Leadership Team


The Board of Directors


Luke Castle – President

Luke Castle is a Detroit native, graduate of Full Sail University with a degree in film. Luke was an influential member of the Detroit Windsor International Film Festival in (2009-2013) as the community volunteer manager. Luke’s passions for the modern creative arts, adventure travel, and filmmaking bring him to the Royal Starr Film Festival as a coveted member of the leadership board of directors and one of it's orginal founders.


Nicole Estep - Vice President

Nicole Estep is the newest member to the Board and with her passion for business and people has become the Vice President for the Arts Institute. She is also the Director of Sales for the Hyatt Place Detroit Royal Oak. Along with the Arts Institute and Hyatt Place, she is also Co Chair President for the Royal Oak Ambitious Leaders which is apart of the Royal Oak Chamber of Commmerce.This group is to help young professionals get connected and learn more about being an young professional in a dynamic new technology focused world. She has 10 years experience connecting with people and in the business community through her Director of Sales Role. She also has a passion for the Michigan Film Industry and the exciting things that the Arts Institute has to offer its community.


Gene Meadows

Gene Meadows is an architectural and fine art photographer. After attending the College for Creative Studies he founded Meadows & Co. Photography. Gene’s work has been displayed in private collections and museums, including exhibitions at The Detroit Institute of Arts and the Toledo Museum of Art. His images have appeared in Architectural Record, House Beautiful, and several other publications. Gene’s creative talents extend beyond photography, proving invaluable in his role as a member of the Royal Oak Commission for the Arts. Gene is also a co-founder of the Royal Starr Film Festival.


Billy Whitehouse – Treasurer/Secretary

Billy Whitehouse is a real estate broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Hannett, Wilson, Whitehouse & Burke REALTORS. He is also the creator of the Michigan Entertainment Network as well as a founding member of the Detroit Windsor International Film Festival. He is inspired by and inspiring to empower the Creative Class to reinvent the Detroit region as a thriving commercial and creative powerhouse. Billy has his Bachelor of Science from Michigan State University. As a super connector and transformational coach , he is a leader that creates leaders and a stand for a World that works for everyone.


Matt Liston - Chairman

Matt Liston is a financial advisor at Michigan Financial Companies. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Science and Engineering degree in Industrial and Operations Engineering. Along with Royal Starr, Matt is also a board member of the Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce, where he heads The Alpha Group, a networking group dedicated to helping first year Chamber members during the challenging time of starting a business. Matt’s passion for film and for the Royal Oak community makes him a valuable member of the Royal Starr Film Festival.


Roy Sexton

Roy Sexton is responsible for leading Clark Hill Law's marketing, communications, and strategic planning efforts as their Director of Marketing. He has nearly 20 years of experience in marketing, communications, business development, and strategic planning. He has been involved in the Legal Marketing Association as a board member, content expert, and presenter. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Wabash College, and holds an MA in theatre from The Ohio State University and an MBA from the University of Michigan. He is a graduate of Leadership Detroit and Leadership A2Y. He currently sits on the boards of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Ann Arbor, Royal Starr Film Festival, Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, and encoremichigan.com. He is a published author with two books Reel Roy Reviews, 1 & 2. He has been an active performer across professional and community theatres in Southeast Michigan, and BroadwayWorld awarded him 2017 Best Actor in a Musical.


Advisors to the Board of Directors

Ellen Finn




Corey Milton

Director of Community Outreach


Mirna Aziz

Director of Film Selection



Volunteer of things…


Brandon Kollar

Director of Volunteer Outreach


Nathan Warnick

Director of Technology & Research


Founding Members


Larry Kantor – Gene Meadows – Billy Whitehouse – Luke Castle – Shane Sevo – Charlie Haviland