2019 INDUSTRY EXECS More being added daily..
Chris Barkley (aka Bonsai Chris)
Chris Barkley was born in beautiful Nashville, Tennessee and fell in love with storytelling after seeing The Princess Bride (which he’s enjoyed over fifty times) as a child. Taking a unique path to storytelling, Chris began as a songwriter, having penned over 200 songs. The need to emote, coupled with the discipline required to earn a Journalism degree (Middle Tennessee State University) lead Chris to co-found Bonsai Creative with his best friend, Nicholas Buggs to help independent creatives tell stories in a meaningful (and profitable) way. Since then, Chris has worked as Executive Producer, Advisory Producer, Story Consultant, and Brand Strategist on multiple feature and short films.
In his roles as Executive Producer and Advisory Producer, Chris has been a part of the filmmaking teams that won the Tennessee First Award for Best Feature Film at the Nashville Film Festival in 2017 (Wild Man) and 2018 (Other Versions of You). Chris has also provided consultation for a number of films now available on the major streaming platforms.
About Bonsai: Bonsai specializes in providing insight, tools , and techniques to help filmmakers identify and develop sound approaches to connecting with investors, buyers, communities, and audiences. They do this by leveraging brand development and market positioning techniques. Through operating by their three guiding principles (Be Better. Be Creative. Be Engaged), they build strategies that help filmmakers avoid the pitfalls of studio models not built for independent filmmakers.
Eric moved to LA from New England 13 years ago to become a TV writer. It was a spectacular failure that led him to his current career in development. Along the way he washed a lot of cars, made coffee for the DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, and tried to explain what Kat Von D was doing on LA INK. Then he landed a PA gig in the writers’ room of DROP DEAD DIVA where showrunner, Josh Berman, taught him development was a thing – that it’s like a whole job! Eventually Eric became Josh’s assistant and then his development coordinator. His first bona fide executive gig was at Sonar Entertainment (SHANNARA, THE SON, TABOO, MR. MERCEDES), then Perfect Storm (SCORPION, WARRIOR) after which he produced THE TICK for Sony and Amazon. Currently Eric is the VP of TV Development at Legendary Entertainment.
Brewer has been a Film Producer, Score Composer, Soundtrack Producer, and Music Supervisor on feature films and television productions for companies such as Universal, Summit Entertainment, MGM, Fox, Warner Bros., Anonymous Content, Miramax, Bold Films, CMT, and VH-1. His feature film credits include the Warner Bros release “American Pastime,” “Come Early Morning,” (Ashley Judd, Laura Prepon, Jeffrey Donovan and Diane Ladd), David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars,” Paul McCartney’s “Rockshow,” “Tokyo Pop,” “The Burning,” “The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball” (Monty Python, Peter Cook, Billy Connolly, Sting, Rowan Atkinson), and the cult horror pic “Trailer Park Of Terror,” based on the popular Imperium Comics series.
Brewer’s current projects include “Deadfellas,” a genre bending Sci-fi/Horror feature co-written by Jeff Buhler (“Pet Sematary,” “The Prodigy,” “Grudge” 2020) “Trailer Park Of Terror 2: The Trucker’s Triangle,” “Hitchhiking With Larry David,” based on the popular book by Paul Samuel Dolman (Gotham/Penguin books), and “The Human Fly,” inspired by the real-life stuntman whose antics spawned a Marvel Comics series and an ongoing franchise for which his company has also secured an upcoming series of network television specials. Earlier in his career, Brewer produced the Universal Pictures release, “Playing For Keeps,” (Daniel Jordano, Matthew Penn, Marisa Tomei, and Harold Gould).
Helena Budnik is the Vice President of Television at 51 Entertainment, Lynette Howell Taylor’s inclusively female, filmmaker-driven production company. The company is currently in production on HBO’s Mark Ruffalo-helmed limited series I Know This Much Is True written and directed by Derek Cianfrance, and has a slew of other high profile projects in the works, including an upcoming series for Apple starring Brie Larson. Prior to joining 51 Entertainment, Budnik spent two years at Scott Rudin Productions as a creative executive where she managed the company’s film and television slates and played an integral role in facilitating a first-look deal for the company with Fox Networks Group. Among the shows she worked on while at the company include FX’s critical darling What We Do in the Shadows for FX and Jason Segel’s upcoming Dispatches from Elsewhere for AMC. Before joining Scott Rudin Productions, she worked as an assistant within CAA’s motion picture literary department as well as at Fox 2000 while the company developed the Academy Award® nominated film, Hidden Figures, among others. Budnik was a double major at the University of Michigan and earned a B.A. in Film and TV Production and a B.A. in History.
Nicholas Buggs (aka Bonsai Nick)
Nicholas Buggs is an Executive Producer, Advisory Producer, and Brand Strategist specializing in independent films. As Co-Founder of Bonsai Creative Enterprises (Bonsai), Nicholas has successfully leveraged a background in Management and Strategic Consulting, Business Development, and Brand Management to develop strategic approaches to maximizing the potential in independent film projects. Considering himself a “catalyst for creatives”, Nicholas works alongside business partner and best friend Christopher Barkley to help filmmakers and buyers eliminate the obstacles to bringing great stories to life.
In his roles as Executive Producer and Advisory Producer, Nicholas has been a part of the filmmaking teams that won the Tennessee First Award for Best Feature Film at the Nashville Film Festival in 2017 (Wild Man) and 2018 (Other Versions of You). Nicholas has also provided consultation for a number of films now available on the major streaming platforms.
About Bonsai: Bonsai specializes in providing insight, tools , and techniques to help filmmakers identify and develop sound approaches to connecting with investors, buyers, communities, and audiences. They do this by leveraging brand development and market positioning techniques. Through operating by their three guiding principles (Be Better. Be Creative. Be Engaged), they build strategies that help filmmakers avoid the pitfalls of studio models not built for independent filmmakers.
