Writer, Producer, Director
Risa Leigh Clarke is a Writer, Producer, Director and Revolutionary who holds a firm belief in everyone’s right to be free and live happily and in peace within their (healthy) communities without fear of reprisals or discrimination. She left her Corporate Career in Marketing and Business Development to develop creative projects that inspire and bring people together through the arts.
Risa Leigh has freedom in her DNA. Her ancestors served during the American Revolutionary War and were early settlers of the Colony of Rhode Island. Dr. John Clarke, her “uncle” was a founder of Newport and Author of the RI Royal Charter of 1663 which afforded Religious and Civil Liberties for the Colony, a first in world history.
Risa Leigh has written and developed John Clarke’s story through years of research surrounding his legacy. She feels connected to John and his struggles with religious persecutions and overall Liberty. As a descendant of John’s youngest brother Joseph, Risa Leigh is passionately moved to bring his untold, inspirational and thought-provoking story to the world through her production company 1663 Media Arts, LLC.
She is the Producer, Director and Writer for the Historical Drama Elijah and George, A Revolutionary Tale.
Inspired by her daughter, an artist with special needs, Risa Leigh released her first of a series of illustrated children’s books, “MyKids Unite© Celebrate Friendships For All! Don’t Be a Bafoodle!” The series is part of the MyKids Unite© Franchise produced by her Production Company CherryLaneCreative.com
Patrick Gabridge is an award-winning Boston-based screenwriter, playwright, and novelist, with considerable experience writing historical material. He has been commissioned to write a number of screenplays, including the adaptation of a book about Benedict Arnold and his wife, Treacherous Beauty, and Patrick’s historical novel about Robert Smalls, Steering to Freedom.
Patrick’s play, Fire on Earth, set in 16th century England, about William Tyndale and the men behind the first published English Bible, is very much in alignment with our film thematically. His play, Blood on the Snow, was commissioned and produced for two sold out runs at the Old State House Museum in Boston in 2016 and 2017 and will return in 2020. His play Cato & Dolly, about unheard voices from the John Hancock household will run at Boston’s Old State House for the summer of 2019, and a series of his historical plays will run at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA, in September 2019.
His plays Blinders and Reading the Mind of God were nominated for Best New Play by the Denver Drama Critics Circle. Patrick’s writing has won a number of awards, including a fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, The Brother Thomas Award from the Boston Foundation, the Colorado Arts Innovation Award, a Playwriting Fellowship from the Colorado Council on the Arts, the Festival of Emerging American Theatre, the New American Theatre Festival, the In10 UMBC Competition, and the Market House Theatre One-Act Play Award.
Michael Dooling – Historical Advisor Costumes for the historical drama is a renowned Author and Illustrator of Children’s Books. Mike has also partnered with 1663 Media Arts, LLC to create his lifelike, beautiful illustrations for both a Children’s Picture Book, Educational Literature Guide and Historical Chapter Book on the Life of Dr. John Clarke.
Over One Million Books Sold, 50+ awards and 1000+ school visits!
Well known for his dramatic and historically accurate illustrations, Michael Dooling is the illustrator of over sixty-five books and the author of five including Young Thomas Edison, that School Library Journal said, “Belongs in every library.” Horn Book praised his work as “noteworthy—and handsome—examples of the illustrator as historian.”
George Washington’s Army and Me, both written and illustrated by Michael, has been developed for a Feature Film Elijah and George – A Revolutionary Tale.
Michael has illustrated a commemorative stamp of Benjamin Franklin for The United States Postal Service, articles for Reader’s Digest, and picture books including Ann Hutchinson’s Way, chapter books, and Middle Grade Novels for numerous publishers including Scholastic, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, HarperCollins, Philomel, Puffin Books, McElderry Books, Henry Holt, Holiday House, Beechtree, Atheneum, Disney, and many others.
Michael graduated with a Master’s Degree in Illustration from Syracuse University and is a member of the Society of Illustrators in New York. He lives in Audubon, New Jersey, with his wife, Jane. They have two daughters and five grandchildren. In 2013, Michael was selected to a Top Ten List of Great Author Visits by the Pennsylvania School Library Association. http://MichaelDooling.com
Jeremiah Hornbaker – Production Designer is an Art Director, and Founder of Artistry In Motion. With a unique combination of historical knowledge, practical skills, and years of experience on successful projects as an Art Director, Mr. Hornbaker manages all departments responsible for building the physical world which characters inhabit on screen.
Credits are vast and include Killing Lincoln, Harriet, Turn – Washington’s Spies, Imperium, Good Lord Bird, Loving, Birth of a Nation, Mercy Street and Sleepy Hollow.
