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Michael Modak-Truran, President and CEO

Raised in Mississippi, Michael started filmmaking at a young age. For his first film “The Bird Watcher”, Michael won a nationally-recognized CINE Golden Eagle award for directing. He followed “The Bird Watcher” with “The Haunted Hopson Plantation”, filmed in Clarksdale, MS.  Michael’s films have screened at regional festivals in the South, including Crossroads and Memphis Indie. During high school, Michael interned at Mississippi Public Television and worked as Technical Director on the Emmy-nominated children’s show, “Ed Said”.  Before attending University of Chicago, Michael attended the Yale School of Drama’s theater program and performed Italian comedy near Milan, Italy.

Michael obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Chicago in 2016, where he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa his junior year. For his senior thesis, Michael analyzed British documentary film used as propaganda during World War II, looking at how constructions of working-class reality influenced perceptions of the home front during the war.  In college, Michael continued to pursue film. He started a film festival for Booth House and co-directed a short documentary on improve comedy. Michael formerly worked in public consulting in Chicago and sang for the Chicago Chorale, described by the Chicago Classical Review as giving one of the best classical music concerts in 2016.

Board members

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Mark Modak-Truran, board president

Dr. Mark C. Modak-Truran is the J. Will Young Professor of Law at Mississippi College School of Law and was a recent Research Fellow (2014-2015) at the Center of Theological Inquiry (Princeton, NJ) for their Inquiry on Law and Religious Freedom. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. (Religious Ethics) from The University of Chicago and his J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law, where he was the Editor-in-Chief of the Northwestern Journal of International Law and Business. He has twice served as the Co-Chair of the Association of American Law School’s Section on Law and Religion (2009, 2002), and his research and writing focus on law and religion and the philosophy of law. Dr. Modak-Truran teaches courses and seminars in Constitutional Law, First Amendment, Law and Religion, Legal Theory, Religious Freedom, and Torts I & II. He was selected as the Mississippi College Faculty Distinguished Professor of the Year in 2008 and as the Mississippi College School of Law Outstanding Law Professor of the Year for 2003-2004.

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ward emling, board member

Ward Emling was born in New Orleans and raised in Jackson, Mississippi.  He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Millsaps College in Jackson, and spent two years at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England.  

As an actor, he has appeared in productions at Millsaps College, The Little Theatre of Jackson, New Stage Theatre, The Back Alley Theatre in Los Angeles, and in London.

He was the Director of the Mississippi Film Office from 1981-83, before moving to Los Angeles where he worked as a location manager on television and feature projects, and as an actor in television, features, and national and regional commercials.

Ward returned to the Mississippi Film Office in 1990 and, before his retirement in 2017, guided the in-state productions of more than 300 television, feature and documentary productions, his favorites being My Dog Skip and Robert Altman’s Cookie’s Fortune.  He created the Mississippi Motion Picture Incentive Program in 2004, and guided it through several enhancements and incarnations.  Ward retired as the longest ever serving state or international film commissioner.

A member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) from 1994-2008, Ward was the President of the Association from 1998-2002, and was the recipient of the 2008 Arthur Lowe Crystal Vision Award for Outstanding Service to the AFCI. He is a member of the Millsaps College Board of Visitors.  He was on the Board of Directors of New Stage Theatre in the early 90’s and served as the Artistic Director for the 1992 Season.



ferrell tadlock, board member

Ferrell Tadlock is a native Mississippian, born in Raleigh. He remembers Faulkner and began reading him in high school. He has degrees from Millsaps College, Mississippi College School of Law and Spring Hill College. He is a retired attorney with the Mississippi Court of Appeals. He volunteers with Hospice Ministries, Mississippi Children’s Museum, Eudora Welty House and Gardens, the Oaks House Museum and others.


Ann herlihy, board member