Cucalorus Film Foundation

Staff / Board / Volunteer / Ambassadors
Jengo's Playhouse
815 Princess Street
Wilmington, NC 28401

executive director: dan brawley
development director: blair middleton
development "at" 
sponsorship coordinator: joey toler
sponsors "at"
senior programming associate: rachel taylor
programming "at"
operations manager: channing duke
operations "at"
communications coordinator: becca ederer
comm "at"
stage coordinator: thea fitz-james
stage "at"
film coordinator: courtney bridgers
film "at"
cucalorus mascot: izzie
izzie "at"

Volunteer Opportunities

Open Staff Positions

Cucalorus Staff

dan brawley, chief instigating officer
danny boy was born in wilmington and watches too many movies. dan wanders around the world for about 4 months each year - mostly going to film festivals and conferences about social justice and culture. the brawler lives inside of the growing artist village with no name in downtown wilmington - two historic houses, a cabin, and twelve studios - with a micro-cinema, a garden with lots of weeds, and an enchanting collection of strange peoples and things. saint 43 has a dog named izzie. they walk a lot.

blair middleton, development director
With a background in environmental science and massage therapy, Blair spends her days with her feet rooted in data and her hands crafting love bombs. She geeks out about human anatomy, costume parties, and lately, rock climbing. Blair believes every movie is better with snacks.








rachel taylor, programming coordinator

Rachel studied theater as an undergrad and thought she wanted to be on stage, but soon discovered she prefers to be the one keeping everything organized and running smoothly. She started stage managing, house managing, and eventually moved into arts management. She’s worked for theaters and arts organizations in Boston, nonprofits in Wilmington, and received her Master of Public Administration with a focus on Nonprofit Management from UNC. Also a 500-hour registered yoga teacher, Rachel likes to be upside down and yoga with people as much as possible.





channing duke, operations manager
Channing is a CFCC graduate and current UNCW film studies student. This is her fourth year on staff at Cucalorus. 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.  







becca ederer, communications coordinator

Becca, a UNCW film studies graduate, is working her first year with Cucalorus. She loves all types of movies from Film Noir to Bollywood, and can often be found exploring the outdoors. After jumping out of several planes in South America, she hopes to one day have her skydiving license. Strike up a conversation and she'll never stop talking, because she is your biggest fan! 





joey toler, sponsorship coordinator

Joey Toler is new to Cucalorus, but not new to working in the arts. Having just relocated to Wilmington after 3 tries in 10 years to be with his significant other, he leaves behind a job as Executive Director of the Beaufort County Arts Council in Washington, NC where he developed relationships with arts leaders across the state. He hopes that some of this experience will come into play in his new role with Cucalorus, and is very happy to be in a new environment with new challenges. He is especially excited about not being in charge.




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 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.


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
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
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
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.


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 women.

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.  

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
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
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
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.

Ambassadors Council


Rebecca Kenyon
Rebecca Kenyon is a London-based filmmaker and director of 'mote of dust films' focused on social documentaries. Whilst making multi award-winning feature Something You Can Call Home she was a founding member of the artist residency program at Cucalorus where it also premiered, and has gone on to screen at 20 film festivals and 80 community events. She has recently completed an international film and theatre live streamed project, Phone Home, based around refugee experiences, and is currently working on a documentary with end of life doulas.

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.


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.


 Laura D'Asta
Laura is an Italian, London based cross-interdisciplinary, highly versatile filmmaker, art director and curator. A TorinoFilmLab and BAFTA crew member, she extensively works across multi-award-winning UK and international independent productions from shorts and promos, through to features and cross-media, including theatre and dance. All her work has been screened and awarded worldwide at major film festivals such as Sundance, London BFI, Venice, and Berlinale. Her most recent credits include: That Good Night, Marco Lusini: The Colours of the Human Soul, Daniel and Influx.

 Steve Fox







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. If you have any questions, email us at or give us a holler at 910-343-5995.

Open Job Opportunities

More positions coming soon!