Andy Awes is the President of Committee Films and has been working professionally in film and video production as a director, producer, editor and Tom Hanks’ stand-in for over 20 years. That’s 140 in dog years.
In addition to turning the company into a production powerhouse, Andy has been Executive Producer and Showrunner for ABC’s hit docudrama series, In An Instant, Travel Channel’s, America Unearthed, Investigation Discovery’s Serial Killer: Devil Unchained and History Channel’s Found and True Monsters. Long before the success of his series work, Andy’s first foray into television came in 2009 when he directed and produced the 2-hour documentary special Holy Grail in America for History Channel. It was so well received, it helped Committee Films launch America Unearthed, H2’s top-rated show – which aired an impressive 39 episodes and was re-booted on Travel Channel in 2019. Andy has also produced multiple specials and pilots for National Geographic, History Channel, Travel Channel, MSNBC and HGTV.
Whew. As if that’s not enough…
Andy’s television work doesn’t stop at successful network and cable programming. He continues to direct and edit national spots, digital content and brand campaigns for companies such as Best Buy, Target, Walmart, Sperry, Dairy Queen, Herman Miller and Alice’s Wig Warehouse. (Okay, the last one’s a joke. But if Alice were ever to want cool branding, he’d be all over it. But we all know Alice.)
Maria Awes is Sr. Vice President, Executive Producer and Head of Development for Committee Films. She also holds the title for most titles. Prior to coming on board, she spent 10.2 years (she’s very detailed) in broadcast journalism where she won multiple Emmys and the Edward R. Murrow award for her investigative projects. In 2009, after realizing her journalism award shelf had no more room, she decided to turn her talents toward one of her two other passions: producing and writing TV series and specials – or cooking. While she’s been known to make a mean pork slider, she’s even better at cooking up ideas for kick-$*% television shows.
Since the success of her first television special, Holy Grail in America on HISTORY, she’s gone on to produce a LOT more content – including the hit docudrama series In An Instant on ABC. She spent three years as the Executive and Series Producer for H2’s top-rated show, America Unearthed, oversaw the new HISTORY series True Monsters and was an EP on Top of the World for Travel Channel. Specials she’s developed, produced or written include Who Really Discovered America, Bigfoot Captured, Secrets of Einstein’s Brain, and Nostradamus: 21st Century Prophecies Revealed – all for HISTORY – and Mystery of Easter Island for National Geographic/NOVA.
Maria has also done not too shabby of a job overseeing the successful, rapid growth of the company, which now employs nearly 30 people in varying roles. That’s a lot more than the 4 it started with!
Is there anything she doesn’t do? Yes, get enough sleep. But – on the bright side she does still cook every night for her family while she and her husband Andy prep their two young children to take over the world, or at least the company, someday.
Say you’re walking down the street and see a captain’s hat floating by in your periphery. There’s probably a 95% chance that Ben Krueger is under it wearing his trademark navy and gold captain’s hat. Hint: if the guy doesn’t have a medium to medium large beard – it’s not him.
Ben would be the most senior employee at Committee Films if it hadn’t been for Covid, which forced him and 72% or other Bens in the world to change their work situations. Prior, he’d been with Committee Films for over 10 years working as a production Swiss Army knife – doing everything from holding a boom to lugging gear to producing and/or directing all manner of media. He returned to cf in 2022, which allowed his in-office nemesis, Ryan Soule, to claim the title of most senior employee. It’s fine. Stings… but it’s fine.
His long history with Committee means Ben has had a hand in almost all of the projects we’ve produced over the years and has been all over the world with us too. He’s a pretty fun guy to have around though – so it works out for everyone. Let’s just say if this were Dungeons and Dragons he’d have like 17 charisma – plus 1 with his hat.
In his free time Ben enjoys spending time with his two boys, though that may not be mutual as they’re in striking distance of being teenagers. He also messes around with custom Lego creations as if he is still 10-12 years old, making all sorts of pop-culture-inspired creations at his home in Waconia, MN.
