THE AFM SESSIONS
The AFM Sessions will be held at the Hilton Santa Monica Hotel & Suites
Once again, The AFM Sessions will present four full days of programming exploring today’s global industry and where we are headed. Forecasts for the future, marketplace intelligence, advice on how to best navigate our industry, and conversations on the most current topics and technologies across Financing, Production, Distribution, Streaming, FAST, AI, Sustainability, Diversity, and more will be shared through the lens of 100+ Speakers from all facets of the business.
THE AFM SESSIONS
The Finance Conference – Session I
Jill GoldsmithCo-Business Editor, Deadline
Jill joined Deadline in 2019 after working as a New York-based contributor. She follows corporate finance, deals and publicly traded companies in media and entertainment, film financing, and New York film and TV production.
Joe SimpsonFounder & Managing Partner, Ashland Hill Media Finance
Joe Simpson is Founder and Managing Partner at Ashland Hill Media Finance, the UK and US-based entertainment financing company he runs alongside fellow film financiers and producers, Simon Williams and Jonathan Bross. Since its 2022 launch, Ashland Hill Media Finance has invested more than $140M across 22 deals, including Rupert Sanders’ The Crow, starring Bill Skarskård and FKA twigs, Philip Noyce’s action-thriller Fast Charlie, starring Pierce Brosnan and James Caan, and Jesse V. Johnson’s action pic Chief of Station starring Aaron Eckhart. Simpson is also Co-Founder and Partner of Palisades Park Pictures, a global entertainment company led by CEO Tamara Birkemoe.
Prior to Ashland Hill Media Finance, he founded and managed the U.K. based film investment firm, J Cubed Film Finance, which executed 30+ film deals with total production budgets exceeding $300M. As COO of production and finance company Miscellaneous Entertainment, he executive produced the action-thrillers, Terminal starring Margot Robbie, and Killing Gunther featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger, among others. Previously, he worked at Columbia Tri-Star (now Sony Pictures) and MGM Home Entertainment Europe.
Simpson also previously served as Vice Chairman of film industry-sponsored UK charity “Film Education” which involved the promotion of film as a support tool for learning across the national educational community and within the UK government.
Laura LewisCEO & Founder, Rebelle Media
Laura is the CEO and Founder of Rebelle Media. Laura has over twenty years of experience in film and television development, production, strategy, sales and financing. She produced Mr. Malcolm’s List for Bleecker Street Media and Universal Pictures and is an Executive Producer on Hulu’s hit television series Tell Me Lies, which is about to start production on its second season. Previous credits include Producer on Sony Pictures’ Long Weekend, Executive Producer on An Acceptable Loss starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Tika Sumpter, Co-Executive Producer on All About Nina, written and directed by Eva Vives, and Little Woods, written and directed by Nia DaCosta.
Prior to launching Rebelle, as a film finance and sales agent at Creative Artists Agency, Laura packaged and sold films such as On the Basis of Sex, The Wife, Jackie, Dallas Buyers Club, The Imitation Game, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Maggie’s Plan, Begin Again, Mud, Bachelorette, Sleeping with other People, and Still Alice, amongst many others. Her focus has always been on finding ways to push against the “no” and getting stories, across all genres, about women and other marginalized voices made and seen.
Prior to CAA, she consulted with financiers on slate and individual picture film financing and worked as a development and production executive at Twentieth Century Fox and Edward Saxon Productions on films ranging from Away We Go to What Happens in Vegas.
Laura has a Bachelor of Arts from Duke University and a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School. She is a proud member of the Executive Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, BAFTA, the Television Academy, the Producers Union and the Producers Guild of America. She also mentors and volunteers for Sundance and Women in Film. Laura runs marathons, loves Duke basketball, musical theater, exploring the world, can occasionally be found lost in her imagination at Disneyland, and is the loving mother of Gus, her willful Yorkie.
Milan PopelkaCOO, FilmNation
Milan Popelka is the Chief Operating Officer at leading independent entertainment company FilmNation Entertainment. Popelka’s responsibilities include overseeing all day-to-day operations, strategic planning/business development, and finance for the company, and extending across film, television, theater, and podcasting. FilmNation’s films have grossed over $3.4B worldwide at the box office, while garnering a highly prized ‘EGOT’ across its various businesses: an Emmy win for its first TV series, 2 Grammys for its first Broadway musical, 50 Oscar nominations (including 5 for Best Picture) and 9 wins, and 17 Tony Award nominations and 10 wins.
Popelka served as Executive Producer on Denis Villeneuve’s science-fiction epic Arrival, Emerald Fennell’s Oscar-winning Promising Young Woman, and WWII epic Greyhound starring Tom Hanks, among many others, as well as on the award winning podcast SNAFU with Ed Helms. He is a member of both the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
Tim WhiteCo-CEO / Founder, Star Thrower Entertainment
Tim White, alongside his brother Trevor, is an academy award nominated producer and a founder and co-CEO of Star Thrower Entertainment.
Star Thrower most recently produced Brian Duffield’s anticipated sci-fi thriller No One Will Save You starring Kaitlyn Dever for 20th Century Studios, Hulu and Disney+, and Chloe Domont’s Fair Play starring Phoebe Dynevor and Alden Ehrenreich with MRC and T-Street. Fair Play made its world premiere at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival where it was acquired by Netflix.
Prior Star Thrower films include King Richard for Warner Bros.’ for which Will Smith won an Oscar® for Best Actor. The film received five other Oscar® nominations including Best Picture.
Star Thrower has also produced Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award® nominated The Post with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep; Matt Spicer’s Ingrid Goes West with Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen, Taylor Sheridan’s Wind River with Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen; Michael Dowse’s 8 BIT Christmas and Villains with Bill Skarsgård and Maika Monroe.
The Future of Independent Film
In an ever-changing and challenging global marketplace, independents are constantly evolving to push past barriers and get diverse stories made and out to worldwide audiences. Leading executives, financiers and producers talk about the state of the industry now, developing new business models, strategies and partnerships, and how they and their companies are working to shape the future of independent film.
Jill Goldsmith, Co-Business Editor, Deadline
Laura Lewis, CEO & Founder, Rebelle Media
Milan Popelka, COO, FilmNation
Joe Simpson, Managing Partner, Ashland Hill Media Finance
Tim White, Co-CEO / Founder, Star Thrower Entertainment
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Brazil’s Return to the Big Scene: Film Incentives for Local and Foreign Productions, Perspectives on the Brazilian Film Industry and Regulatory Frameworks
Daniel CelliRio Film Commission
Daniel Celli has been in the audiovisual sector for 17 years, having worked for 10 years in international film festivals and in the planning of international co-production events. In recent years he has been committed to public management, creating actions within public policies that stimulate the audiovisual market. These include the creation of the São Paulo Film Commission, a department that acts as a facilitating agent with the mission of attracting and supporting audiovisual productions in the city of São Paulo. It raised São Paulo to the second most filmed city in Latin America.
Fabio CesnikVice President, Brazil California Chamber of Commerce
Fabio Cesnik holds a BA in Law and Legal Sciences, with licenses both in Brazil and Portugal. He is vice-president of Institutional Relations at the Brazil California Chamber of Commerce (BCCC). A specialist in culture, media and entertainment, he is ex-chairman of IASP’s Media and Entertainment and a member of Sao Paulo BAR’s Rights to the Arts Commission. He is also an author and a member of the California BAR as a Foreign Legal Consultant.
Joelma GonzagaSecretary of Audiovisual of the Ministry of Culture of Brazil
She studied arts, focusing on cinema and audiovisual, and has built a solid career as an executive and creative producer, with award-winning films shown at Cannes, Locarno, and Rio Festivals. She has worked as an executive manager in audiovisual projects at various companies, leading teams from the initial stage to the completion of productions.
Founding partner of Urca Filmes, with more than 25 years of experience as a producer and director, Leonardo has a vast portfolio in the creation, production, and direction of series and films. He holds relevant roles in the audiovisual industry, being president of the Interstate Audiovisual Industry Union – SICAV, member of the Superior Cinema Council, vice-president of the Federation of Industries of the State of Rio de Janeiro (Firjan), judge at the International Emmy and representative of Brazil at FIPCA.
Luiz ToledoDirector of Investments and Strategic Partnerships, SPCine
Luiz Toledo has a solid background in the world of audiovisual innovation with extensive experience in cultivating industry connections across Latin America and Africa. As Director of Investments and Strategic Partnerships at Spcine he has driven pioneering initiatives such as the renowned Audiovisual Observatory and the first policy to attract international filming in Brazil.
Marcelo CaleroRio de Janeiro Culture Secretary
Marcelo Calero has a degree in Law and a master’s degree in Political Science. He is a career diplomat and a politician and worked as Minister of Culture in 2016.
Marcio TavaresDeputy Minister of Culture of Brazil
Historian, art curator, and cultural manager, his academic and professional trajectory is focused on researching art in Latin America, the materialization of memory, the audiovisual, museology, and cultural policies. He was the National Secretary of Culture of the Workers’ Party and Culture Coordinator of Lula’s 2022 presidential campaign.
Join us for an insightful panel session as we discuss the exciting developments in Brazil’s film and television sector following the election of President Lula da Silva. With investments exceeding 1 billion dollars by the Brazilian Federal government this year, the scenario is filled with opportunities for collaboration and growth.
Overview of Investments: Explore the expressive influx of funds from the Brazilian Federal government, exceeding 1 billion dollars, and understand how these investments are shaping the future of the country’s film and TV sector.
International Collaboration Opportunities: Discover the myriad international co-production agreements in place, fostering collaboration between Brazil and powerhouse countries. Learn how US independent producers can leverage these agreements to enter into lucrative deals with Brazilian counterparts.
Financing Strategies in Brazil: Uncover the various financing avenues available for film and TV productions in Brazil, including public funds designed to support audiovisual projects nationwide. Gain insights into tax incentives tailored for audiovisual production, and understand how these mechanisms contribute to a thriving industry.
Foreign Filmmaker Incentives: Dig into the specific production incentives designed to attract foreign filmmakers, with a focus on key cities like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Explore plans for nationwide implementation, signaling Brazil’s commitment to creating an inviting environment for international content creators.
International Co-Production Agreements: Take a closer look at Brazil’s extensive network of international co-production agreements, providing additional benefits for production houses. From Germany to India, these collaborations showcase Brazil’s dedication to fostering a globalized film and TV production landscape.
Don’t miss this opportunity to gain a comprehensive understanding of Brazil’s dynamic film and TV sector and explore the avenues for successful collaboration and growth. Join us for an engaging panel discussion that promises to be both informative and inspiring.
Fabio Cesnik, Vice President, Brazil California Chamber of Commerce
Daniel Celli, Rio Film Commission
Joelma Gonzaga, Secretary of Audiovisual of the Ministry of Culture of Brazil
Leonardo Edde, Firjan
Luiz Toledo, Director of Investments and Strategic Partnerships, SPCine
Marcelo Calero, Rio de Janeiro Culture Secretary
Marcio Tavares, Deputy Minister of Culture of Brazil
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The Finance Conference – Session II
Denielle JacksonTax Credit & Business Affairs Consultant, Above The Line Media Services
Denielle Jackson is a Tax Credit & Business Affairs Consultant at Above The Line Media Services, where she provides expert advice tailored to Canada’s film, television, and online sector. She also oversees funding application management to maximize profits and guarantee the highest quality content on screen.
With over a decade of experience in business affairs and producing roles, Denielle has acquired extensive knowledge in film and television tax credits, as well as the various financial and legal aspects associated with film, television, and online production and distribution. Denielle began her career at Front Street Pictures where she worked in senior business affairs roles on over 100 movies.
Denielle holds a Bachelor of Arts in Radio & Television Arts from Toronto Metropolitan University.
Jeaneane DaveyDirector, Production Tax Planning & Incentives, Netflix Studios
Jeaneane Davey is Director, Production Tax Planning & Incentives, for Netflix Studios. Jeaneane oversees all production-related tax and incentive matters across several of Netflix’s content teams and Studio-wide initiatives, including Live-Action Film, Virtual Production/VFX, and Animation.
Jeaneane began her career in general tax compliance and consulting at PwC in 2009, where many of her clients were in Entertainment & Media. After accepting a position in the Corporate Tax department of Fox Entertainment Group in 2013, Jeaneane soon joined Fox’s Production Tax Planning & Incentives team, and advised on all production-related tax and incentive matters for Fox’s Feature Film, Television, and Sports divisions until leaving for Netflix in 2016.
Jeaneane holds a Master of Accounting from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is a licensed CPA (inactive) in the state of California.
Patrick RizzottiCo-Founder & President, Blue Fox Financing
Patrick Rizzotti has successfully secured $100MM+ in financing spanning over 20+ feature films. Rizzotti runs the film and television lending marketplace, Blue Fox Financing. Blue Fox Financing is the first transactional digital platform to streamline and expedite film financing opportunities for the entertainment industry, connecting borrowers with the largest database of film and television lenders and gap financiers.
In addition to running Blue Fox Financing, Rizzotti has also produced major internationally successful films including the critically acclaimed “Pride” (Lionsgate), starring Academy Award Nominee Terrence Howard (Empire, Iron man), “The Collector”, co-written and directed by Marcus Dunstan (The Saw Franchise), which spawned a two sequels called “The Collection” and “The Collected”, “The Super”, a psychological thriller starring Val Kilmer (Top Gun, The Doors) financed by legendary television producer Dick Wolf, “The Free Fall” starring Andrea Lando (NARCOS) and Shawn Ashmore (X-Men Days of Future Past, The Boys), “Maximum Truth” Starring Ike Barinholtz (Central Intelligence, Blockers), Dylan O’Brien (Maze Runner, Teen Wolf) Financed by Edward H. Hamm Jr (Get Out, Blackkklansman), “Tiger Mom” starring Ken Jeong (Hangover, Community) and “Bunker”, financed by Blue Fox Entertainment and directed by Adrian Langley (Butchers).
Ryan BroussardVP of Sales and Production Incentives, Wrapbook
Ryan Broussard, Wrapbook’s VP of Sales and Production Incentives, has worked with productions of all sizes—from the largest studio features to the smallest independent projects—to help them optimize their production-incentive strategies and make the most of their budgets.
Broussard’s career in production payroll began sixteen years ago. In that time, he’s worked at payroll companies like Entertainment Partners, where he served as Senior Account Specialist; CAPS, where he served as Tax Incentive Manager; and Media Services, where he served as Vice President of Sales and Production Incentives. He has worked on production incentives from nearly every possible angle, developing innovative reporting measures to facilitate faster audits, advising countless productions on state tax incentives, and even helping some states and local jurisdictions design their incentive programs.
Broussard combines his industry-leading expertise with an emphasis on client service. He has helped clients budget their projects to ensure production incentives are applied correctly, and he has worked directly with clients’ financial institutions to help productions secure financing using incentives. He maintains active relationships with every major film office.
As a well-regarded industry expert, Broussard has hosted numerous online tutorials, webinars, and educational videos, and he has served as both guest and host numerous panels and events for leading industry festivals like SXSW, AFM, NPACT, and more.
Will FrenchHead of Film & Television, Fallbrook
Will French is one of the most prominent tax credit finance specialists in the film industry. He was among the first brokers and financiers of film tax credits in the nation, beginning in 2003 with the first-of-its-kind Louisiana transferable tax credit program. Through his network of operating companies, Mr. French has personally traded or financed more than $500MM of state film credits for more than 250 projects. From 2014-2017, Mr. French served as Managing Director of State Tax Credits for Enhanced Capital, a diversified, national asset manager specializing in complex credits. In 2018, he joined a small start-up called The Forest Road Company, which he helped grow into the largest non-bank financier of tax credits in the United States and which ultimately purchased the market-leading Three Point Capital. In 2021, Mr. French left Forest Road and joined Fallbrook Financial Services, the largest trader of state tax credits in the country, where he leads the company’s film finance, tax credit administration, and tax credit consulting practices.
A graduate of Purdue University, Mr. French received his J.D. degree from Tulane University School of Law in 1998.
Film Funding Today: The Benefits & Limitations of Global Tax Incentives
Will French, Head of Film & Television, Fallbrook
Ryan Broussard, VP of Sales & Production Incentives, Wrapbook
Jeaneane Davey, Director of Production Tax Planning & Incentives, Netflix
Patrick Rizzotti, Co-Founder & President, Blue Fox Financing
Denielle Jackson, Tax Credit & Business Affairs Consultant, Above The Line Media Services
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Six Imperatives for Rendering Black Lives in Media
Ivan J. Juzang Founder and President of MEE (Motivational Educational Entertainment) Productions Inc.Ivan J. JuzangFounder and President of MEE (Motivational Educational Entertainment) Productions Inc.
Ivan J. Juzang, Founder and President of MEE (Motivational Educational Entertainment) Productions Inc., has more than three decades of first-hand experience running a behavioral health communications business he founded during his final year at The Wharton Graduate School of Business. Juzang has used market research, culturally-relevant media and community engagement to address health disparities and mental health issues affecting low-income, underserved and devalued communities across the country and around the globe. He conducts qualitative audience research that provides an “insider’s view” of the challenging daily realities of urban living, and combines it with creative, “outside-the-box” media production and grassroots community mobilization strategies. His work speaks to and incorporates the oral tradition (oral communications culture) to shift attitudes and influence behaviors.
For more than 30 years, Juzang and MEE have been profiling the trendsetting culture of low-income Black youth and the ways that stereotypical mass-media images negatively impact an already-traumatized and marginalized Black community. MEE first gained national prominence in 1992, with the release of its primary research study, “The MEE Report: Reaching the Hip-Hop Generation.” Funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the report focused on the previously unexplored cultural and communications dynamics of urban teens. MEE’s 2004 youth sexuality study, “This is My Reality-The Price of Sex: An Inside Look at Black Urban Youth Sexuality and the Role of Media,” also received national media attention because it added young people’s voices to the dialogue about sex in America’s inner cities. MEE’s 2010 study, “Moving Beyond Survival Mode: Promoting Mental Wellness and Resiliency as a Way to Cope with Urban Trauma” explored issues related to stress, trauma and promoting mental wellness in low-income African American communities. Juzang’ s legacy of insightful focus-group research includes, “The Inner-City Truth 3 Survey” (2013), “Tackling America’s Opioid Epidemic From the Ground Up” (2015) and “Heard, Not Judged: Insights Into the Talents and Realities and Needs of Young Men of Color” (2016).
Juzang received his BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University, and his MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. While MEE has primarily been focused on health disparities, Juzang has extensive private-sector experience with some of the biggest and most successful entertainment media brands and makers of Hollywood content. His market research on more than 60 movie/TV projects for Hollywood has validated MEE’s model across sectors and over time.
