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Charles Runnette


Founder and principal of TV/film production company, Makemake Films, Charles Runnette has been producing and directing TV, digital and film for over 15 years at Condé Nast, Mustache, MTV Networks and ABC News. In that time he’s produced a handful of TV series, dozens of digital series, a handful of TV documentaries and hosted/created his own Travel Channel docuseries called “Confessions of a Travel Writer". He started his own company in mid 2018 to be able to take on more projects he cared about that feature issues close to his heart like conservation (along with the ones that pay the bills). So he jumped at the chance to work with the fantastic folks at Empowers Africa on his first independently produced/directed documentary about Rubondo Island — a place he fell in love with after first visiting in 2015 on assignment for The Wall Street Journal.

Charles lives in Brooklyn with his husband, Nathan, and their adorable but challenging puppy, Marco.


Keenan Ferguson

Director of Photography

Wildlife filmmaker, Keenan Ferguson has spent the better half of the last six years navigating the challenging conditions in which to create documentary content in Southern and Eastern Africa. He has worked with various production companies as an independent cameraman.It was a childhood dream to work in wild-open spaces and the natural environment. This led Keenan to film predominantly for nature conservation whilst building a commercial portfolio too. Recent work has included documenting various conservation stories, ranging from community upliftment projects to anti-poaching films, as well as elephant and lion collaring stories and a documentary on human wildlife conflict in Tanzania. In 2018 Keenan was approached to shoot the pilot film on the Rubondo Island chimpanzees. He will now be heading back as the Director of Photography to try and capture, on film, the elusive chimps of Rubondo.

He lives in a small fishing village in Cape Town, South Africa, called Kalk Bay, with his partner, Alexandra and their Welsh Terrier, Rupert. It is a great home base to travel easily to and from assignments in other parts of Africa.

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Paula Franklin

Executive producer

Paula Franklin has been working with Empowers Africa since 2015, when she established the nonprofit conservation organization’s now robust fiscal sponsorship program. She has served as its Executive Director since 2018. Her passion for the continent began on a trip to Phinda Private Game Reserve in South Africa in 2007, when she joined a rhino-darting expedition as part of andBeyond’s Black Rhino Project. She has since traveled extensively in sub-Saharan Africa, including Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania, and her trips have brought her to some of the most remote camps and lodges, as well as given her deep knowledge of philanthropic projects such as lodge-funded schools, community gardens, women’s business collectives, and animal conservation initiatives.

Paula is a graduate of Howard University and currently lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.


Brooke Runnette

Executive Producer

Brooke Runnette most recently served as Chief Program Officer for Emerson Elemental, the environmental and energy practice of the Emerson Collective, and is currently working with the new organization Nia Tero to help indigenous peoples secure their guardianship of vital ecosystems.

From 2015 through 2017 Runnette was the National Geographic Society’s Executive Vice President and Chief Program & Impact Officer, responsible for the National Geographic Explorers as well as the Society’s grant-making, impact initiatives, education, public engagement, and storytelling. From 2012 to 2015, she was President of National Geographic Studios, where she oversaw all television, film, and digital video production for the National Geographic Society, and delivered creative, groundbreaking content with purpose and demonstrable impact from hit series like Brain Games to the groundbreaking investigation for Explorer: Warlords of Ivory that used a GPS tracker in a fake ivory tusk to reveal unknown trafficking routes through the territory held by Joseph Kony’s LRA into Sudan.

A Peabody and Emmy Award-winning producer, Runnette spent more than 15 years in broadcast journalism. She was a producer for Ted Koppel at ABC News’s Nightline, and before that for PBS’s Frontline, CBS’s 60 Minutes II and for Peter Jennings at ABC News, among others.

Brooke lives in DC with her husband and sweet daughter, Lilou. (Who also plays the role of Charles’ niece)