Breakout Film: "Much Ado About Nothing"
Why They're On Here: Jillian Morgese was plucked out of obscurity by Joss Whedon after standing out as an extra in "The Avengers." The actress, who had mostly done extra and commercial work, was suddenly handpicked by Whedon to star as Hero in his indie hit adaptation of "Much Ado About Nothing." According to an interview in Buzzfeed, she memorized her lines in two weeks (in true Shakespearian fashion) and joined the cast of Whedon darlings that included Nathan Fillion, Sean Maher, Alexis Denisof, and Amy Acker, many of whom were her childhood idols. It's a classic rags to riches story, but Morgese seems like she deserves every minute. During the 12-day shoot for "Much Ado About Nothing," the actress would consistently show up even when she wasn't called to help out and learn from her experienced co-stars.
What's Up Next: With Morgese under Whedon's wing and given his tendency to reuse favorite actors, another project can't be far off for the promising newcomer.
Profession: Actor, Writer, Director
Breakout Film: "Tiny Furniture"
Why They're On Here: Lena Dunham's first feature "Tiny Furniture" put him on the map, and he came back strong as grumpy old soul coffee shop owner Ray Ploshansky on her show "Girls," standing out from his fellow twenty-somethings enough to garner a Critics' Choice Nomination. He also wrote, directed, and starred in a pair of films, "Rubberneck" and "Red Flag," which were both released theatrically and on VOD earlier this year via Tribeca Film.
What's Up Next: He can be seen in the upcoming Coen Brothers film "Inside Llewyn Davis," out December 6. He has a supporting role in "Wisdom Teeth," directed by James Benson and Bernardo Britto, which is in post-production. The plot follows a college student named Danny who gets kicked out of his dorm a month before graduating and has to couch surf before he can move to L.A. with his friend Cameron to be reality TV show staff writers, leaving behind all their friends in New York. Not much info is available on the film, but Andrew W.K. is also cast. The film showed at the 2013 Northside Festival as part of the Northside DIY Competition.
Kate Lyn Sheil
Breakout Film: "Sun Don't Shine"
Why They're On Here: Kate Lyn Sheil is everywhere. She's become a staple in the indie world over the last few years with roles in "The Color Wheel," "V/H/S," "Green," "Silver Bullets," and the polarizing "The Comedy." In "Sun Don't Shine," Sheil braved alligator infested swamps to play Crystal, one half of a couple on a tense and mysterious road trip. Though Sheil has been climbing the indie ladder, she's kept some humble roots, and feels awkward getting special treatment on bigger budget films. "You feel really silly because you've done all the other jobs on a film set and you're like, I don't need to eat before those people!" she said in an Indiewire interview for her next project.
What's Up Next: Sheil has even more on her plate. She's co-starring with "The Color Wheel" director Ales Ross Perry in "The Traditions," a new series for HBO. Sheil joins her "Sun Don't Shine" writer/director Amy Seimetz in Ti West's "The Sacrament." Sheil has also joined the cast of Netflix drama "House of Cards." The second season is currently shooting in Maryland.
Martha Shane and Lana Wilson
Breakout Film: "After Tiller"
Why They're On Here: Originally classmates at Wesleyan, it was Lana Wilson who approached Martha Shane about making a documentary profiling American abortion doctors. While Shane had previously co-directed "Bi the Way," about the country's changing views on bisexuality, Wilson had yet to make her first foray into filmmaking. The two came together to direct "After Tiller," a look at the last four third-trimester abortion doctors in America. The sobering doc played to great buzz and acclaim at Sundance earlier this year, getting picked up by Oscilloscope for future release.
What's Up Next: Wilson is currently exploring topics for her next documentary, while Shane is already underway on "The Mysteries of Marie Jocelyne," a suspenseful look at former film festival director and alleged scam artist Marie Castaldo.