Kyle BowserSVP Hollywood Bureau, NAACP
Kyle Bowser serves as the Senior Vice President of the NAACP Hollywood Bureau. In this capacity, Mr. Bowser is responsible for advancing NAACP’s Hollywood projects, relationships, and overseeing NAACP’s Image Awards production.
For nearly three decades, Kyle Bowser has worked as an entertainment industry executive. His experience spans film, television, music, theater, radio, and digital media. This immersion within a vast sphere of media interests has provided Bowser with unique insight into the intersecting parameters of the arts, culture, business development, and emerging technologies.
Bowser’s career began in theater management and concert promotion. His involvement in television began with NBC Business Affairs in New York City. He later moved to Los Angeles to join Fox, Inc., where he developed television programming of multiple genres and creatively managed primetime fare aired on the Fox Broadcasting Company. Bowser next served as Director of Creative Affairs for HBO Independent Productions, where he developed new programs and creatively supervised content licensed to primetime broadcast carriers. Throughout Bowser’s storied career, his producing talents have been engaged by countless media companies, including NBC, Fox, HBO, Showtime, Starz, Comedy Central, Lifetime, Cooking Channel, PBS, iNDemand, Facebook, Warner Bros., Harper Collins, AEG, the NFL, and more.
A native of Philadelphia, PA, Kyle Bowser received his Bachelor of Science degree from Ohio University in Radio/Television Communications and earned his Juris Doctor degree from Widener University School of Law. He was admitted to the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bar Associations and supports the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association and the National Association of Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) – for whom he founded the annual Vision Awards and received its coveted Legacy Award.
Michael SwansonPresident and CEO, Faith Filmworks
Emmy Award winner Michael Swanson is a film and theatre producer. He is also a visionary entrepreneur and president and CEO of the Los Angeles based entertainment company, Faith Filmworks.
Throughout his distinguished career in entertainment, Michael has produced films to critical and audience acclaim including All About You starring Renée Elise Goldsberry, Terron Brooks and Debbie Allen; All About Us starring Boris Kodjoe, Ryan Michelle Bathé and Ruby Dee; For the Love of Ruth starring Denise Boutte and Loretta Devine; To Hell and Back starring Ernie Hudson and Vanessa Bell Calloway; The Wayman Tisdale Story starring Wayman Tisdale and Michael Jordan and Fannie starring Aunjanue Ellis.
On Broadway, Michael is involved with the Tony Award winning hit musical, Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations, the upcoming Hippest Trip – The Soul Train Musical and the first Broadway revival of Ntozake Shange’s groundbreaking choreopoem, for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf. This celebrated work garnered 7 Tony Award nominations, including Best Revival of a Play. Michael is currently developing and producing the Broadway and West End bound musical, I’ll Be There, about Motown’s Four Tops.
After attending Princeton Theological Seminary, Michael joined NBC’s “Must See TV” national primetime sales team in New York City that sold commercial space for top-rated NBC shows including Seinfeld, ER, Friends, Frasier and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. This sales team became the first in broadcast television to book over $2.2 billion in upfront advertising revenue.
Earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in Film, Television and Theatre from the University of Notre Dame; Michael was chosen by the Notre Dame Alumni Association as The Rev. Arthur S. Harvey Award recipient, acknowledging his achievements in the arts.
Michael serves on the board of directors for Wedgwood Circle, Notre Dame’s Performing Arts Advisory Council, Success Through Education Program, FEAST and is a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. A South Side of Chicago native, Michael resides in Los Angeles with his wife of 29 years, filmmaker and screenwriter Christine Swanson, and their four children.
Tiffany Yvonne CoxActress / Multi-hyphenate
Tiffany Yvonne Cox is a 1st generation Trinidadian actress, director, writer, and producer. She has been seen on regional stages such as Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, The Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Ojai Playwrights Festival and many more. She is currently playing Ruth in A RAISIN IN THE SUN at South Coast Repertory Theatre. Select TV credits include: Grey’s Anatomy; Dead To Me; Good Trouble, American Horror Story, and many more. She currently can be seen playing Autumn Owens on Hulu’s Reasonable Doubt which was renewed for Season 2. Tiffany is also one of the leads in Hallmark’s Mahogany film NAPA EVER AFTER. This film is the first Mahogany film to be placed on Hallmark’s home channel. Volunteering with CSH Speak Up! (where she supports those who have experienced homelessness in developing their story to share with legislation for more funding towards supportive housing) influenced her to direct and produce. Recent directing/producing credits include: Star Vehicle; Commune; Roadside Assistance; and the podcast play LaDonna’s Epiphany ft. Anna Maria Horsford. Tiffany started a grassroots group after joining SAG-AFTRA Leadership called MOVING THE DIAL to advocate for Black performers need for equity in Hair and Makeup on set. Since the inception of the group; the commercial contract added protections for people of color and those with textured hair. SAG-AFTRA has also joined forces to legislate for change with The Crown Act. And with the upcoming theatrical negotiations they are pushing for further protections in SAGAFTRA’s contract. Follow her work at www.tiffanyyvonnecox.com and her work in empathy and allyship at www.roadsideassistance.com.
Yvette Nicole BrownEmmy-nominated actress, writer, producer and host
Yvette Nicole Brown is an Emmy-nominated actress, writer, producer and host best known for her roles on the television shows: “Community”, “The Mayor”, “Drake and Josh”, “The Odd Couple”, “Big Shot” and “Act Your Age” and films including “Dreamgirls” “Tropic Thunder”, “Avengers: Endgame” and Disney’s “Disenchanted.” She is also a 2020 NAACP Image Award Nominated writer for “Always A Bridesmaid” — the Romantic Comedy she penned and Executive Produced that is streaming on Netflix and BET+. Yvette sits on the National Boards of Donors Choose (where she is Vice Chair), EMILY’s List and MPTF Next Gen and is also a caregiver and advocate.
The relationship between mass media and the Black community demonstrates the tremendous power of storytelling and how it conveys images and messages that conjure perceptions and beliefs that either help or harm. Intentional choices in the depiction of Black life in media have produced psycho-social dynamics that require attention and redress. In this session, the NAACP Hollywood Bureau will explore six imperatives for rendering Black lives in media. The panel will discuss various ways mass media storytelling can illuminate a path toward a healthy, discerning and authentically rendered society, wherein the Black experience is understood, appreciated and celebrated with equitable deference.
Kyle Bowser, Senior Vice President of NAACP Hollywood Bureau
Ivan Juzang, Founder and President of MEE Productions
Michael Swanson, CEO, Faith Filmworks
Tiffany Yvonne Cox, Actress / Multi-hyphenate
Yvette Nicole Brown, Emmy-nominated actress, writer, producer and host
presented in partnership with the NAACP Hollywood Bureau
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The Global Perspective: Breaking the Boundaries of Today’s Film Marketplace
Christian VesperCEO, Global Drama
Vesper’s role sees him build on Fremantle’s impressive portfolio of scripted drama, films and dailies throughout the world, with direct oversight of Fremantle’s founder-led scripted labels, including Miso Film (Face to Face, The Investigation), Wildside (My Brilliant Friend, Cannes Jury Prize winner Eight Mountains, L’Immensità), The Apartment (Venice winner Bones and All, Priscilla, We Are Who We Are and Academy-Award nominee The Hand of God), Euston Films (Wreck, Baghdad Central, The Sister) and Element Pictures (Academy Award winning film The Favourite, Normal People, Conversations With Friends).
He oversees Fremantle’s impressive roster of talent partnerships and deals, which includes Chernobyl director Johan Renck and Michael Paret’s newly launched production company Sinestra, Michael Winterbottom’s Revolution Films, Afua Hirsch’s Born In Me and The Creatives, Fremantle’s three-year partnership agreement with a creative alliance of nine leading independent production companies.
Christian joined Fremantle in 2016 as Executive Vice President and Creative Director, Global Drama, and was promoted in 2020 to President, Global Drama. He was previously drama chief at Sundance TV where he oversaw critically-acclaimed international productions including Jane Campion’s Top Of The Lake and Hugo Blick’s The Honourable Woman, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Deutschland 83.
Mark GooderCo-President, Cornerstone
Mark Gooder began his film career in Australia and New Zealand over 25 years ago. He established Icon Distribution in Sydney in 2000 for Academy-Award winning Producer/Director and Actor Mel Gibson and his producing partner Bruce Davey and re-located to Los Angeles in 2006 to oversee the Icon group of companies. In 2012 he became President of Acquisitions for The Weinstein Company. In 2015 he established the international sales company Cornerstone Films with business partner and former Focus Feature’s International President, Alison Thompson. The company is based in Santa Monica and London. Cornerstone works with Producers to help develop, finance, and sell films and episodic content to the domestic and international marketplace. German TV and Film Production company, X Filme are a minority shareholder in Cornerstone through their parent company Beta, one of the world’s leading international distributors of TV license rights. Cornerstone most recently became a shareholder in The Reset Collective, a new Australasian content distribution and production company based in Sydney. Mark is an Executive Producer on over 25 feature films including the recent 2022 Sundance and Berlin Film Festival sensation GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE from director Sophie Hyde starring Emma Thompson.
Steven GaydosSenior VP, Global Content & Executive Editor, Variety
Steven Gaydos is an entertainment journalist and the co-author of several books on the entertainment industry, including Movie Talk From The Front Lines and Cannes: 50 Years of Sun, Sex and Celluloid. He serves as Executive Editor and Vice President of Global Content for entertainment publication Variety. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Gaydos has written and coproduced several feature films, including Monte Hellman’s Venice Festival prize winner “Road to Nowhere” (2010) and Ate de Jong’s new Americana film musical, “Heart Strings,” which is set to premiere in Nashville at the Country Music Hall of Fame later this year.
Syrinthia StuderEVP, International Productions, Paramount Pictures
Syrinthia Studer is a global leader and content curator and producer with a unique expertise in both film and television across multiple platforms. Ms. Studer is known for conceptualizing and driving new and highly profitable business initiatives over a 20+ year career in entertainment. In 2022, Ms. Studer was tapped to conceptualize and lead Paramount Pictures’ new International Productions Unit, where she is responsible for content strategy, development and production of local language and micro-budget films, which includes originals and culturally-specific remakes sourced from Paramount Pictures’ vast film library.
As part of Studer’s tenure at Paramount Global, she served as EVP, Awesomeness and Nickelodeon Films, where she led all aspects of film development and production for the Kids and Family studio – producing three films during the pandemic. Across prior leadership roles at Paramount/Viacom, Ms. Studer has overseen the global content acquisition business, launched and managed ancillary-driven acquisitions, and managed the studio’s network and cable brand partners home entertainment efforts.
Among her notable original productions and acquisitions in these roles are Book Club, the $100M box office hit starring Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Mary Steenburgen and Candice Bergen; Richard Linklater’s Boyhood (in partnership with IFC Films); Family dance comedy, The J Team, starring and executive produced by Jojo Siwa; the recently released teen comedy and critics’ favorite, Honor Society on Paramount+, and Fantasy Football, produced in partnership with LeBron James’ Springhill Entertainment, Genius Entertainment, NFL Films, and EA Games.
Prior to Paramount, Studer’s career included business development and promotional marketing roles with Loews Cineplex Entertainment and General Mills.
A committed champion for underrepresented talent and youth, Studer serves as Executive Vice President of the board of Women In Film, a legacy advocacy organization dedicated to advancing the careers of women working across the industry. Studer serves as a board member and mentor to Big Brothers Big Sisters Los Angeles. She is also a member of the Executive Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).
A graduate of Michigan State University and frequent contributor to industry panels and global events, Studer resides in Los Angeles, California with her husband and son.
As our industry continues to drastically change, the intrinsic value of films in today’s global environment evolves as well. Reliance on a well-written script and star-studded cast alone no longer suffice in what is now termed a “binary” market. Films from their inception must possess an intrinsic uniqueness, with carefully defined target audiences guiding the vision.
Steven Gaydos, SVP of Global Content & Executive Editor, Variety
Mark Gooder, Co-President, Cornerstone
Syrinthia Studer, EVP, International Productions, Paramount Pictures
Christian Vesper, CEO, Global Drama, Fremantle
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International Co-Production with China: Navigating Filmmaking Without Boundaries
Christopher BrembleFounder and CEO of Base Media, Producer, Wish Dragon (2021)
Founder and CEO of Base Media, Bremble began his career as Writer / Director (Rocket’s Red Glare), before founding Base FX in 2005, winning an Emmy for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for HBO’s The Pacific in 2010, and securing Emmy’s for the team on Boardwalk Empire (2011) and Black Sails (2013). In 2012 Bremble developed a Strategic Alliance with Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light+ Magic, leading to a ten year collaboration on films such as Pacific Rim, Transformers: Age of Extinction, and The Force Awakens. The studio’s recent work includes Thor Love and Thunder, Kenobi, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Spirited, Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and Skeleton Crew.
In 2016 Bremble started Base Animation; the studio’s first film, Wish Dragon, financed in partnership with Sony Pictures, Sparkle Roll and TenCent Pictures, was released in 2021 by TenCent Pictures in China and premiered on Netflix where it finished #4 on the features list for 2021. The animation team has since completed work on the films Ainbo, Seal Team, White Snake II, Goodbye Monster, My Little Pony and Out of The Nest. Bremble is currently producing the Wish Dragon sequel due in 2025. He is an active speaker at events and universities across China, where he has lived since 2002.
Base Media has offices / teams in Beijing, Wuxi, Xiamen, Kuala Lumpur and Los Angeles.
David U. LeeFounder and CEO of LEEDING Media, Producer, Distributor
David U. Lee is the founder and CEO of Leeding Media, a production, distribution and advisory company that serves as a bridge between the U.S. and Chinese entertainment industries. Since 1997, Lee played instrumental roles in several groundbreaking transactions with aggregate value of $200+ million. He advised the sale and acquisition of one of the largest film slates between Content Partners, TIK and Lionsgate in 2021. He executive-produced Anthony Mackie’s Outside the Wire, Johnny Depp’s The Professor, Jackie Chan and Jet Li’s the Forbidden Kingdom, John Cusack, Gong Li and Chow Yun-Fat’s Shanghai, Jiang Wen’s Gone with the Bullets, Shanghai Fortress, and Possessor: Uncut. He provided casting support and talent management for Rogue One: A Star Wars story and XXX Return of Xander Cage. As a distributor, he oversaw the sale, marketing and theatrical distribution of Ender’s Game, Ghost Rider 2, Rush, Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant, Only the Brave as well as a library distribution of over 500 titles including Million Dollar Baby, Underworld, Gosford Park, Whiplash, Law Abiding Citizen, 3:10 to Yuma, The Fighter, Parker, Riddick, AVA, Breach and Baggio: Divine Ponytail.
Lee was named as an inaugural member of The Hollywood Reporter’s Next Generation Asia issue honoring rising stars of Asia’s media and entertainment industry. He received his bachelor’s degree and MBA from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California in 1997 and 2004, respectively.
Patrick BrzeskiAsia bureau chief, The Hollywood Reporter
Originally from the American Midwest, Patrick Brzeski has been based in the Asia-Pacific region as a business and culture reporter since 2007. After a period of freelancing for the Wall Street Journal, South China Morning Post, Time and others, he joined The Hollywood Reporter as an Asia-based correspondent and online editor in 2012. In 2015, Patrick was named THR’s Asia bureau chief, tasked with managing the magazine’s coverage of the boom in cross-border investment between China and Hollywood. In 2017, he won the Southern California Journalism Award for best personality profile. Current areas of reporting include the shifting dynamics in U.S.-China film trade, South Korea’s high-flying creative industry, Japan’s resurgent anime business, and the role of Asia in the growth prospects of global streaming services. Patrick is based in Tokyo.
Rance PowPresident of Artisan Gateway, International Film and Cinema Advisory
Rance Pow is the Founder and CEO of Artisan Gateway. A 27-year veteran of the international film and cinema industry, Mr. Pow oversees all corporate development, client management, and product & services delivery. He previously served as VP Asia, AMC Entertainment (1995), and VP, CBRE (1984), the world’s largest commercial real estate services company.
Established in 2003, Artisan Gateway delivers film & cinema business development, investment, research & market intelligence services to clients and partners worldwide. From a staffed presence in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh, and Los Angeles, Artisan Gateway matches local industry knowledge with a broad network of industry relationships to advance client goals.
Randy GreenbergExecutive Producer, The Meg 2 (2023)
RANDY GREENBERG is an executive producer and senior entertainment and media industry executive with an emphasis on business affairs, marketing and distribution business. He has been involved in the green-lighting, marketing and distribution of 200+ films, and his strategies have produced over $5 billion in theatrical box office. He has executive produced four feature films – “Meg 2: The Trench” (2023) and “The Meg” (2018) for Apelles Entertainment and Gravity Pictures, a part of CMC, which became the #1 U.S/China Co-Production ever in terms of worldwide box office, “Cowboys and Aliens” (2011) and “Dylan Dog: Dead of Night” (2011). In addition, Greenberg was the Co-Executive Producer on the Netflix animated TV series “A Tale Dark & Grimm” (2021).
Greenberg co-founded the Resolution Talent & Literary Agency, was the EVP Marketing & Business Affairs for comic book entertainment company, Platinum Studios, was the Head of International Theatrical Marketing and Distribution at Universal Pictures, VP International Theatrical Marketing at MGM/UA Pictures and an Account Executive & Publicist at Dennis Davison Associates (DDA).
Greenberg is in development on several feature films and television series.
This panel intends to allow panelists from both sides to address practical issues involving international film coproductions in various countries (including China), e.g., tax/rebates and production incentives, speeding up the approval process, currency conversion, international crew vs. local talent development, infrastructure and local tech support, and international management standards of physical production, including distribution, etc.
Patrick Brzeski, Asia bureau chief, The Hollywood Reporter
Christopher Bremble, Founder and CEO of Base Media, Producer, Wish Dragon (2021)
David U. Lee, Founder and CEO of LEEDING Media, Producer, Distributor
Rance Pow, President of Artisan Gateway, International Film and Cinema Advisory
Randy Greenberg, Executive Producer, The Meg 2 (2023)
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The Content Audiences Want & The Industry Needs to Provide
Jeffrey GreensteinPresident, Millennium Media
Jeffrey Greenstein joined Millennium Media in 2010, handling more than sixty films during his tenure at the company, including The Expendables franchise, Olympus Has Fallen, London Has Fallen, and Angel Has Fallen, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Mechanic: Resurrection and Jolt with Kate Beckinsale and Stanley Tucci.
