Florence Heller is a New York and Los Angeles based filmmaker and theatre-maker. Art has always been an important part of Florence’s life. After receiving an Emily Dickinson book at the age of six, Florence became a fervent writer. Her love for art expanded in middle school when she became a self-taught photographer. However, the creative spark started when Florence enrolled in dance classes at the age of two; she continued to be a serious dancer for fifteen years until she sustained a career ending knee injury. This injury became a glass half-full experience, as Florence threw herself into high school theatre, where she acted, choreographed, costume designed, stage managed, and directed.
After catching the directing bug, Florence was accepted early decision to NYU Tisch School of the Arts where she studied directing for four years at the Playwrights Horizons Theatre studio. Being a person who has always excelled when juggling many projects at once, Florence spent her first summer in New York City working at five different internships. By the end of her second year at NYU, Florence began to take film courses over the summer. She was the first non-film major to be accepted to the NYU FAMU 35mm film program in Prague. Florence graduated NYU Tisch with honors, a BFA in Theatre with a focus in Directing, and a minor in Film in May 2014.
In Fall 2015, Florence became an MFA candidate at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. During the past two and a half years of Florence’s graduate studies, Florence has worked on forty-one films as a director, writer, producer, assistant director, boom operator, sound designer, sound mixer, and cinematographer. In addition, Florence has been a TA in the sound department, working closely with Midge Costin, as well as a TA in the directing department working closely with Barnet Kellman. She recently finished an internship at Feigco Entertainment.
Hayley Trafzer is a 3rd year USC Graduate Student, emphasizing in both screenwriting and directing. A lifelong lover of storytelling, Hayley initially wanted nothing to do with this story, because, to be honest, abuse is a topic that’s already been so done -- We’ve all seen the films with a battered wife, or an injured animal, or an addict seeking their latest fix. But that’s not what this story is. Spoiled Milk is about emotional abuse, and for these reasons, Hayley became interested in possibly working on the project.
However, Hayley came on board for precisely one reason: a deep-felt belief in the film’s director, Florence Heller. Hearing Florence’s truth, a reality that so many individuals experience, was not only humbling, but also it was incredibly inspiring. Being a part of this world has been one of the most rewarding experiences throughout her entire graduate school experience. Seeing Spoiled Milk on the verge of coming to life -- after a year of trying to write a script that could possibly capture even just a fraction of what emotional abuse victims have endured – is obviously incredibly exciting. Yet, it's the very notion that someone might watch this film and realize that they too have experienced this unique form of terror; but--after seeing Izzy's journey--they might also realize a way to escape whatever darkness they've endured and feel compelled and emboldened to act on this realization. That would be enough to make this a story worth telling.
Amina Isa is a fifth semester graduate student at SCA with an emphasis on producing. Prior to USC, Amina received her MSc in Communications at the renowned S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Amina knew that producing Spoiled Milk would be an opportunity for her to grow as a producer and also to collaborate with Florence, one of the most hardworking and passionate people in the program.
Kathleen is an M.F.A. candidate in USC’s Peter Stark Producing Program. Prior to USC, Kathleen was the Coordinating Producer and Junior Editor for a production company in Washington D.C. and received her undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Virginia. Kathleen signed on to produce Spoiled Milk because she strongly believes in bringing diverse stories to the screen and increasing female representation in front of and behind the camera and is thrilled to be working with such a talented team of women on Spoiled Milk.
Courtney Grace is a M.F.A. candidate in the University of Southern California’s Peter Stark Producing Program. Prior to graduate school she worked as a bicoastal producer developing innovative and boundary-pushing content in both Los Angeles and New York City. In her time in the Stark Program, Courtney has been following her passion for making sure that innovative and powerful voices are heard and feels a unique opportunity to do that now on Spoiled Milk, a story with which she shares a deep personal connection. Courtney is honored and empowered to be a part of a bold team of women endeavoring to revolutionize the industry and the world.
Madeline Leach is a cinematographer in her sixth semester of graduate school at USC School of Cinematic Arts. Her love for photography began in middle school and continued through college, where she majored in Fine Arts, specializing in Photography, at Georgetown University. Most recently at USC, she was the DP on the advanced film, The Craftsman, which was nominated for the Student Etudes Competition at the Camerimage Festival for it’s cinematography. She recently received the Sun Cinematography Award at USC for her work in cinematography and hopes to keep pushing the visual boundaries of the art of film.
Maddie signed on to shoot Spoiled Milk because she believes Florence is a powerful filmmaker with a strong female voice and a story to tell. Visually, this film presents a lot of challenges with portraying abuse but Maddie believes she is the DP to handle the project.
Jasmyne Peck is a second year USC MFA student focusing on directing, writing and cinematography. She completed her undergraduate at St. John’s University ‘16 with a minor in Social Justice Theory and a major in Television and Film. Her goal as a filmmaker is to tell stories about characters from a multitude of diverse backgrounds. Most recently she’s been adapting “traditional” archetypes, like the fighter and the cowboy, to narratives featuring WoC. Jasmyne joined the Spoiled Milk team having experienced the pure badassery of its director, Florence Heller. She believes the all-female team is going to crush this production and serve as an example to naysayers of female ability in filmmaking.
