2018 Summit Speakers
Academy Award-nominated Producer
Winter’s Bone, The Age of Adaline, Cleaner, Case 39
Alix Madigan is an American film producer known for her work on the 2010 film WINTER’S BONE, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award.
Madigan’s first production credit was for SUNDAY in 1997, which won the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize for Best Film.
For her work on the 2010 film, WINTER’S BONE, Madigan, with co-producer Anne Rosellini and director Debra Granik, received the Gotham Award for Best Feature. The film also earned her nominations for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Madigan has worked with Broad Green Pictures, Anonymous Content, Propaganda Films, Skouras Pictures, and Avenue Entertainment.
Oscar-winning Screenwriter / Actor / Director / Producer
The Way Way Back, The Descendants, Community, Sky High
Jim Rash is an actor, comedian, producer, screenwriter, and director. He is known for playing Dean Craig Pelton on the beloved NBC/Yahoo! sitcom COMMUNITY. In 2012, he received a Golden Globe nomination and subsequently won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for the film THE DESCENDANTS.
Rash and writing partner Nat Faxon wrote the screenplay for THE DESCENDANTS, directed by Alexander Payne, based on the novel of the same name by Kaui Hart Hemmings. The film was produced in Hawaii and starred George Clooney; it was released on November 18, 2011, to critical acclaim. The film received a Golden Globe nomination and won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Rash and Faxon co-wrote and directed the film THE WAY WAY BACK, which received a standing ovation at its premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Parts of the film are based on Rash’s teenage life. Rash is also a member of the Los Angeles-based improvisational and sketch comedy troupe The Groundlings.
WGA Award-winning Screenwriter
Barbara Stepansky recently won a WGA Award for Best Original Long Form for her TV movie FLINT. She is also a 2013 Nicholl Fellow and an award-winning independent feature film director. Her work was shortlisted for the Academy Awards, garnered the DGA Diversity Award and the Student Emmy. She is the recipient of the Mary Pickford Foundation Scholarship and the Franklin J. Schaffner AFI Fellow Award.
Born in Poland, her father’s involvement in the Solidarity movement led to the family relocating to Germany. After receiving a degree in philosophy of science from University College London, Barbara pursued her Master’s at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and in Directing at the American Film Institute.
She has directed feature films (HURT with Melora Walters, William Mapother, FUGUE, TAKEN FOR RANSOM with Teri Polo, Chazz Palminteri, Tia Carrere), web series (EX-BEST, AWKWARD SUNRISE) and short films (THE TROJAN COW, DA CAPO, ROAD RAGE, SUBSTANCE). She has worked on projects for Mad Chance, USA SciFi and Storyline Productions. FLINT, a film she wrote about the Flint Water Crisis for Sony/Lifetime with Queen Latifah premieres later this year.
Despicable Me (1, 2 & 3), The Lorax, Horton Hears a Who!
Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio have been collaborating since 1999. To get noticed, they used to sing story pitches to film producers. Although not always successful, this strategy resulted in several produced films, including BUBBLE BOY (2001) and COLLEGE ROAD TRIP (2008).
They were personally chosen by Audrey Geisel, the widow of Dr. Seuss, to write a computer-animated feature film adaptation of HORTON HEARS A WHO! for Blue Sky Studios via 20th Century Fox Animation, led by Chris Meledandri. In 2007, when Meledandri founded a film production company named Illumination Entertainment, Paul and Daurio followed him.
At Illumination, they wrote screenplays for the highly-successful animated film DESPICABLE ME and its sequel, DESPICABLE ME 2. They also wrote for Illumination’s other films, the live-action/animated Easter-themed HOP and adapted another Dr. Seuss book into a computer-animated film, THE LORAX.
Circle of Confusion, the production/management company behind: The Walking Dead, Get Out, Spider-Man, Game of Thrones, Black-ish
Daniela Gonzalez is a literary manager at Circle of Confusion, a feature film & television production and management company with offices in New York and Los Angeles. Daniela identifies as a TCI – a third culture individual: Venezuelan-born, with a childhood in South East Asia, Daniela’s found her roots in the United States. Her international background informs her taste as she builds her roster of clients who have unique voices and backgrounds. Daniela holds a BA in Film Production with a minor in Film Producing from New York University.
Darrien Michele Gipson is the Executive Director of SAGindie. An M.F.A. recipient from the Peter Stark Producers Program at the University of Southern California, Darrien was formerly the Vice President of Production for DEF Pictures. As Executive Director of SAGindie, Darrien leads a team that is responsible for independent filmmaker outreach and specializes in teaching low budget production focusing on the process for hiring professional actors via SAG-AFTRA’s low budget contracts.
She is a frequent moderator and speaker on panels and production workshops, negotiates sponsorship agreements with film festivals around the country, spearheads SAGindie’s annual national advertising campaigns, oversees SAGindie.org, and throws several epic filmmaker parties. Darrien has traveled to over 55 film festivals in more than 25 states and 5 countries to consult with independent filmmakers. Yes, she has a lot of frequent flyer miles. No, she isn’t sharing them.