Carey Nelson Burch
John-Eric Capps is head of television for Le Grisbi Productions, John Lesher’s LA-based production company. Lesher is the Oscar-winning producer behind many films such as BIRDMAN, HOSTILES, FURY, and END OF WATCH. John-Eric was previously executive vice president of development & production for Flame Ventures, Tony Krantz’s production company, and vice president of film & television for Whalerock Industries, where he developed movies and series for a wide variety of networks and studios such as the upcoming series WU ASSASSINS for Netflix. His career began toiling in the mailroom of Paradigm, a talent agency, and working as an assistant in the production division of Management 360, an entertainment management firm that produced GAME OF THRONES for HBO. He was born in Selma, AL, where he began his lifelong love of Crimson Tide football, grew up in the D.C area, and has lived in Los Angeles for nine years. He’s a graduate of University of North Carolina School of the Arts, School of Filmmaking.
Prior to joining Gersh, Stewart was an agent at Rebel Entertainment Partners. “Belief in our clients, is the only constant of note. It’s possible.” Stewart received joint honours from the University of Glasgow in Film/TV studies & History.
Michael Daut is an immersive media specialist, working as an independent writer/producer/ director in Los Angeles, CA. He is an award-winning writer, producer, and director for fulldome videos, theatrical productions, music videos, live concert videos, commercials, documentaries, corporate videos, and trade show presentations. He most recently served as the Director of New Business Development for Mousetrappe, an experience design and production studio in Burbank. Previously he worked for over 20 years at Evans & Sutherland, developing a library of shows for the digital fulldome community. Michael’s current clients include K2 Studios, a giant screen film production and distribution company, and Moodswings, LLC, creators of the visual music show Mesmerica, currently playing in digital dome theaters across North America.
He has a BA in Media Communications with a video/film emphasis from Webster University, where he also served as an adjunct professor. He created the world’s first digital fulldome film for SIGGRAPH, 1999 in Los Angeles, and also helped create the world’s first digital fulldome transfer of a giant screen film, Africa the Serengeti in 2007. As a result of this groundbreaking first step, there are now more than 50 giant screen films that have been converted to digital fulldome.
Michael Daut is a member of the Producer’s Guild of America, a founding member of the Association of Fulldome Innovators, a member of the Telly Awards’ Silver Council, a board member of the Giant Screen Cinema Association, and a board member of IMERSA.org, the Immersive Media Entertainment, Research, Science and Arts organization dedicated to raising the visibility of immersive media across a variety of disciplines throughout the world.
Currently a producer and executive with Reel One Entertainment and responsible for more than a dozen movies annually, David’s worked on over 50 productions shot in Los Angeles or Canada in all aspects of development, casting, production and post. He’s written or co-written a number of produced scripts and directed a low-budget feature distributed by Maverick Entertainment. For director Chris Columbus’ 1492 Films he covered over 1000 scripts and novels. After graduate school at Stanford he worked in finance for Universal TV, Dino De Laurentiis, and AMC Theatres International. He received his BSBA from Georgetown and served as a Foreign Service Officer with the US Department of State in Congo and Washington. Other experiences include teaching high school in Watts, roughnecking in Germany, and sailing as a deckhand on ocean-going tugs.
Joel has developed material for several projects based on various pop-culture brands, such as TNT’s proposed remake series of “Tales from the Crypt.” “Letters from a Drugstore Cowboy,” based on the unpublished writings of James Fogle – the inspiration for the film, “Drugstore Cowboy” – was optioned to FOX Studios in 2013.
Upcoming film projects on Eisenberg’s development slate include the Alzheimer’s-themed “January Rain,” as co-writer and producer, and “Louis vs Schmeling,” a boxing biopic to be directed by Bill Duke and Executive Produced by Gilbert Adler.
Joel has written or co-written several feature films, including the multi-award-winning drama “Out of the Black.” In 2010, Joel Executive Produced “April Showers,” a film about the Columbine school shooting scenario, written and directed by a survivor of the tragedy. Following its theatrical and initial DVD platform, “April Showers” went on to receive a special commendation from the U.S. House of Representatives.
Lorie Girsh Eisenberg
Lorie has developed unscripted programming such as the upcoming genre round table project, “The Screaming Room,” and “Then Again with Herbie J Pilato,” a retro talkshow dedicated to classic television, with guests such as Ed Asner, Robert Conrad, Cindy Williams, Marion Ross, David Selby and others.
Lorie works with her husband, Joel Eisenberg, as a producer under the Council Tree Productions banner. Together, they have several projects in development or production, including “Farway Canyon,” directed by “Sharknado’s” Anthony C Ferrante – and based on the comic book of the same name – and “Jeffrey’s Plan,” to be directed by Bill Duke.
On the PR side, Lorie has represent primarily independent novelists, and producers for television and film. Her work in both PR and as an active producer gives Lorie a unique foothold into both the publicity and creative sides of several media industries.
Galin just completed production on the TV One television pilot “Media.” Concurrently he is producing his latest documentary on Kauai’s historic Lawii International Center, and non-denominational community project
Among his current feature projects, Galin is currently developing and packaging the adaptation of Stephen King’s short story Gingerbread Girl which will directed by Craig Baxley, the family film Blue Lights and the suspense thriller The Disembodied to be directed by Neville Page. These films are all scheduled to be shot in 2016-17.
Galin other recent productions include the series pilot for the reboot of his iconic series Tales for The Darkside. the Hallmark movies Norman Rockwell’s Shuffleton’s Barbershop, Wedding Planner Mystery and The Shunning and Paper Angels; the award winning documentaries Journey to Everest, Honoring a Father Dream:The Sons of Lwala, Survivor, Apostles of Comedy 1 & 2 as well as a Producer/Writer on the recently released feature documentary Living Hope.
