The Casting Effect: How Talent Choices Impact Every Phase of Production

The Casting Effect: How Talent Choices Impact Every Phase of Production

Cast is one of the most important elements of any project – touching every stage from financing to distribution. Producers and sales agents share their advice and expertise for casting wisely across genre, budget and the international market.

Richard Botto, Founder & CEO, Stage 32

Milan Chakraborty, Head of Film, Marginal MediaWorks
Jennifer Kawaja, President, English Scripted, Sienna Films, a Sphere Media Company
Nat McCormick, EVP, Worldwide Distribution, The Exchange
Renee Tab, Founder & President, Sentient Entertainment


Nov 02 2021


1:00 pm - 2:30 pm




  • Jennifer Kawaja
    Jennifer Kawaja
    President, English Scripted at Sienna Films, a Sphere Media company

    Jennifer Kawaya serves as President, English Scripted at Sienna Films, a Sphere Media company. Sienna Films is one of Canada’s preeminent scripted content companies, producing film and television internationally since 1992. Over the past several years, Sienna has made its mark in television. Credits include four seasons of the award-winning series Cardinal (Bell Media/Hulu/BBC2/BBC4/Canal+) starring Billy Campbell and Karine Vanasse; three seasons of Ransom (Corus/CBS/eOne), and the CBC series Trickster, which premiered to critical acclaim at MIP and TIFF before being sold and broadcast internationally on Sky UK and CW and Sundance in the US. In release is the 8-episode first season of comedy-drama Sort Of for CBC and HBO Max which recently premiered at SeriesMania and TIFF; currently in post is the first season of period drama The Porter for CBC and BET+. Other productions include 13-episode series Combat Hospital starring Elias Koteas and Michelle Borth and mini-series Diamonds starring Derek Jacobi, Judy Davis and James Purefoy; and several feature films including How She Move (Paramount), Touch of Pink (Sony Classics) and New Waterford Girl (eOne). Sienna’s most recent productions have garnered 21 Canadian Screen Awards. In March 2020, the company was acquired by Sphere Media, which specializes in the creation, adaptation, production and distribution of television and film. Sphere’s credits include the Emmy Award-winning 19-2 (Bell Media) and Transplant (Bell Media/NBC).

  • Milan Chakraborty
    Milan Chakraborty
    Head of Film, Marginal MediaWorks

    Milan Chakraborty, Head of Film at Marginal MediaWorks, oversees all of the company’s efforts in independent, studio and streaming film. He is a 17 year veteran of the film industry. Milan worked at Warner Bros and New Line Cinema in production finance and accounting on projects such as Batman Begins, Superman Returns and V for Vendetta. Milan began independently producing in 2008 and has produced and executive produced 20 features including My Friend Dahmer, Assassination Nation, Plus One and The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain (release: September 2021).

    Marginal MediaWorks is a cross-platform content studio with projects across film, series, animation, interactive and audio. The company was founded in 2018 by Sanjay M Sharma with a focus on genre and popular storytelling from under-represented voices or outsider perspectives.

  • Nat McCormick
    Nat McCormick
    EVP Worldwide Distribution, The Exchange

    Nat McCormick currently serves as Executive Vice President of Worldwide Distribution, and oversees all sales and distribution activity for the company.

    Prior to joining The Exchange, McCormick held the position of Director, International Sales & Operations at IM Global. While at IM Global McCormick handled sales on such films as DREDD, starring Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby, SINISTER, starring Ethan Hawke, BULLET TO THE HEAD, starring Sylvester Stallone, DEAD MAN DOWN, starring Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace, HUMMINGBIRD, starring Jason Statham, and THE BUTLER, starring Forest Whitaker and directed by Lee Daniels. Nat also managed the physical sales operation, and tracked and reviewed all international release plans.

    From October 2009 to March 2011, McCormick held the position of Director, International Sales & Acquisitions for Affinity International, the foreign distribution company jointly owned by Bold Films and Odd Lot Entertainment. In that capacity he handled sales on such films as DRIVE, starring Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan, BEASTLY, starring Alex Pettyfer and Vanessa Hudgens, CASA DE MI PADRE, starring Will Farrell, and FROM PRADA TO NADA, starring Camilla Belle and Alexa Vega. In addition, Nat assisted with acquisitions for Affinity, working closely with the major agencies and leading independent producers and financiers.

    Prior to Affinity, McCormick held the position of Manager, Worldwide Distribution at Odd Lot International, the foreign distribution arm of Odd Lot Entertainment. From November 2008 to October 2009 McCormick handled sales on such films as RABBIT HOLE, staring Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart, THE OPEN ROAD, starring Jeff Bridges and Justin Timberlake, and THE SPIRIT, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson. Prior to joining the international division, McCormick worked in development & production, and business & legal affairs at Odd Lot Entertainment, and was production consultant on GREEN ST. HOOLIGANS 2.

    Before working in independent film, Nat produced unscripted television for A&E, HDNET, SPIKE TV, and COURT TV, and served as co-creative director for Edward James Olmos Productions based at Walt Disney Studios. Nat graduated from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles with a degree in Film Production and a minor in Business Administration.

  • Renee Tab
    Renee Tab
    Founder & President, Sentient Entertainment
  • Richard Botto
    Richard Botto
    Founder and CEO, Stage 32

    Richard “RB” Botto is the Founder and CEO of Stage 32 (stage32.com). Stage 32 is the world’s largest online platform connecting and educating film, TV & digital creatives and executives worldwide.

    Launched in 2011, the Stage 32 community has grown to over 650,000 creatives and features an educational library of over 1,200 hours of webinars and classes taught by over 500 industry executives. Stage 32 is recognized throughout the industry as an incubator of talent and is the official film education & networking platform of AFM.

    RB is a working actor, producer and screenwriter. As a producer, his films have played at dozens of festivals including Cannes, Sundance, SXSW, and Raindance to name a few. As a writer, he has two features and a TV pilot in active development. As an actor, his latest film On the Corner of Ego and Desire recently premiered at the Raindance Film Festival.

    Additionally, 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 quickly became one of their best-selling titles. It has hit #1 in 6 different film and business related categories on Amazon and Audible. The book can be found on Amazon and Audible, where it has garnered over 100 5-star reviews.

    A sought after speaker, teacher and mentor, RB has been a keynote speaker and panelist at such festivals and conferences as Cannes, AFM, Tribeca, Sundance, Raindance, Austin, SXSW, Cinequest, ITVFest, Portugal FEST, Trinidad and Tobago and Winston Baker. He has also taught at institutions such as Harvard, USC and Columbia University on the subjects of filmmaking, producing, film finance, screenwriting, social media, crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, entrepreneurship and business.