Brian Ashby, Filmmaker
Brian Ashby studied international relations at the University of Chicago, and came to documentary filmmaking through his interest in social issues surrounding political economy.
Spending four years on his first film, Scrappers (2010), established his commitment to making socially engaged and formally exploratory work. In These Times called the film “a moving portrait of the precariousness of life and work at the bottom of the American economy, in one of the country’s wealthiest cities.” Detouring into the history of the visual arts, Brian co-produced Hairy Who & the Chicago Imagists (Pentimenti Productions, 2014), which has screened widely at venues including the Liverpool Biennial, the New Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. He co-directed the SFG/WTTW11 web series Central Standard: On Education, examining disparities in public education in Chicagoland, and is currently co-producing and co-editing The Area, a documentary feature following the displacement of a Chicago neighborhood by an intermodal freight yard. Projects produced by Brian have been supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation, PBS Digital Studios, the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council, the Driehaus Foundation, and others.
Brian alternates between work as a producer, cinematographer, and editor, and values collaboration above all.
PETER GALASSI, DIRECTOR OF POST-PRODUCTION
Peter is an editor, director, and colorist. He works in Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro, Adobe After Effects and DaVinci Resolve, and is constantly thinking about how to make post production workflows more efficient at Scrappers Film Group. A focus on writing and directing in college (Northwestern BA ‘05) gives him a strong understanding of how to craft a story and guide a project from pre-production through to finishing.
Peter edited the PBS documentary web series Central Standard: On Education, which follows five 8th-graders as they try to get into Chicago's selective enrollment high schools, as well as a series of verite-style branded documentaries about West Texas for the Big Bend Brewing Company, and Rights Lab, a web series focused on Civil Liberties. He also co-edited the feature documentary The Area with fellow Scrappers partner Brian Ashby. Peter excels at cutting strategic video projects, including campaigns for fortune 500 companies such as Nordstrom and Compass Group, and leading nonprofits such as American Institutes for Research and The University of Chicago.
Peter produced and edited the feature documentary, Your Name is My Name, which explores the lives of albino children in Zimbabwe. Directed by Osato Dixon, Your Name Is My Name was funded by a Fulbright Scholarship and a grant from the New York State Council of the Arts.
Peter spent much of his childhood in east Asia, and now lives in the Twin cities with his wife and son, and is Scrappers’ official connoisseur of craft beer and episodic television.
STEPHEN L. GARRETT, STRATEGIC VIDEO PRODUCER
Stephen L Garrett's unique production career has taken him to locations across the US and to 17 countries as both a field producer, photographer, and editor on many dozens of productions over more than a decade.
From microsurgical procedures, to macroeconomics, to mythical monsters, to a bible on the moon, his breadth of experience and interest in a wide range of subjects provides him with a unique set of tools to draw from to tell a story.
Stephen has worked in network television development - filming and editing sizzles, proof of concept videos, as well as writing pitch documents and developing decks. Shows he helped develop have aired on History, HGTV, and a forthcoming series will air on Discovery ID in early 2019. Additionally, he served as archival producer and post production coordinator for 6 episodes of Phenoms, which aired on Fox Sports in mid 2018. He also was post production coordinator for the film Nossa Chape, which debuted at South by Southwest and aired on Fox Sports in 2018.
When he's not at work, Stephen is hanging out with this girlfriend and their awesome dog Day-Z, or he's out pushing his limits somewhere on his gravel bike.
Giorgia Harvey, Junior Editor / Media Manager
Giorgia received her B.A. in Cinema Arts and Sciences from Columbia College Chicago. Since then, she has worked as an Associate Producer on the independent documentary film Area 2, an exploration of the allegations of police torture under Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge. She has also worked as a freelance editor and motion graphics artist for start-ups, production companies, and post-production houses, including Wishbeads, T-Group Productions, Row Four Productions, and Lost Glove Film Productions.
In her free time, Giorgia enjoys knitting, eating tofu, and pursuing her lifelong dream of learning how to tap dance.
DAVID JACOBSON, PRODUCER & CONTROLLER
David studied film and screenwriting at Northwestern University, producing an independent film, Maydays, in 2012 with Ben Kolak.
He completed the Startup Leadership Program, a highly selective, 80-hour, 6-month training program for outstanding founders and innovators. He brings his business acumen to the company as well as his systems analysis, problem solving, and creative skills. David recently graduated with his Masters in Accounting and MBA at UIC’s Liautaud School of Business, with a focus in business analytics. He will also be sitting for the CPA over the next four months.
In his free time he sings in a punk band, fixes cars, and spoils his cat Polly.
Ben Kolak, Filmmaker
For over 10 years, Ben Kolak has worked as a cinematographer, editor, producer, and director. Ben is also a FAA-licensed UAV/Drone pilot. He enjoys collaborating with small teams on projects designed to encourage social good. Ben’s work has appeared in The New York Times, NPR, PBS, Univision, Al-Jazeera, Vice, Fusion, Euronews, and Netflix. In addition, he has shot and edited strategic videos for clients including The University of Chicago, Code for America and The Joyce Foundation. He also frequently collaborates with contemporary artists on moving image projects.
