Creative Lab Hawaii Announces the Selected Mentors and Fellows for Its 2019 Writer, Producer and Web-Series Immersive Programs

Posted on May 30, 2019 in News

For Immediate Release: May 30, 2019


HONOLULU—Creative Lab Hawaii (CLH), founded by the Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic, Development and Tourism (DBEDT)’s Creative Industries Division (CID), has announced the industry mentors and CLH fellows chosen for its competitive 2019 Immersive programs designed for screenwriters, motion picture producers and web-series developers. Additionally, the public is invited to free CLH panels on various aspects of the entertainment business and the creative process, featuring many of the A-list mentors who will be coaching this year’s Immersive participants. Events will be offered on Oahu and Kauai in June.

Since its inception, the CLH media and music programs have resulted in the production of five feature films, with two currently in pre-production; five television series optioned by producers; six web series produced; and over 20 songs licensed by major media studios and streaming services.

“Creative Industries is investing in these talented entrepreneurs, providing a bridge that connects them with award-winning visionaries working in mainstream Hollywood. The CLH immersive, hands-on experience delivers a deeper understanding of the creative process through mentors who are decision makers in the entertainment business today,” said Mike McCartney, Director of DBEDT.

Georja Skinner, division chief DBEDT’s Creative Industries Division and founder of CLH, adds, “It’s exciting to see the growth of our media, music and filmmakers over the past few years and this year’s stellar lineup of mentors offers the community a closer look at the ways to engage in a variety of forms of creative development through CLH public panels. These free sessions provide behind-the-scenes access to decision makers, from leading producers and writers to new media content creators, that are typically only available to industry insiders outside of Hawaii.”

The free public panel discussions, held in conjunction with this year’s CLH Immersive programming, will include:

  • Web-Series Panel Discussion – Wednesday, June 5, 2019 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach. Interested attendees are invited to RSVP online:
  • Screenwriting Panel Discussion – Monday, June 10, 2019 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Kauai Marriott Resort. Interested attendees are invited to RSVP online:
  • Motion Picture Producing Discussion – Monday, June 17, 2019 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Kauai Marriott Resort. Interested attendees are invited to RSVP online:

Through a unique process spearheaded by CLH Executive Director Michael Palmieri, CLH tailors the selection of its Immersive mentors to the needs of the individual Fellows who’ve been accepted into the program—securing those mentors best positioned to foster the Fellows and their specific projects. Fellows are then able to further hone their craft while forming meaningful connections to the entertainment industry. Each program consists of an immersive week, followed by a 12-month coaching program.

This year’s line-up of mentors and Fellows continues the CLH tradition of pairing leading Hollywood creatives and industry professionals with impressive emerging talent that are making waves in the business.

CLH Web-Series Immersive (June 3-7, 2019; Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach)


  • Bernie Su – Bernie is a two-time Primetime Emmy award-winning interactive storyteller, creator, and showrunner. His works include THE LIZZIE BENNET DIARIES, an interactive adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The series won the first Primetime Emmy Award for a YouTube distributed series and was adapted into a novel. He is currently the creator and showrunner of Peabody Award-winning ARTIFICIAL, the first live science fiction series to debut on Twitch.
  • Tony E. Valenzuela – The founder of BlackBoxTV, a genre entertainment studio and YouTube channel dedicated to original series, short films and immersive VR/360 experiences, Tony wrote and directed 2009: A TRUE STORY, nominated for Best Dramatic Web-Series at the first-annual Streamy Awards and featured by legendary horror director, Wes Craven during his Halloween YouTube Takeover. He also directed and co-wrote VERSIONS OF ELLOISE in collaboration with Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro, Legendary Entertainment and YouTube Space LA.
  • Yulin Kuang – A Los Angeles-based screenwriter and director, Yulin is currently writing the comedy feature JADE PALACE for New Line Cinema. She was nominated for a 2019 WGA Award for her work on LOVE DAILY, a romance anthology series for AwesomenessTV (now streaming on Hulu). Yulin created two YouTube channels, YulinisWorking and Shipwrecked Comedy, which have each amassed over 2 million views per channel featuring original scripted web-series and short films.


