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Student Filmmakers

Lindsey Black—Editor
portrait lindsey black…was born in Des Moines, Iowa. At the age of 2 her parents divorced. When Lindsey reached the age of 3 her mother remarried. She moved with her mom, step-dad and older brother to Mesa, Arizona in 1987 where she started first grade. Lindsey grew up trying different things such as swimming, soccer, cheerleading, and writing for the yearbook. Nothing really clicked with her until her Senior year in her DECA (Business Class) Club when she had to come up with a business proposal. From what little knowledge she knew on the computer, she decided she could start a graphic design business and be her own boss. She likes to be driven into a direction and then take things on as her own without people watching over her shoulder. This was the ideal thing to do. About 6 months after her high school graduation in 1999 she was engaged to be married. Her parents were not happy with the decision and made her wait a year and a half. The vows took place in March 2001. Five years later, Lindsey and her husband James have two beautiful boys, Jett and Santana. During these five years while starting a family, Lindsey was attending Mesa Community College studying graphic design, specifically Web design. She started a business from her home called Spun By Black Web Design, LLC. With the knowledge she gained, she was able to manage many clients. The last class she took to receive her Associate degree was digital film editing. At that point, she knew she wanted to work in the film industry. She continued going to school to learn more about film. There was no degree offered at that time, just classes. A degree was not important to her; the knowledge to be able to work on something by herself was what was important. Lindsey is breaking away from her Web business, hoping to move on in her film career. Mesa Community College has helped her to build her portfolio in acting, directing, editing, and screenwriting. The most important thing she has taken with her is knowing that anyone can make a film, but those who actually finish it are the ones who win.

Robby Brown—Cinematographer
portrait robby brownI grew up in small town in New Mexico where not very much happens. We get a Wal-Mart and it makes the front page of the newspaper. I started film production my Junior year of high school making commercials for local businesses, all the while learning the ins and outs of everything, using a JVC videotape recorder and the lowest forms of software; I loved it. I used to want to be an actor, or a musician. I wanted to be famous but I didn't like people always looking at me—Not THAT famous, so when I found film production it seemed as though I had finally found my calling; It fit.

Senior year I was made co-producer of the high school’s live TV news program. Shortly after the year began I moved to Arizona and went straight into crew leader of the high school’s TV production station, MPTV. I learned a lot about film that year and that got me even more excited about life—my film life. I graduated with honors in TV production and proceeded to Mesa Community College. It was by chance that I found out there was a film program and as soon as I heard that, I went running straight to Cyndi Greening, Director of the Media Arts Department, and told her I wanted in.

My knowledge of film production has sky-rocketed since and has prepared me for the amazing journey we all are about to embark upon in Zambia. This is what I live for. Very, very few 19 year olds straight out of high school have the opportunity to go from showing short films about a love for Ramen Noodles and Cheetos to helping make a feature film, THE FIRST feature film to be made in a different country (Zambia). All of this is unreal. Filmmaking is my life. I live for this. I see life as a movie. My daydreaming skills have run into the real world and things couldn't be better.

I want to share my gift and teach others how to express themselves through filmmaking, through art. I hope to share my gift and help change people’s lives for the better.

Shawn Downs—Cinematographer
portrait shawn downsShawn Downs is a nineteen year old Senior at Arcadia High School in Phoenix, Arizona. He is a three-year student of Arcadia's Media Communications program and has won numerous awards relating to television and film. His short film DRIVEN was nominated in the 2006 Phoenix Film Festival. Shawn will be attending the Los Angeles Film School in August of 2006 where he will study directing and screenwriting. Shawn also has earned ten credit hours at Mesa Community College through a dual enrollment program at the high school.

Carlos Espinosa—Cinematographer
portrait carlos espinosaWatsonville, California
I lived in California for about 14 years. During that time I lived in Mexico for about 2 years to learn proper Spanish. While in Mexico, I began drawing and my interest in art began. I went back to Mexico and enrolled in a technical school where I took architecture classes; I was interested in Colonial Architecture. My parents moved to Yuma, Arizona due to my father’s job. I finished high school in Yuma in 1997. I attended Arizona Western College to study architecture, but this changed soon due to a bad experience with a class. I found out the school had just opened a digital photography class and I enrolled. I graduated from AWC with an Associate in General Studies.

