ADVISORY BOARD

Janis Cole

Janis Cole (Phd.) Culture, Language, Literature & Literacy educator and consultant; Diversity Facilitator, ASL/English CDI interpreter, International Sign interpreter, Creative arts consultant, actor, director and producer and CEO - LesDeux2 Productions. Janis was a faculty member with the ASL/Deaf Studies Department at Gallaudet University and currently, she is an adjunct professor at Gallaudet University and a Phd candidate, Translation/Interpretation (pedagogy/research) at Gallaudet University as well.  She has done work at Boston University with the ASL/Deaf Studies/Deaf Education program. Janis was with National Theatre of the Deaf - The Three Musketeers, on Broadway Children of a Lesser God as well as in Chicago and Buffalo, NY.  Janis has had numerous experiences working as an ASL consultant for various shows. Janis was the co-founder of Hands-on Theatre in NYC in 1980 including several Broadway (The Elephant Man with David Bowie; Annie; The Who’s Tommy; The Pirates of Penzance; Fiddler on the Roof, just to name a few) and Off- Broadway shows; Broadway in Boston, The Huntington Theatre Company; The Wang Center: RENT, The Phantom Opera, Miss Saigon to name a few as well. 

Gary Grecco

Gary hails from Connecticut and is new to the South Bay.
Gary currently is employed at El Camino College as the Director of the Special Resource Center/ASL/Interpreter Training Programs. 
Prior to coming to California, Gary, a Nationally Certified Interpreter, has worked as an Interpreter within a variety of settings. His passion is Theatrical Interpreting having interpreted for The Bushnell Memorial Performing Arts Center in Hartford, CT., The Yale Reparatory Theatre in New Haven, CT., The Shubert Theatre, New Haven, CT., as well as having interpreted for The National Theatre of the Deaf, (NTD). Gary is also a Board member of NTD-CT. 
Gary has worked overseeing support services for students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing working as the Director/Program Coordinator of the Collegiate Education for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing/ASL/Interpreter Preparation Programs at Northwestern Conn. Community College in Winsted, CT. Prior to working at Northwestern Conn. Community College, (his alma mater), Gary worked as a Vocational Rehabilitation/Rehabilitation Counselor/for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, with the State of Connecticut Bureau of Rehabilitation Services for 14 years, as well as being a Licensed Professional Counselor by the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health. 
Gary, a native signer is a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults), and his wife, Rose who is Deaf now reside in the South Bay with their son Marcus who is a 5th generation alumnus from the American School for the Deaf, who is a Film Maker majoring in Film at El Camino College. Gary is excited to be a part of this journey with Sign World Studios.

Manny Johnson | ASL Nook

 

Originally made in Georgia, Manny is finally living in the weirdest city – the beloved Austin, Texas. He is a feminist dad to two crazy, adventurous girls. Sometimes his wife feels like Manny is the third kid. Manny is quite the joker, sweet potato lover, and chameleon who blends in with all kinds of people.

You may recognize Manny from ASL Nook, a web series lasting 5 years, Deaf Out Loud documentary, or even, the viral Disney Commercial. Manny is the father of emerging Deaf actress Shaylee Mansfield who recently appeared in Noelle by Disney+ (2019), Bunk'D by Disney Channel (2020), Feel the Beat by Netflix (2020), and 13 Minutes (TBD).

Manny is a fierce advocate for authentic representation on and behind the screen including our very own Deaf talent.
 

Michael Kaufer | Deaf Film Camp

    Michael Kaufer is the Director of the Deaf Film Camp (DFC) program at Camp Mark 7 and has been a long-time supporter of CM7 by raising funds since 2010. He was an educator of Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing (HOH), Hearing and KODA children for more than 25 years, most of them at New York City public schools. Upon retiring from teaching, he became an Apple Specialist where he works with different type of customers.

Since 2015, Michael also worked closely with Lights! Camera! Access! 2.0, a non-profit organization that provides training and resources for people with disabilities to gain employment in media. 

In addition to his incredible list of involvement, Michael was asked to be one of the judges for Clin d’Oeil during the summer of 2019 and was a part of the running committee for OIOL 2020 Film Festival in Washington DC. 

Finally, Michael believes that every Deaf/HOH child who aspire to be in the media, absolutely can achieve their dreams. As a Director for DFC, he knew how important it was to recognize those young children's dreams and to propel it into reality. In a way, you can say that he is one of the most active advocate for future Deaf/HOH filmmakers.
 

JD Michaels

Kansas City native, graduate of Yale University, resident of Brooklyn, New York, and proud Ravenclaw. 

26 years of advertising work earned JD Michaels Titanium Lions, Black Pencils, Gold of many shapes (including three ADCOLOR awards) and the AAF MOSAIC award; but his combined positions as EVP Director of Creative Engineering and EVP Director of Diversity for BBDO New York gave him the chance to combine dynamic creativity with active social dignity.

And now, Jd serves as the distinguished-grey half of michaels.adams., a worldwide arts and technology house, where he and Casey Adams head an international collective of creative professionals that combine technology, traditional crafts, fine art, (and often duct tape) to realize innovative art, education, and community service initiatives. Season One of their StoriesAboutUs™ publishing imprint features fiction from the American Disability community, available through Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Audible.

http://www.jdmichaels.me 

Specialties: Management, Engineering, Education, Magic, Production, Design, Orchestral Composition, Communication (Mass and Interpersonal), Live Performance, Realization of the Impossible, Inclusion and Tangible Harmony, and an Actually Quite Delicious Homemade Cauliflower Based Pizza Crust.

Neil Watson

Director
Local 600 Camera Operator

    Neil Watson is a Director, Producer, Writer and Director of Photography living in Los Angeles. He was born and raised in the town of Aguadilla on the north west coast of Puerto Rico. At a very young age, Neil was filming surfing and skating videos with his friends, telling stories of his youth in a small town. Life took over and he left his passion in order to work and make a living as a bartender and a variety of other jobs. He moved to Florida to make a life for himself. After many years of moving around the east coast and working different jobs, Neil found the opportunity to realize his dream as a filmmaker. He attended Full Sail University and shortly after began working as Production Assistant and later Camera Assistant on many spanish tv shows. Georgia was next and there he moved up and worked on many shows as a Camera Operator including Sharknado 3 and American Ninja Warrior. Wanting to tell his own stories, Neil decided to make the move to Los Angeles 4 years ago, where he continues to work as a Local 600 Camera Operator on independent feature films as well as big studio features like James Cameron's Avatar Sequels. He has written and directed award winning short films and commercials in addition to music videos and is currently writing his first feature film. In 2019 Neil and his partner Veronica Smith set up their production company called Film Dreams Inc. where they produce films, music videos, commercials, sizzle reels, etc. from concept to final product.

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