Greenstein has risen through the proverbial ranks of Millennium’s corporate ladder with lightning speed. Named President of International Sales & Distribution at Nu Image/Millennium Films in April 2015, Greenstein oversaw the sales and distribution of all Millennium productions. In 2016, Greenstein became President of Millennium Media. In this role, he manages all aspects of the independent studio. He is also a member of the PGA.
Millennium Media recently wrapped productions include the highly anticipated comic book adaptation, Red Sonja starring Matilda Lutz, Wallis Day, and Robert Sheehan, Subservience starring Megan Fox and Dirty Angels with Eva Green, Ruby Rose, and Maria Bakalova. Recent releases include the 4th installment of The Expendables franchise, The Offering with Paul Kaye, Till Death with Megan Fox, and The Enforcer with Antonio Banderas, Kate Bosworth, 2 Chainz.
Millennium Media’s upcoming releases include The Bricklayer with Aaron Eckhart and Nina Dobrev, and The Piper with Charlotte Hope and Julian Sands.
Joe LewisCEO, Amplify Pictures
Joe Lewis is the Emmy, Tony, Peabody, Golden Globe-winning producer and CEO of Amplify Pictures, the pioneering independent studio that develops, finances, and produces award-winning, commercially driven scripted series, documentary projects and theatrical productions, including HBO’s Emmy-winning 100 Foot Wave. Lewis produced the acclaimed series Fleabag, Transparent and Too Old To Die Young. He is co-producing Gutenberg! The Musical! starring Tony Award nominees and Grammy award-winners Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells, currently on Broadway, and also co-produced the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical A Strange Loop on Broadway in 2022.
Founded by Lewis in 2018, with offices in Los Angeles, New York and Amsterdam, Amplify Pictures is focused on producing globally successful series through bold ideas, brilliant creators, and unparalleled filmmaking. The second season of Amplify Pictures’ hit series 100 Foot Wave recently received six Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series. It’s HBO’s most nominated documentary project, series, or film this year. The first season of 100 Foot Wave won an Emmy for Outstanding Cinematography for a Nonfiction Program as well as a PGA Award for Outstanding Sports Program. This summer, HBO announced season three of the big wave docuseries.
Lewis was a co-founder of Amazon Studios, running comedy, drama and mixed reality for the studio’s first six years (2012 – 2017). Series commissioned by Lewis include The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Underground Railroad, Jack Ryan, Bosch, Catastrophe, Transparent, Fleabag, Homecoming, Good Omens, Mozart in the Jungle, Hanna, The Tick, Carnival Row, Undone, Red Oaks, I Love Dick, One Mississippi, Tosh.0, The New Yorker Presents and Long Strange Trip, among others. Series commissioned by Lewis have garnered 93 major award wins out of 196 major award nominations, including two Emmy Awards for Best Comedy Series and four Golden Globe Awards for Best Comedy Series.
Prior to Amazon, Lewis was CEO and co-founder of Bark, a startup AVOD streamer, Director of Production at 20th Century Fox and Manager of Development at Comedy Central.
Lewis received his B.A. in Cinema-Television from the University of Southern California. He grew up in Washington, DC and even went to TV camp in high school. He and his wife reside in Los Angeles.
Lourdes DiazCCO, AGC Studios
Lourdes Diaz is the Chief Creative Officer for AGC Studios, overseeing the company’s creative team and robust feature film and television slates from development through launch. She is also a member of the Producer’s Guild of America, the Television Academy, and the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
Diaz was most recently President of AGC Television, responsible for the company’s scripted, non-scripted, non-fiction and digital television content. Diaz has been with AGC Studios since its earliest days and has a had a huge impact on the company’s choices in material, in people, and on the dynamic, multicultural working environment.
Prior to AGC, Diaz served as President of Entertainment for Univision Communications, Inc. (UCI), diversifying its entertainment content, and working closely with Televisa, Netflix, Globo, Endemol, and other partners. Prior to UCI, Diaz was Head of Global Production and Development at Viacom International’s Comedy Central where she oversaw their development across all Comedy Central International channels and was the Executive Producer of numerous international scripted and unscripted series and shows. Before Comedy Central, Diaz was Vice President, Primetime Programming at NBC and Universal Media Studios. She also served as executive producer for multiple NBC comedies and dramas, including House, Parenthood, and The Office. Prior to NBC, Diaz founded Agua Entertainment Group (AEG) specializing in film, television, and new media, and was Head of Creative Affairs for Green Moon Productions, a company formed and operated by Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith. A graduate of Emerson College, Diaz began her career as an agent at ICM, representing over 50writers and directors.
Maren OlsonEVP, Film, 30WEST
Maren Olson is EVP, Film at 30WEST where she manages the fast-growing company’s slate of projects, including the forthcoming HELL OF A SUMMER written and directed by Finn Wolfhard and Billy Bryk, which screened at Toronto International Film Festival 2023 as a part of their Midnight Madness program; the re-imagining of THE CROW directed by Rupert Sanders and starring Bill Skarsgård and FKA Twigs; the musical biopic FRED & GINGER starring Jamie Bell and Margaret Qualley; and genre-bending thriller DAY DRINKER, to be directed by Marc Webb (THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, 500 DAYS OF SUMMER).
Olson joined 30WEST from leading entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA), where she spent seven years as an agent in the Media Finance department, specializing in packaging and representation of independently financed films, including DOG, directed by Reid Carolin and Channing Tatum and starring Tatum; I, TONYA, directed by Craig Gillespie and starring Margot Robbie; LATE NIGHT, directed by Nisha Ganatra and starring Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson; THE PALE BLUE EYE, directed by Scott Cooper and starring Christian Bale and Harry Melling; PUSSY ISLAND, directed by Zoe Kravitz and starring Naomi Ackie and Channing Tatum; and THE DELIVERANCE, directed by Lee Daniels and starring Glenn Close, Octavia Spencer and Rob Morgan.
Prior to CAA, Olson served as President of Traction Media, an independent film production and domestic sales company. While there, she oversaw the creative development, packaging, production, financing, and sales of over 80 films on the Traction Media slate, including 2011 Best Foreign Language Oscar winner THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES. She produced Destin Daniel Cretton’s sophomore feature SHORT TERM 12, which was nominated for and won multiple awards including both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at SXSW. Olson also produced AVA’S POSSESSIONS, directed by Jordan Galland and starring Louisa Krause, and her executive producing work includes THE WANNABE, starring Patricia Arquette.
Olson graduated from University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts with a degree in Film and Television Production.
Scott RoxboroughEuropean Bureau Chief, The Hollywood Reporter
Scott Roxborough is the European Bureau Chief for The Hollywood Reporter. He has been reporting on the international film and television industry for more than 20 years. He lives in Germany.
Independents have always been risk takers, finding and championing the stories that need to be told and bringing choice to the world’s audiences. But are content creators giving today’s audiences enough of what they want? Viewers have become more open to exploring diverse genres and narratives as they pursue genuine storytelling that reflects the realities of their lives. Leading producers and financiers discuss how they approach creating films and series today, the ways in which they are embracing audience needs, and how the industry can do better in bringing authentic and relatable projects to the global marketplace that garner audiences and result in commercial success.
Scott Roxborough, European Bureau Chief, The Hollywood Reporter
Lourdes Diaz, CCO, AGC Studios
Jeffrey Greenstein, President, Millennium Media
Joe Lewis, CEO, Amplify Pictures
Maren Olson, EVP, Film, 30WEST
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Funding Queer Narratives: Financing LGBTQIA+ Stories with Social Impact
Alex SchmiderEmmy-Nominated Producer and Director of Transgender Media Representation at GLAAD
Alex Schmider is an Emmy®, Peabody, and Critics Choice Awards recognized producer and the Director of Transgender Representation at GLAAD where he educates, advises, and consults on transgender and nonbinary characters, storylines, marketing campaigns, and gender inclusion on digital platforms. A member of the Producers Guild of America and the Television Academy, his producing credits include Changing The Game (Hulu), Disclosure (Netflix), Framing Agnes (Kino Lorber), Stay On Board: The Leo Baker Story (Netflix) and Chasing Chasing Amy. Most recently, he was named one of DOC NYC’s 40 Under 40.
Mychael ChinnDirector, Original Movies & Limited Series for the MTV Entertainment Studios
Mychael G. Chinn was most recently the Director, Original Movies & Limited Series for the MTV Entertainment Studios, Paramount Global, based out of Los Angeles, CA. He graduated with a BFA in Acting from the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University. He started his career working under casting director Tracy “Twinkie” Byrd on the casting of films such as Notorious, The Blind Side, Secret Life of Bees among others. He also was an original member of The Movement Theatre Company in New York City. He then left theatre, film and television to work as the Assistant Company Manager for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for 4 seasons. Upon leaving AAADT, Mychael went to work as a Producer and Production Manager for BET Digital and BET Her, launching a digital series called inspi[HER]. He then landed at Lifetime Television, working first on the Acquired Content team, then segueing into the Original Movies front, where he helped shepherd over 55 movies to broadcast. In 2020, Mychael shepherded The Clark Sisters: The First Ladies of Gospel, which was seen by over 13 million viewers and was cable’s #1 television movie, and Robin Roberts Presents: Stolen by My Mother: The Kamiyah Mobeley Story, which is cable’s #2 movie of 2020. In 2021, Mychael joined the MTV Entertainment Studios Original Movies and Limited Series team, who launched the studio’s first foray into made for television films and limited series, working with executive producers such as Jamie Foxx, Angela Basset, Courtney B. Vance, Regina Hall, John Leguizamo, Mona Scott-Young, Jesse Collins and Patrik-Ian Polk to develop projects for the nine brands that the studio oversees.
Steph OuaknineProducer (Queering the Script, Camilla); Originals & Exclusives at Amazon/Wondery
One of Canada’s “5 to Watch in Entertainment,” Steph Ouaknine is an award winning producer and development executive well versed in queer stories and international co-productions.
Steph co-created and produced CARMILLA, the multi-platform scripted series that ran for 108 episodes and launched a global, engaged fan community. Financed by U by Kotex, the digital series topped 100+ million views, earning accolades from Cannes Lion, Rocky Awards, The Webbys, multiple Canadian Screen Award wins and MIPTV’s “Brand Content of the Year” 2018 Award.
Currently, she is a senior production executive on the commissioned originals team at Wondery and Amazon, managing a slate of premium audio documentaries and topical shows. Select credits: Time Magazine’s Podcast of the Year “9/12” in partnership with Pineapple Street Studios, “Persona: The French Deception” and scripted podcast “American Hostage” starring Jon Hamm.
Steph is a 2021 Film Independent Episodic Lab Fellow, with scripted projects supported by the CFC/Netflix Accelerator, The National Screen Institute, the IFP/Gotham Film Week and SeriesMania 2022.
Tuck DowreyDirector of Development at PageBoy
Originally from Boston, Tuck Dowrey received his BA in Screenwriting from Ithaca College in central New York before moving to Los Angeles. He began his career working on the Amazon shows I LOVE DICK and TRANSPARENT S4, before assisting renowned indie film and TV producer Andrea Sperling at Joey Soloway-helmed production company, Topple. Tuck then served as the showrunner’s assistant to Marja-Lewis Ryan on Showtime’s THE L WORD: GENERATION Q. Tuck has also worked for Sam Feder, director of the groundbreaking documentary DISCLOSURE, before finding his way back into development with Kelly Bush Novak at VIE Entertainment. There, Tuck worked closely with Elliot Page on his development slate while helping to launch PageBoy Productions, operating under a first-look deal with UCP. Currently, Tuck serves as PageBoy’s Director of Development.
Join us for a journey into the heart of film financing as we shine a spotlight on the nuanced world of LGBTQIA+ storytelling. Hear from our panel of industry professionals who have successfully navigated the financial landscape to bring LGBTQIA+ narratives to life. Gain insights into their strategies, challenges, and triumphs. Explore the pivotal role social impact plays in financing LGBTQIA+ stories and how it has shaped the queer narratives that get made. Our panelists will share firsthand accounts of the intersection between storytelling, funding, and social change. Don’t miss the opportunity to be part of a dynamic conversation that goes beyond financing—exploring the transformative power of LGBTQIA+ storytelling in shaping culture and fostering social change.
This panel is a must-attend for filmmakers, producers, executives, and anyone passionate about championing LGBTQIA+ stories and understanding the intricate balance between artistic expression, financing, and social impact.
Alex Schmider, Director of Transgender Representation, GLAAD
Steph Ouaknine, Senior Production Executive, Wondery and Amazon
Mychael G. Chinn, Director, Original Movies & Limited Series for the MTV Entertainment Studios
Tuck Dowrey, Director of Development, PageBoy
presented in partnership with GLAAD
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Faith & Family: Satisfying the Growing Global Audience Demand for Uplifting Content
Cindy BondCo-Founder & CEO, Mission International Pictures, LLC
Cindy Bond is a global leader and pioneer in the production, distribution and sales of faith-friendly films. With over 200 films to her credit, Cindy’s most recent productions include one of the highest grossing music biopics of all time, I Can Only Imagine starring Dennis Quaid, the #1 independent film of 2018, Emmy Award Winner Miracle on 42nd Street, The King’s Daughter starring Pierce Brosnan and William Hurt, Hallmark Channel’s Enchanted Christmas, The Tax Collector starring Shia LaBeouf and Redeeming Love starring Abigail Cowen, Famke Janssen and Nina Dobrev released by Universal Pictures.
Cindy began her producing career with Norann Entertainment’s production of The Joyriders Starring Martin Landau, Kris Kristofferson and Elisabeth Moss. She then partnered with Interstate Batteries Chairman Norm Miller to form the U.S theatrical distribution and production company, Providence Entertainment, which distributed the #1 limited theatrical release, The Omega Code. Cindy moved on to form Promenade Pictures, a theatrical distribution and production company with Frank Yablans, former Paramount Pictures President/MGM Co-Chairman.
Cindy is Co-Founder & CEO of the international film sales and production company, Mission Pictures International. In 2019 she also teamed up with Doug McKay, former Vice President of Phoenix Pictures, to launch LA film and TV firm, Faster Horse Pictures.
Kevin DownesCo-Founder / Managing Partner / Producer, Kingdom Story Company
Kevin Downes’ career of producing, directing, acting, and writing spans more than 30 years. As an actor, some of Downes’ fan-favorite roles include Officer Shane Fuller in COURAGEOUS, the video game lover Kevin in MOMS’ NIGHT OUT, a series regular role on the TV sitcom HITTING THE BREAKS, and supporting roles in I CAN ONLY IMAGINE and AMERICAN UNDERDOG.
Early in his career, Downes produced critically acclaimed LIKE DANDELION DUST from best-selling author Karen Kingsbury, which starred Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino and won more than a dozen audience awards for Best Picture at prestigious film festivals around the world.
In 2010, Jon and Andrew began exclusively developing dramatic feature films. In August 2018, they partnered with Kevin Downs and Tony Young to launch Kingdom Story Company, in an exclusive partnership with Lionsgate, which creates life-changing content from a variety of talented storytellers.
Their features have all opened in the top-ten box office and they have received the coveted A+ CinemaScore® three times. Early hits include OCTOBER BABY, MOMS’ NIGHT OUT, WOODLAWN, and the surprise hit I CAN ONLY IMAGINE, which became the #1 independent film of 2018, earning more than $86 million at the box office. Others include I STILL BELIEVE, a biopic about CCM megastar Jeremy Camp which was released by Lionsgate in 2020, followed by the 2021 release of THE JESUS MUSIC, sharing the untold story of how Jesus Music transformed into the multi-billion-dollar industry of Christian Contemporary Music. AMERICAN UNDERDOG followed in 2021, which told the story of NFL MVP and Hall of Famer, Kurt Warner. JOHNNY CASH: THE REDEMPTION OF AN AMERICAN ICON, is a documentary that details the true story of a music legend’s spiritual quest and releases Dec 2022. Their last film, JESUS REVOLUTION, is based on The Jesus Movement that swept the country in the 1970s and led to what TIME Magazine dubbed a JESUS REVOLUTION, hit theaters in Feb 2023. Their latest film, ORDINARY ANGELS, hits theaters Feb 2024, followed by UNSUNG HERO in theaters April 26, 2024.
Paul LauerPresident & CEO, One Door Studios / Motive Entertainment
Paul Lauer is CEO of One Door Studios (www.OneDoorStudios.com), a film and TV development and production company, as well as founder and CEO of Hollywood agency Motive Entertainment (www.MotiveEntertainment.biz). Lauer has worked on over 50 films, including Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ ($1 billion worldwide), Chronicles of Narnia, Polar Express, Rocky Balboa, Heaven is for Real, The Shack, and Just Mercy, as well as top-rated TV programs like Mark Burnett/Roma Downey’s Bible miniseries (the #1 program on TV); and three best-selling books, including “Michael Vey” (#1 NY Times Bestseller). Lauer is an expert at creating and marketing inspirational and purpose-driven content. His work has been called “a textbook study in both high-profile and below-the-radar marketing” by Ad Age, which named Lauer a Top 50 Marketer of the year. Lauer is also Chief Strategy Officer of MyStreme, an upcoming streaming platform. Prior to working in Hollywood, Lauer was the publisher/editor of the award-winning YOU! Magazine (worldwide in six languages), the syndicated insert Youth Beat (1,000,000 circulation). He also produced the World Youth Day Music Festival (100,000 attendees in Denver, CO), and held C-level positions with tech companies like webBASIS. Lauer has guest hosted radio and TV shows, and appeared on CNN, Fox, and MSNBC, and in over 50 publications/websites, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Wall St. Journal.
Faith & family-friendly films and series have seen an explosion of success in recent years. They are drawing huge audiences in the U.S. and around the world, propelling inspirational content into the mainstream. To meet the rising demand, many entertainment companies are taking a leap of faith, launching dedicated divisions and expanding their distribution of value-centric content. Producers and creatives behind recent hits discuss the power of the genre, and what types of stories resonate with audiences and have the greatest chance of big profit potential.
