I have interviewed numerous female filmmakers (producers and directors), organizational leaders of NYWIFT, Women Make Movies and more. Below is a partial list of the people I have interviewed (more entries pending!).
AMY ADRION is a writer and director living in Los Angeles. Her feature documentary Half the Picture, about women film & TV directors, had its World Premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and screened shortly thereafter at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, TX in March 2018. Amy is a graduate of the MFA film directing program at the UCLA where her short films won a DGA Student Film Award and screened at the Tribeca, Los Angeles, and Seattle Film Festivals. Amy grew up in Hillsdale, New Jersey and received her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University where she studied English Literature and Theology.
JANE AINBINDER has a Masters in Fine Arts in Film Production from USC School of Cinema-Television. She garnered many awards for her skills as director, cinematographer and editor in the festival circuit including Best Experimental Film at the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival for her film The Pearl Necklace. She was the recipient of the John Huston Directing Fellowship, Panavision’s New Filmmakers Grant, and a Fleishhacker Foundation Grant. In 2006 she produced and directed the feature film Nail Polish.
MANON BANTA began teaching with The Mary Pickford Institute in 2008 and currently designs and teaches curriculum that combines the VAPA and CTE Standards for Media with real world, hands-on experience. She holds an MFA from The American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. She then shifted her storytelling skills to documentary filmmaking – directing, producing and editing the short documentary Probable Odds filmed during the 2003 Breeder’s Cup at Santa Anita Race Track. She has worked as an Interviewer for the AFI Film Festival’s red carpet premieres, a Field Producer for Associated Press Television at the Sundance Film Festival, and as production coordinator/line producer for numerous independent films as well as occasionally appearing in front of the camera.
DIAHNNA NICOLE BAXTER is the Emmy Award-Winning actress/writer/executive producer of sci-fi thriller Satacracy 88. She took home the Peoples Voice 2007 Webby Award in on-line drama and was named an Official Honoree of the 2008 Webby Awards. She taught others to successfully produce online content through WebTV Workshop and is currently workshopping a script about Billie Holiday which she is considering directing. A graduate of Duke, her studies of Literature and African/Women studies took her to Cairo, Egypt where she worked with famed activist and writer Nawal Al-Saadawi. Returning to the states with a new worldview and inspiration, Diahnna integrated her love for acting and passion for studies of marginalized voices with performance.
ABIGAIL ZEALEY BESS hails from London and has worked extensively in New York’s film and theatre community as a director, independent filmmaker, producer and writer. She has been directing theatre, specializing in new work, since she arrived on these shores and in 1997 established Weird Sisters as a theatrical entity. She subsequently directed and produced her filmmaking debut, the award winning baseball trilogy Play Ball! which screened at festivals in the USA and all over the world, including the Berlin Film Festival. In addition to winning Best Film at seven USA festivals, she was awarded 1st Prize for best short film by woman director at the LA Women In Film Competition. As a long-standing member of the New York-based Ensemble Studio Theatre, she has directed and produced numerous new works. She continues to head Weird Sisters, developing theatrical ventures and feature film projects that promote and support prolific women artists and writers, giving voice to new and exciting work. Latest directing work includes the ongoing web series with Amy Staats entitled Here’s What I Like: (LA Comedy Shorts 2010, 2011, Trimedia Film Festival 2011, Garden State Film Festival, Winter Film Awards, Brooklyn Girl Film Festival, Chashama Film Festival). Current projects also include Mary and Louise by Amy Staats, a black and white film that pays tribute to Mary Pickford and Louise Brooks, and the upcoming Icarus Stops For Breakfast by Holli Harmes, a magical love story adapted from the short story Eating by Rick Bass, set in a landscape overwhelmed by nature.
EMILY BEST is a film producer, entrepreneur and the co-founder and CEO of crowdfunding platform Seed&Spark. Best began her career as an actress, joining a New York-based theater group with whom she teamed to create the feature film Like the Water (2010). Needing to raise additional last-minute funds for the film, Best, with Caroline Von Kuhn and Liam Brady, created the prototype for what would become the film-centric crowdfunding and VOD distribution platform Seed&Spark. Through their platform, the film was able to raise $23,000 in 30 days. In 2012, a public version of Seed&Spark was launched – unlike other crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, Seed&Spark acts like a registry system, showing potential backers a budget determined by exactly what items are needed and at what cost. As a distributor, Seed&Spark offers short films for 99¢ feature films for $2.99, and 80% of profits go to the filmmakers. The platform raised more than $300,000 in its first 6 months. In 2014 she was named one of 78 “Women of Influence” by the New York Business Journal. Best holds a bachelor of Anthropology and American Studies from Haverford College in Pennsylvania. She also studied music and jazz singing at Taller de Músics in Barcelona.
TESSA BLAKE is an award-winning filmmaker and television director (iZombie, NCIS: New Orleans, The Brave, Once Upon a Time). An AFI Directing Workshop for Women alumna, Tessa’s films have premiered at Cannes and SXSW, have won awards at Nantucket Film Festival and the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, have been honored by the Academy, been released theatrically, and have played on Showtime, CBS, CW & Oxygen, PBS & DirecTV. She and her husband Ian Williams work as a writing team for film and television and have enjoyed script deals with ABC, NBC, FOX and Warner Brothers. She has directed plays for Naked Angels Theater Company and The Atlantic Theater Company, is a proud alumna of the 24 Hour Plays, and a founding advisor for The Moth.
TRACY LYNCH BRITTON has been dubbed “BOOM BOOM BRITTON” by the FX and stunt Departments for her fearless fast action style. After writing and directing her first feature film Maximum Breakout a video copy fell into the hands of the producers of FOX-TV’s America’s Most Wanted and she was immediately hired to write and direct eight episodes. She was the first woman to direct for Baywatch – the most successful and most watched television show in the world–and she was the only woman to direct Baywatch Nights. She also directed on Aaron Spelling’s Melrose Place. Presently, Tracy is in negotiations for her original feature film script Mickey Flanagan – a wonderful, heartwarming family film that she will direct on location in New Orleans. She is also developing her sexy new musical drama That’s My Heart which includes original hot Salsa, R&B and pop music.
NIRA BURSTEIN is a recent graduate of CUNY Queens college. She recently completed her first short film The Light House shot on 16mm.
SHEA E. BUTLER is an award-winning filmmaker for her short films The Trial of Ben Barry and The Waystation and for the 2017 seven-episode web series Trouble Creek starring Jason Gedrick, Debrah Farentino and Dean Cameron. She Executive Produced all seven episodes with the show’s creator, Stacey K. Black, and directed three of the episodes. In 2014 Shea was accepted into and completed the Warner Bros. Television Director’s Workshop. In 2016 she was accepted into Ryan Murphy’s Half Foundation Directing Fellowship and completed her Fellowship on the Fox television series Scream Queens. She has also been a development executive and segment producer for reality TV and a script supervisor for television and film. Shea has a B.A. in Literature & an M.A. in TV & Film and is a member of the Writers Guild, I.A.T.S.E. 871, Alliance of Women Directors (AWD), the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences (Director’s Peer Group) and Film Powered.
