Joshua SeftelFounding Director
Joshua Seftel is a 2017 Peabody Awards Finalist and Emmy nominee for his Vox series Secret Life of Muslims. The set of timely and poignant documentaries has had more than 37 million views since Election Day. His 2016 award-winning documentary The Many Sad Fates of Mr. Toledano premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was the most viewed New York Times Op-Doc of the year.
Seftel is best known for directing the political satire War, Inc., starring John Cusack, Ben Kingsley, Joan Cusack, and Marisa Tomei, as well as the Emmy-winning landmark series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Seftel is a contributor to the Peabody Award-winning program This American Life, and his essays have appeared on NPR, The New York Times, and CBS Sunday Morning. Seftel is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker. His films include Lost and Found (PBS), Taking on the Kennedys (POV), Ennis’ Gift (HBO), The Home Team (SXSW). He frequently directs commercials for clients including the Clio Award-winning Truth anti-smoking campaign, Delta Air Lines, Lincoln Motor Company, Macy's, and Liberty Mutual.
ANNA BICK ROWEExecutive Producer / Head of Production
Since starting with Smartypants in 2012, Anna has filmed in airports around the world with Delta Air Lines, chased sunsets for the perfect shot with NPR, learned photography for The Many Sad Fates of Mr. Toledano, attended a Refugee summer academy with the International Rescue Committee, learned to salsa dance with Bill Nye for PBS, among others.
Anna's short documentary Stand Up, Fight Back, which follows a Boston-based non-profit as they help underprivileged locals fight eviction due to illegal foreclosures, premiered at the Short Film Corner at the Festival de Cannes in 2010. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Tufts University, and is a self-proclaimed google spreadsheet enthusiast.
ERIKA FRANKELExecutive Producer
Erika Frankel directed the feature documentary KING GEORGES (Sundance Selects, Netflix), a portrait of mercurial master chef Georges Perrier in the twilight of his career. The film was praised by Variety (“Poignant, emotional...steady stream of laughter”) and The Philadelphia Inquirer (“A remarkably presented lion-in-winter story”). Erika also produced FRONTRUNNERS (Oscilloscope), a smart and funny look at the hard-fought race for student body president at Stuyvesant High School in New York City.
When she's not dipping her toes into the independent film world, Erika has produced numerous television specials and web series on everything from paleoanthropology to Swedish meatballs. At Smartypants, Erika has worked on branded campaigns for institutions such as Caltech, Harvard, Columbia, Duke, NPR and Liberty Mutual Insurance. But she is most well known for her chocolate chip banana bread.
TOM MILLERExecutive Producer
Tom Miller is a producer, writer and editor whose work has appeared on a veritable alphabet soup of networks, including PBS, HBO, TBS and HGTV and at film festivals around the world. He’s also created a wide range of educational media for clients including the George Lucas Educational Foundation, the Library of Congress and Maryland Public Television.
For Smartypants, Tom produces the Emmy-nominated series, NOVA’s The Secret Life of Scientists, and has produced films for WGBH, Project HOPE, Columbia, Princeton, Northwestern, MIT and Harvard (his alma mater). Because he likes collecting bobblehead dolls from his university projects, Tom’s friends at Smartypants gave him a bobblehead made in his own image. This has led to a major boost to his self esteem.
Jody SniderExecutive Producer / Development Non-Profit & Education
Jody is a producer and creator of award-winning television and radio shows. At Smartypants, she focuses on creative and new business development with health, higher education, and not-for-profit organizations. Her passion is using media for social impact and change.
ERIC NICHOLSHead of Development
Originally from Colorado, Eric studied at AFI Conservatory, graduating with an MFA in Film. After school Eric plunged into directing music videos and branded shorts, including work for SONY and ZEAL OPTICS.
Eric began at Smartypants in 2015 where he oversees development on branded content, film, and TV.
Nathalie is a Producer at Smartypants, where she works on branded campaigns, film, and TV. Nathalie has helped create a wide variety of advertising and branded content – she’s scouted alpaca farms, cast child race car drivers, and spent a day recording ear-piercing screams (the best kind of stress relief). She’s originally from Montreal, Canada.