Steven Gaydos, SVP Global Content/Executive Editor, Variety
Cindy Bond, Founder & CEO, Mission Pictures International, LLC
Kevin Downes, Co-Founder/Managing Partner/Producer, Kingdom Story Company
Paul Lauer, CEO, One Door Studios / Motive Entertainment
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Harnessing the Power of Music for Film
Christina MayMusic Director, Producer
As a graduate from Musicians Institute, majoring in Music Business & Vocal Performance, Christina spent three years in Post Production before she was offered a Creative Admin job at Universal Music Group’s Rondor Music International. This is where she gained first-hand experience in TV sync, publishing, licensing, and copyright. In 2015, she landed at FirstCom Music serving as Licensing Manager and soon after moved into her full-time role as Music Director for Film & TV as well as a Producer for the catalogue. Now almost a decade into her tenure at Universal, she has produced over 60 albums as well as spearheading culturally impactful initiatives such as 100% HER and Power To the People, aimed at establishing roster diversity and representation. Throughout her career thus far, she’s had much creative success with her productions and established invaluable relationships through her strong work ethic, a pristine ear for music and in-depth understanding of client needs. A creative contribution to the sync process and the marriage of sound & picture are at the very root of her passion for this industry.
Garo SetianCreative Director
Garo Setian is an award-winning filmmaker and trailer editor with over 25 years’ experience in the film industry. He has cut and produced over 430 Trailers and television spots for films and has been nominated for 31 Golden Trailer Awards including categories such as “best horror” trailer (2017’s THE HATRED, 2019’s THE WRETCHED, and 2021’s BROADCAST SIGNAL INTRUSION), “best thriller” trailer (2019’s 1BR) and “most original trailer” (The 2015 Ryan Reynold’s film, THE VOICES).
Garo won 3 Golden Trailers awards for his trailers to THE EYE 3 (Best Foreign Trailer), DRIVE-THRU (Trashiest Trailer) and the Marvel animated feature DOCTOR STRANGE (Best Anime).
He has also been nominated for a Promax Award for his trailer to THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT 2, a Clio award for the aforementioned, THE HATRED, and won 3 Clios for his work on THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD.
Garo’s feature film work has also been noteworthy. His Award winning and critically acclaimed Sci-Fi films, 2019’s AUTOMATION and the 2023 release of SPACE WARS: QUEST FOR THE DEEPSTAR have both been released theatrically and on home entertainment (Through Epic Pictures and Uncork’d Entertainment) both digitally and on physical media.
Garo edits his own films and gives them a dynamic and exciting quality that his years in trailer editing helped refine. He is a true storyteller with a big vision to make entertaining movies that are both exciting and heartfelt.
A lifelong film fan, Garo used to make his own movies using super 8mm film and later worked in public access television making over 100 television shows. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from USC School of Cinema-Television in addition to a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from New York University.
Garo and his wife Anahit, operate HUNGRY MONSTER ENTERTAINMENT as both a trailer and film production company.
Jeff CardoniComposer for Film & Television
Jeff Cardoni’s talents range from intimate independent fare to full orchestral majesty. With over 55 feature film scores and several network series to his credit, one can hear his work worldwide every day. He was voted ASCAP 2019 TV Composer of The Year and nominated again in 2020.
After a brief stint as lead guitarist for the Warner Bros. band “Alien Crime Syndicate,” Jeff left to pursue film scoring full time. He worked under several Hollywood composers including John Murphy (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, 28 Days Later) while studying conducting and orchestration at UCLA.
His film scores include Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, Step Up: All In, Just Friends, Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off, Circuit Breakers, Players, Me Time, Sweetwater, The Confirmation, Sundance darling The Vicious Kind, Fallen, and the upcoming Amazon drama feature Sitting In Bars With Cake.
His television scores include Heels, Ghosts, Silicon Valley, Training Day, Young Sheldon, CSI: Miami, The Kominsky Method, Smartless: On The Road, and the HBO limited series White House Plumbers.
Jeff has also penned the theme songs to Heels (co-written with Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses), The League, “Pimp My Ride”, and MadTV, with songs appearing in films such as “Hard Knock Life” in Austin Powers, “Long Road Home” featuring Gene Simmons of Kiss for CSI, and an updated version of classic “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket” with Minnie Driver.
Jeff also produced several songs with Jon Lajoie for the soundtrack to The League and a Lexus Super Bowl spot with The Pixies. He recently produced a reimagined version of the Mariah Carey classic track “Fantasy” for Freeguy.
Agent: Jake Kozarec / Fortress Talent Management 818-858-0020
Kris Le-RoyMusic Licensing Executive
Kris Le-Roy is a music licensing executive who’s been with Universal over 15 years. Kris started out as a marketing assistant and carved a path for himself into the film and tv licensing world. He provides a unique perspective on both sides of production as he’s been involved in all sides of the film industry since 2007, the highlight being a sketch performer for Conan O’Brien for 12 years. Kris prides himself on the relationships he’s created working with filmmakers by taking their projects from start to finish with the best music possible.
Ryan SvendsenMusic Director, Producer, Millennium Media's Head of Music
Ryan Svendsen is Millennium Media’s Head of Music. In this role, Ryan provides an innovative and multi-faceted approach to music supervision. His work can be heard in feature films including Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, EXPEND4BLES, Red Sonja, Till Death, The Protégé, and The Bricklayer. Prior to joining Millennium, Ryan served as Director of Film and TV Music at Lionsgate where he managed the Music campaigns of over 80 Soundtracks including the Academy Award-winning best song and score for La La Land. While Music Supervision is Ryan’s primary professional focus, he has found commercial success as a trumpet player and horn arranger from his home studio. Ryan has accumulated over 5 billion streams from his collaborations on trending songs and you might have heard him on the chart topping 6x platinum Lil Nas X hit, “Industry Baby”. As an advocate for the Arts and Music, Svendsen currently serves as Alumni Board Chair for the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music in addition to being an instructor of Music Supervision at UCLA Extension. Ryan is also an avid masters swimmer and has swam from Alcatraz 3 times.
Satya FuentesMusic Creative, Series, Netflix
Satya Fuentes is a music executive and musician based in Los Angeles. She currently works on the Original Series team at Netflix where she acts as a creative music executive on a wide slate of projects including Bridgerton, Dahmer and Stranger Things. Satya previously worked for Black and White Music Supervision under Emmy nominated music supervisor Jen Malone, having also held tenure in the film music department at Universal Pictures. Satya holds a degree in Ethnomusicology from UCLA with a focus on jazz piano performance and world music. She currently serves on the inaugural alumni board for the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music and was selected as part of the 2022 Grammy NEXT class. Satya is also the founder of FilAms in Sync, an organization that amplifies the Filipinx community working in the sync industry.
Sit down with Universal Production Music and friends of the industry to discuss:
- What is Production Music?
- The Art of Locking Down a Track
- The Power of a Great Film Soundtrack or Trailer Sync
- What inspires Composers to Write for a Particular Film or Music Library?
- Soundtracking Music: Easy Paths to Clearances
- Planning a Music Budget
Kris Le-Roy, Music Licensing Executive
Christina May, Music Director, Producer
Garo Setian, Creative Director
Jeff Cardoni, Composer for Film & Television
Ryan Svendsen, Music Director, Producer
Satya Fuentes, Music Creative
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New Distribution Patterns Shaping Release Trends
Jere R. Hausfater, EsqAttorney/Executive Producer
Hausfater is currently a practicing entertainment attorney, executive producer, expert witness, and COO consultant in the entertainment space focusing on film, television, and music.
Hausfater’s expertise is in development, finance, production, packaging, and worldwide distribution. Hausfater has provided legal and business affairs services for Cassian Elwes’ Elevated Films, Marvel Films, Netflix, Film Finances, MGM International Television, Vine Alternative Investments, Wood Cliff Capital, Marvel Films, The Orchard, Shamrock Investments, Cinetic Media, Foresight Films, Tom Ortenberg, Roadside Attractions Television, Arclight Films, Maloof LLC, and Sentient Entertainment, among others. Currently, Hausfater is finance counsel on three financed independent feature films that have been granted SAG waivers. He also serves as an expert witness in litigation cases.
Hausfater spent a majority of his career as Executive Vice President of Acquisition and Business Affairs for Buena Vista International, Buena Vista Film Sales, Buena Vista Home Entertainment and Buena Vista Pictures Distribution reporting to Jeffrey Katzenberg, Bill Mechanic, Dick Cook, Joe Roth and David Hoberman. He built and ran his own acquisition division within Walt Disney Studios acquiring pictures and children’s programming for Disney to distribute and created Buena Vista Film Sales, an internal sales company at Disney selling feature films, library product, and acting as a sales agent for third party product licensing to distributors throughout the world. Hausfater’s first acquisition for Buena Vista to theatrically distribute was Dances With Wolves for Latin America which won the Oscar for best picture.
Hausfater was responsible for all third- party film and non-theatrical acquisitions for Disney. His division of 25 employees generated in excess of $300M in operating income for the studio which included selling the Merchant Ivory, ABC and Cinergi libraries through Buena Vista Film Sales. Hausfater acquired for Disney to distribute or sold distribution rights to studio and third party product throughout the world for over 500 films, including: Il Postino, Life is Beautiful, Runaway Bride, Face Off, The Piano, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Face Off, La Femme Nikita, The Professional, Die Hard With a Vengeance, Central Station, Dances With Wolves, 3 Ninjas, The Crow, The Straight Story, Snake Eyes, Shine (Geoffrey Rush winning an Oscar for best actor), Kolya(which won the best foreign language Oscar), and Air Force One. Hausfater also acquired home entertainment properties such as The Chipmunks library, DIC library, (such as Inspector Gadget and Madeline,) Felix the Cat, The Brave Little Toaster 2, Spot the Dog, The Jim Henson and the Rocky and Bullwinkle library.
Hausfater was the international and acquisition liaison at Walt Disney Studios for Miramax/Dimension Films distributed internationally by Buena Vista International acquiring Pulp Fiction for Buena Vista UK and Latin America which was the beginning of Buena Vista International distributing Miramax/Dimension films in the UK, Latin America, France, Spain, Italy and Australia/New Zealand. He also created and ran the UK Comedy Label which acquired, developed and green lite the feature films, Calendar Girls , High Heels and Low Lives, and Kinky Boots. Buena Vista Film Sales also green lite for production, the feature films , Duets starring Gwyneth Paltrow and directed by her father, Bruce Paltrow, and Gun Shy starring Sandra Bullock and Liam Neesom. Hausfater was also the studio liaison for Elton John and David Furnish’s feature film company and Scott Free Pictures.
Following his 13 year tenure at Walt Disney Studios, Hausfater became Executive Vice President at Miramax/Dimension overseeing international distribution, marketing, sales, home entertainment and international business and legal affairs as well as a member of the Miramax Acquisition Group and Senior Executive in charge of the Los Angeles office. During his tenure, Miramax theatrically released over 30 films annually including Cold Mountain, Starsky and Hutch, Spy Kids 3, Scary Movie 3, Il Postino, Kill Bill 1 and 2, Shall We Dance, Aviator, Finding Neverland, Sin City, Amityville Horror, Garden State, and The Brothers Grimm, among others.
Prior to Miramax, Hausfater joined Intermedia Films as President of The Motion Picture Group, responsible for worldwide sales, marketing, and distribution overseeing a staff of 50 employees in London and Los Angeles. He achieved worldwide sales in excess of $300M with such films as K-19, The Widow Maker, Resident Evil, Adaption, The Life and Death of David Gale, K-Pax, The Wedding Planner, Iris, The Quiet American, Dark Blue, Basic Instinct 2, the first Terminator reboot, Wise Girls, Basic, Minehunters, Enigma, and Suspect Zero.
Hausfater also founded Essential Entertainment as CEO, a development, finance, sale and distribution company handling such films as Defiance, The Informers, Fireflies In the Garden, Book of Blood, Solomon King, a rebooted Point Break, My One and Only, The Other Woman, Stan Helsing, and An American Carol. Thereafter, Hausfater was COO of Aldamisa Entertainment, a production, finance and worldwide sales company handling such films as Chef, Sin City, A Dame to Kill For, Machete Kills, Jayne Mansfield’s Car, Shanghai Calling and the animated feature, Jock, the Hero Dog.
Hausfater has extensive and long -standing relations with agents, managers, attorneys, producers, entertainment banks, studios, and worldwide distributors. Hausfater began his career in the music business having worked as an attorney and executive at United Artist Records/Blue Note Records, ABC Records/ABC Music, MCA Records and K-Tel Entertainment.
He graduated from Boston University School of Business with a law degree from Southwestern University in Los Angeles. He is a voting member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science and former board member of IFTA. He was a professor for Boston University in Los Angeles teaching Entertainment Finance to undergraduate business students for over 10 years. He earned an executive producer credit on 15 feature films.
Jeremy KayAmericas Editor, Screendaily
Jeremy Kay is Americas editor of the international trade publication Screendaily. From his Los Angeles hub he regularly travels to the major markets and festivals on the calendar to report on market news and interview talent and executives.
Besides focusing on the independent business, festivals and markets, Kay reports on production and financing, streamer and studio activity, the Canadian and Latin American film industries, and awards season.
He has moderated panels at TIFF, Cannes, AFM, Ventana Sur and other top tier events on the circuit.
As a freelancer Kay has written on film for The Guardian and The Telegraph, and has written more broadly on news and sport for Time Out, The Independent On Sunday, The Express, and The Sunday Irish Tribune.
Kent Sanderson President, Acquisitions and Ancillary Distribution, Bleecker Street | Co-President, DECAL (owned by Bleecker Street and NEON)Kent SandersonPresident, Acquisitions and Ancillary Distribution, Bleecker Street | Co-President, DECAL (owned by Bleecker Street and NEON)
Kent Sanderson serves as President, Acquisitions and Ancillary Distribution at Bleecker Street, an independently financed studio based in New York City that was founded in August 2014. The company has released more than 50 films and established itself as a trusted label and champion of original cinema, cumulating an impressive and lauded slate. He is also co-President at home entertainment label DECAL, which Bleecker owns with NEON, which Sanderson championed as a way of creating versatility in an age of constant change. In his two-part role, Sanderson oversees both the creative and deal making process of building Bleecker Street’s slate of films – including investments at script stage projects and finished films alike – while also managing their life cycles after their theatrical releases across various platforms including digital distribution, physical home video, subscription video on demand, airlines, and television.
Over the past few months, Bleecker Street has been active on the acquisitions front, recently acquiring the U.S. rights to James Hawes’ acclaimed film One Life starring Academy Award®-winner Anthony Hopkins, which premiered at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival; Waitress: The Musical, starring Sara Bareilles, featuring footage from the acclaimed Broadway reprise run in 2021; and Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s I.S.S, starring Ariana DeBose, which premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. Bleecker’s wedding comedy The Fabulous Four, starring Bette Midler, Susan Sarandon, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Megan Mullally is currently in production under a SAG-AFTRA interim agreement.
Recent and upcoming titles for Bleecker Street also include: Meg Ryan’s What Happens Later, starring Ryan alongside David Duchovny; Marc Turtletaub’s Jules with Academy Award®-winner Sir Ben Kingsley; Golda from Academy Award®-winning director Guy Nattiv, starring Helen Mirren; Frances O’Connor’s Emily starring Emma Mackey; Alice Troughton’s The Tutor starring Richard E. Grant and Julie Delpy; and Catherine Hardwicke’s Mafia Mamma with Toni Collette.
Through the pandemic and beyond, Sanderson has enabled Bleecker to craft individualized windowing strategies for each of the company’s titles, with strategies ranging from nationwide releases leading into PVOD several weeks later, to more traditional theatrical rollouts, with each windowing strategy crafted to match every title. Sanderson also negotiated an exclusive multi-year output deal with Paramount+ with Showtime, which began with 2022’s Infinite Storm starring Naomi Watts.
Prior to Bleecker Street, Sanderson served as Executive Vice President, Distribution & Merchandising at GoDigital / Amplify Releasing. He also spent six years at Focus Features, where he guided their digital distribution strategy and ran the emerging Focus World alternative releasing label, which were the early adopters in playing with VOD strategies more aggressively. He started his career in the mailroom of WMA.
Scott ShoomanHead of Film, AMC Networks
More speaker details coming soon…
The industry is experiencing more radical shifts in feature film distribution patterns than ever before. Amongst these changes are the loosening of windows, that for years dictated the distribution journey most films had to conform to, an ever-growing offering of both mainstream and niche streaming platforms and channels, and the highly anticipated return to theatrical exhibition with encouraging box-office numbers. Thought-leaders discuss how they are evolving and experimenting with delivering feature films to global audiences hungry for entertainment.
Jeremy Kay, Americas Editor, Screendaily
Jere R. Hausfater, Esq, Attorney/Executive Producer
Kent Sanderson, President, Acquisitions and Ancillary Distribution, Bleecker Street & Co-President, DECAL (owned by Bleecker Street and NEON)
Scott Shooman, Head of Film, AMC Networks
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How to Lock-In Professional Actors and Musical Talent
Colin McCormackCommunications Manager, SAGindie
Colin McCormack is the Communications Manager at SAGindie, a free educational resource that assists indie filmmakers in hiring professional actors for their films. He has worked in various capacities as a writer, producer, and editor on projects ranging from features, short films, commercials, and documentaries. As SAGindie’s Communications Manager, he handles advertising and promotions, filmmaker interviews, and web operations for SAGindie.org. Colin also manages SAGindie’s Movies & Music program, designed to offer resources that bring together independent filmmakers and music professionals.
Debby RomanoCasting Director
Debby Romano has worked in casting for 30 years. She is a 3-time Emmy nominee and Artios Award winning CD for the TV series SCRUBS. With her business partner, Brett Benner, they cast the current AppleTV series SHRINKiNG and will soon be starting the indie feature SPIRIT WEEK based on the AFI thesis short BALLOON. Prior projects include long running series LAST MAN STANDING, ONE TREE HILL and COUGAR TOWN, as well as numerous other “shorter running” TV shows (we all know how that goes).
She cast the pilot and season 1 of THAT ‘70s SHOW as a CD at Liberman/Hirschfeld Casting. That experience gave her the confidence to start Romano/Benner Casting.
A New Jersey native, Debby always loved film, TV and theater. For her 13th birthday, she asked her parents for a filing cabinet to organize clippings and articles of the actors she loved. Her parents feared she might grow up to be a stalker! She turned out okay. Debby loves that this job is different and full of surprises every single day and is thankful to keep calling it her profession.
Roxanne CastilloGeneral Counsel, Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund
Roxanne Castillo is General Counsel for the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund (FMSMF), the non-profit that collects, processes and distributes residuals to musicians who work on film, television and streaming media scores. Prior to joining FMSMF, Castillo served as Director of the American Federation of Musicians’ (AFofM) Los Angeles Local 47 Electronic Media Services Department and was responsible for contract administration and advising producers about AFofM agreements covering film, television, commercials, sound recordings and videogames. From 2020-2021, she provided legal and production consulting advice to independent filmmakers and companies on a wide range of subjects, including WGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and AFofM agreements. She has been featured as a guest speaker on topics such as intellectual property, musicians’ royalties and residuals, and she currently teaches copyright law at UCLA’s Extension program. Castillo served as a board member of the California Copyright Conference and is currently a member of FilmLA, Inc.’s Operations Committee. A native Angeleno, Castillo received her J.D. from Southwestern University School of Law.
