Network with professionals @ "Dinner for the Independent"

Learn acting from professionals @ "Acting for Cinema"

Relentless practice is the only way to perfect any art. You have to believe first but the battle doesn't end there.

Dinner for the Independent 

Acting for Cinema

Director of Photography


We are close to preparing our budget options for our film “Jesse’s Out.” It will be ready to share. I would love for everyone to know how much sacrifice is going into this film. You are welcome to know where the money is going or even choose, allocate your support. Sharing is caring!

Please lend a hand and help us make this film. By registering for either event @, you can chose to donate or attend. The donation amounts are $10 or $25. Would you be willing to sacrifice a couple of lunches, few coffee’s to help us make a movie, incredible memories, proof of concept. This film is some high level stuff. You’ll have to take my word for it but I know cast and crew will agree. Wow is the most common response from those that have read the script and seen the talent on board. If you would like to offer more money or time or support, let me know as I can create a pathway for that. With an NDA in place, I would be willing to share the script too.

I’ve given to many, many projects during the last five years of my time in this industry. I’ve supported so many people with talent work, casting, production, etc. I don’t and didn’t ever want anything more for it nor do I expect anything more for it. So you know, full disclosure, we are going to make this film and you have an opportunity to be in on the celebration.

If you think one lunch or a weeks expense of morning coffee is worth sparing, you are smashing - yep smashing was an auto-correct and I left it because it was.. you know.. smashing - we sincerely appreciate you! Heck, sign up, come out and participate. I would love to see you there.

By the way, all of you kicking in out of kindness or a true belief that we have something really special to offer, I love you - seriously - thank you.. (you know who you are!) 🙂 if you donate, I will put you on a list and notify you of our budget growth and shoot dates. Some of you could get an invite to a days production and see the magic take place! Just send a few bucks and don’t be afraid to ask. 😊

All the best,


Dinner for the Independent Filmmaker
Independent filmmaking falls short for a few common reasons: funding, distribution, and development. these shortfalls are far to common in this industry and in St. Louis. We have an event that you won't want to miss. Guests will discuss how they found a way to adapt, overcome and deliver a product.
Apr 14, 2019, 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM
The Monocle | The Emerald Ballroom,
4510 Manchester Ave, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA
Can you make it?



Clarity from professionals

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Film Producer

Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Byington has been very active and passionate about bringing Film and Television production to the greater St. Louis area. His support and advocacy has been instrumental in supporting numerous Midwestern artists and telling stories that not only entertain, but challenge and inform the viewer with compelling content. His documentary work as a Producer includes Radio Free St. Louis and Running Against Dick, which screened at film festivals around the nation. In addition, his Executive Producer credits include Sleep With Me, Ghost Image, and most recently, Bad Grandmas which was acquired by Showtime Cable Network and RedBox. With several projects in development, Byington has nurtured the unscripted series, Chasing Bandits, and earned the support and cooperation of the United States Marshal Service, and most importantly ... The Preacher, DUSM Luke J. Adler.


Executive Producer Middle West Movies

Chad Carpenter is the executive director of Middle West Movies (MWM), a St. Louis based nonprofit motion picture production company. MWM provides Midwestern movie makers the chance to develop their craft close to home as opposed to more competitive markets with higher costs of living. Chad wrote, directed, and produced the feature film Dog Days in the Heartland. MWM exhibited Dog Days in the Heartland in a limited release at 4 theaters in Kansas and Missouri. MWM is currently producing the feature films The Man In Room 6 with Live or Die Productions in St. Louis, MO and Mad City with Five Lakes Films in Madison, WI. MWM is also producing a short film, Are You Alright?, with Forever An Astronaut in St. Louis, MO. MWM would like to begin distributing other local independent films across the Midwest in 2019.



Internationally published, photographer/writer/director Thomas Smugala has for several years produced creative photography and films for fashion, music, celebrity and advertising clients. Thomas has also directed many award-winning short films and music videos.  Being heavily influenced by photographers like Joyce Tenneson, Richard Avedon and directors like the Clint Eastwood, Thomas decided very early in his career to shoot all of his projects with a fine-art approach and a "when they go that way, I go this way" attitude.  This has made it possible for him to pursue his passions without limitations.  Thomas has written, produced and directed films, music videos and television commercials in this manner all proving to be very successful endeavors.  His artistic vision and approach to life, along with his professional connections will certainly be the catalyst for a beautiful film.  His film Apocalypse and The Beauty Queen (2007) was shot in Missouri and gained international distribution with Vanguard Cinema.  ABQ was released for 5 years to Netflix, Amazon, Blockbuster, Family Video ABQ was dubbed to Russian, Spanish and Japanese gaining limited theatrical in several foreign markets.  Thomas recently completed Interviewing Monsters starring Tom Green and Les Stroud.  Interviewing Monsters is currently in beginning phases of distribution — a comedy with a lot of interest.  Thomas is currently in pre-production of his next film, THE SPRING — a supernatural thriller.  

Thomas has lived and worked in both New York and Los Angeles shooting on location all over the world. Thomas never thought to choose between art and advertising—he's dedicated to beauty and image, making no distinction about what he is shooting.  With his unstoppable passion for photography, he has spent that last 20 years working with top artists, personalities and agencies openly sharing his unique style and earning him a reputation for getting the shot and delivering more.


TV Content/Packaging

Michael is the founder of Michael D. Francis Presents (MDFP), a St. Louis based TV/content development and packaging company. MDFP focuses on finding unique and diverse talent and stories to package for sale to production companies, networks, studios, and streaming platforms. Michael is very active and passionate about creating opportunities to bring more film and television production to St. Louis using the local talent and crew. With almost ten years of real-world TV production experience starting as a PA and working his way up to Producer. Michael has worked for networks such as A&E, MTV, CBS, NBC, BET, TLC, Lifetime, PBS, and ESPN. You may have seen some of his work on shows like Judge Judy, Survivor, Nellyville, Unlocking The Truth, Undercover High and The First 48 (Mobil and Tulsa) just to name a few.

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Special Performance


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