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R. J. Daniel Hanna
R. J. Daniel Hanna

“I want the viewer to feel Virginia’s anger at a system that refuses to change, her passion as she decides to take on the powers that have denied her a say in her child’s education, her fear when she understands the influence of those who wish to stop her, her pride in herself and her community as they rise to the occasion, and ultimately, her joy when she achieves her goals.” — Director R. J. Daniel Hanna

R. J. Daniel Hanna is a Toronto-born, Arkansas-raised writer, director, and editor. He has directed commercials for Coca-Cola, Subway, Cole Haan, and numerous other brands, but his true passion is independent cinema that can ignite social change while delivering a powerful human story.

His feature screenplays have received dozens of awards and accolades, with his script SHELTER ANIMAL making the Top 50 Scripts (out of 8,000) in the Academy of Motion Pictures’ Nicholl Fellowship. His short film SHELTER, starring Clea DuVall (ARGO, ZODIAC) and April Grace (WHIPLASH, MAGNOLIA), played at the SAG Short Film Showcase and won the Audience Award from the NewFilmmakers LA festival, among other accolades. His most recent award-winning film, EVERYTHING, is based on a true story of a mother searching for a bone marrow donor for her daughter. It was featured in the Wall Street Journal and is spurring reform in the marrow donation industry.

Working both in narrative and documentary form, Hanna also brings an editor’s eye to his sets. Films he has edited have won awards from the Emmy Foundation, the Director’s Guild of America, BAFTA, the USC Editing Faculty, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and dozens of film festivals. Hanna is repped by the Gersh Agency and Luber-Roklin Entertainment.

Dan says…

“I’m thrilled to have directed the film adaptation of Virginia Walden Ford’s inspiring struggle to bring educational opportunity to the most disadvantaged children in Washington, DC. This is an important story that I feel privileged to have brought to the screen.

“For me, the most exciting and rewarding aspect of making a film is putting the viewer in the place of the protagonist and allowing them to live vicariously through her. My goal is to show the audience an empathetic character in Virginia, making them feel the hopes and dreams she has for her son, as well as her pain when she realizes that a better life is not ahead of him.

“It’s the emotional ride that is most fascinating to me, but it has bigger rewards. By focusing on this one woman and her cause, we will tell a universal story that sparks questions in scores of people across the U.S. about why they don’t have more of a voice in their children’s education.

“Through empathy and strong storytelling, we can change people’s minds by touching their hearts.”

Virginia Walden Ford
Executive Producer

A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Virginia was among the first 130 students chosen to desegregate Little Rock’s high schools in the mid-1960s. Beginning in 1998, she helped organize Washington, DC, parents to bring greater educational opportunity to inner-city children. She and her fellow parents succeeded in persuading Congress to create one of the nation's first opportunity scholarship programs, which enables low-income children to attend private schools while also boosting federal funding for traditional public schools and public charter schools. Since that time, thousands of students have received scholarships, and those who use them have a 91 percent graduation rate from high school.

Rob Pfaltzgraff
Lead Producer

Rob Pfaltzgraff is a member of the Producers Guild of America and has served as the president of the Moving Picture Institute (MPI) since its founding in 2005. He has led the organization from its initial founding into a multimillion-dollar production company and talent incubator that creates high-impact films designed to entertain, inspire, and educate audiences with captivating stories about human freedom.  He manages the overall operations of MPI, including the production of MPI Original Films, which have won several industry awards, and MPI’s talent development programs that have supported hundreds of up-and-coming filmmakers. He has raised and overseen millions of dollars in financing for MPI's award-winning productions.

Rob has 18 producer credits including lead producer on the narrative feature film MISS VIRGINIA. Rob managed the project from development through distribution making all key creative and business decisions, and oversaw all of the financing for the project.

