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 23 producer credits including lead producer on the narrative feature film Miss Virginia starring Emmy® winner Uzo Aduba, Golden Globe® nominee Matthew Modine, and Emmy nominees Vanessa Williams, Aunjanue Ellis, and Adina Porter. The film tells the true story of a struggling, single mother who will stop at nothing to ensure that her son gets a good education. Rob managed the project from development through distribution making all key creative and business decisions and oversaw all of the financing for the project. It is currently available on Netflix, Apple TV, and dozens of other streaming platforms.
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. In addition, he served as co-executive producer on the feature documentary The Dissident.
Rob is currently developing and producing several forthcoming short and feature length MPI Original Films. They include Project Home: 3D Printing the Future, Freedom Hair: The Melony Armstrong Story, The Kemba Smith Story, and Pinball: The Man Who Saved the Game. 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. Pinball: The Man Who Saved the Game is a feature-length dramedy based on the true story of writer and pinball wizard Roger Sharpe’s journey to overturn New York City’s 35-year ban on pinball.
Sarah Atkins received a BA in biology from Vanderbilt University in Nashville and an MBA from Southern Methodist University. Her past work has included teaching the quality improvement methods of Dr. W. Edwards Deming and Dr. Joseph Juran at TAMKO Building Products. Atkins is currently on the board of directors at TAMKO and the J.P. Humphreys Foundation. She has previously served on the boards of the Foundation for Economic Education, Citizens for a Sound Economy, The Future of Freedom Foundation, Free to Choose Network, and Atlas Network. She serves as an independent, voting member of the Moving Picture Institute’s board of trustees.
Robert Balzebre is the principal of Balzebre Investments, a company based in commercial property development. Most recently he has also entered deeper into the field of media and entertainment investment. Balzebre’s team, in joint venture with major studios, is currently in production to deliver top-shelf gaming platforms for consoles and mobile application. Balzebre earned a BA in political science and art history from Connecticut College and graduated from Loyola Law School. He currently serves on the advisory council of the Tulane Freeman School of Business. He formerly served on the advisory council board for Bank of America Private Bank. He is a Society of Fellows member with the Aspen Institute and has been a four-year member of United Way’s distinguished Tocqueville Society, which honors members that give at the highest level of contribution and activity in their community endeavors. He serves as an independent, voting member of the Moving Picture Institute’s board of trustees.
Virginia Walden Ford is one of America’s leading advocates for parent empowerment. As a student, a mother, an advocate, and a grandmother, Virginia has spent her lifetime fighting to create new educational opportunities for children and families. In 2003, Virginia and her courageous group of parent advocates succeeded in convincing lawmakers to enact the nation’s first-ever Opportunity Scholarship Program for low-income children. This program provides scholarships for low-income children to attend private schools in Washington, DC while boosting federal funding for traditional public schools and public charter schools. Since the program’s inception, thousands of students have received Opportunity Scholarships, and the program boasts a 91 percent high school graduation rate. Virginia now travels the country speaking to parents and education groups, encouraging moms and dads and grandparents to discover the value of their voices and the importance of their advocacy. Virginia is the subject and executive producer of the 2019 MPI Original Film Miss Virginia. She is also the author of two books, Voices, Choices, and Second Chances and School Choice: A Legacy to Keep. She serves as an independent, voting member of the Moving Picture Institute’s board of trustees.
Michael J. Friedman is head of trading at LEX Markets, a commercial real estate securitization and trading company. Previously, he was general counsel at Trillium, a proprietary trading firm, and a partner at the law firm Winston & Strawn. He received an AB in history, cum laude, from Princeton University and a JD from Northwestern University School of Law. He serves on the board of the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures and is an independent, voting member of the Moving Picture Institute’s board of trustees.
Shelley Gregory has worked for Gregory Cook for the last 23 years, serving in many capacities as Business Manager for several of his retail and commercial buildings. In addition to those responsibilities, for the last 16 years, she has held the title of Senior Administrative Manager for Submergence Group, LLC. Submergence Group and its sister-company, MSubs, Ltd. in Plymouth, UK, specialize in the design, manufacture and operation of manned and unmanned submersible vehicles for military and commercial markets. Shelley joined the board of the John Brown Cook Foundation in 2010, a non-profit, private family foundation dedicated to the preservation of the American economic system, education, research, free-speech and national defense. Prior to joining Gregory Cook in his many endeavors, Shelley managed a mid-sized advertising and public relations firm for 19 years. Shelley has served on several boards and community service organizations during her 40+ year career, such as the Lyme’s Youth Service Bureau, Middlesex Hospital, Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation and Promare, Inc. Shelley lives in Old Lyme, CT with her dog, cat and four chickens. Her two grown sons live nearby with their wives, and she anxiously awaits a grandchild in the not-to-distant future. She serves as an independent, voting member of the Moving Picture Institute’s board of trustees
Kristi Kendall serves as the president of Kristi Kendall & Co. and is an expert in content production, messaging, and storytelling. Throughout the course of her 20+ year career, Kendall has developed an expertise in leveraging the power of story to bring people together to work synergistically on projects that help shape public opinion and create impact. Kendall began her career in 1997 at the ABC News magazine 20/20. In 2009 she became John Stossel’s executive producer at Fox News and Fox Business where she launched his highly-rated weekly show and oversaw more than a dozen documentary hours for Stossel and others. In 2014 she became the executive vice president at New Balloon, a cross-platform media company that leverages moving picture content as a means of encouraging connectivity, compassion, and conversation. Kendall is the recipient of the Paul Mongerson Prize for Investigative Reporting, the Michael DeBakey Journalism Award, the NLGJA/Siegenthaler Excellence in Journalism Award, the Templeton-Cambridge Fellowship, and was recognized by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for her role in ABC’s coverage of September 11, 2001. She serves as an independent, voting member of the Moving Picture Institute’s board of trustees.