  • Mary Michelle Baghdady and Stacy Fukuhara-Barclay – Mary is a designer and producer working in Honolulu at the Applied Research Laboratory at UH as a media specialist, collaborating with engineers to conceptualize multi-media projects. She won the Hawaii Filmmakers Collective 2018 pitch and completed her first short film, “Turn On Your Own,” which will screen at the 2019 Made in Hawaii Film Festival. Stacy is an attorney specializing in child-advocacy. She and her husband were 2017 Creative Lab Hawaii Writers Immersive Fellows, and represented Hawaii at the American Film Market where they pitched HI CONFLICT to an audience of over 400 people. Mary and Stacy’s CLH project is LIKE MADDAH, a web-series about a child psychologist who moves back to Hawaii, despite reservations about her meddling family.
  • Jeff Katts – Jeff has worked in the TV and film industry for over 22 years. He is currently the studio/media manager at 1013 Integrated production company and was the original founder of the `Ohina Short Film Showcase. His CLH project, LIFE OF A TELEPORTER: THE JACKIE CLAXTON CHRONICLES, follows the adventures of a local girl who has the power of teleportation and uses it to fight evil and save lives throughout Hawaii.
  • Kisha Milling – Kisha is a SAG-AFTRA actor and screenwriter based in Kailua, HI. She wrote, acted, and produced the gothic horror short, “M.E.R.C.Y.” and dark comedy, “Sri Lanka,” which can be seen on her YouTube channel Mahina Films. On weekends you can catch her tossing glitter, paint and happiness on people though her party entertainment company, Island Girl Face Art. Her CLH project is THE ENTERTAINERS, a dark-comedy web-series that follows the quirky and often misunderstood secret lives of those you hire to “bring the party.”
  • Mitchel Viernes – An independent filmmaker based in Honolulu, Mitchell’s passion for storytelling through film was fostered through his involvement with the media program at Moanalua High School. He continued his education at the University of Waikato in New Zealand, majoring in film studies. His CLH project is OBAKE (a current working title), a dramatic horror web-series that follows a young college student who learns more about her Hawaiian/Japanese heritage when she moves to Hawaii to live with her uncle and cousin and uncovers truths about her family legacy and their connection to the supernatural.

CLH Motion Picture Producers Immersive (June 17-21, 2019; Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club, in partnership with the Kauai Economic Development Board, Kauai Visitors Bureau, Kauai Film Commission, Office of the Mayor and its Economic Development Office, Kauai Economic Development Board, and Kauai Visitors Bureau.


  • Anne Rosellini – A creative producer and writer, Anne runs Still Rolling Productions with director Debra Granik. Together they’ve made acclaimed feature films such as WINTER’S BONE, which was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay and LEAVE NO TRACE (2018), which premiered at Sundance and Director’s Fortnight and was nominated for three Independent Spirit Awards.
  • Mollye Asher – A New York-based producer and multiple Independent Spirit Award nominee, Mollye recently produced Carlo Mirabella-Davis’ SWALLOW (Tribeca 2019) and Chloé Zhao’s THE RIDER (Sony Pictures Classics), which premiered in the 2017 Cannes Directors Fortnight and won its top prize.
  • Rebecca Green – Rebecca is the producer of two of the top-grossing and critically acclaimed independent films of 2015, IT FOLLOWS and I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS, which generated a combined box office total of $30 million worldwide. She most recently produced AND THEN I GO, based on the acclaimed novel Project X by Jim Shepard.
  • Shih-Ching Tsou – Shih-Ching’s latest producing work, THE FLORIDA PROJECT, was chosen by both the National Board of Review and American Film Institute as one of the top 10 films of the year.


  • Zoe Eisenberg – The co-founder and Executive Director of the Made in Hawai’i Film Festival and performing arts company Aerial Arts Hawai’i, Zoe’s filmography includes THROUPLE (2015), ALOHA FROM LAVALAND (2016) and STOKE (2018). Her CLH project, CHAPERONE, is a delayed coming of age dramedy set in Hilo.
  • Jennifer Marcil – An executive producer at 4D Media in Kauai, Jennifer has produced documentaries such as “The Perfect Song” and “Nawiliwili Bay,” as well as short films “Ho’ouluwehi” and “Hihi’o” (HIFF’s Pacific Showcase). Jennifer’s CLH project is a romantic comedy feature, SEXY MAMMAS.
  • Alison Week – Originally from the island of Hawaii, Alison is based in Austin, TX where she is a writer/director/producer. Her latest short film “Petals & Stems” (Or the Impermanent Nature of Beauty, Youth and Love) is currently on a festival run. Her CLH project is her first feature-length motion picture drama, WAVES, centered on a woman who heads to Hawaii to settle the estate of her great aunt with hopes of learning more about her recently deceased mother.
  • Nadya Wynd – A writer/producer/director from Kauai, Nadya created a short film about the sexual exploitation of an actress titled “The Beautiful Illusion.” It was an official selection of the Los Angeles and New York Independent Film Festivals and also aired on PBS. Her CLH feature project, GHOSTS OF THE SINCLAIR PLANTATION, is a supernatural murder mystery set in 1888 on a sugar plantation built on sacred land on Kauai.

