The Entertainers Team

Meet the crew who turned a trip to Peoria into a trip to the big screen.

Michael Zimmer turned a casual conversation with his high school friend Ethan into the crazy odyssey of making The Entertainers. As the primary driver from start to end, co-director and producer, he did it all from the early planning all the way to fighting tooth and nail to clear music rights. Interviews, writing, editing, arm-twisting, finding archival footage, taking to lawyers, talking to locations, emails, having a Flip camera on hand at the best of times, applying to film festivals, raising money, flying all over the country, fighting off Montezuma's Revenge, having an ideal sense of our story and the humor and passion of our stars. All this barely scratches of everything he did to make the movie come to life.

As co-director and producer, Nick Holle filled in key gaps all throughout the making of the picture, with a camera on his shoulder at every shoot, writing, editing, organizing and production planning, business management, web design, creating trailers, and much more.

Brent Watkins was a former contestant at the World Championship and brought his insider knowledge and decades of filmmaking experience to the production. He even had the original hope to make a movie about the contest, making him the perfect partner to help us make it happen. He produced all the contest stage performances and our soundtrack album, among many other contributions throughout.

Charlie Stickney came to our team long after we shot all our footage but was instrumental in shaping our story. He took barely edited, roughly edited, and not-at-all edited footage and made scenes that packed emotion, suspense, and laugh-out-loud moments all throughout the movie. He also helped with the design of much our movie's artwork and promotional materials. And was there with sage advice throughout the post-production, from sound to color to music and beyond. We looked for an editor and plain lucked out with all he brought to the table.

As our cinematographer, Derek Keyeski shot much of the key footage on our location shoots and in Peoria and provided invaluable insight into our filmmaking plans and storytelling of the production, finding the moments and asking the questions that brought out the most interesting parts of our stars.

Seth Hedrington and Paul Hogseth were part of our Peoria crew for multiple years. Seth also handled business and finance matters, and Paul stepped in with promotional and marketing efforts.

Seth Podowitz composed original music where we needed it most. Aaron Kogan advised on the production and helped us to push the movie out into the world. And Carl Shephard aided in our some of post-production efforts, as well as assisted on our crew during production.

During our shoot of the 2009 Contest, we were accompanied by a fantastic crew of talented and fun filmmakers and production assistants. With as many as 9 cameras going and covering areas throughout the contest events and hotel, we never could have covered everything we needed without Gary Wernette, Patrick Pond, Doug Johnson, Chad Stembridge, and Jonathan Spaulding behind the cameras, and Carl, Emily Speight, Teira Gunlock, Frances Brown, and Jackie Watkins helping with all our production needs.

Our post production crew included amazing work from Jack Lerner and his whole crew at the USC School of Law's Intellectual Property and Technology Clinic and Patrick Giraudi and his team at VirtualMix, Inc.

Every step of the way we had all-in support from Mike Zimmer and Margaret Moses and all our families.

We also had to make this movie by fitting into a community and family that already existed for 35 years and beyond. We couldn't have done that without Barbara Schuler, Judy and Ron Leschewski, Raymond and Marjorie Gunther, and Ted Lemen and the Old-Time Music Preservation Association. And let's not forget the families of our stars, the other performers, and the entire ragtime community. By the end, we were a part of that family forever.