When he isn't crafting treatments or proposals, Cory heads up project research and manages the company intern program. He's originally from San Clemente, CA, studied writing at PLNU in San Diego, and recently completed his MFA in fiction writing at The New School.
Olivia HuzenisExecutive Assistant
Olivia helps with production coordination at Smartypants. A recent graduate from Tufts University with a B.A. in International Relations, she's excited to pursue social impact documentary filmmaking that deals with international issues. Olivia hails from Chicago, Illinois, but is (shockingly) not a fan of deep dish pizza. She is one of two redheads in our office.
Dave is the Emmy Award-winning director and showrunner of some of the most popular and innovative non-fiction shows on television. He is best known as the creative force behind MTV’s hit series Catfish, as well as the landmark series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Metzler's branded work includes films for Delta Air Lines.
Merete is an award-winning documentary filmmaker based in Brooklyn, New York. Her first feature-length documentary, TINY: A Story About Living Small, premiered at SXSW and was ranked as one of the most popular independent films on both iTunes and Netflix upon its release.
Merete's short films have been published in The New York Times' Op-Docs series, The Atlantic and VICE. She has produced and directed branded content and editorial segments for clients including GE, Toyota Prius, A&E Networks, United Therapeutics, Cadbury, Citibank, Columbia University, and Conde Nast Entertainment.
Justin Lerner is an Emmy and Gotham Award-winning writer/director born in State College, Pennsylvania.
Lerner's first feature film, Girlfriend, made its World Premiere at the 2010 Toronto Int’l Film Festival and won the 2011 Gotham Independent Film Audience Award. It was released by Strand Releasing in 2011. His second feature film, The Automatic Hate, was produced by Alix Madigan, an Oscar nominee for the Sundance hit Winter's Bone. The Automatic Hate made its World Premiere at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival and was released in 2016 by distributor Film Movement. The film is the second in an informal trilogy that depict taboo relationships, Starlee, Starlee being the third, which he is working on now.
David McFarland is a Director of Photography based in Los Angeles. He has photographed projects all over the world. In the fall of 2009, he spent three months in Kabul, Afghanistan shooting The Black Tulip, a feature film made by Afghan director Sonia Cole. His goal as Director of Photography is to create images that will affect the viewer on an emotional and subliminal level.
Smartypants credits include spots for Delta Air Lines, Country Crock, Seabourn Cruise Lines, and Detour.
Naiti Gámez is a NYC-based filmmaker. She has worked as a cinematographer & director on award-winning films and television series.
Film highlights include Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart (Sundance 2015), Kiki (Sundance Selects), Newtown (Sundance 2016). Her directorial debut, Love, Sadie, screened at the Festival de Cannes Short FilmCorner and was a Student Academy Awards semi-finalist. TV credits include work for HBO, Showtime, PBS, ESPN, MTV/MTV2, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, & NOVA. As a youth-media educator, she's collaborated with young people to produce videos about social, cultural, and political issues that affect them.
Smartypants credits include The Many Sad Fates of Mr. Toledano, The Secret Life of Muslims, The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers, short films for Columbia University and Princeton University, and branded content for Delta Air Lines.
Daniel Sousa is an Oscar-nominated animator based in Providence, RI. He has worked as a director and animator for numerous clients since 1995, and he taught animation at RISD, The Art Institute of Boston, The Museum School, Harvard University, Wheaton College, and more recently at the Animation Workshop in Denmark. His animation can be seen in work for Cartoon Network, Nesquik, Mr. Porter, Home Depot, Kia, NOVA, and Progressive.
His films have been screened around the world in festivals such as Sundance, Ottawa, Annecy, and Hiroshima. His 2012 film Feral earned him an Academy Awards nomination for Best Animated Short in 2013.
In collaboration with Smartypants, Dan has animated pieces for PBS, Walk Free, unPac, and The Secret Life of Muslims.
Karl Schroder is a NY based freelance cinematographer with over 15 years of experience in commercial film production. Karl has worked with Gregory Crewdson on many of his elaborately staged fine-art photographs; Andrew Neel and Luke Meyer on SXSW 2006 Audience Award Winner Darkon; and Greg Olliver on his roc-doc Lemmy.
