Meet The Founders

Elisabeth RowneyChief Executive Officer

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Elisabeth has an extensive background in theater, fashion, education, photography, and art direction. She holds a Bachelor and a Masters in Art History and started her museum career over 10 years ago as a Gallery Assistant at Seminole Community College. From there, she has volunteered as a docent, intern, and educator at the Goodwood Plantation Museum and Garden, Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science, Saint Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, and the Orlando Museum of Art.

After four years as an Associate Professor of Art History, Elisabeth is currently the Course Director for Art Design and Location Shooting within the Digital Cinematography Bachelor of Science program at Full Sail University. A class which focuses on location research, location permits and how to use art historical, theatrical and design aspects in order to locate the ideal location for shooting a film.

As well as writing prior essays about Auguste Rodin for Smarthistory and Khan Academy, Elisabeth is a published photographer and has served as an AP Reader for AP Art History through College Board and ETS.
 

Michael HanlyChief Operating Officer

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Michael’s career in the film industry began in High School where he created public service video documentaries for the Orange County, CA Public Cable System. After attending New York University Film Workshops he chose to pursue a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Cinema from Columbia College-Hollywood in California.

He was asked back to his alma mater by Brianne Murphy, ASC – now president of the college –  to redesign and lecture in their film editing classes. As full-time faculty for Watkins College of Art and Design Film School in Nashville, he created and classes in advanced production techniques and visual storytelling as well as aiding in the expansion of their program from an Associates Degree to a Bachelors Degree in Film Production.

To date, he has and continues to create curriculum, online lectures, and filmmaking demonstrations for class ranging from film production and advanced post-production through screenwriting and American film criticism. He holds a Master of Science in Entertainment Business and is co-author of a textbook on visual character development with Elisabeth Rowney.
 

Cassandra Willard

As an attorney working with startups and entrepreneurs in various creative, business and technical fields, Cassandra provides transactional support from concept to exit. Throughout her time practicing, she has worked with inventors, web designers, content creators, venues, artists, actors, performers, filmmakers, and special effects/make-up artists, and many others, to negotiate contracts, optimize opportunities, safeguard intellectual property rights and limit potential risk/liability.

Currently, Cassandra serves as the Chair of the Entertainment, Art & Sports Law Section of The Florida Bar and has presented a TEDxOrlando talk on “An Attorney’s Perspective on Creativity.” She is also a frequent speaker at law schools, universities and other organizations/festivals within the state.

As President-Elect of the National Association of Women Business Owners Orlando chapter, Cassandra helps support efforts to propel women entrepreneurs into economic, social and political spheres of power worldwide by hosting webinars and seminars to raise awareness of key topics in building a successful business concept to a successful business pitch.
 

Kimberly Coates Carlisle

Kimberly began her career in makeup and hair in 1989, apprenticing with various opera companies across the United States until 1996 when she moved her professional career from opera to film and television.

She worked at NBC for Saturday Night Live, Conan O’Brien, The Rosie O’Donnell Show, Dateline NBC, and The Today Show. Also designing opera at The Juilliard School of Music, and working on Broadway part-time at Cabaret, Beauty and the Beast and Les Miserables. Branching both New York and Florida, Kimberly’s film experience includes The Florentine, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, National Lampoon’s Robodoc, Cassadaga, and The Tooth Fairy 2.

In 2000 Kimberly moved to Orlando where she designed for Orlando Opera Company and Mad Cow Theater. In 2005 she expanded her career into education by creating curriculum specific to hair and makeup for the Film Department at Full Sail University where she continues to teach while heading the Hair and Makeup Department for the WWE’s NXT show.
 

William Kavan

For over 30 years William has been in the entertainment industry. From independent comics, feature films, and national television to teaching, Visual Storytelling is his life’s work. As a director, producer, and production manager of a wide range of projects, from corporate videos and instructional interviews to narrative storytelling, William has taken projects and clients from concept through delivery. William’s specialty is designing and creating experiences that capture audiences, create brand loyalty, and build relationships.

As a teacher, William has taught or created classes on basic and advanced lighting techniques, cinematography, producing, directing, script formatting, and digital filmmaking.

William holds a Bachelor’s in Film and a Master’s in Entertainment Business. He is currently the Dean of Education for Compass College of Cinematic Arts in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
 

Erik Reiss

For nearly 20 years, Erik has been the Program Director/Vice President of Anime Festival Orlando (AFO), the first anime festival ever held in Orlando. Under Erik’s leadership, AFO developed the groundbreaking Interactive Convention Experience (ICE). This includes the creation of “Orlandia” The mythical land that forms the heart of an interactive adventure for convention attendees. In this convention adventure, attendee participants have seen swords and sorcery, steampunk, cyberpunk, magical creature combat, retro sci-fi, western sci-fi, and ancient Japanese horror. Erik brings to the board a wealth of knowledge and creativity that strengthens our mission statement.