ALETA CHAPELLE began her career in the film business working with Francis Coppola at Zoetrope Studios in the casting department. Moving up to Casting Director, her credits include: Drumline, Godfather 3, New York Stories, Rambling Rose, New York casting for Sofia Coppola’s film Somewhere, and many more. Her feature film directing credits include Goosed which premiered on Showtime, starring Jennifer Tilly, Damon Wayans and Joan Rivers; the micro-budget action/love story Fire which enjoyed a limited theatrical release in the USA and Canada; and the sequel Return to Fire. Her short film A Harlem Fantasy premiered on PBS as part of the Paul Robeson Gala Presentation in 2007. Ms. Chappelle continues to cast independent and studio films while her production company Moon Shadow Films has a number of projects in development: Macbett, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth set in the Caribbean and starring Sanaa Lathan; One Blood, a feature based on the life of Dr. Charles Drew; and Love Extreme, starring Harry Lennix and Judith Diakhate, which will film in Spain the summer of 2018.
MARTHA COOLIDGE is a film director and former President of the Directors Guild of America (DGA), the first and, to date, only woman to serve in the post. She studied illustration at Rhode Island School of Design but changed majors, becoming the first film major at the school. She also earned an MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Coolidge first made her reputation by directing many award-winning documentaries in New York City. While in New York, she also helped founded the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers (AIVF) and the IFP. She moved to Hollywood in 1976 and spent several years as a part of Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope Studio. Her breakthrough film as a director was the independently produced Valley Girl (1983). Her film Rambling Rose (1991) won three IFP Independent Spirit Awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actress for Diane Ladd, and earned Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Ladd and Laura Dern (Best Actress). Her HBO film Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (1999) was nominated for eleven Emmy Awards, winning five, and earned Coolidge an Emmy and DGA nominations for Best Director. Coolidge has enjoyed giving back to the industry she loves serving on many boards and committees including the AFI, Rhode Island School of Design, NYU and Catalyst, an organization dedicated to promoting better science in films.
NIKKI CORDA is the Founder and an Executive Director of the Nevada Women’s Film Festival. She spent her early career in feature film development in Los Angeles with stints at Twentieth Century Fox and Michael Douglas’s company at Paramount. She began producing and writing independently with the award-winning documentary Urban Rescuers and continues to follow her passion for nonfiction film with her business, Life-Portraits (http://life-portraits.com/about-us/). She has also taught a variety of film/video classes at the College of Southern Nevada and Nevada State College. Nikki holds a B.S. in Film from Boston University, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Sierra Nevada College.
JOAN DARLING began her career with the New York improvisational theater troupe “Premise Players” and soon graduated to Off-Broadway and Broadway productions. She made her film debut in 1964 and, in the early ’70s, landed a regular role on the TV series Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law. Her first directorial job was on the pilot of the hit ‘70s TV series Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and she directed several of the series’ episodes. She became one of the first female TV directors to be steadily employed on various series, directing many episodes of M*A*S*H, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Bob Newhart Show. She made her film debut in 1977 with the critically-acclaimed First Love and has made several theatrical and made-for-TV movies since then.
JULIE DASH is the first African American woman to have a theatrical release of a feature film with her movie Daughters of the Dust. After the film’s commercial success and critical acclaim she went on to direct the award-winning HBO special The Rosa Parks Story, Funny Valentines, Love Song, Incognito and the segment Sax Cantor Rif in the HBO film SUBWAYStories: Tales from the Underground. Current work includes directing episodes on the television series Queen Sugar and writing and directing the feature documentary Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl.
ZEINABU IRENE DAVIS is an independent filmmaker and Professor of Communication at UCSD. A veteran of independent film and video, Davis has produced numerous award-winning works since receiving her MA in African Studies (1985) and MFA in film and video production (1989), both from UCLA. Davis is equally comfortable in film and video and has worked in narrative, documentary and experimental. Davis directed the film Cycles (1989), an experimental short which earned her awards from the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame and the National Black Programming Consortium. Her subsequent works, A Period Piece (1991), A Powerful Thang (1991), Mother of a River (1995) and Compensation (1999; premiered at Sundance in 2000 in the Dramatic Feature category) continued to garner her awards from numerous organizations and festivals, including IFP’s Gordon Parks Directing Award for Compensation. Davis was part of the L.A. Rebellion, which was a movement involving independent black filmmakers (who attended UCLA) aiming to reproduce alternative, humanizing, and more accurate images of black people unlike classical Hollywood cinema. Her latest project Spirits of Rebellion is a documentary which gathers fellow L.A. Rebellion filmmakers and explores topics in African American film. Davis has been awarded grants and fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the American Film Institute and the National Endowment for the Arts for her film work.
ERIN DONOVAN is the chief film programmer for the annual Siren Nation Arts Festival in Portland, Oregon, a festival that honors women in the arts. It began as a music festival but now includes a film portion of female-directed documentaries and narrative films curated by Erin. She is also the founder of A Million Movies a Minute, a documentary distributor whose inaugural release After the War: Life post-Yugoslavia featured nine short documentaries from five award-winning international film-makers. She is the in-house producer for Field Recordings, a production company founded by Lance Bangs.
VÉRONIQUE N. DOUMBÉ has roots in Cameroon (Central Africa) and Martinique (West Indies). She currently lives in New York where she is both a narrative and documentary storyteller who wears multiple hats as producer, director and editor. She has been on the board of New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) and is a member of Film Fatales. In 2002 she formed her production company – Ndolo Films, LLC. Her first feature documentary Denis A. Charles: An Interrupted Conversation about free jazz drummer Denis Charles won Best Documentary Production at the XVII Black International Cinema Berlin and the Audience Award at Detroit Docs in 2002. She has directed music videos and shorts films. Her first short Luggage which she wrote, directed, and edited, was screened at the Short Film Corner in Cannes in 2007. She was the editor and co-producer of Imbabazi: Le Pardon, Rwandan genocide survivor Joel Joel Karekezi’s first feature. The film won the Nile Grand Prize at the Luxor African Film Festival in 2014. It is distributed in the U.S. through Global Lens Series and can be streamed on amazon.com. Her latest music video, shot in black and white infrared, was created for the Soul Secrets EP by FaithNY, released on World Wide Vibe Records (2015). She is currently developing Raising Zuly, a feature length documentary about a girl growing up with Down Syndrome in Barcelona with her mother, tap dancer Roxane Butterfly.
JUDYANN ELDER graduated from Emerson College in Boston as the first recipient of the Carol Burnett Award in the Performing Arts. She began her professional career in New York Off-Broadway as both a founding member and resident actor of the Tony Award-winning Negro Ensemble Company. As an actor she has appeared in numerous theatre, television and film productions. She is an alumna of the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women where she produced and directed the short film Behind God’s Back based on an Alice Walker short story and starring Beau Bridges. She has directed numerous theatre productions including A Private Act for the Robey Theatre Company-she also adapted A Private Act into a short film. The mother of three children, Ms. Elder is the recipient of a Screenwriting Fellowship with Walt Disney Studios and was honored in 2005 with an NAACP Trailblazer Award. She is also a 2010 recipient of a Distinguished Alumni Award from Emerson College. A consummate storyteller, she relays tales through various methods.
