2017 Special Guests

Lena Chee-Louie

Lena Chee-Louie is from Sydney, Australia.   She is accompanying her son Jordan who made the short film Kill Off with his class at Bus Stop Films. Lena would like to see more diversity in films and TV – her favorite movies are Bend It Like Beckham & The Family Stone.   Her favorite activity is F45.


Jordan Louie

Jordan Louie is from Sydney, Australia and is visiting the United States for the very first time.  He has been a student with Bus Stop Films for two years. During this time he’s had work experience on a variety of different projects and worked with his peers in 2015 to make the short film Kill Off.   Jordan worked across various roles on this project including clapper, camera assistance, costume, make up and production design. He is currently working on a documentary with Bus Stop which is in post production and will be released at the end of the year. 

Dan Cleberg

Dan Cleberg (creator of Better Ride on Tour) is a co-owner of the Red Rooster Coffee House in Aberdeen and the Director of the Fallout Creative Community; an arts nonprofit that makes creative experiences accessible to people who tend to be marginalized.  Through the Fallout he founded and plays guitar for the band Better Ride which is a musical outlet for dozens of people with developmental disabilities.  Dan and several band members will be representing “Better Ride on Tour” which documents the group’s 2016 tour.

Bryan McDonald

Bryan McDonald (actor Deepest Cover, actor/composer The Motivator) has been involved in the Twin Cities music, theatre and film community for 25 years. The winner of multiple accolades for his acting roles, Bryan attributes his success to “having an odd looking face and working with production crews who aren’t afraid to to exploit it”. Deepest Cover and The Motivator will be Bryan’s fifth and sixth films included at the South Dakota Film Festival. Previous SDFF appearances include Buffalo Shampoo (actor/composer, 2012) Hard Day (composer, 2013) Death Bed (actor/composer, 2014) Lincoln 666 (actor/composer, 2015).

Joe Greening

Joe Greening picked up a video camera and filmed his first movie at the age of nine and he was hooked! If he wasn’t on some sports team, he was making movies with friends. This led him to pursue a film degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead. Along with narrative student films, professionally, Joe has done commercial work for companies in Minneapolis and California. He is the writer and director of the short horror film, FLiCKER.

Katherine Urmann

Katherine Urmann created Safe, an animated short which has appeared at The Headwaters Film Festival as well as the Bad Film Fest where it won the “Memorize Your Combination Award”. The feminist filmmaker graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM) earlier this year completing the Film Production major and Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) minor. During her time at MSUM she integrated her two fields of study by working with other students to create three promotional animations for the WGS department. Currently she is pursuing a craft adventure to expand on her production design work while in Fargo-Moorhead. 

Owen Royce

Owen Royce is an award winning, Minneapolis filmmaker and director of Half Smile.  His previous films made for Uptop Films that have played at the SDFF include “The Wolf” and  “You’re in Trouble”.   His films have consistently played in festivals across the country and received top honors on several occasions.

Ryan Grams

Ryan, Producer, Director of Photography, Co-Founder of Uptop Films has lensed several films that have screened at SDFF including Mountainberry Kool Aid Sunrise: The Return, Players, Last Goodbye, You’re in Trouble, and The Wolf. Screening this year, he served as the Director of Photography on Above-the-Line Entertainment’s Rag Dolls (which also stars his daughter, Presley) and Director of Photography/Producer on Uptop Films’ Half Smile.

Justin & Kristin Schaack

Justin & Kristin Schaack [that’s us] are a married directing/producing/writing duo that has been making films and commercials together for over 15 years. Many tell us that they cannot imagine working side-by-side with their spouse, but for us, we can’t imagine NOT working together. We even finish EACH OTHER’S SENTENCES. [Sorry for the caps, we just started typing at the same time!] Justin is thrilled to represent the duo and share our family-friendly comedy Rag Dolls with the SDFF audience.

Joe Kessler

Joe Kessler is a gifted storyteller and communicator. For over 18 years he’s acted in commercials, film and TV, as well as toured the country performing improv and stand-up. His success lies in his ability to connect with an audience, whether it’s an audience of thousands or just one. Joe is both producer and an actor in the short film Half Smile.

Mike Sorenson

Mike Sorenson spent two decades in advertising before discovering the world of filmmaking through the gateway drug of commercial production. As a creative director and copywriter, the transition to script writing felt very natural and lead to his first script Carpool, which was nominated for Best Screenplay at the 2017 Z-Fest and nabbed a top 10 overall finish at the fest. Mike also directed and produced the film.  While he still spends his days peddling goods & services through words and pictures, he continues to develop his film chops and is currently working on two new scripts slated for production later this year.

