Dan Stocke

Dan Stocke is a modern day renaissance man (or so he’s been told, so he’s running with it).He seems to get more done in the same amount of time that everyone else has, which is surprising because he still is able to binge watch more than a healthy amount of television.

This may have something to do with his time management skills, or the fact that “screwing around” to him means “getting things done”. Here’s a few titles he has picked up while “screwing around”

ENTREPRENEUR: Dan has run multiple businesses (often at the same time). Notable successes: he brought Zip-It, the prickly drain cleaner, to market; he brought World Block from near bankruptcy to $5 million in sales (recently sold to an ESOP); his brainchild, Buzz Frenzy, automates Facebook advertising; Sendsome.love sends love-themed artwork to loved-ones around the globe; he produces Duluth’s own award winning podcast, Take It With You. Notable failure: Dan developed the 88 acre Coffee Creek Park just as the great recession kicked in. He lost his shirt (thankfully he kept his pants).

SCREENWRITER: Dan and his wife, Christine, have written several screenplays all of which have had some success. “Success” defined as: Hollywood muckety-mucks have said they are great writers, but never bought a script. Dan is hoping that someone tells him that his writing is absolute rubbish and then way overpays anyway. Unfortunately, Dan and Christine have recently won the Golden Script Screenwriting Award and have optioned one of their scripts. Let’s all hope the muckety-mucks still are willing to pay an exorbitant sum for their script, or at least make a movie of it.

PHILANTHROPIST: Dan (again with his wife) recently founded The Christine And Dan Stocke Foundation For Excellence In The Arts And Assorted Shenanigans the purpose of which is to strive to fund excellence in the arts and assorted shenanigans (as the name of the foundation would suggest).

Dan loves to yammer on about all of this stuff, so if you enjoy one-sided conversations, buy him a drink and ask him a question. You won’t have to say another thing for at least an hour.


Rhonda Wiiliainen

Rhonda Wiiliainen is a born and bred resident of Northern Minnesota, and she has chosen to continue her adult life in this special part of the country because of its unique opportunities to foster her love of the outdoors and building community.

Rhonda’s professional journey began in healthcare as both a department head and a caseload worker at Arrowhead Healthcare Centers and Range Mental Health Care Center. Her success in these roles led to a natural transition to education, where she enjoyed setting up continuing education programs as a department director Hibbing Community College. While she has managed million-dollar budgets, teams of 25 people, and caseloads of 35 clients in her professional life, she is now in a position of working one on one with students in the federally funded college readiness program, Upward Bound. This has been the most rewarding part of her career journey to date. She has years of experience in working with people, she values honesty and loyalty in herself and others, and she takes great joy in helping students develop their skills to better their own circumstances.

Rhonda is a strong believer in serving one’s community, and she has a deep love for the Iron Range. She has served on various local boards, steering committees and visioning projects, ranging from community health organizations to teen related and community projects. She is especially proud to be on the Board of Directors for the Upper Midwest Film Office (UMFO), as it combines both her love for the area and her love of storytelling. As a backer and assistant for two feature films created on her own Minnesota property (Pollywogs and Cold November), Rhonda has seen the creation of a movie firsthand and has a great respect for the individuals who create these pieces of art. As the mining industry slows in the area, Rhonda wants to see other industries grow, and she believes that the film and television industry and this area of the country she loves make a perfect fit.


Philip Gilpin Jr.

Philip’s creative career began at a young age by making short family films on VCR tapes while growing up in a small suburb of Boston, MA. In college, he started his transition into the theatre & film world while also earning his Bachelor of Science in Physics and Mathematics from Boston College.

Philip moved to Los Angeles and learned the business side of the industry during his time as a Business Affairs Analyst at HBO where he worked with the financial and contract components of titles such as “The Sopranos”, “Sex and the City”, Six Feet Under”, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “The Wire”. It was during his time in Los Angeles that Philip met the original founders of Catalyst (then called ITVFest) and developed a deeper understanding of the need to better connect independent story artists with the larger industry companies. In 2012, Philip was brought on board as Catalyst’s Executive Director.

Philip has also served on the Board of Governors of the Boston/New England Chapter of the Emmy Academy.


Kristin Renskers

Kristin Renskers is a Business Representative of IBEW Local 31, a Professional and Industrial union based in Duluth, MN.  She lives and works in the heart of the Iron Range, a circumstance afforded to her by existing operating industry; she hopes to share this good fortune with current and future Range citizens by assisting in bringing new industry to the area.

Kristin spent more than a decade working in the utility sector, at first in Credit and Collections where she often worked with customers whose bills were unpaid – a too common local problem born of varied events but surely mirroring the contracting Range job market.  Later years at the utility were spent in construction design, serving residential, commercial, and industrial customers and cities from Deer River to International Falls to Ely and about every city in between.  As a liaison between the utility and community, her purview of city budgeting, government funding, and the fight to maintain areas rich with history despite dissipating tax revenues created a sharpened perspective of the impact economic pressures have on citizens.

At IBEW Local 31, Kristin works to ensure smooth labor relations between employees and employers, negotiate and administer Contract Bargaining Agreements, and serve as a conduit of information in pursuit of good working conditions, wages, and benefits for the powerhouse of every industry:  the people.

Kristin’s passion for and commitment to advocating for workers and work in industry is a natural complement to the Upper Midwest Film Office mission to grow the film industry in Minnesota.