Biography of Michael Rissi(Writer/Director)

“Edgar Allan Poe’s Annabel Lee” marks the third independent feature from writer/director Michael Rissi.  His two previous low-budget thrillers “Soultaker”(1990) and “Up Against Amanda” (2000) were both picked-up for distribution and showcased a talented filmmaker with an eye for visual design and a knack for building suspense to satisfy audiences.    

Remarkable for having achieved commercial success and profitability as well as artistic recognition on every project he has helmed, a rare feat in the world of filmmaking, Rissi represents the new breed of independent filmmaker that has redefined the industry in the new millennium. Michael has proven his ability to combine storytelling skills, filmmaking prowess and expertise in working with advanced movie-making digital technology to produce compelling films at a fraction of the cost.

In 2000, his dramatic thriller “Up Against Amanda” marked one of the first films to be distributed worldwide after being produced primarily utilizing digital technology. Picked up by New Concorde Distribution, “Up Against Amanda” was discovered by world renowned, Academy Award Winning Producer Roger Corman. The acclaimed thriller stars Justine Priestley and tells the story of an obsessive, disturbed young woman with a mysterious past who falls in love with her married neighbor.


After graduating with honors from the University of Southern California, School of Cinema-Television, the acclaimed film school hired Michael to produce a documentary on the school called “Make It Happen,” which became the official orientation film for the film school.


The film includes Michael’s one on one interviews with George Lucas, Robert Zemeckis, Randal Kleiser, John Milius, Laura Ziskin, David Wolper and many other prominent USC Cinema alumni and was featured at the Official 75th Anniversary celebrating the USC School of Cinema & Television, now known as the USC School of Cinematic Arts.  Michael also had the privilege of directing Academy Award Winning Director Zemeckis for the introduction portion of the film.

While at USC, Michael's thesis film project, “Snake Eyes,” attracted the attention of Action International Pictures (AIP), who promptly purchased the rights to the 20-minute short. This subsequently led to Michael's first 35-mm feature film “Soultaker.”  “Soultaker” became a smash hit for AIP, winning it a Saturn Award for Best Video Release of 1991 and breaking sales records for the independent company.

While developing his feature film projects, Rissi also produces corporate and institutional films for a select group of clients and industries, including Toyota Motor Sales, the Directors Guild of America, Alaskan Brewing Company, Kofax and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD).  Most recently, Michael directed and produced a short promotional video for BigBand Networks which was honored with an Emmy Nomination in the Technical Achievement category.

Michael continues to utilize state of the art production applications to allow for high-quality, yet affordable independent features and corporate videos. Michael and his production company, Rissi Productions, are filling a needed niche in the fascinating and rapidly evolving world of High Definition professional digital filmmaking.


Biography of Christopher Perez (Producer)

Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Annabel Lee’ marks the first feature film producing opportunity for Christopher Perez, who has worked on films with his friend Michael Rissi since high school.  An accomplished communications consultant and business owner, Chris has been peripherally involved with Michael’s film projects for over 20 years, including most recently serving as Executive Producer for his last picture, Up Against Amanda.

Executive Producer Bill Bordy
(Also co-stars as Vincent VanDamme)

Bill Bordy graduated Emerson College in Boston, went to The Ringling Art School in Sarasota and The Art Instituted of Pittsburgh.  He studied at La Sorbonne in Paris and started The Suffolk Players at Suffolk University in 1956.  He was a staff announcer for WERS-FM in Boston for two years, and hosted, as well as acted in, two radio, dramatic series for WEEI, Boston.

In his youth, he worked clubs in the Ft. Lauderdale area, “Pitched” on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City and appeared in diverse musical shows.  While in the United States Marine Corps, he wrote, produced and staged “Can-Can U,” a Musical Variety Show.

In Hollywood, he wrote and/or produced and/or directed and/or performed in Motion Pictures, Television and Stage Productions.  As an actor, he has worked with Bob Crane, James Mitchell, Edward Albert, James Brown, Tab Hunter, Renee Taylor, Dodie Goodman, Richard Dysart, Brian Kelly, Bandleader Ray Anthony, Phillip Ahn, and so forth.

