Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me

Filmmakers

Joel Hershman - Writer, Director

Born in Brooklyn and raised in Los Angeles, Hershman majored in theatre at Carnegie-Mellon University and went on to study film at NYU. Mr. Hershman’s debut feature film was the award-winning HOLD ME, THRILL ME, KISS ME, which played in numerous festivals around the world and was released theatrically by October Films after capturing the Audience Favorite Award in Deauville. Following the release of the film, Hershman partnered with producer John Wells (creator of ER) at Time Warner on a TV series inspired by the film.

GREENFINGERS, based on Paula Deitz’s New York Times article “Free To Grow Bluebells In England” marked Hershman’s foray into the international filmmaking scene. Shot entirely on location in England at Hampton Court Palace as well as some of the grandest gardens in the United Kingdom, the film follows the real-life pursuits of a group of British prisoners who take up gardening and end up competing at the world’s largest flower show under the tutelage of a famed garden designer. The Samuel Goldwyn/MGM ‘feel-good’ comedy attracted a stellar cast, toplined by Academy Award nominee Clive Owen and Academy Award winner Helen Mirren. Hershman subsequently signed a three-picture deal with Walt Disney Pictures, kicking off with THE LOCKSMITH, a romantic comedy set in the world of the supernatural. The Disney deal ran from 2000- 2004.

From July-Dec. 2005, Mr. Hershman served as a Creative Consultant for the Glamour Magazine Reel Moments/Film Aid project where Hershman oversaw pre-production, filming and post-production of Wait starring Kerry Washington. In 2006 NBC Universal Television Studios bought Mr. Hershman’s half-hour situation comedy pitch PARENTS ON PAROLE with Hershman attached as creator and showrunner. From 2007-2009 Mr. Hershman wrote two indie feature scripts: one entitled THE PROVIDER a tour-deforce female driven story about a woman trying to do one last deal to provide for her family before she begins her sentence in federal prison, and the other, BRAZILIAN MODEL, a comedic coming of age story is set in New York and Rio de Janeiro.

Mr. Hershman’s latest project, BERLINOWITZ, is a comedy centering on a young New York filmmaker who takes a gig in present day Berlin where he gets a crash-course in life from the eccentric German producer who’s hired him.

Mr. Hershman is a member of the Writers Guild of America. Profiles on Mr. Hershman have appeared in Vanity Fair, Details, Interview, and the New York Times Arts & Leisure section, among others.

Travis Swords - Producer

As an actor Swords appeared opposite Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall in the CBS blockbuster mini-series LONESOME DOVE, Clint Eastwood in PINK CADILLAC, and Kevin Spacey in THE JIM AND TAMMY FAYE BAKKER STORY.

Under the tutelage of legendary producers Don Simpson and Dawn Steel, Swords made his ‘behind-the-camera’ career move by raising the financing for and producing Joel Hershman’s award-winning debut film, HOLD ME, THRILL ME, KISS ME.  Acquired by October Films, the micro-budget indie garnered Audience Favorite awards at both the Deauville and Seattle International Film Festivals.  Its initial cable airing netted the year’s highest rating for an indie film.  Time Warner paired the duo with ER creator John Wells to produce a TV version of their off-beat indie.

GREENFINGERS, an MGM release produced along with Trudie Styler and starring Clive Owen and Helen Mirren, marked Swords’s first foray into the U.K. film scene. Swords remained in England to produce Cannes Best Actor winner David Thewlis’s directorial debut CHEEKY along with Luc Besson and Europacorp.

Once again partnering with Joel Hershman and Trudie Styler, Swords signed a deal with the Walt Disney Company to produce THE LOCKSMITH, Hershman’s first studio picture.

At the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, A GUIDE TO RECOGNIZING YOUR SAINTS (along with Trudie Styler, Swords produced) was a double award-winner copping both the Dramatic Competition’s Best Director Award for Dito Montiel as well as a Special Jury Prize for Best Ensemble Cast (Robert Downey Jr, Shia LaBeouf, Chazz Palminteri, Dianne Wiest, and Rosario Dawson).  The film also captured Best Film in 2006 Venice Critics Week and was recently named one of the year’s Best Independent Films by the National Board of Review.

Swords is next set to produce BERLINOWITZ, Joel Hershman’s latest feature shooting in Berlin and New York.

Kent L. Wakeford - Cinematographer

Kent Wakeford was born in 1928 and grew up in south Los Angeles. While finishing up high school, Wakeford apprenticed with fashion photographer Earl Scott. Following his apprenticeship, Wakeford landed a job as a cameraman at The Douglas Aircraft Company. There he was responsible for filming new missiles, planes, and classified weapons tests at White Sands New Mexico and Edwards Air Force Base, becoming one of the early experts in super high speed cinema (5,000 to 8,000 frames per second). Wakeford’s work at The Douglas Aircraft Company led him to the U.S. Army where Kent spent two years in the Signal Corp. as a motion picture cameraman in New York and Germany.

Following his time in the Army, Wakeford began shooting documentary films. One of his early documentary films was on Wernher von Braun whom Wakeford had met and developed a relationship with at Douglas Aircraft. He furthered his documentary career by shooting films with Willard Van Dyke, a leading social documentary filmmaker who later went on to be director of the Department of Film at the Museum of Modern Art.

To supplement his documentary work, Wakeford began shooting live action that would be incorporated into animation. He quickly began working for animators in Hollywood like Jose Cuauhtemoc “Bill” Malendez (PEANUTS), HANNA & BARBERA, among others.  He also shot national commercials for brands including Budweiser, Mattel, Hot Wheels, Barbie, Boeing,  Chevrolet, and United Airlines.

Wakeford’s first major motion picture was MEAN STREETS directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro. Wakeford shot the film using handheld-camera techniques to capture the self-destructive lives of shady characters in Little Italy New York. Huffington Post called the cinematography by Wakeford "arguably the most original for this genre at the time and has been copied endlessly in other movies, down to his audacious tracking shots. The innovative handholding and lighting techniques used by Wakeford have since become mainstream practice in American cinema."

Wakeford went on to shoot ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE also directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Ellen Burstyn and Kris Kristofferson. The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures called Wakeford's cinematography "inventive." The film won the Academy Award for Best Actress (Ellen Burstyn) and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Diane Ladd.

His television credits include a season shooting the television show L.A. Law. However, after 14 episodes he turned his attention back to small independent films, including Joel Hershman’s HOLD ME, THRILL ME, KISS ME.