As the Founder of Trade In Hope, Michelle guides the creative vision of American Love Story and leads the team to accomplish its mission of “engaging communities through courageous storytelling.” She believes that films can encourage healing when communities and the people within them are empowered to understand and share their own stories. Based in Austin, TX, Michelle has worked as a producer, director, writer and editor since 2000. Her work has been Emmy-nominated and has played on PBS, at SXSW and internationally. Most recently, she was the editor on Canine Soldiers, a 3D documentary about Soldier Handlers and their Military Working Dogs. Michelle has her Masters in Film from the University of Texas. American Love Story has been awarded three grants, including an Austin Film Society Grant, and is currently in post-production.
After completing a M.A. in Political Economy as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar at the University of Sydney, John returned to Austin in 2011 to join his sister on the Trade In Hope Executive Team. In addition to his role as Producer, John leads the strategic outreach work of Trade In Hope to ensure the film’s social impact adds value to community stakeholders. John community development and public policy work has taken him to Nashville, Brazil, Honduras, England, and Australia, where he focused on improving conditions for the poor and marginalized. His organizational experience includes posts at the Centre For Social Justice in London and the international nonprofit Blood:Water Mission. He currently serves as the President and CEO of Allies Against Slavery.
Chris Blankenship brings twenty years of international experience in producing, editing, visual effects, motion graphics and comprehensive production and post-production skills to every project. This award-winning filmmaker has worked with agencies, broadcasters, production and post companies, and direct clients around the globe. Some of the brands he’s been involved with include Ford, Dell, AT&T, AMD, Sony, John Deere, PGA Tour, and many others.
Born and bred in Texas, Aaron has worked as a DP, director, editor, and creative since 2005. He and Michelle have worked together on multiple projects for the last six years, including music documentaries for Alpha Rev and Seth Walker as well as the documentary short, Hands of God. Since 2006, Aaron spent time in Kenya filming for Austin non-profit CTC International. He also filmed under directors Steve Mims and Joe Bailey, Jr. for their feature documentary, Incendiary: The Willingham Case, an official selection of the SXSW and SilverDocs Film Festivals. He produced and directed the live concert film, The Killdares: Up Against the Lights, filmed at the historic Granada Theater in Dallas, TX. Aaron’s camera work has been featured on Austin's KVUE News, The Rachael Ray Show, and TV commercials for Lewis Shanks.
Ellie Ann grew up in the border city of El Paso, TX and studied film at the University of Texas at Austin. In 2009, she moved to Los Angeles to attend the Cinematography Program at the American Film Institute Conservatory. During her studies, she wrote and photographed her thesis film, Lucha, and received her Master’s in Fine Arts in 2011. Ellie Ann's diverse work spans from documentaries, narrative films and commercials to in-house videos for esteemed organizations such as the University of Texas. Her cinematography debut feature, Zero Charisma, won the Audience Choice award at SXSW 2013. She is currently working on her next narrative feature-length film - June, Adrift.
Hailing from Alexandria Egypt, Creative Arts Group Founder, Ramy Antoun, was born into music. The son of a producer and pianist, Antoun was given a snare drum at three and by the time he was seven, he was playing in his father’s band. Self-taught, his roster of credits grew to include names like the Black Eyed Peas, Pat Benatar, Paul Oakenfold, and Seal. Goldspot, Antoun’s previous musical endeavor, was nominated for Best International Artist in the 2008 VH-1 Music Awards. Antoun's production and songwriting credits include hit television shows and movies such as Matchstick Men, Crazy Beautiful, and The OC.
Casey is a singer/songwriter based in Austin, Texas and is currently the frontman of the band Alpha Rev. He started Alpha Rev in 2005 after the breakup of his previous band, Endochine, which toured with Staind, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pete Yorn and Bob Schneider. Alpha Rev released their debut album, The Greatest Thing I've Ever Learned, in 2007 and was ranked the #1 indie band from Texas on the Myspace.com charts and the #16 indie band nationwide. Alpha Rev's international debut album, New Morning, topped the charts in 2010, reaching #3 on radio, and their video was in the top 10 rotation on VH1. Casey also sits on the board of directors of Mental Health America of Texas and has been a spokesperson for suicide prevention and other metal health issues in American teens.