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.
Ben Krueger is a dude with a beard in a northern city: Rockin’, Livin’ and Holdin’ Steady (AND keeping the letter “g” off of words ending in “ing”). He’s into episodic television playin’ rock n’ roll, huntin’ agates and eatin’ wrong. He’s also a Producer, Director and all around likable guy.
After attending film school in Minneapolis, Ben started his career as a Production Assistant – working freelance for many years. In 2009, he submitted a commercial (his first) for Doritos “Crash The Super Bowl” contest and was selected as a finalist. His spot “Snack Attack Samurai” aired in the 4th quarter of the 2010 Super Bowl and was “the most watched ad of all time” by Nielsen ratings. It was also rated “best ad with a samurai” by Samurai Zine, which is not a real magazine. Since then he’s kept busy working with Committee Films on all of its projects big and small. He’s been all over the world with Committee and hopes to keep doing just that.Ben’s trademark is his captain’s hat – he is currently on his seven(teen)th. “The Captain stands for quality,” he says, “and being cool with everyone you can, while you can.” He lives in Chaska with his awesome wife, rad sons and odd dog where they have a small garden and a great life.When asked to write a play-by-play fight between his favorite 8Os comedy star and favorite 8Os drama star (this is a standard interview question), Ben wrote about a bout (see how I did that?) between Fozzie Bear and Magnum PI. It speaks volumes about Ben’s character that Fozzie won in this scenario.
When Committee Films decided we needed somebody to manage our research library, we went out and got an actual librarian. That’s how we roll. Jen Blanck is not just an example name you’d see in a mobile app tutorial on how to consolidate your friends into one easily accessible group, it’s also the name of our rock star Head Research Librarian.
Jen is schooled in anthropology, airplane runway taxiing, hand modeling, camp counseling and fancy coffee drink making – though she’ll tell you herself she’s the worst barista ever. She also happens to have an MLIS degree. That’s the part that makes her a real deal librarian. After an eight-year stint working in a hospital library, she decided it was time to do something that made more use of all of her various skills and that’s when she started heading up Committee Films’ research department. It’s a place where she can both do research and do a little hand modeling from time to time. But, she’s not allowed to touch the coffee, except the Keurig.
Jen spearheads our many research needs, managing all of the information from that research and loves it almost as much as we love her. When she has free time, she doesn’t read nearly as many books as you might think a librarian reads. She loves to travel and spend time with her friends and family. Any other free moments are spent uploading and organizing all of her photos of her travels, friends and family.
If she could have a superpower, she’d love to make more of those moments. “I would like to be able to stop time. I would use this power for two purposes. First, during the best days, I would stop time to revel in the moment. Additionally, I would stop time to do stupid tasks like dishes and laundry.”
We’ll remember to not add dishes and laundry to the, er, laundry list of everything else she does for us.
Cindy Barber is like the big sister of Committee Films. She takes care of us, gives us advice, gives us her old clothes, and is always there when we need her. This is how she is in all aspects of her life: devoted wife, loving mother, great friend, and guinea pig saver. That sounds like an attempt at random “cleverness”, but it’s not – Cindy once saved her family’s male guinea pig from breast cancer.
I’m going to let that sink in for a second…
…just one second longer…
While not saving largish rodents from ravaging diseases, Cindy is into interior design and home décor. She once worked as a custom furniture designer AND as a buyer for Nordstrom where she was both buyer of the month and buyer of the year. At first I thought – how much did you spend!? – but then I read it again. Pretty cool.
All of this is aided by Cindy’s meticulous nature. She loves cleanliness, organization, even numbers, and symmetry. The perfect person to help organize a sometimes cluttered, random, and odd group of TV and Commercial makers!
In short, we would be lost without the unanimously voted MVP of Committee Films! There is also a high probability that without Cindy in this world, guinea pigs would be extinct too.
Ryan started at Committee Films as “the intern.” He’d come in sort of whenever and do whatever and then go to his real job at Canterbury Park as a camera operator. We have no idea how long he’d been showing up, as no one really talks to the intern.
Turns out, Ryan is actually an extremely talented designer and master of Photoshop, so the execs at Committee decided he should be paid before it started to look like the company was in violation of labor laws. In addition to making his own films in his spare time, Ryan is an avid snowboarder, jazz connoisseur, and tree-fort builder. Seriously, you should see his tree fort.
Now that he’s on board at Committee and lending his creative brain to all things design, we actually talk to him. We found out his favorite television guilty pleasure is Wife Swap, which he calls “excellent social experimentation.” He also likes the Planet Earth documentary series, Misfits, NewsRadio, Rocky and Bullwinkle, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
We’ve all stopped talking to him again.