Ben Arredondo (Founder/Executive Director)
Producer, director and writer Ben Arredondo has been promoting the careers of emerging filmmakers since 2009 with the NYC PictureStart Film Festival. Under Arredondo’s leadership, this annual festival, started in 2002, has grown from a local one-night only event to an internationally recognized festival. In 2013, NYCPSFF launched its visiting series in South Africa.
In addition to his work with PictureStart, Arredondo has written, directed and produced several short films and web videos. He also produced and directed over 40 nationally broadcast commercials with the media company Cellfish, and he independently directed five downtown theatre productions in New York City. Arredondo has a keen eye for talent and a strong commitment to bring that talent to new audiences, whether it’s through films, commercials, or theatre.
Prior to his career in the entertainment industry, Arredondo worked in publishing where he held production positions for magazines such as Teen People, Biography, and Sports Illustrated.
In addition to founding the Tulsa American Film Festival, Ben is also working with the University of Houston to start film initiatives on campus, including a film festival. He is producing a documentary feature film to be shot in the late summer of 2015 and he is also writing a travel/film history book. He received a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Houston and has lived the past 17 years in New York City.
Colleen Thurston (Director of Programming)
Colleen Thurston is a nonfiction media producer, educator, and film programmer. Colleen holds a degree from the University of Arizona in Media Arts and Anthropology, and earned her Masters of Fine Arts from Montana State University's one-of-a-kind program in Science and Natural History Filmmaking, where she also completed a graduate certificate in Native American Studies. Specializing in short form documentary production, her film interests explore the relationships between humans and the natural world, history and natural history, and science and culture. She has worked for the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, the Smithsonian Channel, and is currently employed by the Cherokee Nation as a producer on the Emmy Award-winning television show, "Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People." A member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and seventh generation Okie-American, Colleen is proud to be involved in the growth of her hometown's arts and culture scene through the Tulsa American Film Festival.
Adam O'Connor (Production Director)
Adam O'Connor has been a resident Tulsan for over 20 years, and holds a degree in Film Studies from the University of Tulsa. At TU, he was responsible for coordinating the Annual TU Film Festival, and was involved in a number of projects, including the short film The Great American Flea Market. After graduation, he has continued to pursue other arts projects in the Tulsa area, including writing and producing the film Sherman and Pacifico, starring Academy Award-winning actor Javier Bardem (Winner, Best Oklahoma Short, Deadcenter Film Festival 2013). Currently, Adam works for Apple as a Creative, facilitating training and development for both customers and employees. Adam and his wife, Brittany, welcomed their first child, Hal, into their family in August of 2015.