Cucalorus Film Foundation

Jengo's Playhouse
815 Princess Street
Wilmington, NC 28401

executive director: dan brawley
dan "at"

development director: craig stinson
development "at"
communications manager: ryan jaccard
comm "at"
operations manager: james martin
operations "at"
programming coordinator: natalie lentz
programming "at"
travel coordinator: zoë vanderploeg
travel "at"
volunteer coordinator: thomas van arsdale
volunteer "at"
social media coordinator: cassie foss
social "at" 
website coordinator: amanda taylor
programming guide coordinator: sarah bode
social events coordinator: sarah gilliam
socialevents "at"
community engagement director: ashley sparks
engagement "at"
residency coordinator: mariah dunn
cucalorus mascot: izzie
izzie "at"

Open Staff Positions  Volunteering Opportunities

Cucalorus Staff

dan brawley, executive director
Dancing to several tunes (mostly offbeat) all at once, Dan Brawley is the multi-media collaborator and curator leading Cucalorus since 1999. A graduate of Duke University and a native of Wilmington, Brawley is busy traveling around the world to find new films and challenging artists and bring them to the festival. Ever restless, Brawley is also the Past Chair of Atlanta-based non-profit Alternate ROOTS, an organization that supports the crossroads between art and activism.
craig stinson, development director
Craig Stinson is a native of Wilmington. He attended UNCW and UNC Chapel Hill and did graduate work at The George Washington University. He has extensive experience in arts administration and development, having worked at institutions including the Smithsonian Institution, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Library of Congress. Stinson believes Wilmington has one of the most amazing arts scenes in the country, so in his spare time he manages
ryan jaccard, communications manager

Ryan Jaccard stepped into the role of Communications Manager in January 2013. Jaccard coordinates with press, reaches out to new media partners, creates marketing materials and the e-newsletter, and passionately oversees an ever-expanding to-do list. Utilizing his background in Finance and Film Studies, Jaccard continues to build a thrilling path towards independent producing and distribution. Oftentimes, you can find Jaccard guzzling iced coffee behind the wheel, basking in physical media, recycling wine bottles, and spending time with "OPP" — other people's pets.



natalie lentz, programming coordinator 

Natalie Lentz returns to Cucalorus for her second year, this time as Programming Coordinator. She blends together enthusiasm for art, film, and people to curate a delicious experience for the Cuc' masses. With a Master's in Interior Architecture and Exhibit Design, she enjoys creating the visual experience. Lentz gravitates toward highly stylized forms and is intrigued by myriad of media forms. Exploring the relationship between image and sound and playing with texture, color, and pattern inspires her never-ending creative work.




james martin, operations manager
James Martin first got mixed up with the festival during Cuc' 18 as an usher at Jengo’s Playhouse, moving up in Summer 2013 as an intern coordinating the Surfalorus Surf Film Festival. Martin decided to stick around Cucalorus (mainly because everyone forgot to tell him to leave) and worked as the Jengo’s Facilities Manger during Cuc' 19. He's excited to help actualize all of the Big Ideas the Cuc' team is developing for the benchmark Cuc' 20. 





zoë vanderploeg, travel coordinator

Zoë Vanderploeg has loved volunteering with Cucalorus over past years, and she is super stoked to be on staff as Travel Coordinator for Cuc' 20. Beyond hanging out at Jengo’s masterminding flight schedules and eating stale popcorn, she is currently finishing her “victory lap” (aka extra semester) at UNCW. She will graduate in December with degrees in Film Studies and Economics. Vanderploeg is a casual collector of fun facts and corny jokes.





sarah bode cucalorussara bode, programming guide coordinator

Sarah Bode has enjoyed spelunking through the trenches of the design world. Due to her tenacious gumption, she is self-taught in layout, web, and graphic design. Bode got lost on UNCW's campus for a while--graduating twice with a BFA in Creative Writing and a BA in English, then a MA in Liberal Studies. She is Co-Founder and Contributing Editor of Palaver, an online, academic, interdisciplinary journal. A rare breed, Bode is a local Wilmingtonian and enshrines her first magical Cuc' moments in 2007 and every year since.




