The Happiest Person In America

Sara’s introduction to the world of theater came when she was cast in the title role of a kindergarten play, The Magic Letter E (cap to cape; mad to made).  She has been engaged by words-in-space ever since.  As a playwright and theater director, Sara’s work has been seen across the country.  In 2012, Sara happily wrote "The Sense Plays" as a sold-out theater fundraiser at studio/stage for P.S. ARTS, supporting performing arts in underserved Los Angeles schools.  Other venues showcasing her work as a playwright and theater director include Adaptive Arts Theater Company, The Blank Theater Company, Box Wine Theater, Little Black Dress Ink, Manhattan Shakespeare Project, Marlborough School, REDCAT/RADAR LA/Moving Arts Theatre Company, Sacred Fools Theatre Company, Theatre of NOTE, The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, and WriteAct Theater Company, among others—productions that have allowed her to collaborate with an amazing range of talented artists, ages 11 to 85, including Independent Spirit Award winners, television icons, and the finest classically trained actors in the country.  Sara’s plays have won the Indie Boots Theatre Festival, the American Theatre Co-op Playwriting Prize, and a Playwrights Circle Award.  She has also been a finalist for the Actors Theatre of Louisville Heideman Award and a semi-finalist for the Princess Grace Award.  As a television writer, her first two produced scripts aired simultaneously—same night, same time, different channels.  In addition, her television script "Triumvirate" was named “Best Un-produced Pilot” by Written By, the magazine of the Writers Guild of America.  Sara is a graduate of Dartmouth College, where she majored in Mathematical Social Sciences (with Highest Honors) and minored in Drama.  She is also an alumnus of Directors Lab West, and a proud member of the Writers Guild of America and the Dramatists Guild of America.  Learn more about Sara at www.SaraIsrael.com.

Sara Israel

Writer • Director • Producer

Andrea Kaufman

Producer

Brandon Kjar

Executive Producer

Andrea Kaufman is a 20-year veteran of the entertainment industry.  After being a concert promoter in Florida, Andrea moved to Los Angeles in 1997.  Her first job was as the production coordinator on the television series “S.O.F.: Soldier of Fortune.” She then joined Evolution Entertainment as a talent manager, working with Rosanna Arquette, Farrah Fawcett and Lisa Rinna, as well as a cache of development clients.  In 2001, she moved on to CBS’s “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” to get more hands-on experience working with the line producer.  When offered the position of assistant to Michael Ovitz, Andrea thought working for a former super-agent/manager who was producing feature films would help round-out her professional experience.  Then, after a brief respite from “the biz,” Andrea joined Starz in 2006 as a production executive where Andrea oversaw the production of the television series “Masters of Horror” (Showtime), “Masters of Science Fiction” (ABC), “Painkiller Jane” (SyFy Channel) and “Z Rock” (IFC).  She also oversaw production of three Movies of the Week and the mini-series “Bollywood Hero” (IFC).  Andrea also produced material that aired on Starz, including the documentaries “Fantastic Flesh” and “Anime: Drawing a Revolution” and the series “Gravity.”  Now an independent producer, Andrea produced the television series “Celebration Table with Maya Angelou” (Hallmark Channel), a series of ABC Family interstitials, 2nd unit footage for NBC’s “Outsourced” and a variety of independent productions.  She is also working with several seasoned writers to develop a slate of low-budget features.

Growing up in the sprawling world of entertainment at a young age, Brandon Kjar developed an enthusiasm for showbiz after working for his father at the Tyler Kjar Agency.  Developing a keen eye for recognizing talent, Brandon’s early clients acknowledged his strengths and urged him to start Kjar & Associates. Representing aspiring as well as established actors for over 30 years, Brandon raised the profiles of many distinguished names in show business.  Through his career he placed Jared Rushton opposite Tom Hanks in “Big”, Gabriel Damon in “Robocop 2” and “Newsies,” Karyn Parsons in “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” the Golden Globe and Oscar-nominated Michael Clarke Duncan in the “The Green Mile,” Lorna Scott in “Wanted,” Gilles Marini in “Sex in the City” and Ken Davitian in the internationally acclaimed “Borat.”  His passion and fervor for the business is ever apparent as Brandon continues to place actors in successful roles.  Recently, his clients include Michael Paul Chan on “The Closer” with Kyra Sedgwick, Kevin Ryan on Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson’s new series “Copper,” and Richard Hatch in “Battlestar Galatica.”  In 1997, Brandon co-produced his first feature film, “Bayou Ghost,” starring the Academy Award-winning George Kennedy.  He executive produced the award-winning films “Laredo” and “The Tub,” which starred Dedee Pfeiffer and Melora Hardin, and most recently, “Paddy’s In The Boot,” starring Eoin Macken of “Merlin” and Kevin Ryan.

Robert C. Webb

Director of Photography

Robert Christopher Webb completed a film studies degress at the California State University Long Beach in 1994.  Since then he has photographed films, music videos, industrials and commericals around the world.  In 2001 the feature film he shot, "The Flip Side," was accepted into the Sundance Film Festival's Native Forum.  In 2005, he received the Best Cinematography Award from the Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham, Alabama for "Americano," starring Joshua Jackson, Dennis Hopper and Leonor Varela.  Robert also photograhed the Spanish feature film "Under the Snow," which won an audience award at the Valladolid Film Festival in Spain and made its North American premiere at teh 2008 Slamdance Festival.  He has also photographed numerous short films that have received many awards from film festivals throughout the United States.  His collaboration with the music video directing team Aritificial Army has resulted in multiple videos for nine bands, as well as Articificial Army's feature mockumentary "Wreckless Epic."  Robert has won an Emmy and two Telly Awards for cinematography for his work on industrials spots for Lockheed Martin, work which has involved traveling to such countries as Japan, Korea, United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Colombia and Honduras.  He has shot commercial spots for Gonazaga University, Aussie Hair Care Products, Cadbury, Schwepps and Smashbox.  His most recent projects have resulted in collaborations with Jim Henson Studios, Warner Brothers and a short film about gay domestic violence.  

