Director Amy Shroff attended King George V (KGV) school in Kowloon, before studying at Swansea University. Upon graduating with a BSc in Psychology, Amy started in television writing comedy scripts and twisted psychological dramas for broadcasters and production companies in London, including Maverick, Channel 4 and Tiger Aspect.
Amy returned to Hong Kong in 2003, where she met and married Rasheed Shroff, and for the next few years her priority became raising their children. During this time, Amy was active in Hong Kong charities, playing a key role in organizing charity events raising funds for the Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation. She also supported her husband with the fulfillment of some ambitious philanthropy projects, traveling to Mainland China, Vietnam, India and Cambodia to assist struggling orphanages and bold social enterprise initiatives aimed at helping vulnerable groups of people, including those challenged by life-limiting disabilities and complex mental health issues.
Amy returned to work full-time in 2011 as a director of Kazmia, a property development company based in Hong Kong. While managing the company’s portfolio, she co-founded Brainstorm Media, combining her charitable awareness with her media experience and managerial skills. Amy now serves as a director of three Hong Kong companies; Kazmia, Banyan Lifestyle andBanyan Workspace; a mood boosting co-working space for Hong Kong creative businesses, launching in Quarry Bay September 2019.
Director Philippe Joly is a French actor, screenwriter, filmmaker and entrepreneur. Born in Moscow, Russia, for the past seven years Philippe has made Hong Kong his home. Besides his native French, Philippe is fluent in many languages, including Italian, Russian, Spanish, English, and the filthiest parts of Cantonese and Mandarin. He is best known as an actor for his roles as ‘Zoltan’ in the 2015 film Pound of Flesh with Jean-Claude Van Damme and ‘Decimus’ in Jackie Chan’s epic film Dragon Blade.
Philippe regularly plays the villain in action films in Asia and appeared alongside Chow Yun Fat as a foreign gangster in From Vegas to Macau, and Andy Lau, whom he’s faced twice, first as a killer disguised as a maid in the film Mission Milano, and then as Chief Commissioner in Chasing The Dragon. Recent projects include Juno Mak‘s Sons of The Neon Night (風林火山), and the Chinese sci-fi action film Ultimate Code (终极代码), in which he plays a lead role as the antagonist alongside a Chinese cast and David Belle.
Since 2018, Philippe’s been recording comedy sketches for RTHK with Sadie Kaye, playing ‘Mr. Meaner’, the perfect foil to her character ‘Miss Adventure‘. The pair are also working together, playing Mr. & Mrs. Sharpe-Payne, on a sitcom, Meet The New Parents.
An entrepreneur whose expertise and passion for mobile technologies gets him regularly solicited for consultancy work, Philippe has been involved in many projects in the digital space, including developing and launching mobile apps, web portals & social networks. In 2011 he won the Mobile Messaging Award for his venture SafeBox.mobi. He’s the author of non-fiction business book Potemkin, Inc, and is currently writing a second book, 100 Ways To Die. (Well, he’d know. He’s currently in the Gobi Desert getting eaten by a giant monster..!)
As well as being a director and an ambassador for Mental Ideas, Philippe has made an invaluable contribution to the design and marketing of both platforms.
Creative Director Sadie Kaye started in television as a children’s TV presenter on TVB, ITV, Nickelodeon and Disney Channel. She’s devised, co-written, presented and performed in comedy and entertainment series for indies and broadcasters in London, including the BBC, Maverick, E4, Channel 4, MTV, cable & web.
In 2012 she played shambolic presenter Miss Adventure(a role she had been inadvertently rehearsing for her entire TV career) in an improvised skit with band Motorhead for Funny or Die, before taking the character onto RTHK Radio 3. She’s recently been writing and performing as ‘Miss Adventure’ in comedy sketch shows and a mockumentary, Fake News.
Ambassador Mat Ricardo is one of the most unique, critically-acclaimed & entertaining variety performers in the world. The first man in history to learn to put the tablecloth back ON the table… and that‘s just one of his incredible feats!