I moved to Phoenix to pursue a degree in graphic design. I attended Mesa Community College where I obtained my Associate degree in Graphic Design. During my time at MCC, I had the privilege to meet Cindy Greening; I took different classes with her; film and editing classes got me hooked. Cindy has been a great mentor who has provided me with great tools and motivation to work on personal and career projects.

I have worked on 5 short films. My very first short film OSSIRISUS won “Best of Media” in the Mesa Community College Student Art Show. I have worked with a crew on 4 other films. Working on these projects, I have developed great skills as a cinematographer. A great opportunity has arrived to work on a major project, going to Africa and helping to shoot the first indie film in Africa. I am very excited and thankful to be involved in this project; I know this project is going to bring out the best in me and I will be able to apply the knowledge and skills I acquired in school and while working on projects.

This project is of great magnitude. I really had to step back and look at the big picture to realize how big and important this project is—from making the first film in Africa, to having Zambian voices heard and being able to teach people in Africa new technology. I am very excited and anxious to start the project and to work with a group of people with the same vision and goals.

Jacob Felix—Grip
portrait jacob felixI was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to my mother Laura Felix and my father Jim Chavez. My mother and I are very close; she raised me since she was 21 years old. Family has always been very important to me. Since I was small, I enjoyed drawing and had a strong passion for it. School was never my thing; if not for art I probably would not have graduated from high school. Since the age of 14, I’ve always had a job, from working as a golf cart washer to being a bicycle mechanic. I have never wanted to settle for some mediocre job, one that didn’t have me wanting to go to work every morning, instead of just needing to go. Two years ago I decided New Mexico just couldn’t offer me the opportunities I was looking for. I moved to Phoenix and started taking classes in the Media Arts Department at Mesa Community College, hoping I could find a field in the arts that I could have passion for. The passion Jabbes has to film BAD TIMING is inspiring, and I am very excited to be apart of it, as well as VOICE OF AN AFRICAN NATION. MCC has opened the door for me, and now it’s up to me to step through and decide which path to take.

Nick Marshall—Cinematographer
portrait nick marshallI was born in Nashua, but grew up in Antrim, New Hampshire. Sticks and nerf guns in thick wooded areas occupied most of my time in Antrim. It is a small, quiet town of two thousand people. You'll have to drive over half an hour to get to a fast food place. In '95 our family moved to Gilbert, Arizona due to my father's job. I graduated from Gilbert High School and because of my dislike for high school, I decided to explore the blue collar world for about a year. Frustration and boredom were often on my mind, so I decided to go to a community college. At Mesa Community College I began studying art, psychology, and writing among other areas of interest. I needed to find a way to combine my love of different art media into one medium. One summer I heard about a film club at MCC and decided that film was a perfect medium to look into. I met Cyndi Greening and took film classes with her and completed several short films.

This film in Zambia at first seemed like a fun idea, something you talk about, something you'd like to do just to be on a film crew and make a film. It seemed like a wisp of smoke in the air. As more and more people became interested in it and passionate about the cause and the film, it seemed the project had taken on a life of its own. The smoke took form and started to evolve.

To be a part of this project is monumental and a chance of a lifetime. Making the first feature film in Zambia and helping Zambia to develop and establish the film industry in their country is something beyond words. To help a country is much more than just telling a story for entertainment; it is an experience that only a few people can say they were a part of, that they were the first ones. I have complete confidence in our crew and Jabbes and Cyndi to produce a wonderful film with an African voice, a film that hopefully will inspire people to make more films in Africa, about Africa. There is a rich culture there that should be revealed to the world. That is our aim, and we mean to aim true.

Heath McKinney—Cinematographer
portrait heath mckinney...was given the middle name of Owen to create the abbreviation H.O.M., because he was born at home. In the suburbs of Mesa, Arizona, he was raised by Mike and Margie McKinney alongside his 9 siblings. Peaceful and imaginative, Heath always spent more time watching others and imagining stories based on their personalities than actually interacting with them. In the 4th grade he really started a life-long process of fine tuning his artistic abilities when his art teacher introduced him to the magic of perspective. Instantly, he felt as if he could see through the eyes of those he watched, and began to interact with the possibilities that presented.

