James Duke is an accomplished filmmaker, pastor, educator, and communicator. As an independent filmmaker, James has almost twenty years experience in film, television, and video production. His credits include writing, producing and directing over a hundred award-winning short films, documentaries, and theatrical productions. He has produced several feature films including The Least of These starring Isaiah Washington and Robert Loggia, and Ragamuffin about the life of Christian singer/songwriter Rich Mullins. James’ passion for developing filmmakers led him to found the Inspiration Film Fest as well as serve as the executive director of the Damah Film Festival.
Recently, he served as the president and CEO of Updog Studios, a production company in Florida that seeks to create provocative, thought-provoking entertainment and commercial cinema. James is a successful team builder with strong leadership skills and who enjoys collaborating with other creatives.
As a pastor, James served on staff at his church, Mosaic LA, for 10 years where he oversaw several ministries including film, live production, and family ministries. He’s also served as pastor in communities of faith in Tennessee and Florida.
As an educator, James’ passion for investing in and mentoring the next generation of filmmakers and storytellers has led him to create high school and collegiate-level curriculum taught and fully accredited in schools both in California and Florida.
As a communicator, James has been privileged to speak to thousands of people around the world on the topics of film, faith and culture.
James received his B.A. in Communications from Union University in Jackson, TN. He is also a graduate of the Los Angeles Film Studies Center, and the Act One writing program.
He is madly in love with his wife, Samantha, and their two young children. To schedule James for a speaking event, please contact him at email@example.com.
LARA SUMERA SAMMS
PRODUCING PROGRAM DIRECTOR
Lara Sumera Samms is responsible for creating and implementing programs that further Act One’s mission and equip Alumni to make an impact in the industry. Her love for storytelling is influenced by all art forms and is herself a producer, photographer, spoken word poet, and podcast host. Also a travel bug, she has participated in humanitarian work abroad, working and sometimes living with local communities in the Dominican Republic, Thailand, Kenya, Mexico, and Chile. She has also lived in England, backpacked through the Mediterranean countries, and couch-surfed her way throughout the United States. She is now in LA working as an independent producer, photographer, and podcaster.
WRITING PROGRAM DIRECTOR
Chris is a writer and corporate communications director with over twenty years of experience. He has written and designed for Fortune 500 companies like Eli Lilly and Lockheed Martin, as well as non-profits, small businesses, and entrepreneurs.
Chris’ first novel under his own imprint label is The Legends of Saint Nicholas, the origin story of the Santa Claus myths. The book is available from The Story Haus and sold wherever fine books can be found.
Chris is currently writing two novels: The Sounds of Fury and The Adventures of Lewis & Clark, as well as their companion feature film scripts.
He is also in development on a web series titled Red Lips, and the feature film Great, Once.
A published author, his articles have appeared in Group Magazine, Relevant Magazine, and other online journals.
Chris is married to Carissa, an actress, and they have three sons. All reside in Los Angeles, California.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Chairman of the Board
Producer/Writer, Principal, Wind Dancer Films
CHRISTINA LEE STORM
Production Executive, Dream Works Animation
Principal, MPower Productions