Mat’s spoken and written freely about his struggles with mental health, including depression, mood swings (touching on bipolar disorder), OCD and anxiety. He’s a regular columnist for Mental Ideas and a guest in creative director Sadie Kaye‘s upcoming RTHK documentary As Bad As It Gets, chronicling his experiences with OCD.
Featured Artist Eugenia Kim is a PhD student, originally from the USA. She’s been living in Hong Kong and studying at City University since 2015. She creates dance narratives for virtual reality environments inspired by her own experiences of living with adolescent bipolar disorder.
Her hope is that her dances help viewers understand on a physical level what it’s like to have bipolar disorder. She also hopes her VR dances encourage families to support young people in getting treatment. Eugenia has been making dances about bipolar disorder since 2005 as a release from her condition. She’s also been delving into dance cinema with a focus on using movement to express mental health-related narratives.
Her research and dances are aimed at helping others, like her, who prefer the digital realm, have a hard time going outside alone or expressing their emotional states verbally. She also creates dances for the families and friends of adolescent bipolar patients, who might be worried about being seen attending any activity or public event related to mental health.
Eugenia’s VR dance Lithium Hindsight is a work-in-progress. She is keen to reach out to others who have the condition and are interested in her work. Her academic research for her PhD explores: How can phenomenology can be applied to create dance pathographies for virtual reality environments about adolescent bipolar disorder?
Eugenia will be writing a column, Virtually Eugenia, about her research and experiences. She’ll also be a guest on the Mental Ideas Podcast.
Raff’s parents moved from Ariano Irpino, Italy, to London in 1970. When Raff was eight, the family moved to Queens, New York for several years, before returning to London. After attending some local acting classes, Raff was encouraged to audition for a place at the Sylvia Young Theatre School. This he successfully did and attended from the ages of 13-16, before continuing his acting training at the Lee Strasberg Institute. In 2003 Raff married Simone Lahbib. Their daughter, Skye, was born in 2005. Both are actresses.
In 2017, Raff directed and played a sex trafficker in No Way Home – Stop The Traffick, a powerful short film to raise awareness of the victims of human trafficking. The film won the award for Expose from the United Nations in conjunction with CNNand World Freedom Day.
He is currently working with Mental Ideas on a series of short films depicting mental health conditions in an art-house style, blending contemporary dance, music and poetry with an acting narrative. The first of these short films, Transference: A Bipolar Love Story, is now being co-produced by Contro Vento Filmsand Mental Ideas as a feature-length film.
Raff’s been affected by mental illness throughout his life. Raff’s father had bipolar disorder and he is drawn to playing sympathetic delusional characters with a manic edge. Raff’s films are sure to be highlights of the Brainstorm Film Festival and we are thrilled to have him on board as an ambassador.
Partner and ambassador James Daly is co-founder and CEO of Greenhouse Media(GMI), a dynamic media finance and film production company based in the UK. A shrewd financial director with a creative soul, James intricately understands both sides of the film industry. Unlike other production companies, James’ focus is on fully financing film and media projects in-house and drawing on his long-term relationships with distributors.
GMI‘s portfolio includes films & TV shows in the Comedy, Drama, Music, Entertainment, Documentary and Factual/Features genres. The company is growing fast by developing and producing exciting films and TV shows that viewers connect with easily and love to watch. Away from the financial and distribution side, James is also a critically acclaimed writer and producer. As well as working with big established names, James believes that discovering and championing young talent is paramount to ensuring his company’s success.
James’ passion and commitment to social responsibility is something he’s incredibly proud of and has placed at the heart of all his company’s endeavors. In doing so, he’s created a powerful platform to raise marginalized voices, exploring and assisting global causes which benefit from GMI’s support and opportunities each year. As an ambassador, James intends to work closely with Brainstorm on all aspects of film& media production and distribution, offering his expertise and creating empowering opportunities for our global creative community to engage with the widest audience.