Rob Long is the board vice chairperson. He is best known for his work as a writer on Cheers, which he also co-executive produced in its final season. During his time with Cheers, the series received two Emmy awards and two Golden Globes. His most recent television series are George and Leo, starring Bob Newhart and Judd Hirsch; Love & Money on CBS; and Men, Women & Dogs on the WB Network. He created all three with his writing partner, Dan Staley. Their production company, Staley/Long Productions, has been based at Paramount Studios since 1993. A contributing editor to Newsweek International, he also writes for the Wall Street Journal. His book Conversations with My Agent chronicled his early career in television, a story that he continued in his 2005 book Set Up, Joke, Set Up, Joke. He graduated from Yale University in 1987 and spent two years at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, where he has also been an adjunct professor of screenwriting. He serves on the board of directors of the American Cinema Foundation and My Friend’s Place, an agency for homeless teens in Hollywood. He serves as an independent, voting member of the Moving Picture Institute’s board of trustees.
Stephen Modzelewski serves as the board chairperson. He has been active in the field of finance for decades. At Salomon Brothers, now part of Citicorp, he created mathematical models for valuing fixed income securities and developed the framework for “option adjusted spread,” now a standard analytical metric for complex fixed income securities. In 1988, he established the hedge fund Parsec Trading Corp. Then Modzelewski established his own firm, Maple Engine L.P., a private multi-strategy investment and trading fund focusing on speculative trading and venture investment. He serves on the boards of the Reason Foundation and the Institute for Justice. He serves as an independent, voting member of the Moving Picture Institute’s board of trustees.
Stacey Parks has over 16 years of experience in independent film as a sales agent, producer, and consultant for independent filmmakers. As a former foreign sales agent she’s sold hundreds of films worldwide. Her clients include Sundance, Cannes, Berlin, and Toronto award-winning filmmakers and producers who have successfully secured studio and mini-major distribution for their films. Parks has conducted extensive lectures and workshops on film distribution, finance, and marketing for the British Film Institute, the American Film Market, the South Australia Film Corporation, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, FilmArc for FilmPool Nord, Women in Film, Berlin Film Festival, and the Raindance Film Festival. Parks is a producer on the MPI Original feature Miss Virginia. She serves as an independent, voting member of the Moving Picture Institute’s board of trustees.
Frayda Levy is a co-founder of the Moving Picture Institute. She owned and managed a book distribution business for 18 years. Since selling this enterprise, she has gone on to be an influential leader and advisor to multiple advocacy organizations such as the Marijuana Policy Project. She holds an MBA from the Darden School at the University of Virginia and a BA from the University of Connecticut.
Thor Halvorssen is a co-founder of the Moving Picture Institute. Born in Venezuela, he is a world-renowned human rights advocate and film producer. His producing credits include feature-length documentaries such as Freedom’s Fury, Hammer & Tickle, and The Singing Revolution as well as the narrative short 2081, an adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s short story “Harrison Bergeron.” He is the founding CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and founder of the Oslo Freedom Forum and the Human Rights Foundations, where he currently serves as president and chief executive officer. He attended the University of Pennsylvania and graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude, with concurrent undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science and history.
Throughout a career spanning over four decades, Emmy and Tony Award nominee Peter Billingsley has achieved success both in front and behind the camera producing Iron Man, The Break-Up, IFC’S Dinner for Five, and directing the Vince Vaughn starred Couples Retreat. He also served as executive producer of the Netflix series F is for Family starring Bill Burr, Laura Dern, and Sam Rockwell, as well as Undeniable with Dan Patrick.
Michael Mandaville is a bondable line producer/unit production manager whose films include Taken and Taken 2 with Liam Neeson, Havoc with Anne Hathaway, The Kiss with Terence Stamp and Billy Zane, and American History X with Edward Norton. In addition to directing commercials, shorts, and documentaries, he has written several scripts and novels. He graduated from the University of Southern California with his MA in professional writing. He received his BA in philosophy at UC Santa Barbara and attended the undergraduate film program at Columbia College.
Tanner Mobley is the vice president of development for Millennium Media, producer of high-budget action features such as The Expendables franchise, Rambo: Last Blood, Olympus Has Fallen, and The Hitman’s Bodyguard. Tanner graduated from the University of Iowa in 2010 with a degree in cinema. With the help of an MPI internship, he relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film.
S. Leigh Savidge founded Xenon Pictures, Inc., the first independent distribution company for black audience content in the US home-entertainment marketplace. Xenon Pictures currently has a library of 160 titles and has financed and produced a number of documentaries including Welcome to Death Row, the basis for the screenplay of the Universal Pictures 2015 box office hit Straight Outta Compton, which Savidge also executive produced. In 2016, Savidge received a Writers Guild and an Academy Award nomination for the Straight Outta Compton screenplay.