The Filmmakers

Suzanne Jurva

Suzanne Jurva has been involved in all forms of storytelling, from Tom Hanks’ large screen IMAX film Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon to producing and developing for the smallest media, the mobile phone, as co-founder of Starcut, content media aggregator for Nokia Mobile Phone. In between the two extremes of media and technology, Suzanne worked as a feature film development executive for DreamWorks-SKG creating and heading the research department while working on: Saving Private Ryan, Amistad, Minority Report, AI, The Lost World, Gladiator, Prince of Egypt, The Peacemaker, Deep Impact, Men in Black, The Lookout and Lincoln. She is currently working on Prospectors (The Weather Channel), Buzz Heard ‘Round the World: How the Inventor of Operation Got His Funny Bone Back (feature documentary film), and in development on several feature film projects.

Suzanne has won many film and television awards for producing/directing/writing and has been a part of over 50 film festivals. She, with Erin Smith was Finlandia Foundation National Lecturer of the Year 2014 screening Yoopera!, to organizations around the US. She has been part of TEDX Atlanta and her films The Fabulous Ice Age (documentary feature) and Changing Keys: Billy McLaughlin & the Mysteries of Dystonia (documentary feature) won many awards touring the festival circuit. Changing Keys aired on 75% of the PBS network (EPS) and was part of pledge drive in many markets. Her work has been seen on NBC News, PBS, MTV, FOX, BBC, Showtime and at The Library of Congress. One of 50 civilians chosen from leadership positions through the US, Suzanne was a member of the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference 61. She was elected as one of the Outstanding Young Alumni and inducted in the Academy of Arts and Sciences at Michigan Technological University.

Erin Smith

Producer/Editor, Yoopera!

Erin Smith is Director of Humanities Digital Media and Principal Lecturer in Digital Media and Cinema at Michigan Technological University. Smith holds a PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin with specialties in narrative and film. She has worked with Michigan Tech students on community-based documentaries for the past decade and also serves as advisor to Cin/Optic Media and Communication Enterprise at Michigan Tech, whose student members have been central to the production of Yoopera! As both a digital media scholar and practitioner, Smith has helped commercial and academic institutions adapt to changing production technologies and contexts for over 20 years. Although she’s of Irish descent and from Minnesota, her love of Lake Superior, lake-effect snow, and the extraordinary creative spirit of the Keweenaw has made her a Yooper at heart and a proud participant in the making of Yoopera! 

Icaro Van Goes


Icaro Van Goes is an award-winning cameraman based in Nashville, Tennessee. The scope of his work encompasses a variety of settings from studio and fieldwork, to commercials, concerts and professional sports. Icaro’s professional career began while located in Washington, D.C. where he worked in several studios as a freelance camera operator including Atlantic Video where he worked for shows such as Cold Pizza, PTI, and Around the Horn.

Since becoming a free lance camera operator in 2010 Icaro’s cliental represent a variety of interests including NHK Japanese television, Hyundai Hope on Wheels Campaign, NASCAR, Sports Illustrated, Maxim Magazine, NBC Sports, Inside Edition, and Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana. As Director of Photography on Jack’s Last Fandango, a 24 Hour film project in New Orleans, Icaro was awarded with Best Cinematographer and the film also won Best Picture and Best Director. Currently, Icaro is founder and a director of photography for Illusion Frame, a partnership between several directors of photography that provide freelance work for broadcast television and film throughout the United States with partnerships in Washington, D.C., New York, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Nashville.

Justin Jones

Assistant Producer/Videographer

Justin Jones has had the opportunity to assist in the production of “Yoopera!” as a student in the Cin/Optic Communication and Media Enterprise at Michigan Tech since the summer of 2010. Justin is interested in film and media, and has gained much experience in documentary filmmaking throughout his work on this project. A recent graduate with a BA in Communication, Culture and Media, he is excited to see this project through to its premiere. In Spring of 2012 he and fellow student Andrew Benda had a short film entitled “Ouroboros” finalize at the Vail Film Festival in Colorado. Justin is also a videographer and editor for the Michigan Tech Mind Trekkers and a graphic designer for University Marketing and Communications. Justin is headed to DePaul University to work on his MFA in film.

Christopher Plummer

Christopher Plummer

Christopher Plummer developed the sound degrees at Michigan Technological University and has experience in theatre & film sound design, recording, live sound reinforcement, and sound system consulting. His professional activity includes adapting, directing, and composing music for Shakespeare’s Henry V, designing sound for the New York City premiere of Cherylene Lee’s The Legacy Codes, recording The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and one-off live sound mixing for Ravi Shankar.

Maija Ehlinger

Production Assistant Maija Ehlinger is excited to join the “Yoopera!” community, not only because the film is about her Finnish immigrant heritage, but also because it is a project that combines three of her greatest passions – history, film and music.  A junior at Emory University in Atlanta, Maija is currently working on her history honors thesis on immigrant health in hopes of pursing a career that combines her interests in film/media and public health.  When she is not busy with school, she spends her free time writing in just about every genre under the sun, from op-eds on international affairs to poetry.

Raising Voices, Mining History