Included in Galin’s other television producing credits are Sci-Fi’s miniseries Dune; CBS’ miniseries A Season in Purgatory; ABC’s Stephen King’s The Langoliers and Stephen King’s The Stand. These productions earned Galin an Emmy nomination and collectively received nine Emmy’s. He also produced the award-winning telefilm The Vernon Johns Story, which starred James Earl Jones and amongst it’s many awards netted him the prestigious Christopher Award and the CBS series Stephen King’s Golden Years. He was executive in charge of production of the critically acclaimed series Tales from the Darkside and Monsters, the latter of which he co-created. Both of these series have been on the air for almost twenty years and were well known for giving a substantial number of directors, writers and actors their first professional job. Galin is also recognized for being among the first U.S. producers that explored international co-productions. He was involved with the first U.S.-China Co-Productions, one of the initial U.S-Canadian Co-Production, the first U.S.-Hungarian Co-Production and Dune which marked the first major U.S.- Czech Co-Production in over ten years.
Galin is well known for his teaming up with Stephen King as a producer on a number of feature films including Pet Sematary and Thinner which were released by Paramount Pictures and The Night Flier, a New Line Cinema release.
Galin serves on the board, for the multiple award-winning Kid Pan Alley, a non- profit curriculum-based music enrichment program that teaches grade school children creative writing through an innovative songwriting method. Among his other charitable works, Galin produced and directed a PSA for former Governor Bredesen and Andrea Conte promoting the First Lady’s Walk across Tennessee to raise awareness for Child Advocacy and was one of the producers of Project Restore, a Nashville-centric Tsunami benefit.
While living in New York, Galin delved into the theatrical arena by serving on the boards of the Atlantic Theater Company, founded by David Mamet and William Macy, which produced the multiple Tony Award-winning play Beauty Queen of Lenanne, and the New Dramatists, the country’s most prestigious dramaturgical theater organization.
Galin serves on the board, and was the past President, of FilmNashville, the Nashville Screenwriter’s Conference and was appointed by Governor Bredesen to the Film Production Advisory Committee which completed the report that served as the basis for the ‘08 Tennessee State sponsored film incentive program. Galin has served on the boards of the Nashville Film Festival and as a consultant to the Independent Features Project, the largest association of independent filmmakers in the country. Galin is a member of the Directors Guild of America, Writers Guild of America, Producers Guild and the Academy of Television Arts. His writing and editorial work has been published both in the United States and England. He has served as a guest lecturer at Columbia University, NYU, New School of Social Research, Vanderbilt, Belmont University as well as a panelist at various film festivals including Sundance, IFP, Cannes.
Marc Gold is an in-demand entertainment executive and producer at Fresh Cats Productions, currently overseeing development, marketing, and finance for high quality independent films ranging from $500k to 15 million dollars. His passion for bringing compelling, well-crafted stories to the screen has shaped his career in Hollywood today.
Having felt an inspiration to become a filmmaker at 14 years old, Marc first served his country in the US Navy and then settled into the world of finance where he spent 20+ years in private equity and co-founded several leading California companies.
Since 2013, Marc has produced a wide range of film genres and platforms, building a reputation for handling high-octane films in the action/horror/thriller & drama space. This includes his recent projects: Big Legend, Swell, and the feature film Wish Man, currently out in theaters for 2019.
Outside of Los Angeles, Marc has refined relationships with many producers, writers, and studio executives in multi-billion dollar entertainment hubs such as Atlanta, New York, Las Vegas and Vancouver. These new and ongoing rapports have created tie-ins with various production companies (big & small) and with platform behemoths such as Amazon and Netflix.
In addition to his own slate, which currently includes the features All Stars, The Human Fly, and the Documentary Flag of Souls, Marc enjoys contributing as a featured speaker in the film festival circuit, pitchfests, and large film conventions where he provides guidance and expertise to content creators on how to get their stories into production within their financial capabilities and potentially return revenue.
Founder and President of Clear Cut Inc, Vice President of TH Entertainment LLC., Barbara Hall has been involved in all aspects of development, consultation, production and distribution of original programming for both traditional television and digital realm for more 25 years. She is the Producer of award winning specials, series and long form documentary films. She is President of Clear Cut Inc (Incorporated in 1997); this company provides rights and clearance services and consults on a wide range of music and documentary, scripted and variety productions focusing on international rights and clearance issues. Programming Credits: more than 25 long form, music based productions including authorized biographies and concerts, theme related documentaries and theme- related series. All productions have worldwide distribution. Barbara has enjoyed a long history of working with many production companies and broadcasting networks both domestic and international. She has a worked with public television in both production and consultation on rights and clearances.
Production Credits include:
Waylon Jennings: The Outlaw Performance – PBS
American Masters: Charley Pride – PBS/BBC
American Masters: Patsy Cline – PBS
Titanic: Band of Courage – PBS
Song By Song (22 Episodes/ Documentary series) Ovation Network
Blondie – A&E Biography
Carrie Underwood – A&E Biography
Reba McEntire – A&E Biography
The Mamas & The Papas – A&E Biography
The Monkees – A&E Biography **Emmy Nominated
Lovin’ Spoonful: Do You Believe in Magic – PBS
Davy Jones – A&E Biography
Selena – A&E Biography
Drew Carey – A&E Biography
Weird Al – A&E Biography
Billy Ray Cyrus – A&E Biography
Impact: Songs that Changed The World- 12 episode series (Bravo U.S., Canada, Israel, MTV Latin America, Poland, Italy, Discovery India, Australia, Finland)
Mike Douglas – Moments & Memories (Public Television) **Programming Excellence Award
Four Strong Winds (8 part series CMT & W Network)
Mavericks of Country – 2 part special (A&E)
Jackie Gleason: Genius at Work (Public Television) **Programming Excellence Award
Have You Heard: Jim Croce Live (Public Television)
Johnny Cash – Half Mile a Day (Bravo US/CMT Canada)
Johnny Cash – The Anthology (Public Television)
Jerry Lewis-I Am What I Am (A& E/Bravo! Canada)
Gordon Lightfoot – Live (CBC – Canada/Public Television US)
Chet Atkins – A Life in Music (TNN US/CMT Canada)
Patsy Cline: Sweet Dreams Still, The Anthology (Public Television)
Straight Shooter-The Story of The Mamas & The Papas (A&E, Bravo)
Guitar Heroes – (Discovery Networks)
The Band (A&E, Bravo)
This Joint is Jumpin’ (Bravo US/Bravo! Canada)
Tower of Song (CBC – Canada)
Roy Orbison – In Dreams (Bravo! – Canada/Bravo US
Willie Nelson – My Life (A&E, Bravo)
Suzanne’s work background consists of corporate communications, where she specialized in presentation design for technology companies and management consulting firms. Besides corporate work, she also designed magazines and promoted music, skillsets which directly correlate to film promotion. Her educational background includes a BA from UCONN in writing and broadcast communications.