sarah gilliamsarah gilliam,social events coordinator

Sarah Gilliams's love for Cucalorus was unearthed in 2008, when she bravely took on the role as Jengo's Backyard bartender. A few years of Screenings Coordinating solidified her love for movies and engaging with the creative folks who make this festival quirky and special. This year Sarah is excited to put her event planning and socializing skills to the test as the Social Events Coordinator. Sarah's favorite part of the festival is the wacky and creative juices that flow throughout downtown Wilmington each year.



izzie, cucalorus mascot
Recently relocated from a no-kill animal resort on the outskirts of Conway, South Carolina, Izzie is a Mini-Pin and Spaniel mix with a few unknown ancestral lines. Izzie works diligently to maintain staff morale by licking hands, faces, and other places.  You can find her chewing sticks, practicing her stunt dog tricks, and looking out the window.    


Board of Trustees 

Beth Steelman, Chair
A Wilmington native, Beth Steelman kept a movie scrapbook when she was growing up. After graduating from Salem College (majoring in psycology and Spanish), Steelman worked as a newspaper reporter, a Girl Scout communications director, a public relations consultant and a fundraiser for various non-profits. She and her husband Ben have traveled to six of the seven continnets. Her family home in Carolina place is available for location shooting, in case anybody's interested.

Dylan Lee, President
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.

Robert Sharp, Past Chair
Robert Sharp has nearly 20 years of entrepreneurial experience, mainly in the digital media industry. Most recently, Sharp acquired Digieffects, a developer of special effects software for film and video. He moved the business to Wilmington, North Carolina in 2007 and since then has become highly involved with the local film community. Sharp grew up in Tokyo, Japan and holds a BA in Asian History from San Francisco State University.


Bo Webb, Treasurer
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.



Sue Meier, Secretary
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!
Dan Brawley
Dancing to several tunes (mostly offbeat) all at once, Dan Brawley is the multi-media collaborator and curator leading Cucalorus since 1999. A graduate of Duke University and a native of Wilmington, Brawley is busy traveling around the world to find new films and challenging artists and bring them to the festival. Ever restless, Brawley is also the Past Chair of Atlanta-based non-profit Alternate ROOTS, an organization that supports the crossroads between art and activism.
Rob Hill
Rob Hill majored in Motion Picture and Television Production at the University of Southern Colorado. With a small grant in 1999, he produced, directed, and edited the non-fiction film Live In It To Win It. Hill founded Common Sense Films, the company behind his Emmy-nominated documentary, The Fort Fisher Hermit: The Life and Death of Robert E. Harrill. The film also won Best Documentary Feature at the Hollywood Film Festival and is distributed nationally. The National Academy of Television Science nominated Hill for the prestigious Rising Star Award in 2007. 
Cathy Meriam
Cathy Meriam has been an active part of Cucalorus since its days of small offices and film submissions on VHS tapes. Her work experience includes positions on major motion pictures and in television--most recently wrapping the HBO/Cinemax show Banshee. Meriam has Produced and Directed feature films, short films, and documentaries. She has maintained Magnia Bene catering service, worked as the Director of Marketing and Promotions for local radio, and held various positions in Wilmington's Human Service Community.
Aaron Hillis
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.
Dave Monahan
Dave Monahan is a filmmaker and teacher. He is the co-author of Looking At Movies, an intro to film textbook published by W.W. Norton & Co., and serves as the chair of the Film Studies department at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
Jim O'Brien

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, 910.343.3434 in Wilmington or 919.783.1120 in Raleigh.  

Jill Tefft

Originally from a small town in upstate New York, Jill Tefft holds a MA in Theatre from Illinois State University. This is Tefft's fourth year on staff at the festival. As Development Director for Cuc' 19 Tefft will head up a variety of projects, including sponsorships, grants, and youth programs. Most days, she can be found in the office deep in conversation with Izzie. In her free time, Tefft enjoys drinking coffee, auditioning for local film productions, and playing with her miniature dachshund Buddy (sometimes all at the same time!).