Nathan Eby

“Chops” Nathan Eby is the sound designer, composer, and cowriter of Deepest Cover, and sound designer of The Motivator. Based in the Twin Cities, he provides sound design and original music for film, TV, radio and digital media. His contributions to The Motivator earned the film the “Best  Sound Design” award at Z-Fest Film Festival in 2017. Chops is currently scoring multiple short films and is super excited to be doing more writing for upcoming projects.


Keith Langsdorf

Keith Langsdorf co-wrote/directed and edited Deepest Cover. In his youth, Keith spent countless hours working on set during the Minnesota film boom of the 1990s. After high school, Keith continued working in the film industry, but eventually enlisted in the US Navy as a Russian linguist. During his time in the military, Keith continued his passion for films by working on a number of short and feature films while stationed in Baltimore, MD. After finishing his enlistment, Keith returned to Minnesota where he has produced, directed, and edited everything from short films to music videos, documentaries, and commercial productions.

Rebecca Jo Malmstrom

By day, Rebecca Jo Malmström (producer/actress on Ghost Slapper) works as the props buyer for the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, which means she shops for a living! By night, she sews stuffed animals called Duckie Uglings at her home in St Paul. She’s worked on countless plays, some music videos, and tons of short films as a costume, prop artisan, and production designer. She loves to garden, create Pinterest boards, binge watch TV, go to movies where she laughs WAY too loudly, cook, and travel, but hates to clean. She lives with her two Dire-cats, Kirk and Spock.


David Mair

South Dakota native, David Mair, is the writer/director/producer of Ghost Slapper.  He is a psychiatrist and filmmaker who lives near Minneapolis with his wife and three daughters. David started making short films with his high school friends in the mid-1990s, using his parent’s camcorder and a VHS VCR. After a lengthy hiatus from film due to school, work, and child producing, he got the band back together, so to speak, in 2014. Turns out, they still had it. His team’s films have since won several awards and have screened at numerous film festivals. Ghost Slapper is their second film to screen at the South Dakota Film Festival. 

Ryan Becken

Ryan Becken, director/producer/editor of The Motivator and a co-director/co-writer of Deepest Cover,  is  from St. Paul and has directed and produced over 25 award-winning short films and at least 1,765 car commercials during his 20 year career.   Ryan exclusively works in comedy filmmaking, finding it the most challenging and rewarding to successfully create. 
He currently has another short film “The Leading Man” in pre-production and wrote and edited an animated short “Minnow”  set to release to the festival circuit.  When Ryan is not making short films or shooting Mitsubishi commercials he enjoys coaching his kids Peewee football team and hunting squirrels.

Brian Turek

Brian Turek, Writer/Producer of The Motivator is a filmmaker out of the Twin Cities.
Partnering with Ryan Becken as “Thirsty Eye Shorts”, Brian has written and produced 12 short films and has had great local success in the short comedy niche.  His films have screened at festivals in Texas, California, Chicago, to name a few, and this will be his 5th film screened at the SDFF.  Brian’s passion is comedy and making people laugh and has been lucky enough to have the opportunity to do this through film.  Brian works in IT in corporate America and has a wife and 2 kids that seemed to have gotten his “funny gene”.

Dohui Kim

Dohui Kim (Tater Tot & Patton – Producer) is originally from South Korea.  Her passion for design and entrepreneurship drew her to the world of Indie film. A background in accounting and process improvement has helped her bring order to the chaos of indie projects such as “Tater Tot & Patton”; her third foray into film, and her first as a full producer. When not making film or working as a management analyst, Dohui can be found on Instagram: @dohuiemerson


Adam Emerson

Adam Emerson  (Tater Tot & Patton – Producer) was born and raised in the beautiful plains of South Dakota. Tater Tot & Patton is his second feature-length film and fourth collaboration with Director Andrew Kightlinger. Adam’s work in film came as a by-product of his passion for project management, operations and venture capital. As a producer, he works to continuously deliver a superior experience to audiences, artists and investors. 

Jack Anderson

Jack Anderson is a Junior at MSUM pursuing a degree in advertising. His short film “Pipedreams,” a film he made as a final project at MSUM’s video production course, will be his first film to be screened at SDFF. This will be his second time attending the festival, and he is looking forward to viewing the many films the festival has to offer!