When travelling to film festivals, she frequently appears on panels discussing new video platforms, technology and processes of film distribution. Example appearances: International Wildlife Film Festival (Missoula MT), Wildscreen (Bristol England), Wild and Scenic Film Festival (Nevada City CA), Sunny Side of the Doc (La Rochelle France). In 2008 she won the Gaea Award for the Environment from the Women’s International Film and Television Showcase, (Hollywood, CA)
Suzanne was also the Associate Producer Season 6 of a broadcast series called Natural Heroes.
James V. Hart (J.V.)
J.V. Hart was born in Shreveport, Louisiana and grew up in Ft. Worth Texas on Drive-In Movies and Saturday Matinees.
His writing/producing credits include; Hook, directed by Steven Spielberg based on an idea by Hart’s then 6 year old son, Jake, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Muppet Treasure Island, directed by Brian Henson, and Contact, directed by Robert Zemeckis.
Other writing/producing credits include: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Tuck Everlasting, Jack And The Beanstalk: The Real Story. Sahara, Lara Croft: Tombraider – The Cradle Of Life, August Rush, Epic, and the TV series, Crossbones.
In 2019, The Hot Zone, the acclaimed series for Nat Geo based on Richard Preston’s best selling book, was created by Hart, who also shared writing and story credits on each episode and served as an Executive Producer.
Hart is a co-founder of the Peter Pan Children’s Fund, a non-profit that fosters youth philanthropy supporting Children’s Hospitals, has served on the Meadows School of the Arts board at SMU, is a founding member of the Writer’s Guild Initiative board, and founder of Lionfish University, a non-profit .org dedicated to reef preservation and conservation.
His renowned story mapping tool app, TheHartChart, and the HartChart toolkit, were launched online and in print at the 2015 Austin Film Festival.
“Go with Gravity” is Hart’s primary mantra for the writing life.
Ruth Ann Harnisch
Ruth Ann Harnisch returns to Nashville as a filmmaker and industry expert for FILM-COM, although some Nashvillians might recognize her as the former Ruth Ann Leach, TV news anchor, reporter, newspaper columnist, and talk-show host.
Today, she uses her resources as a philanthropist and an impact investor to help create social change through storytelling.
She’s an award-winning filmmaker, a partner in HarHar Productions, a SuperBacker on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, as well as an investor through the Sundance Institute’s Catalyst events, Good Pitch, Seed&Spark, and other financing platforms.
In 2018, Ruth Ann celebrated with the other members of Impact Partners as their documentary ICARUS won the Academy Award for Best Documentary. She was an EP of UNREST, shortlisted in the same Oscar category.
Among the over 100 films she’s supported are the independent features Columbus, Lucky, The House of Tomorrow, Humor Me, as well as documentaries including The Hunting Ground, Won’t You Be My Neighbor (top grossing bio-doc of all time), Trapped, Hot GirlsWanted, Audrie & Daisy, The Eagle Huntress, in addition to other films by, for, and about women. Roll Red Roll is currently in theaters.
Ruth Ann conducts workshops for female filmmakers at the Sundance Institute Strategy Intensives, helping demystify the process of raising money and redefining one’s relationship with money.
The Harnisch Foundation is a lead sponsor of the Sundance Institute Momentum Fellowship and its coaching program, and was a presenting sponsor of Sundance’s first Women’s Catalyst film financing event.
Ruth Ann is the founder and president of The Harnisch Foundation, now in its 21st year of working to create a fair, equitable and inclusive world by investing in effective leaders and creative communities. TheHF’s original skills curriculum, Funny Girlsä, uses improv to help girls learn how to step into their own leadership.
Ruth Ann is a member of Women Moving Millions, Women Donors Network, Rachel’s Network, the collective giving group 100 Women Who Care in Middle Tennessee and the Dean of the Awesome Without Borders chapter of the Awesome Foundation, which gives $1000 weekly no-strings-attached grants to further awesomeness in the world.
Ruth Ann believes “The Final Frontier of Feminism is Finance,” and as a certified professional coach she has helped thousands of entrepreneurs, creative artists, scientists, philanthropists, journalists, executives and polymaths to unlock the chains that keep them from playing the money game to win.
Justin earned a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from Furman University and a Masters degree in Theological Studies from Vanderbilt University Divinity School. He was involved in numerous boards and councils such as the Public Television Programmers Association Board where he served as President and the American Public Television Premium Service Advisory Council, along with many others. He currently serves on the PBS Content Services Committee and on the PBS Programming Advisory Council.
