AWARD nominations for his film work. Young American Recordings recently released his soundtrack to the HBO film, “The Trials of Darryl Hunt,” curated by Brill, featuring selections from his score and contributions from Andrew Bird, M. Ward, Califone, and Dead Prez, among many others. Paul recently won the 2011 Best Music Award from the International Documentary Association for his score for the film, “Better this World.”
Brill recently collaborated with Rock legends, U2, on the HBO film, “Burma Soldier,” composing a new string arrangement for an acoustic version of their classic song, “Walk On.” He scored the hit film, “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work,” the recently released “Page One: Inside the NY Times,” as well as Christy Turlington Burns’ directorial debut, “No Woman, No Cry,” on which he collaborated with songwriter Martha Waignwright, and the film adaptation of the best-selling book, “Freakonomics.”