Advisory Board

We wouldn't be where we are without our awesome team!

Our advisory board is responsible for planning and facilitating events and all the legal mumbo-jumbo that allows CFC to flourish. 

The board celebrating our 10-year anniversary at our April 2019 X-Marks-the-Spot party!

Advisory Board

Juli Emmons — Founder/President | Juli Emmons is a film actor, director, casting director, and mother of three. But, mostly she’s a pioneer. Juli is pioneering film advocacy and creation in Charlotte, and she provides a place for filmmakers in the Carolinas to network, learn, grow, and create. She created the first film community of its kind in the Carolinas, the Carolina Film Community.

A lifelong lover of film, and dramatic arts, Juli got her start in the industry acting in stage plays and progressing into film acting. Over the years, she worked on several aspects of filmmaking and now works primarily in extras casting with more than 30 projects on her resume, including Tammy, The Longest RideSpongeBob SquarePants 2, You Are Here, and The Taking of Deborah Logan (for which the CFC hosted a Premiere and Red Carpet event). She has worn writer and producer hats for the last two years producing award-winning short films. She is a recipient of the 2016 50 Most Influential Women in Charlotte Award and was also voted Sexiest Local Woman of 2016 by Elevate Magazine in Charlotte.

Juli’s strong passion for film is what drove her to found the CFC in April 2009. Since its inception, the CFC has provided education, fellowship, and advocacy for filmmakers in the Carolinas as well as providing incentives to create films, a screenwriters’ workshop, a podcast series, and a platform for screening film and television productions. Juli has sat on the board of the NC Production Alliance(Secretary) since 6/2014.
Since 2015, the Charlotte Film Festival honored the CFC by allowing the CFC to host and create one of the evenings–“A Night with Carolina Filmmakers” where the CFC showcased works from Directors and Producers from the Carolinas followed by panel discussion and meet and greet.

Juli’s work and the momentum of the group has been featured in several media outlets including Fox News Rising, Empire Entertainment Magazine,Carolina Kid News TV ShowToday’s Charlotte Woman MagazineMy Carolina TownFox 46 CarolinasClose Up – with Patti Mercer, Charlotte Talks, WBTV News Morning Show, and more!

Kirsten Barrington-Hughes — VP/Director of Marketing | Kirsten Barrington-Hughes has been writing since the 2nd grade when she authored a book about bunnies. She writes poetry and pieces on people, places, and things that interest her and is published monthly. Kirsten also runs a successful photography business and is rarely seen without her camera. Through the lens, she captures the details of life and those living it, as well as headshots for most of the areas talent agencies. A 16 year marketing and sales professional during working hours, Kirsten is bringing her business acumen to the Carolina Film Community evangelizing the community’s good work and opportunities for fellowship, education, and advocacy. Kirsten enjoys being with family, cooking, reading, walking, traveling, and early morning boating on Lake Wylie.

Eric Ho — Advisory Board Member | With a background in business management, Eric joined the film and television industry as a Visual Effects Artist and 3D Animator in 2013 in order to fuel his need for more creativity.

Eric teaches video editing and motion graphics at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte Center City) and Winthrop University. He is the technical resource behind our monthly meetings as well.

And, he still makes awesome spreadsheets.

Photo by: Patrick G. Keenan

Cat Berkowitz — Advisory Board Member | A daughter to doctor parents and younger sister of two brother engineers, it was only natural for Cat Berkowitz (stage name Cathrine Lellie – Actress) to pursue acting. Ask her and she will say, “It’s that damn Macaulay Culkin‘s fault” as she wanted to play a female version of the Kevin McCallister character from HOME ALONE when she saw it as a kid.

After graduating with a degree in Theatre, Cat has earned numerous credits for acting, writing, directing, and casting. Most recently, she booked a series regular role on the INTENSIVE ARTS web series directed by Andy Wolk who has also directed many legendary actors such as James Gandolfini, Glenn Close, and Forest Whitaker to name a few! Working with such an acclaimed director was a dream and Cat also hopes to work with The Coen Brothers and Quentin Tarantino Director in the future. She still wants to play Kevin McCallister but would settle for a role like Uma Thurman in KILL BILL.

When she is not auditioning or preparing for a role, Cat enjoys quiet time drinking hot tea, doing yoga, teaching herself Russian, and relaxing with her handsome tabby cat, Sir Regal Lionheart aka Taffy. She is also an avid Jeopardy viewer and hopes to get on the show before Alex Trebek retires. In the meantime, she will likely crush anyone who challenges her to a game of Movie Trivia.

Keep up with Cat on

Leon Dunn — Advisory Board Member | Besides being a filmmaker, Leon Dunn is a straight-up badass. He served our country for 11 years in U.S Air Force Security Forces, was a DOD Military Customs Inspector, and currently works at Duke Energy in their Nuclear Security Operations.
His passion is filmmaking, and as Co-owner/Executive Producer of Carolina Filmworks he has made:

Sinners & Saints
Daylights End
Sinners & Saints Vengeance
Shotgun Kiss

Go follow his exploits here –> Carolina Filmworks Fan page

Chris Baker — Advisory Board Member | Chris Baker is a local award-winning filmmaker.

He also works in production on many commercials and films in the area.

He has been an advisory council member for CFC since 2011.

See his work at Bakers Dozen Films.

Rachel M. Payne — Advisory Board Member | Rachel M. Payne learned Spanish while living in Bolivia, South America during high school. She returned to the US to study theatre and business at a small university in Mississippi, where she tried her hand at all aspects of creating theatre and trained in classical singing. She focused her studies in acting in a conservatory style training program under Kathryn Gately, a first generation student of Sanford Meisner, and at the Moscow Art Theatre School in Russia.