The Jalbert Brothers
The Jalbert Brothers started their careers in video production 15 years ago, as kids making home movies in their backyard. Combining their knowledge of filmmaking and experience in video production, Brian and Jake took an amateur love for film and turned it into a career behind the camera. With Brian’s talent for producing and Jake’s passion for cinematography and directing, this filmmaking powerhouse duo is changing the industry from the inside out. Their credits include co – producer and 1st assistant director for the feature film Apple of My Eye– starring Burt Reynolds and Amy Smart– distributed by Sony Pictures, they produced and directed the series pilot called 10 Seconds to Run, and 2 Shows for Amazon Prime Video called Haunted Tours and Share Your Scare.
Corey R. Johns, CEcD
Tennessee Entertainment Commission, Department of Economic & Community Development
Corey R. Johns serves as Director of Business Development – Interactive & Creative Technology for the Tennessee Entertainment Commission at the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development. In this role, he directs the TEC’s “Create_Here” campaign, manages the Tennessee Interactive Digital Media Advisory Council’s efforts to accelerate growth in Tennessee’s creative technology industries and markets the State as a highly-competitive market for workforce relocation & business expansion by emerging digital content creation firms. Learn more at CreateTN.com.
Corey is an IEDC Certified Economic Developer with a decade of experience in technology-driven economic development leadership. Prior to joining TEC & ECD, he launched & led multiple U.S. Department of Commerce-funded state broadband initiative programs for several states, including three years as Executive Director of Connected Tennessee. Highlights from his tenure include over $225 million in federal broadband infrastructure grants secured for unserved & underserved areas of Tennessee, quantifying & marketing Tennessee as the nation’s leader for residential gigabit broadband availability, expanding innovative technology skills development & job-placement programs & helping bring Google Fiber to Nashville. Corey is a proud Alumnus of the University of Tennessee, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and completed a Master of Public Administration. He is also a graduate of the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute. Corey resides in Middle Tennessee with his wife, two young sons & their chocolate lab, Bonnie.
Ryan Justice founded Justified Films in 2010, a video production company with a studio in Clearwater, FL. His first feature film FOLLOWERS was picked up at AFM and distributed across the world including US theaters in 2018. In addition he has co- produced other films and wrote scripts optioned by EFO Films (Rogue Island) He has also directed projects for prestigious brands including the PGA, Western Digital and Starbucks.
Born and raised in sunny Tampa Bay Florida, Ryan graduated from University of South Florida in Mass Communications.By the end of college he had already produced several award-winning short films and music videos featuring the late Rock N Roll Hall of Famer Marty Balin ( Jefferson Airplane) Before starting his own company, he oversaw the video department for a large international manufacturing company. He currently has several projects in development and continues to produce branded content for companies around the world
Kurt R. Klaus
Kurt R. Klaus, Esq., is a business and legal affairs attorney in private practice who proactively supports media, content, entertainment, and marketing clients with decisive, collaborative, and often cross-functional solutions to cutting-edge challenges – backed by 25 years of in-house, law firm, and Of Counsel experience.
Currently located in a suburb of Washington, DC, Kurt handles matters for clients worldwide. He regularly functions as lead attorney on domestic and international transactions involving many of the world’s leading entertainment, content distribution, and media production companies and provides creative and practical guidance with related legal and business strategies. Kurt enjoys a strong aptitude and intense intellectual curiosity for operating as legal counsel within evolving media industries.
Kurt is former Director, Business and Legal Affairs at FOX/National Geographic Partners. Having been involved with hundreds of content commission, co-production, and collaboration matters, Kurt has gained access to domestic and international showrunners, commissioning executives, production companies, and distributors.
Not just about law, … Kurt was also an executive in a mid-sized media production and distribution company. He has also worked as a producer, assistant director, and production manager of television commercials and industrial films (140+ projects), earning 16 regional and national awards. Kurt worked in the production department of four LA-based studio feature films.
Ra Kumar is an agent in the Alternative TV department at global talent and entertainment company, United Talent Agency (UTA). He represents a variety of production companies, producers and on-air talent for syndication as well as network and cable television opportunities. Notable clients include Warm Springs Productions, Texas Crew Productions, MY Entertainment, Animals & Co, Committee Films, Kennedy, Rick Wilson and Ali Velshi.
A former television packaging agent at APA, Kumar joined UTA in March 2011. Prior to becoming an agent, he worked in production at Warner Bros. Television and 20th Century Fox World.
Kumar earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in film from Columbia College Chicago and currently lives in Manhattan, New York.
Pierre Lamoureux is a film director/producer specializing in documentary and concert films. From Slipknot to Cirque du Soleil; Harry Connick, Jr. to Rush and l’Opéra de Montréal, his company, FogoLabs, has produced over two hundred and fifty television hours of programming. Seven films have had international theatrical releases. Fogo productions have won a Grammy Award, two Emmy Awards, two Juno Awards and two Gemini Awards in addition to dozens of industry awards and other nominations. Pierre studied jazz bass and classical guitar and has a Bachelor of Music degree from McGill University. He played in various bands, recorded several albums and toured the world before producing Pete Townshend’s Music from Lifehouse in February 2000. His directorial debut was with Alanis Morissette in 2002 (Feast on Scraps).
Jordan McMahon is the Director of Development for Kelsey Grammer’s Grammnet Productions, overseeing a slate of projects across film, television and digital content. Grammnet is currently in production on season 2 of Hulu’s “LIGHT AS A FEATHER”, and IMDb’s new flagship digital series “YOU’RE NOT A MONSTER”, starring Eric Stonestreet, Ellie Kemper, Adam Pally and Patton Oswalt, for which Jordan serves as Executive Producer. Other forthcoming projects from Grammnet include the “FRASIER” reboot and a half hour comedy recently sold to ABC. Prior to working for Grammnet Productions, Jordan spent 6 years at Beverly Hills based management/production company Thruline Entertainment, and also worked for BBC America and Pinewood Studios. Jordan is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Teesside in the United Kingdom.