Tori Layne – Script Supervisor began her career in documentary filmmaking, building the WAVES broadcast program where she directed and produced more than fifty projects in the documentary, electronic reporting, and promotional realms. Following her time with WAVES, Tori moved into narrative filmmaking where she has worked on more than thirty short films, a feature film, and a network television show to date, gaining experience as a Director and Script Supervisor. https://www.torilayneproductions.com
Paul Van Haute – Director of Photography is a Emmy® award winning Cinematographer who has worked in the film business for more than forty years. His early experiences in Pittsburgh include working with Fred Rogers at WQED, George Romero on Creepshow, and Pittsburgh Pirates baseball as a camera operator. He learned filmmaking from the ground up by working as a gaffer in the northeast corridor for 15 years before moving behind the camera. His time as a gaffer placed him in close contact with many talented cinematographers and directors. During this time he cultivated an in-depth knowledge of lighting, lenses, and visual storytelling and has continued to do so since. Projects include Philadelphia, The Great Experiment, 13 episodes; Cabrini Ministries in Swaziland, Blur and America’s 1st D-Day with Director Robert Child and John Koopman III, our General George Washington. He has worked on feature films, television series & documentaries that have taken him throughout the USA and to countries as far north as Latvia, as far south as Swaziland, and as far east as China. paulvanhaute.com/
John Keltonic – Composer is a Emmy® award winning Composer with over 20 years experience composing original music for television and films. Credits include NBC, PBS, Discovery Channel, BBC, Learning Channel, CNN, Ken Burns (PBS), Turner and many others. His won numerous awards including national Emmys and an Academy Award nomination. A small sample of projects: Ken Burns “The Roosevelts” – original music for PBS trailer, Autism Is A World” – nominated for Academy Award (Best Documentary), Egypt: Revolution Interrupted” – PBS, 90 minutes, “Bonhoeffer” – PBS, 90 minute special, many awards, “India Awakes” – PBS, premiering in 2015, “For The Love Of Their Brother, “Rediscovering Alexander Hamilton” – PBS, “A Force More Powerful” – PBS, 2 hours, narr. Ben Kingsley, numerous awards and many many more! jdkmusic.com
Brian Merrick, Special FX Supervisor specializes in Historic Combat Scenes making sure the look of the effect fits the type of weapons that would have been used in a particular time period. Brian began this work in 2001 and has an impressive 100% Safety Record. He holds a Federal Explosives License, Pennsylvania State Explosives License and Pennsylvania State Storage and Purchase License. Award Winning, his works can be seen in a number of Historical Productions including Mt. Vernon, Yorktown, The Museum of the American Revolution and all 3 seasons of Legends and Lies. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0581191/
Historical Advisors – Storyline
Professor J. Stanley Lemons, Professor Emeritus of History, specializes in the history of American culture. His scholarly interests and publications have ranged over the topics of women’s history, African-American history, popular culture, American religion, social reform, and Rhode Island history.
After receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri in 1967, Dr. Lemons came to Rhode Island College and rose to the rank of Professor by 1976. His books include The Woman Citizen: Social Feminism in the 1920s (1973); Aspects of the Black Experience (1975); w/ George Kellner, Rhode Island: The Independent State (1983); The First Baptist Church in America (1986); w/ Emily Stier Adler, The Elect: Rhode Island’s Women Legislators, 1922-1990 (1990); FIRST: The First Baptist Church in America (2001); w/ George Kellner, Rhode Island: The Ocean State (2004); Baptists in Early North America: Vol. II: First Baptist, Providence (2013; w/ Linford Fisher and Lucas Mason-Brown, Decoding Roger Williams: The Lost Essay of Rhode Island’s Founding Father (2014).
In 1988, Rhode Island College honored him as its Thorp Professor in recognition of his career of sustained scholarship. In 1998, he was given Rhode Island College’s Maixner Award for outstanding teaching. Then in 2005 he received the Patrick O’Regan Service Award, making him the only person to receive all three awards. The American Association of State and Local History twice (1981, 2003) recognized him with their Award of Merit (their highest award) for his contributions to Rhode Island History.
He served as a member of the 1663 Colonial Charter Commission, charged by Governor Lincoln Chafee to highlight and celebrate the 350th anniversary of the Charter of 1663. He wrote the first of the four essays that appeared in the commemorative publication of the Commission.
Dean Harkness is a direct descendant of many of the earliest Rhode Island settlers including Joseph Clarke, Samuel Wilbore and Samuel Hubbard. He has published several Clarke family articles for 3 Ohio county history books and recently completed a chapter book “Rogues Island: John Clarke and the Planting of Religious Freedom in America”.
Dean holds a B.A. in Christian Education, Asbury College, Wilmore, KY. and M.Div. from Ashland Theological Seminary, Ashland, OH. Dean is providing us with “behind the scenes” reference materials to ensure accuracy on Dr. John Clarke and the times and educational pieces for the online Educational Resource Library.
Jim Melnick holds a master’s degree from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He first took a keen interest in early colonial history in Massachusetts, especially Harvard’s history while a student there. He is a recognized expert on Henry Dunster, Harvard’s first President. www.henrydunster.org John Clarke’s trial and testimony in Boston and witnessing Obadiah Holmes’s flogging had a profound impact on Dunster, eventually resulting in his decision to renounce infant baptism, which led to his departure as Harvard’s president (after a very successful tenure) and his banishment from Boston.
Jim Melnick is the author of America’s Oldest Corporation and First CEO: Harvard and Henry Dunster (Infinity, 2008), as well as an upcoming biography of Dunster – the first ever done since the 1870s. Jim is currently involved in a number of Christian ministries around the world. He is retired from government service as a former Russian affairs analyst at the Pentagon, from the U.S. military as a retired Colonel in the Reserves, and from the computer security industry. He is married with four children and lives in Virginia.