TV Writer / Showrunner / Producer
Nashville, EMPIRE, Station 19, Grey’s Anatomy
WENDY CALHOUN is a writer and executive producer with an overall deal at Warner Bros. Television Studios where she’s currently developing two new broadcast series. She has developed pilots with Netflix, FX, 20th TV Studios, and ABC Signature. Her past credits include Co-Executive Producing and writing the historic first season of Fox’s megahit series EMPIRE. In addition, she’s written and produced for ABC’s STATION 19, NASHVILLE, and REVENGE, and FX’s JUSTIFIED. Calhoun wrote and directed the virtual reality short, LEFT BEHIND, sponsored by Google, and honored as “Best in VR” at Digital Hollywood. She served as the Narrative Consultant for Electronic Arts’ BATTLEFIELD HARDLINE video game. Calhoun received a 2010 Peabody Award for JUSTIFIED. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Calhoun studied film and television at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Screenwriter / Producer
Star Trek: Beyond, The Cloverfield Paradox, Confidence, Dark Blue
After graduating from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Doug Jung’s first feature was CONFIDENCE starring Ed Burns and Dustin Hoffman. He’s written extensively for television as well as film, including HBO’s BIG LOVE and BANSHEE and as co-creator of TNT’s DARK BLUE. STAR TREK BEYOND, co-written with Simon Pegg, was his 2nd project with JJ Abrams and Bad Robot and continues with the soon to be released GOD PARTICLE. He recently completed production on the pilot SCALPED, based on the acclaimed DC/Vertigo graphic novel. His projects in TV and Film have included scripts for Martin Scorcese, Michael Mann and David Fincher.
Screenwriter / TV Writer / Director
FX’s Mayans M.C., Lowriders, Little Birds
Elgin James is co-creator of MAYANS M.C for Fox’s FX network, alongside legendary screenwriter and showrunner, Kurt Sutter. Both are producing and James is credited with writing the pilot.
Homeless as a teenager, Elgin James was a fixture in Boston’s hardcore punk scene, helping found a multi-ethnic national street gang that targeted neo-Nazi skinheads and drug dealers. After spending a decade and a half in the gang, James left Boston for Los Angeles, where he entered the Sundance Institute Feature Film program.
His directorial debut, LITTLE BIRDS, starring Juno Temple and Leslie Mann, premiered in competition at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. A few months later James began serving a prison sentence for a past gang-related charge of federal extortion. LITTLE BIRDS was released in 2012 by Millennium Entertainment and the film won a National Board of Review award.
On the film side, James is slated to direct A MILLION LITTLE PIECES for John Wells and Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment and is developing a film on the troubled life of actress Jean Seberg for Electric City entertainment, adapted from the biography BREATHLESS. James is repped by WME.
Actress / Writer / Producer
Brown Girls, You’re So Talented, Red
Poet, screenwriter, educator, and performer Fatimah Asghar is a Pakistani, Kashmiri, Muslim American writer. Fatimah Asghar is the author of the poetry collection If They Should Come for Us (One World/Random House, forthcoming 2018) and the chapbook After (Yes Yes Books, 2015).
She is also the writer and co-creator of the Emmy-nominated BROWN GIRLS, a web series that highlights friendships between women of color. Her work has been featured on news outlets such as PBS, NPR, Time, Teen Vogue, Huffington Post, and others.
In 2011 she created a spoken word poetry group in Bosnia and Herzegovina called REFLEKS while serving a Fulbright fellowship, where she studied theater in post-genocidal countries.
Asghar is a member of the Dark Noise Collective and a Kundiman Fellow. In 2017, she was a recipient of the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation.
Record/Play, Let Them Die Like Lovers, Kinesthesia
Jesse Atlas is a quickly emerging writer-director, known for crafting high-concept, emotionally grounded genre thrillers.
Jesse’s short film, the sci-fi love story RECORD/PLAY, exploded onto the festival circuit with screenings at Sundance, LA Film Festival, HBO/Urbanworld and Fantastic Fest, among many others. The film was quickly snatched up as a feature adaptation at Universal’s Focus Features with Atlas Entertainment producing.
Jesse has two films about to hit festivals – he’s the writer/director of KINESTHESIA, a supernatural short featuring the biggest names from DANCING WITH THE STARS. He also co-wrote ANGELS IN EXILE, a feature documentary produced and narrated by Charlize Theron about homeless youth in Durban, South Africa.
Jesse also created the story for the follow-up to Gareth Edwards’ MONSTERS, crafting a chilling wartime thriller for MONSTERS: DARK CONTINENT. The story was loosely inspired by Jesse’s feature documentary AT THE GREEN LINE, in which he was embedded with the Israeli Defense Forces in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
In addition to his writer/director credits, Jesse brings years of experience as an in-demand editor for high-profile commercials, music videos, and documentary features.
Film and TV Writer / Producer
The Handmaid’s Tale, The 100, Pacific Rim: Uprising
Kira Snyder is an Emmy- and WGA Award-winning writer and Co-Executive Producer on the TV show The Handmaid’s Tale for Hulu. Her other film and television work includes the movie Pacific Rim: Uprising, pilot scripts for Hulu, FX, and Amazon, The 100 on the CW, Incursion for Starz, Syfy’s Eureka and Alphas, and the CBS vampire cult hit Moonlight. Kira is a graduate of Stanford University and NYU Tisch School of the Arts as well as the Writers Guild of America’s Showrunner Training Program and the Warner Bros. Television Writers’ Workshop. The Parish Mail ebooks, Kira’s interactive Young Adult supernatural mystery series, are available for Kindle. Formerly a game designer, Kira has created games for Microsoft, the MIT Press textbook Rules Of Play, and Electronic Arts, including the seminal alternate reality game Majestic. Kira loves science, sci fi, and computer games, reading and playing when she’s not writing and designing.
