Staff and Board of Directors
Todd Looby, Executive Director
Todd has led the BendFilm organization since 2014. In that time the organization’s budget tripled, it has acquired a daily-operating cinema, the Tin Pan Theater, and was named “Top 25 Coolest Festivals in the World” in 2019. Todd began his professional career as a business manager for Chicago’s largest general construction firm. While working in the construction business, he taught himself filmmaking and eventually made the leap to full-time filmmaking in 2008. Todd’s second narrative feature, “LEFTY,” screened at festivals across the country and was named in “The Top 10 Movies of 2009…” by the “Chicago Tribune’s Metromix.” His follow-up, “Son of None”—a narrative short shot in Liberia—won the Special Jury Award at Slamdance 2011 and won Best Short at the Boston Film Festival. Todd’s last narrative feature, “Be Good,” stars established filmmakers and actors Amy Seimetz and Joe Swanberg and was called, “Well acted, crafted and observed” by “Variety.”
Erik Jambor, Head of Festival Programming
Erik Jambor co-founded the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival in Birmingham, Alabama in 1999, serving as Director for its first eight years and growing the event into a filmmaker favorite and one of Time magazine’s “Film Festivals For the Rest of Us.” While at Sidewalk he developed and produced year-round programming, including the organization’s inaugural Birmingham SHOUT, the first LGBTQ film festival in Alabama. Erik ran the 2007 BendFilm Festival in Bend, Oregon, and from 2008 – 2014 served as Executive Director of Indie Memphis. During his seven years at the helm, Indie Memphis earned recognition in five of MovieMaker magazine’s annual film festival rankings, most recently in 2014 when it was named as both one of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World” and “50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee.” Erik was presented with Indie Memphis’ inaugural Vision Award in 2015 for his permanent impact on the festival’s legacy. He has served on numerous festival juries, including Slamdance, and SXSW.
Tracy Treu, Operations Manager
After volunteering at past festivals, Tracy officially joined the BendFilm in January as the Operations Manager. She has previously worked for Groove Yoga as both an instructor and studio manager and for World Muse in multiple capacities. She is married to another Nebraska native, Adam, and is the mother of a daughter and two sons.
Ellen Shelton, Year-Round Programs
Ellen moved to Bend in 2014 after 30 years of involvement with The Telluride Film Festival and Mountainfilm in Telluride. She created outreach programs for both festivals in Colorado, and is looking forward to designing a unique film series for a year-round Bend audience and to helping produce special film events outside of our October festival.
Julie Furnas, General Manager, Tin Pan Theater
Julie Furnas started out as a volunteer for the Bend Film Festival in 2013 and is now the General Manager for the Tin Pan Theater. Julie attended film school at the University of North Texas and worked in production on and off for ten years. Julie loves her work in the non-profit sector and writing for local publications, while always staying current in the world of cinema and theater management.
Todd Leiser, Screening Manager, Tin Pan Theater
Todd Leiser has been the general manager at Tin Pan Theater since 2018. A native of northern California with family roots in Oregon, Todd devoted his academic career to studying movies rather than preparing for a real job. He first attended Willamette University before giving film school a shot in southern California at Cal State LA where he received an MFA in film production. While in Los Angeles, Todd joined the faculty at Cal State LA as an adjunct professor teaching film history and other related courses for two years. He has been living in Bend since 2017 and can be seen performing on stage as his drag persona Foxy LaHound with local troupes The Cult of Tuck and Bend Burlesque Co.
BendFilm Board of Directors:
Giancarlo Gatto, President
Giancarlo Gatto joined the BendFilm board in January 2015 after volunteering as a venue manager for the 2014 festival. He has worked in the mortgage industry for almost 15 years in a multitude of positions. He currently originates residential and construction mortgage loans in Central Oregon for First Interstate Bank. He studied Mass Media Communications at LaSalle University in Philadelphia where he built on his already existing passion for film, art, music, and technology. He moved to Bend from the Philadelphia area in 2011 with his wife and three children. Giancarlo is grateful to be able to bring his financial mind and artistic heart to BendFilm as a board member.
Chris Gagne – Treasurer
Chris joined the BendFilm board in January of 2018 after volunteering as a venue manager for the 2017 festival. His passion for film comes from more than twelve years working in the movie theatre business in the California Bay Area and Las Vegas, NV, during which time he helped facilitate operations for the CineVegas film festival for five successful years. Like many, Chris made the migration to Bend with his wife in December of 2015 and instantly felt the draw to be a part of this budding cultural community. Although he had spent his recent few years out of the industry, his love for all things movies remained and his passion was reignited after volunteering for BendFilm. Chris is honored to be serving on this board and looks forward to helping grow this incredible festival for years to come!
Charlie Thiel, Secretary
Dad, husband, professional photographer, amateur actor and filmmaker, and general do-er of outdoorsy things moved with his family to Bend in 2015, and he has volunteered for BendFilm since his arrival. Due to his addiction to movies and his love of Bend, he comes onto the BendFilm board with a desire to do whatever he can to see the festival continue to shine. If you want to know more about why he thinks BendFilm is so important to the economy and culture of Central Oregon, just ask him! But be careful, he may never stop talking!