Bordy founded and published Drama-Logue, a weekly theatrical Trade Publication based in Los Angeles, for twenty nine years.  He emceed the “Annual Drama-Logue Award’s Show,“ for twenty years at the Pasadena Playhouse and The Variety Arts Center in Los Angeles.  The Awards Ceremony  honored performers, writers, directors, producers, tech people, all those who worked in theatre from San Francisco to San Diego.   In 1998, he sold his newspaper  to Billboard  Publications which absorbed it into its Back Stage West  publication.

Most recently, he finished playing the villain Vincent Vandamme for Maria Lydia Pictures in Hollywood, for its production of “Edgar Allan Poe’s Annabel Lee,” a thriller now in post production.

At present, he is the Vice President of The Sarasota Senior Theater where he has recently produced a variety show entitled “Comedie Tonight,”  performed in and staged “Hollywood: The Musical,“  and soon will be producing and directing “The Blue Revue:  the Bluest Show in Town,” a musical variety show. 

Biography of Jason Solowsky (Composer)

Jason Solowsky

With the late Leonard Bernstein in his family history, it is no wonder that Jason Solowsky is a gifted and versatile composer. His talent as a musical storyteller continues to bring him much success as a composer for motion pictures.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, he began his musical journey at the age of 5, playing piano by ear. Coming from a family with an illustrious musical history, he was obviously exposed to classical music his entire childhood.

After graduating from Berklee with degrees in both film scoring and composition, Jason was accepted to the prestigious University of Southern California (USC) Film Scoring Program in Los Angeles, California. At the time, the legendary Walt Disney Studios composer, Buddy Baker (The Fox and The Hound, Winnie the Pooh), was head of the program.

USC also gave Jason the ability to study with some of the finest film composers in the world, including Christopher Young (Spiderman 3, The Grudge, Runaway Jury, The Shipping News), Elmer Bernstein (The Magnificent Seven, Ghost Busters, To Kill A Mocking Bird, The Ten Commandments), David Raksin (Laura, Forever Amber, The Bad And The Beautiful), David Bell (Star Trek: Enterprise, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Joe Harnell (The Incredible Hulk, V), Jack Smalley, David Spear, and George Burt, among others.

“The most important thing I do is to get the director’s musical vision on the screen. My approach to film scoring is based on finding a certain mood or emotion in a scene, and supporting it."

About working with Jason Solowsky, Michael Rissi has stated, "Jason is great. Collaborating with him, then hearing what he created in terms of new themes, melodies and musical ideas for ANNABEL LEE was one of the highlights of making the movie for me. In a word, Jason's score is Marvelous with a capital "M." I believe it would make an outstanding movie soundtrack album all by itself."

And Michael doesn't stop there. "Besides being a great person with a very professional, yet easy going attitude -- which is certainly refreshing, Jason's talent is exceptional. He understands the emotional power of a good movie score. Many movie soundtracks today are little more than mood music. But Jason's heart is right there in everything he does. Just as important, he has a natural musical ability, and a gift for melody which reminds me of people like Hitchcock's favorite composer, the great Bernard Herrmann and people like Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner and Danny Elfman."

Rissi sums up his opinion thus, "For me, the greatest composer of all time was Mozart. Mozart said, 'Melody is the essence of music. I compare a good melodist to a fine racer, and counterpoints to hack post-horses.'

"Well, by that standard, Jason is a good bet to run on any track he's given."


Biography of Kristen Hagen (Annabel Lee)


Edgar Allan Poe's ‘Annabel Lee’ marks the first feature film starring role for Kristen Hagen.  Born in Washington D.C., Kristen grew up in Virginia Beach where she was an oceanfront lifeguard and competitive swimmer.  She received her B.A. in Communications from Old Dominion University. 

Kristen has lived in New York and London where she studied with William Esper and Jack Waltzer, among others.  She has been active in theater with one of her favorite roles being Shelby in Steel Magnolias.  Kristen currently lives in Los Angeles where she studies with Stephen Book and has appeared in the film Material Girls.

Biography of Jon Woodward (Jack Blythe)

Jon Woodward makes his feature film debut with Edgar Allan Poe's ‘Annabel Lee.’  He is a 2004 graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts conservatory program.  

He has been seen on stage in David Mamet's American Buffalo and Sexual Perversity in Chicago and David Margulies's Sight Unseen.  He expresses his gratitude for the opportunity provided by the creators and producers of Edgar Allan Poe's ‘Annabel Lee.’  Jon currently resides in Los Angeles.