2017 Grand Jury - 168 Film Project
We are pleased to announce the Grand Jury for 2017. See Full Bios below pictures:
Brian Bird Writer/Producer, THE CASE FOR CHRIST, WHEN CALLS THE HEART
Leilani Downer Writer/Producer, A DIFFERENT WORLD, GROWING PAINS, FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR, Hallmark Channel’s 25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS MOVIE SERIES
Michael Flaherty Co-founder and president of Walden Media, which produced HOLES and three adaptations of THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA
Arthur Rasco Director, FACING DARKNESS by Samaritan's Purse
Kevin Sorbo Actor/Producer HERCULES, THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS, Gene Roddenberry’s ANDROMEDA
Christine Swanson Writer/Director, LOVE UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT: THE MIKI HOWARD STORY
Mike Wech, Writer-Editor, SEVEN-X, ACROSS THE LINE: THE EXODUS OF CHARLIE WRIGHT
FULL JUROR BIOGRAPHIES:
Brian Bird is a Writer-Producer of film and TV and a distinguished member of the 168 Film Board. He is the Writer of the recent Lee Strobel story, THE CASE FOR CHRIST, and Writer-Producer of WHEN CALLS THE HEART, now in it’s 5th season. Brian's 30plus-year career in Hollywood includes writing and producing 2013 feature film, CAPTIVE, the true story of the 2005 Atlanta hostage crisis, GAMETIME for NBC (2012), NOT EASILY BROKEN, adapted from the novel by T.D. Jakes, for Sony/Screen Gems (2009); THE CONFESSION (2013) and THE SHUNNING (2011) for Sony Affirm, SAVING SARAH CAIN (2008) and THE LAST SIN EATER (2007) for (20th Century Fox 2007), CALL ME CLAUS (2003) for Sony, and BOPHA! (1993) for Paramount, along with 250 episodes of network TV, including TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL and STEP BY STEP and EVENING SHADE.
Leilani Downer is a Writer, Producer, Director. She is credited as a Producer on HANGIN’ WITH MR COOPER, FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR, SISTER, SISTER and REWIND for FOX. She has written for A DIFFERENT WORLD, and GOOD NEWS FOR ED. She was Executive Story Editor on GROWING PAINS, and has sold and written pilots for ABC, FOX and NBC. She recently wrote MERRY MATRIMONY, a television movie for the Hallmark Channel’s 25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS series. Leilani’s directorial debut, THE ARRANGEMENT is a romantic comedy short, which she also wrote. After production, Leilani was hired to write and direct for Hollywood Casting and Film Company. She has written many independent films from comedy to sci-fi.
Michael Flaherty is the co-founder and president of Walden Media, a production company which focuses on films that entertain and educate. The company's notable releases include HOLES in 2003, BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE for Twentieth Century Fox in 2005, HOW TO EAT FRIED WORMS and CHARLOTTE'S WEB in 2006, and BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA, in 2007, as well as three adaptations of THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA in 2005, 2008 and 2010. Michael has developed educational materials and programs that build enthusiasm in the classroom and connect learning to entertainment. He designed the curriculum and taught for the Steppingstone Magnet Program for students in the worst public school cluster in Boston. His curriculum resulted in more than 1000% troubled school district admissions to Boston’s elite schools. He is currently working on the Epiphany Story Lab, a new venture, which teaches kids how to tell stories.
Arthur Rasco is the director and one of the producers of the award-winning documentary feature film, Facing Darkness, which was in theaters nationwide this Spring. He has written, directed, and produced dozens of PSAs, television spots, and videos promoting the work of Samaritan’s Purse around the world. In 2008 and 2009, he produced a seven-part reality series about the Children’s Heart Project as he followed three children from Mongolia who came to the U.S. for life saving open-heart surgery. Over the last 15 years, he has produced work in more than 27 countries, including the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan and Haiti following the destructive earthquake of 2010.
Kevin Sorbo is a producer, director and an international star of TV and Film. Lead roles in HERCULES, THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS and as Captain Dylan Hunt in Gene Roddenberry’s ANDROMEDA, made him the most watched TV star in the world at the time. Among his many film roles, Kevin has starred in SOUL SURFER and he played the iconic, atheist teacher in the $2 million GOD’S NOT DEAD, which became the most successful independent, faith-based movie ever, grossing over $100 million in sales. He also starred in WHAT IF, for which he received the Movie Guide Award for Best Actor/Most Inspirational Performance. Kevin was both director and actor in LET THERE BE LIGHT, due in theaters in fall of 2017. He will also direct and act in HOME OF THE BRAVE, shooting in fall of 2017. Kevin recently served as the “Voice of God” on the BreatheBible.com reading of The New Testament, featuring ninety actors, full orchestra and sound effects. Kevin’s book TRUE STRENGTH chronicles his near death experience, after suffering three strokes. His follow up book, TRUE FAITH due at Christmas 2017. Kevin leads A World Fit for Kids (WFIT), the number one after school program in California. WFIT is a successful mentoring program that trains inner-city teens to achieve in school, fitness and sports by using positive role models.
Christine Swanson is an award-winning writer-director. She has written and/or directed TWO SEASONS (winner HBO Short Film Competition, Sundance selection), ALL ABOUT YOU (Audience Choice Award Chicago Film Festival, Grand Jury Prize Hollywood Black Film Festival, Festival Award at the Pan African Film Festival and the Film of the Year Award at The Santa Barbara African Heritage Film Series); ALL ABOUT US (official selection at Heartland Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival and the Cannes Festival du Film Panafricain); and WOMAN THOU ART LOOSED (Santa Barbara Int’l Film Festival and Audience Award at the American Black Film Festival). She directed three original cable movie premieres for TV One entitled, TO HELL AND BACK starring Ernie Hudson and Vanessa Bell Calloway, the TV One record breaking biopic LOVE UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT: THE MIKI HOWARD STORY starring Teyonah Parris, Darius McCrary and Gary Dourdan; and FOR THE LOVE OF RUTH for which she received a NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Directing in a Television Motion Picture. Christine is a professor for the University of Georgia’s MFA Screenwriting Program and an advisor to the Film and Television program at the University of Notre Dame.
Mike Wech has over 25 years of entertainment experience as an author and filmmaker. He is currently developing next generation, immersive 3D Apps and Virtual and Augmented Reality Experiences including a franchise based on his International Best Selling novel, SEVEN-X. Mike has lent his talents writing, editing and post producing to many feature films including BEYOND THE MASK, DEAD DROP, THE EXODUS OF CHARLIE WRIGHT, SOUTH DAKOTA and THE MOMENT AFTER 2; as well as TV series DRUG WARS, LIFE MATTERS, FBI CRIMINAL PURSUIT, THE NATIONAL BIBLE BEE GAME SHOW and GOOD SAMARITANS. Mike has also created branded entertainment for fortune 500 companies.