Screenwriter / Producer / Executive
Now You See Me 2, Crazy Rich Asians, Eagle Eye, The Proposal
Peter Chiarelli graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle and went on to earn a Master’s degree from the Peter Stark Producing program at the University of Southern California. He began his film career at DreamWorks and during that time, he produced the short film TERRY TATE OFFICE LINEBACKER, which went on to become one of the most popular Super Bowl commercials of all time.
He then moved on to become an executive at Red Wagon Entertainment, where he worked on the films MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, WIN A DATE WITH TAD HAMILTON and RV, before going to MGM to work as a Director of Development and supervising production of THE PINK PANTHER and THE AMITYVILLE HORROR. He also worked as an executive producer on THE MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH, which premiered at the Sundance film festival. He later returned to DreamWorks to head up Kurtzman/Orci Productions and was a co-producer on that company’s first film, EAGLE EYE.
He began his screenwriting career penning Touchstone Pictures THE PROPOSAL, starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. He’s gone on to write screenplays for Sony Pictures, Paramount, Disney, Universal, Fox 2000 and DreamWorks. Most recently, he wrote on the movies NOW YOU SEE ME 2, PITCH PERFECT 3, and CRAZY RICH ASIANS, which will be released in August of this year. Currently, he is writing a screenplay at Universal for an untitled holiday comedy that will star Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer.
Screenwriter, Author, Professor
Essentials of Screenwriting, Escape from Film School, Former Head of UCLA’s prestigious screenwriting programs
Walter lectures on screenwriting and storytelling throughout North America and the world. He has written numerous feature assignments for the major studios including the first draft of American Graffiti, and has sold material to all of the Big Three television networks. He is the author of bestselling fiction and nonfiction. He has also written numerous informational, educational and corporate films, and is a 40-year member of the Writers Guild of America. He has conducted master classes in cities including among others London, Paris, Jerusalem, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Sydney.
Walter is also a pop culture critic and media pundit who has appeared multiple times on The Today Show, Fox News, MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, The CBS Evening News, Scarborough Country, CNN and NPR. Walter is also a court authorized expert in intellectual property law, in particular plagiarism and copyright infringement.
Professor of Mythological Studies
Founder of the Joseph Campbell Writers Room, Department Chair at Studio School
Will Linn holds a Ph.D. in mythological studies with an emphasis in depth psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpinteria, CA; a BA in philosophy from the University of the South in Sewanee, TN; and a CORe credential from Harvard Business School.
His dissertation focuses on Classical, Abrahamic, and scientific origin stories of knowledge and is entitled, Western Myths of Knowledge: Particles of Stone and Waves of Elixir. He currently co-hosts a radio show that he created for the Santa Barbara News Press called Mythosophia, in which he interviews leading story artists and scholars from such territories as myth and religion, sci-fi and fantasy, visions and dreams, rituals, novels, films, comics and other storytelling formats and mediums.
He is in his fifth year as founder and host of the Joseph Campbell Foundation Mythological RoundTable® group of Ojai, CA, which meets beneath the historic Teaching Tree at The Ojai Foundation. He also writes the newsletter for the global grassroots network of Mythological RoundTable® groups (60+ on 6 continents). In the last five years, he has been a leader and participant on research tours through England, Prague, Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Greece, Italy, and the Vatican.
Writer / Screenwriting Instructor
The Matthew Shepard Story
Over his years in the film industry, Jacob Krueger has worked with thousands of writers, from Academy and Tony Award winners, to beginning writers picking up the pen for the first time. He is an award-winning screenwriter, playwright, producer and director, as well the founder of Jacob Krueger Studio and the host of the acclaimed Write Your Screenplay Podcast.
Jacob’s first produced movie, THE MATTHEW SHEPARD STORY (2002) won him the Writers Guild of America Paul Selvin Award and a Gemini Nomination for Best Screenplay. The NBC film, directed by Roger Spottiswoode (AND THE BAND PLAYED ON) and produced by Goldie Hawn, was based on life of gay hate-crime victim Matthew Shepard. The film won Stockard Channing a SAG Award and her first Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress and Sam Waterston a Gemini Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Jacob has collaborated on original film musicals with Tony Award winning composers Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg (LES MISERABLES, MISS SAIGON) and with four-time Academy Award-winning composer Michel Legrand (YENTL, THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR), as well as a full slate of solo projects ranging from Feature Films to TV Miniseries.
Circle of Confusion, the production/management company behind: The Walking Dead, Get Out, Spider-Man, Game of Thrones, Black-ish
A graduate of London University, Ashley was a freelance researcher and P.A. in the UK, working for the BBC and Channel 4, and as a newsroom story editor for Bloomberg Television. Ashley then moved to L.A. where he started as an intern at The Radmin Company, working his way up to manager. He has been at Circle of Confusion since 2005 representing writers and directors including Tony Jaswinski (THE SHALLOWS), Olly Blackburn (DONKEY PUNCH) two time Academy Award nominee Lucy Walker (WASTE LAND), Nicholl Fellowship winners Alisha Brophy & Scott Miles (WHITE GIRL PROBLEMS), and BAFTA winner Tinge Krishnan.
