After graduating from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2002, with degrees in FILM/VIDEO PRODUCTION and MEDIA AND PERFORMING ARTS, Ward moved to NYC to dive head first into the production resurgence triggered by the New York City and State Film / Video tax incentive legislation. From 2003 to 2010 Mandy worked at Radioaktivefilm, producing independent documentaries addressing social and political issues in modern society. Notable titles from her time at Radioaktive include the documentaries We Will Not Die Like Dogs, Palestine Blues and Pennhurst. While managing Radioaktivefilm’s New York City arm, she was also heavily involved in the cult horror classic HATCHET. While navigating New York City’s independent film waters, Mandy saw a need for a centralized and intimate event catering to up and coming feature film and documentary talent to gain more exposure in the worldwide marketplace.
In 2012, she conceived and launched First Time Fest, a 5-day showcase of original inspiring works by First Time Directors, Producers, Cinematographers, Editors, Screenwriters and Film Composers. The film festival located in New York’s Gramercy Park features 9 Competition Films, a First Exposure series of already prominent directors’ first works and a How They Did It Series in an intimate setting. Most notable, First Time Fest is a “contest” disguised as a film festival offering the winning competition film a prize of Theatrical Distribution and International Sales Representation. In the first year alone the festival hosted names such as Martin Scorsese, Sofia Coppola, Darren Aronofsky, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Harry Belafonte, Todd Solondz, Christine Vachon, and many more. Mandy continues to oversee festival operations with her business partner Johanna Bennett (Tony Bennett’s Daughter.) When she isn’t navigating the demands of First Time Fest, Mandy works in various capacities on the physical production of feature films, scripted television series, reality and recreational tv series as well as documentaries, commercials and corporate promos. In between the festival and her production gigs she works tirelessly finding and developing intellectual materials in the feature film, documentary and tv spaces. Mandy lives in New York City and, after a long run on the Emmy Award winning recreational crime show A CRIME TO REMEMBER, she is currently producing First Time Fest for its fourth year.