Thing one to know about Jen Blanck is that she hates water chestnuts. Don’t make the mistake of offering her a jar – you WILL regret it! Perhaps more germane to a bio, Jen is the Head Research Librarian at Committee Films. That’s right. We have a librarian. Back off! While this doesn’t seem like a “traditional” role at a TV production company, we can assure you it is essential. Jen spearheads any and all research for the many projects Committee takes on – that’s a LOT of research. The stack of paper on her desk could be described as “truly daunting” or “a serious fire hazard”. Seriously though, if you need an answer, Jen has it at her fingertips. Just give her 10 minutes instead of the traditional “jar of water chestnuts” and you’re good to go.
While not in the office Jen loves spending time with her husband and kids playing basketball and tennis, setting up treasure hunts, gardening, going for walks, and just hanging out their home, which they share with two cats and a fish. While not at home she spends time running marathons (she’s run 5!), and not-so-secretly plots to become a woodworker one day. To relax she enjoys sunset happy hours with family and friends, preferably featuring red wine while the Indigo Girls play on the stereo. I’m sure she has other color-based interests too, but we are unaware of them as of this bio – you could always ask though – she’s super nice. Big take away – get yourself a Head Research Librarian if you can. They’re the best!
*Fun fact for those fourteen of you who are Committee Films bio enthusiasts. Jen got a masters in Library and Information Science from St. Catherine University – the same as Meghan. Thanks St. Cate!
Try this. Go home and ask whichever digital assistant you prefer to define “backbone of Committee Films”. The answer will be Cindy Barber (if not please update your settings). Cindy is our Director of Administration and that means she has her hands in literally everything we do from bookkeeping (fun fact: the only word in the English language with three double letters in a row) to budget management to keeping releases filed and organized to booking travel to maintaining a functioning office to… well, you get the idea. We could keep “to-ing”, but this bio would never end. Let’s just say we need her more than a hat in a Minnesota winter. Have you been in Minnesota in the winter? Give it a shot. See?
As a lover of cleanliness and order and a hater of tomatoes she is the perfect person to manage the massive amounts of “things” a production company gets into. Speaking of getting into stuff, she once let former (possibly current) teen heartthrob David Cassidy in the back of her hatchback to help him flee a stalker. True story. Although – isn’t that what a stalker would want David Cassidy to believe? Just saying.
Prior to coming to Committee Cindy was a high-end shoe buyer for Nordstrom’s and other boutique stores. But, lucky for us, that wasn’t a good fit (get it?) and we landed her at Committee Films.
When not saving our lives each day, she saves guinea pigs. Again, true story. She once saved their family guinea pig from cancer. Although – isn’t that what a stalker would want David Cassidy to believe? The aforementioned family consists of herself, her husband, and two boys who all live in Waconia, MN and have a happy life.
Paul Hunter is a force in post-production here at Committee Films as Online Editor aka the most underappreciated role in post-production. It’s safe to say that if we’ve shot it, he’s fixed it up and made it ready to air. Basically, he does all the computery stuff that makes everything fit nicely together. We’re telling you – the guy is essential.
Paul was born in St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, but grew up in River Falls, Wisconsin as most people who are born in paradise do. After studying Video and Digital Arts at MCTC he eventually found his way to Committee Films (we think by Google Maps ®) and has been an integral part of the team ever since.
When he’s not toiling away in the edit room at Committee, Paul enjoys skateboarding and eating awesome food. Among his favorite dishes: Jamacian Oxtail with peas and rice, sushi, and of course various offerings from Cinnabon. He’s also a DJ and has been spinning (spun?) Reggae and Hip Hop since 1997 – colloquially known as the year of the best DJs. Perhaps obviously, he also works on his own music in his free time in his home studio.
He currently lives in Northeast Minneapolis with his daughter Yolanda and a drum set where his guilty TV pleasure is Wheel of Fortune – colloquially known as the show preferred by the best DJs.