In 8th grade he enrolled himself into a drama class, trying to find a way to express how he saw his world, and to better let others see him. At that point, it dawned on him that he could do anything and be anyone. "The way that you perceive it, is the way that you will receive it" he says. At a young age he knew he had the potential for something great; he just didn't know what it was.

As time went on he explored many possibilities: veterinary medicine, forensics, ornithology, computer animation. Confused and broken, he turned to God. With Matthew 10:39 "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it" as his focus, he made the decision to serve a mission for his God, as a representative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He was called to serve in Valencia, Venezuela. With painful difficulty he was able to grasp the Spanish language in 6 months but understanding the people and their culture took him only an instant. He loved Venezuela for all the beauty it offered him.

He reluctantly returned home and enrolled himself at Mesa Community College in order to continue the search for a dream career. One of the many classes he was introduced to was Digital Storytelling, which he thought was a crash course on storyboarding. Oh, how wrong was he. This class was the portal to the world that he was always looking for but just never could quite find: Film. He has always been a cinematographer he just lacked the tool—a camera placed in his hands. He got to work quickly as soon as he heard that Cyndi Greening and Jabbes Mvula were beginning work on a feature length film in Zambia and that they wanted some students to go with them. For this window of glorious opportunity, he credits God.

Michael Montesa—Cinematographer and Photographer
portrait michael montesaI was born in the beautiful island province of Romblon, Philippines and moved to the United States in July of 1990. I grew up in a political family where my father served as a town Mayor during my early grade school years and my mom took care of the family business. I continued my high school in Chandler, Arizona and went to college and received my degree in Respiratory Therapy at GateWay Community College in Phoenix. I am currently a licensed Respiratory Therapist and work for Scottsdale Healthcare.

After graduating from the RT program, I immediately went back to school to study Fine Art Photography at Mesa Community College. From there, my passion for photography ignited and I decided to pursue it as my second career. I received my Associate Degree in Digital Imaging, Web Design and Desktop Publishing. I continued my studies in Digital Filmmaking and Digital Editing at MCC and worked on several student short films as a producer, director, editor and cinematographer. I like being behind the camera and love the different perspective of seeing the world through the lens. I also like to travel and document my journeys through photography. I did a series of photographs of street people and showcased them in a group gallery show in Phoenix in December of 2003 and featured some of them in a book called “Reflections of Engagement.”

This film is a great opportunity for me to collaborate with MCC’s promising student filmmakers. This is also a great chance to make a special connection with the people of Zambia and help their voice to be heard throughout the world.

Jeniece Toranzo—Editor
portrait jeniece toranzoI am one of a set of triplets and a current graduate of Mesa Community College, the first to graduate among my seven brothers and sisters. Jeanette Roe was a teacher I had many classes with and who got me interested in film in the first place. From there on, I enrolled in a couple film classes taught by Cyndi Greening. I had the chance to make a few short films that helped me gain knowledge and experience that could be applied later to bigger future projects. What drew me to the Zambian project was mainly the goal and meaning behind it all. It was how and why this whole project was started in the first place. We have an amazing production team and it feels like a family. My role in the projects so far has been as an Editor. I am hoping to expand my role and be able to contribute more to the project in other ways to help make it successful. Communication and participation will play a big part in the completion and success of this project. I am willing to help in any way possible and give it my 110% effort.


