The Independent Film Ecosphere – Present & Future
Industry leaders take the stage to discuss what it means to be Independent today, the state of the industry and how their companies are working to shape the future of independent film.
Stephen Galloway, Dean, Chapman University Dodge College of Film and Media Arts
Liesl Copland, EVP, Content and Platform Strategy, Participant
Jonathan Kier, Co-President, Upgrade Productions
Brian O’Shea, CEO, The Exchange
Julia Weber, Head of International Sales and Acquisitions, Global Screen – A TELEPOOL Brand
Brian O'SheaCEO, The Exchange
Currently, Mr. 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, like, 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, starts shooting in mid-November.
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 an active member of the Board of Directors of the Independent Film and Television Association (IFTA) since 2008. He is also a member in good standing of the State Bar of California.
Jonathan KierCo-President, Upgrade Productions
Jonathan Kier is the co-president, alongside Matt Brodlie, of Upgrade Productions, the Los Angeles based production company that develops and produces premium local language television and film productions for a global audience. Launched in October 2021 and with backing from German powerhouse Constantin Film, Upgrade is capitalizing on the booming demand for local language content worldwide as audiences become even more global in their viewing habits.
The accomplished industry executive most recently served as the President of Sierra/Affinity, the leading finance, production and foreign sales company, now part of eOne and Hasbro. During his tenure at Sierra/Affinity Jonathan managed the worldwide sales and distribution of films such as Spotlight, I, Tonya, Atomic Blonde, Manchester by the Sea, Nightcrawler, Whiplash, Ender’s Game, Drive, The Place Beyond the Pines, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and The United States Vs. Billie Holiday.
Prior to Sierra/Affinity, Jonathan was responsible for overseeing all aspects of The Weinstein Company and Dimension film releases in over 50 countries from the initial local theatrical releases through home video, television and digital platforms. Titles included such household favorites as The King’s Speech, The Reader, Tropa de Elite, Quentin Tarantino’s Grind House and Inglourious Basterds, animated films Hoodwinked and Igor, and Alex Aja’s Piranha 3D.
Julia WeberHead of International Sales and Acquisitions, Global Screen – A TELEPOOL Brand
Julia Weber, Head of International Sales and Acquisitions at Global Screen, the international distribution arm of TELEPOOL based in Munich, has worked in the media business for more than 25 years.
Julia is currently responsible for all aspects of feature film and series at Global Screen, from co-development to co-productions, distribution, acquisitions and pre-sales. She leads an experienced sales team in selling worldwide rights of third-party content to multiple platforms, broadcasters and distributors.
She joined TELEPOOL in 2008, initially as Sales Manager TV, responsible for French-speaking territories, Nordics, Israel, Turkey and the Middle East, selling RTL catalogue titles including the long-running, best-selling series Alarm for Cobra, and went on to become Head of Theatrical Sales and Acquisitions, overseeing US/Canada, French-speaking territories, Israel and Eastern Europe,
TELEPOOL has been owned by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s LA based WESTBROOK Inc and partners since 2018.
Prior to joining TELEPOOL, Julia’s previous roles included Producer for Screencraft Entertainment GmbH, producing and developing German-Canadian feature co-productions such as Meet the Devil and The Fourth Generation; Producer for FilmVolk GmbH, where she was also a Managing Partner working on live-action shorts, features and documentaries and Assistant Producer for Grey Worldwide GmbH, producing and supervising TV-commercial productions for clients such as Procter & Gamble.
Julia also undertook roles at Wolfgang Petersen’s RADIANT Productions based in Los Angeles, in both script development and hands-on production.
She also produced a feature film and documentary entitled Bernd Eichinger – Wenn das Leben zum Kino wird on the life of the legendary German producer.
She achieved her Master’s Degree in Production and Media Economics at Filmschool Munich.
Liesl CoplandEVP, Content and Platform Strategy, Participant
Executive Vice President, Content and Platform Strategy
In the newly created role of EVP, Content and Platform Strategy for Participant, Liesl Copland works in tandem with the company’s content teams throughout development and production, advising on and targeting optimal strategic options for all properties, including overseeing all sales. Her appointment comes as Participant continues the evolution of its approach in bringing the highest quality film and television content to the widest possible audience in today’s rapidly changing distribution landscape, serving as the foundation for the company’s impact efforts addressing today’s most vital issues.
Liesl Copland was born and raised in Northern California. Before joining Participant, Liesl was a Partner and EVP at Endeavor Content where she ran the Non-Scripted Advisory practice, overseeing feature documentaries and premium non-fiction series and providing strategic advice to the studio’s growing production partners. A 20-year entertainment industry veteran, Copland has worked in the specialty film sector for most of her career with the goal of democratizing distribution for unique, independently produced projects. During her twelve years with the Endeavor suite of companies Liesl focused the emerging digital distribution space as part of her corporate advisory work, ran the film sales practice and consulted numerous startups always with an eye to the changing media landscape.
Prior to joining Endeavor in 2008, Liesl acted as the Head of Red Envelope Entertainment, the former original content division of Netflix, where she oversaw the acquisition, marketing and distribution of close to 100 films a year during their three years in existence. She developed a reputation for successfully forging innovative partnerships with studios and mini-majors, boutique distribution labels and more non-traditional, new media-focused outlets. Her previous entertainment industry experience includes time at New York based Cinetic Media, years as an independent producer as well as posts at the Tribeca Film Festival and IFP.
Across her entire career, Liesl has built in a double bottom line approach to her practice and has a deeper focus on social justice reform and impact focused content. She serves on the Board of Represent Justice, the advisory board of SommTV and is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with degrees in both English Literature and Art History. Liesl lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two children and their rescue mutt, Starsky.
Stephen GallowayDean, Chapman University Dodge College of Film and Media Arts