Timothy LooMusic Contractor, CFO, Sabron Payroll Services
Timothy Loo, moved to Los Angeles in 1992 to study cello performance at California State University at Northridge and the University of Southern California. Timothy is a member of the Lyris Quartet, founded in 2008. This quartet is the resident ensemble at both Jacaranda and Hear Now Festivals and has been featured numerous times on the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella and Noon 2 Midnight series at The Walt Disney Concert Hall. In January 2018, Mr. Loo made his concerto debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at The Walt Disney Concert Hall performing the fiendishly difficult Concerto for Cello and Orchestra by Bernt Zimmermann, under the direction of conductor Susanna Mälkki.
Timothy has also performed on over 1000 motion pictures, TV shows, albums, commercials, award shows, including yearly at the Academy Awards.
Timothy is also one of the foremost music contractors in Los Angeles. Most recently he assembled the orchestra for composer John Williams for the scoring of Indiana Jones 5: The Dial of Destiny, ESPN College Football Playoffs, The Fablemans and Obi Wan Kenobi. Mr. Loo is also the music contractor for James Newton Howard, Mike Post, Jeff Russo, Branford Marsalis, Disney’s Launchpad streaming series, The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, just to name a few.
In 2019, Timothy and his husband Tommy Johnson purchased Sabron Payroll Services and act as CFO and CEO respectively. Sabron is a leading payroll company in the entertainment industry that has built strong relationships with major production companies such as Disney, Netflix, MGM, Paramount, LucasFilm, and Apple. Sabron has a 30-year legacy as a boutique payroll company that helps any production or composer to navigate the complex music contracts of the American Federation of Musicians, SAG-AFTRA, and IATSE.
Join us for an insightful and in-depth session where we’ll explore the tried-and-true techniques for recruiting top-tier talent and securing exceptional original music for your project!
In this session:
- We’ll cover the benefits of various budget allocations for both casting and music selection.
- Discover the insider techniques Casting Directors employ to secure top talent.
- Explore the impact of different backend deals on your overall budget.
Roxanne Castillo, General Counsel, Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund
Colin McCormack, Communications Manager, SAGindie
Debby Romano, Casting Director
Timothy Loo, Music Contractor, CFO, Sabron Payroll Services
co-presented by FMSMF and SAGindie
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Fast Times in the Ad-Supported Distribution Landscape for Independents
JJ CaruthPresident, Domestic Marketing & Distribution, The Avenue
JJ Caruth is President, Domestic Marketing & Distribution for The Avenue, Highland Film Group’s domestic distribution division. Launched in 2020, The Avenue handles all aspects of distribution, from theatrical through home entertainment to television, SVOD and AVOD. The Avenue is dedicated to partnering with filmmakers and leading them into innovative ways of marketing and distribution so their stories can reach the widest audience. The Avenue has a partnership with Paramount Home Entertainment to handle Blu-ray™, DVD, VOD, and Digital distribution. Films released under The Avenue label are a combination of film titles from Highland Film Group as well as third party acquisitions.
Recent releases include Rusty Cundieff’s sci-fi thriller 57 Seconds starring Morgan Freeman and Josh Hutcherson, Adrian Grünberg’s shark actioner The Black Demon starring Josh Lucas and Andy Fickman’s romance One True Loves starring Simu Liu, Phillipa Soo and Luke Bracey. The Avenue released Petr Jákl’s sweeping historical action epic Medieval starring Ben Foster, Sophie Lowe and Sir Michael Caine on 1,200 screens in September 2022. The first feature film title released under the new stand-alone distribution banner was the martial arts sci-fi film Jiu Jitsu starring Academy Award® winner Nicolas Cage and Frank Grillo, followed by Renny Harlin’s The Misfits, starring Pierce Brosnan, Nick Cannon and Tim Roth, which had a theatrical joint release with Paramount Pictures in June 2021. Upcoming titles include William Eubank’s action thriller Land of Bad starring Russell Crowe, Liam Hemsworth and Luke Hemsworth; Rod Blackhurst’s Tribeca Film Festival and Deauville title Blood For Dust starring Scoot McNairy, Kit Harington and Josh Lucas; Adam Cooper’s crime thriller Sleeping Dogs starring Russell Crowe and Karen Gillan; and Simon West’s action comedy Old Guy starring Christoph Waltz, Lucy Liu and Cooper Hoffman.
Tyler AquilinaMedia Analyst, Variety Intelligence Platform
Tyler Aquilina is a media analyst for Variety Intelligence Platform, primarily covering the streaming wars and their impact on the media/tech business. He previously wrote for Entertainment Weekly, where he covered the film industry, streaming and worker issues in Hollywood, among many other topics. He’s based in Los Angeles.
Will GurmanVP, Global Partnerships & Content Strategy, Paramount Streaming
Will Gurman is VP of Global Partnerships and Content Strategy at Paramount Streaming. In his current role, Will works cross functionally to optimize the growth and performance of Pluto TV’s content partnerships and Paramount’s vast content library, and to expand the global reach and monetization of the content Pluto TV acquires. He sources, evaluates, and acquires TV series, films, sports, and digital content, to distribute across Pluto TV’s expanding FAST platform consisting of ad-supported live, linear channels and on-demand properties. In addition, he manages key partnerships with top entertainment and news networks, major studios, and indie distributors by delivering business reviews, optimizing content pipelines, and developing and executing against individualized strategic plans.
Prior to joining Paramount Streaming, Will was Senior Director of Content Acquisition and Strategy at Fullscreen, where he served a key role bringing Fullscreen’s SVOD service to market by shaping content strategy, budget plan, and programming schedule, and by sourcing and acquiring content for a millennial and Gen-Z audience.
Will began his career at Twentieth Century Fox Television in the Brand Management & Strategy group, where he evaluated opportunities and advised on strategies to maximize the value of all studio properties, including “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy,” “Glee,” “Modern Family,” “Homeland,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “24” and “The X-Files.”
Will graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in Political Science and earned an M.B.A. from UCLA Anderson.
Yolanda MacíasCCO & Head of Digital Sales, Cinedigm
Yolanda Macías is responsible for acquiring global content rights for all distribution platforms, including digital outlets amazon, Apple, NBC Peacock, Tubi, and Pluto, and sourcing content for Cineverse’s owned and operated streaming Networks such as the Dove Channel, Screambox, AsianCrush and RetroCrush and retail outlets including Walmart. Additionally, she oversees marketing including release strategy, growth and management, social and theatrical. In 2022 she was nominated and selected as the finalist for Executive of the Year by the Los Angeles Business Journal, one of the Elite Women –for ten years in the home entertainment industry and recognized as a Digital Driver nine times by Home Media Magazine and recently recognized as a Captain of Industry. Yolanda has served on the board of C5LA for several years and was selected as the 2019 Honoree. C5LA is a non-profit organization with the mission of helping under-resourced, high potential youth enroll and persist in college. Macias sits on the board of directors for Skechers, Inc.(NYSE:SKX)
During her tenure at Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment, Macías oversaw content acquisitions including securing home entertainment distribution rights for Crown Media’s Hallmark Channel and The Jim Henson Company. Macías helmed the launch and established the distribution strategy for Vivendi Entertainment’s digital distribution services along with acquiring rights for branded content such as National Geographic, WWE, NFL and Shout!Factory.
Macías received her MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and her B.S. degree in Finance from California State University, Northridge. Yolanda is the proud mother of Liam (22) and Rory (20). On weekends Yolanda enjoys exploring hiking trails and bike rides or you can find her at a yoga or dance studio. She resides in Los Angeles with her puppy Willow.
AVOD continues to be one of the fastest-growing categories and buyers for film. The consumer-base is also greatly expanding with audiences seeking free content, in lieu of retaining a bevy of pricey SVOD platforms; resulting in more meaningful revenue for filmmakers and distributors. This panel will discuss current opportunities in the AVOD space for independent film and the rise and value of FAST Channels, as well as how platforms are experimenting with licensing windows and exclusive content, and as a result, evolving opportunities for content creators to expose their works to larger audiences.
Tyler Aquilina, Media Analyst, Variety Intelligence Platform
JJ Caruth, President, Domestic Marketing & Distribution, The Avenue
Will Gurman, VP, Global Partnerships & Content Strategy, Paramount Streaming
Yolanda Macías, Chief Content Officer and Head of Digital Sales, Cinedigm
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A Practical Guide to Successfully Finance Your Independent Film and How to Navigate the Industry’s Current Challenges
Andrew Kramer Chair, Motion Picture, Television and Entertainment Finance practice, Willkie Farr and Gallagher LLPAndrew KramerChair, Motion Picture, Television and Entertainment Finance practice, Willkie Farr and Gallagher LLP
Andrew Kramer is Chair of Willkie’s Motion Picture, Television and Entertainment Finance practice group, and is a member of the Entertainment Transactions Practice. With over 30 years of experience working with leading global entertainment and film companies, Andrew focuses his practice on transactional matters related to domestic and international production, exploitation of motion picture, television and digital media content, legal issues, business affairs, project finance, acquisitions and global distribution of content. A seasoned lawyer and business executive, Andrew has held high-level legal and business positions in major film and television production and distribution companies across the industry. Andrew formerly served as a member of the Executive Committee as General Vice Chairperson of The Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA) overseeing the global trade association for the independent motion picture and television industry.
Brian O'SheaCEO, The Exchange
Currently, Brian O’Shea is the CEO of The Exchange, an international sales company founded in 2011. The Exchange is currently selling and financing Meet Cute (Kaley Cuoco & Pete Davidson), The Independent (Brian Cox, Jodie Turner-Smith, Kathy Bates, & John Cena), The Inventor (Daisy Ridley, Stephen Fry, Marion Cotillard, & Matt Berry), Violet (Olivia Munn) and Muti (Morgan Freeman). Past films include Universal’s 2 Guns (Denzel Washington & Mark Wahlberg), Netflix’s Shimmer Lake and Irreplaceable You; Sundance Award Winners Blaze, directed by Ethan Hawke, and We the Animals, directed by Jeremiah Zagar; Sundance and Independent Spirit nominees and winners, The Killing of Two Lovers, Spree, Dear White People, The Spectacular Now, Obvious Child; as well as, prominent documentary films including The Biggest Little Farm, Gleason, and Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street. Its first production, The Stand In, starring Drew Barrymore, was released by Saban in December of 2020, and its second production, The Independent, is currently in post-production and will be released by Relativity.
Prior to The Exchange, Mr. O’Shea was President of Worldwide Sales and Distribution for Affinity International, creating the entity five years ago then called Odd Lot International, turning it into one of the leading independent film production, sales, finance, and distribution companies in the United States.
In his role at Affinity, Mr. O’Shea was directly responsible for all international acquisitions, business affairs, sales, financing, and all distribution activities. Mr. O’Shea’s past success at Affinity includes the critically acclaimed Rabbit Hole starring Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart, Casa de mi Padre starring Will Ferrell, Gael Garcia Bernal, and Diego Luna, Beastly starring Vanessa Hudgens and Alex Pettyfer from CBS Films and Drive starring Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan. Mr. O’Shea was previously Senior Vice President of Worldwide Distribution at Media 8, Senior Vice President of International Sales at First Look International and Vice President of Legal Affairs and International Sales at Concorde-New Horizons. During his tenure at those companies, Mr. O’Shea was instrumental in securing, financing, and selling such films as Monster, Upside of Anger, Before Night Falls, and Waking Ned Devine.
Brian is also a member in good standing of the State Bar of California.
Eric PaquetteCEO, Meridian Pictures
Eric Paquette – CEO Meridian Pictures has over thirty years of experience creating content for some of the biggest media companies in the world such as CBS News & Sports, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, and Sony Pictures. Paquette, a well-respected executive and producer, is currently the CEO of the film and television company Meridian Pictures and is the Founder and CEO of the co-viewing start-up LetScreen. For the past fifteen years, he served as Senior Vice President of Production at Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Screen Gems where he supervised the development and production of feature films with budgets ranging between $10 million to $60 million. Prior to joining Sony in 2005, Paquette served in senior executive positions at Metro Goldwyn Mayer and Phoenix Pictures. He started his career in media as a researcher for CBS Sports and as an Associate Producer for Dan Rather and Connie Chung at CBS News.
Eric was recently appointed by President Biden to serve on the President’s Committee on the Arts. Established in 1958 by President Eisenhower, the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts (PACA) has played a valuable role in sustaining the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National Cultural Center. Members of the Committee are civic and cultural leaders who are selected by the President of the United States to serve as representatives in their own communities.
He is an advisory board member for The Johns Hopkins School of Education and is the former President and current Commissioner of The Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. Paquette is also a member of The Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences and was a previous member of the International Feature Film Executive Committee.
He co-founded Tudela Futbol Club Los Angeles and has run twenty-six marathons, including the Boston Marathon three times. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife Jessica Postigo and their two daughters, Libby and Nina. He and his family are beekeepers.
Fred MilsteinCEO, Media Guarantors
Fred Milstein is the CEO of Media Guarantors, a wholly-owned SpottedRisk subsidiary that provides Completion Guarantees to the Film & TV production world. With an impressive career in international entertainment finance and risk management, Milstein’s experience includes roles as a senior talent agent, production executive, entertainment insurance broker, and a film finance and completion bond authority. Milstein brings four decades of expertise from his previous senior positions at the William Morris Agency, MiramaxFilms, Completion Bond Company, cineFinance, and Aon/Albert G. Ruben to his current role.
Guillaume de ChalendarSVP, Head of Media & Entertainment, Banc of California
Guillaume has been an entertainment banker for 25 years, holding senior roles in commercial banks, private equity houses, and investment banks.
He post-graduated in French law in 1996, specializing in the entertainment industry, and started a Ph.D. in banking and media law at La Sorbonne in Paris.
After a short stint at a specialist law firm in Paris, he moved to media banking in London. Over the following period, he worked in London for 17 years and has been LA-based for the past eight years.
The Entertainment banking group he leads at Banc of California serves the Film, TV, Music and Touring industries.
Labor disputes, inflation, interest rates, ever-changing streaming industry: how to navigate the industry challenges. Lawyers, bankers, bonders, and sales agent veterans join together on this panel to offer practical and up-to-date insight to get your indie film financed as the industry continues to evolve.
Eric Paquette, CEO, Meridian Pictures
Andrew Kramer, Chair, Motion Picture, Television and Entertainment Finance practice, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP
Brian O’Shea, CEO, The Exchange
Guillaume de Chalendar, SVP, Head of Media & Entertainment, Banc of California
Fred Milstein, CEO, Media Guarantors
co-presented by Banc of California and Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP
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Cross-Border Collaborations: Creating Powerful Co-Productions & Partnerships
Arianne FraserCEO, Highland Film Group, Inc.
More speaker details coming soon…
David KehrlHead of Acquisitions, Constantin Films
David Kehrl boasts more than a decade of experience as an executive in the global film and television industry. Presently serving as the Head of Acquisitions and International Co-Productions at Munich-based Constantin Film, David has earned his stripes through a diverse career journey. He has held pivotal roles at Universal Pictures International Entertainment, Wild Bunch, Pro Sieben, and New Line Cinema. David has worked in various facets of the business, including overseeing the acquisition of global scripted content rights during his time at Universal Pictures International Entertainment.
Constantin Film, headquartered in Munich, is a prominent German production and distribution company. Their operations span film production and rights acquisition, TV production, film distribution, home entertainment, and license trading/TV exploitation. Notably, Constantin Film has been responsible for the release of 36 out of the 100 most successful German films in the last two decades. On the international stage, the company is renowned for its involvement in the highly successful Resident Evil film franchise, which has garnered an impressive $1.2 billion in worldwide earnings to date.
Diana LodderhoseInternational Features Editor, Deadline
Diana has been working in global film journalism since 2005. Before returning to Deadline in 2021 to focus on features for international film and television, she was previously International Reporter for the site. She is based in London and has frequently covered all the major film festivals and markets including Cannes, Berlin, AFM, Toronto and Sundance. Prior to joining Deadline, Diana was the UK correspondent for Variety and also covered film news and box office at Screen International.
Fabien WesteroffCEO/Founder & Producer, Film Constellation
Fabien Westerhoff is the founder of Film Constellation, an integrated production, sales and finance company headquartered in London and Paris.
The company specialises in growing award-winning filmmaker brands, and continues to expand its diverse talent slate including Saim Sadiq, Werner Herzog, Georgia Oakley, David Lynch, Natalie Erika James, James Marsh, Ekwa Msangi, Paco Plaza, Jamie Dack, Lotfy Nathan, Rashaad Ernesto Green and Fernando Trueba among others.
A French and German national by way of England and West Africa, Fabien speaks fluent English, Spanish, French and German. His career path took him from Paris to London and Los Angeles. He currently resides between London and Amsterdam with his young family.
Michael FavelleCEO, Odin's Eye Entertainment
With over 25 years of Film and Television experience, Michael Favelle is the founder and CEO of Sydney based Odin’s Eye Entertainment and sister company Odin’s Eye Animation which has been operating since 2006. With stints at Southern Star, Beyond International and Arclight films, Michael has amassed a depth and variety of skills in both live action and animation from development, through to financing, post/production, marketing, legal and international sales, and distribution giving him a unique insight into the industry.
Michael has Executive Produced over twenty five live-action and animated feature films, including Netflix’s Animal Crackers starring Emily Blunt and Ian McKellen; and the recent The Infernal Machine starring Guy Pearce and Alice Eve for Paramount Pictures.
Odin’s Eye Entertainment (OEE) is an integrated Production, Distribution and International Sales Agency that specializes in working with emerging and established filmmakers across a wide variety of genres. As a Sales Agency, OEE represents Feature Length Motion Pictures and Television content worldwide. Commencing in 2012, sister company Odin’s Eye Animation (OEA) creates and sources original and existing IP for developing and producing theatrical quality animation content for international sale. With strategic initiatives with a network of international content development and animation studios, OEA is uniquely placed to work with some of the best independent studios and talent worldwide including Academy Award Winning Producer Aron Warner; and Director Barry Cook: Mulan.
Odin’s Eye Entertainment and Animation are actively seeking original stories with unique, diverse, and compelling characters, and universal themes.
Yohann ComteCo-Founder, Charades
Yohann Comte is the cofounder of Charades, a sales and co-production company based in Paris. Before founding the company in 2017 with partners from Wild Bunch, Studiocanal and Asuna, Yohann was Deputy Head of International Sales at Gaumont.
