Cucalorus Board of Directors
Thomas Varnum, Chair
Thomas Varnum is an intellectual property, film and business lawyer with the Brooks Pierce law firm. He helped Brooks Pierce open its office in downtown Wilmington in 2013. Varnum grew up in Northern California, and attended UNC Chapel Hill before earning his law degree at UC-Davis. Now he lives, works and plays right here in beautiful Wilmington. Call Varnum at 910-444-2022, email him, or visit his website bio page.
Sue Meier, President
Sue Meier grew up in Michigan and lived in New York before making Wilmington her home. She’s been teaching, dancing, and choreographing with The Dance Cooperative for 10+ years. Meier’s been a participant of Dance-a-lorus, working with different filmmakers on a variety of projects. She’s also involved in the North Carolina Dance Festival’s stop in Wilmington, having produced the event for several years. When she’s not at the studio, Meier will likely be found at the beach!
Jackie Olive, Secretary
Jacqueline Olive founded Tell It Media to create documentaries that tell nuanced stories of the people, places and cultures that make up our diverse world. She coordinated the production of the Emmy Award-winning PBS documentary series, Independent Lens, and Global Voices for three seasons. Bringing experience in the journalism field since 2002, Jackie also co-created Black to Our Roots, which broadcast on PBS World. Jacqueline has produced transmedia projects as a fellow with the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) and the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC).
Dylan Lee, Treasurer
Dylan Lee lives in Wilmington with his wife Nicole and two Labradors. He loves Wilmington so much that he has moved here on four separate occasions! His first try was after he finished college at UNCG in 1992. Lee finally stuck in 2000, when he moved to be station manager for TV channel GTV8. Lee works to make WIlmington a better place and wants people to know that Cucalorus weekend is the best weekend of the year in this great city.
As the Account Specialist for Entertainment Partners Purchasing Service and EP Financial Solutions, Hillary Meinheit works closely with the vast majority of film and television projects that come into the state. As the great-granddaughter of John T Hoggard, Meinheit’s roots run deep in Wilmington and she is excited to see the success of the film industry in the region and the expansion of film studies and productions throughout the entire state
Dana Cook is a native Californian who fell in love with Spanish moss and a southern guy. In 2003, they moved their business, 4 kids, 3 dogs, and a cat named Spot to his home town of Wilmington. Dana owns Julia’s Florist and loves spreading Flower Power whenever possible. Her involvement with Cucalorus is driven by a secret life which includes drawn drapes, salty snacks, and indie films.
Bo Webb has been involved with Cucalorus since it began in 1994, and was one of the original members of Twinkle Doon, a group of friends and filmmakers who thought a festival would be a good idea for Wilmington. He’s been on the Cucalorus Board for many years in various roles, including Chair. He works in the film business as a camera operator and director.
Aaron Hillis was recently praised by Brooklyn Magazine as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Brooklyn Culture.” Hillis is a film critic and programmer who has written for The Village Voice, Time Out NY, LA Weekly, Variety, Filmmaker Magazine, Indiewire, Premiere, and Spin. He is also the owner of Video Free Brooklyn, three-time “Best Video Store in NYC” winner. Hillis’ co-directorial feature debut, Fish Kill Flea, screened at Cuc’ 2007.
Born in Bratislava and raised in Canada, Ingrid Veninger formed pUNK Films with a ‘nothing is impossible’ manifesto. Veninger has produced six features in the past six years, which have premiered at TIFF and numerous festivals worldwide. Currently, Veninger is a part-time member of the Film Studies Faculty at York University, Screenwriter-in-Residence at the University of Toronto, and she recently initiated the pUNK Films FEMMES LAB to foster feature films written and directed by women.
Jim O’Brien is an entertainment and business lawyer with Poyner Spruill LLP. O’Brien is the preeminent independent film lawyer in North Carolina and represents clients in many other aspects of the entertainment industry. He also has a significant corporate and general business practice and serves as outside general counsel to many established and emerging growth companies in various industries. O’Brien is serving his second term on the North Carolina Governor’s Film Council and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 910.343.3434 in Wilmington or 919.783.1120 in Raleigh.
Mike Duncan Mike Duncan is the CEO and Creative Director of Sage Island Digital Marketing, an agency which has spent the last 20 years at the forefront of internet marketing. An innovative thinker and entrepreneur with expertise in start-ups, turnaround, and rapid growth, Mike’s ability to analyze key business drivers and develop compelling strategies has produced countless success stories.
Dan Brawley, Sr.
Dan Brawley has over 40 years of experience in large, complex cases. He concentrates his practice on the areas of construction law, commercial litigation and maritime law, as well as personal injury and property damage claims. His practice has significant concentration in business tort litigation including prosecution and defense of claims for breach of fiduciary duties, unfair and deceptive trade practices, fraud and constructive fraud, among others, and has handled numerous cases before the North Carolina Business Court.
Omari Fox is an artist and founder of his own signature visual style. He currently serves as in the leadership of Alternate Roots on the Executive Committee and the Resources for Social Change innovation ensemble, organizing the membership and the communities advocating for the principles of Community Engagement. Since attending the 2010 Cucalorus Film Festival, Fox has hosted a number of events, and supported community engagement work for social justice based films and documentaries formally joining the board in 2012.
Johnny Griffin has been the Director of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission, Inc. for 15 years. Prior to joining the film commission, he worked as a Location Manager in the film and television industry for 14 years. His list of credits include the films Crime of the Heart, Glory, Rambling Rose, Die Hard With A Vengeance, Ace Ventura – When Nature Calls, Renaissance Man, 28 Days, and the television series Matlock. He is currently a Certified Film Commissioner with the Association of Film Commissioners International. Prior to moving to Wilmington in 1985, he attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Radio, Television, and Motion Pictures.
Sean Ahlum is the Director of Business Development at TekMountain. Sean previously served as the director of technology and communications for the UNCW’s Office of Housing and Residence Life. The intersections of technology, community, and business development are the basis of his passion. Sean received multiple degrees from UNCW including a BA in English, an MFA in Professional Creative Writing, and an MBA from the Cameron School of Business. He spends his free time fishing, surfing and enjoying leisurely walks with his wife and dog.