Chesley Heymsfield – Executive Director (LIFF)
Favorite Film: Raiders of the Lost Ark
Favorite Film Role: Indiana Jones
Chesley has worked with talented artists from all around the world on independent feature films, music videos and commercials. As a producer, she engenders support for the creative process. Her first music video Aesop Rock’s “Fast Cars” was nominated for three MTV Woodie Awards in 2005 (Best Video of the Year, Most Watched and Best Animation), aired at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood and Anthem in London. She line produced “Don’t Feel Right” music video for internationally acclaimed band The Roots and popular Italian singer DJ Jad’s music video, “This Feeling”. Supporting talent to produce high quality projects is her passion. Chesley line produced the cult comedy feature film, “Team Extreme” for Fox/Fuel TV, which premiered at X- Dance at Sundance 2006, a series of commercials for J. Walter Thompson Chicago “Thermasilk” and short films for Mandate Pictures (Juno, Finding Neverland). Her independent produced feature film, “The Woods Have Eyes” was released on Blu-Ray by Echo Bridge.
As Producer, Chesley’s Nike commercial entitled “Goal” for the World Cup Soccer 2006 games was an Official Honoree for both Telly and Webby Awards. Chesley co-founded representation firm Pangea Reps in the heart of Santa Monica and managed such companies as: Stan Winston Studios and ReelFX for commercial production/post/vfx. She served as visual effects producer on theatrically released “Bratz” and visual effects associate producer on “Hostel: Part II”. She co-wrote the feature film screenplay “Vijj” to be directed by Robert Englund based on a novel by the Russian author Nikolai Gogol and served as liaison for her the Royal Family of Qatar for a biography film on the poet Rumi. She also adapted the feature thriller screenplay, “Webcam” for Spanish-based Sole Goldstern Media and “I Want To Be A Soldier” for Barcelona-based Canonigo Films. “I Want To Be A Soldier” filmed in Spain with Danny Glover and Robert Englund, won the Rome International Film Festival 2010 Kid’s Choice Award. Chesley founded and serves as Executive Director of the Louisiana International Film Festival & Mentorship Program, a non-profit organization based in Louisiana.
Ian Birnie – Programming Director
Ian Birnie is a Canadian-born film professional with experience in script development, cultural and festival programming, and film marketing and distribution. Mr. Birnie was the Curator of Film and Director of the Film Department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from 1996 thru 2010. His prior positions include Director of Distribution for Janus Films (NYC), Head of English-language Script Development for Telefilm Canada (Toronto), Cultural Attaché for the Government of Ontario (NYC) Project Director for European Film Promotion (Hamburg) and the U.S. Representative for the Mumbai International Film Festival (India). Ian has been a programmer for the Toronto, Bangkok, Palm Springs, and Perugia Film Festivals and has served on juries at the Berlin, Hamptons, Abu Dhabi and Geneva Film Festivals. He is currently Program Director for the Louisiana International Film Festival in Baton Rouge.
Favorite Film: Tokyo Story
Peggy Sweeney-McDonald – Managing Director
Peggy Sweeney-McDonald was the owner/president of Superstar Events-L.A. in Los Angeles where she produced unique and memorable red carpet, non-profit and corporate events. She is the creator of Meanwhile, Back at Café Du Monde… Life Stories About Food, the hit festive food monologue show and the author of the best-selling coffee table book by Pelican Publishing. Peggy has been a presenter at The Louisiana Book Festival, The Faulkner Society Words & Music Conference, The California Culinary Historians, The Louisiana Restaurant Association, Women of Infinite Possibilities, Passions of the Palate and the Chili Pepper Extravaganza. She is a graduate of Louisiana State University. In 2016, she moved back to her hometown of Baton Rouge after living in Los Angeles for the past 18 years. She is a member of Screen Actors Guild and has worked in commercials, film and television. She has written two Louisiana based television pilots and one is in the semi-finals for Randy Becker’s NexTV Screenwriting Contest.
Favorite Film: The Sound of Music
Film Role I Identify with: Dorothy, Wizard of Oz
Jason Allen – Production Director
Jason has been with LIFF since it’s inception in 2013 He lives & works in Los Angeles-CA, loves his family, traveling & experiencing the world making movies. After graduating from Century High School in 1997, he took off for Los Angeles and enrolled in the UCLA Short Fiction Film Program, where he wrote & directed The Lift (2000), one of the six selected films in the program to premiere at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Theater. Jason has gone on to be an intricate part of many ambitious- challenging feature films, award-winning short films, television, countless promos, commercial & music video productions as the first assistant director, producer and editor.