JAN ELIASBERG is a director, writer and producer known for creating evocative material featuring performances from today’s most compelling actors. Her prolific directing career includes the feature film Past Midnight, dramatic pilots for CBS, NBC and ABC, as well as multiple episodes of series television including: Nashville, Parenthood, Blue Bloods, Reckless; Unforgettable; NCIS: Los Angeles, Criminal Minds and countless others. Jan’s film and television directing career was launched when she was hand-picked by Michael Mann to be the first female director on Miami Vice. She quickly repeated the feat on other shows by becoming the first woman to direct multiple episodes of Crime Story and Wiseguy. Jan was not only a director, but also writer and producer on NBC/WB’s acclaimed family drama, Sisters. Jan wrote W.A.S.P., about the Women Air Service Pilots in World War II, for Cameron Diaz and Nicole Kidman at Fox 2000, and The Gemcutter, a magical family-film with Jan attached to direct at Sony. As writer/director/executive producer, Jan sold the pilot, Spirit of St. Louis, to CBS. She sold the pilots The Blue Wall, with Angela Bassett attached, and Fearless to Fox Television Studios. Most recently, she wrote the pilot, Salem, (with co-writer Misha Rasovich) for FilmEngine, Fox Studios and FX.
RACHEL FELDMAN is an accomplished director and writer. As a director, she’s helmed many fine episodes and movies for ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW, SYFY, DISNEY CHANNEL, LIFETIME, and TEEN NICK, working with the finest producers, actors, and technicians in our industry. She’s produced, written, and directed numerous award-winning independent short films broadcast on HBO and PBS. Rachel has written movies for LIFETIME and FREEFORM, optioned features to Dean Devlin, Ridley Scott, Jon Avnet, and Jodie Foster, and created web series for Mattel and TNT. Rachel is the recipient of the 2016 Ravenal Grant (for female directors over 40) and an Athena List winner (The Black List for screenplays featuring female protagonists) for Fair Fight, a suspense drama based on the life of Lilly Ledbetter, the woman for whom President Obama named The Fair Pay Act. Her provocative pilot Kinks won the WGA Drama Queens Award for best spec pilot and is a Sundance Lab finalist. A passionate mentor and activist, Rachel has taught directing in the MFA program at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and Loyola Marymount University. She chaired the DGA Women’s Steering Committee, where she produced the 2013 Women of Action Summit, the first event in the 85-year history of the guild that brought hundreds of America’s most prominent women directors together for the first time.
JACQUELINE GAULT is a producer, writer, director and editor. Her revenge series, which includes Sack Lunch, is a series of short comedic films with a common theme. In and of themselves they are wonderful films – and she is using these shorts as a stepping stone to what she hopes to be her directorial feature debut Meet Jane Doe. Jacqueline started Jackal Films LLC, a Limited Liability Company, an independent motion picture production company assembled from creative and business entertainment industry professionals with a common goal of producing the independent films, television series, short-form commercials, web series and viral videos.
MARIA GIESE wrote and directed the British film When Saturday Comes starring Sean Bean, Emily Lloyd and Academy Award-nominated actor Pete Postlethwaite. It was shot on location in Sheffield, England for Capitol Films and released theatrically worldwide in 1996. Giese also wrote, directed and produced the digital feature film Hunger, her contemporary adaptation of Nobel laureate Knut Hamsun’s 1890 existentialist masterpiece. The San Francisco Examiner called the film “A champion,” “A shot-on-video wonder” and named it the “The pick of the pack” at the SF Independent Film Festival. It won Best Feature Film and Best Underground Film at international festivals. The recipient of numerous awards, Giese won two Golden Cine Eagles, a Kovler Writing Award, a Spotlight Award, First Prize at the American International Film Festival, a Charles Speroni Scholarship, and an MPAA Award of Excellence. She has taught film & TV production at UCLA Extension and lectures regularly. In 2014, Giese was elected DGA Women’s Director Category Representative. She is an activist for women directors and is the co-founder of the globally read web forum, “Women Directors: Navigating the Boys’ Club.” She has been a member of the Directors Guild of America since 1999.
ANAIS GODARD is a producer, writer, director and creator of the blog The Making of XX Films, a forum for filmmakers. She created and directed the critically acclaimed short The Room and works as a producer for E! News International. Most recently she directed the music video ”Tik Tok Nation” for Brad Standley & The Foxflies – a mashup of Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok” and The White Stripes’ “7 Nation Army” which was executed all in one take.
RACHEL GOLDBERG is an award-winning director whose film, Muted, starring Chandra Wilson (Grey’s Anatomy) and Malcolm-Jamal Warner (The Cosby Show) sold to HBO. Rachel has won close to 20 awards for her work. She has been supported by the Ryan Murphy Television HALF Foundation, the Sony Pictures Television Directors Program, We for She’s Direct Her program, and most recently, the FOX Global Directing Initiative. As a proud participant in AFI’s prestigious Directing Workshop for Women, Rachel directed and co-wrote the award-winning Neighbors. This was developed into the feature screenplay Transformation Awaits which was selected for the Sundance Financing Initiative, was recognized by the Academy’s Nicholl Fellowship, won a Grand Prize in Screenwriting from the Rhode Island International Film Festival and was selected for the highly competitive Film Independent Screenwriting Lab. The film is set up at Triangle Road Entertainment with Rachel attached to direct. Rachel is also attached to helm Waiting for Camelot, which won Best Screenplay at the Garden State Film Festival and Best Screenplay at the Rhode Island International Film Festival. Waiting for Camelot is set to be produced by Sundance/Cannes alumnus, Todd Remis (Magic Magic) and TIFF veteran, Julie Snyder (Tanner Hall). Rachel is also attached to direct Circus Circus based on the play by the same name. She earned her in MFA in Directing from the California Institute of the Arts and her BA in Theater and Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. She serves on the board of the Alliance of Women Directors and the Unusual Suspects Theater Company.
BETTE GORDON, a pioneer in the American Independent Film world, is best known for her bold explorations of themes related to sexuality. Her latest film The Drowning, starring Josh Charles and Julia Stiles, is a psychological thriller based on the novel Border Crossing by Booker Prize-winning novelist Pat Barker. She premiered her previous feature Handsome Harry at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival in the world narrative competition section. The film stars an ensemble cast including Campbell Scott, Steve Buscemi, Aidan Quinn, John Savage, and Karen Young. Her early short films, most notably Empty Suitcases, won numerous awards and festival acclaim worldwide, including showings at the Berlin International Film Festival, New York’s Museum of Modern Art and The Whitney Biennial. Variety (1984) marked her debut as a feature film director, particularly in light of the film’s invitational showing at The Cannes Film Festival’s Director’s Fortnight. Luminous Motion, based on the acclaimed novel History of Luminous Motion, was produced by Ted Hope and Anthony Bregman of Good Machine.