Support Crew

Pamela Bowman—Associate Producer
portrait pam bowman…was born in the San Francisco bay area. She grew up in San Mateo, a suburb of the city. She was able to enjoy the diversity of many cultures and experience the unconventional behavior and non-judgmental attitudes of the time. She enjoyed participating in as many opportunities as were presented to her. She was active in the sports program in her school and was involved in extracurricular activities. She left California in 1978 to attend Brigham Young University and graduated in communications in 1982. She married Christopher Bowman two weeks later. They moved to Colonia Dublan, Chihuahua Mexico in 1983. While living there they purchased and developed orchards and farm land, a country store, bakery, and bi-monthly newspaper. After 17 years they sold their business and moved back to the United States. Since arriving back, Pamela has taken many classes in her pursuit of continued education and knowledge. She has started her own business, Reminesse, that helps people document their lives or events in a personal and permanent format. Mesa Community College has provided classes to assist Pamela in acquiring skills for her own company. Her role as an associate producer for the VOICE OF AN AFRICAN NATION documentary will provide even more opportunities to gain vital experience and knowledge that will assist her in her life ambitions. Her husband Christopher and four children; Chris, Ben, Wisteria and Cierajo, have offered her encouragement, emotional support and time off this summer for good behavior to pursue her dreams. She thanks them with all her heart and promises to come back… bearing gifts.

Jonathan Gilbert—PC Optimized
portrait jonathan gilbertAbout six years ago, I was looking for a curriculum in a school that would help me excel in my goals — Graphics, Video, Web Design. I began attending a school in Tempe, Arizona that boasted of such a program. After five weeks of attending, it became apparent to me that something was not right with this school. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I knew there were red flags that kept manifesting themselves while I was attending. After a Labor Day weekend of camping in the pines of Flagstaff, Arizona and reflecting on what I should do about my current schooling, I walked onto the campus of Mesa Community College. I visited the Media Arts Department and got my first experience with Cyndi Greening. The semester had already started at MCC, yet after discussing my situation and dreams with Cyndi, she immediately rescued me from the "cookie-cutter" school I was attending, explaining her previous experiences with employers who've avoided graduates from the school I was currently attending. Within one day, I dropped out of that school and began attending Cyndi's beginning Photoshop class. It didn't take long for me to notice that Cyndi's curriculum of classes that she taught were continually pushing the edge with advanced technologies. She was always on the bleeding edge with her courses that I attended and I knew I had made the right choice in switching schools.

I've since graduated from MCC and am currently enjoying self-employment providing IT services for small businesses. Many projects we get from our clients involve developing for the internet. The experience I gained from attending MCC and specifically Cyndi's classes, I can attribute to the successes I'm enjoying today. Cyndi not only helped educate me in specific media software applications, she also helped me believe in myself as a developer and entrepreneur.

So far, our job with this project has been to provide the technical implementations of www. filmzambia. com as well as design and configure the Web logs contained on the site. We hope those who will visit the site will have a pleasurable experience with it and that our contributions, small as they seem, will also be worthy in some way of those who will be working tirelessly in filming, producing, and marketing the films and working towards the enlightenment of this great human race we are all a part of. May the prayers of Jabbes be answered and may God bless all involved.

M. K. Racine—Marketing
portrait MK racine …was born and raised in northwestern Vermont. Upon high school graduation, she enrolled in the college of Commerce and Business Administration at the University of Alabama. After receiving her Masters degree, MK pursued and obtained employment in the field of sports marketing. She gained knowledge and experience in both collegiate and professional sports marketing in Birmingham, Alabama, before moving to Phoenix in 2001. MK is currently engaged to her fiancé, also residing in the Phoenix area, and is the eldest of four siblings who reside in New York and New England.

M.K. received her Masters degree in Marketing in 1998. In 2005, M.K. attended Mesa Community College. She pursued certification in the Media Arts Desktop Publishing program in order to supplement her business training and to develop technical and creative skills for a career in Graphic Design.

During her time at MCC, Jeanette Roe and Cyndi Greening instructed M.K. in multiple areas of Media Arts. M.K. began to collaborate with Greening on promotional materials and other projects for the college. Greening approached M.K. about the Zambian film project during this time. Eager to support Cyndi and the college, M.K viewed Jabbes Mvula's digital story. Upon this viewing and meeting Jabbes, M.K. committed to the project and placed her name on the list for Zambia.

M.K.'s role in the project thus far has been designing the electronic press kits for the feature film BAD TIMING and the companion documentary VOICE OF AN AFRICAN NATION, as well as developing the press slicks for mass distribution to media and interested film festivals.

Whether from Zambia or the United States, M.K. looks forward to updating the electronic press kits, and in essence the world, on the progress of educational exchange and economic growth in Zambia, as well as the filming of the feature BAD TIMING and documentary VOICE OF AN AFRICAN NATION.