Erin Mae Miller
Erin Mae Miller is a film and television producer/director based in NYC. Most recently, Miller worked with Amazon Original Movies, overseeing the production and delivery of 5 original films as a production executive with Big Indie Pictures (Manchester By The Sea, Captain Fantastic). Miller’s most recent documentary, Work and Happiness: The Human Cost of Welfare, produced and directed by Miller, premiered on PBS and PBS World. Miller has also produced and managed unscripted television productions for PBS, History, Discovery, E!, WH1, TLC, Animal Planet and OWN. Miller’s passion for people, ideas, and justice drives her storytelling and research, and she strongly believes that stories drive culture. She is a member of Women Independent Producers, NY Women in Film and Television, and a board member of the NY Media Initiative.
Malee Nerenhausen is currently Vice President of International Distribution at The Solution Entertainment Group, the international sales and production company that produced Killerman
starring Liam Hemsworth among many others. She works with international distributors and producers to help facilitate film production financing for the various projects on Solution’s slate by drafting, negotiating and overseeing all international contracts.
Previously, Malee oversaw physical production and production film financing for Yari Film Group, the company that produced and financed many notable films including the Academy Award winning Crash. During her tenure she worked on the company’s slate of films including The Accidental Husband starring Uma Thurman and Colin Firth, Resurrecting the Champ starring Sam Jackson and Josh Hartnett, Assassination of a High School President, starring Bruce Willis
and The Lonely Maiden starring William H. Macy and Morgan Freeman. She facilitated film financing for many other films and has worked with many leading entertainment banks and bond companies.
Adding to her repertoire she spent several years in Canada in production for an independent production company which produced and financed multiple productions including 3000 Miles To
Graceland, starring Kevin Costner and Kurt Russell.
Morgan Pichinson is Vice President of Julianne Hough’s production company, Canary House Productions. Previously she was Director of Development for both Film and TV at Mosaic Media Group, an LA-based management and production company. Pichinson started her career as an assistant at Verve Talent & Literary Agency, working in motion picture and television lit. She then had a stint at STX Entertainment before joining Mosaic. Besides her every day duties, Pichinson has been covering festivals and has a keen eye for emerging talent, focusing on comedy and female-driven content, which is her passion.
Granite Hill Entertainment Founder and CEO Aron Plucinski has been a Television Producer & Writer for over 18 years. Working on hit shows from the Day-Time Emmy Nominated branded show Save our Shelter to Mountain Men, Undercover Boss, Biker Build-Off, Ice Road Truckers, Storm Chasers and many others, his job has been to identify, uncover, determine and develop stories around companies and people to make them into story-driven, televisionhits.
Today he is working with Brands, Companies and People to identify, develop and tell their stories through social, digital and broadcast media platforms to connect with consumers.
Taking my story-driven skills to the branded world to help them tell their authentic stories that consumers can relate to. Helping Brands establish & tell their stories so consumers can identify and have a relationship with them.
I grew up in Hallowell, Maine on a hill called Granite Hill. It was tough, rugged, picturesque-timelessness. Where stories and tales were told.
We are a company that has a solid foundation in Visual & Written Story-Telling.” We are the Global Mom & Pop Shop Brands want to work with because we work together to create your significant vision and develop it all the way into story-driven form that can be broadcast across multiple media platforms
Appointed by the Governor in 2012 to lead economic community development and job creation initiatives within the State’s entertainment sectors. Raines is responsible for advancing the strategic goals of the Tennessee Entertainment Commission (TEC); managing (TEC) incentive & grant programs; marketing Tennessee’s key industry assets and competitive advantages; acting as strategic advisor to senior government officials and providing State Legislators’ with analysis of the State’s entertainment sector.
Over his 15 year career, Raines has consulted for a 1000 + production projects with notable clients including Lionsgate, HBO, Legendary Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Disney and Netflix. His leadership in key development initiatives grew the State’s employment rate in motion picture/video production by 12% producing 10,000+ production jobs; $230M in new incomes for Tennesseans’; 7000 + production days and $380M in economic output for State businesses & production vendors. Under Raines’ tenure as executive Director, the State of Tennessee is currently ranked 7th in the nation for motion picture/video production employment; No. 1 for workforce concentration and No. 2 for total employment in record production and music publishing.
In 2016, Raines initiated the State’s first digital economy strategy to accelerate high-quality job growth in the emerging interactive digital media cluster also referred to “Creative Technology” with Key Focuses on VR&AR; Music Tech, Video Game Development & Gamification; Animation. Raines has managed the development of a Statewide Council of Industry Leaders to advise & advance these efforts; Launched a marketing & recruitment campaign which includes a target industry site; resource directory for talent and created an ongoing content development & marketing campaign to promote the state by spotlighting multimedia brands & content creators. In 2018 Raines successfully passed the Visual Content Modernization Act expanding State incentives to include Interactive Digital Media and Post production Scoring.
Raines currently is appointed to the Mayor’s Nashville Music City Music Council; Vice President of the Nashville Film Festival Board; a Leadership Music Class of 2016 Alumni and oversees the Governor’s Entertainment Commission board which is a Statewide board composed of leaders from Tennessee base companies like Discovery Inc., Google and WME. He actively manages a private-public sponsorship program responsible for supporting organization across the State with focuses of advancing the entertainment industry and maintains strategic partnerships with city and county alliances in Memphis, Knoxville & Chattanooga.
Raines holds a degree in Business Administration from East Tennessee State University and an accreditation with the International Association for Management Education.
Rojas’ expertise spans 23 years in the financial sector from Institutional Equity Sales to Investment Banking focused on Asian markets. Serving high profile global hedge, mutual and pension funds in North America, Rojas has previously been affiliated with several well-known investment banks, most recently, one of the largest banks in South East Asia, Maybank Kim Eng Securities. Also an expert in sourcing capital raising opportunities between private equity and publically listed companies, Rojas achieved unique access to companies seeking funding, primarily in the powerful economies of India and China.
