The Family


Grace Tarnow and John Hancock

Grace Tarnow

Oscar-nominated director John Hancock didn’t have to look far when he cast a young actress to appear alongside his wife, actress/screenwriter Dorothy Tristan, in his latest film.

Hancock, Tristan and New York Casting Director Susan Willett were so impressed by Grace Tarnow, they cast the La Porte girl just minutes after her callback audition ended on Sunday, Feb. 3, at La Porte County Library. The 13-year-old seventh-grader at La Porte’s Kesling Middle School earns the highest praise from Hancock.

Learn More About Grace Tarnow


Jeff Puckett

Jeff is thrilled to have been cast as “Terry” in John and Dorothy’s upcoming film. Jeff worked with John on “A Piece of Eden” and  “Suspended Animation” and appeared in his stage production of “Bohemian Nights” at the Acorn Theatre in Three Oaks MI, and Chopin Theatre in Chicago. A LaPorte native, Jeff  has been acting 25 years.


Allen Turner

Celebrated for his vibrant role as a philanthropist, administrator and performer in Chicago’s arts community, co-producer Allen Turner’s love of the arts drew him to Columbia College Chicago. Since 2005, he’s served as the chairman of its board of trustees. A partner in the investment firm The Pritzker Organization, Turner became Victory Gardens Theatre’s first board chairman in the 1970s. He then served as board chairman for Chicago’s Goodman Theatre and the Museum of Contemporary Art, where he oversaw construction of the building and completion of the capital campaign. He has lectured on American theater at Cambridge University and Yale, as well as on arts management at the School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received his J.D. from the University of Chicago and a B.B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition to being appointed a Chevalier de l’Order des Arts et des Lettres from the Republic of France, he has been honored as Knight Commander, the Sovereign Military and Hospitaler Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta, Official Seat The Hague, Kingdom of The Netherlands. He is an honorary member of Kings College, Cambridge University, England.


Doreen Bartoni

Professor Doreen Bartoni, one of the film’s co-producers, is a vital presence at Columbia College Chicago. The founding dean of the School of the Media Arts (2001-2011), she was instrumental in the realization of Columbia’s Media Production Center and oversaw multi-disciplinary initiatives in transmedia screenwriting, documentary and the Game Design major. In 2011, she was a visiting professor at Tongji University in Shanghai, China. She has written, directed and produced award-winning independent films shown at national and international festivals, and is working on the script for “Speranza,” a feature film set in Italy and the American West, and researching contemplative approaches to education. Doreen earned her graduate degree in film and undergraduate degree in communications from Northwestern University.


Kelly Daisy

Kelly began studying acting over 15 years ago in Chicago.  Since then, she has appeared in many TV shows, feature films, short films, and commercials that have filmed in the Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana region.  She has participated in a variety of roles in film production along the way. She recently added writing to her adventures and is sure it will be something that she continues with for many years to come. She also owns Absolute Industrial Safety in Laporte. A distributor for safety and Janitorial products.

John has added Kelly to the FilmAcres family as co-producer for his latest film. What does that mean? It means Kelly will be wearing A LOT of hats and making sure production goes smoothly. Thank you for all your hard work Kelly!

Andrew Tallackson headshot

Andrew Tallackson

Andrew “Drew” Tallackson was the entertainment editor at The News-Dispatch in Michigan City for 15 years. It was through the newspaper that he met John Hancock and Dorothy Tristan back in January 1998, covering the auditions for “A Piece of Eden.” With a background that includes journalism, film, theater and music, Drew attended the Emerson School for Visual and Performing Arts in Gary, Ind., studied classical piano at Indiana University-Bloomington and co-founded the Young People’s Theatre Co. in La Porte County. He is midway through writing a serio-comic non-fiction book in the spirit of David Sedaris about his son, William. He’ll serve as one of the co-producers and appear as a music director in the film.


Misha Suslov

Misha Suslov is the film’s Russian-born cinematographer and has worked with John on many of his other films, including Prancer, Piece of Eden and Suspended Animation.

Read more about Misha in his press kit.

James Thornton-web

James Thornton

James Thornton is a production sound mixer for feature films and television. His first job in Hollywood was in 1973, running the machine room of a dubbing stage. By the 1980’s he was mixing low budget horror films such as “Friday the 13th” and “The Hidden”. Then moved onto more quality projects like “Benny and Joon” , “Beautiful Girls”, “Now and Then”, “The Cell” and “Weeds” & “Prancer” for director John Hancock. In the last 10 years he has been mixing mostly series television shows like “Without a Trace”, “Ugly Betty” & “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”. Currently he is in the process of developing a student sound program for The American Film Institute (AFI) in Los Angeles, California.

Ryan Juszkiewicz-web

Ryan Juszkiewicz

Ryan has been working in the film industry since 1995. He received his bachelor’s degree in Film studies from Columbia College and his Masters in Digital Cinema from DePaul University. His career began with a role as 1st Assistant Director on the feature film, “A Piece of Eden.” Subsequently, he moved to Dallas where he was 1st AD, line producer and 2nd unit director on independent films and also worked as a photographer/writer for the “Dallas Music Guide”. He returned to Indiana and has been working as a Director, Producer and Director of Photography on many commercials, documentaries, music videos and industrials. He has also worked as an Adjunct Professor, teaching Film / Video Production, lighting/cinematography and Film History.


