Chelsea O’Connor studied acting at the University of Michigan, and shortly after ran off to New York City. She spent 4 years in New York performing classical theatre and new plays, both regionally and off-broadway, as well as creating original work with the cutting-edge performance art collective PanoplyLab. But when the feature film Bilal’s Stand went to Sundance in 2010, showcasing Chelsea’s first film role, she was enveloped with a love of cinema, and she moved to sunny Los Angeles. Since moving to LA, Chelsea has studied with The Groundlings, produced a monthly short film festival Shorts-N-Stuff, and began writing and producing her own sketches and short films under the name ChelseaOCO films. Her first sketch Waitress Rap, premiered on the front page of Funny or Die for an entire week and currently has over 30,000 views across all platforms. Chelsea went back to the theatre to develop and direct the one-woman show Beautiful Country by Kristin Miles Palmer which had a successful two week run at the Lounge Theatre in Los Angeles. Her first official short film The Opportunity Office premiered at the Sarasota Film Festival and enjoyed some local Sarasota Press. Chelsea looks forward to the production of Susie Sunshine with much anticipation and excitement! www.ChelseaOCO.com
Jessica has been finding new ways to tell stories since she was a child. She has acted on stage and in film since she was a teenager. She attended Fordham University at Lincoln Center in New York City. She starred in many productions regionally and Off-Broadway including Colonial Theatre’s (RI) production of Shakespeare’s “Two Gentlemen of Verona”, a national tour, and numerous Off-Broadway shows at theatres including “The Cherry Lane,” “The Connelly Theatre” “Chashamas Space” and “IRT”. She continued to direct in New York, with the play “It’s My Party” by Susan Middaugh at Theatre 54, and “D&D Forever” by Tawny Sorenson in the short play lab at Where Eagles Dare. While living in Brooklyn and studying at UCB she wrote, directed, and produced a pilot web series Unker and Physia trying her own hand at zany comedy. This work with the camera springboarded her recent migration to Los Angeles where she has directed two short films which she co-wrote that are coming out this spring, 2015; a comedy Love’s Outer Limits, and a drama A Quiet Song. While working as an actress in LA, she can been seen on screen and on the stage. Most recently starring in Reanimator: The Musical, directed by Stuart Gordon, The Max Factor Factor a new musical at the NoHo Arts Center, and a co-star on Showtime’s hit series Masters of Sex. She also stars in two feature films now making their way through the festival circuit, Pull Away, and Courting Chaos, which has already garnered five awards including “Best Comedy” at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival. Jessica has another web series coming out this winter and is slated to direct season two of the award winning web series, Not It this winter as well! For more on her visit: www.JessicaHowell.com
Elizabeth Engle is very excited to be joining #TeamSusie! She studied acting with Susie Sunshine Writer/Director/Producer Chelsea O’Connor at the University of Michigan, but soon discovered her passion was on the other side of the camera, developing and producing projects for film.
She began her career in entertainment working for the COO of major talent and literary agency International Creative Management (ICM), which represents clients in film, television, music, publishing, etc. Following ICM, she segued into a more creative role working at Bluegrass Films (Ted, Identity Thief), where her duties ranged from tracking and developing projects to discovering and bringing in new material to the company, in addition to creatively contributing and working on projects in production including Safehouse starring Denzel Washington. Transitioning to a position that would bring her closer to the action, she worked on the Universal Studios motion picture, Endless Love, supporting film director Shana Feste on set and throughout post production.
Elizabeth now works at Original Film, production company behind the Fast and Furious franchise, 21/22 Jump Street and the upcoming Goosebumps big screen adaptation. Utilizing all of her past skills, she brings a passionate drive and strong network base to the job, constantly seeking out up and coming talent, writers, and directors, and pursuing available properties and new content for the company to develop and produce. Next gearing up for production for Elizabeth is Hunter Killer, with Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) attached to direct.
Upon reading SUSIE SUNSHINE, she was immediately drawn to Susie’s fearless persona, the unique world in which women generate the world’s most necessary resources and the vast underlying meaning and countless possible interpretations jumping off just 15 pages. Elizabeth is thrilled to collaborate with such an inspiring team to bring this world to life!
Marisa Ruby is an actress, writer, and producer, based in Los Angeles, but originally from Detroit, Michigan. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is also an alumni of The University of California, Los Angeles’ Theatre Intensive training and Interlochen Center for the Arts. Marisa currently studies acting in Los Angeles with Caitlin Adams at The Acting Lab and at Lesly Kahn Co.
Her acting credits include TV: Detroit 1-8-7, The Wannabees Starring Saavy, and Summer of Shame. FILM: The Firefly Catcher (multiple festivals and awards including Best Actress), Breakaway (Cannes 2013), The Art of Power (Ann Arbor Film Festival), World of Art, Family Justice, Silverlake, and Jingle the Clown. THEATRE: “Crimes of the Heart,” “Six Degrees of Separation,” “The Crucible,” and “Cabaret.”
Marisa has written and produced two projects. The first was her comedic webseries, Retail Therapy, which she also starred in. And most recently her short film, The Firefly Catcher, starring Marisa alongside John Billingsley. The film is currently touring the festival circuit including the Beverly Hills Film Festival and the Women’s International Film & Arts Festival in Miami. The film has already garnered notoriety and accolades with multiple festival awards including Best Narrative Short Film, Best Actor – John Billingsly, and Best Actress – Marisa Ruby.
