IN THIS SECTION
Over 30 guest speakers will be speaking in the upcoming program. The following guests have taught for this program consistently over the years. Due to the nature of the industry, we are unable to confirm that all listed below will be available to teach in the upcoming program. The full roster of guest instructors will be available on the first night of class. It will include the majority of these guests, as well as additional notable industry professionals.
Katy R. Alimohammadi (Legal Issues)
Katy joined Donaldson + Callif, LLP in 2014. Katy is an avid fan of independent filmmaking and specializes in representing filmmakers in all stages of their projects, including production legal services, rights clearance and distribution. After graduating summa cum laude from UCLA with a B.A. in History, Katy went on to receive her law degree in 2015 from UCLA School of Law. While in law school, Katy was a managing editor for the UCLA Journal of Environmental Law and Policy and volunteered all three years for the UCLA Reentry Clinic, where she assisted people in the community in obtaining jobs and ensuring their employers followed existing anti-discrimination laws. Before coming to work at Donaldson + Callif during her second and third years of law school, Katy worked on the documentary film The Battered Bastards of Baseball (Netflix 2014), where she learned many of the intricacies of documentary filmmaking and was first introduced to the fair use doctrine. Once at Donaldson + Callif, Katy contributed to Michael Donaldson and Lisa Callif’s book Clearance and Copyright, 4th Edition.
WES AMBRECHT (THE INDEPENDENT PRODUCTION COMPANY)
Wes is a writer, producer and the current Vice President, Development & Production at Foundation Films. The eldest of three children, he originally hails from Bellmore, New York. Prior to joining Foundation Films, Wes helped launch the production arm of Paper Plane Entertainment and served as the Director of Development at Viewfinder Pictures. Wes’ credits include Killing Animals starring James Franco and Joey King and the upcoming feature film Together Now starring Freida Pinto and Juliette Binoche. His work has shown at festivals worldwide, most notably Santa Barbara International Film Festival and Cannes, and has been recognized by both the Sundance Institute and the Sprite Young Filmmaker Series. He holds a MFA in Film/TV Production from UCLA and a BS in Media Communication from Cornell University.
Lisa A. Callif (Legal Issues)
As a Founding Partner of Donaldson Callif Perez, Lisa Callif is the go-to attorney for all things clearance. Lisa specializes in representing independent producers and production companies in all aspects of content creation, including equity financing, production and distribution with extensive experience in fair use, copyright and personal rights issues. Lisa is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards – among her many accolades are recognition as a Hollywood Reporter Power Lawyer and a Daily Journal Top Entertainment Lawyer, as well as her recognition by Variety on the Women’s Impact Report and the Best and the Brightest list. Lisa cuts through red tape for her clients and works tirelessly to preserve artists’ voices so that they can shine a light on stories that otherwise might not be told.
In addition to representing filmmakers, Lisa serves as counsel to the not-for-profit organizations, Film Independent (which produces the Independent Spirit Awards) and Women in Film (whose mission is to promote gender parity in all aspects of media). Lisa is also one of the few attorneys in Los Angeles to represent live theaters—she represents the Ahmanson Theatre, the Mark Taper, the Geffen Playhouse and other Los Angeles-based theater companies.
Along with Partner Michael Donaldson, Lisa has co-written two books: The American Bar Association’s Legal Guide to Independent Filmmaking and Clearance and Copyright, 4th Edition. She regularly publishes articles about emerging issues in entertainment and copyright law, and is often quoted in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Variety, Intellectual Property Magazine and more. Lisa and Michael were featured on the cover of LA Lawyer Magazine, for which they co-authored an article about fair use and its application in documentary films.
Lisa graduated summa cum laude from New York University with a BS in communications, and worked in the music industry in New York and Los Angeles before obtaining her JD from Southwestern University School of Law. She previously served as an adjunct professor at Southwestern, and is a frequent speaker/panelist for various organizations, including Film Independent, the International Documentary Association and UCLA, where she also teaches legal basics at the UCLA Professional Program in Producing.
Lisa lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Dustin, and her two children, Diggy and Liam.
Notable projects: Time (2021 Oscar nominee), American Factory (2020 Oscar winner, Best Documentary), Free Solo (2019 Oscar nominee), Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (2019 Oscar nominee shortlist, 2018 Sundance premiere), Eighth Grade (2018 Sundance premiere), The Game Changers (2018 Sundance premiere), CNN’s The Sixties, The Seventies, The Eighties, The Nineties and The 2000s (Emmy nominee), Making a Murderer (2016 Emmy winner), Weiner (2016 Grand Jury Prize, Best Documentary, Sundance), He Named Me Malala (2015 Academy Award shortlist), 20 Feet From Stardom (2014 Academy Award and Film Independent Spirit Award winner), Boyhood (2014 Academy Award and Golden Globe Awards winner), Inside Job (2011 Academy Award winner), The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (2010 Academy Award nominee).
CHRISTOPHER CARABALLO (Physical Production)
Christopher currently serves as Physical Production Executive at the Walt Disney Studios where he oversees the production of a diverse slate of live action films for both Theatrical and HBSVOD release. Prior to that he oversaw the Budgeting Department where he managed budgets for Disney’s slate of films. Christopher was Vice President of Finance and Production at Mandalay Sports Media, a diversified sports content and media company, overseeing all physical production and financial operations.
SHIRLEY DAVIS (Physical Production/Line Producing)
Shirley is a seasoned film and television production executive and producer. She launched her own production company, Rose Colored Pictures with her producing partner, Sara Spring last year. Prior to this, Shirley consulted at Imagine Entertainment where she worked closely with Imagine Television to set up their production department. Shirley also was the Co-Producer on Wu-Tang Clan: An American Saga, Season 1. Also, Shirley was the Executive Vice President and Head of Physical Production at Alcon Entertainment, where she was a production executive on projects such as Blade Runner: 2049, Point Break, Prisoners and Dolphin Tale 1 and 2. In addition to numerous film and television credits, Shirley was Co-Executive Producer for several digital projects for Mark Burnett Productions, MTV Networks, AOL, and Yahoo, where she had an inside view of tech first meeting entertainment. Shirley is a member of the Producers Guild of America, the Directors Guild of America, and a board member of Outfest. In Fall 2017, Shirley served as Guest Lecturer at the Graduate Producers Program at the UCLA School of Theatre, Film, and Television and also, has taught at the Peter Stark Program at USC Film School. She is currently teaching Physical Production for the Creative Producer. Shirley received her BA in English from the University at Albany.
