Lights, Camera, Action: Center Stage

From a Canton actor turned Hunger Games tribute to a producer of a Sundance gem, meet our rising stars.

Reel Deal

Brian Glazen wasn't prepared for the buzz his film Fishing Without Nets created at February's Sundance Film Festival. "It was pretty surreal. I felt like a fish out of water," says Glazen, who co-produced the scripted docudrama about Somali pirates. "People were really excited about it, and every screening was sold-out before we got there." It's the second full-length feature film for the 39-year-old Glazen. His Think Media Studios, a media production house in Mayfield Heights, also produced 2011's King Me, a documentary about high-stakes checkers.

While the Oscar-nominated Tom Hanks film Captain Phillips also dealt with the hijacking of an American tanker, Fishing Without Nets tells the story from the viewpoint of a reluctant pirate and stars Somali refugees and local Kenyans. "This is a desperate fisherman doing what he has to do to survive," says Glazen, a graduate of Chagrin Falls High School and a Bainbridge resident. The film garnered a U.S. Dramatic Directing Award for Cutter Hodierne and set the stage for domestic and international distribution deals.

After spending 10 years in LA working on everything from Lexus ads to movies such as Jackie Brown, Glazen returned to his roots in 2003 to raise a family and start Think Media. Currently, he is working on Poker Towers, a documentary about the world of professional poker. "[It's] a really interesting story of people who are trying to grind out a living," he says.

Film Trip

Growing up in Gates Mills, Katie Koeblitz enlisted her brother, sisters, cousins and even her neighbors to make mockumentaries using a hand-held camera borrowed from her parents. "We had a bizarre obsession with The Crocodile Hunter and would use Australian accents," laughs Koeblitz. "Visual storytelling has always spoken to me."

Working and living in her hometown is a bonus for the 27-year-old production and location assistant who has worked on such films as Alex Cross, The Kings of Summer, Jenny's Wedding and Draft Day. The Shaker Heights resident has a wide array of responsibilities depending on the project. "Every day I wake up to new experiences," she says. "I can be doing everything from working with the talent to schlepping things around on the set. A lot of it involves logistics."

Koeblitz recently finished working as an assistant to the producer on the dramatic comedy Lost in Austin, which is co-produced by Clevelander Robert Ruggeri and shot in LA. "It was strikingly similar to working here in Cleveland," she says. "I felt right at home, and that says a lot about the crews I've worked with here."

She has a busy summer ahead, teaming up with Ruggeri on three movies to be filmed in Northeast Ohio — the dramatic comedy Repeat After Me, thriller The Grim and the ensemble comedy Black Friday. "I aspire to produce," she says. "Robert always involves me from the beginning of the film to the very end."

Hot Ticket

Like many boys born and raised in Canton, Bruno Gunn dreamed of becoming a professional football player. "It was a rite of passage," says the 45-year-old Gunn. "Athletics consumed my childhood."

The NFL never panned out, but Gunn proved to be a quick study as an actor with his first role coming in Woody Allen's 1998 film Celebrity. Parts in hit TV shows such as The Office, Oz and Sons of Anarchy followed before his breakout role as career tribute Brutus in last year's worldwide box office smash The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. "Many years ago when I was struggling, a friend once told me someone was writing a role for me," Gunn says. "Brutus was that role. I've never felt closer to a character."

The actor, whose roots are in the New York theater scene where he once played to audiences of 10 or less in off-off-Broadway shows, was stunned at the size and scope of The Hunger Games sequel. "After it was first released, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor," he says. "I feel very blessed and fortunate to have had that opportunity."

Gunn recently wrapped work on the action comedy Barely Lethal with Samuel L. Jackson and Jessica Alba, which is scheduled for a fall 2014 release, and the thriller Lazarus with Olivia Wilde, set for a 2015 release.

"Growing up in Ohio there's a sense of community and that's what you have on a [movie] set," he says. "It's like summer camp."

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