With the Smartypants team, Karl has shot for clients including Delta Air Lines, Lenovo, Macy’s, Vail Valley Medical Center, NPR, Columbia University, and Duke University. Karl attended Ithaca College and received a Bachelor's degree in Art with a specialization in Cinema, Photo & Fine Art.
Rob has directed short films, assisted on feature films, and edited documentary TV and web content.
With Smartypants, Rob has edited branded content for Delta Air Lines, Macy’s, Seabourn Cruise Lines, Country Crock, Detour, and short films for Mashable, Harvard Business School, Columbia University, and the Smartypants original series The Secret Life of Muslims and The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers. He currently resides in Brooklyn and continues to craft gripping stories in order to keep his two cats and ravenous toddler well fed. He holds a bachelor’s degree from NYU’s Film & Television program at Tisch School of the Arts.
Jacob Steingroot is a NYC based editor whose work includes documentary films, reality television, and web videos. His work has appeared on PBS, TLC, Ovation, DIY Network and others.
Jacob has worked with the Smartypants team on The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers, The Secret Life of Muslims, and campaign films for various universities. In his free time he enjoys making collage art and reading books about niche record labels.
Amanda Larson edited the recent feature documentaries The City of Joel (dir. Jesse Sweet), King Georges (dir. Erika Frankel, Sundance Selects), and The 5 Browns (dir. Benjamin Niles).
Amanda has partnered with Smartypants on a range of projects, editing films for the International Rescue Committee, Northwestern University, Vail Valley Medical Center, Delta Air Lines, and the Smartypants original series The Secret Life of Muslims. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and fellow editor, Marc Vives, and their daughter, Liv.
Rabab Haj YahyaEditor
Rabab is a documentary editor and 2014 Sundance Edit and Story Lab Fellow. Most recently, she has edited a number of feature documentaries including award-winners Speed Sisters and Full Signal. In the past, Rabab has edited numerous documentaries commissioned by the Al Jazeera Documentary Channel, including the most recent, Enemies of the South, which was featured in multiple prime-time slots on the network.
With the Smartypants team, Rabab has edited episodes of The Secret Life of Muslims as well as campaign videos for various Universities. Rabab speaks English, Arabic, and Hebrew fluently, and she currently lives in New York.
Marc Vives is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and has been a freelance film editor since 2006. In 2013 he was co-nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Editing for Jem Cohen’s Museum Hours. He's been an editor at the Sundance Director's Lab and has served as an editing mentor for IFP’s Narrative Independent Filmmaker Lab for the last four years.
Select Smartypants work includes The Many Sad Fates of Mr. Toledano as well as spots for Delta Air Lines, Crown Castle, Harvard Business School, and NPR. He lives with his wife and fellow editor, Amanda Larson, and their daughter, Liv, in Brooklyn.
John Dragonetti is a composer, songwriter and music producer living in Los Angeles. As a founding member of the band The Submarines, the group released three critically acclaimed albums and toured internationally. The band’s songs were featured in two Apple iPhone TV spots and numerous films and television shows: Nip/Tuck, Grey’s Anatomy, Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist.
John’s television credits include Married (FX), Small Town Security (AMC), Truth and Power (Pivot), Big Ideas For A Small Planet (Sundance), and Weeds (AMC). Film scores include The Internet's Own Boy and We Are Legion (dir. Brian Knappenberger), Surfwise (dir. Doug Pray) and indie features, About Scout (dir. Laurie Weltz) and Baby Baby Baby (dir. Brian Klugman).
John scored the Smartypants original series The Secret Life of Muslims and PBS/NOVA’s The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers, as well as spots for Delta Air Lines and NPR.
Tyler Strickland is a film composer based in Los Angeles. Tyler's scores have accompanied recent award-winning documentary films such as Netflix Original, Audrie & Daisy (Sundance 2016), The Return (Tribeca 2016 Audience Award Winner), Best and Most Beautiful Things (SXSW 2016), Emmy-nominated Netflix Original, Hot Girls Wanted (Sundance 2015), and a dozen others since he began composing for film in 2011, shortly after transitioning from long career as a touring musician.
Tyler has scored various Smartypants projects including the original doc The Many Sad Fates of Mr. Toledano (NYTimes Op-Doc) and numerous spots for Delta Air Lines and NPR.