DEBRA GRANIK is the Academy Award-nominated director and co-writer of Winter’s Bone which was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture, and won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Granik and co-writer Anne Rosellini were Oscar-nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. She started working in film and video in the Boston grassroots media movement in the late ’80s. She studied politics at Brandeis University and her first forays into operating a camera and collaborating on political documentation were with Boston-based media groups such as the Women’s Video Collective. She moved to NYC to attend NYU’s graduate film program, seeking a way to interrelate her interest in real-life experience and story structure, which she found in the film tradition of neo-realism, through a mentor at NYU. At NYU, she made several short films, one of which, Snake Feed, garnered an award at Sundance, which led to involvement in the Sundance Screenwriting and Directing Labs. Her first feature film Down to the Bone won Granik the Best Director prize at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. Her documentary Stray Dog premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival 2014, screened at the New York Film Festival, and was selected to open the 2015 season of PBS’ acclaimed docuseries Independent Lens. Her latest film Leave No Trace, starring Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie and based on the book My Abandonment by Peter Rock, premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.
MAGGIE GREENWALD directed The Kill-Off, acknowledged by the British Film Institute as one of the “100 Best American Independents.” Her acclaimed ground-breaking Western The Ballad of Little Jo was released worldwide by Fine Line Features and Polygram Filmed Entertainment and won an Independent Spirit Award. Subsequently, Greenwald wrote and directed Songcatcher with music produced and created by composer David Mansfield. The film premiered in Dramatic Competition at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival where it garnered a Special Jury Award for Ensemble Performance. In 2002 Greenwald was awarded the Dorothy Arzner Award from the Director’s View Film Festival. For television, Greenwald has directed the GLAAD Award winning film What Makes a Family (starring Brooke Shields, Whoopi Goldberg and Cherry Jones), Get a Clue (starring Lindsey Lohan), Tempted (starring Virginia Madsen) and Comfort and Joy. Episodic work includes The Adventures of Pete & Pete (Cable ACE Award), The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, Wildfire, Nashville, and Madam Secretary. Her latest film Sophie and the Rising Sun premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
LESLIE HARRIS directed her first feature-length film Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. over a two-year period using her own funds and resources. The movie achieved recognition and acclaim at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival, being awarded the Special Jury Prize for Distinction at Sundance, Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. was released nationally by Miramax in February of 1993 to good reviews. The The Washington Post called it a “breakthrough film,” while Rolling Stone called Harris, “a bracing new voice.” She is currently working on I Love Cinema or How a Woman Survives in a “So-Called” Post-Racial World.
SIAN HEDER was selected for the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women in 2005. Mother, Heder’s first short film as writer and director, won the Grand Jury Award for Best Narrative Short at the Florida Film Festival and was selected for the May 2006 Cinéfondation Competition of the Cannes Film Festival and continued to receive acclaim in film festivals across the United States. In 2010, along with her fellow writers, she won a Peabody Award for her work on Men of a Certain Age. Most recently she wrote and directed a short comedy to raise awareness for pet adoption, Dog Eat Dog (A Short Tale) starring Zachary Quinto – funded by Kickstarter.
VICTORIA HOCHBERG is a Film and Television Writer/Director. She began her career as a performer with the San Francisco Mime Troupe while earning a History degree from Antioch College and working as an assistant editor to documentarian Robert Drew. She then moved to WNET and under the mentorship of Jac Venza edited Perry Miller Adato’s Film Generation documentary series and several American Playhouse programs. Although credited as an editor on these programs, she also assisted as a director, and joined the DGA in 1972. She attended the AFI Directing Workshop for Women, honing her skills and directing two projects. A few years and many writing assignments later, she began directing, including the ABC Afterschool Special Just a Regular Kid: An AIDS Story (1987; Daytime Emmy & DGA Awards) and the TV movies Jacob Have I Loved (1989; DGA Award) and Sweet 15 (1990; Daytime Emmy Award). She has directed over 50 hours of prime time television including: Sex and the City, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show, Kitchen Confidential and Melrose Place, among many others. Hochberg is a founding member of the Women’s Steering Committee and has served 11 terms on the National Board as well as 16 terms on the Western Directors Council. She has also served on the Television Creative Committee, the Negotiating Committee, and was appointed as a Trustee to the Directors Guild Foundation.
HEIDI HONEYCUTT is a film journalist, author, and film programmer. Over the years she has written numerous articles on women directors, often in the genre world – including horror. She co-founded the Etheria Film Festival which is dedicated to exhibiting the work of women in the horror and fantasy genre.
TED HOPE is a prolific independent film producer and social media advocate. He co-founded and ran the ‘90s production & sales powerhouse Good Machine which he and his partners sold to Universal in 2002. Good Machine was honored by a retrospective at the Museum Of Modern Art in 2001. Hope subsequently co-founded the New York production company This is That with his former assistant Anthony Bregman and Anne Carey. This is That produced eighteen features, receiving numerous awards, including four Academy Award Best Screenplay nominations. Most recently, he founded Double Hope Films with his wife, filmmaker Vanessa Hope. Hope is an avid social media proselytizer, posting regularly on his HopeForFilm blog, home of Truly Free Film. He also co-founded HammerToNail.com, a film review site focused on Truly Independent Film. He has produced the work of female filmmakers Cheryl Dunye, Nicole Holofcener, Cindy Sherman, Jill Godmilow, Tamara Jenkins and Bette Gordon.
ANNIE J. HOWELL teaches in the MFA in Film program at City College, and has also been a member of the faculty at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies, Ohio University’s MFA in Film, and at The New School, where she was the Founding Director of the Graduate Certificate in Documentary Media Studies Program. Her work has aired on the Sundance Channel, PBS, and the Independent Film Channel, and as part of the ITVS web series, FutureStates. Her web series Sparks, co-created with Lisa Robinson, was licensed to the Sundance Channel’s site Sunfiltered. Their subsequent 2011 feature adaptation Small Beautifully Moving Parts received an Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize and the RiverRun Film Festival’s Audience Award. Her second feature with Robinson, Claire in Motion (starring Betsy Brandt), premiered at SXSW 2016 in competition and went on to play festivals such as Nantucket and Seattle. It sold to Breaking Glass Pictures and played theatrically in ten cities and is now available to stream. Little Boxes, which she wrote (directed by Rob Meyer and starring Melanie Lynskey and Nelsan Ellis) also premiered in 2016 at the Tribeca Film Festival, where it sold to Netflix. That script is the recipient of an IFP Emerging Narrative Award for Best Feature and a San Francisco Film Society/Kenneth Rainin Foundation grant. Howell is an alumna of Whitman College, NYU’s Graduate Film program, the Screenwriters Colony, and IFP’s Emerging Narrative.