Screenwriter / Director
Fox’s EMPIRE, SOUL FOOD, ABC’s PRIVATE PRACTICE
He began his career as a music video director while still enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Filmmaking. After relocating to Atlanta, Eric went on to direct and produce videos featuring such artists as Usher, Cee-Lo Green, Outkast, New Edition, Ice-T, Tupac Shakur, and legendary Parliament-Funkadelic bassist Bootsy Collins. His video for Bay Area rapper E-40’s song “Sprinkle Me” was selected by MTV andXXL Magazine as the #10 Greatest West Coast Rap Video of All Time.
Eric then turned his focus to writing and moved to Los Angeles, where he landed work as a writer on such shows as ABC’s PRIVATE PRACTICE and Showtime’s SOUL FOOD: THE SERIES. Along the way, he has periodically returned to his filmmaking roots, writing and directing three short films (NICK OF TIME, INTERSECTION, and STARING AT THE SUN), each of which screened at various film festivals around the country.
Eric went on to write the Hallmark Channel original movie RELATIVE STRANGER, starring Eriq LaSalle (E.R.) and directed by Charles Burnett (KILLER OF SHEEP). After premiering in 2009, the film garnered three NAACP Image Award nominations and a Best Supporting Actress Emmy nomination for Cicely Tyson.
In 2013, Eric wrote and directed the independent feature film FOUR OF HEARTS, and is currently a co-executive producer for the hit FOX drama EMPIRE, starring Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson. He recently co-wrote and directed an episode of the show’s fourth season.
Scott studied film at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, where he also played football and did competitive amateur bodybuilding, and upon graduating with his Bachelor’s degree, he immediately relocated from Canada to Los Angeles in 2004. It took some creative thinking and resourcefulness for Scott to procure employment opportunities in the USA being a Canadian citizen. He eventually got his start inside the coveted walls of Hollywood in the William Morris mailroom in Summer, 2008, where he worked until the merger with Endeavor. He also worked at UTA for 3 years, and spent a year as a development executive at Hollywood Gang Productions at Warner Bros., before starting the literary management company Management SGC where he represents writers and directors in film, television, books, and digital content.
Agent / Partner
United Talent Agency
Keya Khayatian is a Partner in the Motion Picture Literary department of leading talent and literary agency UTA. He began his entertainment career in 1995 as an agent trainee in the UTA mailroom. He was quickly promoted to departmental assistant specializing in film rights for literary properties, and in 1997 he was promoted to agent.
With a keen eye for spotting original artistic voices, Khayatian has helped develop the careers of many of the most sought after writers and directors, as well as representing established talent.
Clients include Marielle Heller (THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL), Garth Davis (LION), Craig Borten (DALLAS BUYERS CLUB), Asghar Farhadi (A SEPARATION, THE PAST), Naji Abu Nowar (THEEB), Max Borenstein (GODZILLA), Jonas Cuaron (DESIERTO), Carlos Cuaron (Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN, RUDO Y CURSI), Ira Glass (THIS AMERICAN LIFE), Rodrigo Cortés (BURIED, THE CONTESTANT), Marjane Satrapi (THE VOICES, CHICKEN WITH PLUMS, PERSEPOLIS), Jared Hess (DON VERDEAN, NACHO LIBRE, NAPOLEON DYNAMITE), Clark Johnson (THE SENTINEL, S.W.A.T., BOYCOTT, THE SHIELD ), Broken Lizard—including director Jay Chandrashekar (BEERFEST, DUKES OF HAZZARD, SUPERTROOPERS), Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE), Michael Cooney (IDENTITY), Tim Rasmussen & Vince DiMeglio (MARMADUKE, SMOTHER, LICENSE TO WED), Margaret Nagle (THE GOOD LIE, WARM SPRINGS), and Ron Nyswaner (THE PAINTED VEIL, PHILADELPHIA).
Born in Iran, Khayatian was raised in Los Angeles and received a B.A. in English Literature from Amherst College. After earning his degree, he spent two years in New York working at ABC News as a production assistant on World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, before moving to Los Angeles.
Ingrid Goes West, Enlightened, Adrift
David Branson Smith was born in New York City in 1984. He began his career working for Mike White on HBO’s ENLIGHTENED, and is the co-writer of two feature films: 2018’s ADRIFT, starring Shailene Woodley, and INGRID GOES WEST, starring Aubrey Plaza, which won the 2017 Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the Sundance Film Festival and Best First Feature at the 2018 Independent Spirit Awards. He is currently adapting three novels for film and television: Elliot Holt’s YOU ARE ONE OF THEM for Star Thrower Entertainment, Robert Bingham’s LIGHTNING ON THE SUN, and David Gates’ JERNIGAN for Warner Brothers TV.
Producer / Executive
Destination Wedding, Erin Brockovich, Gattaca, Jarhead
Gail Lyon is an entertainment producer and media executive. She is currently an owner/principal in Sunshine Pictures, as well as a partner in the NYC based global youth community platform VFILES.COM. It features fashion, retail, and original programming. Their twice-yearly New York Fashion Shows garner over a billion media impressions. Ms. Lyon produced the film DESTINATION WEDDING, written and directed by Victor Levin and starring Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder in 2017. She executive produced the independent film MOSS in 2016 which debuted at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2017. Some of her previous screen credits, in various producer capacities, include ERIN BROCKOVICH, GATTACA, STUART LITTLE 2, PETER PAN, WIN A DATE WITH TAD HAMILTON, EDGE OF DARKNESS, STICK IT and the HBO movie PENTAGON WARS. She also has both TV projects and feature films in development with various financiers, both in the States and Europe.