Ambassador Charlotte Farhan is a force of nature. She’s co-founder and managing director of non-profit Art Saves Lives International (ASLI) and works as an artist, illustrator, writer and activist.
Charlotte campaigns against inequality, stigma, rape culture, capitalism and war. Her Facebook postabout why she would not be changing her profile picture to an overlay of the Tricolor in the wake of the Paris Attacks, even though she is French and from Paris, went viral, receiving international media attention from the New York Times, Telegraph, Independent& Le Huffington. She’s written articles for CNBC, Open Minds Quarterly (as a Resident Artist) and as editor of ASLI Magazine.
Charlotte lives with her husband, Mohammed, in Southsea, UK, along with their four cats and her psychiatric warning dog, Amadeus. She has BA degrees in Fine Art, Creative Writing, Philosophy and Psychological Sciences, the latter she recently passed with a First!
Charlotte speaks out about her ongoing struggles with mental illness to fight stigma and show others that mental illness is just like any physical illness and should be treated in exactly the same way. She’s affected by a number of conflicting psychiatric conditions, including Borderline Personality Disorder, Agoraphobia, PTSD and OCD.
Charlotte and creative director Sadie Kaye co-founded ASLI together and collaborated as writer-illustrator on children’s book The Wishing Machine. In 2018, Charlotte took part in Sadie’s documentary As Bad As It Gets, set to air on RTHK Radio 3 later this year. Charlotte is now working on her own book projects, but the collaborations continue across many different forms.
Ambassador Dan Davies is an American actor. Dan started in radio hosting his own show The Swami from 1998-2001. He went on to host TV shows Just For The Health Of It and Now We’re Cooking. In 2005, Dan won the Platinum Remi award for Best Comedy at the 38th Annual Houston International Film Festival(WorldFest).
Ambassador Simone Lahbib is a Scottish actress, best known for her portrayal of idealistic Wing Governor Helen Stewart in the ITV drama series Bad Girls. Born in Stirling to a Scottish mother and a French Algerian father, Simone received her acting training at Queen Margaret College, after spending four years training at the Manor School of Ballet in Edinburgh.
Simone became widely recognized for her leading role in the cult British prison drama series Bad Girls, establishing a loyal fan base throughout the world, especially among the LGBT community. Following her departure from Bad Girls, Simone appeared in several drama series, including Judge John Deed and Monarch of the Glen. She was again cast in a leading role on the crime drama series Wire in the Blood as D.I. Alex Fielding. Her other notable TV credits include guest appearances in New Tricks and the 2012 Christmas Special of Downton Abbey.
In 2013 Simone opened a performing arts school, 360 Arts, in North London, which teaches singing, dancing and acting to children aged 3-18 years. She married Raff in 2003 and the couple have a daughter, Skye Lucia DeGruttola, also an actress, who was recently seen in the live action Disney movie Beauty & The Beast and in BBC series Grantchester.
In 2010, Simone established the Eilidh Brown Memorial Fund in honor of her niece who died of cancer nine days before her 16th birthday. The charity fund benefits kids with cancer and their families. In 2018 she organized a Bad Girls reunion, which helped raise money for the memorial fund.
Ambassador Nick Samuel is an award-winning composerand arranger. Born in California, he now lives and works in London. His work spans film, TV, radio and video games and is driven by music’s relationship with the narrative. His between-the-lines approach to storytelling draws influence from across the board of genres. An early-life love of animation and studies in visual art also played a role in Nick’s musical interpretation of how melodies ‘speak’ with an image.
Beginnings in the live arena provided a cornerstone to Nick’s career. As a saxophonist and keyboard player, he worked and played with bands on London’s Jazz scene. A natural transition to composing, as songwriter and band-leader, saw him form the group ‘Hopper’, which went on to receive a finalist accolade for ‘Best Alternative Act’ at theIndy Awards in 2007. In 2009, Nick made the gear-shift to composing, his experience in live music and improvisation heavily influencing the language of his music.