CHRIS DONAHUE (Producing the One Hour Television Drama)
An Academy Award and Emmy winning producer, Chris is skilled and knowledgeable in the creative, financial, and physical production aspects of film, television, and new media. A proven entrepreneurial leader that takes projects from inception through delivery. He has built and lead teams of up to 150 and budgets reaching 50 million. He's successfully led and grown inclusive for-profit and non-profit companies reporting to both corporate and advisory boards. Donahue's skills as a producer have led him to solve problems that others see as intractable and innovate with new technology, programs, and procedures. Donahue has raised capital and formed brand alliances on multiple projects. His skills include project management, negotiating, handling sensitive personal/corporate issues, and building successful and diverse teams.He recently returned to teaching at UCLA and Chapman University, creating innovative classes that prepare the next generation of storytellers while managing a diverse set of projects inside and outside the studio system for his company West Main Street Productions. He is a coach and consultant for individual investors, institutions, and companies. His current interests include: Artificial Intelligence, Creativity, Native Language Content, Immersive Storytelling (VR, AR, 360) Social Impact Entertainment, and Streaming.
Alissa Ferguson Phillips (Creative Producing)
Alissa is a film and television producer with an eye for compelling, commercial material, who has extensive experience producing and developing both large and small projects in all genres. Phillips most recently produced three films for Jason Blum’s BlumHouse (GET OUT, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY) and Hulu’s widely acclaimed anthology series INTO THE DARK. Her first film for Blum, Gigi Saul Guerrero’s “CULTURE SHOCK” was released in July 2019 to rave reviews, including being hailed the best of the film series. Phillips followed this with September’s release of Hannah MacPherson’s “PURE” which has also been a critical darling. Her latest film, Charles Woods’ “A NASTY PIECE OF WORK” will be released in December 2019. Phillips is currently under an overall producing with BlumHouse Productions. Prior to Blum, Phillips enjoyed a two-year producing deal with Voltage Pictures beginning in 2016. There she produced Amy Schumer’s blockbuster comedy I FEEL PRETTY which was released by STX and has a global cume of more than $94 million. It also stars Michelle Williams and Busy Phillips, and was widely acclaimed as one of the most successful films of 2018. During her Voltage deal, Phillips also produced THEN CAME YOU starring Maisie Williams and Asa Butterfield which was released theatrically in 2019 and currently streaming on Netflix, as well as other developing many other projects for the independent shingle. Prior to joining Voltage, Phillips was a Sony-based Producer with Michael De Luca (50 SHADES OF GREY, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, THE SOCIAL NETWORK) for a decade. With DeLuca, Phillips was a producer of the Oscar-nominated and widely acclaimed film MONEYBALL, directed by Bennett Miller and starring Brad Pitt. She also produced Universal Pictures’ DRACULA UNTOLD. Made on a modest budget by studio standards, it grossed an impressive $215 million. While at DeLuca she also produced the indy darly film, BUTTER, starring Jennifer Garner and Hugh Jackman. In television with DeLuca, Phillips Executive Produced “CHILDHOOD’S END,” a UCP 6-hour, event series for SyFy based on Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s blockbuster science-fiction novel, and TNT’s critically acclaimed series “MOB CITY” created and directed by Frank Darabont. Over the course of the years Phillips was a producer with De Luca, they had an impressive run - producing 17 films of which 3 were nominated for Oscars (CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, MONEYBALL and THE SOCIAL NETWORK), two series, and several pilots. Before De Luca, Phillips was an Associate Producer on the indie cult hit TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL, and a producer with Gil Netter where she worked on the development of LIFE OF PI and FEVER PITCH. Phillips began her career with Beau Flynn, where she served as an Associate Producer on New Line’s AFTER THE SUNSET and travelled extensively producing two seasons of MTV’s ground breaking, reality series “FEAR.” She also developed THE NUMBER 23 and worked on TIGERLAND and REQUIEM FOR A DREAM. Phillips is an alumna of Wellesley College and University College London. She periodically teaches film classes at UCLA and other universities, and the scholarly Science Fiction Studies article she authored, “Reflections in a Silver Eye: Lens and Mirror in Blade Runner,” has been cited numerous times and still featured in university syllabi worldwide. Phillips is married to film and television writer Fernley Phillips and they have three daughters, one dog, one miniature pig (who’s not really very miniature), and 14 chickens.
ALLEN FISCHER (Representation)
Allen is a partner at Artists First, a top-tier management and production company. After graduating from the prestigious Wharton School at the Universal of Pennsylvania, Allen started his career at Creative Artists Agency and transitioned into the growing field of management and production in 2000. Allen is a committee member in the Representation Peer Group of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and his clients are some of the top writers and directors in the business. Director clients include Jon M. Chu (CRAZY RICH ASIANS, IN THE HEIGHTS), Alex Hardcastle (SENIOR YEAR), Scott Waugh (EXPENDABLES 4, SNAFU starring Jackie Chan), Matt Shakman (upcoming THE CONSULTANT, WANDAVISION, GAME OF THRONES, THE GREAT), Amanda Lipitz (FOUND, STEP), Doug Pray (DEFIANT ONES), Ari Sandel (THE DUFF, WHEN WE FIRST MET), Sylvain White (UMBRELLA ACADEMY, FARGO), Mike Tiddes (NAKED, SEXTUPLETS), Dan Attias (MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL, THE AMERICANS, WALKING DEAD, HOMELAND), Tim Hill (SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS 3, WAR WITH GRANPA), and Clay Kaytis (Upcoming A CHRISTMAS STORY 2, THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES). Allen also has clients who excel in writing and directing, such as Jeff Wadlow (FANTASY ISLAND, KICK ASS 2, TRUTH OR DARE) and RICH TANNE (CHEMICAL HEARTS). Television writer clients include Patrick Somerville (STATION 11, MADE FOR LOVE, MANIAC), Jonathan Wilson (THE CROWN), David Hancock (Upcoming HOUSE OF THE DRAGONS), Alissa Nutting (TEENAGE EUTHANASIA, MADE FOR LOVE), Amy Andelson and Emily Meyer, the Emmy-winning writing duo for TRINKETS on Netflix. His clients have been involved in such TV shows as: BILLIONS, JUST ADD MAGIC, MODERN FAMILY, SUCCESSION and many more. Allen also represents actor/writer/producer Ed Helms who recently wrapped production on season 2 of the RUTHERFORD FALLS for Peacock. Allen previously produced THE SEA OF TREES, directed by Gus van Sant and starring Matthew McConaughey which was released in 2015. Allen is attached to produce numerous features at every major studio and is responsible for selling many scripts and pitches every year. Artists First has offices in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago and is one of the largest management companies in the business.