Rojas, who grew up with a fascination for film, co-founded the production company “Hand in Hand Entertainment.” Utilizing his wide-ranging experience in the financial sector, Rojas advised and delivered financing for independent film projects extending to foreign distribution contracts.
He received his Master’s Degree in Bio-Psychology from Hunter College, CUNY, in New York City, as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology (minors in Pre-Med and British Literature). With a multi-disciplinary approach to both academia and career, Rojas has also been published in the prestigious journal, “Brain, Behavior and Evolution.”
Lise Romanoff, Managing Director/ CEO of Vision Films, Inc. celebrates 25 years in the Feature Film and Television Distribution business. She is on the Board of Directors of IFTA (the Independent Film and Television Alliance) and is a member of their Legal and Finance Committees. Recently Lise joined the Digital EMA and is a member of the International Academy of Arts and Sciences. Vision Films is a Worldwide Distribution Company with a library of over 800 independent Feature Films, TV Movies, Documentaries and Music Specials.
In North America, Vision currently releases 4-6 films every month across all media from theatrical to television. They are a VOD (Video On Demand) Aggregator and their DVD label is with DS/AEC (formally Sony). Internationally, Vision attends all the film and TV markets such as AFM, MIPCOM, NATPE, EFM Berlinale, HKFilmart, MIPTV and CANNES. Their website is www.visionfilms.net.
Vision is actively acquiring top-notch independent feature films and documentaries that entertain and inspire audiences. Their website is www.visionfilms.net. Some of their recent documentary releases consist of “Living In the Future’s Past” directed by Susan Kucera starring Jeff Bridges, and “Hired Gun” produced by Jason Hook and featuring 20 of the best musicians in the world who play with Alice Cooper, Bon Jovi, Pink and Billy Joel. This summer they will be releasing “She is the Ocean” directed by Inna Blokhina featuring 9 impressive women who are as powerful as the ocean itself. On the feature side, Vision is recently released the thriller “What Lies Ahead” starring Rumer Willis and Emma Dumont; “A Murder of Innocence”, based on a true story of a small town held together by faith; and “Gunpowder” a 3 part mini-series starring Kit Harington.
In a career spanning over three decades, David Semel is one of television’s most versatile and successful producer/directors and is amongst the most sought after pilot directors in Hollywood. Over the past several years Mr. Semel has guided a long list of pilots to series for both network and streaming services. His most recent pilot work includes CBS All Access’ STAR TREK: DISCOVERY a reboot of one of the most iconic science fiction properties of all time. Prior to that, Mr. Semel was responsible for launching Amazon’s first flagship drama based on the science fiction classic novel by Phillip K. Dick, THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE. In the same year, he helmed the pilot for CODE BLACK (CBS), based on the award winning documentary, Mr. Semel also directed the pilot for MADAM SECRETARY (CBS) which remains a stalwart on their Sunday night line-up. In total, Mr. Semel has successfully shepherded 18 pilots to air, giving him one of the most outstanding track records in the business. Starting with CHAOS THEORY for NBC, he went on to helm pilots for: HEROES, AMERICAN DREAMS, LIFE, REVELATIONS, THE CLEANER, MY OWN WORST ENEMY, NO ORDINARY FAMILY, PERSON OF INTEREST, LEGENDS, INTELLIGENCE and PURE GENIUS among others. In several instances, Mr. Semel remained with the show and served as co-showrunner and director for the run of the series. His long list of episodic credits include multiple episodes of: HOMELAND, AMERICAN HORROR STORY, HANNIBAL, THE STRAIN, HOUSE M.D., ALLY McBEAL, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, BEVERLY HILLS, 90201, STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP, C.S.I., THE PRACTICE and DAWSON’S CREEK to name a few. In 2007, Mr. Semel was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for directing the pilot episode of HEROES. He was also nominated the previous year for his producing work on HOUSE. Mr. Semel has also directed two feature films, CAMPFIRE TALES (1997) and LONESTAR STATE OF MIND (2002). Mr. Semel most recently directed an episode of the much anticipated re-imagining of the classic graphic novel THE WATCHMEN for HBO
Before joining Viewfinder Pictures, Sorensen was an executive, management associate and producer at Vie Entertainment, owned by ID-PR’s Kelly Bush. In this role, Sorensen was instrumental in shaping the company’s goals and projects since its inception and worked closely with talent (Ellen Page and Paul Reubens). Sorensen as a producer sought and secured financing and creative attachments for many projects including “Freeheld” (Lionsgate released in October 2015) and “Into the Forest” (released by A24 in 2016), and was actively developing them with writers and directors. Both films premiered at the Toronto Film Festival 2015. Sorensen also produced the sold-out production of “The Pee-wee Herman Show” on Broadway and in Los Angeles then filmed it for HBO where it was Emmy nominated. Sorensen helped re-launch and re-brand the career of the beloved television icon Pee-wee Herman by moving him into the digital space. She was active in producing two Funny or Die projects for Pee-wee Herman as well as many skits on talk shows. She was also involved in the strategy behind Pee-wee’s publicity appearances around the US and marketing for all of the live shows.
Previously, Sorensen worked at Laura Ziskin Productions for three years, mentoring under Ziskin for on-set producing of “Spiderman 3,” the 70th Annual Academy Awards, producing its pre-show and producing A Celebration of Oscars Fashion on which she partnered with Vogue and Andre Leon Talley, as well on the development side. By working at Laura Ziskin Productions, Sorensen was part of Stand Up To Cancer’s inaugural year from its inception to its emergence as a national organization. She began her career at the William Morris Agency, working in the literary department with Sara Bottfeld. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California.