Nick started scoring short films, before working in TV and advertising with clients, including ITV(Text Santa), Tesco Books, Against Breast Cancer (for DCM), Pearl & Dean(receiving the 2013 Music + Sound Award for ‘Best Composition in Cinema Advertising’); and Tesco’s 2017 Christmas TV spot ‘Save The Day’, which he recorded with a 55-piece orchestra at London’s Abbey Road Studios.
He has since scored dozens of feature films, TV shows and multimedia series; working with production companies, studios and directors worldwide. Recent film releases include the acclaimed Max Payne: Retribution and medieval fantasy / horror Knights of The Damned. He is currently arranging and composing a new series (watch this space..!)
Nick composed the soundtrack and will be taking part as a guest in the Mental Ideas Podcast, as well as composing the music for several upcoming film, TV & radio projects.
Mental Artist Larry Feign is an award-winning international cartoonist and satiricalwriter, creator of the ‘Lily Wong’ series of cartoons and books. His work has appeared in L’Hebdo, the Times, the Atlantic, the Economist, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Fortune, the Sydney Morning Herald & South China Morning Post. He’s the author-illustrator of 14 bestselling books and has written screenplays and created animation for Disney& theCartoon Network.
Larry began his career as a caricature artist at Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach, later moving to Los Angeles to work for a Hollywood animation studio. In 1985 he visited Hong Kong, intending to stay for two weeks, and ended up staying and making a name for himself as a cartoonist. His Lily Wong daily comic strip was considered a bellwether of life and politics in the territory, and was reprinted widely around the world. His first book, Aieeyaaa!, became the best-selling English-language book in Hong Kong publishing history. In 1997 Larry was commissioned by the Independent to chronicle in cartoons Hong Kong’s final 100 days under British rule. His satirical commentary about the Hong Kong Handover was Time Magazine’s first-ever full-page cartoon essay.
During a two-year hiatus in London, Larry illustrated for various magazines, before returning to Hong Kong to write, produce, and direct animation for television and other media, as well as write for magazines. In 2011 he received a MacDowell Fellowship from America’s oldest artist colony. He is currently working on several books, including both humor and serious historical fiction.
Larry has been married for over three decades to the clinical psychologist Dr. Cathy Tsang-Feign. Together they have two perfect children, three dogs, and the occasional snake in the garden. In his spare time, Larry enjoys cycling and playing saxophone, though rarely at the same time.
Larry will be a guest on the Mental Ideas Podcast in March 2019 and Brainstorm looks forward to collaborating with him in other weird & wonderful ways!
Mental Artist Owen Fitzpatrick is a best-selling author, globetrotting psychologist, trainer and speaker from Dublin, Ireland. Co-founder of the Irish Institute of NLP(neuro-linguistic programming), he’s regarded as a leading expert on the power of influence.
Owen struggled in his younger years with depression and lack of confidence. Feeling like an outsider and unable to impact others made him obsessed with learning everything he could about psychology. Having travelled extensively to 92 countries, including North Korea, Rwanda and Afghanistan, Owen is fascinated by how propaganda, storytelling and influence work. He’s delivered talks and courses in more than 27 countries in his inimitable rap style.
Mental Artist Patrick Smith is a British graphic designer and art director based in Hong Kong. He creates digital graphics and design systems and makes them communicate with audiences on an instant, subliminal level. In 2014 he designed a series of striking posters that depict various mental health conditions in a quirky, minimalist style (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Agoraphobia, Anorexia Nervosa, Depression, Dissociative Identity Disorder, and Narcolepsy).
He came up with these designs in an attempt to explode the stigma surrounding mental illness and raise awareness of the topic. Patrick’s designs have sparked wider debate and been picked up by the largest media outlets in the world, providing a platform for issues that don’t always get a mainstream voice. Brainstorm is thrilled to elevate Patrick’s work via its media platforms.
Ambassador Jade Bryant is a multi-talented artist, activist and writer from Devon, UK. She practices art as self-help therapy and inspires others to do the same. By challenging popular misconceptions of conditions like borderline personality disorder (BPD) and antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), conditions she struggles with herself, she spreads awareness, understanding and a message of hope.