ADAM FOGELSON (Feature Film Marketing)
Adam has served as Chairman of STX Films since 2014, and is primarily responsible for overseeing film production, marketing, distribution and home entertainment strategy. He has over 30 years of experience in the film industry. During the period of 2009 to 2013, Adam served as Chairman of Universal Studios, where he oversaw worldwide operations of the group. As Universal Studios’ Chairman, he championed numerous features, including Ted, Bridesmaids, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, Snow White and the Huntsman, Identity Thief, Pitch Perfect, The Purge, Les Misérables, Despicable Me 1 and 2 and Fast and Furious 5 and 6. Adam joined Universal Studios in 1998 as the Vice President for Creative Advertising, rising to president of marketing and distribution in 2007.
KAREN FOSTER (PRODUCING THE ANIMATED FEATURE)
Karen has produced a variety of projects for Dreamworks Animation including feature, TV and themed attractions. Her producing credits include: Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Scroll, Secrets of the Masters, and Secrets of the Furious Five; Scared Shrekless and How to Train Your Dragon (Co-Producer). Her themed entertainment credits include Shrek’s London Adventure, Dreamworks’ Dreamplace, multiple attractions for Dubai Parks & Resorts’ Motiongate theme park and she is currently working on a Kung Fu Panda land for Universal’s Beijing park. Karen came to Dreamworks in 2003 as a development executive for such films as Shrek 2, Sharktale, Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Over the Hedge and Kung Fu Panda. Previously she was Director of Development for Walt Disney Feature Animation working on Treasure Planet, Home on the Range, The Tigger Movie and Atlantis, among others. Prior to her career in animation, Karen worked in live theater on both coasts. She is a graduate of UCLA and The Juilliard School.
ADAM FRATTO (INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVES ON TELEVISION)
A seasoned creative executive with a proven track record in TV development, programming, and production, Adam recently launched a series division for international distribution and production studio Reel One Entertainment. There, he has rapidly built a serious presence in the drama space, hiring experienced executives and assembling a buzzy slate of high profile projects. Before that, he was Head of Drama for Pukeko Pictures, affiliate of New Zealand's Weta (LORD OF THE RINGS, AVATAR, DISTRICT 9). The first of these, the award-winning CLEVERMAN, airs on Netflix, SundanceTV, BBC3, and Australia's ABC. As an independent producer and consultant, Adam consulted with clients from tech startups to established networks. He Exec Produced YA movie SEA CHANGE and was co-EP of HAVEN, a hit supernatural drama based on Stephen King’s “The Colorado Kid," for Syfy.
TIMOTHY GOOD (Post Production Editing)
Timothy was born and raised in Chicago, IL, and graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in Radio/TV/Film. He traveled to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film editing. After 7 years of apprenticeship with some incredible mentors, he began editing on television series such as The O.C., Gossip Girl, Fringe and Under the Dome. He co-edited his first feature film, Dead Man Down, directed by Niels Arden Oplev of the original Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Next up, he will be co-producer on Believe, a television series from J.J. Abrams and Alfonso Cuarón. He will supervise all creative post-production. He was recently inducted into the American Cinema Editors, an honorary society of elite editors in the industry. Tim is also a visiting professor at UCLA, teaching editing to all directors and cinematographers in UCLA’s graduate MFA program.
PAUL GREEN (CASE STUDY: THE REVENANT)
Paul was the president & COO of Anonymous Content. He joined Anonymous in April 2004, after having previously worked with Anonymous CEO Steve Golin at Propaganda Films. At Anonymous, Green oversaw the operations of AC's film, television and talent management divisions, and was responsible for strategic planning for film, commercial (broadcast and internet) and music video production. He assisted with development, financing, production and distribution of films, television, commercials and digital projects. His duties included securing and negotiating outside capital and production financing. In addition he has executive produced or produced the recent films The Revenant, Fun Size, Big Miracle, 44 Inch Chest, The Beaver, Laggier, Adult World, Scenic Route, U Want Me 2 Kill Him?, The Loft and The Fifth Estate. Previously Paul served in executive positions with Icon Productions, Beacon Communications, Propaganda Films and the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group.
RANDY GREENBERG (Theatrical Distribution)
Randy is an executive producer, producer and past studio executive with an emphasis on marketing and distribution, business affairs, licensing/merchandising, product placement, financing as well as product strategy and entertainment operations. Over the past 25 years, Greenberg 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. Over the past decade, Greenberg has served as Executive Producer at The Greenberg Group, a global entertainment content and investment advisory and marketing/distribution consultancy, executive producing three feature films including the China/US feature film “The Meg” (which was released worldwide by Warner Bros. and Gravity Pictures in August 2018 and took in over $530 million at the worldwide box office making it the #1 U.S/China Co-Production to-date), “Cowboys and Aliens” and “Dylan Dog: Dead of Night.” Greenberg is currently working on several feature films and television series in development for multiple clients. In addition to The Greenberg Group, Greenberg founded the Resolution Talent Agency, was the Executive Vice President Business Affairs and Marketing for Platinum Studios, Head of / Senior Vice President International Theatrical Marketing and Distribution at Universal Pictures; Vice President, International Theatrical Marketing at MGM and UA Pictures; and an Account Executive & Publicist at Dennis Davison Associates (DDA) International Public Relations. Greenberg is an instructor at UCLA Extension in the Fall and the Spring quarters for the Entertainment Studies class, The Business of Entertainment. When not working, Greenberg can be found body surfing in Marina del Rey or making or searching for the next great plant-based meal with his author/illustrator wife, Ruthie Briggs-Greenberg and their two kids.