In addition, Ms. Lyon has been at the helm of many successful production companies. She was most recently President of GK Films, where she shepherded all development as well as the productions of YOUNG VICTORIA, EDGE OF DARKNESS and THE TOWN. She also served as President of Red Wagon Entertainment where she developed and supervised JARHEAD AND RV, as well as the company’s entire development slate. Prior to that, she was at Jersey Films where she rose to the ranks of President and was involved with both production and development there on a varied slate of award-winning pictures, including OUT OF SIGHT and MAN ON THE MOON.
Ms. Lyon’s previous stints include time at Walt Disney Studios as Director of Development for Walt Disney Pictures, and as a Vice President at Hollywood Pictures. Her first job in the industry was as an NBC Page. Ms. Lyon studied at the Sorbonne and l’Institute d’Etudes Politiques in Paris, France, and obtained a B.A. degree from Smith College in Northhampton, MA. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two teenaged daughters.
Zero Gravity Management
Jermaine Johnson is a development executive at Zero Gravity Management, a production and management company behind such films as the Netflix show OZARK, PULP FICTION, JUMANJI and television shows like STRANGER THINGS and AMERICAN HORROR STORY.
Zero Gravity Management is a progressive entertainment company whose primary core lies in the development and representation of screenwriters, directors and actors. ZG boasts a list of some of the industry’s most established professionals in all arenas. The firm is also a full-service production company handling the development, finance, execution and sale of projects in film, television and new media.
Writer’s Guild Foundation
The Writers Guild Foundation is the premier resource for emerging writers and movie and TV lovers in Hollywood. Boasting a busy calendar of high-value events and a vast, seemingly bottomless toolbox for writers, the Foundation is unmatched in its mission to promote and preserve the craft, history, and voices of screen storytelling.
Before joining the Writers Guild Foundation in 2013, Katie Buckland served as Executive Director of the California Women’s Law Center, a legal advocacy group targeting the civil rights of women and girls. Prior to working with nonprofits, Katie enjoyed a career in politics and government, serving on Bill Clinton’s presidential campaigns and the Democratic National Committee. As communications director for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office, she created the award-winning Neighborhood Prosecutor Project, which places prosecutors in neighborhoods to improve the quality of life in local communities. A licensed attorney, Katie also served as a domestic violence prosecutor for the City of Los Angeles.
Founder / CEO
BondIt Media Capital, Buffalo 8 Productions
Matthew Helderman is the founder and CEO of BondIt Media Capital and Buffalo 8. Helderman founded Buffalo 8 in 2010, while an undergraduate student producing his first feature film. Today Buffalo 8 is made up five divisions: production post-production management, marketing and executive producing services. Buffalo 8 touted 3 premieres in the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and recently came off the production of the Netflix Original RODNEY KING film directed by Spike Lee.
In late 2013 Helderman co-founded BondIt Media Capital to provide reliable and frictionless access to capital for media projects, producers and companies. By 2018 BondIt had acquired ABS Payroll (30 year old entertainment payroll firm) and fully or partially financed over 250 feature film and television projects including the cult hit THE INVITATION, KING COBRA (starring James Franco and Christian Slater), AFTERMATH (starring Arnold Schwarzenegger) and the 2018 Academy Award-nominated film LOVING VINCENT.
In partnership with ScreenCraft, BondIt has established a Film Fund dedicated to offering grants to emerging talented filmmakers.
Helderman has been a featured speaker at the Cannes Film Festival, London Film Festival, Bahamas Film Festival, Indywood (India) Film Festival and the Chinese US Business Summit.
Affirmative Entertainment & Production
Bogner is a unique manager in that he’s worked in almost every aspect of Hollywood. He’s written and sold television pilots, he was an agent, and he’s produced films. It’s this diversity in his career that he attributes to his success. He understands what it takes to sell a script, both from a buyer and seller’s position. That empathy and belief in his clients are often what help make the sale.
Writer / Director / Producer
NOTORIOUS, SHOTS FIRED, BEYOND THE LIGHTS
Reggie Rock Bythewood grew up in the Bronx, NY. He attended the High School of Performing Arts and received a BFA in theater from Marymount Manhattan College. As a teen, he acted in the soap opera ANOTHER WORLD alongside Morgan Freeman and Joe Morton. After acting in the John Sayles film THE BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET, he was inspired to write and
direct. Bythewood formed a theater company called “The Tribe,” which produced plays written and directed by Bythewood. He moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in screenwriting and became one of the first members of Disney’s prestigious Writer’s Fellowship Program.
From there, he was hired as a writer on the hit NBC comedy series A DIFFERENT WORLD where he met his future wife, Gina Prince-Bythewood. He went on to write and produce Dick Wolf’s drama series NEW YORK UNDERCOVER. After attending the Million Man March, Bythewood wrote the screenplay for Spike Lee’s indie film GET ON THE BUS. Bythewood was also one of the film’s investors.