Samantha Starr is a film and TV literary manager at Circle of Confusion Management, previously at Gotham Group and Columbia Pictures in development on films including 21 Jump Street and Moneyball. She transitioned to management at Principato-Young after a stint at One-Two Punch Productions. Her clients have included TV writers Ester Lou Weithers (Pitch), Andrew Thomas (Henry Danger), Jeane Wong, Becca Rodriguez and Stan Wang; actress Elena Pavli; filmmaker Bennett Lasseter; and playwright James Wesley. Circle of Confusion is a premiere management and production destination for actors, writers, directors, content creators, publishers and journalists. Circle is active in creating a broad spectrum of television series and feature films, and specializes in the discovery of original, unique and compelling voices, with offices in Los Angeles and New York.
Dan Stutz founded Stutz Law Corp. (“SLC”) in 2013, a boutique entertainment law firm located in Beverly Hills, CA. He represents a broad range of clients with a focus in the areas of development, financing, production and distribution of film, television and new media productions. Engagements as production counsel include the following recently released independent and studio films: BAD MOMS (2016, Mila Kunis, Christina Applegate); SKIPTRACE (2016, Jackie Chan, Johnny Knoxville); THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN (2016, Woody Harrelson, Hailee Steinfeld); THE BEATLES: EIGHT DAYS A WEEK, THE TOURING YEARS (2016, directed by Ron Howard); MILE 22 (2018, Mark Wahlberg, Lauren Cohan); ADRIFT (2018, Shailene Woodley, Sam Claflin); THE POLKA KING (2018, Jack Black, Jenny Slate); MOM AND DAD (2018, Nicolas Cage); BEIRUT (2018, Jon Hamm, Rosamund Pike); ARCTIC (2019, Mads Mikkelsen) and BRIAN BANKS (2019, Aldis Hodge, Greg Kinnear). In addition, SLC handled all production legal on the following soon to be released motion pictures: THE WAR WITH GRANDPA (Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman); ONCE UPON A TIME IN STATEN ISLAND (Naomi Watts, Frank Grillo); WANDER DARKLY (Diego Luna, Sienna Miller), and is currently handling all production legal matters on the anthology horror event series “Into The Dark,” now streaming on Hulu. Dan currently represents some the entertainment industry’s leading film and television studios, financiers and production companies, including Miramax, Funny or Die, STX Entertainment, Blumhouse Productions/Blumhouse TV, Media Rights Capital (MRC), White Horse Pictures, Cross Creek Pictures, Armory Films, ShivHans Pictures and others.
Dan began his legal career as a judicial clerk for the Honorable Dickran Tevrizian, Jr. of the United States District Court, Central District, California. He then joined the law firm of Weissmann, Wolff, et al., where for several years he conducted a diverse legal practice in the areas of litigation and corporate transactions, in addition to representing writers, directors, producers, and film financiers. In 2003, Dan went in-house as Vice President, Business and Legal Affairs for Yari Film Group where over the next four years he would provide business and legal guidance on over twenty star-driven films including THE ILLUSIONIST (2006, Edward Norton, Jessica Biel), the documentary film DAVE CHAPPELLE’S BLOCK PARTY, and the Academy Award® Best Picture Winner CRASH (Sandra Bullock, Brendan Fraser). In 2007, Dan was hired to run business and legal affairs for The Film Department, a new independent film financing and production company that produced LAW ABIDING CITIZEN (2009, Jamie Foxx, Gerard Butler). From 2011 to 2013, Dan was head of business and legal affairs for Exclusive Media, supervising all business affairs matters on SNITCH (2013, Dwayne The Rock Johnson) and BEGIN AGAIN (2013, Mark Ruffalo, Kiera Knightley), among many others.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Dan obtained his B.A. from UCLA (1993) and graduated from the University of Michigan Law School (1997, Go Blue). He currently sits on the Advisory Committee of the UCLA Entertainment Symposium, an annual two-day program that deals in depth with subjects at the forefront of the entertainment industry. Dan lives in LA with his wife, two children and puddle-loving lab, Charlie.
As Nashville native, Jessica Turk is proud to call the city home. Jessica received her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with a concentration in directing and producing. After working in the city producing concerts at venues such as Radio City Music Hall & Carnegie Hall, Jessica returned to Nashville to get her MBA from Belmont University with a concentration in Entertainment & Music Business. Following graduate school, Jessica worked for the Country Music Association (CMA) handing logistics for the annual CMA Fest & Awards show as the company’s production coordinator. However, it wasn’t until Jessica joined the team at NPT, that she found her true purpose, working in public media. Jessica currently serves as NPT’s program manager, creating the broadcast schedule, acquiring new programs, and producing interstitial material for the station. Jessica has served on POV’s Editorial Committee, advising the selection of documentaries for the series. She is currently associate producing a documentary about the Tennessee story of Women’s Suffrage in honor of the approaching centennial.
Catherine Zappa is currently Executive Director of Content and Strategy for Dreamscape Media. She concentrates on acquisitions of short form, episodic and feature length content for physical and digital distribution as well as business development of strategic partnerships of branded content in the video and audio space. Dreamscape Media is the content production and publishing arm of Midwest Tape, the largest physical distributor into to the public library space, and sister company to hoopla digital, a primary digital distribution platform into public libraries.
Cat previously oversaw the rights adaptation program for the book catalog of HarperCollins Christian Publishing and their best selling authors where she worked closely with producers in the optioning and development of book content to screen. Prior to that, Cat was VP of Development and Production at Hi-Def Entertainment working on such features as Endure. As an exec in Los Angeles, Cat was Creative Executive for Yari Film Group managing development and production of film’s such as comedies Kickin’ It Old School and Grey Matters. She started her career in production of independent film and working in prime time television at Touchstone with writers as a researcher.
Cat is a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a BA in Media Arts. A Chicago native, she currently resides in Nashville with her husband Ryan, 3 children, and dog.