Jade may be our youngest ambassador, but she’s already a powerhouse of creative ideas, wit, grit, fizz and talent. Brainstorm HK is proud and excited to be working with Jade on upcoming art exhibitions in Asia. Jade will also be taking part as a guest in the Mental Ideas Podcast.
Jade is a features writer and campaigner for non-profit Art Saves Lives International, raising awareness of mental health issues and all forms of social inequality. Jade invites commissions of her beautiful artwork. She particularly enjoys commissions of wildlife and pets.
Raised on a farm in Northern Ireland, James is now based in London. He has won multiple, international awards as afood writerand also works as a food consultantandTV presenter. Mental Ideas intends to collaborate with James on a number of creative projects. Expect announcements of knitting (or nibbling) competitions in the very near future..!
Health Ambassador Ifat Kafry Hindes is a trailblazing wellness entrepreneur and writer from Hong Kong. She’s the founder of Project Wellness, Health Editor for Hong Kong Living and a columnist for Sassy Hong Kong. Born in Israel, she was raised in the Caribbean in early life and predominantly thereafter in Hong Kong. Ifat speaks out about her ongoing battles with depression and Meniere’s disease.
The busy mother of two has successfully set up her own gluten free bakery in Hong Kong and is now writing her first cookbook. She’s received plaudits and media attention for her dedication to tackling mental and physical health through diet and healthy lifestyle choices. She is the recipient of ‘Top Pick‘ Luxe City Guides 2013, ‘Editor’s Choice‘ at the Foodie Forks Award 2014, and MediaZone‘s ‘Most Valuable Companies in Hong Kong‘ Award, 2016. She’s in the process of setting up online wellness magazine Well.
Ambassador Will Pullen is a BACP psychotherapistspecializing in helping adults and young people overcome depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, substance abuse and other issues to transform their lives using his pioneering method, Dynamic Running Therapy.
Will began running about 10 years ago after suffering a personal crisis as an emotional release and a way of addressing his own mental health issues, particularly depression. It was this experience that led him to train as a psychotherapist and write the self-help book Run for Your Life, which was published by Penguin in 2017. The book offers a series of simple mental routines that unleash the meditative, restorative powers of running.
Despite being a passionate advocate for running to combat depression, anxiety, addiction and other mental health issues, Will is the first to admit that he’s not very good at it. But while we probably won’t see him competing at the Olympics any time soon, Will is confident his Dynamic Running Therapyis worthy of an Olympic Gold. Will is our first Fitness Ambassador.
Mental Advisor Dr. Barry ConnellMBBS (London) M Soc Sci MRCPsych FHKCPsych FHKAM (Psychiatry) first arrived in Hong Kong in 1989 when he was working as a military psychiatrist for the British Army. He left the army for a private practice in the summer of 1990, treating Hong Kong’s wealthy circles and business entrepreneurs for the next 11 years. He then decided to take a career break and left Hong Kong for Europe to pursue different interests, appearing as an expert on Channel 4 in the UK and training as a chef in Paris.
Eleven years later, he returned to Hong Kong, and the medical field, treating patients at the Central Health Medical Practice. As an expert, Barry’s not shied away from controversial topics like Why Psychopaths Make Good Business Leaders. He’s a regular talking head within the Hong Kong and international media and a guest on creative director Sadie Kaye’s RTHKdocumentaries Bipolar Express & As Bad As It Gets.
Barry has been active in mental health charities throughout his career, sitting on boards and offering medical advice to Mindand the Black Dog Institute, as well as to Mental Ideas.
Mental Advisor Dr. Sharmeen ShroffPsy.D. MA (USA) MSc BSc (UK) has worked in the field of psychology for over 12 years. As a clinical psychologist, Sharmeen utilizes a combination of directive and non-directive therapy techniques, giving clients the skills they need to improve their lifestyle while allowing them space for their own growth and development. Sharmeen works with individual adults in therapy.