Bythewood made his feature film directorial debut on the acclaimed indie flick DANCING IN SEPTEMBER. It was acquired by HBO and became an HBO original movie. Bythewood has also written and directed BIKER BOYZ, the Laila Ali documentary DADDY’S GIRL, the ESPN 30-for-30 documentary ONE NIGHT IN VEGAS, he co-wrote the Fox Searchlight film NOTORIOUS and wrote and directed GUN HILL, the two hour original movie for BET which garnered him the NAACP Image Award for Best Directing. He also produced BEYOND THE LIGHTS, directed by his wife Gina. He co-created and executive produced the Fox special event series SHOTS FIRED and is currently developing SWAGGER, a TV series for Apple alongside Kevin Durant and
Executive / Head of Production
Sam Brown oversees production and development as Head of Production for STXfilms, a division of STX Entertainment. Brown started his career as a development executive with New Line Cinema in 2002 and was most recently a Senior Vice President of Production for the division. While at New Line, Brown executive produced the Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart comedy
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE, Key and Peele’s film debut, KEANU, the latest installment in the VACATION franchise starring Ed Helms and Christina Applegate, as well as the global blockbuster SAN ANDREAS starring Dwayne Johnson.
His other credits include the hit film HORRIBLE BOSSES and its sequel HORRIBLE BOSSES 2, the Adam Shankman musical ROCK OF AGES, the worldwide hit JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, the HAROLD & KUMAR series, and the highly successful romantic comedies NEW YEAR’S EVE and VALENTINE’S DAY. Brown graduated from Harvard University.
Golden-globe winning, Emmy-nominated Writer / Director / Producer
Destination Wedding, Mad About You, Mad Men
Writer-Director Victor Levin’s second feature, DESTINATION WEDDING, stars Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder and will be released in 2018 by Aviron Pictures. This follows his much-beloved 5 TO 7 (IFC, 2015), which starred Anton Yelchin, Bérénice Marlohe, Frank Langella, Glenn Close, Lambert Wilson and Olivia Thirlby. His extensive previous screenwriting work includes THEN SHE FOUND ME (ThinkFilm, 2008) and WIN A DATE WITH TAD HAMILTON (DreamWorks, 2004).
Mr. Levin, who show-ran NBC’s MAD ABOUT YOU in its final two seasons and penned some of that series’ most memorable episodes, has been a writer-producer for numerous other TV shows, including AMC’s MAD MEN and HBO’s THE LARRY SANDERS Show and DREAM ON. Most recently, he served as an executive producer, writer and director for the critically acclaimed Starz-LeBron James comedy SURVIVOR’S REMORSE. Mr. Levin is a Golden Globe winner and a four-time Emmy nominee, in addition to nominations for WGA, PGA and two NAACP Awards. He has won a pair of Clios and the Cannes Lion de Bronze.
Prior to coming to Los Angeles, Mr. Levin was an Associate Creative Director at both BBDO and Young & Rubicam in New York. Born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx and in Rockland Country, Mr. Levin received his BA from Amherst College. He is married to the violinist Jennifer Gordon Levin; the couple has two daughters.
Oscar-nominated Screenwriter / Producer
PIXAR’s Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur, Captain Marvel
Nominated for a Best Screenplay Oscar for the blockbuster INSIDE OUT, LeFauve won an Annie Award for that screenplay. She also wrote Pixar’s THE GOOD DINOSAUR. LeFauve is currently writing for Netflix the animated film MY FATHER’S DRAGON to be
created by Cartoon Saloon. She wrote on the upcoming Marvel film, CAPTAIN MARVEL. LeFauve began her film career as a producer and President of Egg Pictures, Jodie Foster’s film company. During that time, LeFauve produced films which were nominated for an Emmy, a Golden Globe, and was awarded a Peabody for the Showtime film, THE BABY DANCE. LeFauve also produced THE DANGEROUS LIVES OF ALTAR BOYS which won the 2003 IFP Spirit Award for Best First Feature.
LeFauve has been a consultant to Screen New South Wales and Screen Australia and has been a mentor at many writing labs, including, CineStory Script Sessions, the Meryl Streep lab and the Sundance Creative Producer Lab. LeFauve has taught at AFI and
served as co-chair of the Graduate Producers Program at UCLA’s School of Film and Television, where she taught master level story and development classes for over seven years.
Raised in Warren, OH, LeFauve graduated from the Syracuse University Newhouse School and currently lives in Studio City, CA with her husband and two sons.
Producer / Production Manager
Producer of Filly Brown, Shine, Flavor of Life, former Executive Maker Studios
Sandra E Varona is a Los Angeles-based Film, Music Video & New Media producer with over 11 years of experience in the industry.
In 2008, Sandra received the Panavision New Filmmaker Grant, which gives a promising filmmaker a full Panavision camera package. Varona utilized the 16mm Panavision package to produce her first music video, “Bailando”.
Since then she has conquered music video production via her own company, Varona Productions, having produced over 30 music videos for artists such as El Roockie, Kinky, Vaughn Anthony, Grammy Nominated artist Eric Roberson and rap artist Waka Flocka.