Ben began making films while studying philosophy and cinema at the University of Chicago, where he wrote a thesis under the direction of Frankfurt School expert Miriam Hansen. His directorial debut, Scrappers (2010), went on to win awards at numerous festivals and make critic Roger Ebert’s list of the top documentaries for 2010. Ben edited the documentary Hairy Who and the Chicago Imagists (2014 Newport Beach Film Festival), and co-directed the web series Central Standard: On Education, made in partnership with WTTW 11 and PBS Digital Studios (2014). In 2017, Ben was director of photography for six episodes of David Chang’s acclaimed netflix series Ugly Delicious, and shot four New York Times Daily 360/VR segments. He is currently in production on numerous web series, strategic projects, and documentaries.
Ben lives in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood with his wife, Akemi Hong, their son, and a corgi. He enjoys basketball and camping, and teaching documentary production at his local art center. Ben is a member of The Arts Club of Chicago and a board member of the Media Burn Video Archive.
AMBER LOVE, Assistant EDITOR
Amber Love graduated from the University of Chicago, and is an Associate Programmer for the New Orleans Film Festival as well as a graduate of Kartemquin Films’ internship program. Amber is also currently working as an Assistant Editor on Hillary Bachelder’s feature documentary REPRESENT about women running for political office and her own short doc about Afrofuturism.
JEFF MILLAM, BUSINESS MANAGER
Jeff is a business strategist specializing in entrepreneurship and social enterprise.
After finishing his BA in Philosophy at the University of North Texas, Jeff co-founded an activist group focused on border issues in far West Texas. He spent two years working on issues like immigrant rights and the then proposed border wall, which culminated in a border issues summit that brought together activists and advocacy organizations from across the Texas-Mexico border. Shortly after, Jeff moved to Chicago to pursue music and sounds installation under the moniker of MT Coast. After spending two years getting to know the film community in the midwest through his work as a project manager for the cinema services company Kinora, Jeff returned to school to pursue a masters degree in business administration. In 2019, he received an MBA from the University of Illinois, Chicago and now spends his time working to help startups and small businesses develop effective strategies for responsible growth.
You can still find Jeff at the occasional noise or free jazz show, but these days you’re more likely to find him taking a walk in a local forest preserve.
DAVID SCHALLIOL, FILMMAKER
David Schalliol is an assistant professor of sociology at St. Olaf College who specializes in visual sociology. He is the director and cinematographer of The Area, an ethnographic film about the displacement of more than 400 families on Chicago’s South Side by an intermodal freight yard. The film is supported by the Graham Foundation, the Driehaus Foundation, and the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Other film projects to which he has contributed include the ITVS/Kartemquin Films feature Almost There and the National Film Board of Canada’s Highrise: Out My Window, an interactive documentary that won the 2011 International Digital Emmy for Non-Fiction.
Schalliol is also a writer and photographer whose work has appeared in such publications as Artforum, Design Observer, The New York Times, and Social Science Research, as well as in numerous exhibitions, including the inaugural Belfast, Northern Ireland Photo Festival and the Museum of Contemporary Photography’s Midwest Photographers Project. The Japanese publisher Utakatado released his first book, Isolated Building Studies, in 2014.
Schalliol received his bachelor’s degree from Kenyon College and his master’s and doctoral degrees from The University of Chicago.
NAEEMA JAMILAH TORRES, PRODUCER
Naeema Jamilah Torres is a filmmaker who’s love for documentary brought her to the Chicago area from the East Coast. She very recently obtained her MFA in Documentary Media from Northwestern University and has a BFA in Film & Video Production from CUNY City College in New York City. At Scrappers, she handles the outreach and engagement for their critically acclaimed documentaries including The Area, and produces projects affiliated with the company.
Naeema has worked as a videographer, editor and producer for non-profit arts organizations and independent artists. Some of the content she’s worked on has been distributed on New York-based public television stations and through educational distributor Third World Newsreel. Additionally, she had a seven-year career in TV and film distribution and worked for home entertainment companies such as Cinedigm and HBO. She has been awarded several grants and recognitions for her work including a Career Development Grant from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), which supported the completion of her thesis film, “Redacted,” an essay documentary exploring the legacy of an 1811 slave revolt near New Orleans that is currently on the festival circuit.
Naeema is also a leader of Mezcla Media Collective, a nonprofit organization supporting femme filmmakers of Chicago in Chicago. In her spare time, she enjoys watching animated TV series, road trips and eating good food - but rejects the “foodie” title.
Yana Kunichoff, Journalism Producer
Yana Kunichoff is an independent journalist and documentary producer who covers immigration, policing, education and social movements. She has produced feature-length documentaries and a pop-culture web series for Scrappers Film Group; worked as a fellow with City Bureau, where she won a March 2016 Sidney Hillman award for an investigation into fatal police shootings; and covered race and poverty issues for the Chicago Reporter. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Atlantic, Pacific Standard and Chicago magazine among others. You can find her on Twitter @yanazure and at yanakunichoff.com
Colette Ghunim, Camera Operator/Assistant Editor
Colette’s purpose lies at the cross section of social impact and visual storytelling. She co-directed The People’s Girls, an award-winning documentary investigating the issue of sexual harassment in Cairo, Egypt. Her film was selected in several festivals, and it won Best Short Documentary at the Arab Film Festival in San Francisco, as well as the Humanitarian Award at the Rhode Island International Film Festival, an Oscar-qualifier. She has been featured in Huffington Post Live, Buzzfeed, CNN, TEDx, and other major international news channel for her work.