His producer credits also include the forthcoming short film A PIECE OF CAKE starring Rich Sommer (MAD MEN, GLOW) a story about a California father who turns to illicit means to get dragées for his daughter’s birthday cake after discovering that the bite-sized silver confections are banned in the state. The film was a Tribeca Film Festival Official Selection and Nominee for Best Narrative Short, a Cleveland International Film Festival Official Selection, and an Indy Shorts International Film Festival Official Selection and winner of Best Comedy and Audience Choice awards. His executive producer credits include MAMA RWANDA which looks at how women's entrepreneurship is rebuilding post-genocidal Rwanda, and INCARCERATING US, a film about the incarceration crisis in the United States and need for criminal justice reform.

Rob is currently developing and producing several forthcoming short and feature length MPI Original Films. They include PROJECT HOME: 3D PRINTING THE FUTURE, THE MELONY ARMSTRONG STORY, and THE KEMBA SMITH STORY. PROJECT HOME is a feature-length documentary about a group of social entrepreneurs striving to solve the global housing crisis by using 3D printing technology to build houses and create communities. THE MELONY ARMSTRONG STORY is a narrative feature based on the inspiring, true story of Melony Armstrong, a mother that works at a shelter for battered women who decides to start a natural hair braiding business to achieve financial independence for herself and others. To do so she must overcome unexpected obstacles imposed by a powerful cartel and the state of Mississippi. The film will be written and directed by Academy Award® nominated writer and director Dianne Houston. THE KEMBA SMITH STORY is a narrative feature about criminal justice reform advocate Kemba Smith. As a college student, she falls in love with a man, only to learn he is a drug kingpin placing her in the middle of the government’s “war on drugs,” and ultimately landing her in federal prison.

Nick Reid
Executive Producer

Nick Reid is a film producer and the Moving Picture Institute's executive vice president. He is responsible for shaping and executing fundraising strategy; working on MPI Original productions, and also serves as a member of the executive team. His executive producer credits include A PIECE OF CAKE, THE PERFECT ONE and MPI’s forthcoming Original feature documentary, 3 DIMENSIONS. He is a graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University and holds a certificate in management from Georgetown University. Prior to joining MPI, Nick was the executive vice president of a nonprofit organization where he oversaw development operations and student leadership development programs.

Stacey Parks

Stacey Parks has overseen and been involved in independent film financing, production, and distribution for over 20 years as a sales agent, consultant, producer, and executive producer. She began her career at the William Morris Agency where she spent her tenure in the indie film packaging and financing department as well as the feature film lit, talent, and music departments. Stacey followed that up with a career in distribution and international sales, working for such companies as Icon and BBC Worldwide, until transitioning to producing and executive producing full-time. Since then she has been involved in the development, production, and distribution of several feature films and series. Recent feature film producing credits include Pinball: The Man Who Saved The Game starring Mike Faist and Crystal Reed; Miss Virginia starring Uzo Aduba, Matthew Modine, and Aunjanue Ellis; Under The Eiffel Tower starring Matt Walsh and Michaela Watkins; and Fits & Starts starring Wyatt Cenac and Greta Lee. Upcoming feature film projects include Freedom Hair, written and directed by Dianne Houston; Unsuitable Game, written and directed by Mandie Fletcher and starring Sian Clifford and Jessica Brown-Findlay; Kemba, a BET co-production written and directed by Christine Swanson; and Don’t Come Over, written and directed by Jane Clark and starring Guinevere Turner, Alexis Knapp, and Alanna Ubach. Recent and upcoming series projects include The Upgrade for Bravo, The Big Sip in collaboration with MediaPro Studios, and One Second After written by J. Michael Straczynski.

M. Elizabeth Hughes

M. Elizabeth Hughes has made her career producing a wide variety of films and series with a wide variety of filmmakers and financiers. She has produced everything from independent films (SHORT TERM 12) to docuseries (LORENA) to studio features (GIRLFRIEND’S DAY). She attended Wesleyan College and earned her MFA in Film and Television Producing from Chapman University.

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