Bite Me: A Truly Independent Journey

Join the team behind the independent feature film Bite Me for a case study of the film’s journey and the upcoming Joyful Vampire Tour of America that will feature screenings, capes, and Vampire Balls! Bite Me is a unique, while universally relatable, story about outsiders and an edgy, whip-smart, funny, heart-felt update to the rom-com genre.

Naomi McDougall Jones (Writer/Actor/Producer), Sarah Wharton (Producer), Joanne Zippel (Executive Producer/NYWIFT Member), Jack Lechner (Executive Producer) and Kiwi Callahan (Filmmaker). They are only playing one film festival, they are not talking to distributors, and are instead renting an RV and taking Bite Me on a 3-month, 40+ city Joyful Vampire Tour of America that will feature screenings, capes, and Vampire Balls. Their distribution plan will include a weekly documentary-series that will be released on YouTube throughout the tour. These filmmakers intend to invent a fully democratic, filmmaker-empowered model of release that will change distribution from something you “get” into something you “do.”



Kiwi Callahan (Filmmaker) is shooting The Joyful Vampire Tour of America for the webseries. Callahan is a documentary filmmaker, martial artist, wine lover, and a seriously heavy sleeper. But it wasn’t always that way. Callahan found her way into documentary filmmaking after being a professional musical theater actress for 10 years. As she grew older, she found herself becoming more confident in her beliefs, less sure that she knew everything, and drawn to a different kind of story. After much consideration (read: pacing, wine consumption, sleeping, and shadow boxing), she decided to change directions and pursue a career in documentary filmmaking. In addition to full-length and short documentary films, Callahan has shot documentary-style videos and commercials for all types of businesses, ranging from solopreneurs to international brands such as Dockers, Target, and Dove.

Jack Lechner (Executive Producer) has produced for film and television – scripted and unscripted – in New York, Los Angeles, and London. Producing credits include Explorer (National Geographic); The New Yorker Presents (Amazon); The Fog Of War; Blue Valentine; Left Of The Dial (HBO); TruInside (TruTV); Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys (Sundance); and the pilot for Mad Men (AMC). As an executive at Miramax and Film Four, Lechner was involved in the production and development of dozens of movies, including The Crying Game, Good Will Hunting, and The Full Monty. Lechner is an associate professor at Columbia University.

Naomi McDougall Jones (Writer/Star/Producer) is an award-winning writer, actress, and producer based in New York City. Her second feature film, Bite Me, will be released via a 3-month, 40+ city, RV-fueled Joyful Vampire Tour of America from May-August, 2019. McDougall Jones’s first feature film was the 12-time award-winning Imagine I’m Beautiful. She is an advocate, speaker, and author for bringing gender parity to cinema. Her TEDTalk, What it’s Like to be a Woman in Hollywood, has received over 1M views. Her book, The Wrong Kind of Woman: Dismantling the God of Hollywood, was published by Beacon Press in February 2019. More at

Sarah Wharton (Producer) is an award-winning producer and actor based in New York City. Her feature That’s Not Us played at over 35 festivals around the world and was released as a Netflix exclusive through Strand Releasing.  Her follow-up was The Ring Thing, a documentary-narrative hybrid about same-sex marriage, which is now available on most digital platforms. Wharton previously collaborated as an actor and producer on Percival’s Big Night and Jane Wants A Boyfriend, currently playing on Showtime. She has produced work in Oslo, London, New Orleans and served as associate producer for the Harare International Festival of The Arts in Zimbabwe.

Joanne Zippel (Executive Producer) has over 25 years of experience as a manager, producer, entrepreneur, working in theater, film, sponsorship, marketing, creative development and creative career/life coaching in the entertainment business. Zippel‘s consulting and management business Zip Creative, evolved out of her work as a manager of screenwriters and playwrights — guiding their careers, helping them to pursue their passions and stay true to their creative vision. In addition to Bite Me, Zippel is currently executive producing the feature Rear View Mirrors, the second collaboration of award-winning Director Kerstin Karlhuber and Writer Jack Bryant (Fair Haven). She is a long-time NYWIFT member and met Naomi McDougall Jones through NYWIFT. More at


Produced by Terry Greenberg


Naomi McDougall Jones as Sarah (left) and Christian Coulson as James in “Bite Me” (Photo Credit: Eun-ah Lee)

May 2 @ 6:30pm
6:30 pm — 8:30 pm (2h)

NYWIFT Conference Room
6 East 39th Street, Suite 1200
(Between Fifth and Madison Avenue)

$15 for Members
$25 for Nonmembers


Join the conversation on social media:
#nywift | @nywift

NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.