PHIL GUIDRY (PRODUCING SPORTS MEDIA)
Phil is a producer and writer whose credits include projects for NBC, ESPN, NFL Network, Fox, Sony, ABC, 42 Entertainment, Microsoft, Tapestry Films, Terror Films, Discovery, Time Warner/Spectrum, Mandalay, and Walt Disney Imagineering. His work has earned him 7 Emmy Awards and 24 Emmy nominations, in addition to Webby, Cynopsis, and Clio shortlist awards. He has contributed to publications including Outside, Conde Nast Traveler, Sports Illustrated, and National Lampoon. He has a B.A. from USC and an M.F.A. from UCLA, and he has taught at UCLA, UC Irvine, Northwestern University, and the Himalayan Film School in India.
JEREMIE GUIRAD (INTERNATIONAL SALES)
A French citizen, Jeremie grew up in Cannes where he attended the Cannes Film Festival every year. After graduating from La Sorbonne University with a degree in Cinema Studies, Jeremie got his Master in Management from ESCP Europe and his MFA Producers Program from UCLA. In 2010, He started his career working for leading tech companies such as Google/YouTube and LinkedIn and transitioned to the film and TV industry after moving to Los Angeles in 2012. In 2014, Jeremie got his start in the industry as an associate at Bridge Media Partners, a production and management company behind the SYFY show Blood Drive and then went on to work for producer Glenn Williamson. At Lotus Entertainment since 2016, he has been instrumental in raising financing on several high-profile features such as Kidnap, starring Halle Berry and Replicas with Keanu Reeves. Jeremie produced/EP several features including Killing Animals, starring James Franco, Endless directed by Scoot Speer, the animated film Mosley and the documentary on the pop icon Madonna and the Breakfast Club.
SHEILA HANAHAN-TAYLOR (Creative Producing and PITCHING)
Shelia is the founder of Practical Pictures, a Production Company specializing in studio pictures with a global appeal. Known as a cradle-to-grave producer, Sheila’s skill set includes story development, marketplace analysis, fundraising and budgeting, on-set creative producing, and editing room savvy. Sheila has been involved with numerous studio franchises including Universal’s American Pie and New Line’s Final Destination 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Sheila also recently produced Breaking In, starring Gabrielle Union, and the Australian-set family film Oddball. In total, the films Sheila worked on as an executive or a producer have grossed over $2 billion dollars in World Wide Box Office, from a total production cost of $448 million. Prior to establishing Practical Pictures, Sheila was a Senior Executive at Zide/Perry Entertainment, a production company and management firm known for grooming young screenwriters. During her 6 years at Zide/Perry she was responsible for the development and coaching on some of the industry’s highest-profile pitches and spec scripts, leading to numerous sales including an unestablished writer’s idea to Touchstone Pictures for $1 Million. Prior to Zide/Perry, Sheila worked for Steppenwolf Theatre, writer/director Garry Marshall, and Oscar Nominees Gil Netter and the Zucker Brothers, developing such films as My Best Friend's Wedding. Sheila also sits on numerous film boards and teaches at Universities around the globe. From 2000 to 2008 Sheila was a visiting associate professor for UCLA’s graduate Producers Program, teaching core curriculum and serving as thesis chair. Sheila currently works with Film Independent, Carnegie Mellon, Pixar, USC’s Stark School, Columbia College Chicago L.A. and Fox Studios. At Fox, Sheila develops TV pilots with their Writers Intensive Program and films with their Global Directors Initiative.
SIMON HERBERT (CASE STUDY: INDIE FILM)
WEIKO LIN (How to Work Creatively With China’s Film Industry)
A finalist of AMPAS Nicholl Fellowship and recipient of a Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award, Weiko earned his MFA in Screenwriting and B.A. in English (Creative Writing) at UCLA.
He is currently developing two original one hour series for Disney Plus Asia and a WWII bio pic for Oscar Nominated producer Andrew Lazar. Previously, he adapted the U.S./China co-production feature in development based on the New York Times best-selling memoir River Town by MacArthur Fellow Peter Hessler for Fugitive Films and acclaimed director Lu Chuan (Disney's Born in China) and has adapted a TV pilot for Super Deluxe (former digital studio of Turner/Warner).
Weiko has written projects for The Mark Gordon Company, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Ivanhoe Pictures, Don Mischer Productions, and Wanda Pictures. He produced and wrote the original story for the Chinese language romance film 100 Days 真爱100天 which was released theatrically in Taiwan and was an official selection at the prestigious 2014 Golden Rooster Hundred Flowers Film Festival in Mainland China. As producer and original story writer, Weiko's Chinese language action thriller Retroactive 追击日 is set up at Wanda Pictures. His other international writing credits include 2016 Shanghai Disney Opening Ceremony and 2014 Huading Global Film Awards executive produced by Emmy winner Don Mischer.
From publisher of Save the Cat! and The Writers Journey, Weiko's book CRAZY SCREENWRITING SECRETS: How to Capture a Global Audience is available wherever books are sold with the traditional Chinese edition 好萊塢劇本創作術 released in 2022 for Greater China.
A Fulbright Senior Specialist, he has also served as an advisor at Sundance Collab. A current active member of Writers Guild of America West and Dramatist Guild, he is represented by Anonymous Content and United Talent Agency
Jennifer Manel (Marvel: Producing Branded Content)
Jennifer has spent over a decade working in various facets of the entertainment industry. While pursuing a bachelor’s of science degree in Forensic Psychology at St. John’s University in New York City, Jennifer booked talent in TV, features and commercials for a talent management company, sought out and cast talent for independent films, television and Broadway and worked alongside notable celebrity publicists both at Slate and ID PR. Upon her receiving her MFA in Film & Television Production from UCLA through their Producers Program, she worked at 20th Century Fox Film (Now 20th Century Studios) in feature film development and as a Senior Producer creating custom branded content with major brands like Amazon, World Market and Hasbro to establish themselves in the digital market. Currently, Jennifer serves as Director, Development & Partnerships Planning for Marvel Entertainment.
