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If you’re searching for exuberance & excellence — learned over many years of

experience in movies & music — we look forward to working with you.

Pamela Conn
Academy Award Winner

Clifton Chippewa
Emmy Award Nominee

A film production company bringing fresh perspectives to projects of merit —

projects that expand the mind and uplift the spirit.


Joe… Coming Home, A Documentary Film

Crooked Tree, A Feature Film


People and organizations we’ve worked with through the years include:

Hugh Jackman, Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Rosemary Clooney, Rebecca DeMornay, Rosario Dawson, Benicio Del Toro, Gena Rowlands, Neil Diamond, Lee Iococca, Bob Hope, Martha Reeves, Willie Jones, Mackenzie Conn, Joseph Abboud, Police Chief Bill Bratton……The National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum—Chicago, State of Michigan, City of Detroit, University of Michigan, University of Michigan Medical School, Michigan Bar Association, United Way, University of Massachusetts Boston, McCormack Institute, Wayne State University, Providence Hospital-El Paso, State University New York (SUNY), Michigan Council for the Arts, Detroit Public Television, National Geographic, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Smuckers, Orange Crush, State of Massachusetts, multiple Presidential Campaigns, JoAnn Fabrics, Ron Asheton Foundation, Altra Communications, Role Of Honor Foundation.


Young At Heart, Academy Award-Winning Documentary Short Subject,
Produced and Directed by Pamela Conn

Awards List

Academy Award — Young At Heart, Best Documentary Short Subject
Emmy Nomination — Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story
Emmys, Regional (multiple); CINE Golden Eagle’s; ITVA Golden Cassette; ITVA Blue Ribbons; American Film and Video Association Blue Ribbon; CINDYs (multiple); Silver Screen Award: U.S. Industrial Film Festival; Bronze Medal: International Film & Television Festival of New York; Silver Medal/Award for Exceptional Achievement — CASE (Council for the Advancement and Support of Education), Creative Excellence Award: U.S. Industrial Film Festival, and more.

Invitational Screenings List

New York Film Festival
Telluride Film Festival
Leningrad Film Festival
Museum of Modern Art (New York)
Melbourne Film Festival
Women in the Director’s Chair Film Festival
and more.


Clifton Chippewa and Pamela Conn have been friends for 15 years and have always hoped for an opportunity to work together. Their personal and professional paths merged in 2012 and The Courage Within was born. Their mutual desire to create projects that both brighten and enlighten makes them perfectly suited to work together… and they plan on doing just that—with joy—for years to come.

Pamela Conn
Academy Award Winner

Pamela Conn is an Academy Award-winning Documentary Filmmaker who has produced and directed films since 1984 which have won awards in virtually all major film competitions and festivals. Pam is also an author, composer and playwright, with major projects in development.

Pam began her professional career as a journalist.  At 24, she was a columnist with a by-line in the Detroit News, covering politics and entertainment. She has worked in several Presidential campaigns producing commercials and events, and is also a V.O. announcer and vintage jazz vocalist.  Pam co-owned a jingle company with a national client list.

Currently, she writes, produces, directs, composes music, does voice-over work, and consults for a wide range of clients, including: The University of Michigan; Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in Montana; The National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago; Ron Asheton Foundation; Altra Communications in Washington DC; Roll of Honor—Honoring the Men and Women of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Pam is owner of Pamela Conn Productions, co-owner of The Courage Within, co-owner of Prairie Pictures Inc.,  co-founding director of OneArts, Inc., a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit corporation devoted to uniting the world through the arts OneArts and owner of Winter Trees Music publishing company.

Clifton Chippewa
Emmy Award Nominee

Clifton Chippewa is an Emmy-nominated Hair Stylist with 28 feature film credits to his name. He has worked with: Hugh Jackman, Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Rebecca DeMornay, Rosario Dawson and Benicio Del Toro, and others.  He is  owner of Chippewa Productions and owner of the high-end War Paint Salon in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Clifton is also co-owner of the film production company, The Courage Within, in collaboration with Academy Award-winning producer, Pamela Conn.