Thomas Meleck

Production Designer

Thomas Meleck recently Production Designed the animated feature film, “Life With Dwegons” and the pilot episodes of “Jaunt,” “The Watcher” and “The American.”  He designed the second unit for Jon Avnet’s “The Starter Wife” and Michael Whaley’s film “Applause for Miss ‘E’” for Image Entertainment, the trailer for “Spiderman 3,” and was special visual effects designer for one of the Steven King miniseries episodes of “Nightmares and Dreamscapes.”  His credits also include “Clueless,” “The Larry Sanders Show,” the pilot season of “Dennis Miller Live,” “The New Lassie,” “Quantum Leap,” “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” the final season of the “Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour,” and the Emmy-Award winning shows “Murder, She Wrote” and “The Parsley Garden.”  Tom Production Designed Brad Pitt’s first feature film, “Across the Tracks” and Art Directed Natalie Wood’s final movie, “Brainstorm.”  Tom attended NYU for his Master’s Degree in theatrical Stage Design and designed Arrabal’s “The Architect and The Emporer of Assyria” at St. Clement’s.  He assisted on the Broadway productions of “Lenny” and “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and on “Candide at the opening of the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. He also designed the Rolling Thunder Revue for Bob Dylan, Aerosmith’s flying “A” tour, The Blue Oyster Cult Tour, and Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow Tour, as well as many other Rock and Roll tours.  Tom’s Los Angeles theatrical credits include sets and lighting for the musical “Paquito’s Christmas,” Just Men,” Parental Discretion,” Sacrificial Lamb,” “Tight Quarters” and “Love is Always the Matter.”  He was nominated as Best Set Designer by the Los Angeles Weekly for his work on “The Imposter,” was twice by the NAACP for “Toussaint, For the Love of Freedom” and “Section 8,” and was nominated for a Drama Critics Award for his lighting of “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They.”  He recently designed sets and lighting for “Women In Shorts” at the Working Stage Theater and “Bronzeville” for the Robey Theater Company on location in Manzanar, for the Met Theater’s “California Dreamin’” and “Berlin Cowboys” at the Write Act Theater.

Debra Weinstein

Editor

Debra Weinstein first discovered she loved to edit in the 7th grade as part ofa communications program designed to teach students about journalism, and has continued ever since.  After graduating from Syracuse University with a double major in Public Policy and Television, Radio and Film Production, Debra began working as a commerical assistant editor at Red Car Editorial NY, then moved to Los Angeles to pursue editing for television drama.  She has since worked on various television shows such as "Alias," "Brothers and Sisters" and "Political Animals," and "90210," and has amassed several editing credits for these series.  She has participated as a volunteer editor for the Children's Defense Fund of Los Angeles Beat The Odds program, and was an additional editor on the documentary "13 Families: Life After Columbine."  She is currently an editor for "The Fosters" on ABC Family.

J.R. Hugho

Consulting Producer

J.R. Hughto is the producer of seven features and a number of documentary and narrative shorts, and has worked in production and post production for the better part of a decade.  J.R. specializes in producing with an eye towards using new technologies to drive down cost while improving quality.  As a workflow consultant, J.R. has advised dozens of filmmakers from pre-production through their films' final outputs on 35mm, HD and SD.  His clients' budgets range from under $5K to over $100M.  His films have screened at festivals and galleries internationally, including the Los Angeles Film Festival, the Viennale, the Portland Documentary and Experimental Film Festival, the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), the International Boxing Hall of Fame, and the Luben House in New York City.   He holds a Master of Fine Arts with Honors from Cornell University, and is an Avid Certified Support Representative (ACSR).  More information about the range of J.R.'s work can be found at www.paintedland.com. 

Liza Lapira

Associate Producer

Learn more about Liza Lapira on our cast page.

Michael Paul Chan

Associate Producer

Learn more about Michael Paul Chan on our cast page.

Reena Dutt

Associate Producer

Reena Dutt is a producer of Film, Theater and New Media.  She is currently Co-producing Tello's second season of "Kiss Her I'm Famous."  She most notably produced "Squad 85" for Justin Lin's network, YOMYOMF.  Her other recent credits include ". . . Or Die" (Outfest, L.A. Asian Pacific Film Festival, San Diego Asian International Film Festival) and "3 Puffs of Gold" (Arizona International Film Festival, Palm Beach Film Festival, and more).  She recently wrapped production for "June, Adrift," a feature shot in Maryland and Los Angeles.  Her full acting, producing and directing credits are at www.reenadutt.com.

Michael McKinsey

Associate Producer

Michael “Tuba” McKinsey is an award-winning stage actor and producer.  Tuba recently completed a successful Off-Broadway production of his parody show “Balls: The Musical,” which he co-produced, co-wrote, and (at one time) performed.  His performance career includes numerous New York City, national touring and regional credits spanning more than ten years.  He has had the pleasure of working with legendary comedian Jerry Lewis, Academy Award Winner Marvin Hamlisch, and multiple Tony Award Winners.  His current project, the National Touring Company of “The Water Coolers,” continues to entertain audiences all over the country.

Learn more about the entire crew of The Happiest Person In America at our

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Setting up a shot

The Happiest Person In America written & directed by Sara Israel L to R: Steven Moreno, Shiri Appleby, Robert C. Webb, Liza Lapira, Michael Paul Chan photo credit: Ann Marie Donahue