Marisa is also a dancer of 25 years, proficient in many types including contemporary, jazz, ballet, tap, and lyrical. In 2003, Marisa founded the dance company PURE Dance Extreme. Currently, Marisa has multiple projects in development for digital media, television, and film. She is ecstatic to join #teamsusie as a co-producer and actress, working with these three amazingly strong, smart, talented women whose work she so admires.
Colin Oh – Director of Photography
Colin Oh was born in New York and grew up in Princeton, New Jersey. He has been surrounded by art since birth, his mother being a trained painter and his father being a still photographer. He graduated from Drexel University in 2008 and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in cinematography. He is an alumnus of the prestigious American Film Institute Conservatory with a M.F.A in cinematography. He has shot many narrative films and music videos that have gone the festival circuit. Colin’s work has also been featured on MTV UK, Huffington Post, Nylon, and The View. For 2013-2014, he was chosen to be a Cinematographer for Film Independent’s Project Involve. While at Project Involve, Colin has been receiving 1-on-1 mentorship from Eric Steelberg, ASC. A true believer that the next project is his greatest, Colin is always looking towards the horizon for unique and interesting stories to tell. www.colinoh.com
Lena Sands – Costume Designer
Lena Sands is a costume designer, collage and puppet artist and scenographer. Her recent work includes designing costumes for the US premiere of Paradise by Design by Davíd Gaitan, and directed by Mexican director, Martín Acosta. Her film work includes the best comedy winning feature, Chasing Taste (Burbank International Film Festival, Manhattan Film Festival), large sculptural puppet costumes for Why Aren’t you Watching the Children and paper costumes for 99c Tuxedo, both of which are currently in post production. She also designed the costumes for ongoing performances of The Equus Projects, JoAnna Mendl Shaw’s dance company that creates site-specific works partnering dancers with horses. She was the assistant designer to Elizabeth Clancy for the development and national tour of A Christmas Story: the Musical. Lena’s work has been seen at REDCAT, Remy Bumppo, The Women’s Interart Center, The Irish Art Center, Trap Door Theater, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, The Julliard Drama School, and at film festivals nationally.
She has worked with and learned from diverse guest artists including Claudio Valdéz Kuri, Brooke O’Harra, Kay Maschullat and Guillermo Gomez- Peña. She also studied Narrative and Immersive Environments with Joe Rohde, the creator of Animal Kingdom, as part of her explorations on activating publics in performative contexts. She is inspired by performance’s capacity to question, incite and excite as global matters increasingly influence our lives. Lena holds her MFA in Design for Performance from California Institute of the Arts. lenasands.com
Betsy Tsai grew up mostly in Silicon Valley, California, and for some years in Brussels, Belgium. Her engagements with visual art, creative writing, and music compelled her to pursue the art of motion pictures at the University of California, Los Angeles. She graduated with a degree in Film, TV, & Digital Media, but also studied English Literature and International Conflict Resolution. As a student, she worked extensively with The Olive Tree Initiative, an education non-profit that takes a direct, multi-perspective to studying the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She has traveled to the region twice, and has since then directed her thesis film inspired by her impressions. She is now a freelance narrative and documentary filmmaker, currently developing a documentary about adapting narratives of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. betsyrtsai.com
Brent Mason – Production Designer
Born and raised in Perth Western Australia where at a young age was inspired by theater and cinema. After graduation at Edith Cowan Academy of Performing Arts, studying in Production and Design he realized that there was little film or theater in Perth and endeavored to travel to America where he has perused both theater and film from New York to Los Angeles.
Feature film Art Direction and Production Design credits include The Hive, Wish you were Here, Opus, Free Enterprise, The Other Country, Dean Quixote, Young Again, Breathing Underwater and The Memphians. Short film include, Multi award winning Short Catching Fireflies, Multi Award winning Short, The Sleepover, Grow, The Labyrinth, Jaya, Graveyard Fiction, The Volunteer Door to Door, Ghild, Cleve Dixon: Terrible Detective, Dick and Bob , Killing Vivian and James Gunn’s web series PG Porn and Sparky and Mikaela and HD Films Real Kids. http://bmasonsetdesigner.smugmug.com/
Jase Lindgren grew up in Seattle and Iowa and is excited to be part of the Susie Sunshine team.
Jase graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music as music composition major with an emphasis in film scoring. He also studied Russian language and lived abroad in Russia for a year working in media relations for a non-profit before moving to Los Angeles.
Jase moved to Los Angeles in 2009 to pursue a career in film production. Very quickly he began apprenticing for Jason Axinn as a visual effects artist and has gone on to work on a wide variety of projects in many genres. Most recently he has worked on shows such as The Good Wife, Outlander, Battle Creek, the award-winning web series’ Starpocalypse and The Super Heroines, as well as several Funny or Die front-page videos.
With his production company, Reel Filming, and his post-production company, Argonaut Creations, Jase continues to work in Visual Effects as a supervisor and artist while building his network of other talented artists. A strong focus on continuing education is fundamental to Jase’s success and he continues to attend trainings and work with industry experts to stay on top of the latest developments in production and post-production technology and techniques. Jase also hosts a podcast and is currently in pre-production for a feature film.