In October 2010, Varona began her participation in Film Independent’s Project: Involve as one of only 33 filmmakers selected for a year-long mentorship program. A year later, she served as the Unit Production Manager for the most anticipated Sundance feature film, Filly Brown, starring Gina Rodriguez, Lou Diamond Phillips, Edward J. Olmos and Jenni Rivera.
In addition to producing, Sandra was Film Festival Director in 2012 for the Boyle Heights Latina Independent Film Festival. Sandra brought 3 powerful films directed by Eva Longoria, Eva Mendez and Zoe Saldana.
Currently Sandra is employed as the Production & Crew Manager of Maker Studios, overseeing the day-to-day of production.
President / CEO
Prime Universe Films, Inc. was established in 2005 by Adrian Askarieh with a vision to develop and produce high concept feature films based on established video game and comic book IP, while keeping an eye out for fresh, original material with appeal to growing global audiences.
Prior to forming Prime Universe, Adrian served as an Associate Attorney at Kleinberg & Lerner, LLP, a Century City-based law firm specializing in the area of IP rights. The firm represents personalities and companies involved in the entertainment, tech, and multimedia industries.
Garnering a reputation as a producer with a keen eye for both branded and emerging IP, Adrian was instrumental in setting up Eidos Interactive’s multi-million selling video game HITMAN at 20th Century Fox. Opening Thanksgiving weekend 2007, HITMAN went on to gross $100 million dollars worldwide on a production budget of $26 million. The sequel HITMAN: AGENT 47 followed in 2015, also released by Fox. Hitman is currently in priority development at Fox 21 as a cable TV series with HULU onboard as the network, with Adrian serving as Executive Producer.
On the heels of the first HITMAN movie, Adrian set up (and is producing) Eidos’ multi-million action game franchise KANE & LYNCH. The film is being financed by Nu Image Films (THE EXPENDABLES) and is being released in North America by Lionsgate.
Other feature film projects include JUST CAUSE, based on the internationally best-selling action video game, which will be directed by Brad Peyton (San Andreas) and will star Jason Momoa (JUSTICE LEAGUE).
Adrian sold his original story concept, LEONARDO DA VINCI AND THE SOLDIERS OF FOREVER, to Warner Brothers. The tale envisions the famous artist and thinker as an Indiana Jones-like adventurer who battles supernatural threats from the Bible. Marc Guggenheim (GREEN LANTERN, ARROW) wrote the script and Warner Brothers is eyeing the project as a major tent-pole.
Previously, Adrian sold Warner Bros. on the live-action adaptation of the classic Hanna Barbera cartoon JONNY QUEST. “Quest” is one of the most beloved entertainment properties in the world with two animated series and millions in sales in DVD, comic books, toys.
Keeping a foot solidly planted in the ever-expanding arena of comic-to-TV adaptations, Adrian is developing the best-selling HACK/SLASH horror/action comic book series at financier Critical Content.
More recently, Adrian announced a First Look deal between his Prime Universe Films banner and International film production and financing company Constantin Film (the RESIDENT EVIL franchise). The deal has resulted in best selling comic book DANGER GIRL as well as Vault Comics flagship title, the best-selling sensation HEATHEN.
Television Writer / Author
RIVERDALE, SHIP IT
Britta Lundin is a TV writer, novelist, and comic book writer. She writes on the show RIVERDALE on the CW. Her young adult novel SHIP IT, about fanfiction, Comic-Con, and wanting more from the TV shows you love is out now from Freeform Books. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives with her wife and their lime tree in Los Angeles.
Writer / Director
Hannah Macpherson was born in Albuquerque New Mexico and studied Film Production at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. She attended the UCLA Professional Program in Writing for Television in 2014. She created, wrote and directed the edgy teen thriller series T@GGED for AwesomenessTV. She just delivered season 3, and seasons 1 and 2 are available on Hulu.
She is currently rewriting a feature called THE MERCILESS for Lionsgate with Alloy Entertainment producing; she is attached to direct. She also wrote and directed SICKHOUSE, the first-ever, made-for-mobile, vertically-shot feature film. Hannah is repped by CAA and Madhouse Entertainment.
t@gged season 2 trailer (now avail on hulu): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SK5QdTgfHgc
Producer / Executive Director
Larry serves as Co-Founder and Executive Director of NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA), an organization committed to highlighting emerging filmmakers worldwide. He’s a member of the Producers Guild of America (PGA) and a Faculty Member at the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI).
Additionally, Larry is the President of Production at SXM, a full-service creative agency and branded entertainment studio/production company that plans and delivers branded entertainment across all digital platforms. They specialize in helping brands fuse entertainment, advertising and technology to reach new customers. SXM has produced digital series, branded entertainment and commercials for some of the world’s leading brands, networks and studios, including: Disney, NBC, CBS, VEVO, Dailymotion, MTV, DEFY Media, Comedy Central, Verizon go90, Amazon, Complex Media, IKEA, Mountain Dew, Samsung, Coca-Cola, Verizon and Smuckers. SXM has worked with Directors such as James Franco and Joseph Gordon Levitt.
Writer / Actor / Producer
It’s a Party, Survivor’s Remorse, New Girl
Lamar Woods is a comedic writer-actor from Atlanta, GA. He moved to Los Angeles, where he was awarded a full scholarship at the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) through their diversity initiative. Lamar can be seen in sketch group “White Women”–the first all-black, all-male sketch team at the UCB theater. He has been featured on Comedy Central, IFC and FunnyorDie. His work as a writer can be seen on NAACP-nominated SURVIVOR’S REMORSE (Starz) and Emmy-nominated NEW GIRL (Fox). Lamar has a B.A. in Philosophy & Religious Studies from Georgia State University.
