BENJAMIN LEAR | PRODUCER/DIRECTOR
Ben Lear graduated from NYU in 2010 with a degree in music composition. As his senior recital, Lear wrote and performed his folk-opera, Lillian, about a man, who travels to the great pacific garbage patch to reclaim all he’s lost, with a 20-piece orchestra and light show. Upon the album’s release, he partnered with Plastic Pollution Coalition and 5Gyres to raise awareness for plastic pollution. This work has led Lear to performances at TED and the UN.
As a result of shooting this film, Ben sits on the advisory board of InsideOUT Writers and is an ally member within the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, teaching a weekly writing class within the Compound and mentoring former juvenile offenders upon reentry.
SASHA ALPERT | PRODUCER
Sasha Alpert is both Executive Vice President of Bunim/Murray Productions as well as of the documentary division, BMP Films, which she founded in 2006. Her most recent film is VALENTINE ROAD which premiered in competition at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013 and went on to air on HBO in October 2013 and was nominated for two Emmy Awards. BMP’s first film, AUTISM: THE MUSICAL, won two prime time Emmys including Best Non-Fiction Special and previously garnered numerous festival awards. The film premiered on HBO in March, 2008. She also produced SHADOW BILLIONAIRE; the story of DHL founder and tycoon Larry Hillblom who disappeared mysteriously in a small plane crash leaving his unacknowledged children to fight for a share of his vast fortune.
Additionally, Alpert produced FOREVER HOLLYWOOD a film about the history of Hollywood which has been playing continuously at the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles for 13 years. Alpert also wrote, directed and produced a documentary on the Western Film as part of the PBS series The American Cinema. She has also produced numerous documentaries and specials for PBS, including films on Film Noir, poets Sylvia Plath and TS Eliot and on Nobel Laureate Joseph Brodsky. Additionally, she has produced specials for CBS, MTV, TBS and The Disney Channel.
GABRIEL COWAN | PRODUCER
Gabriel Cowan is an award winning filmmaker and the President of New Artists Alliance. His film CHEAP THRILLS won an audience award at SXSW 2013, where BAD MILO, a film he produced along side The Duplass Brothers also premiered. 2016 finds Cowan writing and directing Truck’d Up, a television pilot for Ted Field and Radar Films, producing GENESIS a Science Fiction television show by Steven Bochco and premiering FEAR INC (Abigail Breslin) at the Tribeca Film Festival where he also premiered LOITERING WITH INTENT (Sam Rockwell, Marisa Tomei) and JUST BEFORE I GO (Seann William Scott, Olivia Thirlby). Cowan is an IFP fellow for EXTRACTED, a film he co-wrote and produced that premiered at SXSW 2012. Since graduating CalArts in 2008 with an MFA in film directing, Cowan has produced over 20 feature films.
As a musician, Cowan earned two Platinum records and recorded with Jackson Brown, Robbie Robertson, The Tower Of Power, Ry Cooder, Van Dyke Parks and others. He serves on the board of Inside OutWriters, an organization that provides creative writing services to kids in juvenile hall and is on the advisory committee of Common Sense Media and organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology which has over 65 million users.
SCOTT BUDNICK | EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Scott Budnick is the Founder and President of The Anti-Recidivism Coalition. He grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and graduated from Emory University in 1999 with degrees in Business and Film.
As Executive Vice President of Todd Phillips’ production company, Green Hat Films, Budnick executive produced many successful comedies including the highest grossing rated-R comedies in history, THE HANGOVER series.
Outside of film, Budnick is a fierce champion for children in need. Budnick is a teacher and on the Advisory Board for InsideOUT Writers, is a board member of the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, and on the Advisory board for the Loyola Law School, Center for Juvenile Law and Policy.
For his work with youth in the criminal justice system, Governor Jerry Brown named Budnick California’s Volunteer of the Year for 2012. In August of 2013, Budnick was appointed to the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) by the Speaker of the Assembly, John Perez.
In 2013, Budnick launched The Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC), an organization of very high-achieving, formerly-incarcerated young adults who work to support one another, while stopping the flow of men and women into the criminal justice system.
ELI DESPRES | EDITOR
Eli Despres co-wrote and edited the documentary BLACKFISH (BAFTA nominee • 98% ‘Fresh’ at rottentomatoes.com), which was watched by over 21 million people in the US alone, has catalyzed state and federal legislation, and was shortlisted for the Oscar.
His other writing and editing credits include the upcoming RED ARMY (Cannes • 100% ‘Fresh’ at rottentomatoes.com), the Emmy-winning investigative journalism series EXPOSÉ (PBS), feature documentary CITY LAX (ESPN), short documentary AT RISK (ACAP) and the fiction feature WILDERNESS SURVIVAL FOR GIRLS (ContentFilm/Image Entertainment), which he also directed.
The Hollywood Reporter described his work as “Shattering… Eli Despres edits with propulsive narrative drive.” Eli was nominated for the 2014 American Cinema Editors’ Documentary award.
Jonathan Murray & Gil Goldschein- BMP FILMS- Executive Producers
BMP Films was started to create documentaries and narrative films which tell intimate human stories; compelling and emotional accounts of real life events.
Our previous films include VALENTINE ROAD, which unravels a well-publicized and complex story of a shooting in a middle school classroom of a 15-year old gay teen by a fellow student. The documentary first played at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in the documentary competition and then premiered on HBO.
In 2007 BMP released our first documentary, AUTISM: The Musical, which premiered on HBO and later played on OWN. The film won two prime-time Emmy’s – one for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special and the other for Outstanding Picture Editing for Non-Fiction Special – as well as numerous audience and jury awards at festivals worldwide.
In 2008 BMP Films produced PEDRO, the story of Pedro Zamora who was the first openly gay, HIV positive person on prime time TV. The feature premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, aired on MTV and is now out on DVD.
In 2009 BMP produced BILLIONAIRE, the story of DHL founder and tycoon Larry Hillblom, who disappeared mysteriously in a small plane crash leaving his unacknowledged children to fight for their share of his vast fortune. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. It premiered on CNBC and is now available on Netflix and On-demand.