Kristina Wong is a Bay Area filmmaker specializing in production design, with a background in photography and sculpture. Currently pursuing a BA degree in Film and Television Production at USC's School of Cinematic Arts, Kristina recently studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago during 2014-2015 for interdisciplinary studies. Kristina's works often utilize contemporary issues and influences from contemporary and modern art as a foundation for her work. Her love for this film stems from the core message of the project, dealing with power struggles within family structures, and the need to break from expectations to pursue one's dreams.
Co-founder of Black Rose Sound Co., Izumi has worked with the likes of Zooey Deschanel, Snoop Dogg, Kathy Bates, ATTN:, Awesomeness TV, and Lifetime… to name a few. She is no stranger to USC thesis projects, doing both production and post production sound on projects including MAMMOTH, which won a Student Academy Award.
Izumi, dubbed “The Bad Ass Sound Goddess”, has worked on many all-female crews and enjoys it. This project is no exception.
Born and raised from the small city of Monterey Park, Lynna is currently finishing up her last semester as an undergraduate at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. With an emphasis in both picture editing and sound design, Lynna has worked on multiple undergraduate thesis films and has co-edited a pilot for Nancy Forner, ACE & WGA David Balkan. Lynna is currently editing a graduate thesis film as well. When Florence pitched the idea of Spoiled Milk to Lynna, she was immediately drawn to the film because she too wanted to tackle this taboo and dark topic that seems to be overlooked by many people. Drawing from her own personal experiences, she is determined to shed light on the overlooked traits that make one's relationship an abusive one.
Amy earned her MFA in Cinema-Television Production at the USC School of Cinematic Arts in 2009 with an emphasis in editing and sound design. She has since taken has taken on the roles of editor, sound editor, and re-recording mixer on various projects.
The chance to work with Florence was what drew me to work on the project. She is a talented filmmaker with a great appreciation for the storytelling process as it relates to sound design and an all-around wonderful person. I look forward to working together!
Sarah began her music career at Elias Arts, a premier commercial music house, where she was mentored by famed commercial composer Jonathan Elias, eventually becoming the first and only female composer in the history of the company. Sarah has composed, mixed, edited, and produced music for a plethora of national brands and worked on hundreds of tracks hosted by both Universal and Elias Arts professional music libraries. Sarah's work has been featured on dozens of commercials for a wide variety of household names such as Nissan, Infiniti and State Farm as well as several Super Bowl ads. So, if you don't own a DVR, you've very likely heard some of her work.
She is adept at scoring across a wide array of moods, styles, and genres ranging from classical orchestral scores to jazz to pop to EDM. Her significant real world experience has not only honed Sarah’s abilities as a composer and producer, but has also groomed her to be an efficient yet meticulous writer who has never once missed a deadline.
Sarah is preparing to complete her graduate studies as part of the Master of Music in Screen Scoring class of 2018 at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, where she was awarded the Alan Silvestri Scholarship, given annually to the top rated applicant to the program. Sarah was also selected to participate in the prestigious USC Thornton Board of Councilors Mentoring Program and is currently being privately mentored by world renowned composer Thomas Newman.
Sarah graduated with honors from the University of California at Riverside with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She has completed additional coursework in music theory, orchestration, and counterpoint at the Berklee School of Music with a 4.0 GPA.
Caroline Joseph is an M.F.A candidate at the University of Southern California’s Peter Stark Producing Program. Prior to graduate school, she graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a B.F.A. in Film & TV Production and a second major in Journalism. Through Tisch, Caroline studied for six months with the National Institute of Dramatic Arts in Sydney, Australia where she learned to write and produce through an entirely different cultural lens. Caroline has also interned for several production and media companies as well as interning for Lorne Michaels at Saturday Night Live.
Caroline is eager to be a part of this production because she believes the premise of the film is universally relatable and is excited to work with so many talented and capable women.
Dominica Ruelas began her career as a filmmaker at the San Antonio North East School of the Arts, doing everything from writing/directing to editing and producing. Through her short films, she has earned recognition from multiple film festivals nationwide and began producing shorts ranging from documentary dramas to dystopian web series. Dominica is a recent recipient of the Cosette Endowed Fund Scholarship Award and has had extensive work experience with the Producers Guild of America, PBS, and the Kennedy/Marshall Company.
Dominica was excited to join an all-female team that had such strong ambition and vision! Developing content with other females has helped her find her strength as a filmmaker and as a woman in general, so she was immediately excited to be on board and develop Izzy's world.
Christina Dial grew up in Orlando, Florida and moved to Los Angeles in 2014 to pursue a degree in Architecture from the University of Southern California. Spoiled Milk is a story that relates to Christina’s own personal journey. She is inspired by colorful, geometric muralists and architecture and is passionate about creating spaces with a sense of identity. Hiking and music make Christina happy.
Shiyu Cheryl Hu is a Chinese director, now a USC MFA film production student focusing on directing and editing. She has directed 7 shorts and edited more than 20 shorts. She is a very feeling-driven person, with artistic pursue. She thinks a good film does not provide answers but is successful if it makes people question, of the society and within themselves. She loves to tell stories that are authentic and meaningful but somehow in a darker tone, especial of women with soul and strength.
Cheryl has always being wanting to work on a all female team, to feel the power of women, to work in an environment that there is no male gaze, no sexual bias, but only with sensitivity and authenticity. And she is intrigued by Florence’s charisma as well as the power of the script written by Florence and Hayley, the helpless mentally abused girl trying to cry out to the world.