About Us

This project was a production of Chat the Planet in New York who worked with a group of Iraqi filmmakers in Baghdad.

Laurie Meadoff, Executive Producer

Laurie Meadoff is the president of and a partner in NextNext Entertainment and an executive producer of Chat the Planet. She found the prototype for Chat the Planet while on a Rockefeller Fellowship in South Africa. Passionately envisioning a world without barriers and prejudice, Ms. Meadoff strives to build bridges through tolerance and understanding, and her tools of choice are television and the internet. She has executive produced programming for Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, ABC, HBO Family, MTV and VH1 and a host of international broadcasters. Read the full bio here.

Kate Hillis, Executive Producer and Producer

Kate Hillis, co-founder of and partner in NextNext Entertainment, has produced diverse programming ranging from one camera field documentary specials to large scale international studio productions. Kate has produced programming for ABC, MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, HBO Family, C-SPAN, FOX, Spike TV, Current TV, Link TV, The N, Noggin, Middle East Broadcast, CNN, Australian Broadcast's Fly TV, South African Broadcast, mtvU and Oxygen. Read the full bio here.

Ziad Turkey, Director

Ziad Turkey, Director of Hometown Baghdad, began his career during the Iran-Iraq war when he was sent to the frontlines as a soldier and photographer. In 2003, Ziad served as director of photography on "Underexposure," the first uncensored feature film shot in postwar Baghdad. It won Best Film at the Silver Screen Awards at the Singapore International Film Festival. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Cinematic Arts from the Fine Arts Academy in Baghdad and continues to exhibit his photography throughout the Middle East. He is currently working on various projects in film and theater.

Fady Hadid, Producer

Fady Hadid, a Producer on Hometown Baghdad, has held various production positions during his career including executive producer, cameraman and sound engineer. He is a member of the Najeen Group, an Iraqi artists' initiative that supports and produces theater, art and films such as the first postwar theatrical production in Baghdad "They Passed by Here," and "Underexposure." Fady holds a Bachelor of Science in Information and Communication Engineering from the University of Baghdad. He is currently working on upcoming film and television productions and volunteers with youth empowerment projects and NGOs.

Barrett Hawes, Senior Editor

Barrett Hawes is a video journalist and documentary filmmaker who collaborates with his subjects to tell their stories. His work focuses on the everyday lives of people whose voices are largely unheard from in mainstream media, and includes projects with indigenous Mexicans, Bolivian coca farmers, and adolescents in the Bronx, New York. He is a professor at the NarcoNews School for Authentic Journalism and has also worked as a television editor on programs for PBS, The History Channel, Discovery, The National Geographic Channel, A&E, Spike TV, and VH-1. Independent videos he has worked on include "Chew on This," "I Live in the Bronx," and several newsreels following the EZLN's Other Campaign through Mexico in 2006, which can be seen here.

Will Gardiner, Editor

Will began his career in post-production in 2005. Since then, he has worked as an assistant editor on shows for The History Channel, The National Geographic Channel, the Food Network, and Women's Entertainment Network. He has previously worked under senior editor Barrett Hawes who brought him on for Hometown Baghdad. Will thanks him for that! He was born and raised in Sunset Park, Brooklyn and now lives with his wife of two years in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Will graduated from Hamilton College with a B.A. in Economics in 2003.

Mike DiBenedetto, Online Distribution Manager

Mike DiBenedetto has played many roles during the production of Hometown Baghdad. Currently, he directs the internet distribution of the project, manages press and blogs on this site. Before working with Chat the Planet, Mike played in rock bands, went on a lot of road trips, moved to Texas and graduated from Brown University with a BA in History.