NAOMI MCDOUGALL JONES is an award-winning actress, writer, producer, and women in film activist. Naomi wrote, produced, and starred in the 2015 indie feature film Imagine I’m Beautiful which took home 12 awards on the film festival circuit including 4 Best Pictures and, for Naomi, 3 Best Actress Awards and The Don Award for Best Independently Produced Screenplay of 2014. The film was named as #8 of OscarWorld’s Top 10 Films of 2014 and was distributed theatrically and digitally by Candy Factory Films. Naomi’s second feature film Bite Me is a subversive romantic comedy about the real-life subculture of people who believe that they’re vampires and the IRS agent who audits them. In addition to writing the screenplay, Naomi stars in the film opposite Christian Coulson (Harry Potter, Love is Strange, Nashville) and alongside both Annie Golden (Orange is the New Black) and Naomi Grossman (American Horror Story). Naomi once again re-teamed with the visionary and award-winning director Meredith Edwards, who also directed Imagine I’m Beautiful, and the film is produced by Jack Lechner (Blue Valentine, The Fog of War, former executive with Miramax and HBO), Sarah Wharton (That’s Not Us), and Joanne Zippel (Zip Creative). The film is now in post-production. Naomi has been a vocal advocate for bringing gender parity to film, both on and off screen – she has spoken at film festivals and conferences around the world and written extensively on this subject. In November 2016, she gave a TEDTalk, The Women in Film Revolution Begins With You. She has teamed up with former CFO of the City of Chicago, Lois Scott, to found The 51 Fund, a VC investment fund that will finance films written, directed, and produced by women.
CARON K worked as a foreign and film scout for Franklin-Siegal, director of literary affairs at Fox Features and was associate producer for the film Waiting to Exhale. Publishers Weekly referred to her as “scout/producer/editor and chutzpah queen.” She now heads up Caron K Literary Enterprises Unlimited.
ELIZABETH KAIDEN, Tangerine’s Head of Development since 2014, is also a co-Founder of IRIS and The Writers Lab, a screenwriting lab for women over 40 funded by Meryl Streep. She began her career in theater administration, production and education with, among others, producer Daryl Roth, playwright organization New Dramatists, and Tony Randall’s National Actors Theatre. She transitioned into theater and film criticism at The Straits Times of Singapore and wrote for numerous U.S. publications, including American Theater, Stagebill, The Forward, Metropolis Magazine, and others. In 2005, she launched Two Rooms on the Upper West Side of NYC, a non-profit facility offering childcare and workspace to parents of young children who work freelance, where she began writing her own screenplays and employing her dramaturgical skills as a consultant to others. She is a graduate of Princeton University and the Yale School of Drama, and the mother of three children (Simon, Eva and Henry).
CHRISTINA KALLAS is the author of five books and director of two narrative features 42 Seconds of Happiness and most recently The Rainbow Experiment which premiered at Slamdance in January 2018. She is also a writer-producer for film and television. Screen credits include the feature films Mothers (2010), nominated for the European Film Awards 2011, selected as the Macedonian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards and for the Panorama at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival; The Commissioner (1998), starring John Hurt and Armin Mueller-Stahl, selected for the Official Competition of the Berlin Film Festival; I.D. (1994); Liebe Lügen (1997), winner of the First Film Award at the Munich Film Festival; the TV movie Männer sind wie Schokolade (1999); several episodes of the Best German TV-awarded series Edel & Starck (2001 – 2003) and of the German Television Award for Best Series-awarded Danni Lowinski (2010). She earned her B.A, M.A., and Ph.D. in Communication and Media Studies at Freie Universität Berlin, during which time she was a Daimler-Benz-Stiftung fellow. In 2011, Kallas founded the Writers Improv Studio in New York City. The studio focuses on the art of improvisation as a method for writing, and is an exploration space for immersive storytelling where actors and writers work together using Kallas’s method of blending improvisation and emotional structure theory. Kallas is currently an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of the Arts Film Program, and at The New School for Media Studies in New York City.
ELIZABETH KELLEHER is a student at Piedmont High School who participated in the Non-Fiction Project where students study and create their own documentaries. She addressed the way different genders approached the project and what her experiences were behind the camera.
TERRY LAWLER is Executive Director of New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT). She is a Vice President of the Board of Directors of the New York Production Alliance and serves on the advisory committee of Reel New York, an independent film and video series broadcast on WNET/13. She also serves on the Boards of the Manhattan Neighborhood Network and the Katahdin Foundation. Prior to joining NYWIFT, Lawler was Director of Development and Production at Women Make Movies and National Director of Film and Videomakers Services at the American Film Institute. She has been a media consultant for foundations and non-profit groups including the MacArthur Foundation, the Astraea Foundation, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the Goethe Institute, among others. She was production executive on several network television specials. Lawler also was Executive Producer of Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography (1992), which won Best Documentary awards from the American Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Circle in 1992; and Hollywood Mavericks, which premiered at the 1990 Sundance Film Festival.
ANGELA C. LEE is a Los Angeles-based Spirit Award-nominated independent producer. Her first feature film Songs My Brothers Taught Me premiered in competition at the Sundance Film Festival and in Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes. The film was distributed by Kino Lorber and nominated for three Film Independent Spirit Awards. Angela is a 2015 Sundance Creative Producing Lab Fellow and has also been supported by the Berlinale, Film Independent, IFP, PGA Diversity Workshop and the Center for Asian American Media and is currently in development on The Space Between with writer/director Philiane Phang and The Sparkle Panthers, written by Sarah Carbiener and Erica Rosbe. Angela is also the Senior Manager of Artist Development at Film Independent where she oversees the filmmaker lab programs including Screenwriting, Directing, Producing, Documentary Labs and the Fast Track Finance Market. Previously, Angela served as Director of Creative Affairs at Vox3 Films in New York. A native Chicagoan, Angela graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in Economics.
LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON pioneered site-specific, performance and interactive media. She was honored by the Digital Art Museum in Berlin with the d.velop digital art award (d.daa), the most distinguished honor for lifetime achievement in the field of new media. Her other honors include the prestigious Golden Nica Prix Ars Electronica, the ZKM/Seimens Media Arts Award and, as a Sundance Screenwriter Fellow, she was honored with the Flintridge Foundation Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts. She has also received The Alfred P. Sloan Film Prize for writing and directing Teknolust, and in 2006, the International Association of Digital Arts award for “innovative storytelling,” Zero One Prize for “Media that Matters” and a Creative Capital Grant for her documentary, !Women Art Revolution. In 2009, she became a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Siggraph. In addition to 14 other films and shorts, Hershman Leeson wrote, directed and produced three feature films: Teknolust, Conceiving Ada and Strange Culture, each starring Tilda Swinton. They were shown at the Sundance Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival and Berlin International Film Festival, and were all internationally distributed.
LYNNE LITTMAN has directed both documentary and narrative films. She was one of the “Original Six”- a group of six women who worked with the DGA to compile statistics about women working as directors in the 1970s which gave rise to the law suit filed by the DGA. As a director she won an Academy Award for her short documentary Number of Our Days (1983). Her feature film Testament (1985), based on the short story “The Last Testament” by Carol Amen, was a post-nuclear scenario which Littman secured the rights to and which was produced by PBS’ American Playhouse. The film screened at the then nascent Sundance Film Festival and received an Academy Award nomination for lead actress Jane Alexander.
