J.L. Topkis – Director/Writer/Producer
After making his way around the festival circuit, Jake Topkis set his sights on preparing his first feature. When Jake was a kid, he wanted to be a comic book artist. He had been indoctrinated with the art of telling stories with words and pictures since before he could read. Everyday, Jake would do homework until his Dad rewarded him with a comic book. This was how he learned to read. “The construction of a comic book page is not unlike the way a movie scene is put together – and I’ve always had a sense of visual storytelling ingrained in me thanks to that.” After a school assignment required Topkis to make a short film, his focus shifted and he formed Heart-Beat Productions in 2004. The team garnered acclaim during high school, building an audience, and landing professional gigs. At the age of 17, Jake was hired by The National Weather Service to create a lightning safety video, using a comedic superhero he created (and played) in an earlier film. As the team proved to be capable filmmakers, Jake developed bigger and better projects – ensuring Heart-Beat wouldn’t stagnate.
Topkis attended Emerson College in Boston, where he met Russell Bartlett and other talented people who have stuck together to make IN SEARCHING.
“We’ve teamed up with the goal of one day doing this work as a career. For many of us, it’s already a reality. The fact that I’ve been able to maintain a team that will consistently work with me is something I don’t take for granted. It keeps me inspired to tell strong stories. We’re all trying to do the same thing: to continue creating the work we love.”
Russell Bartlett – Producer
Russell was born and raised on Nantucket, Massachusetts. His interest in filmmaking sparked while participating in The Maine Photographic Workshops and the Nantucket Film Festival’s Teen View Program. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Film Production at Emerson College where he met many of the crew of IN SEARCHING. Among them was Jake, a good friend and his freshman year roommate. Russell has worked on professional commercial sets and award-winning independent films. He was most recently a videographer for the documentary “Wood/Sails/Dreams,” which is an official selection in the 2013 Nantucket Film Festival. He captured footage on a 5 man transAtlantic journey in Spring of 2011 that brought him from Nantucket, Massachusetts to Barcelona, Spain.
Since early January of this year Russell has been living in Park City, Utah, in preparation for this summer’s shoot. Russell has enjoyed his time working on IN SEARCHING thus far and is eagerly awaiting the shooting dates. He’s elated to be producing his first feature film with great friends and filmmakers.
Brian Chitester – Web Developer
Brian is a web developer living in Boston, MA who collaborates with people across the US. A proud member of the IN SEARCHING team, you can find his blog at brianchitester.com.
Siobhan Doheny – Marketing Director
Siobhan graduated from James Madison University with a degree in Public Relations and Film in 2012. Since then she traveled to Europe, Connecticut and Boston before settling down in Utah. Although social media savvy, it was her organizational skills and love of film that landed her a job at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Determined not to leave Sundance, Siobhan was then brought on as the the Marketing Coordinator for the Sundance Institute. Siobhan loves energy drinks, tattoos and good friends. Follow her thoughts and experiences @smdoheny
Words to live by:
“Never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience. And if it hurts, you know what? Its probably worth it.”
Kush Mody – Composer
The composer of these amazing scores for TIES and NIGHT WORE ON (heard in our video), Kush has been touring with hip hop artist George Watsky. Kush is a film composer, music producer, and multi-instrumentalist. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, he has built up a strong repertoire of film scores during his time in Boston, having collaborated with many Emerson College students and other filmmakers in the area. Now based in Los Angeles, his undying dedication to the quality of his work and attention to detail has led him to many wonderful opportunities scoring films, producing for artists/songwriters, and performing live. http://badmindmusic.com/kushmody
Scott Morris – Editor
Scott Morris is a freelance Film Editor working in Los Angeles, California, whose past experience includes working for Cartoon Network. He is really excited to come out to Utah and cut the film as we’re shooting it. Scott was one of the first to champion the green-light for IN SEARCHING, and we’re elated to have him on board.
Pete D’Angelo – Production Sound Mixer
Pete is an audio enthusiast, with a special love for sound in film. He is very fortunate to have experiences that nurture his passion for sound in every form, be it music production, live sound reinforcement, production sound, postproduction audio, or even television studio audio. These experiences have offered him a wide palette to creatively give the the best representation of the art that he possibly can. It is a journey Peter embraces wholeheartedly and continues to cultivate an understanding and appreciation for sound as deeply profound as is wide and varied.
Jenna Di Quatro – Production Sound Mixer
Jenna has her AS in music recording, and graduated in 2010 from Emerson College with a BA in Sound Design. It was at Emerson she met Jake and eventually was brought into Heart-Beat Productions. She currently works as an editor at a small firm in New Jersey, in addition to producing her own music.
“Heart-beat has easily been one of the best experiences I’ve had. Can’t wait to do it again…Bigger and better, onward and upward!!”