Meet our team...
DIRECTOR - DANIEL ABATAN
Daniel always wanted to make films but for some time life kept getting in the way. When he was sixteen he dropped out of school to complete his debut novel before attending Trinity College, Cambridge, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Literature. During these years, when he was supposed to be reading books, he worked as a film critic for the university newspaper and was president of the Cambridge Filmmaking and Production Group. He also wrote and directed a play, published two award winning poetry collections and worked in Paris with photographer John Haynes, who was compiling his Samuel Beckett collection for an exhibition.
Unable to bear not making films any longer, Daniel dragged his family out into the wilderness and convinced them to act in his first short. Since then, he has directed six narrative short films and has no plan on stopping. Daniel is completing the second year in Directing at the American Film Institute where he can finally put his compulsive creativity to good use.
SCREENWRITER - BRIAN ALLEN
Brian has been a Los Angeles based writer for eight years. He has experience in writing short narratives in the form of music video concepts, advertisements, and short films. He has also written five feature length scripts and a novel prior to attending the American Film Institute. He has a dual undergraduate degree from Syracuse University in Film and Policy Studies. The themes of Minor Difference combine Brian’s drive to tell stories of identity and to engage with human issues.
CINEMATOGRAPHER - THAÏS CASTRALE
Thaïs was born in Brazil to a family of immigrants passionate about movies. She was presented to European cinema at an early age, which ultimately inspired her to give up on her parents’ career and drop out of medical school to pursue filmmaking. During film school her curiosity for photography led her to a job at the Headquarters of Leica Camera in Brazil. She became a sales manager, and the steady position gave her the incentive to shoot independent projects - mostly shorts on 16mm and 35mm film. The artists and technicians she met encouraged her to consider cinematography as a career, and, finally, seek formal education at the American Film Institute.
EDITOR - BEAU CARDALL
Beau grew up in Berkeley, California, and from a very young age he knew he wanted to tell stories. Then one summer, he found an old video camera in a closet of his house and his life was changed forever. Throughout his childhood, he taught himself how to shoot and edit short films, volunteered as a production assistant on various sets and even took classes at the UCLA School of Television, Film and Theater. A 2014 graduate of Evergreen State College, where he holds a Bachelor of Arts in Storytelling and Media Studies, he is now an Editing Fellow at the American Film Institute. Before AFI, he was editing short form documentary projects for Thurston Community Television in Olympia, Washington.
PRODUCER - JESSICA GAO
Jes grew up in Beijing, China, where she discovered her love of film through the abundance of pirated DVDs. She then moved to New York City and attended New York University, graduating in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a minor in Cinema Studies. She has worked in various facets of the industry including publicity, post production sound, international sales and talent representation prior to enrolling at the American Film Institute as a Producing Fellow. She hopes to return to China after she graduates to work in the booming film industry there.