Founder Michael Patrei

Michael Patrei

Mike 1Michael Patrei was raised by a barrel of squirrel monkeys in the Ilion Gorge and is the founder of The Guild of Thespian Puppets. He designs and creates all of The Guild’s original puppets. Besides being a puppet maker, Michael is also a puppeteer, a writer of puppet scripts, and a filmmaker of puppet movies and videos.

Michael is a professional independent filmmaker who lives in Central New York and has become deeply involved in his community while remaining connected to the national and global community.

Michael’s film, “BALLOU: a documentary film” is a 90-minute feature length documentary about the struggles and triumphs of an inner city high school marching band from Washington, DC and features interviews with Colin Powell and Jesse Jackson. BALLOU has received national attention with its television premiere on the BET Network, a screening at the White House for First Lady Laura Bush, and featured stories on Good Morning America, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and ABC World News Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post called it a “lively and affecting documentary.”

Michael has completed  the short films “The Guild of Thespian Puppets Save Christmas” and “Amiko Blue and the Treasure of Atlantis.” He has also directed a feature length film, “Falling Frames” along with several short documentary films for Cinelan’s 3-Minute Stories series: “Haunted Beardslee Castle,” “Super Fertile Derby Girl,” “The Brass Ring,” and “DEMON Biker Chihuahua,” which can all be seen on

Michael was one of the founders of the UNSPOKEN Human Rights Film Festival in Utica, NY and served as festival director for 4 years. He also served on the Board of Directors for the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees. In his spare time Michael is the lead singer of the Tom Waits tribute band The Swordfish Trombones. He also really really really really likes donuts and peanut butter cups!

Mike Patrei and Hamlet