Originally from Indiana, Bob migrated to Corvallis, Oregon in the early 90s. After a few years and gigs as a fisheries biologist and a commercial fisherman in the Bering Sea he settled down a bit. In 2000 he, his wife Suzy and daughter Alexandra packed up the truck and came to the dry side of the hill to settle in Bend. The love of independent thought and expression led to an interest in BendFilm where he was initially involved primarily as a festival sponsor. That led into more duties and Bob is a recycled board member, serving his first stint during the formative years of BendFilm. With the organization comfortably in good hands he took a break for a few years from formal involvement and was only recently recalled to active duty.
Kate Kamaya joined the BendFilm Board of Directors in the Fall of 2019. She has a long love for film and filmmaking, spending time as a teen writing, creating and filming shorts with her friends as well as working at an art house movie theater in Chicago. Kate finds great passion and value in the art of story-telling; it’s impact on us individually and as a community. She has a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy with a specialty in trauma, family violence and abuse. She provides pro bono services for various non-profits in the Bend community, as well as expert witness testimony for Legal Aid and Deschutes County. When not spending time with her husband and children, Kate enjoys playing banjo, skiing, biking, alpine mountaineering and, of course, watching films.
Lawrence Fisher, a native of South Africa, and his wife Melanie moved to Central Oregon in 2005 to pursue all of the incredible opportunities for outdoor adventures including snowboarding, camping, boating and mountain biking. Lawrence started Home System Solutions, a home theater and home automation company, in January 2006. Lawrence has always had amazing attention to detail when it comes to electronics and how components work together. This skill is valuable when designing systems and working with clients to ensure their vision comes to life. Lawrence joined the Bend Film Board of Directors in the summer of 2018. He has a deep love of independent film, community support and creating movie theaters. Lawrence is also an active supporter and corporate sponsor of several local nonprofits including the Central Oregon Trail Alliance and Family Access Network.
Alison is a mother, lawyer, mediator and arts lover who made Bend her home after completing graduate school in 2001. She has served on various professional and cultural boards throughout her time in Oregon and enjoys being involved in her community. Alison enjoys working with BendFilm for a number of reasons, but especially likes being involved in an organization that promotes the power of film to deliver various perspectives. Alison loves traveling, hiking, eating and relaxing with her family of four.
A native of San Jose, California, CJ loves the sun, the outdoors and the Bend lifestyle. A graduate of Bellarmine College Prep (go Bells!), CJ decided to relocate to Corvallis, Oregon, so that he could take advantage of all of the outdoor adventures and beauty the Pacific Northwest has to offer and finish his college experience at Oregon State University. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in forest products from OSU—Go Beavs! CJ is no stranger to hard work in and out of the office. He has worked on a hand crew as a wildland firefighter for the Forest Service and for Boise Cascade Corporation, where he served as a wood scientist in new product development and a corporate planner in the Wood Products Division. This experience led him to discover finance and the opportunity to help clients with building their ideal future. CJ met his wife, Amanda, in Boise, Idaho, while participating in a running club.
Longing to be closer to their West Coast origins, CJ and Amanda relocated to Bend in the summer of 2007 to start their life as Bendites. They enjoy the Northwest lifestyle and raising their three children: Evie, Oliver, and Bo. CJ began his journey in the financial services industry by taking on the task of training himself in the nuances of finance from scratch, knocking on doors to meet community members, finding partners and mentors in the community, and then learning from there. With the partnership and founding of Miller Ferrari, CJ found his niche. As a true partnership, CJ and Mark believe in the team approach and work jointly to serve their respective clients. CJ’s experience and background resonate with working professionals, such as healthcare providers and small business owners. His understanding of business retirement plans and benefits helps clients maximize their benefit offerings (as employee and employer) as it pertains to their individual situation.
Mike joined the BendFilm Board in August, 2019, and is excited to help the organization expand its positive impact on the community. After 25 years in the tech industry as a management consultant, startup co-founder, and leader at Facebook, he’s now focusing his efforts on the power of visual storytelling through film. His passion for film began as a child and was ignited in 1990 while working on Sydney Pollack and Robert Redford’s film, Havana, in the Dominican Republic. Currently, he’s serving as a producer for two documentary films on the human impact of geo-political conflicts. Mike and his wife Kelly moved to Bend in 2016 from Minnesota to enjoy mountain life again. They have two grown children who reside in Bend and Hawaii.
Sheila became an enthusiastic BendFilm ambassador soon after she and her husband arrived in Bend from Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2013. She joined our board in 2018 and brings her extensive marketing skills to the many facets of board work. Sheila and Jay host a filmmaker (or two!) and sponsor a film award during our annual festival while also generously supporting the Power of Film fundraiser. To raise money for BendFilm’s filmmaker travel fund, Sheila invites friends and neighbors to a summer party every year featuring guest filmmakers, discounts on festival passes, and lots of great food and drinks. She loves doing good for our wonderful community and is also president of a local faith-based organization.