Kevin McGrail

Kevin McGrail is an entrepreneur specializing in middle to low budget films. Kevin started his first company, Dynamite Film Productions, while an undergraduate at Michigan State University in 2008. After graduating in 2009 with a Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering, Kevin recognized a need for innovative entrepreneurs in the film industry. He moved to Chicago and studied at DePaul University’s new and innovative Digital Cinema Program Since graduating with a Masters in Digital Cinema Production, Kevin has supported several productions from both a business and management perspective, along with bringing a unique marketing and distribution perspective to his work. Some of his recent credits include Bravo Network’s Taking Chicago, The Onion Network’s America’s Best and
Dr. Goode and Watercooler Productions Blood on the Plain.


Susan Willett

Susan Willett is a New York casting director and John’s longtime friend and colleague. John and Susan have collaborated on numerous projects, including hundreds of TV commercials. She discovered Rebecca Harrell, the young star of Hancock’s Christmas classic, “Prancer” (1989), in addition to casting her famous co-stars: Sam Elliott, Abe Vigoda and Oscar-winner Cloris Leachman. She also cast acclaimed actors Tyne Daly and Frederic Forrest in Hancock’s “A Piece of Eden” (1999). Both films were shot in La Porte County and Michigan’s Harbor Country.

When asked why she continues to work with John, Susan says, “when he calls you can’t say no.”


Irina Tsikurishvili

Irina is a 32-time Helen Hayes Award Nominee and has won the award eight times for her choreography of The Idiot, Faust, Hamlet…the rest is silence, The Master and Margarita, Frankenstein, Macbeth, Carmen, and King Lear. She has also choreographed for the Stanislavsky Theater Studio, including The Idiot, Little Tragedies, Don Quixote and La Malade Imaginaire. Ms. Tsikurishvili has taught at the Catholic University of America, American University and Georgetown University, where she choreographed Lysistrata. She continues to run intensive movement workshops to train Synetic cast members. With her husband, she is the co-founder of Synetic Theater and co-founder of Stanislavsky Theater Studio.

Learn More About Synetic Theatre

Photo by Paula Court, 2007

Photo by Paula Court, 2007

David Del Tredici

Generally recognized as the father of the Neo-Romantic movement in music, David Del Tredici has received numerous awards (including the Pulitzer Prize) and has been commissioned and performed by nearly every major American and European orchestral ensemble. “Del Tredici,” said Aaron Copland, “is that rare find among composers — a creator with a truly original gift. I venture to say that his music is certain to make a lasting impression on the American musical scene. I know of no other composer of his generation who composes music of greater freshness and daring, or with more personality.”

Read David’s Full Bio


Orville Stoeber

Orville Stoeber has worked with John Hancock on numerous projects including: the music for his Oscar nominated short, “Sticky my Fingers Fleet My Feet”, and “Bang The Drum Slowly”, “Weeds” and “A Piece of Eden” films. He has worked as an actor in “Mousehunt” for DreamWorks, and “Switchback” and recently as God in Golden Era Productions. As a recording artist he was an MCA records artist and has recorded six CDs, “Songs”, ”Whispering Roots”, “My Fatal Flaw” Necessary Imagination” “Eight” and “Hymns of the Gods Gardeners”; a collaboration with author Margaret Atwood’s words and Stoeber’s music guitar and vocals, which resulted in a world tour in 2009. He is a conceptual artist with 4 gallery shows, as well a pre-school teacher. He lives in Venice Beach, California.

Read more about Orville in his press kit.

Check out this wonderful piece by Orville:

Words, music, guitar and vocal: Orville Stoeber
Copyright Sweet Flame Music 2013

And here is a work in progress called “Little Crocodile” for the Alice in Wonderland piece. While not a finished recording, it gives you rare insight into the process of exploring a musical score for a film:


John Hancock

Director John Hancock’s early interest was music. As an adolescent, he was an accomplished violinist, and concertmaster of the Chicago Youth Orchestra. He became interested in the theatre while attending Harvard College and directed a number of plays there. Because of the promise he exhibited, he received a grant from Harvard to study theatre in Europe. He spent the time observing Bertolt Brecht’s Berliner Ensemble.

Read John’s Full Bio


Dorothy Tristan

Dorothy Tristan, John’s wife and professional partner, is a versatile artist. She’s acted, modeled, sung, painted, and is now pursuing her love of writing. She has written three of her husband’s films: Steal the Sky, Weeds, and A Piece of Eden. She is currently finishing the screenplay for his next project.

Read Dorothy’s Full Bio


Smith Donovan

Smith Donovan is not a person, but a team. This creative marketing agency is happy to be assisting FilmAcres with marketing efforts including website, social media and video documentary production.

Stay tuned for updates as we add production personnel and actors. One of them could be you!