At Charades Yohann coproduced REVENGE by Coralie Fargeat, French Hit Comedy THE SHINY SHRIMPS, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s starrer SUICIDE TOURIST. He also served as executive producer on arthouse shocker SWALLOW and Venice 2020 competition title THE WORLD TO COME. Additionally, he worked as an associate producer on Mamoru Hosoda’s Cannes Première 2021 success BELLE. Recently he co-produced the Cannes 2022 Competition Title TCHAIKOVSKY’S WIFE and served as an executive producer for SANCTUARY a twisty playful thriller starring Margaret Qualley and Christopher Abbot.
CHARADES’ slate includes two Academy Award Nominees for Best Animated Feature: Mamoru Hosoda’s MIRAI (Cannes Directors’ Fortnight 2018) and Jérémy Clapin’s debut I LOST MY BODY (Cannes Critics’ Week Nespresso Grand Prize 2019 and two Cristal Awards for Best Feature in Annecy International Film Festival: LITTLE NICHOLAS, Happy as Can Be in 2022, by Benjamin Massoubre and Amandine Freudon, and CHICKEN FOR LINDA! in 2023, by Chiara Malta and Sébastien Laudenbach. Over the years, CHARADES handled international sales on a wide range of features: DIAMANTINO by Gabriel Abrantes (Nespresso Grand Prize 2018), N’Wave Studio 3D Animation THE QUEEN’S CORGI, BELLE by Mamoru Hosoda (Cannes Official Selection 2021), 2022 Critics’ Week French Touch Prize and box-office hit AFTERSUN, debut film by Charlotte Wells, picked up by A24, SANCTUARY, by Zachary Wigon starring Margaret Qualley, SCRAPPER, by Charlotte Regan (2023 Sundance Grand Jury Prize), DISCO BOY, debut film by Giacomo Abbruzzese (Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution in 2023), and HOUNDS, by Kamal Lazraq (2023 Un Certain Regard Jury Prize), among others.
Recently, Charades presented THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING by Timm Kröger in Competition at the Venice International Film Festival, alongside STOLEN by Karan Tejpal in Orizzonti Extra and VERMIN by Sébastien Vaniček in Critics’ Week. Additionally, MOTHER, COUCH by Niclas Larsson in Special Presentations and WHEN EVIL LURKS by Demián Rugna in Midnight Madness introduced in Toronto.
In 2022, CHARADES was recognized as Distributor of the Year at Cartoon Movie.
In an increasingly globalized world, international co-productions are invaluable for creating multinational stories that transcend borders while presenting unique opportunities for financing and creative development. Executives from U.S. and international companies come together to discuss current strategies, opportunities and challenges, and what the future of co-productions looks like.
Diana Lodderhose, International Features Editor, Deadline
Yohann Comte, Co-Founder, Charades
Michael Favelle, CEO, Odin’s Eye Entertainment
Arianne Fraser, CEO, Highland Film Group, Inc.
David Kehrl, Head of Acquisitions, Constantin Films
Fabien Westeroff, CEO Founder & Producer, Film Constellation
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Economic Development: Moviemaking on Native Land
Allison WhitmerCommissioner, Montana Film Office
For over 25 years, Allison has been involved in filmmaking – beginning with the Robert Redford classic, The Horse Whisperer. A member of the Directors Guild, Allison’s filmography includes 30+ movies and numerous television and documentary credits. Notable credits include the adaptation of the Native American breakthrough novel, Winter in the Blood, penned by the acclaimed author James Welch; Certain Women, which brings the everyday stories of Montana women to life; and Walking Out, which captures the very real consequences of interacting with the Montana wilderness. Over her career she has worked with many clients in Print (Valentino, Italian Vogue), Sports (SLC Olympics), and Commercials (Ford, Toyota, Jaguar). She is a graduate of Montana State University with degrees in Media and Theatre Arts and Consumer Economics.
As the Montana Film Commissioner, Allison is an expert in the business aspects of filmmaking. She strives to market Montana as an Ultimate Location and prove the value of our industry through economic reporting, managing incentive programs, and advocating for Montana filmmakers.
Allison emanates the generational knowledge and spirit of her pioneer grandparents and possesses a love of open spaces. She actively promotes historic preservation and youth education, especially in her home area of Montana – the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.
Coni ShepperdSouthern Kentucky Film Commission
For over 15 years, Coni Shepperd has worked in the Tourism Industry and is a proud founding member of the Southern Kentucky Film Commission. Not only does she serve as the President of the Film Commission, but she is also the Executive Director of Munfordville Tourism and sits on the Board of Directors for Caveland Marketing Association (CMA) and Cave Country Trails (CCT). She is honored to represent Munfordville in the Kentucky Travel Industry Association (KTIA), the Kentucky Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus (KACVB), and the Southeast Tourism Society (STS). Coni persisted as a driving force to reinstate the Kentucky Film incentive programs and continues to advocate the benefits while collaborating with multiple organizations and production companies to bring film opportunities to Southern Kentucky.
Cyndy McCrossenCity of Albuquerque Film Liaison
Cyndy McCrossen was recruited by Mayor Tim Keller in 2021 to
serve as the Film Liaison for the City of Albuquerque Film Office.
An IATSE member since 2008, Cyndy has specialized in New
Mexico location scouting and management for film, television,
commercial productions for over a dozen years with credits on
shows such as Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Preacher, Outer
Range and many others. Born and educated in NM she also lived
in New York City – where she studied and performed Modern
Dance- for over a decade. She has worked as a producer for still
photographers and as an advocate for the film industry and film
crew education. She serves as a member of Central New Mexico’s
Film Advisory Committee, was recently awarded Albuquerque Film
& Media Experience’s ‘Impact’ award, is a member -and award
winner- of Location Managers Guild International and a member of
the Association of Film Commissioners International. In her current
position as Film Liaison in the City of Albuquerque Economic
Development Office Cyndy has been responsible for the faceforward,
physical relocation of the Albuquerque Film Office, the
development of a wide-range of advertising campaigns to promote
local film labor to national decision makers (one garnering an
International Economic Development Council silver award) She
also developed a Sustainable/Green Film Vendor data base. She
has been an early advocate and supporter of the acclaimed
Albuquerque branded PBS music series ‘Bands of Enchantment’.
In 2022 she was invited to speak in Karlskrona Sweden at the Carl
Film Forum (with Breaking Bad producer, Steward Lyon) on the
subject ‘Breaking Bad’s Economic Impact on Albuquerque’. She
has spoken in prior panel discussions with the Red Nation
Celebration Institute on the subject of ‘Economic Development on
Native Lands’. She often travels to promote Albuquerque’s film
industry and continues to advocate and facilitate for all members of
the Albuquerque community along their path as filmmakers.
Joanelle RomeroFounder, CEO, President, Red Nation Celebration Institute
Joanelle Romero is a humanitarian, actor, singer/songwriter, entrepreneur, member of The Academy Motion Picture Arts & Sciences since 2016 and first native filmmaker to be short-listed for an Academy Award for her film film ‘AMERICAN HOLOCAUST: WHEN IT’S ALL OVER I’LL STILL BE INDIAN’. First Native to receive humanitarian award Armin T. Wegner Humanitarian Award given to projects that have “the vision to see the truth and the courage to speak it.”
Third Generation Union Strong, a member of SAG-AFTRA since 1977, marking 45 years of membership. During her time as a member, Romero has actively participated by serving on the SAG-EEOC committee from 1998 to 2001. Within the framework of SAG-AFTRA, her nonprofit organization RNCI undertook numerous initiatives. Among these were the production of various events, including the creation of panels such as “Where Are We (Native Americans) in Film, Television, and Radio” in 2000 – this marked the first time SAG had an event on Native Representation, and “Native Women in Film & Television” in 2012. This commitment was an avenue to amplify the voices of Native individuals and foster representation within the entertainment industry.
Romero’s family legacy in politics and the entertainment industry is historic and respected. Her mother Rita Rogers, Mescalero-Chiricahua Apache and Spanish- Sephardic, was signed to Universal Studios in the 1960’s. She was featured in nine Elvis Presley movies, the Carol Burnett Show, and the Red Skelton Show.
In the political realm, her Uncle was one of the most decorated politicians,
Congressman Edward R. Roybal. In 1949, Roybal became the first Native Indigenous person to serve on the Los Angeles City Council since 1881 and was one of the highest-ranking Indigenous persons in California municipal government. He left the ladder down for others.
Romero has a long impressive career starring in the first Contemporary Native Women’s Story ever produced 1977 “A Girl Called Hatter Fox ” to 1989 Sundance award winning film cult classic Pow Wow Highway, the film that paved the way for contemporary native filmmaking.
Founder, President, CEO of Red Nation Celebration Institute actively organizing ground-breaking initiatives & programs since 1978. RNCI Properties include: Red Nation International Film Festival, RNCI Red Nation Awards, Red Nation Television Network Native Indigenous Media Streaming Company (predating Netflix and all other streaming services), Native Women in Film & Television in All Media, RNCI Crew, California Native Indigenous Film Commission, New Mexico Native Indigenous Film Commission, American Indian Heritage Month in the City of Los Angeles, Native Studies Center, Native Indigenous Student Academy for Cinematic Arts and Native Youth Matter – If I Can See It I Can Be It.
Marcei BrownFounder, Crewie
Marcei A. Brown, a founding partner of CatchLight Studios and a founding
partner with Jeanette Volturno in Crewvie, inc. Marcei and Jeanette turned to
web engineering veterans, Camille Alcasid and Sandra Jimenez of Westside
Websites, to bring their vision to full fruition. Camille and Sandra listened
carefully to Marcei and Jeanette’s goals and studied the industry’s pain
points in Film and TV production from the perspective of Producers. The
solution is Crewvie.com, a proprietary technology powerhouse, custom developed
by Camille and Sandra using the latest online productivity and
These four women united together to contribute their collective expertise in
assembling winning teams in the entertainment and media industries.
Mike FantasiaFormer President, LMGI
After working for the US Forest Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service for 13 years after college, Mike transitioned to a life working in the film business. He has worked as an assistant location manager, location manager and production supervisor on over 30 feature films.
Among them are Killers of the Flower Moon, Top Gun: Maverick, A River Runs Through It, Heat, Jerry Maguire, Girl, Interrupted, Dante’s Peak, Blow, Catch Me If You Can, Seabiscuit,, Munich, 3:10 to Yuma, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Amazing Spiderman, Godzilla and AntMan. He has been nominated for four California On Location awards for Location Professional of the Year, and won that award in 2005 for Memoirs of a Geisha and 2010 for The Green Hornet. Mike loves to explore new countries and work has given Mike the opportunity to travel to over 35 states and a dozen foreign countries. Mike is a proud twenty-three year member of Teamsters Local 399 and is a founding member of the Location Managers Guild International, on whose Board he now serves.
The RNCI California Native Indigenous Film Commission is delighted to introduce “ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ON NATIVE LAND™” in partnership with the entertainment industry. This enlightening discussion will shed light on the profound importance of filming on Native land, presenting a novel perspective on this vital subject.
This initiative is about more than just film production; it’s about economic growth. By creating job opportunities, offering workforce development training to prepare tribal members for the film industry, and unlocking untapped resources, we’re poised to increase revenue significantly. Additionally, we’re poised to explore new locations, uncover hidden treasures, and expand horizons.
Joanelle Romero, Founder CEO President, Red Nation Celebration Institute
Allison Whitmer, Commissioner, Montana Film Office
Coni Shepperd, Southern Kentucky Film Commission
Cyndy McCrossen, Liaison, City of Albuquerque Film
Marcei Brown, Founder, Crewie
Mike Fantasia, Former President, LMGI
presented in partnership with Red Nation Television Network
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Getting Your Film Made, Seen & Profitable in The Streaming Era
Brian BeckmannCFO/COO, Arclight Films
Brian Beckmann is the CFO of Arclight Films and has two decades of hands-on, multifaceted executive finance experience. He oversees all legal, financial and accounting functions for Arclight including its production operations and its 300+ sales library of feature films. Celebrating their 20-year anniversary this year, Arclight’s current slate of production and sales titles include the fantasy-adventure film The Portable Door starring Academy Award winner Christophe Waltz and Sam Neill produced with the Henson Company; the thriller Poker Face, directed by Academy Award winner Russell Crowe who also stars alongside Liam Hemsworth, Elsa Pataky and rapper RZA; the thriller The Locksmith starring Ryan Phillippe, Kate Bosworth and Ving Rhames; the SXSW competition title Seriously Red starring and produced by Rose Byrne’s production company Dollhouse Pictures and featuring the music of Dolly Parton and the dark-comedy Big Gold Brick starring Andy Garcia, Emory Cohen, Megan Fox and Golden Globe winner Oscar Isaac.
Juliet BermanProducer, Spiral Stairs Entertainment
Juliet Berman is a film and television producer with experience working in both the independent and studio/streamer space. She is a hands-on producer, shepherding each project from inception through the development and packaging phase, running point on set and in post, crafting the distribution/sales strategy and consulting with the distributor on marketing and publicity.
Since forming Spiral Stairs Entertainment in 2023, Berman has produced two independent features, a remake of the 1991 cult classic DON’T TELL MOM THE BABYSITTER’S DEAD and coming of age comedy GRIFFIN IN SUMMER, starring Melanie Lyskey, Owen Teague and Kathryn Newton.
Berman previously served as Head of Production for Treehouse Pictures, where she built a slate from the ground up of socially-conscious, commercial, film and television projects across all genres and managed an in-house fund for independent development/production financing. She has a track record of identifying emerging talent as well as working with high end IP rights holders.
At Treehouse, Berman built an early relationship with Netflix. She brought in and oversaw the production and financing of SAND CASTLE, starring Nicholas Hoult and Henry Cavill, which was sold in post to Netflix as one of their early Original Film acquisitions. She followed that up with the romantic comedy SET IT UP, which was developed at Treehouse based on her original idea and went on to become Netflix’s top-performing movie in over 200 territories in the summer of 2018.
Prior to Treehouse, Berman worked at New Line Cinema, Summit Entertainment and Anonymous Content. She grew up in Los Angeles and graduated with honors from Columbia University. In her spare time, she volunteers for non-profit mentorship program Young Storytellers, and serves as a jury member for several screenplay competitions and film festivals.
Paul ScanlanCo-Founder & CEO, Legion M
Paul Scanlan is an Emmy Award winning co-founder and CEO of Legion M, an innovative entertainment company that puts fans at the center of everything they do. With a focus on discovering and producing original and breakthrough films and television content, Scanlan and the team at Legion M are reshaping how content gets made. Using new securities laws enabled by the SEC, they created the world’s first fan-owned entertainment company and have been involved with notable releases such as Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose, You Can Call Me Bill, Colossal, the Jay and Silent Bob Reboot and more across NEON, Searchlight, Bleecker Street, SpectreVision, Saban, RLJ and Screen Media.
Sophia DilleySVP, Concord Originals
In 2018, Ms. Dilley was hired by Concord to build their content strategy. In 2021, she launched “Concord Originals,” Concord’s Film and TV division. Ms. Dilley and her team collaborate with all teams under Concord’s banner to identify, develop, and produce various screen projects related to Concord’s library of artists, compositions, plays, and musicals. Since the division’s launch, Ms. Dilley has overseen projects such as the Billie Holiday documentary “Billie,” the Emmy-Nominated 20/20 special on Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Little Richard: I am Everything on CNN, Creedence Clearwater Revival: Live at the Royal Albert Hall film on Netflix, Cyndi Lauper: Let the Canary Sing which premiered at Tribeca in 2023, and more.
Under Dilley’s stewardship, Concord Originals has a diverse list of active projects in production and development, including a docuseries at HBO on Stax Records, a TV series adaptation of the book “B as in Beauty” with Telemundo, a documentary on Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop, a documentary on Billy Preston, a feature film remake of The King and I at Paramount and a slate of TV musicals with Skydance TV and Jennifer Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions, starting with an series adaption of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Ms. Dilley also manages the distribution of Concord’s existing film library.
Prior to joining Concord, she worked at Route One Entertainment and Not Impossible Labs, producing various films, TV shows, commercials, and documentaries. Ms. Dilley holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees from Loyola Marymount University and a Master of Science degree in Project Management from Boston University.
Brian Beckmann, CFO/COO, Arclight Films
Juliet Berman, Producer, Spiral Stairs Entertainment
Sophia Dilley, SVP, Concord Originals
Paul Scanlan, Co-Founder & CEO, Legion M
More session updates coming soon…
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Green Filmmaking: Tools for More Sustainable Production at Every Budget
Allison BegalmanCEO, YEA! Impact
Allison Begalmanis an entrepreneur, writer, and activist working at the intersection of entertainment and social justice. She’s the CEO of YEA! Impact and the co-founder/EP of the Hollywood Climate Summit, as well as recipient of the Roddenberry Impact Award and the Walking Softer Young Leaders Award. Outside of social impact, Allison writes for television and film and speaks for companies and organizations all over the world, including Paramount Global, NYU, USC, Edinburgh TV Festival, Harvard, and many more.
Heidi KindbergVice President, Sustainability at Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD)
Heidi Kindberg is Vice President, Sustainability at Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), responsible for overseeing the sustainable production program on all scripted HBO- and Max-led originals, with the dual end goal of reducing environmental impacts behind the scenes while increasing sustainability awareness on screen. She began this role in March 2020.
Dubbed HBOGreen, the program’s efforts include carbon emissions tracking, best practices education, clean energy implementation, waste reduction practices, value chain opportunities and identifying on-screen opportunities. Additionally, Kindberg has continuously and successfully collaborated with industry partners through the Sustainable Production Alliance (SPA) and with the Producers Guild of America’s Green arm, for more than a decade. These efforts, which include spearheading university research projects, co-crafting industry-standard resources, chairing various committee work, launching the Sustainable Entertainment Education Series and co-founding the Green Film School Alliance, can be found on the Green Production Guide site.
Prior to joining WBD, Kindberg served as Director, Environmental Sustainability at Sony Pictures Entertainment and has freelance producing experience. She serves on SPA’s executive committee and is a trained Climate Reality leader since 2018. Previously, she served as an advisor to the Culver City Unified School District Environmental Sustainability Committee. Coming full circle, she met her husband while working on a show at Warner Bros. years ago and together they have two children, Jackson and Megan, and two dogs, Bones and Buffy. Kindberg holds a B.S. in Telecommunications & Film and an M.A. in Urban Sustainability.
Jill GoldsmithCo-Business Editor, Deadline
Jill joined Deadline in 2019 after working as a New York-based contributor. She follows corporate finance, deals and publicly traded companies in media and entertainment, film financing, and New York film and TV production.