Bill Vassar
Bill Vassar is the Executive Vice President of EUE Screen Gems Studios. He manages the company’s facilities in Wilmington and Charleston. Vassar joined EUE Screen Gems in 1997 as the manager of their video facility in New York City. In 2002, he added the responsibility of collaborating with their Wilmington studio management. Vassar serves on the North Carolina Governor’s Film Council and the board of the Wilmington Regional Film Office.

Sheena Vaught

Sheena Vaught is the only person in the world who's name is not spelled like it's pronounced, which is Shayna. A native of Calabash, North Carolina, Sheena is a script supervisor and also a filmmaker--directing documentaries on the Cape Fear Literacy Council and also on North Carolina prolific artist Ivey Hayes.  







Channing Duke

A CFCC graduate and current UNCW film studies student, this will be Channing Duke's second year heading up the tech department for Cucalorus. Duke's tasks include print traffic, tech volunteers, venue equipment rental/installation, overseeing day to day tech prior to and during the festival, and making sure all the films we screen look pretty. A self-proclaimed mad scientist and outer space enthusiast, in her off time, Duke works on local film productions and is designing her own international space station.  


Dan Brawley, Sr.





Omari Fox
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. 


Zoe Gilliam





Thomas Varnum
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.


Hillary Meinheit
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





Ambassadors Council

Hope Dickson Leach
Hope Dickerson Leach completed her MFA in filmmaking at Columbia University. Her award-winning thesis film The Dawn Chorus was selected for Sundance, Edinburgh, London, and many other festivals. Since her return to the UK she has made further acclaimed short works for Channel 4, Film London, the UKFC, and the National Theatre of Scotland. She is currently developing several feature films about strong crazy women and a cross-media project about celebrity culture.


Geoff Marslett
Geoff Marslett is a native Texan who took a circuitous path to filmmaking, studying mathematics, philosophy, art, science, and languages at St. John’s College before returning to Texas to pursue an MFA in filmmaking at UT (2001). His critically acclaimed Monkey vs. Robot screened at over 25 festivals worldwide, was distributed theatrically, and broadcast on HBO, PBS, and Univision.


Norwood Cheek
Norwood Cheek is a film and television producer, director, actor and writer who has worked behind and in front of the camera for 20 years. He has directed more than 70 music videos including ones for bands Eels, She & Him, Squirrel Nut Zippers, and Superchunk. A small-gauge film enthusiast, Cheek started flicker in Chapel Hill and leads film and music video workshops at film festivals around the world. 

Francesca Talenti
Francesca Talenti is a filmmaker and animator that has exhibited work from Sundance to PBS National. She has won a number of "best of" awards and has received grants from the Independent Television Service, Latino Public Broadcasting, and the Kauffman Foundation. Talenti is also a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she teaches media production. 


Josephine Decker
Josephine Decker is a Brooklyn-based performer and filmmaker. A magical realist at heart, she attempts to navigate the wavering sea-tide between fish-heads and teddy bears--always aiming for the truth. Her performance art has received national  coverage, and her feature doc Bi The Way, exploring the rise of bisexuality in America and available on Logo and Netflix, screened at SXSW, Silverdocs, and about 100 festivals worldwide.


Alfredo Covelli

Based out of Rome, Alfredo Covelli is an Italian screenwriter of features and TV series. During the last three years he has been directing films (any lengths, any genres—comedy, docs, experimental) shot in Italy, Israel, Palestine, Himalayas, and California. These films have been selected in 30 countries, in more than 150 festivals, winning a few awards in the U.S. Covelli is the founder of newborn Meproducodasolo production company, and he's producing films of new valiant and independent talents. 




