By Film Threat Staff | February 3, 2003

Starlight Runner Entertainment, Inc. has announced the launch of its Starlight Runner Rising Stars new filmmaker program, devoted to developing, financing and producing career-launching films from first-time directors. The announcement comes in tandem with the selection of the studio’s third short film “Headtrip” for screening at the Santa Monica Film Festival, debuting February 13 – 16.
A producer of highly successful cross-media franchises such as “Turok, Dinosaur Hunter” and the world of “Magic: The Gathering,” Starlight Runner’s clients include Scholastic Books, Mattel, Mainframe Entertainment and Acclaim Entertainment. The Rising Stars program was conceived to fill the studio’s need for talented writers, directors, producers and digital artists. President and CEO Jeff Gomez is serving as Executive Producer on the program, and Vice President of Production & Operations Mark Pensavalle will take the reigns as talent scout and producer.
A flirtatious glance across a crowded cafe sparks a hilarious battle of the sexes in “Headtrip,” an ambitious short with a clever twist ending. The film short was written and directed by New Jersey-based graphic designer and comic book writer Kenn Bell. Previous short films produced by Starlight Runner Entertainment include “Red Light August” (written and directed by Jeff Gomez), which has run on various PBS affiliates and has since been acquired by Lions Gate Films subsidiary website; and “Tooth Fairy” (written and directed by comics scribe Joseph Harris), which served as the basis for the current Revolution Films feature release Darkness Falls.
“Franchise production is a unique and complicated process, and Starlight Runner needs visionary talent that understands storytelling on many different levels,” said Mark Pensavalle. “Our Rising Stars program seeks out passionate artists and helps them to create career-launching films. It also doesn’t hurt to keep our own muscles flexed in live-action productions.”
Pensavalle went on to point out that Rising Stars has already helped its talented creators to land bigger projects. “Red Light August” and “Headtrip” co-producer Christopher Schlerf was a finalist for HBO’s “Project Greenlight” program, and was pointed out as “the best director of them all” by Ben Affleck during the series’ second episode. “Tooth Fairy’s” Joseph Harris went on to co-write the script for Darkness Falls and is now at work on his second screenplay.
Starlight Runner Entertainment is set to make a series of announcements around major projects this year, including its involvement in a major franchise and the launch of its animation studio. Starlight Runner has selected Bronx-based filmmakers John Nizzari and Natasa Warasch as its next pair of Rising Stars with their short film “Weight,” currently in post-production.
For more information, visit the Starlight Runner Entertainment website.

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