The Icons event was held on Saturday, July 24th during Comic Con. Film Method conducted a total of four panels at the event. Here is the recording from the second panel of the day with Vernon Mortenson, Kelly Parks, Valerie Perez, and Gary Graham of Universal Dead. We will be releasing the recordings from these panels throughout the month of August.
Director Vernon Mortensen has led an amazing life. The son of Christian Missionaries, he was born in Bangkok, Thailand and by the age of twelve, had traveled all over the world. After finishing high school in the USA, he went on to serve as a US Navy SWCC (pronounced “swick”) commando in the Navy’s elite Special Boat Teams where much of what he did remains classified to this day. His life has always been very eclectic and although always considering himself to be a filmmaker and businessman, he has also worked as an engineer, a photographer, a bodyguard, an emergency medical technician, a private investigator, a librarian, and as a substitute teacher for the inner-city schools of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Vernon is a master storyteller and filmmaker who applies his wealth of knowledge and experience to fuel his creativity. As a writer, he has written screenplays, short stories, plays, novels, and essays in a variety of genres and subjects. As a filmmaker, Vernon’s movies have been sold to markets all over the world and have been featured at many prestigious international film festivals.
Vernon is currently studying for his Doctor of Business Administration at Alliant International University’s Marshal Goldsmith School of Management. He has a Master’s Degree in Professional Writing (Screenwriting) from the University of Southern California’s prestigious Professional Writing Program where he received an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Fellowship. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film from the world renowned Art Center College of Design, as well as Bachelor of Science from New York State’s Excelsior College. In 1999, Vernon was selected for a highly coveted Director’s Internship at the Los Angeles classical repertory theater, A Noise Within, where he studied under celebrated stage and theater director, Sabin Epstein. Shortly after graduating from USC in 2003, Vernon was recalled from the Naval Reserve to serve on active duty in the Special Boat Teams one last time. After completing his term of service, Vernon permanently retired from the United States Navy in 2008 and returned to filmmaking.
Writer Kelly Parks is the world’s only ex-CIA, Rocket Scientist, Stand-up Comic, Screenwriter! Kelly grew up in Wisconsin (mmmm… cheese) and spent his youth watching sci-fi and horror movies as well as gazing up at the heavens, wishing he could live among the stars. After high school, Kelly moved to Arizona to study Engineering Physics and one fateful day he met a recruiter from the CIA. Soon after, Kelly was recruited as an analyst into the CIA’s Space Systems Division (he highly recommends getting a Top Secret Clearance if you ever have the opportunity) where he and a few other hand picked scientists kept track of what the Russians were doing in space. Realizing that The Agency was never going to fulfill his dream of space travel, Kelly left public service and took a job in the private sector as an aerospace engineer specializing in Orbital Mechanics. These days Kelly writes screenplays and recently won 1st prize at the International Horror & Science Fiction Screenplay Competition. Kelly’s greatest writing honor came in 2007 when he was a semi-finalist for the prestigious Nicholl Fellowship, a feat rarely accomplished by a screenplay in the sci-fi/horror genre. In 2008, he became a partner in Unconventional Films and finished writing and directing the awesome comedy web series, The Crusader, and is now producing Universal Dead, a new horror/sci-fi web series that he also wrote.
Actor Valerie Perez – Besides appearing alongside D.B. Sweeney and Doug Jones in Universal Dead, Valerie currently stars in the online hit Paula Peril and the upcoming series Slice of Hollywood Life. She has also made appearances on G4, Entourage, and The Military Channel. You might have seen her photo work in Femme Fatale magazine and Geek Monthly or her likeness on comic book covers of popular Marvel and DC titles. Last year she returned to the stage with the Road Theatre company under the direction of Lost’s Sam Anderson. She has a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience and still does not know what she wants to do when she grows up.
Actor Gary Graham has had many TV and movie roles, including Vulcan Ambassador Soval in Star Trek: Enterprise and Detective Sikes in the TV series Alien Nation. He was also the star of the sci-fi classic Robot Jox. He is currently starring as Dr. David Macavoy in the new horror/sci-fi web series Universal Dead.