Ya'Ke Smith

Known for his unflinching and veracious style of storytelling, Ya'ke Smith is a rising voice in independent cinema. His films have received world-wide acclaim, screening and winning awards at over 80 film festivals, including The Cannes International Film Festival, The Austin Film Festival, and The Urbanworld Film Festival. He is the recipient of a Director’s Guild of America Student Film Award, a regional Student Academy Award and an HBO Short Film Award. His short, Katrina’s Son, was eligible for the 2012 Academy Award in short filmmaking.



Adam Donaghey

Adam Donaghey, founder of Zero Trans Fat Prods., is an award-winning independent film producer from Texas. His work has been nominated for both the Independent Spirit and Gotham Awards, and has been showcased at fests including Sundance, Berlinale, SXSW, Sitges, LA Film Festival, AFI Fest, Hamptons Int’l Film Festival and Thessaloniki; and via distributors including IFC Films, Factory 25, XLRator Media, Cinetic Media, Fandor, Gathr, the Lifetime Channel and the Lifetime Movie Network.




Ingrid Veninger

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




Open Staff Positions

The Cucalorus Film Foundation seeks energetic and creative individuals to fill several key staff positions for the upcoming 20th annual Cucalorus Film Festival taking place November 12-16, 2014 in Wilmington, North Carolina. The following positions are open: box office manager and technical coordinator. Applicants should send a cover letter describing their interest in joining the Cucalorus team and explaining relevant experience. A brief resume (pdf) should accompany the letter. Poems or postcards with lovely missives strongly encouraged. All applications should be emailed to no later than July 29 at Noon. All positions are seasonal, part-time positions.

Technical Coordinator

Compensation: Stipend plus two Pegasorus passes
Job starts Fall 2014
8 hours per week from Aug 20 to Nov 10, full-time, on-call from Nov 10-20.

The Technical Coordinator (TC) is responsible for securing all equipment needed for film presentation and event execution for the annual film festival and other Cucalorus events. The TC will work with each venue to determine proper audio and video presentation methods. The TC will work with vendors, sponsors, supporters and friends to secure support and devices needed for the job. The TC will secure and supervise volunteers as needed to operate equipment during the festival. The TC will work closely with filmmakers to secure screening materials and to achieve high quality projection for a range of formats and conditions. Applicants should be have extensive knowledge of film file formats, film presenation trends, and should be able to work in high pressure environments. Applicant will be required to develop extensive proficiency with the Filemaker Pro database software. You should also probably like to watch lots and lots of movies.

Box Office Manager

Compensation: Stipend plus two Pegasorus passes
Job starts Fall 2014
8 hours per week from Aug 20 to Nov 10, full-time, on-call from Nov 10-20.

The Box Office Manager (BOM) oversees all ticketing and pass distribution for the festival. The BOM manages the setup of all online ticketing and trains all Box Office volunteers. The BOM works closely with each venue to plan Box Office operations. The BOM oversees the sale and distribution of passes and tickets to the general public. The BOM works with the Development Director to deliver passes and provide service to sponsors. The BOM develops strategies to increase pass sales. The BOM develops strategies to increase the efficiency of ticket and pass sale procedures. The BOM works closely with the Travel Coordinator, Communications Manager, Executive Director, and other staff. The BOM will setup and operate the festival's ticketing and pass headquarters - the Ticketbox.  Applicants should have relevant experience and should be proficient with Excel, a varitey of online systems, and the Mac OSX operating system. Applicant will be required to develop extensive proficiency with the Filemaker Pro database software. This position requires exemplary communication and organizational skills and an attention to detail. You should also be ready to have the time of your life.


Volunteer Opportunities

Cucalorus is made possible by an enormous volunteer staff. Each year hundreds of brilliant and talented people like you devote hours and hours to make the annual festival a truly unique and southern experience. To join the Cucalorus Family of dysfunktional spirits throw your 'deets' into this volunteer application. Our volunteer coordinator, Tommy van Arsdale, can be reached at, or at the Cuc headquarters on 815 Princess Street in downtown Wilmington.