His reputation as the first assistant director (member of the Director’s Guild of America since 2011) on a production staff has proven invaluable to a number of independent feature films including recently completed Deep Murder directed by Nick Corirossi (starring Christopher McDonald, Katie Aselton, Chris Redd, Stephanie Drake & Jerry O’Connell) and Ray Meets Helen directed by Alan Rudolph (starring Kieth Carradine, Sondra Locke, Samantha Mathis, Jennifer Tilly, Kieth David & Kim Waynes). As a Producer, Jason took on the challenge of shooting in Kyoto, Japan for the award-winning short film, Chiyo. Along with Masanori Baba (producer, writer & director) and their stellar Japan/USA crew, Jason was also the first assistant director & post-production supervisor for this beautiful and touching film about a 4-year-old girl in 1945 in search of her dead father during O-Bon, the Japanese Festival of the Dead. This earned Allen & Baba the distinction of being semi-finalists in the 2006 Academy Awards for Best Live-Action Short…Chiyo is distributed by Shorts International and available for purchase/download on iTunes.
Andrew Vogel – Production Manager
Andrew is a producer/actor born and raised in New Orleans, LA, currently living out on the West Coast, in the other L.A. Andrew worked as the Editor of Louisiana Film and Video Magazine and is currently The Operations Director, Los Angeles for The Louisiana International Film Festival, and is a Co-Founder of Dynasty Pictures, a film production company. Andrew has produced/directed a series of short films, produced several music videos, and currently has a slate of feature films in different stages of development and production.
Andrew has established himself as an actor with notable credits including A Walk in the Woods starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte, CBS’s Under the Dome as a recurring character, The Astronaut Wives Club on ABC, and box-office sleeper hit God’s Not Dead. Andrew has a strong background in sales and a degree in Psychology from Louisiana State University.
Favorite Film: The Matrix
Favorite Character: Truman Burbank
Elliott Estelle – Box Office Manager & Film Society Coordinator
Elliott joined the Louisiana International Film Festival in 2017 as the Box Office Manager and has since played various roles with the festival. She is excited to be hosting screenings and running the LIFF Ambassador program in preparation for next year’s fest! Elliott is an actress and is dedicated to keeping the film scene alive and growing in Baton Rouge. She has been in Louisiana for 4 years, and in the last 18 months she has fully immersed herself in the world of acting and filmmaking. She has produced several short films and regularly assists in the writing and casting process. Elliott loves all things performance art and is also involved in modeling and live performance, including burlesque, singing, and reading poetry. When she is not on a stage or a movie set, she is spending time with her daughter and enjoying the outdoors.
Favorite Film: Velvet Goldmine
Film Role I Identify with: Dale Cooper, Twin Peaks
Aaron Hogan – Photographer
Aaron Hogan, owner and principal photographer of Eye Wander Photo, has been seeking light and emotion his entire 15 year career. He opened his photo studio to share his gift to capture a thought-provoking, emotional story within a single image. Aaron says, “I love nothing more than to spend time with the people that I photograph, and want to laugh with them, listen to their goals, and design a photographic story that captures them perfectly at that moment in time.”
Aaron can’t imagine Baton Rouge without LIFF because it so perfectly brings together the arts and movie lovers as well as those who have powerful stories to share with the world. It gives local filmmakers a strong voice as well as brings in outsiders who know nothing about Louisiana, helping elevate our state to greatness.
My favorite film is A Thousand Times Goodnight which I actually saw at LIFF 2015 because of its timeless, beautiful cinematography and its raw emotional true-to-life story about a woman who is a war photojournalist with a family and young children. The film character I identify most with is the lead female photojournalist who chases raw photojournalistic stories for a living despite obvious threats to her safety and family.
Jency Hogan – VIP Coordinator
Jency originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, acted in Los Angeles for 8 years before returning to once again be a vital part of Louisiana’s film community. She loves acting and creating her own content. She has a passion for period drama. She also produced films such as Madeline’s Oil, With My Soul, Painted Parakeets, and The Verses. She has recently directed a film called Last Light.