CHEER A documentary in production CHEER

Film Team

Mary Olive Smith - Director

Mary Olive SmithEmmy-award-winning filmmaker Mary Olive Smith has produced, directed, and written prime-time documentaries for major television broadcasters including Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channels, History Channel and PBS. She has filmed in more than two dozens countries and elevated women’s stories working on docs such as “Child Brides” (winner of the Overseas Press Club Edward R. Murrow Award), “Saving Haiti’s Mothers,” and “Women, Power and Politics” (NOW on PBS). Mary Olive made her feature-length directorial debut with “A Walk to Beautiful” (Engel Entertainment) about women in Ethiopia with severe childbirth injuries. Winner of the national Emmy for News & Documentary in 2008 for broadcast on NOVA, the film won a number of festival awards and was the winner of the 2008 International Documentary Association’s Best Feature Documentary, beating Michael Moore’s “Sicko” and Alex Gibney’s “Taxi to the Dark Side.” More recently she directed and shot the feature-length version of “Fixing the Future” (JumpStart Productions). Hosted by David Brancaccio, the film takes us on a journey across America looking at ways Main Street is bringing back jobs. The film showed in more than 70 theaters nationwide as part of an extensive community outreach campaign in the summer of 2012.

Mary Olive recently directed a number of short advocacy pieces covering issues such as autism for Children’s Specialized Hospital in NJ and neglected tropical diseases for GlaxoSmithKline. She has a Masters from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, is married to a loving musician and librarian and is the mother of a beautiful four-year-old boy with cerebral palsy.

For Mary Olive Smith’s full BIO & FILMOGRAPHY, go to:

Brean Cunningham - Producer

Brean CunninghamBrean Cunningham is a documentary filmmaker currently directing his first feature-length documentary, UNDERDOGS, about a prison dog-training program in Massachusetts that pairs abandoned and abused rescue dogs from the southern U.S. with minimum-security inmates close to being released back into society. Brean recently returned from Africa after working on a web advocacy video on the positive effects of de-worming schoolchildren in Ghana. He got his start working on the set of the ABC TV series Desperate Housewives in LA. Brean has also worked at the non-fiction TV production company, Engel Entertainment, in NYC. Brean is currently working on multiple projects including the upcoming behind-the-scenes documentary anthology about the making of the FRIDAY THE 13TH films and CHEER.

Rachel ParkerRachel Parker - A New Jersey native, Rachel is a May 2012 graduate of Quinnipiac University. Since graduation, she has been using the skills she learned as a film production major and fine art minor to break into the industry. She served as a Production Assistant on the sets of two films, "Tom in America" and "Truth," and transcribed documentary footage as an intern at Kirschenbaum Productions. She currently works as an assistant editor for Mary Olive Smith's Flying Pup Productions, and also interns at RedCar New York, a commercial post-production house.

Rashida ShermanRashidah Sherman - Recent graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University, Rashidah Sherman is a post-production researcher and social media assistant for CHEER. With a BS in Marketing, she has creatively fused her degree with her passion in film and photography in previous internships at Women Make Movies and various independent documentary productions. Rashidah is an aspiring director, who has found success in the Campus MovieFest, receiving Best Picture and Best Actress for her short film “A Tuff Warrior”. When she is not working on CHEER, she is working as a freelance production assistant on various features and reality shows, playing semi-pro soccer for New York Magic, or working for her parents’ small contracting business.

Michael CartuscielloMichael Cartusciello - Mike is excited to be a part of the Cheer team as an outreach coordinator focusing primarily on fundraiser event organizing. While in college at Binghamton University, he served as the Chair of “Casino-in-the-Woods,” a large-scale charity event where a university dining hall was transformed into a fully functioning games-of-chance casino, during his junior and senior year. Michael also spent three years as a Resident Assistant and two years working at the campus radio station, WHRW Binghamton, where he was able to DJ and host his own music/talk show (something he misses dearly). Post college, Michael has been interning at various independent production companies such as Barenholtz Productions and Kirschenbaum Productions.

Laren ChoinskiLauren Choinski - A graduate of Rutgers University, Lauren Choinski got her taste of filmmaking as a student when she produced, shot, and edited her first short documentary "The Art of Becoming" which aired on NJTV. For a year after graduating Lauren worked in the Rutgers Film Bureau where she managed the production office with a small team covering interdisciplinary non-fiction stories in the documentary format collaborating with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Since then Lauren has worked with production teams for MTV's True Life and Lenovo's Seize The Night commercial. Collaborating with the Flying Pup Production team has been a true passion project merging her love for documentary filmmaking and a story close to her heart as her sister is the head coach and choreographer of the Sparks.

Film Advisers

Alice Elliot - Alice Elliott has worked in theater, film and television for over 35 years. She is an Academy Award-nominated director, a writer, producer, cinematographer, advocate for the disabled and member-owner of New Day film distribution cooperative. A published and produced playwright of both adult and children's plays, she recently directed and co-produced the documentary Body & Soul: Diana & Kathy, which received ITVS funding and aired on PBS in October 2009. Her short documentary, The Collector of Bedford Street, was nominated for an Academy Award in 2002. Alice is currently directing The Miracle on 42nd Street, a feature-length documentary produced by Mary Jo Slater and Nancy Perkins about a 30-year-old innovative housing project called Manhattan Plaza.

Barbara Kopple - Barbara Kopple is a two-time Academy Award winning filmmaker. A director of documentaries, as well as narrative TV and film, her most recent project is the documentary "Gun Fight," which premiered on HBO in April 2011. Barbara produced and directed "Harlan County USA" and "American Dream," both winners of the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Her other films include "The House of Steinbrenner," "Woodstock: Now and Then," "Shut Up and Sing," "Havoc," "A Conversation with Gregory Peck," "My Generation," "Wild Man Blues," "Fallen Champ: The Untold Story of Mike Tyson," and more.

Adrienne Robertiello - Adrienne Robertiello serves as the autism educator at Children’s Specialized Hospital in New Jersey. Adrienne is a strong community advocate for individuals with disabilities as well as a parent of a child with autism. She steers collaborative initiatives to facilitate the awareness, participation, and safety of children of all abilities and their families within community settings. Through generous funding of Kohl’s Cares, Adrienne has developed and implemented ‘Make Friends with Autism,’ - a nationwide community outreach initiative, ‘Friends Like You. Friends Like Me’ for children and teens, and ‘Autism and Safety - It’s Unpredictable’ which increases safety for individuals with autism and those that surround them.