Founder / Executive Director
Ben oversees all aspects of operations for Patton Veterans Project, from strategy and development to recruiting and marketing to relationships with military, medical and film professionals. Ben is directly involved with every workshop, along with each instructor team, reaching out to veteran participants individually before and after the workshops. The youngest grandson of WWII’s General George S. Patton Jr., Ben is co-author of Growing Up Patton: Reflections on Heroes, History and Family Wisdom (Berkley-Caliber, 2012). Formerly a producer and development executive at New York City’s PBS affiliate, he also operates Patton Productions, LLC, a full-service video production company specializing in marketing and promotional videos and high-end family biographies for private clients. Ben has a Masters Degree in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University-Teachers College and a BA from Georgetown University.
Javi is an energetic young man from The Dominican Republic who has called The Bronx his home for the last 16 years. As an immigrant, he has a keen eye for how systems operate and can often provide a fisheye lens view in comparative politics. After the attacks of 9/11, Javi responded by attending John Jay College of Criminal Justice where he studied international crime and joined the New York State Guard as a decontamination specialist (74D). Javi’s daily encounter with homeless veterans during his commute to college inspired him to create event and awareness around veteran homelessness and hunger and has since been involved in the veterans advocacy efforts in New York City.
Ian Bibby is a director, writer, editor and producer with several years of film and television experience. He has worked on multiple shows for both Warner Brothers and The Discovery Channel, and more recently served as Media Producer for the Maine Media Workshops & College in Rockport, Maine. Since moving to New York and receiving his MFA from the City College of New York, Ian has focused his energies on writing and directing. He has made over a dozen short films to date, and is currently hard at work on his first feature-length film script.
Liam Billingham is a teacher and filmmaker. His most recent short film, Future Perfect, is ‘the story of one student’s struggle in the complex and frustrating world of English as a Second Language in New York City.’ He currently teaches filmmaking and directing at various institutions in New York City and freelances as a director and editor. His first feature film, The Cape House, is scheduled to shoot in September 2014.
A former student of Academy of Art University San Francisco and current owner of his production company, Jeff Branch has a true passion for all things Photo and Video. Branch is supported by his loving wife, Hannah and young son, Jaden and currently works in development, production, and post-production of web videos, mini-documentaries and on-air commercials in the advertising and entertainment industry. His creativity and ambition continues to thrive on and off set through unique methods.
Michael Brown is an award-winning adventure filmmaker and mountain climber. He has summited Mount Everest five times—most recently when he co-directed the IMAX film, Return to Everest 3D. He also produced acclaimed feature documentary, High Ground, which follows 11 returning veterans during their ascent of one of the Himalayas highest peaks. Michael directs the Outside Adventure Film School, which organizes expeditions and seminars for aspiring filmmakers, including programs especially designed for veterans.
Patrick Downey is a freelance film director, producer and editor with an affinity for storytelling. Developed through the BFA film program of Regis University, his award winning short films have been featured across the state of Colorado. Over the past year he’s worked on both amateur and professional film sets working with the likes of Von Miller of the Denver Broncos and the band Train. His skills include proficiency in Final Cut Pro, Photoshop and a working knowledge of After Effects and Soundtrack. When Patrick isn’t freelancing as a filmmaker he passes his time working at REI in Denver. There he works with their Outreach program to get kids and adults outside to explore new activities and inspire a love for the outdoors he has long since enjoyed. He’s also pursuing his Colorado teacher’s license in order to fulfill his dream of becoming a high school creative arts teacher with an emphasis in film studies, photography and ceramics.
James has had the privilege of shooting professionally for 7 years on projects big and small, long and short. From national commercials and feature documentaries to television shows and festival-winning films, as well as corporate interviews, short docs and modern journalism. Several years ago, he formally studied the intricacies of storytelling, aesthetic emotion and content creation at film school and received a BFA in Writing and Directing. “The opportunity to work with veterans is a tremendous honor for me. The sacrifices that soldiers make to serve our country are many, and by being involved in this film workshop, it’s a small investment that I get to make into their lives as a thank you. Though I’ve never served in the military, I’m excited to hear and learn from the stories that each soldier carries with them.” More at jdfnet.com
Christen Kimbell was raised on a farm in Battle Ground, Washington State. As a child she wrote everything from books to comics to screenplays, publishing her first short story at the age of seventeen. She directed her first short at the age of sixteen using a 8 mm camera and Barbie dolls. She has since written and directed 12 short films and one documentary. Christen is currently in preproduction on her first feature, Far Behind, set in the Seattle grunge scene.
Steve McMillan, owner of Cape Fear Productions, got his start in still photography working on staff with Washington, DC area newspapers. Steve also worked on The Hill photographing Nixon, Bush, Reagan and a host of who’s-who in Washington. As a producer of sports and TV talk and radio shows, Steve brings a host of talents to fulfill any production task. More at Capefearproductions.com
Minos Papas is a British born Greek Cypriot filmmaker. He is the son of internationally acclaimed film director Michael Papas. Minos has been working professionally in New York’s independent film industry for the past ten years. He earned a BFA in Film at the School of Visual Arts and was awarded the school’s top award for Cinematography. Minos’ first independent feature film, Shutterbug (2009), was released theatrically in 2010 in New York and L.A. Minos made A Short Film About Guns (2102) to spread awareness on the illegal arms trade. The film won BEST ONLINE SHORT at the Tribeca Film Festival, 2013. He is currently in post-production on his second feature film, Behind The Mirror.