At Committee Ryan is the master of Photoshop and graphic design. Outside of Committee he’s a master of all sorts of things from building elaborate cornhole boards to winter jib parks to support his extreme sports habit (yes, that’s rea). Don’t worry. We had no idea what a jib park was either. Turns out it’s a snowboarder thing – ramps, jumps, and other stuff that would make a normally coordinated person a bit nervous. One should note his favorite band is Built to Spill however, so take that how you will before going full-send off one of his jumps.
After studying art and mass communications at St. Cloud State + Mankato State he promptly found his way to Committee Films to help create mass communication and art – so that worked out. He’s been with Committee since 2012 and is currently the employee who has been with us for the longest consecutive timeframe. That’s over a decade of working with one of the nicest people in world! (By that we mean Ryan if that wasn’t clear).
While he’s not making amazing visual treatments for Committee’s myriad projects, Ryan can be found enjoying burritos or skateboarding. Hopefully simultaneously at some point. It’s also worth noting he can tie his own bowtie with his eyes closed, which comes in handy when… well… it just does. When he’s not enjoying life with his family in Victoria, Minnesota there is a good chance you can find him at the Kentucky Derby, which he has attended six times and counting! But we’re guessing you’d have to want to find him pretty badly to go all the way to Kentucky just to look for him. Maybe send a text?
Normally we take the time to write up a bio for someone, but we think Curt’s answer to the question “What’s your background?” is pretty good by itself:
I was born in Fargo, ND and I’m half Canadian. When people make fun of Canada in front of me, there are repercussions. I went to film school to avoid sitting at a desk all day. Ironic, eh? Also, I joined the Army after High School but didn’t pass my physical. I was voted most likely to win an Oscar in high school. I dig the outdoors. I’m an Eagle Scout, how’s that for all-American (but half Canadian)?
That sums it up, except for one thing. Curt is just ridiculously tall.
He’s as tall as any two other Committee employees combined.
We say 6’10”.
This allows us to constantly shower him with praise puns: “If you left we’d have big shoes to fill,” or “You take editing to new heights,” or “You’re super tall Curt.” Wait, that last one isn’t quite the same…
Despite his stature, he’s crap at basketball and has a tiny dog – a 6lb Chihuahua named Paco. He is, however, a fantastic editor despite the small keys.
Outside of work Curt likes to be outside in the woods. He may be solely responsible for 1/5 of the sasquatch sightings in North America.
In the past, Curt has been a cart pusher at Target, a truck driver and a homebuilder. He was also once a door-to door meat salesman – a common path for editors. Whatever the path he took to get here, we’re happy he’s here now. He was a huge hire for Committee Films. There we go again…praise punning.
Bill Hurley. If that sounds like a shepherd’s name to you then, you’re right, and I’m not sure how you knew that. Yes, Bill was raised on a sheep farm, which is at odds with his set nickname “Ham Tray” (because ham=pigs, an alternative livestock) given to him for his flawless circulation of a tray of ham to crew members on multiple occasions. This is, he says, his proudest production moment, but most of us here would say he’s just a super hard worker with a great attitude and should be more proud of the fact that we all see him as such.
Still, that ham though…
Originally from New Hampshire Bill came to Committee through an internship after having seen our work on TV and writing in with a letter entitled “Bill: Intern Extraordinaire”. We called him up and liked his voice and the faint “bahs” in the background. So, he came to Minnesota where we fell in professional, HR-compliant love with him as he worked on back-to-back TV specials. Knowing he had to be ours, we made him an offer he could refuse, but didn’t – Production Assistant #2.
But Bill was so much more than a number two. He’s the shit so we made him an Associate Producer! In his short time at c_f he has become a well-rounded employee capable of taking on any task he’s asked to do and providing comic relief in the spaces between.
In his spare time… well, I guess all the time… he is a nerd of the highest order. He loves to play video games, go to the Renaissance Festival (who doesn’t?), play something called “Catan” or whatever, play Magic The Gathering, and watch Lord of the Rings (his favorite movie) or Game of Thrones (his favorite show). As nerdy as this all is, he somehow makes it cool and we love him for that. Surprisingly, he also just got married… to a lady not a sheep!
Bill is also about 5’11”.