Lauren Jacobs, Carolyn Sherer, Michele Forman and Lara Embry, Ph.D.
Lara Embry, Ph.D. – Co-Director
Lara is a clinical psychologist and writer. She was awarded the Justice Prize by the National Center for Lesbian Rights in 2009, and continues to work on behalf of LGBT rights through her work with the Trevor Project, a national suicide prevention service for young LGBTQ people. Embry currently has a children’s book in publication with Random House called Mean Marlenewhich focuses on a child who learns to stop bullying, and she previously co-wrote Jane Lynch’s memoir, Happy Accidents (2011). As a psychologist, she conducted research and published in the areas of resilience, family psychology, youth homelessness andpsychobiology. Her private practice focused on issues related to adolescent development, family dynamics, sexual and gender identity, anxiety and depression.
Carolyn Sherer – Co-Director
Carolyn is a fine-art photographer and the artist who created the acclaimed photography exhibition, Living in Limbo: Lesbian Families in the Deep South which serves as the initiation point for the current film State & Union. Living in Limbo opened at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, serving as the first LGBTQ themed exhibition at the museum before traveling to the West Hollywood Library, African American Museum Dallas, Miami Art Basel, and Stonewall National Museum. Sherer is interested in issues of identity, and as she intuitively creates images, she selects those quiet authentic photographic moments that fuse the personal with the universal. Her fine-art photographs have been featured innumerous museum exhibitions and collections of photography and contemporary art. A book of her images, Just As I Am: Americans with Disabilities, with text by Ellen Dossett, won a first place IPPY (National Independent Book Publishers Award), and the Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award (outstanding books that help shed light on bigotry in America).
Michele Forman – Producer
Michele is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and co-founder and director of UAB’s Media Studies Program, a social justice documentary filmmaking program. Over 300 short documentaries have been produced in partnership with local communities. In addition to her own academic program, Forman founded Documenting Justice at the University of Alabama and the Southern Exposure Film Fellowship. Forman gained her experience as an executive in feature films at Spike Lee's 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks where she was responsible for the acquisition and development of new projects. Since 1997, Forman has been directing and producing documentary projects for film and television, earning an Emmy nomination in 2001 for Coat of Many Colors. She served as associate producer on Spike Lee's Academy Award nominated film 4 Little Girls, a feature-length documentary about the bombing of the Sixteenth Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963. Forman began her film work at Harvard University, where she double-majored in English and Visual and Environmental Studies. Her work has been broadcast on HBO, Independent Film Channel, Sundance Channel, and public television.
Eileen Meyer – Editor
Eileen is a documentary film editor in Los Angeles, CA. Her last film, Best of Enemies, was a 2015 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize nominee and shortlisted for an Academy Award in 2016 for Best Documentary. She received her BA in Film from Hampshire College in 2004, then began her career in film and television in New York City. She was the Associate Producer and Assistant Editor on numerous projects including Rehearsing a Dream (Oscar Nominated 2007, Best Documentary Short), Locks of Love: The Kindest Cut (HBO), Coming Out Stories (LOGO) and The First 48 (A&E). Since 2008, she has focused her career on editing, including an Emmy Award-winning documentary web series for MTV ($5 Cover Amplified), and a narrative short, The Thing that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012.
Chris Hilleke – Director of Photography
Chris is a DP and cinematographer whose more notable feature-length work include: Trapped, which premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, the HBO documentary Gideon’s Army, which premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, the HBO documentary Gideon’s Army, which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival; the award-winning Man In The Glass: The Dale Brown Story; the sex comedy Autoerotic with Joe Swanberg; and the thriller A Horrible Way To Die with longtime collaborator Adam Wingard. A Horrible Way To Die premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010. Hilleke’s commercial clients include U.S. Space Camp, Mercedes-Benz, Subway, and Southern Progress. Between gigs as a director of photography he has managed to produce a slew of his own award-winning, short narrative and documentary films including the 2009 Sidewalk Film Festival's Audience Choice Award Winner Some Of What I Know About Tommy, which follows a man struggling with paranoid schizophrenia.
Lauren Jacobs – Associate Producer
Lauren is a recent graduate of The University of Alabama with a degree in Telecommunication and Film. She contributed to various documentary projects, including a half-hour television show Alabama Art Seen, which profiled artists living and working in Alabama and aired on WVUA-TV. Lauren served as a leader of UA's LGBTQ+ student group Spectrum, helping the Southeastern LGBTQ+ Student Conference in 2013, which brought together LGBTQ+ students from high schools and universities from across the region. Lauren is currently a contributing editor for autostraddle.com, the world’s most popular independently owned lesbian website with over 3 million views per month, where she has published writing on pop culture and LGBTQ issues.
Mary-Kate Laird – Digital Marketing Director
Mary-Kate is an Interactive Coordinator at Strong Automotive Merchandising in Birmingham. She graduated from Agnes Scott College in 2011. Post-graduation she stayed in Atlanta to pursue a career in Internet & Social Media Marketing with a hint of graphic design and web development. As a Birmingham native, the stories highlighted in State & Union struck a cord. Her enthusiasm for the film can be noted through frequent eblasts, Facebook posts, tweets & custom memes.