Originally from Leicester, England, Christine Parker began her film career in Sanford, North Carolina in 2004. She wrote and produced a short film “Second Death” that led to her producing, writing, and directing the prequel. It became her first feature, “Forever Dead” (currently distributed by Brain Damage Films/Maxim Media). Since then she has written produced, or directed over 13 films including feature films “Fistful of Brains” and “A Few Brains More”. She has won 11 awards for her films including most recently Best Director for “Fruits of Her Labor” at the 2013 Greensboro 48 Hour Film Festival. Her most recent short film “Mother “was shot with an all female crew under her new company Sick Chick Flicks. Sick Chicks and Adrenalin are now teaming up to create her fourth feature film “Fix It In Post”. More at adrenalinfilms.com
Jason de Parrie-Turner
Jason has been making films & art most of his life. Before opening a boutique video production company Heliorana Filmworks, with his wife Jeanne, he worked in television doing a variety of Telly Award winning outdoor adventure, reality & documentary shows for The Outdoor Channel, FOX Sports, The Speed Channel & the Smithsonian Channel. He holds degrees in Art & Psychology with post graduate work in Media Studies. He is currently at work on his 3rd feature documentary. His previous documentaries have played around the world including the Lincoln Center & won awards at festivals in the US & Canada as well as being featured on CNN. “Connecting with people through art & film & sharing my love of the craft is what brought me to I Was There Films.”More info at helioranafilm.com
Christina Raia is a New York City based Writer/Director and the Co-Founder of CongestedCat Productions, LLC. She has completed six independently produced short films and a handful of comedy sketches. Her work has made official selection at film festivals across the country. She wrapped production on her first feature film, Summit, in February of 2013 and it is slated to begin the festival submission period in 2014. Shortly after wrapping Summit, she directed and co-produced the web series “Kelsey,” which premiered in September, 2013. The first episode has had tens of thousands of plays. She fosters collaboration and support for the local film community through IndieWorks, a monthly film series showcasing the work of New York City-based independent filmmakers. She is currently in pre-production for a new short film to be produced in Spring, 2014. More at congestedcat.com
Chelsey is a commercial freelance video editor based out of the Carolinas. An Army Brat, she grew up moving around different bases in the south and overseas, but considers Ft. Bragg, NC home. She graduated with a double degree in Photography and Digital Media Arts – Cinema from John Brown University, and enjoys shooting documentary style short films. Editing is one of her true passions, using Adobe Premiere and Final Cut.
From feature films, documentaries, corporate promos and commercials, Lee’s films always emphasize the heart of the story. His attention to the specific needs of each project and his ability to deliver excellence on time and on budget have made him a go to guy in an extremely competitive industry. Whether it’s shorter projects with tight deadlines or large films with longer timelines, he simply loves helping tell your unique story. More at cuttoblack.com
Jeanette is a New York-based professional cinematographer and editor, transplanted from a small town in Ohio. Outside of her work for I WAS THERE and the Patton Veterans Project, she is involved in various documentary projects, as well as a professional wedding and event videographer and photographer in the New York area. For I WAS THERE, Jeanette plans and organizes recruitment and execution of our film workshops, as well as serves as a workshop instructor. She has always had an interest in anything involving a camera – this stands true today, and the I WAS THERE Film Workshops are the perfect way to integrate a passion for filmmaking and the desire to aid and honor our veterans. More at searsphotovideo.com
Scott Simmons was born in rural West Tennessee and didn’t really realize that movies and television had to be made by actual people until he went to college. After getting degrees in both Television Production and Graphic Design he was in one of the early graduating classes at the Watkins Film School in Nashville, Tennessee. During that time at Watkins he discovered editing. While most of his classmates in film school wanted to be directors, Scott saw real career opportunities in post production and took a job as an assistant editor after completing film school. With well over a decade of experience in all areas of post-production Scott has worked both as a freelancer and on staff at a post-house. In 2005 Scott created The Editblog a website dedicated to all things editing and post-production which is now a part of ProVideoCoalition.com where he is the managing editor. He has also written many articles and product reviews for Studio Daily. Working in a market like Nashville has allowed Scott the opportunity to work on a wide range of projects with many different kinds of post-production technology. Someday he hopes to edit on a beach with a touch screen device, a wireless hard drive and a Red Stripe.
Dani began making movies in Israel and refined his craft at Minshar film school. His short film “Guides” was accepted into a variety of international film festivals including the Jerusalem Film Festival and the San Francisco shorts festival as well as winning the grand prize at the New York Indie Works short festival. After moving to New York City, Dani continued to make compelling cinema, winning a cinematography award for the short ‘Zoe’ in the 48 Hours International Film Festival. He continues to create a buzz for himself both in New York and Israel.
Chris Ungco has been using filmmaking as an excuse to explore the world and meet new people for the last ten years. He believes in the therapy and clarity that working on a film can bring to people from any background. He hopes that soldiers and their families will benefit and enjoy telling their honest stories and gain new perspective on what’s coming ahead. Chris is a Brooklyn-based cinematographer and works primarily in commercials, documentary, and narrative films.
Midge Flinn Yost
Midge Flinn Yost is an Emmy™ Award winning video producer based in the DC/Baltimore area. She specializes in documentaries and historical films, and collaborates as a Producer/Director/Editor on educational and promotional films for broadcast, non-profit, government and corporate clients. She has produced, directed and edited more than 400 videos on a variety of subjects, and has collaborated on videos commemorating the service of women in the Seabees, housing for wounded warriors, and training segments for the Department of Homeland Security’s National Exercise Program. Midge shares her passion for storytelling with film through projects like the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership’s innovative learning program “Of the Student, By the Student, For the Student,”™ where she leads workshops on creative filmmaking for middle school students creating films about their connection to National Parks.