Willa Kammerer, Director & Co-Producer

Willa Kammerer is a documentary director and producer based in Providence, RI, and runs the creative agency Firestarter Interactive. Willa is committed to using film and storytelling to improve the wellbeing of people and the planet, and has deep experience working with education institutions, nonprofits, and foundations to bring this vision to life. Willa began her career as an intern in public radio, studied radio storytelling at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, and holds a B.A. in Italian from Middlebury College, as well as professional certificates from Georgetown University in Social Impact Storytelling and Social Impact Partnership Design. She is also a graduate of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses. Starting at Zero is her first feature-length documentary.

Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation, Producer

Saul Zaentz was a media entrepreneur in the music and film industry. He built the largest independent jazz record label in the world, Fantasy Records and, through the Saul Zaentz Company, became a prominent independent film producer. His creative activities in film resulted in 34 Academy Award nominations, the award of 22 Hollywood Oscars for those involved in the filmmaking process, including three for Best Picture. Zaentz’s renowned works include the films One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Amadeus, The English Patient and The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Mr. Zaentz died in 2014.

Founded in 1997, the Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation works to improve outcomes for poor and vulnerable minority citizens in the United States. The Foundation is deeply committed to creating standards of fairness and a level playing field for those living in poverty and adversity by supporting equal treatment through high-quality early childhood learning and improving K-12 and college graduation rates. In this regard, the Foundation supports innovations in scientific teaching methods and best practices. Starting at Zero is Foundation’s second documentary film focused on early learning. Learn more about the first film, Tomorrow’s Hope: The Promise of Early Childhood Education.

Alan “Mickey” Hammerman, Executive Producer

Mickey Hammerman has always been a strong proponent of early education and is committed to improving and expanding early childhood education. Through his work as President of the Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation, he hopes to make a transformative impact on how children learn, and create future opportunities for all children to learn and thrive.

As an attorney, now retired, Mickey and Saul Zaentz met in the 1970’s, and Mickey became Saul’s personal attorney, and in turn, his life-long friend. Mickey was honored when he was chosen by Saul to represent the Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation, and he is devoted to recognizing Saul’s generosity and commitment to helping others, through the support provided by the Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation.

Mickey is a longtime member and contributor to the Harvard Community, and is the recipient of many awards and recognitions for his community service.

Lauren Gaffney, Consulting Producer

Lauren Gaffney has developed, filmed and produced feature segments for HBO Sports, NFL Network, ESPN Films, Hulu, National Geographic, and NBC Sports. While at HBO Sports, Lauren worked on the show “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” where she won Sports Emmy awards and an Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award for Outstanding Broadcast Journalism. Most recently, Lauren was the content producer for Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer’s Amazon Prime Video’s Thursday Night Football broadcast. Lauren received a B.A. in Political Science from Brown University, and in 2018, she formed her production company LGL Productions LLC to continue her passion of storytelling for a broad range of multimedia projects.

Matthew Ziegler, Director of Photography & Editor

Matthew Ziegler is a New York City based cinematographer, photographer and producer living in Long Island City. Starting in 2010, he moved through the New York Yankees organization as a photo intern, an assistant photo editor, and a staff photographer. In October 2014, Matt left the organization to pursue a full time freelance career shooting photos and producing video as Matthew Ziegler Photo. Matt is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications in Syracuse, NY and is originally from Baltimore, MD.

Annie Glidden, Associate Producer

Annie Glidden combined both editorial and production sides in the publishing field prior to pursuing a Masters degree in Education degree and teaching middle and high school English. She went on to work as an administrator in the School of Education at the University of Rhode Island, supporting aspiring teachers, pre-K to 12, pre-admission through certification. When her children were young, she was a preschool teacher’s aid for several years, and is currently a fine gardener and free-lance editor by trade.

Aaron Steinberg, Music Composer

Aaron Steinberg is a music composer based in Los Angeles, creating soundtracks for television, film, and advertising, including recent music for “Making It” (NBC) and The Grand Tour” (Amazon), along with work for Disney, History Channel, FX, Nat Geo, A&E, ESPN, ABC, CBS, PBS, MTV, VH-1, Discovery, E!, Keurig, Billabong, Subway and more, including the documentary “American Dreamers.” His company is Chemical Music, and theme songs include work for Bill Nye The Science Guy and Howard Stern. Artist collaboration and production includes Olivia Olson (Adventure Time) and Flula (Pitch Perfect 2, Conan O’Brien). As a session musician, work includes scores by Paul Leonard-Morgan (Dynasty, Limitless, Dredd, Dawn Of War).

Jake DeNicola, Assistant Camera

Jake DeNicola is a New York City based cinematographer and editor. Along with his interest in visual anthropology, comes his deeply passionate and active engagement in filmmaking and music. Born and raised in Greenwich Village, Jake’s work spans from documentary film, music video, short narrative, commercial, fashion and shooting livestream music concerts for Pitchfork Tv. Jake is currently shooting and co-producing a feature length film for legendary jazz bassist Reggie Workman.

Alexander Sutula, Assistant Camera

Alex Sutula is a graduate of Bowdoin College with a degree in Visual Arts. He is currently focusing on various documentary works involving conservation, art, and community. He is based in Portland, ME.

David Miller, Designer

David Miller is a designer based in Chicago. His work focuses on providing tools, resources, and platforms for activists to share their personal stories, work effectively for progressive change in their communities, and fight for a more participatory democracy. David previously ran the design program at Organizing for Action, and worked as Visual and Interactive design lead at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium.

Produced by Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation in partnership with Firestarter Interactive