ERIC MARIN (Post Production Sound/Sound Design)
Eric is a film editor with extensive experience in both feature and documentary picture and sound editing and mixing. He has edited, among other films, Vestido de Noiva (Wedding Dress) based on the play by the renowned Brazilian playwright Nelson Rodrigues and the documentaries Breaking the Maya Code, Mysterious California (examining four novels by California mystery writers) Women of Mystery (featuring three leading American female mystery writers), Looking Like the Enemy (about the war experiences of Asian American veterans). Eric has also served as a sound editor and/or sound designer on such independent narrative feature films as Skins and Milwaukee Minnesota. His more recent credits include picture and sound editor and re-recording mixer on the documentaries Lifejackets (in progress), Reading the Landscape (2019), Something Like a Sabbatical (2015), sound editor on the feature documentary Occupy the Farm (2014) and as the re-recording sound mixer on the feature documentary The Art of Observing Life (2013) about the founders of the direct cinema movement. Additionally, Eric has produced, directed, shot and edited several contemporary music and performance documentaries including Lou Harrison: Cherish, Conserve, Consider, Create and Baschet: The Transfiguration of Daily Life (awarded Best Art Documentary at the Parnu International Documentary Festival 2004 and Grand Prix de la Recherche at the Festival International du Film d’Art, Paris, 2003). His works have been seen on PBS and The Learning Channel and have been screened at festivals and various venues worldwide. Other film awards include the Nissan FOCUS documentary award, the Bronze Apple from the National Education Festival, the CINE Eagle award, and the Western States Regional Media Fellowship. Eric Marin has been teaching various courses in picture editing, sound editing and sound recording at UCLA since 1997. Eric is also the recipient of UCLA’s prestigious “Distinguished Teaching Award” for 2007.
MICHAEL MENDELSOHN (FILM FINANCE)
Michael currently manages a senior “stretch” financing facility and principal capital investment fund totaling up to $500 million specializing in project production finance and film IP acquisition in the entertainment industry. His past credits include: “Cut Throat City” directed by The RZA (Wu Tang Clan) starring Terrence Howard, Wesley Snipes, T.I., Demetrius Shipp Jr., and Shameik Moore; “Running With The Devil” starring Nicolas Cage and Laurence Fishburne; “Hangman” starring Al Pacino, Karl Urban, and Brittany Snow; “Vengeance: A Love Story” starring Nicolas Cage and Don Johnson; “Zeroville” starring James Franco, Seth Rogan, Will Ferrell, Megan Fox, and Danny McBride; “My Name Is Lenny” starring Josh Helman and current UFC Middleweight Champion Michael Lisping; as well as “The Matrix”, “Underworld”, “What Women Want”, “Reservoir Dogs”. He is a graduate of The University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School, where he majored in Finance and Entrepreneurial Management and minored in English and Russian Literature. He often lectures at his alma mater, as well as AFI, Harvard, NYU, UCLA and USC. Mr. Mendelsohn resides in Los Angeles, California. He is the CEO and Chairman of Patriot Pictures, LLC. Patriot Pictures, LLC. packages film production elements including upcoming Nick Cassavetes written and directing GOD IS A BULLET based on a book by Boston Teran; Ron Shelton directing TYSON; Sion Sono directing PRISONERS of the GHOSTLAND; and completed films such as CUT THROAT CITY directed by RZA and starring Ethan Hawke, Terrence Howard, Wesley Snipes, T.I. and Eiza Gonzalez; ZEROVILLE starring James Franco, Seth Rogan, [Will Ferrell], Megan Fox, and Danny McBride; RUNNING WITH THE DEVIL starring Nicolas Cage, Laurence Fishburne, Leslie Bibb, and Barry Pepper; HANGMAN starring Al Pacino, Karl Urban, and Brittany Snow; and I AM WRATH starring John Travolta.
MATTHEW MILAM (Navigating the Studio System)
Originally from Knoxville, TN, Matt got his start in the business working for Joe Drake and Nathan Kahane at Mandate Pictures (JUNO, HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE). After his time at Mandate, Matt moved to Warner Brothers as a junior executive where he was able to work on a myriad of pictures, including CLASH OF THE TITANS, SUPERMAN, JUSTICE LEAGUE, COP OUT, THE INFORMANT, OBSERVE AND REPORT, GANGSTER SQUAD amongst others. He then left Warner to join Skydance Productions as Vice President of Production. While there, he produced THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD, MISCONDUCT and helped oversee MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 5 & 6 as well as GI JOE. After Skydance, he joined Sony Pictures where he oversaw DARK TOWER, ROBOTECH, MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, FANTASY ISLAND and several other high profile projects. He now works at Amazon Studios overseeing the hit series JACK RYAN as well as DAISY JONES AND THE SIX and JACK REACHER.
CHRIS MODOONO (Case Study: Indie Film and TV)
Chris has to be among the tallest directors working today. At a towering 6 feet 5 inches, he possesses the unique competitive advantage of being able to spot colleagues in a crowded area quickly. An experienced Writer/Director, Chris’s most recent project was the feature film Tenured which he co-wrote and directed for Fox Digital. It premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, won the audience award for comedy feature at the Maui Film Festival, and is now on Netflix. He co-wrote and directed the pilot Its A Hit! for The Orchard starring Abby Elliott, Tim Matheson, and Tyler Hilton. In the commercial world Chris worked on Tide’s Super Bowl campaign with Hungry Man Productions, directing several online companion spots. He has also worked with the CBS Early Show, The CBS Evening News, Food Network and HGTV on their promotional campaigns.