CLH Writers Immersive (June 10-14, 2019; Kauai Marriott Resort & Beach Club, in partnership with the Kauai Economic Development Board, Kauai Visitors Bureau, Kauai Film Commission, Office of the Mayor – County of Kauai, and Hoʻike Community Television)


  • Chuck Hayward – Chuck has been a staff writer on the NBC series, ONE BIG HAPPY, and the Fox series, COOPER BARRETT’S GUIDE TO SURVIVING LIFE. In 2016, he had two movies produced, FAT CAMP (available on all on-demand platforms) and STEP SISTERS (streaming on Netflix). He’s currently a Co-Producer on the Netflix series, DEAR WHITE PEOPLE, and a Producer on Marvel’s upcoming series for Disney+, WANDAVISION.
  • Liz Alper – A current writer/producer on the ABC series THE ROOKIE, Liz has worked for such auspices as Dick Wolf (LAW & ORDER and CHICAGO franchises), Peter Lenkov (HAWAII FIVE-0, MACGYVER), David Shore (HOUSE) and David E. Kelley (BIG LITTLE LIES)
  • Jim Uhls – Jim wrote FIGHT CLUB, directed by David Fincher; JUMPER, directed by Doug Limon; and the NBC television film, SEMPER FI, which he produced with Steven Spielberg. Currently, his script, LEVIATHAN is in development at Twentieth Century Fox.
  • Tery Lopez – The Director of Inclusion and Equity at the Writers Guild of America West, Tery worked as part of Moctesuma Esparza’s, Maya Pictures development team, producing 13 episodes of the Sí TV comedy series, CIRCUMSIZED CINEMA. She was also co-producer of the feature film INNOCENT VOICES, which was Mexico’s official entry to the 2005 Academy Awards.


  • Diana T. Black – Diana works fulltime as a spec writer of features, teleplays, and theatrical plays. She’s written, directed, edited and produced her own short film, “The Shoes” and one of her features, GOING ALONE, is optioned by Asian Entertainment Television. Her CLH project, SAVING KEYLAN MILLAR is a one-hour drama/limited-series exploring the dual themes of loyalty and living with the consequences of one’s own actions.
  • Chris Gibbon – Originally from the U.K., Chris first moved to Hawaii in 2004. His CLH project, BREAKWATER, his fifth full length motion picture, is a romantic drama set against the raw beauty of Hawaii.
  • Jessica Hayes and Ku‘ulei Shafee – Jessica is an emerging writer and actress, and Ku‘ulei is an actor, screenwriter, and website content editor. Their CLH project is a character driven fantasy-drama miniseries, BEA’S BAKERY, set in the 19th century and presents elements of a childhood fairytale wrapped in a grounded adult package.
  • Cheyenne Lawes – A filmmaker, actor and dancer from Kaneohe, Cheynne’s creative expertise is in broad to dark comedies with a focus on incorporating strong female characters and diversity. Her CLH project, FOCUS GROUPIES, follows a group of friends from Hawaii as they try to stop the demolition of the last park in their town
  • Alexandria Spell and Orit Tashman – Orit has a varied background in engineering, book publishing, baking and theatre. Alexandria began her career in comedy, acting, and writing in her hometown of Reno, NV. When she moved to Hilo, Hawaii, to pursue a degree in Physics, Alex found her outlet in a creative partnership with Orit. Their CLH project is a half-hour television comedy series called HELLA POOR, following the friendship and struggles of college students who are single mothers and deal with systemic poverty, racism, and patriarchy.

“We are excited about the caliber of emerging creative entrepreneurs that comprise our 2019 media cohorts,” said Executive Director Michael Palmieri. “We are also grateful and humbled by the world-class, award-winning mentors who have chosen to take time out of their busy lives to contribute their expertise, passion, and time to our fellows and programs.”

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About DBEDT (Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism)
DBEDT is Hawaii’s resource center for economic and statistical data, business development opportunities, energy and conservation information, and foreign trade advantages. DBEDT’s mission is to achieve a Hawaii economy that embraces innovation and is globally competitive, dynamic and productive, providing opportunities for all Hawaii’s citizens. Through its attached agencies, the department fosters planned community development, creates affordable workforce housing units in high-quality living environments, and promotes innovation sector job growth.

About CID (Creative Industries Division)
CID, a division within DBEDT, is the state’s lead agency dedicated to advocating for and accelerating the growth of Hawaii’s Creative Economy. Through initiatives, program development, and strategic partnerships, the division and its branches implements activities to expand the business development, global export and investment capacity of Hawaii’s arts, culture, music, film, literary, publishing, digital and new media industries.

About the Creative Lab Hawaii Program
The Creative Lab Hawaii (CLH) Program was founded in 2012 by the Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic, Development and Tourism (DBEDT)’s Creative Industries Division to accelerate the growth of Hawaii’s creative entrepreneurs through immersive, hands-on training in broadband/new media, producing, screenwriting, interactive media, music and design/fashion. The CLH Program, a key facet of Hawaii’s creative economy, is developing an ecosystem to increase export, attract investment and build the State’s creative entrepreneurial capacity in media, music and fashion/design. The CLH Program features three program components: 1) Immersive Programs; 2) Ideation Workshops; and 3) Public Keynotes. Website:

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Media Contacts:

Georja Skinner
Creative Industries Division/DBEDT
Founder, Creative Lab Hawaii
Phone: (808) 291-8073

Charlene Chan
Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism
Phone: (808) 587-9006

Susan Wright and Vianca Cao
Becker Communications, Inc
Phone: (808) 533-4165
Mobile: (808) 799-4293; (808) 798-8873