Clifton is from the Saginaw-Chippewa tribe and has a deep personal understanding of the human condition based on life experience.  His sensitivity translates into people skills which are particularly treasured in the world of filmmaking.

Clifton is a graduate of the Recording Institute of Detroit, where he became an accredited Recording Engineer.  To add spice to his life, he studied and performed operatic vocals, working under the renown instructor, Eugene Bossart, a friend and contemporary of Aaron Copeland. In 2002, he decided to move into the world of Feature films.  Before long, he garnered an EMMY Nomination for Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. He has been a stylist on 28 films and has risen to Department Head. Whatever he sets his mind to, Clifton accomplishes.

Film Credits include: Grand Torino; Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story; Real Steel; Eight Mile; A Very Harold & Kumar 3-D Christmas; The Ides of March; Flipped; Red Dawn; AKA Jimmy Picard. Parts Per Billion.    See IMDB.


JOE… Coming Home

A Documentary Film

Coming Home
~Joe Fornelli

Joe Fornelli grew up on the rough streets of Chicago. He lived on the fringes of society in the projects, finding his own way, developing modes of survival as he went along. Yet, over a lifetime—in defiance of his hard youth followed by his Army service in Vietnam and Post-Traumatic Stress—he has left an indelible mark on the world by creating works of powerful beauty, most notably in the form of unforgettable art and an unforgettable museum. His most iconic works of art are Dressed to Kill, sculpted in the field of war from the materials of war, and Above & Beyond, a stunning memorial made up of more than 58,000 dog tags inscribed with the names of all those who died in the Vietnam War. The museum he co-founded, The National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum, became a critically acclaimed life-changing experience for all who wandered it’s halls.

The act of creating beauty from pain is at the core of our film about Joe Fornelli. His ability to transform darkness into light holds lessons for us all.

How can someone take sadness, loneliness and war weariness and from these fashion works of art that please the eye and soothe the soul? This is what we will learn by entering into the world of Joseph Fornelli, 501st Aviation Battalion, 71st Assault Company, Chicago street kid, museum founder, artist and lover of nature. Joe Fornelli was a lost little boy who somehow found within himself the strength to conquer all that life would throw at him and emerge victorious. And his pain has become our balm.

Dressed To Kill
~Joe Fornelli

We all seek to find our internal Home. A place where we know with certainty that we belong, that we fit perfectly, like an unforced puzzle piece in a grand universal picture beyond our understanding.

Joe Fornelli found his true home by leaving behind everything he came from. By losing himself in art and nature. By trusting in the unknown. And through his coming home, we are all helped along the path in our own search for Home.

We find sure signposts for that journey in Joe… Coming Home.


Crooked Tree

A Feature Film

The New York Times bestseller, Crooked Tree is currently being developed into a major motion picture by Lake Effect (LFX) Cinema and The Courage Within (TCW).

In Michigan’s Crooked Tree State Forest, normally docile bears suddenly begin attacking people — with no provocation and with gruesome ferocity. The local Ottawa Indians begin speaking of a malevolent intelligence controlling the bears.  It’s the Bearwalk, according to Ottawa lore reaching back before the coming of the Europeans.  Small town lawyer, Axel Michelson, is horrified to find that his wife, a descendant of Ottawa chiefs, is possessed by the same evil that possesses the bears.  To save his life and her soul, Axel must learn the old ways and defeat the evil on its own terms.

Praise for the book:

The New York Times said Crooked Tree is “An intense, meticulously researched thriller that handles Native American beliefs with both suspense and dignity.”

Entertainment Tonight said Crooked Tree is “Jaws meets The Exorcist.”

The Detroit Free Press said, quite simply, “Crooked Tree is flat out terrific.”

The Denver Post called Crooked Tree “One of the rare books that uses Indian lore with intelligence and respect.”