DALE NELSON (LEGAL ISSUES)
Dale is a partner at Donaldson + Callif, a Los Angeles based boutique firm that specializes in independent film and documentary production and clearance, including fair use and personal rights analysis. Prior to joining Donaldson + Callif in 2019, Dale she spent over 25 years as in-house counsel to Warner Bros., most recently as Vice President and Senior Intellectual Property Counsel. As a senior member of the Warner Bros. Intellectual Property Group, she handled a wide variety of domestic and international intellectual property law and transactional matters across all business divisions of the company, providing advice and managing resolution on rights disputes, clearance, distribution, marketing, production, enforcement, IP policy and legislative matters. The intellectual properties she has managed include franchise properties (e.g., Harry Potter), new feature and television series, and library classics. Dale has a particular expertise in international laws relating to motion picture production and distribution, copyright, trademark, rights of publicity, moral rights, free speech and fair use. Dale is very much enjoying her current role in championing the free speech rights of independent filmmakers, documentarians, podcasters, and other authors to tell their stories.
Dale was raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin and is a long time Packer fan. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, her J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law, and was an extern to Justice Allen E. Broussard of the California Supreme Court. Her affiliations include AIPPI/AIPLA, of which she is Vice Chair of AIPPI-US and Co-Vice Chair of the AIPPI Standing Committee on Copyright, Los Angeles Copyright Society, and Copyright Society of the USA. Dale is also a long-time supporter of the Western Center on Law and Poverty, of which she is a former board member and current Endowment Board Member. Dale is a frequent speaker and lecturer on intellectual property law topics.
TOM NUNAN (Career Planning)
Tom is a former network (THE CW) and studio (NBC-UNIVERSAL) president, and has held high-ranking positions at both FOX (running all of prime-time and late night) and ABC (running their TV movie division), prior. An alumni of UCLA's TFT (class of '84, via the undergrad program), Tom left the exec ranks 15 years ago to become an independent writer, producer and consultant for media companies and universities. Best known in the producing ranks for his multiple Oscar winning Best Picture film CRASH, Tom has produced lots of independent films, mainstream TV series, reality shows and written over 15 pilots for cable and network. Tom co-founded THE WRITING INTENSIVE with playwright and director LISA EBERSOLE - - available to writers here and around the world. Tom has been giving back to his alma mater UCLA by teaching in the Graduate Producing Program and in the Professional Program in Producing over the last 23 years. Tom has seen Bruce Springsteen perform over 90 times.
ROBIN PELLECK (New Media)
Robin is a Television Director, Showrunner, Writer and Executive. A news intern role at the CNN Studios in NYC, led to many years in network sports television.
Robin is proud of her years learning from the sports television legends at Moxie Video Productions, CBS Sports and ABC Sports. She has worked on hundreds of live, pre-game, studio shows, taped events and sports documentary from network control rooms and Moxie’s post edit suites and mobile units. Some of those include: NFL, NCAA, NBA, MLB, PGA Golf, Nascar, Superbowl, World Series, Monday Night Football, Final Four, US Open Tennis, The Masters, Indy 500 and NBA Finals.
On the Network side, Robin served as Vice President, Digital Content TNT & TBS Original Programming where she oversaw the creative development and production of multi-platform content for scripted drama and comedy, as well as unscripted series and specials for TNT and TBS Original Programming.
Robin's award-winning and vast background includes long and short form sports and entertainment documentary, television and digital series, large scale studio, quick turnaround, remote production and branded content. A journalistic storyteller, Robin specializes in high profile and sensitive on camera interviews for documentary, content, series and longform news. She is the founder of order24 productions and Great Job, Kid!, a creative and production services company that focuses on multi-platform creative and production. Clients and friends include: Disney (ABC Television, ABC News Longform and ESPN), NFL and NFLPA, Viacom Networks, A&E Networks, Food Network, Facebook, NBC Studios, Sundance Channel, OWN as well as, numerous digital content providers, production companies, technology leaders and advertising agencies.
Robin is a lecturer at UCLA's School of Theatre, Film & Television, leading graduate level and master classes in the creative development and production of television and digital content. She is a member of the Directors Guild of America, Producers Guild of America, the Television Academy/Emmys, HRTS and Women in Film.
CHRISTOPHER L. PEREZ (LEGAL ISSUES)
Chris specializes in all aspects of the Donaldson Callif Perez firm’s practice, including representing independent filmmakers through development, financing, production, rights clearance and distribution. He has helped hundreds of productions secure the E&O insurance necessary to distribute their films and has established himself as an advocate for artists’ rights. In addition to representing filmmakers, Chris serves as counsel to writers, podcast producers, radio personalities, museums and foundations, as well as Film Independent, which produces the Spirit Awards and supports independent filmmakers around the world.
Chris has lectured on production, distribution, financing, and clearance issues at the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in Beijing, China, UCLA Producers Program, USC Law, the USC School of Cinema, UC Irvine, Cal Arts, the School of Visual Arts, Columbia College of Chicago, and other institutions. He has also lectured for members of the International Documentary Association and Film Independent, and has appeared on panels at various film festivals and the Producers Guild of America. Chris has also written several op-ed pieces for the Daily Journal, LA Lawyer and Realscreen.
Chris has also been a leader on several of the firm’s advocacy projects, including the landmark Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) exemptions secured for filmmakers in 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2018.
Chris graduated from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor with a BA in American Studies and a minor in Film and Video Studies, where he produced, directed, and wrote several student films. He earned his Juris Doctorate at the USC Gould School of Law. Prior to working with Donaldson Callif Perez, Chris worked for California Lawyers for the Arts, Technicolor, and the Cyberlaw Clinic at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.
Chris also sits on the Board of Directors for the International Documentary Association.
BILLY RAY (Story Structure)
Billy wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for Captain Phillips, for which he won the WGA award. He also wrote, directed, and executive-produced Showtime's The Comey Rule, which had the biggest debut of any limited series in that network's history. Ray's films as writer, co-writer, or writer-director include The Hunger Games, Richard Jewell, Shattered Glass, and Breach. His current feature projects include 68: the true story of Olympic medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos, and The Silent Wife for Nicole Kidman. Ray has served on the Board of Governors of AMPAS, and the Board of Directors of the WGA. He believes in democracy, justice, and the Dodgers.