GHEN LARAYA LONG is on the Board of Directors of Women in Film. She is an experienced international technology and entertainment attorney specializing in transactional contracts for the creation, production and distribution of traditional media content over new media platforms. Most recently she was the Assistant General Counsel and Director of Mobile Partnerships for CBS Corporation where she served as the primary legal counsel for the mobile initiatives of CBS Corporation, its subsidiaries (including CBS Interactive) and its affiliates (including Simon & Schuster, Paramount Pictures Corporation and the CW). She worked on the distribution of video content, internet websites, mobile games, and applications for such content as Star Trek the Movie, Late Show with David Letterman, Survivor, The Amazing Race, Entertainment Tonight, Twilight Zone, CBS News, CBS Sports, 90210, Gossip Girl, Melrose Place, tv.com, cnet.com, GameSpot and Last.fm. She also worked on the interactive media campaign for Big Brother 8- America’s Player which was nominated for an Interactive Media Emmy.
KAREN WARD MAHAR received her M.A. in U.S. History at Columbia University and was then recruited to USC by Dr. Lois Banner, a pioneer in women’s history, where she received a Ph.D. in U.S. history and a Certificate in Gender Studies. Her dissertation asked why there were so many female film producers and directors in the silent era, and why they all seemed to disappear after World War I (hint: Wall Street). That dissertation was turned into a book Women Filmmakers in Early Hollywood which is one of the most extensive books on the subject to date. She currently teaches history at Siena College and is working on a book manuscript tentatively entitled Corner Office. It considers the role of masculinity as the corporate form and its human representative, the business executive, emerged and developed in the twentieth century. “In particular, I am trying to untangle the intellectual and cultural fusion of masculinity and capitalism that is evident in the tremendous difficulties still faced by women in the highest corporate ranks.”
DESTRI MARTINO, is the Founder/Editor of The Director List. As a young filmmaker, she sought out the work of seasoned women directors to provide inspiration and guidance for her own projects, but was often disappointed by the low number of women she found, especially pre-internet. While doing research for a Masters thesis at London School of Economics in 2005/6, she realized there were a lot more working directors than mainstream media coverage, and industry mythology, led one to believe. It was during this time that her passion for promoting the work of female directors was ignited. A 2012 trip to Cannes and the discovery of a huge number of women-directed films in the Market catalog solidified her desire to raise awareness about this oft overlooked talent; and upon her return to the States she started adding their photos to a Pinterest board to see how many she could find. This was soon followed by the creation of @TheDirectorList on Twitter, which continues to be a healthy outlet for her obsession. The board now has over 875 women on it and is still growing. Destri is a 20 year veteran of the film industry. For the last seven years she has focused on directing and producing corporate videos for a DTLA law firm in addition to other private clients. Prior to that, she worked in feature and commercial production and began her career as an assistant in the offices of John Wells Productions.
APRIL MAXEY is a San Antonio, Texas native who graduated from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY with a BFA in Film/Video. Her writing & directing credits include three short films: Girl Scouting, Polaroid Girl, and This Is You And Me, which have collectively screened at 45 festivals and won 6 awards. The screenplay for This Is You And Me, which she co-wrote with Summer Czajak, was 1 of 9 projects in the Berlinale Talents Short Film Station in 2015. April also works as a freelance director of photography and editor. April and Max Skaff co-founded their production company 422LUXE in 2016.
NINA MENKES Hailed as, “One of the greatest figures in new wave feminist cinema,” at a retrospective of her work at the Viennale and, “Brilliant, one of the most provocative artists in film today,” by the Los Angeles Times, Nina Menkes synthesizes inner dream-worlds with harsh, outer realities. Sight and Sound has described her body of work as, “Controversial, intense and visually stunning.” Menkes typically controls all aspects of her movies, including directing, writing, operating camera, as well as editing picture and sound. She has worked in various media including Super-8, 16mm, 35mm and lately HD. Her films have often met with hostility, as she confronts and expresses violence in an unusual way, creating and following her own rules. Menkes’ Phantom Love (2007) premiered at Sundance to rave reviews. Her feature Dissolution (2010), shot in Tel Aviv in Hebrew (with some Arabic), marked her first collaboration with the Israeli David Fire who played the lead role as well as collaborated with Menkes on writing and editing. The film received the “Anat Pirchi Award for Best Israeli Drama” at the Jerusalem International Film festival in 2010, and was hailed by The New York Times as “exquisite and remarkable.” Menkes has an MFA with high honors from the UCLA Film School. She has taught film directing at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), California Institute of the Arts, and Tel Aviv University’s Department of Cinema, Israel. Menkes holds citizenship in Israel, the United States, and Germany.
LEAH MEYERHOFF‘s debut feature film I Believe in Unicorns premiered in competition at SXSW 2014. Her previous short films have screened in over 200 film festivals, won a dozen awards, and aired on IFC, PBS, LOGO and MTV. She has been shortlisted for the Student Academy Awards and Gotham Awards and received high profile grants from IFP, the Tribeca Film Institute and the Adrienne Shelly Foundation. Leah was one of eight filmmakers chosen to participate in IFP’s Emerging Narrative Labs and Narrative Finishing Labs and one of ten filmmakers chosen to participate in the Emerging Visions program at the New York Film Festival. She was also one of eight filmmakers chosen to participate in the Tribeca All Access Labs and was honored with the Adrienne Shelly Director’s Award. She has been featured in Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and The New York Times and starred on the docudrama Film School on IFC. She holds a B.A. in Art-Semiotics from Brown University and is a Dean’s Fellow in Graduate Film at NYU.
NADIA MUNLA attended USC’s Peter Stark Producing Program. An up and coming independent producer with an expertise in low-budget production she recently completed her directorial debut Hannah Has a Ho-Phase. The film is also the first feature for her company, Hourglass Entertainment, which focuses on micro-budget films and webseries.
HUGH MUNRO NEELY is a documentary filmmaker, theater director, and musician. A native of California, he attended the USC School of Music. He began his film work in 1989, directing several episodes of Air Combat for the Our Century series on the A&E cable network. In 1996, with his partners, he started Timeline Films. For Timeline he has written, produced or directed eight documentaries, including films on the lives of Mary Pickford, Louise Brooks, Clara Bow, and Marion Davies. Most of these have appeared on the Turner Classic Movies channel, and have received screenings at Le Giornate del Cinema Muto in Italy and other festivals.
BARBARA ANN O’LEARY is a producer, screenwriter, director and film festival director. She has compiled a list of women directors from all over the world and throughout history: directedbywomen.com/en/directedby.html. She has a website dedicated to showcasing women in film through interviews and information – and began a worldwide viewing party in September 2015 where women’s works are showcased throughout the world in numerous venues both on a large and small scale – and everywhere in between. “Through the power of celebration we’re building a culture of appreciation within the global film community—inviting film lovers to fall madly in love with films by women directors, and encouraging the flow of attention and resources to their work.