Samata PattinsonCEO, Black Pearl
Samata Pattinson is a British-born Ghanaian entrepreneur from Cambridge, working across fashion, film, and media. As CEO of Black Pearl, she is passionate about cultural sustainability, and connecting the dots between people, communities and the planet.
For 13 years, Samata grew and developed a women-founded organization promoting sustainability within the entertainment and design worlds. Overseeing design, educational and commercial initiatives alongside delivering Red Carpet Green Dress at the Oscars, she led collaborations with creatives, brands and organizations from Ghana and Nigeria, across to Italy and New Zealand, working with established brands such as Louis Vuitton, Armani, and Vivienne Westwood, alongside small independent designers such as Laura Basci. Most recently, Samata wrote and delivered the Sustainable Style Guide for the 95th Annual Academy Awards, known as The Oscars.
She developed the Billie Eilish Climate and Fashion focus at the singers’ London Overheated Festival, and joined COP26 as part of the SHE Changes Climate initiative, later delivering a keynote during COP27 in Egypt on Designing for Sustainability.
Samata holds advisory and mentor roles at Cambridge University’s Institute of Sustainability Leadership alongside having spoken at Yale School of the Environment, COP26, COP27 and SXSW, and has been invited to Number 10 Downing Street to address two British Prime Ministers on the subject of sustainability, business and entrepreneurism. In 2020, Samata was selected by Cambridge University to champion their new series for the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership entitled ‘Future we Want initiative’, in addition to sharing insight for the inaugural IPBES, Global Biodiversity Podcast – Nature
She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and sits on the sustainability council for Rothys with a focus on the relationship between biodiversity, climate and apparel production. A producer, published author (THE TRIBE™ Empowerment Journal, The Fashion Designer’s Resource Book – Bloomsbury Publishing), Samata delivered her first TED talk in June.
Stephanie Dawson is a producer, line producer, and production manager for narrative, unscripted, and branded content with over 15 years of experience. She is a founding member of the non-profit Women Independent Producers, former co-chair of the Producers Guild of America Green Committee and a Climate Reality Leader. She is currently a Producer for the PBS Series Great Performances with WNET Group/Thirteen.
Steve VitoloFounder and CEO, Scriptation
Steve Vitolo is the founder and CEO of Scriptation, the Emmy® Award winning script reading and annotation app for film and television production. He has over 15 years of experience working in the entertainment industry, having written for shows like “Hot in Cleveland” and “Black-ish,” and the romantic comedy, “The List.” Steve developed Scriptation after seeing first-hand the staggering amount of paper that gets consumed on set, and is dedicated to promoting sustainable practices that inspire productions to go paperless. His work has been featured in The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline, and many more publications.
The damaging effects that production can have on the environment are very real. However, with the right knowledge and tools, every production can take steps towards minimizing environmental impact. So, what does sustainable filmmaking look like? Our experts will discuss how their organizations are implementing changes to reduce their carbon footprint and what some of the best practices and tools are that independent producers can start implementing on-set today without breaking their budget.
Jill Goldsmith, Co-Business Editor, Deadline
Allison Begalman, CEO, YEA! Impact
Heidi Kindberg, Vice President, Sustainability at Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD)
Samata Pattinson, CEO, Black Pearl
Stephanie Dawson, Producer
Steve Vitolo, Founder and CEO, Scriptation
presented in partnership with Green Production Guide and Hollywood Climate Summit
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Evolving Roles & Relationships: Sales Agents and Producers
Christine HaeblerProducer, Screen Siren Pictures
In the film business since 1983, Christine Haebler started off in production on various big budget US studio films. She then moved into producing in 1995 with her first feature film earning a Best Motion Picture nomination for HARD CORE LOGO. The film was picked up by Quentin Tarantino for his distribution company Rolling Thunder. She then produced a varied group of feature films including, Scott Speedman’s first feature – KITCHEN PARTY directed by Gary Burns, Ashley Judd starrer- HELEN directed by Sandra Nettelbeck, Martin Freeman in – NIGHTWATCHING directed by Peter Greenaway and Cuba Gooding Jr/Val Kilmer’s Sci Fi action thriller HARDWIRED.
In 2010 she teamed up with Trish Dolman and Screen Siren Pictures- they have developed and produced many films together starting with Mike Goldbach’s DAYDREAM NATION (2010) starring Kat Dennings, Josh Lucas and Andie MacDowell, followed by Peter Chelsom’s HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS (2014) with Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike, Christopher Plummer, Jean Reno and Stellan Skarsgård.
She developed and produced the multi-award-winning film INDIAN HORSE (2018) directed by Stephen Campanelli. The film was executive produced by Clint Eastwood and won 22 awards internationally. To date it’s the highest grossing English Canadian feature film for Elevation Pictures.
Christine produced the 10-part TV mini-series TERMINAL CITY for UK’s Channel 4 and the 5-part YA miniseries CLUE for Hasbro.
She then served as Production Exec on SHUT IN with Naomi Watts and WARRIORS GATE written by Luc Besson both for Europacorp.
She also produced FRENCH EXIT (2020), the feature adaptation of author Patrick DeWitt’s acclaimed novel with Sony Classics, directed by Aza Jacobs, starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Lucas Hedges, which earned Michelle Pfeiffer a Golden Globe nomination and a CSA win for Best Actress.
She was one of the producers on Dev Patel’s upcoming directorial debut and starring vehicle MONKEY MAN for Universal.
Her latest project that she produced and developed entitled BONES OF CROWS, is a dramatic miniseries and feature film from Indigenous filmmaker and playwright Marie Clements, for the CBC and Fifth Season which premiered at TIFF 2022. The film has won 32 awards to date and is nominated for 11 more. The series Premiered on CBC on Sept 20th 2023.
She is also currently Exec Producing a feature Doc entitled 500 DAYS IN THE WILD by Dianne Whelen for Paramount + to premier internationally in 2024.
Clay EpsteinPresident, Film Mode Entertainment
Clay Epstein has over twenty years of experience as an Entertainment Executive. Since launching his own company in 2016, he is the President and Owner of Film Mode Entertainment, a worldwide sales and distribution entity with a producer friendly initiative. In addition to bringing films to audiences around the globe, Clay executive produces many of the company’s titles. As an Executive Producer, Clay is instrumental in working with filmmakers in the early stages of pre‐production to help build the financing, and creative elements to achieve these successes worldwide. To better help producers and directors who may be less experienced, Film Mode has an active consultancy division, offering producers expertise and guidance on financial models, marketing, and distribution strategies.
Film Mode represents over 50 independent feature films worldwide, with a client base that spans the globe. Recent successes include BREACH starring Bruce Willis, AS THEY MADE US starring Dustin Hoffman, and Candice Bergan, CRYPTO starring Kurt Russel, LITTLE PINK HOUSE starring Catherine Keener, and MONSTROUS starring Christina Ricci.
Prior to launching Film Mode, Clay was SVP Sales & Acquisitions at Arclight Films. He was instrumental in representing high profile films such as Paul Schrader ’s DOG EAT DOG starring Nicolas Cage, and the Spirig brother’s PREDESTINATION starring Ethan Hawke. Earlier in his career, Clay represented prestigious titles such as TSOTSI (2006, Academy Award Winner for Best Foreign Language,) and THE LAST STATION (2010, Academy Award Nominee for Best Performance by an Actress.) Clay earned a BA in Fine Arts, from California State University, Northridge majoring in Film Production and minoring in Italian Language.
In addition to his professional accomplishments, he holds the elected position of Chairman of Independent Film and Television Alliance. Clay is an instructor at UCLA Extension, and a frequent lecturer at film festivals worldwide., a member of PGA, FIND, BAFTA LA, and the Australian Academy Cinema Television Arts.
Mark PadillaPresident of Worldwide Sales & Acquisitions, Jackrabbit Media LLC
Mark Padilla has over 20 years of experience in the independent film and television industry. Currently the President of Worldwide Sales and Acquisitions at the Arizona-based company Jackrabbit Media. Mark oversees all acquisitions and worldwide sales rights to their projects.
Mark also teaches two courses at UCLA Extension focusing on the independent film business. One course is dedicated to marketing and distributing independent films across all platforms, while the other is an in-depth look at the acquisition process in Hollywood.
Previously, Mark was SVP of Sales and Acquisitions at DDI (Double Dutch International), a Toronto-based company. At DDI, Mark produced and executive produced several films. Including the action film THE DOORMAN, the hitman thriller THE VIRTUOSO, and the exciting horror film ESCAPE THE FIELD.
Before joining DDI, Mark was the VP of sales and acquisitions at Myriad Pictures. Mark was responsible for selling both new and library titles. He also managed a team of sales, marketing, and publicity executives. Before Myriad, Mark was VP of International Sales at Essential Entertainment; before Essential, he was the marketing manager at Arclight Films.
Mark started his career working as an international acquisitions consultant for multiple distribution companies worldwide, including international broadcasters such as Mediaset (Italy), Telecinco-Mediaset (Spain), and ProSeiben (Germany).
Mark has spoken on several panels discussing the international distribution market and has been featured in several industry trade publications regarding the global independent film market. Mark has also served as a jury member for independent feature films and short film festivals.
Nadine de BarrosCo-Founder & SVP, Fortitude International
Speaker bio details coming soon…
Sales agents and producers from around the world discuss their roles, how they collaborate, what buyers want, and how to set your project up for sales success.
Clay Epstein, President, Film Mode Entertainment
Nadine de Barros, Co-Founder, Fortitude International
Christine Haebler, Producer, Screen Siren Pictures
Mark Padilla, President of Worldwide Sales & Acquisitions, Jackrabbit Media LLC
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Developing, Pitching, and Making Television
Kate GillSVP of Development for Paramount Television Studios
Kate Gill is SVP of Development for Paramount Television Studios, where she oversaw the Paramount+ musical series Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies and shepherded the critically acclaimed limited series Station Eleven and half hour comedy Made For Love, both for HBOMax. Previously, she worked at YouTube Originals as the Development and Current executive for multiple series and pilots including the series Weird City and On Becoming A God In Central Florida. Before she worked for the streaming service, Gill worked with the late executive producer Jamie Tarses at her Sony-based POD FanFare and for the comedy company JASH heading up TV development. Gill graduated from Loyola Marymount University where she studied film production. She is a native of Carlsbad, California and lives in Los Angeles.
Leila CohanEmmy-nominated writer and producer (BRIDGERTON)
LEILA COHAN is an Emmy-nominated television and feature writer. Most recently, she served as Co-Executive Producer on forthcoming Netflix thriller THE PERFECT COUPLE. Previously, she’s written for SPECIAL (WB/Netflix) BRIDGERTON (Shondaland/Netflix), THE FIRST WIVES CLUB (Paramount/BET Plus), SANTA CLARITA DIET (Netflix), TELENOVELA (NBC), and AWKWARD (MTV). She’s developed pilots for Paramount, Hello Sunshine, The CW, YouTube Red, and the last days of ABC Family, as well features for Paramount, Picture Start and Lionsgate.
Nathan VarniExecutive Director, Current Programming, ABC Entertainment Group/Disney
Nathan Varni is Executive Director, Current Programming, ABC Entertainment Group/Disney.
Mr. Varni oversees all creative and day-to-day management on ABC’s primetime series including Will Trent, Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19, The Conners and General Hospital. In past seasons, Mr. Varni served as the covering executive on Alaska Daily, The Company You Keep, Rebel, The Baker and the Beauty, How to Get Away with Murder, Grand Hotel, Once Upon A Time, Scandal, Cristela, The Middle, Kevin (Probably) Saves the World, the revival of Roseanne and also serves as the network/studio executive on ABC’s long-running daytime drama series, General Hospital, currently celebrating 60 years on-air, where he has oversaw 3000+ episodes of the series, including multiple Daytime Emmy Awards for outstanding daytime drama series. Mr. Varni joined ABC in comedy current programming working in development and current programming and worked on a vast number of both comedy and drama series including According to Jim, Samantha Who?, Better off Ted, Cougar Town, Castle, V, 666 Park Avenue and three seasons co-covering Happy Endings.
Prior to joining ABC, Mr. Varni worked in series development at Regency Television (Malcolm in the Middle, The Bernie Mac Show). While at Regency Mr. Varni assisted with the creative coverage of NBC’s Windfall and FOX’s New Amsterdam. Prior to his time at Regency TV, Mr. Varni worked in reality series as a story assistant for series such as America’s Next Top Model, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, High School Reunion, For Love or Money and The Next Great Champ. Game show experience includes working on 65 episodes of GSN’s Whammy! The All New Press Your Luck. Mr. Varni served as a production assistant and then Exec Producers assistant on the CBS sitcoms Listen Up and How I Met Your Mother.
Richard BottoFounder & CEO, Stage 32
Richard “RB” Botto is the Founder and CEO of Stage 32, a working screenwriter, best-selling author, actor and producer. As the CEO of Stage 32, RB oversees the world’s largest online tech platform connecting and educating the global entertainment industry with over 1 million members in the community. Stage 32 is the education partner of Netflix, the American Film Market, Canon and the Cannes Film Festival Marche du Film. As a screenwriter, RB has sold feature screenplays and recently set up a television series he created at Amblin. As a producer, his films have played at dozens of festivals including Cannes, Sundance, SXSW and Raindance. As an actor, his latest film On the Corner of Ego and Desire recently premiered at the Raindance Film Festival. RB’s book Crowdsourcing For Filmmakers: Indie Film and the Power of the Crowd, was published by Focal Press/Routledge under the American Film Market Presents banner and has hit #1 in 6 different film and business-related categories. The book can be found on Amazon and Audible, where it has garnered over 100 5-star reviews.
RB has been a keynote speaker and panelist all over the world at such festivals and conferences as the Cannes Film Festival (France), American Film Market (US), Tribeca Film Festival (US), Austin Film Festival (US), SXSW (US), Cinequest (US), Winston Baker (US), Hollyshorts Film Festival (US), Raindance Film Festival (UK), FOCUS (UK), Hamburg Film Fest (Germany), Trinidad & Tobago Film Commission (Trinidad), Fest Festival (Portugal), Black Nights Film Festival (Estonia), USC (US), Columbia University (US) and Harvard (US) on the business of the entertainment industry.
Vijal PatelEmmy Award-nominated writer & producer (Black-ish)
VIJAL PATEL is an Emmy-nominated and Peabody-winning Writer/Executive Producer known for telling critically acclaimed stories about identity, race, and family. He has worked on long-running hit series like Black-ish and The Middle, and has developed features for Dreamworks and Netflix including an animated Bollywood musical. He is currently showrunning his own comedy series, The Pradeeps of Pittsburgh, for Amazon/Freevee that explores the modern struggles of Indian immigrants.
Television has a tremendous amount of variables given the multiple episode and multi-season format. When developing a television project, how long should your script be? What additional material do you need in order to pitch your project? What should go into your TV pitch bible? What should you have prepared if you’re on a Zoom pitch? And, once your show gets greenlit, what is the process like working with the buyer? We’ll bring in a variety of experts to talk about the entire process and what it’s like from the creative and buyer perspective.
Nathan Varni, Executive Director of Current Programming ABC/Disney
Kate Gill, SVP of Development for Paramount Television Studios
Leila Cohan, Emmy Award-nominated writer & producer (Bridgerton)
Richard Botto, CEO, Stage 32, writer & producer
Vijal Patel, Emmy Award-nominated writer & producer (Black-ish)
presented in partnership with Stage 32
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Modern Horror: The Genre and What Scares Us Evolve
Bishal DuttaWriter/Director/Producer, Independent
Bishal Dutta is an award-winning Writer/Director. His directorial work includes short films, digital series, music videos and broadcast commercials. His short film, LIFE IN COLOR, was an official selection at the American Pavilion’s Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. His films have been honored at nearly two dozen film festivals around the world, including those in Italy, Austria and France. Bishal has received six Best Director awards for his narrative and documentary work. Bishal wrote and directed his first feature film for QC Entertainment and Neon, the producers behind hits like PARASITE, GET OUT, US and BLACKKKLANSMAN. His film, IT LIVES INSIDE, was released theatrically worldwide on Sept. 22nd, 2023.
Cecilia BrushSales Manager, Raven Banner Entertainment
Cecilia Brush is a dynamic and accomplished executive in the Film Sales Industry, renowned for her exceptional leadership skills, multilingual proficiency, and outstanding achievements within the realm of independent film sales & production.
Brush previously held the role of Head of Sales & Acquisitions for OneTwoThree Media, where her visionary directorship elevated the company to new heights. Her keen negotiation skills and unwavering dedication to her craft allowed the company to secure a vast array of promising projects, fostering lasting partnerships and bringing unique, thought-provoking content to audiences worldwide.
Subsequently, Cecilia took on the role of Sales Manager for Raven Banner Entertainment, where she leads the charge in expanding the company’s market presence and enhancing its reputation as a major player in the global film sales arena.
Patrick EwaldCEO, Epic Pictures
Patrick Ewald is an American financier and producer who is known for his work in the independent film and video game industries. He is the owner and CEO of Epic Pictures Group, a film and video game production and distribution company that focuses on genre films. His recent film credits include The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot, Satanic Hispanics, The Cellar, and The Lake. His recent video game credits include Amanda the Adventurer, The Mortuary Assistant, My Friendly Neighborhood, and Creepshow which is currently in development with AMC Networks/Shudder.
In 2017, Patrick via Epic Pictures acquired the world’s most popular horror news website, Dread Central, and launched its genre film label, Dread, followed by its AVOD channel, DreadTV. In 2019, Epic Pictures started the horror gaming site, DreadXP, with a focus on editorial, reviews, podcasts, and original streaming content. In 2020, DreadXP launched a video game development and publishing division which finances, produces, and publishes 6-8 games a year with some of the most innovative talent in the independent gaming space.
You might find Patrick at any of the former, but more likely you’ll find him at home with his wife and three daughters, curled up on the couch engrossed in a film with their very lovable pit bull rescue, Austin. A New York City native, Mr. Ewald is a three-time Saturn Award winner, former board member of the International Film and Television Alliance (IFTA), and a member of the Producers Guild of America. He graduated with honors from Duke University with a degree in film studies.
Paul NeinsteinCo-CEO, Project X Entertainment
Paul Neinstein is Co-Chief Executive Officer of Project X Entertainment. Prior to Project X, Paul was Chief Operating Officer of RatPac Entertainment, where he oversaw all corporate, business, legal, financial and day-to-day operations of the company including the repurchase by Warner Bros. of a 75-picture library in which RatPac invested in excess of $1.2b in production funding. Paul also spearheaded RatPac’s theatrical, documentary and television content strategy. Prior to RatPac, Paul was Executive Vice President in Charge of Business Affairs for Paramount Pictures where he structured, negotiated and administered slate financing and worldwide distribution agreements as well as acquisition and major talent agreements for Paramount’s live action, animated and micro-budget theatrical motion pictures.