JONATHAN REINER (UNSCRIPTED TELEVISION)
An Emmy-winning writer-producer, Jonathan specializes in entertaining and empowering content that stops audiences in their tracks and demands they pay attention. Credits in 2020 include having two formats optioned by major production companies, and shooting an HBO Max series in the field in Los Angeles during the summer pandemic. Reiner began his television career as a senior writer and producer on True Entertainment’s very first show, SoapCenter. Since then he’s tackled every genre of the unscripted world (with the exception of naked survival shows). Prior to television, he wrote for major print and online outlets (including Variety, The New York Post, TVGuide.com). A native New Yorker, Reiner has a degree in subway turnstile dynamics (not true), and completed Master’s level studies in Spiritual Psychology at the University of Santa Monica (true).
ADAM SAUNDERS (Case Study: Making Your Film)
Adam is the CEO of Footprint Features (www.footprintfeatures.com). He has served as the lead producer of Footprint’s first four films: the 2018 Netflix Original When We First Met (dir. Ari Sandel) starring Adam Devine (Workaholics, Pitch Perfect) and Alexandra Daddario (True Detective, Baywatch) which debuted at #1 on the platform in 120 countries for the entire first month of its release; the 2017 Netflix Original Shimmer Lake (writer/dir: Oren Uziel (22 Jump Street) starring Benjamin Walker, Rainn Wilson, Rob Corddry, and Ron Livingston), About Alex (writer/dir: Jesse Zwick, starring Nate Parker, Maggie Grace, Aubrey Plaza, and Max Greenfield) alongside Oscar winning filmmakers Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, which played the 2014 TriBeCa Film Festival and was sold to Sony Worldwide, and Family Weekend (dir: Benjamin Epps, starring Kristin Chenoweth, Matthew Modine, Joey King and Shirley Jones) also alongside Bedford Falls, which was sold to Paramount worldwide and released in 2013. He was the co-founder and Artistic Director of the professional theater company Footprint on the Sun, upon whose foundation Footprint Features was built. He holds a BA in Drama from Duke University and an MFA in Acting from the Yale School of Drama.
Eric W. Shamlin (IMMERSIVE MEDIA)
Eric is a two-time Emmy winner, 12-time Cannes Lion winner and 20-year member of the Television Academy where he holds seats on the Digital Strategy Committee, Interactive Media Peer Group and co-chairs the Experience Design Work Group. Eric is also co-founder and creative partner of the Sandbox Immersive Festival, the largest immersive tech and storytelling festival in China.
At MediaMonks, he heads-up entertainment and technology partnerships focusing on the future of storytelling. With a background at the intersection visual effects, emerging tech and live action storytelling Eric has spent the last two decades delivering creative and technical innovation across a range of mediums.
ROSS SIEGEL (The New Digital)
Ross has been the Head of Development and Management at 1stAveMachine since October 2017. Prior to 1stAveMachine, he was the Director of Development and Programming Strategy at Maker Studios, part of the Walt Disney Company, and the Head of Features from 2014-2017, working in feature film development and production while spearheading Maker’s entry into the digital movie business. He also worked in both television and short-form video series development. In 2015, Ross oversaw the acquisition of Maker’s first released feature, SUMMER FOREVER, starring YouTube music star Megan Nicole, and development and production its second, INTERNET FAMOUS, a co-production with Lakeshore Entertainment, which was bought by Netflix. Ross oversaw series Maker produced in conjunction with Key & Peele, Freeform, Skybound Entertainment, and CBS Studios & CBS Network, YouTube Red, among others. Ross transitioned over to digital media side of entertainment in 2012, working for Fullscreen. There, he held several positions, working in Branded Entertainment and Influencer Marketing, helping to grow several of the company’s core businesses by pairing Fullscreen’s top influencers with blue chip entertainment brands such as MTV, VH1, CBS, 20th Century Fox, AOL, Disney, among others. The marketing platform Ross helped to mount, Influencer+, was acquired and whitelisted by WPP in 2013. Before moving over to digital media, Ross spent over a decade in the film business as a producer and executive. He was named the Director of Creative Affairs at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (MGM) in 2007, one of two production executives overseeing the studio’s slate of Direct-to-DVD and Made-for-TV movies. Some of the films Ross oversaw included PICTURE THIS starring Ashley Tisdale, INTO THE BLUE 2: THE REEF, STARGATE: CONTINUUM, LEGALLY BLONDES, among others. Ross was Director of Development from 2003 to 2007 at the Paramount-based production/management company Guy Walks into a Bar, which produced ELF starring Will Ferrell and MEET DAVE, starring Eddie Murphy, during his tenure. He also set up projects at numerous studios and networks during his tenure, including 20thCentury Fox Pictures, Paramount Pictures, New Line Entertainment, Universal Studios, 20thCentury Fox Television, Touchstone Television, Revolution Studios, and Lakeshore Entertainment, among others. In 2000, Ross started his career at 20thCentury Fox Television as a writer’s assistant on the CW one-hour drama Roswell, and then later joined the William Morris Agency, serving there as an assistant in both the Motion Picture Talent and Motion Picture Literary Departments until 2003. Ross graduated with an M.F.A. from the UCLA Producer's Program in 2002. There, he cofounded the Producers Program Marketplace, which still runs annually today. He earned his B.A. in Film Studies and English at UC-Santa Barbara in 2000.
LINDA SILLS (DOCUMENTARIES)
Linda enjoyed a 26 year career at the BBC where she worked in a variety of journalistic capacities. In her most recent role, Linda joined the launch team as resident filmmaker for My World, Angelina Jolie’s current affairs program for teens which is co-produced with the BBC and Microsoft. Linda produced and directed high profile elements for the pilot series including the first location documentary special from the Brazilian Amazon about the destruction of the rainforest.
Prior to that, Linda spent 13 years as Series Producer on the BBC’s foreign affairs documentary strand Our World, which reaches a potential global audience of more than 400 million. As part of her brief, she executive produced and co-managed a slate of 38 films per year, overseeing the commissioning and production of stories from inception to air.