Independent Spirit Award Winning Writer / Director
Ingrid Goes West
MATT SPICER studied filmmaking at the USC School of Cinema/Television Production. In 2007, his first script, THE ORNATE ANATOMY OF LIVING THINGS, co-written by Max Winkler, landed on The Black List and was optioned by Fox Searchlight. At the age of 25, he produced his first feature film, CEREMONY, directed by Max Winkler, and sold his first spec script, THE ADVENTURER’S HANDBOOK, co-written by Max Winkler and Jonah Hill, to Universal Pictures in a six-figure deal, one of the largest screenplay sales of that year. In 2013, his short film, IT’S NOT YOU IT’S ME, starring Gillian Jacobs, Fran Kranz and Rob Huebel, premiered at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival and was released by JASH, a comedy network created by Michael Cera, Tim & Eric, Sarah Silverman and Reggie Watts. His first feature as director, INGRID GOES WEST, starring Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen and O’Shea Jackson Jr., premiered in competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival where it was awarded the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for Best Screenplay, alongside co-writer David Branson Smith. He was also the winner of the 2018 Indie Spirit Award for Best Feature Feature. Upcoming projects include: YOU, a Netflix original film based on the book by Austin Grossman, and a sequel to THE ROCKETEER for Disney, co-written by Max Winkler.
Television Writer / Producer
Insecure, Underground, Boomerang, Step Sisters
Ben produced a feature film, STEP SISTERS, along with his producing partner, Lena Waithe, starring Megalyn Echikunwoke and Naturi Naughton, which is currently streaming on Netflix. Ben also created and wrote a drama series, CANDY, about a young, African American female mayor, set in his hometown of Memphis, which is currently in development at Universal Cable Productions. Currently, Ben is the showrunner/executive producer of the upcoming BET comedy series, BOOMERANG, loosely based on the iconic 90’s-era film, starring Eddie Murphy and Halle Berry. Lena Waithe and Halle Berry also serve as executive producers.
Story analyst, Screenwriter, Author of Story Maps
Director, Global Talent Development & Inclusion
Universal Filmed Entertainment Group
Launched in 2017, Global Talent Development & Inclusion (GTDI) leads the Studio’s inclusion and diversity efforts. Under the leadership of Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley, GTDI works closely with Universal Filmed Entertainment Group’s Production and Human Resources teams to identify and develop a pool of creative and workforce talent that builds upon the Studio’s commitment to telling stories and creating content with multi-cultural, global perspectives. GTDI is a resource for all divisions within the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group including Universal Pictures, Focus Features, DreamWorks Animation, Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes. www.
Associate Professor of Screenwriting at Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television
Mark Evan Schwartz is Associate Professor of Screenwriting at Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television in Los Angeles, and has credits on over a dozen produced feature films, television shows, and television movies. Starting out as a Production Assistant for Francis Coppola, he went on to become Story Analyst for the David Geffen Company, Story Editor for Galactic Films MGM, and Head of Story and Development for Nelson Entertainment, the international distributor of the blockbuster comedy When Harry Met Sally, contemporary classic The Princess Bride, and Best Picture Academy Award winner The Last Emperor, among many others. Writing mostly in genre, his screenplay credits range from Little Men (Warner Brothers Family Entertainment) to Star Quest (Concorde/New Horizons), produced by the legendary Roger Corman. His black comedy, Jackals, was first optioned in the US by Propaganda Films, and then Partisan in Paris, France.
Mark can be seen as a special feature talking head on the 15th Anniversary DVD of Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs and the Blu Ray DVD of the musical Camelot. He has contributed his expertise to articles in USA Today, Christian Science Monitor, Wrap Website, and Script Magazine, etc. He is the author of How to Write: A Screenplay (Bloomsbury Int’l Academic), currently out in its second edition.
Tenured, he previously served as Coordinator of the Screenwriting Track, Associate Dean of the School of Film and Television, and was recipient of a Crimson and Blue Professor of the Year Award. He has conducted screenwriting seminars at the Faulkner Society’s Words and Music Conference (New Orleans), San Miguel de Allende Writers and Literary Festival (Mexico), Willamette Writers Conference (Portland, Oregon), and the Great American Screenwriting Conference and Pitchfest (Los Angeles). He holds an MFA from Boston University College of Fine Arts.
Literary Manager, Heroes and Villains Entertainment
Chris Coggins has over a decade of experience in feature, television and digital series development and production. She began her career directly after graduation from The University of Southern California School for Cinematic Arts working as a Creative Assistant at Escape Artists/Sony Pictures. Coggins then moved on to working at Allison Shearmur Productions at her home studio Lionsgate and procured projects Burial Rites, Endangered and Nerve for the studio. There, she also developed Pride, Prejudice and Zombies and Cinderella.
Coggins recent independent projects include producing the spec pilot Angelino Heights, PSA Not on My Watch and the music video for Alekesam’s All is Forgiven. Coggins also worked at Luc Besson’s studio EuropaCorp and she recently moved into management at Heroes and Villains Entertainment representing writer, actors, directors and wellness professionals.