The People

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Sonya Pemberton – Creative Director

Emmy award winner and record-breaking five-time winner of the prestigious Eureka Award for Science Journalism, Sonya has a passion for science.

Sonya Pemberton is one of Australia’s leading documentary producers and she specialises in making compelling, high-quality science films. She has written and directed over sixty hours of broadcast documentary and executive produced many award-winning factual series.

Previously Head of Specialist Factual at ABC Television, she commissioned and managed over three hundred hours of factual television; her understanding of audiences’ desire for smart, accessible television saw ratings rise across the genres.

Sonya’s science films have screened in dozens of international festivals and won more than seventy major awards, including Best Science at Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, and the 2012 News and Documentary Emmy for Outstanding Science Programming. Sonya has also been honoured with Australian Health Journalist of the Year in 2011 and 2013, the Jill Robb Award in 2015 and the 2016 Stanley Hawes Award for contribution to documentary.

There’s something redemptive in Pemberton’s work. She straddles the categories of art and journalism, entertainment and knowledge. She is a filmmaker who, in respected director Ken Burns’ terms, is really a “tribal storyteller.” — Graeme Blundell, The Australian

Kate Pappas – Producer

Kate is a hands-on creative producer whose dedication to understanding the world around her has led to a rewarding career in documentary filmmaking. Since cutting her teeth in London in the wonderful world of kids’ science TV, she has worked across a diverse and award-winning slate both in the UK and in Australia. She has subsequently produced, co-produced, series produced and line-produced close to 30 hours of television and works regularly with Genepool Productions, WildBear Entertainment, Chemical Media and Renegade Films. Her most recent credits include Producing art/science documentary Deception By Design (ABC/OFT); Feature Doc Westwind: Djalu’s Legacy (NiTV/MIFF Premier Fund/Madman Ent.) as well as Series Producing 14 hours of wildlife films for Blue Ant Media, NatGeo, DRG and ZDFe. She joined the Genepool Productions team in 2018 where she will pursue her passion for telling stories that illuminate the wonder of science and the natural world.

Chris Kamen– Distribution & Business Affairs

Chris is a business affairs focussed producer with over 13 years experience. He has worked across a variety of formats including feature documentaries, television, commercials, music videos, short films and web series.

In 2015 Chris produced the hugely successful feature documentary Small is Beautiful (distribution supported by Screen Australia) which recouped its entire budget within the first 12 months, and was then licensed to Netflix.

Having previously worked as an entertainment lawyer, Chris joined Genepool Productions in mid 2017 in a multi-faceted role spanning producing, business affairs, distribution & marketing. Chris managed the online release of Genepool’s most recent feature documentary Vitamania and continues to guide the evolution of Genepool’s business into the digital era.

Daniella Ortega – Producer

Daniella is an award-winning Director and Producer of documentary and factual television with a passion for science storytelling.

In 2017 Daniella created with Sonya Pemberton, a landmark science and history series entitled Lawless – The Real Bushrangers  (Foxtel, History Channel).  As Series Producer she steered four episodes editorially from concept through to completion. The series approach applied cutting-edge science to historical ‘cold cases’ in the form of complex, archaeology and forensic investigations, interwoven with impressionistic dramatic reconstructions and historical analysis.  The series was highly critically acclaimed as well as achieving record ratings for the network.

Before embarking on Lawless, Daniella wrote and directed standalone documentary Enigma Man – A Stone Age Mystery (ABC) about the intriguing science of human evolution in Asia. The film was nominated for the 2014 Jackson Hole Science Media Award for ‘Best Human and Social Sciences Film’ and won the 2014 Australian Teachers of Media award for ‘Best Docudrama’.

Crossing genres such as formatted science TV, wildlife and factual entertainment, her work has screened on networks around the world including ABC TV, SBS, Animal Planet, Curiosity Stream and Fox Television. Daniella is a graduate of the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, and the University of Technology.

Harry Panagiotidis – Associate Producer

Harry has more than 40 Australian and US feature films credits as a cameraman, Steadicam operator, and second unit DOP. He also works as Director of Photography on documentaries and factual programs. Married to director Sonya Pemberton, the husband and wife creative team thrive on tackling stories of science together, most recently on a co- producing role. Recent films together include Catching Cancer (ABC/NGTV), Emmy award-winning Immortal (SBS/Smithsonian), Jabbed – love, fear and vaccines (SBS) and Vaccines — Calling the Shots (PBS NOVA).