As a filmmaker she has more than 35 documentary credits variously for producing, writing and directing, including Saudi’s Secret Uprising which won the Best Investigative Documentary award from the Association of International Broadcasting – My Stolen Childhood which won in the Human Interest category in 2018 and was also shortlisted for a Grierson Award - and the ground-breaking Fallout 9/11 which earned her a nomination in the environment category from the Foreign Press Association.
Prior to Our World, Linda was Senior Producer on the RTS award-winning interview program, HARDtalk, producing more than 250 interviews on location around the world with leading figures including Nelson Mandela, Donald Trump and the Dalai Lama.
She holds an M.A. in International Journalism from the City University in London and studied International & Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics.
SARA SPRING (Physical Production/Line Producing)
Sara has been a physical production executive for over 20 years. She was an executive on Queen and Slim and the pilot Hombre. Prior to this, Sara was an Executive VP at Sony Pictures overseeing Ang Lee's Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. Before Sony, Sara was a Senior VP at Paramount for 17 years. She oversaw numerous movies including The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Tin Tin, Flight, True Grit, Anchorman and Mean Girls. Prior to Paramount, Sara worked in freelance production on films including The Bodyguard, Other People’s Money and The Doors. Sara is a member of the Producers Guild of America.
JOHN STRAUSS (CREATING A TV SERIES)
John credits as a screenwriter include There's Something About Mary, Santa Clause II, Santa Clause III, starring Tim Allen and The Lizzie McGuire Movie starring Hillary Duff and Freebirds, a computer animated feature, starring Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson. Box office receipts of the aforementioned films total in excess of a billion dollars internationally. Additionally, with Free Birds partner David Stern, John is currently writing a computer animated feature, Renaissance, for Prana Studios. He also produced You Again for Touchstone Pictures, starring Kristen Bell, Sigourney Weaver and Jamie Lee Curtis at Disney. He's currently producing a feature film comedy, The Brag, for 5x5 Media. On the television side, John executive produced, the Golden Globe winning series, Mozart in the Jungle for Amazon Prime and has also executive produced , In Plain Sight for USA Network, as well as The Client List, for Lifetime Network. John is currently writing a television pilot, Over the Top, for the Freeform network, featuring several YouTube stars. He's also writing a pilot for truTV, called Playa del Sol, based on a Swedish format of the same name, and starring Rhys Darby. He is also adapting There's Something About Mary as a Broadway musical.
MATT TAUBER (GETTING INDIE FILMS MADE)
Matt was most recently the Co-Executive Producer of Project Blue Book for History, A+E Studios and Robert Zemeckis’ Image Movers. Previously, Matt produced the first two seasons of the AMC /Sony series Preacher created by Sam Catlin, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. In film, Matt developed and produced Meadowland, Reed Moreno’s directing debut starring Olivia Wilde, Luke Wilson, Giovanni Ribisi, John Leguizamo and Elizabeth Moss; The Great New Wonderful featuring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Edie Falco, Jim Parsons and Stephen Colbert; and The Architect featuring Viola Davis, Sebastian Stan and Walton Goggins which Matt wrote and directed with the assistance of the Sundance Institute as a Sundance Screenwriting Fellow. As a theatre director, Matt founded Kitchen Theatre Company in Ithaca, NY, directed the Jeff Nominated, Victory Gardens hit Phyro-Giants and received the Jeff Award for his direction of the play American Divine in Chicago.
EVETTE VARGAS (Multiplatform Storytelling)
Evette is an award-winning writer, director, producer and immersive storyteller, featured in Forbes and named by the New York Times as an “Artist to Watch.” Vargas has produced series for Amazon, MTV, Bravo, DirectTV; and interactive content for Fast And Furious, Lord Of The Rings trilogy, Madonna and Wu-Tang Clan. Vargas executive produced, wrote and directed her digital series Dark Prophet, starring Henry Rollins, which was in contention for two Emmys. Vargas is currently producing her series, CONFESSIONS, has a series set up with Hypnotic Pictures and developing the television slate for Hidden Empire Film Group. Vargas is also developing a series for Shout! Factory and Twentyone14 Media, writing a feature film for Reyes King Productions, and sold her drama series, Muses, to TNT Super Deluxe. Vargas has recently launched, Verses Studios, a Metaverse Production Studio, taking 2D intellectual into 4D. Vargas is the creator and host of the New Hollywood Clubhouse Podcast, a weekly award-winning show, exploring New Hollywood paradigms and empowering storytellers through community. Vargas wrote The Current War VR Experience, a companion piece for the film, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Vargas was commissioned by Final Draft to create the Evette Vargas Immersiveplay, the professional script writing template for VR, AR, XR writing. A staunch activist for inclusion and equity, Vargas founded The Writers Room 5050 to mentor storytellers and create opportunities for their next-level success. A member of the Writers Guild of America, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and Producers Guild of America, Vargas was born in the Bronx and learned to tell stories at the dinner table where imagination ruled. Vargas collects action figures, typewriters and shoes; has past lives as a DJ, a fashion designer, and is a recovering New York City advertising Art Director.
KURT WOOLNER (COMPLETION BONDS)
Kurt entered the film business in 1975 with Dimension Pictures, a small production/distribution company specializing in the low-budget exploitation market. In 1978, he moved exclusively into film production working on nine pictures over a 6 year period. Productions include The Outsiders, Rumblefish, and The Cotton Club. Kurt started with the completion bond firm Film Finances, Inc. in 1984 helping to establish its Los Angeles office and eventually growing the company into the global market leading company issuing completion bond’s. Kurt became Co-owner and Co-Chairman of Film Finances in 2008. He sold his equity stake in 2016 and retired from a full time position at the company after serving as President thru 2018. He remains a consultant to the company. From 1984 to 2018, Kurt has been personally involved in more than 7,000 productions that required completion bonds. Kurt is also Co-Founder and Co-Owner of CASHet Card LLC. The company was formed in 2012 and is now the leading digital payment solution company in the entertainment industry. Kurt also volunteers his time teaching math & writing to elementary schools.
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