JOE PETRICCA holds an MFA in Screenwriting from AFI and a BFA in Film Production from the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. Petricca is responsible for oversight of administrative functions for the AFI Conservatory, National Workshops and special projects. He directly oversees the Directing Workshop for Women, the Sloan Foundation funded programs and the Catalyst Workshop. As a screenwriter, he has had feature screenplays optioned, has written for Robert Osborne on Turner Classic Movies and has taught/spoken at film festivals, trade shows and colleges around the world. As a film critic he wrote for the KCET Web site. As an art director, Petricca has worked on numerous TV, film, music video and commercial projects. As a producer, he has produced short films, industrials and music videos.
LORI PRECIOUS has been directing since 1993 and a DGA director member since 1997. She has directed hundreds of commercials, documentaries and music videos with talent Ryan Gosling, Ron Howard, Liza Minelli, Gena Rowlands, Joanne Woodward, Amanda Bynes, Kenan & Kel, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Aiden Quinn, Chris Matthews and many others, for ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, FX, Disney, Nickelodeon, Mattel, Hasbro, Burger King and more. She directed and produced the short film Curse of the Sunset Starlet starring Oscar-nominated Sally Kirkland and co-written by Lori and renowned novelist and film critic Steve Erickson. Lori has completed writing the coming-of-age feature Hulaville which she plans to direct. She is also a fine artist whose work is shown in galleries and museums and is in many notable private collections.
THE REAL GIRLS:
HEATHER DE MICHELE has 15 years experience directing and teaching professional theater, most recently as the Artistic Director of American Girl Theater in NYC. Her directing/producing credits for film/TV include the feature documentary Lesbian Pulp-O-Rama Goes to Sweden! (Frameline, Newfest, IFC and more) and the short film Sondra Stingray: Sapphic Gumshoe (Winner Best Short, Long Beach Q Film Festival). Heather also directs the ongoing improv based web-series Twins: It’s Like Looking in a Dirty Mirror and is collaborating on a new web-series for pre-teen girls called Go Girl!. As a VCAM producer for Current TV, Heather has directed/edited over a dozen promo spots. She was also the director of the award-winning web series Real Girls Guide to Everything Else.
CARMEN ELENA MITCHELL is the Executive Producer and writer of the award winning Real Girls Guide to Everything Else. She made her filmmaking debut with Evidence (Vine Shorts Fest, San Francisco Frozen Film Festival, Zero Film Festival, Red Orchid Film Festival) and co-wrote the Jury Level Filmaka Short Who Could Ask for More? with Craig Ouellette. Playwriting credits include Beyond the Dinner Table: The Unintentional Poetry of Howie Small (Los Angeles Edge of the World Theatre Festival) and Off-Chance Production’s Anatomy of a Slap for which she served as lead writer with Luis Reyes .
ROSIE REID is a teacher at Piedmont High School who works with students on creating documentaries as part of their English curriculum. She addresses how different genders approached the project and how the use of film has become more ubiquitous in the past decade.
CARRIE RICKEY was born in Los Angeles during the widescreen era of movies and bagged a couple degrees from the UCSD in the years surfers traded longboards for short. She moved to New York just in time to read the headline “Ford to City: Drop Dead” and decamped as tabloids thus immortalized the passing of Andy Warhol, “Platinum Prince of Pop Dies.” During her New York years she wrote art criticism for Artforum and Art in America; film criticism for the Village Voice and Film Comment; and was a columnist for Mademoiselle. For 25 years she was film critic of The Philadelphia Inquirer where she reviewed everything from Room With a View to Shame, interviewed celebrities from Lillian Gish to Will Smith, and reported on technological breakthroughs from the rise of video to the introduction of movies on-demand. She has taught at various institutions including School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania, is a popular speaker and has appeared frequently on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, MSNBC and CNN.
KRISTIN HAHN produced and directed her own documentary Anthem before going on to executive produce films such as The Departed, The Time Traveler’s Wife and The Switch. With actress Jennifer Aniston she formed Echo Films. She produced the Lifetime Special Five, an anthology of five short films exploring the impact of breast cancer on people’s lives – all female-directed.
LINDA GOLDSTEIN KNOWLTON directed the documentary Somewhere Between – the story of four teenage girls adopted from China and growing up in America. She also directed The World According to Sesame Street and executive produced Niki Caro’s Whale Rider. She produced The Shipping News, Mumford and Crazy in Alabama.
MEG LEFAUVE was President of Jodie Foster’s production company Egg Pictures. She began her film career as a producer and President of Egg Pictures, Jodie Foster’s film company. During that time she produced films which were nominated for an Emmy, a Golden Globe, an IFP Spirit Award and she was awarded a Peabody. She produced The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys and The Baby Dance. LeFauve has been a mentor at Meryl Streep’s writer’s lab and is currently a consultant to Screen New South Wales, Screen Australia, and Film Victoria. She has also mentored at the Sundance Creative Producer Lab and is a Board Member and returning participant at CineStory Script Sessions. 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. She is the writer of Pixar’s Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur and the writer/director of Disney Animation’s upcoming film Gigantic.
HILARI SCARL is an award-winning director who was selected out of 12,000 filmmakers by Steven Spielberg to appear on his show On the Lot (2007). The show galvanized Hilari to direct/produce See What I’m Saying: The Deaf Entertainers Documentary. The film received rave reviews including The New York Times Critics’ Pick, several festival awards and a DVD/digital distribution deal with New Video and Netflix. The film was distributed theatrically by Hilari’s company Worldplay, Inc. and screened in 179 cities in 19 countries, earning a spot as one of the top 350 grossing documentaries of all time. See What I’m Saying has enjoyed success with the studios, screening for employees at DreamWorks, Universal Studios and Walt Disney Imagineers; Disney was inspired to create a special weekend event around the film at Downtown Disney called “SIGNin’ in the Street” with ABC Family’s Switched at Birth. Prior to directing her first feature, Hilari produced/directed 12 short films in three years that won film festivals, were broadcast on television and sold to distributors. She also worked as a television producer for shows on CBS, The History Channel, TLC and Court TV, and has served as a panelist/speaker for Women in Film, UCLA, Peter Broderick and several film festivals. She was one of nine participants accepted into the Producers Guild of America’s Power of Diversity Workshop in 2012, and developed a one-hour TV drama. Hilari is a board member of the Alliance of Women Directors and a member of Film Fatales Los Angeles.
