Merrick Robison, TOM

Merrick Robison, an Iowa native, attended Olivet Nazarene University before moving to Chicago. He's worked with theatres such as Theatre at the Center, Metropolis Theatre, and is an ensemble member with Imagination Theater (, role-playing with kids to adults on social issues from teasing and bullying to sexual abuse prevention. You can also see him in NBC's Chicago Fire. Find out more at

Elizabeth Stenholt, LILLY

Elizabeth Stenholt has been acting since the age of 8 and has appeared in over 60 productions in Film, Television, Web, Commercials, and Stage.  Recently she appeared at the Steppenwolf Theatre and the Marriott in their production of Spring Awakening.  Currently she is with Writers theatre as Thomasina in Arcadia.  Take a look at what Tribune and Sun Times theatre critics have to say about her work in this production as well as Plain Song at Signal Theatre and One Flea Spare with Eclipse Theatre Company.  Elizabeth enjoyed bringing Lilly in EMPTY SPACE to the screen and hopes you will embrace the challenges that acceptance poses in life moving forward. 

Madysen Frances, REBECCA

Madysen Frances is a Chicago born actress with her roots in musical theatre.  Performing since the age of nine, she has appeared in over 25 stage productions.  In middle school, she became increasingly interested in film.  She has been studying film acting at Chicago's Green Room Studio, the Vagabond School of the Arts under Michael McCracken and Chicago’s Second City Theater.

Ryan David Heywood, HANK

Ryan David Heywood is a Chicago based actor.  He has been seen in Saudi Arabian television shows, national commercials, Chicago storefront theaters and several indie productions, and is grateful to be part of the film EMPTY SPACE. Please visit for more information. 

Suzanne Johnson, GLADYS

After a career in nursing, Suzanne Johnson turned her attention to acting.  She is an avid quilter, and was also a chapter coordinator for Project Linus; a national organization that makes security blankets for children who are ill or have suffered a loss.  Suzanne uses her nursing skills every year on a trip to Guatemala to assist with cleft lip and palate surgeries on children.  While not auditioning, taking classes, or working on set she loves spending time with her husband of 30 years, children, and two grandchildren.

David McLauchlan, LLOYD

David McLauchlan is a Chicago Lawyer, an Actor, Writer and Voice Over Artist.  He received his acting training at The Acting Studio Chicago and at Second City, Chicago as well as through private coaching.  He admits that lawyers are frustrated actors so this was a natural transition for him.  He has appeared in feature films, shorts and TV commercials and is currently working on a screenplay and a novel.  He is a private pilot and a motorcycle enthusiast.  He and his wife Carolyn Schubert, who is originally from Dubuque, live in Bull Valley, Illinois.


James Choi, Director & Producer

James Choi is a prolific, award-winning filmmaker with over a decade of film industry experience in Los Angeles having worked in representation, production and digital media.  His first feature film as a producer, MADE IN CHINA, won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative at SXSW in 2009 and distributed by IFC Films.  

EMPTY SPACE marks his second feature film as a director and his second collaboration with Judi Krant, the writer/director of MADE IN CHINA. James is currently based out of Chicago and teaches film at DePaul University.

Judi Krant, Writer & Producer

Judi de la Cruz Krant was raised in Texas, Montana, and Panama. Judi pursued her higher education at the University of Texas at Austin where she received a B.A. in Fine Arts. After graduating, Ms. Krant moved to New York City where she worked as an actor in theatre and television while studying at the Circle In The Square Conservatory.  After several steady years of on-camera work, Ms. Krant moved behind the lens to write and direct. She shot commercials, music videos, created web and mobile content, and had several screenplays optioned. Judi’s first film, MADE IN CHINA went onto win Best Narrative Film at SXSW and was distributed by IFC Films.

Paul Boring, Writer

Paul Boring, born and raised in Washington State, is a temporarily out-of-work newspaper reporter, a field in which he worked for 10 years. He wrote Empty Space while living in an even smaller town than Protection, the setting for the film. He has lived and worked in a variety of locations, including Sweden, Poland, and the British Virgin Islands. Paul has worked collaboratively with producer and director James Choi and producer and co-writer Judi Krant on a number of prospective projects that, with any luck, will find their collective way to the big screen. Paul resides in Seattle.

Joanne Zielinski, Executive Producer

JoAnne Zielinski is an Associate Dean in the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul.   As a filmmaker, JoAnne’s most recent narrative productions include:  THRILL RIDE (Casting Director, narrative feature, currently in post-production), SWEET 16 (Producer and Co-director, narrative feature, currently in post-production), EMPTY SPACE (Executive Producer, narrative feature), SPEED DATING (Casting Associate, animated short), NOSTALGIC (Casting Director, narrative short starring Mike Nussbaum), FLAT CHESTED (Associate Producer, narrative short starring Alicia Witte and Luke Perry), IN LOVE WITH A NUN (Casting Director, narrative short), SCOTTS DEAD NOSTALGIC (Associate Producer narrative short starring Michael Rooker). In addition, she produced and directed a series of short documentaries, ANGELS WITH A CAUSEONE CHILD AT A TIME and CASA DE AMIGOS, in conjunction with the Office of Mission and Values at DePaul for the Daughters of Charity, Province of the West. These films have garnered festival awards and recognition in over seventy film festivals regionally, nationally and internationally.

Brad LaRocco, Producer

Brad LaRocco began his career in the areas of business and management, now coupled with the creative intuition and experience gained in narrative and documentary filmmaking as a director and producer. As an active writer, he gravitates toward visual storytelling about complex characters that possess a strong sense of uniqueness and authenticity, with a personal admiration for the ideologies and complexities of realism. Often times in his documentary work, the process involves explorations into the many ways individuals can have an impact on their surroundings, and how their direct environment shapes those individuals themselves in return. EMPTY SPACE will be his first narrative feature film as producer and collaboration with director James Choi, to be followed by his feature documentary film as writer/director/producer, LANGUAGES OF GRAFFITI, set to release in late 2016. Brad LaRocco currently resides is Chicago, is an instructor at Tribeca Flashpoint College, and owner of Chicago-based production company, Missing Button Entertainment.

Brian Zahm, Director of Photography

Brian Zahm is an award-winning multidisciplinary artist who continually strives to create a timeless, unforgettable experience through his work.  Whether sculpting light or sound, through the conscious articulation of kinetic energies, he creates adventures in perception that bring the audience to entirely new realms, even if it is deemed “dangerous.”  To do this, he is always pushing, continually cross-pollinating concepts and techniques from any number of disciplines.  Riding the analog-to-digital wave for over twenty years, he works in narrative, documentary and experimental filmmaking, performs and produces electronic music (under the moniker “Dull Boy”), indulges in photography and graphic design, and dabbles in debauched pulp (under the moniker “Alien Stevens”).  His favorite form of creation is that of his students as they stumble and fall, stand up and brush themselves off, and begin to flourish as they find the creative fire in their hearts and ready themselves for careers in modern media.