Prior to Paramount, Paul was a partner in and oversaw all business and corporate operations of Spyglass Entertainment Group. Paul negotiated all distribution, acquisition and talent agreements and handled Spyglass’ studio relationships including the company’s non-exclusive first-look production and co-financing arrangement with Columbia Pictures as well as the company’s ongoing co-financing partnerships with The Walt Disney Company, Universal Pictures and DreamWorks. Prior to Spyglass, Paul worked as a theatrical business affairs attorney for DreamWorks SKG. Paul began his career as a transactional entertainment associate at Hill, Wynne, Troop and Meisinger.
Paul is a member of the Executive Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and is Executive Vice President of the Board of Trustees of deToledo High School. Paul earned his JD from Loyola Law School, where he was a staff writer and business editor of the Loyola of Los Angeles Entertainment Law Journal, and his B.A. in Psychology from UCLA.
Steven C. MillerWriter/Director & CEO, Through the Heart
Steven C. Miller is an American screenwriter, editor, and director. His feature film debut, Automaton Transfusion, became an instant horror cult classic and catapulted his career into Hollywood. He directed the remake of Silent Night, Deadly Night in 2012, then shifted from horror to action where he directed 5 films in the span of 6 years for Lionsgate. He recently stepped back into horror with Paramounts, Margaux, and his latest upcoming werewolf film, Year 2. He has directed films starring notable actors such as Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Frank Grillo, Aaron Eckhart, Giancarlo Esposito, and Dave Bautista.
While low-budget, high-return Horror films have long been an independent industry staple, the genre continues to evolve for more sophisticated audiences. Industry experts discuss a new breed of elevated genre films that are drawing audiences and commercial and arthouse production and sales companies into the game.
Patrick Ewald, CEO, Epic Pictures
Cecilia Brush, Sales Manager, Raven Banner Entertainment
Bishal Dutta, Writer/Director/Producer, Independent
Steven C. Miller, Writer/Director & CEO, Through The Heart
Paul Neinstein, Co-CEO, Project X Entertainment
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ReFraming Gender-Inclusive Hiring: How Producers are Shifting the Narrative
Alexander StegmaierProducer/Manager, previously at Walt Disney Animation Studios
Alexander Stegmaier is a producer and manager working in film and television with a focus on underrepresented voices. He previously worked in development at Walt Disney Animation Studios where he helped build unique worlds and characters, expanding some of the company’s biggest franchises including FROZEN, MOANA, and ZOOTOPIA.
Most recently, Alexander produced the feature film MUTT by Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, which world premiered at Sundance 2023, was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize and won a Special Jury Award. He also executive produced Fawzia Mirza’s Bollywood-inspired epic, THE QUEEN OF MY DREAMS (Toronto 2023), and Jamie Sisley’s STAY AWAKE (Berlinale 2022, Special Jury Mention Award). Prior to Disney, Alexander was an award-winning art producer at National Geographic magazine where he covered a range of human-interest stories that reached millions of viewers a month.
Andrew HeviaHead of TV & Film in North America, Fabula
Andrew Hevia is the Head of TV & Film in the North American office of Fabula, the international production company founded by Academy Award winning filmmakers Juan de Dios and Pablo Larraín. His producing credits include MOONLIGHT, CENIZAS and SPENCER. A Cuban American filmmaker from Miami, Andrew is a graduate of the Florida State University Film School and Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business. He was a Fulbright Fellow in Hong Kong, a Gotham Labs Fellow and a Producing Fellow at Berlinale Talents. Andrew currently lives in Los Angeles.
Andria Wilson MirzaDirector of Reframe
Andria Wilson Mirza is the Director of ReFrame, the screen industry’s gender equity coalition founded and led by Sundance Institute and Women In Film. Previously, Andria was Executive Director of Inside Out, Canada’s largest LGBTQ film festival. There, she established the world’s only LGBTQ Feature Film Financing Forum, launched two development funds, co-founded the North American Queer Festival Alliance (NAQFA), and spearheaded a multi-year partnership between Inside Out and Netflix. Named ‘one of 15 Canadian women to watch’ by the CBC, Andria has been a featured speaker at festivals including TIFF, Sundance, SXSW, Berlin’s European Film Market, San Diego Comic Con, Oslo Fusion, and the Iris Prize Producer’s Forum. Under her Baby Daal Productions banner, co-founded with her wife Fawzia Mirza, Andria produced their award winning film NOOR & LAYLA for CBC Gem and is in pre-production on Fawzia’s directorial debut feature ME, MY MOM AND SHARMILA. Andria and Fawzia served as advisors on the Sundance documentary SIRENS from Emmy-winning director Rita Baghdadi, and are Executive Producers of Sandra Itäinen’s upcoming queer Muslim documentary COMING AROUND.
April ShihWriter/producer, Diversity Hire Ltd.
April Shih is a WGA Award-winning television writer/producer and filmmaker with several series in development at FX, WBTV, and Paramount Television Studios. She has written for FX’s critically acclaimed comedy YOU’RE THE WORST, MRS. AMERICA (starring Cate Blanchett), and Amazon’s UNDONE, and served as Supervising Producer for Season 2 of DAVE. April was recently a showrunner for Alex Garland’s THE BEACH for FX and is currently a co-executive producer on Season 5 of FARGO. April has been a fellow of the Sundance Episodic Story Lab, CAPE New Writers Fellowship, CBS Writers Mentoring Program, and the inaugural Film Independent Episodic Lab. April is currently under an overall deal at FX where she is creating, developing, and producing meaningful, soul-oriented content under her production banner DIVERSITY HIRE LTD.
Ebony Elaine HardinProducer
Ebony Elaine Hardin is a LA-based Producer with roots in casting for TV, Film, and Broadway. She has worked on various TV series and films, including Pretty Little Liars (ABC), Sense8 (Netflix), Dimension 20 (CH Media), and Baby Driver (TriStar).With a passion for developing and producing projects with visionary creatives, Ebony is currently producing Trashy People, a coming-of-age environmental dramady written and directed by Marissa High. In the short film space, Ebony produced Mr. Talented (dir. Rochée Jeffrey), which screened at the 2018 Austin Film Festival and was a finalist in the HBO Short Film Competition at MVAAFF. More recently, she produced The Bluest Hour (dir. Logan Jackson), Dinner Party Dictator (dir. Bente Engelstoft) and The Flacalta Effect (dir. Rochée Jeffrey) which will all be on the 2024 festival circuit.Ebony is honored to have been selected as a 2018 NCBW Maya Angelou Phenomenal Woman Award Winner, a 2021 Constellation Incubator Producing Fellow, a 2022 Film Independent Project Involve Producing Fellow and a 2023 WIF Producing Fellow and Film Financing Intensive participant with Trashy People.
Join ReFrame, the screen industry’s gender equity coalition led by Sundance Institute and WIF, in a conversation with leading independent producers about what it takes to really move the needle towards gender parity and inclusion in production. While some progress has been made in the last 5 years to increase the numbers of women and historically underrepresented talent in key roles, the (slight) increase in greenlit projects led by women and filmmakers of color remains the primary driver of that change. Until the majority of films make a push for inclusive and gender-balanced hiring, especially those led by male creative teams, the game just won’t change. ReFrame’s director, Andria Wilson Mirza will lead a discussion with acclaimed male and female producers that are challenging the historical approaches to building their teams, and working towards a more representative industry on all levels.
Andria Wilson Mirza, Director, ReFrame
Alexander Stegmaier, Producer/Manager, previously at Walt Disney Animation Studios
Andrew Hevia, Head of TV & Film in North America, Fabula
April Shih, Writer/producer, Diversity Hire Ltd.
Ebony Elaine Hardin, Producer, Pretty Little Liars (ABC), Sense8 (Netflix)
presented in partnership with Reframe
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Changing Minds & Bettering Lives Through Storytelling
Anikah McLarenEVP of Narrative Film, Participant Media
As Executive Vice President of Narrative Film, Anikah McLaren co-heads the development and production of narrative film for Participant, the leading media company dedicated to entertainment that stands at the intersection of art and activism. While at Participant, she has been instrumental in the development and production of the Toronto International Film Festival Changemaker Award winner We Grown Now and Academy Award®-winning film Judas and the Black Messiah, as well as upcoming projects Shirley and BLKNWS.
Prior to joining Participant, McLaren served as Senior Vice President of Production at Fox Searchlight Pictures, where she oversaw The Old Man and the Gun, as well as development on an eclectic group of projects, including a feature film about iconic choreographer Alvin Ailey, directed by Barry Jenkins. Prior to Fox Searchlight, McLaren was a production executive at Universal Pictures, where she worked on a wide variety of films, including Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The Bourne Legacy, The Best Man Holiday and Lone Survivor. McLaren also held positions at Focus Features and Miramax Films.
McLaren received a BA in English from The George Washington University. She currently is a member of AMPAS in the Executive Branch and sits on the Executive Panel for the AFI Directing Workshop for Women.
Jamal HendersonCCO, The SpringHill Company
Jamal Henderson is the Chief Content Officer at The SpringHill Company, the Emmy Award-winning studio team founded by LeBron James and Maverick Carter. Under Jamal’s leadership, the studio team develops and produces high-quality sports and entertainment film, audio and theatrical releases with the biggest content creators, networks, streamers, brands, and platforms in the world. Since joining in 2015, Henderson has successfully led the charge for several award-winning projects including: Space Jam: A New Legacy, Hustle, Turning the Tables with Robin Roberts, Recipe for Change, Top Boy, Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker, The Wall, The First One with DJ Khaled and many more.
Prior to joining SpringHill, Henderson held roles at PepsiCo and Deloitte respectively. He received his BS from Cornell and MBA from the Kellogg School of Management.
Karen LunderPresident of Features, Imagine Entertainment
Karen Lunder is President of Imagine Features and heads Imagine’s feature film development and production. She recently produced Thirteen Lives, Hillbilly Elegy and The Spy Who Dumped Me for Imagine.
Prior to joining Imagine in 2017, Karen was EVP of Production for Film Nation. Over her career she has produced, developed and overseen a variety of award winning and commercial successes, including Marc Webb’s Gifted, Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival, John Lee Hancock’s The Founder, Gavin Hood’s Eye In The Sky and The Blind Side among others.
Robert RippbergerFounder & Co-Executive Director, SIE Society / SIE Films
Robert Rippberger is a filmmaker with a broad array of creative and executive experience. He most recently directed and produced the film “Those Who Walk Away” starring BooBoo Stewart (Descendants, X-Men) and prior to that directed and produced the Harlem drama, “Strive,” with Danny Glover. Both were released theatrically and received dozens of accolades worldwide.
Rippberger has also directed and produced critically acclaimed documentaries, including the 2019 film “Public Enemy Number One” from Executive Producer ICE-T, exploiting the U.S. war on drugs. Prior, Rippberger directed and produced the 2015 film “7 Days in Syria”, an exploration into the human side of the war in Aleppo, Syria. The film was championed by Angelina Jolie, screened at Britain’s House of Lords, to senior members of the U.N., and was released on Hulu and Amazon.
Rippberger is a member of the Producers Guild of America and is on the PGA’s Social Impact Entertainment Task Force. In addition to heading SIE Films, Rippberger is the founder and co-executive director of SIE Society, a leading global alliance of Social Impact Entertainment filmmakers. In 2022 he published his second book, “The Power of Storytelling: Social Impact Entertainment” available through book sellers everywhere October 25th.
Rippberger’s current projects include producing the documentary “How to Build a Truth Engine” with Executive Producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov, producing the documentary “The Mouse That Roared” from Academy Award-nominated director Judith Ehrlich, producing the stop-motion animated film “The Inventor” from “Ratatouille” writer Jim Capobianco, starring Daisy Ridley, Stephen Fry, Marion Cotillard, and Matt Berry, and executive producing the horror film “Float” by former Blumhouse executive Zac Locke. Rippberger also has two upcoming director projects to be announced soon.
Content creators hold the power to tell stories that can transcend boundaries, inspire awareness and empathy, spark conversations, and drive positive societal change. Executives and producers at the forefront of social impact entertainment discuss how they choose and develop projects that strike a balance between art, social responsibility, and accuracy; uniting and empowering audiences, and the stories that still need to be told.
Robert Rippberger, Founder & Co-Executive Director, SIE Society / SIE Films
Jamal Henderson, Chief Content Officer, The SpringHill Company
Karen Lunder, President of Features, Imagine Entertainment
Anikah McLaren, EVP of Narrative Film, Participant
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Casting for the Era of Representation
Carla HoolCasting Director
CARLA HOOL began her career as a casting director on the film MAN ON FIRE for director Tony Scott. Since then she has been responsible for casting such notable films as, COCO, MISS BALA, ICEBOX, LOS INFILTRADOS, THE 33, A BETTER LIFE, BLESS ME ULTIMA, DESPICABLE ME 2, CHE, VANTAGE POINT, INNOCENT VOICES, NACHO LIBRE, APOCALYPTO, SIN NOMBRE, BEVERLY HILLS CHIHUAHUA and RAMBO: LAST BLOOD among many others. Some of the Tv shows she has cast are NARCOS and NARCOS MEXICO for Netflix, LOS ESPOOKYS for HBO, SELENA for Netflix, GENTEFIED for Netflix, COYOTE for Paramount Network, EAST LOS HIGH for Hulu, THE BRIDGE SEASON 2 for FX, and EASTBOUND & DOWN SEASON 2 for HBO. She has collaborated with Directors Tony Scott, Chris Weitz, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Catherine Hardwike, Lee Unkrich, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Jose Padilha, Guillermo Navarro, Carl Franklin, Jody Hill, David Gordon Green, Luis Mandoki, Jared Hess, Pete Travis, Richard Shepard, Emilio Maillé, Lance Hool, Carlos Cuarón and Mel Gibson. Carla is widely considered to be one of the most knowledgeable internationally focused casting directors in the film and television industry. Carla lives and works full-time in Los Angeles but continues to work on international projects with strong casting affiliations in Mexico, Central and South America, and Spain. Carla has been nominated and won the prestigious Artios Award for Best Casting for the animated feature film COCO. She has also been nominated for an Artios Award for Best casting in the Netflix Drama series NARCOS and Narcos Mexico. Carla has just been welcomed into the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences as a new member.
Diana LunaExecutive Director, NALIP
Diana Luna, M.S., is a seasoned professional with over 20 years of expertise in higher education and the creative sector. Her diverse background includes leadership roles in developing and managing undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs centered around arts, culture, and media. She has worked with prestigious institutions such as Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Claremont Graduate University, Loyola Marymount University, and the Hola Mexico Film Festival. Throughout her career, Diana has shown a strong commitment to advancing careers, securing scholarships and fellowships, facilitating job placements, and advocating for the empowerment of underserved and underrepresented populations.
Currently, Diana holds the position of Executive Director at the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP). In this newly appointed role, she leads the organization’s mission to advocate for and promote the Latino media industry in the United States. With unwavering dedication to creating a more inclusive future both on and off the screen, Diana is eager to leverage her experience to drive transformative change in the industry.
Casting Directors discuss the nuances of finding talent and authentically representing Latinidad on screen. The diversity of identities within the Latinidad umbrella brings upon different sets of challenges at the time of finding and selecting talent. As we become more aware of the advantages of working with BIPOC Casting Directors, our panel will dive into the recent years of Latine representation and the future of our cinema.
Diana Luna, Executive Director, NALIP
Carla Hool, Casting Director
presented in partnership with National Association of Latino Independent Producers
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The Pitch Conference
Cassian ElwesProducer & Agent, Elevated Film Sales
Cassian Elwes is an expert in producing, arranging financing and finding distribution for independent films. He began his producing career with 1984’s “Oxford Blues” starring Rob Lowe and Ally Sheedy and quickly went on to make another 29 films, including “Men At Work,” with Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen, and “The Chase,” again with Sheen.
In 1994, Elwes joined William Morris and headed William Morris Independent Film for 15 years. He arranged financing for indie hits such as “Slingblade” and “The Apostle,” both of which were nominated for multiple Academy Awards. “Monster’s Ball” was their historic follow up as Halle Berry became the first African-American woman to win the Academy Award for Best Actress. In the end he had arranged financing and distribution for 283 films during his tenure at William Morris.
Since leaving William Morris 10 years ago, Elwes has either produced or executive produced more than 70 films such as David Lowery’s “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”, which was nominated for a Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Feature, Derek Cianfrance’s “Blue Valentine” starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, for which Williams was nominated for Best Actress at the Academy Awards, and the hit period drama “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” which featured an all-star cast headed by Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey.
He also executive produced J.C. Chandor’s “All Is Lost” starring Robert Redford and executive produced and arranged financing for the Academy Award winning hit “Dallas Buyers Club” directed by Jean-Marc Vallee, starring Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto and Jennifer Garner.
Most recently, Elwes produced both the multiple Academy Award nominated “Mudbound”, directed by Dee Rees, which Netflix distributed, and Dee Rees’ latest film, “The Last Thing He Wanted,” starring Anne Hathaway, Ben Affleck and Willem Dafoe, which Netflix will distribute. “Dreamland,” starring Gary Oldman, Armie Hammer, and Evangeline Lilly, and “Best Sellers,” starring Michael Caine and Aubrey Plaza, are in currently in post-production.
Lee JessupScreenwriting Career Consultant & Coach, leejessup.com
Lee Jessup is a career coach for professional and emerging screenwriters, a twice-published, best-selling author, whose consulting services have been utilized by Universal Writers Program, NBC International, and Final Draft’s Big Break contest. Lee’s clients include writers who have major spec, pilot and pitch sales under their belts, writers who have written major studio films, staffed TV writers on shows including DEAD TO ME, MRS. AMERICA, GOOD GIRLS, UNDONE and MANIFEST (just to name a few), TV writing program fellows, writers named to The Hit List, The Blood List, The Young & Hungry List and The Black List, major contest winners, as well as writers just beginning to chart their professional course.
Lee is the author of BREAKING IN: TALES FROM THE SCREENWRITING TRENCHES (Focal Press) and GETTING IT WRITE: AN INSIDER’S GUIDE TO A SCREENWRITING CAREER (MWP). She has appeared in countless screenwriting conferences and panels domestically, abroad, and online.
Never too far from the industry, Lee resides in Los Angeles with her family.