Kai Kim—MCC Art Department
portrait kai kimI received my BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and my MFA from the University of Michigan on a Rackham Merit Fellowship. I taught as an Adjunct Professor in the Detroit area for six years at the University of Michigan, Wayne State University, Henry Ford Community College, and the College for Creative Studies. I have exhibited my work nationally and internationally including, New York, San Francisco, London, and Budapest. A full-time teaching position at Mesa Community College has brought me to Arizona. I have been at the College for three years and I am very proud to be a part of one of the best Fine Art and Design programs in the state. When Cyndi Greening approached me with the Zambia Project, I was very excited to be a part of the “history making”. As an instructor in Art, my role has been to unveil the potentials for the students so they can see with a clearer vision. Working with the students of Zambia will be an incredible opportunity and I hope to have a lasting exchange of ideas and new common vision for both the Zambia students and Arizona students and faculty.

Gingher Leyendecker—MCC Life Drawing/Anatomy
portrait gingher leyendeckerI am currently a faculty member in the Art Department at Mesa Community College, in the areas of Life Drawing, Art Anatomy and Portrait/Figure Painting. I have been teaching for seven years, and have been resident faculty for two. In addition to teaching, I am also a founder of the Adjunct Mentorship Program, designed to train new teachers in the areas of technique, demonstration and critique in the classroom. Outside of MCC, I am a PhD student in Education at Walden University, a working artist in the areas of oil painting and charcoal, and a mentor to two teenage girls in Valley Big Brothers Big Sisters. It is an honor to be included in the Zambia project as a representative of the educational exchange program. It is my hope that we can establish a strong exchange of both students and faculty between our countries, to open a gateway of cultural, educational and professional connections that will last a lifetime.

Dave Cornelius BME MVE
Media Communications/CTE Department Chair
Arcadia High School
East Valley Tech Prep Coordinator
AIPA, Skills USA, Student Television Network Advisor

The Arcadia High School Media Communications program and its lead instructor Dave Cornelius are considered models of excellence not only in Arizona but across the nation. Currently serving as Southwest Regional Representative for the Student Television Network National Governing Board, Dave was one of the architects of the Radio/Television/Interactive Media Competencies for the state of Arizona Department of Education. He is a leader in development of industry certification standards and a major force behind the shift in Arizona towards quality broadcast journalism education at the secondary and middle school levels. He has served as a member of the Art Institute of Phoenix program advisory committee on electronic media, past Technical Skills Chairman for Skills USA, City of Phoenix Educational Access Governing Board vice-chair, and a member of the Arizona Interscholastic Press Association coordinating Broadcast programs. Most recently AIPA presented him with the Freeman Hover Award as the outstanding Scholastic Journalism Instructor in Arizona. In cooperation with the ADE and the ASU office of workforce development, he has hosted and moderated training sessions for teachers of Broadcast Journalism across the state. In addition, teachers and students from over a dozen individual programs statewide have visited his classroom this year alone. Last year, Dave and his students won over 50 state, regional, and national awards including Association of Career and Technical Educators Program of the Year for the State of Arizona and two National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences student Emmy honorable mentions. Currently, Dave is working with the National Science Foundation to explore and model ways to more seamlessly incorporate technology into the Fine Arts and Performing Arts and is serving on a Curriculum Re-design and Re-alignment committee for the Arizona Department of Education and was presented with the State’s “Spotlight on Success” award for collaborative partnerships.

Dave’s vision, drive, success, and that of his students have enabled him to design and develop the Scottsdale Media and Arts Technology Center (S.M.A.R.T) currently under construction at the Arcadia campus. This media communications and arts convergence hub will serve as an educational technology model for multi-level P-20 partnering and a regional training center for end user certification for his students, teachers, and corporate/community partners throughout the Southwest. In addition to being an award winning teacher and journalist, Dave is a former international recording artist, singer, songwriter, publisher, and sound engineer who has worked for ESPN, NBC Sports, Global Television, Tapestry Films, and Producer’s Group Studios to name a few. His experiences as a producer, editor, cameraman, sound designer and composer round out a very diverse background and skill set.


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