Jake is a multidisciplinary human with a passion for telling great stories and developing new skills. He started his filmmaking journey in 2020 and fell in love with the craft and all of the new challenges and passion it brought him.
He founded Mediaverse Studios with the goal of providing resources and development to the entire Midwest filmmaking community. He's thrilled that the community has received it well and is extremely grateful for the brilliance, creativity, and hard work his team brings to the table every day.
An award-winning cinematographer and video editor, Michael Huntington, hails from the charming town of Keokuk, Iowa. His journey in the world of film began with a simple passion for capturing life's precious moments. Together with his girlfriend, he ventured to Iowa City, determined to build a successful wedding video company.
Through hard work and dedication, Michael's talent shone brightly, earning him recognition and accolades in the industry. Today, he finds himself in the welcoming community of Cedar Rapids, ready to embrace the new challenges and opportunities that await him at Mediaverse Studios. With humility and a commitment to his craft, Michael is eager to contribute his skills and creativity to the world of cinematography and video editing.
Walker is a freelance artist specializing in photography and design. She works alongside regional nonprofits, LGBTQ+ community organizations, and local animal shelters in various creative capacities. Walker's passion for the arts easily meshes into the world of filmmaking. At Mediaverse Studios (MVS), she works on and off screen exercising her skills in set design, sfx makeup, and the occasional acting role. As a marketing professional, she hopes to extend her knowledge and experience to the incredible team at MVS.
Brittany Benedict hails from southeast, small town Iowa. After graduating from the University of Iowa, she now calls the Cedar Rapids area her home. Her fervor for filmmaking was ignited at a tender age, nurtured by her love for frequenting movie theaters and indulging in films accompanied by director commentaries. It wasn't until she turned 21 and met her partner Michael, that Brittany took the leap into the world of filmmaking by acquiring their first camera. Together, they ventured into the wedding videography business, an enterprise that would serve as the cornerstone for Brittany's filmmaking journey. Over the years, her dedication and passion have enabled her to hone her skills behind the camera, transforming her into a skilled storyteller through the lens.
Derek Smith is a writer, director, and crane operator located in Marengo, IA. He has experience with sound, lighting, and camera work on set. As a 6 year veteran of the US Army, Derek was finally able to pursue his love of filmmaking upon his return home. After his first collaboration with Creature and the Creep, he teamed up with Cintree films, and would go on to found the production company of Hevioso Films. His films have been selected by festivals locally, and overseas, winning an Outstanding Achievement Award for his film “Fight Night” in Berlin, Germany.
Aaron has been producing and editing films since college. Each shoot he makes raises the stakes more and more. From filming a low budget feature length movie in a college parking lot, to filming a western train robbery on location in Texas with real horses and a real train. Aaron edits with passion and determination to make the best possible product. Aaron loves working with the Mediaverse team and looks forward to the next project.
Kevin Shepherd is the head writer of Dojolo Films and our Chief Writer here at Mediaverse Studios. He believes in the importance of not just a good story but a great story. He finds his strengths in world building and efficiency in producing compelling pages. Kevin doesn't only focus on the writing side of projects he is quick to manage lenses, sparks some lights, move points, and the occasional furniture.
He was awarded the award of achievement at the 31st annual IMPA awards as well as honorable mention for best writing at the Des Moines horror 48hr challenge in 2022. At the 32nd annual IMPA awards two projects he wrote; Shut The Box and Chinese Food & A Movie received the Award of Excellence and the Award of Achievement respectfully. Kevin is an alumni of ScreenwritingU where he has logged numerous hours honing his craft
Demian Alan Mancino
Demian Alan Mancino is an actor, writer, director, fight choreographer & armorer out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He began his film career with Cintree Films who now operates under the umbrella of Mediaverse Studios. Demian is a 20-year combat sports veteran, with a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He is married to Sabryna Papagni who is also a member of MVS.
Sabryna Papagni is an actor, writer, prop master, director & assistant director from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She has a BBA in Management and a BFA in Studio Art from the University of Iowa. She has had two amateur MMA fights, been boxing for over half her life, and is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Her husband, Demian Alan Mancino, is also a member of MVS.
Vern Coonfare was introduced to filmmaking with an unexpected request to play an extra in a short film. After agreeing to the role that involved murder and mayhem, the short film was turned into a full length motion picture. This resulted in Vern’s character gaining additional scenes and dialogue.
During the filming of "You Should Have Killed Me”, Vern was offered the opportunity to work on future projects in which he’d continue acting while learning behind the scenes duties. He considers himself fortunate to have met and collaborated with the amazing and talented people who make up Mediaverse Studios.
Melonie Coonfare, a dedicated professional with 24 years of experience in the service industry, a loving wife, and mother of two boys. Her enthusiasm for her new venture in the world of filmmaking is evident as she eagerly collaborates with her husband, Vern. Melonie is particularly excited to expand her skills and knowledge in the realm of props and set design, embracing the creative opportunities that this industry offers.
Becki is a newcomer and vital addition to the team! She has a tremendous work ethic behind the scenes and helps anywhere and everywhere she’s needed. With over 30 years in the medical field and in business management, her focus is on process and the little details. Mediaverse Studios and the team have become her second family and she is excited to learn as much as she can about the filmmaking process.
A couple years ago, Jeremy was asked if he wanted a role in Devil’s Gambit (written and directed by Derek Smith). That was his first introduction to the world of film making and some of the other Mediaverse Studios team. He has been growing his involvement in front of the camera and behind the scenes, as has the rest of his family. As the concept of Mediaverse was developing, he recognized the opportunity to help others fulfill their ideas in filmmaking and media and he was all-in. He’s constantly striving to learn the filmmaking process from beginning to end and loves to help with behind the scenes footage, sound operation, and keeping the team well-fed on set. When he’s not at the studio or on set, he can be found at Westside Tire, on the disc golf course, or hanging with his beautiful family.