Rachel began working as an actress in Chicago, performing in theatre, short films, streaming series and radio. Interested in creating content, she began writing with an international startup on series and features, and reviewing films and live performances for an online magazine.

Rachel moved into coordinating film production and assisting a talent agency while continuing to develop content, including songwriting. Leaving Chicago, she went to Boston to produce spots for a lifestyle and entertainment African television channel, and began directing digital marketing campaigns for African talent.

As her family began migrating from Chicago to sunny Charlotte, Rachel joined them in December of 2016–and aren’t we lucky!? She continues to work in film and marketing, and has begun volunteering her time for the Charlotte Film Festival. She has served as the media coordinator for the Carolina Film Community since early 2017, and is excited to be asked to join the Advisory Board for 2018!

Photo by: Blythe Spirit Photography

Melanie Lech — Advisory Board Member | Melanie is a many hats kind of gal—she’s a writer, a photographer/videographer, a wannabe actor, and a lazy musician, but definitely not a dancer.

She’s responsible for our new website!

Melanie is a firm believer in making your own opportunities. After graduating from Appalachian State with a rag-tag double-major in December 2016, she and a pal started their own business, Mean Bean Productions: a one-stop shop for multimedia, especially stuff that’s silly, and moreover, an original content hub for comedic sketches, parodies, short films, and more.

In 2019, Melanie split her photography away from Mean Bean into a separate entity, Melanie Lech Multimedia, and it’s since brought home the bacon, which essentially all goes into Mean Bean Productions, so watch their comedy videos or she’ll kill herself. 

Photo by: Blythe Spirit Photography

Taylor Montalto — Advisory Board Member | Taylor grew up obsessed with movies and was inspired to study film by her idol, Nora Ephron. She ended up graduating with honors from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington with a Bachelor’s degree in Film Studies and Journalism. Originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, Taylor’s passion for all things film and photography-related has driven her to work on various projects in both documentary and narrative mediums.

Taylor’s proudest accomplishment to date is having been part of the post-production phase of a documentary feature, Jewish American Soldiers: Stories from WWII. Since its official premiere in Charlotte, it has aired on PBS stations nationwide, become available for rental and purchase on Amazon Prime Video, been selected to screen at the 9th Charlotte Film Festival, and been included for historical preservation in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It also recently received an Emmy nomination in the Musical Composition/ Arrangement category. 

Taylor previously worked as a Production Assistant at Full Scale Productions in Charlotte and is now looking for other opportunities in the film industry, specifically within the documentary field. She continues to play an active role in the Charlotte cultural arts scene. Apart from serving as an Advisory Council Member for the Carolina Film Community, she is also a volunteer for the Charlotte Film Festival, Charlotte Film Society, and Blumenthal Performing Arts.

In her free time, Taylor enjoys watching movies, taking photographs, traveling, hiking, and baking. 

Check out her work at

Joy Dale — Advisory Board Member | Born into a film enthusiast family, Joy has been a movie lover for as long as she can remember. She got her first real taste of the film industry in the Spring of 2002 when she spent her spring break in LA on the set of the television series “Fastlane”. After that week she went home with a new purpose and began developing everything from short video montages for family and friends to shooting a music video for a local band in Seattle.

She went on to officially study film-making at the American Intercontinental University in London, England.

In the summer of 2017, she relocated from New York City to Charlotte, NC with her family.

When she’s not story-boarding new ideas and concepts, she enjoys knocking foreign destinations off her bucket list and spending time with her two young sons dancing like no one’s looking. 

Photo by: Blythe Spirit Photography

Joshua Thomas — Script to Screen Workshop Leader | Script to Screen Workshop Leader Joshua Thomas is a writer, director, videographer, and editor and has used these skills in the last few years filming weddings, internet ads, and independent films.

He has always had a passion for creating and honed his writing skills at UNC Charlotte where he received his BA in theatre. He has written several short plays for 24-hour play festivals as well as several feature-length screenplays which he continues to improve upon.

In 2011, he was deployed to Iraq where he filmed the daily interactions of the people in his unit.

Today, Joshua leads the Carolina Film Community’s Script to Screen workshop where scripts can be read and critiqued to help writers in their creative process.

Adam Franklin — Advisory Board Member | Adam is an Entertainment Creative & President of Creative Chops Studios, based in Charlotte, NC. Originally from Virginia, Franklin graduated with a B.S in Digital Media (Art Minor) from East Tennessee State, then moved to LA and began working in feature film advertising. He spent the better part of a decade as a Motion Graphic Artist for clients such as Warner Bros., Universal, Fox, Lionsgate, and ESPN, before launching Creative Chops Studios in 2010.

He and his team now pursue storytelling through commercials, trailers, music videos, and film. His emphasis is to become a feature film director.

“Film is an extremely powerful medium that can intimately affect strangers, expand new and different paths of thought, and touch us all on different emotional levels. My passion for directing comes from the hope of affecting and influences others in some positive way, through storytelling.”

–Adam Franklin 

Christie Luke — Advisory Board Member | Christie is an NC Rostered, Trauma-Focused – Cognitive Behavioral Therapist who specializes in working with kids and teenagers. She is the author of the children’s book The Adventures of Pep the Pup, a story that focuses on dealing with the epidemic of bullying among children.

She is also a licensed counselor and a professional model.

She has been serving as an active board member of Carolina Film Community since 2015.


Noah & Jake Emmons — Operations Team

These two guys will be there to help you as you arrive at our monthly CFC meetings. They’ll greet you with a smile and point you in the right direction! Noah is a high senior at York Prep Academy where he plays soccer and also runs a gaming club. Jake is a college sophomore where he is majoring in English and is a writer who has already finished two books. If you’d like to find out more about his first book, click here!