BROOKE SEBOLD is a writer, director and editor currently living in Los Angeles. Her directing and editing work can be seen on NBC, MSNBC, PBS, the Sundance Channel, Logo, CurrentTV, and Adult Swim. She began the LA Chapter of the Film Fatales and continues to serve as co-chapter leader. Brooke’s feature documentary Red Without Blue screened at 200+ festivals, universities, and museums around the world receiving dozens of awards, including the Audience Award at Slamdance and the Jury Award at Frameline. Her narrative shorts have also received a number of honors including the Special Jury Award at the Florida Film Festival, the Alexis Award at Palm Springs ShortsFest and the Cine Golden Eagle Award for Excellence in Directing. In addition, Brooke has worked as a professional editor for over a decade, cutting indies, documentaries, shorts films, webisodes, commercials and TV segments. Two of the short films she edited (Hatch, Crossing) placed in the Student Academy Awards and both received the National Board of Review’s Student Grant Award. Finally, one of the TV segments Brooke cut for Current TV was nominated for an Emmy in 2008. In 2010, Brooke participated in the Berlin Talent Campus and the Berlin Co-Production Market with Gone, June, a feature-length expansion of her award-winning short film After The Snow. Gone, June was written by long-time collaborator Matthew Tyler. Barden/Schnee is casting, with Gersh packaging. In 2014, Brooke participated in the IFP Market with her project Overlap. Susan Stover (High Art, Laurel Canyon, Welcome to the Dollhouse) is attached to produce, with casting by Eyde Belasco (Half Nelson, 500 Days of Summer, Transparent).
SAMANTHA SHADA grew up in the mountains of Colorado and the plains of Nebraska. After moving east and completing her degree in film production at Emerson College, Sam landed in California where she worked with notable companies such as the William Morris Agency, the United Talent Agency, Universal Pictures, Overbrook Entertainment, and Sony Pictures Studios. Sam’s music videos showed at festivals in Boston, Los Angeles and beautiful Idyllwild, CA. She also directs and produces theatre while sitting on the board of local incubator Brimmer St. Theatre Co. Sam recently completed two narrative short films, Beauty School and Sexless, which entered the festival circuit in 2017 screening in Los Angeles, Colorado and Georgia. Sam programs the Los Angeles based screening series Seeking Our Story which features influential films directed by women.
MELISSA SILVERSTEIN is a media consultant and writer with 15 years experience in the non-profit and communications fields. She specializes in the area of women issues, with an emphasis on women and Hollywood. She blogs regularly on issues related to women and Hollywood from a feminist perspective at Women and HollywoodWomen and Hollywood. Women and Hollywood educates, advocates and agitates for gender equity in Hollywood. Melissa is the Artistic Director of the Athena Film Festival and the author of In Her Voice.
SONEJUHI SINHA is an award-winning New York Filmmaker. Sonejuhi got her start in the industry working as a film editor for the internationally renowned editorial company Final Cut. Sonejuhi has worked alongside acclaimed directors such as Harmony Korine, Julie Taymor and Spike Jonze. Sonejuhi’s directing career began with a narrative short film called Give into the Night, which won the Established Filmmaker award at the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Fest and won Best Short Film at the New York Indian Film Festival. Sonejuhi’s next narrative short film Love Comes Later was one of ten short films accepted to the prestigious 2015 Cannes Semaine De La Critique. Sonejuhi was then invited by the Cannes Film Festival to participate in their feature development program Next Step in Paris to develop her feature script by the same name. Sonejuhi is the recipient of the prestigious Tribeca All Access development grant to further develop the feature version of Love Comes Later. Recently, Sonejuhi was one of five 5 directors from all over the world chosen to do 5 films on child abuse. It’s a co-production with an award-winning Swedish production company Momento Films. Sonejuhi was selected for the prestigious Shoot New Director’s Showcase and is a part of the New York directors’ collective Film Fatales. Most recently, Sonejuhi finished Tribeca Film Institute’s Through Her Lens program where she was mentored by Dee Rees, Catherine Hardwicke, Rashida Jones among others. Her work has been featured in Filmmaker Magazine, Huffington Post, Indiewire, The Hollywood Reporter, The New York Times, Variety, and Bright Ideas Magazine, to name a few.
MAYA SMUKLER is an accomplished researcher with academic and media industry background knowledgeable of the film, television, and new media landscape with an emphasis on the relationship between popular culture and sociopolitical issues. She is a Ph.D. student at UCLA’s Department of Film, Television and Digital Media. Her current research focuses on the impact of the feminist and sexual revolutions on 1970s New Hollywood specifically with regards to women directors. She’s taught film studies at the New School University since 2002.
SUSANNA STYRON is the director and co-writer of the Columbia Pictures feature film Shadrach, starring Harvey Keitel and Andie MacDowell. She wrote and directed for A&E’s TV series 100 Centre Street, created by Sidney Lumet. She has directed several short films, including the award-winning A Day Like No Other, starring Richard Beymer and Ally Sheedy. Susanna co-authored (with Bridget Terry) the television movies In From the Night starring Marcia Gay Harden and Back When We were Grown Ups starring Blythe Danner and Peter Fonda, both for Hallmark Hall of Fame; as well as Taking Back Our Town for Lifetime Television (Christopher Award; Environmental Media Award); and Crossing the Line, also for Lifetime. As a documentary filmmaker, Susanna produced and directed 9/12: From Chaos to Community about volunteers and rescue workers at Ground Zero; In Our Own Backyards about the nuclear industry on the Navajo Reservation; and Suspended Sentence, a documentary short.
LISE SWENSON was involved in the media arts in the Bay Area from the early 1980s up until the time she passed away in 2016. As a media artist she created documentaries, experimental documentaries, feature length fiction and short experimental video art works. Swenson also created multi-monitor and site-specific video installations. In 1984 she co-founded ATA, (Artists’ Television Access), a non-profit media arts access and education facility, and in 1995 she founded TILT (Teaching Intermedia Literacy Tools), a nonprofit that works within school programs and community organizations to teach the fundamentals of media literacy and moviemaking. Swenson’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and has received numerous awards and grants. She was the recipient of a Creative Work Fund grant which helped to seed the creation of Mission Movie, her first feature length award-winning narrative film. She also attended the 2007 Sundance Film Festival where she represented Lynn Hershman Leeson’s critically acclaimed hybrid documentary Strange Culture as Producer and Assistant Director. At the time of her death, Swenson was in the last stages of preproduction for her feature film Saltwater.
KATHLEEN TARR is a UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School graduate, Lecturer in Stanford’s Program in Writing and Rhetoric, and former Skadden Fellow (“legal Peace Corps”) who developed some of the U.S.’s first public interest outreach programs to female military veterans. Kathleen began representing disabled veterans in claims before the Department of Veterans Affairs prior to graduating from law school, during which time she also assisted in the authorship of Japan’s first university-level sexual harassment policy. While a Skadden Fellow, Kathleen published a law review article on veterans disabled by military service cited by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and her most recent law review article “Bias and the Business of Show: Employment Discrimination in the ‘Entertainment’ Industry” was touted by film director, screenwriter, and activist Maria Giese as “the MOST IMPORTANT DOCUMENT published on the issue of discriminatory hiring practices in Hollywood since The New York Times published the ACLU letter to the EEOC in May 2015.” Originally appearing in Volume 51 of the University of San Francisco Law Review, Kathleen’s article was republished in Cultural Weekly and shared on social media by Racebending.com, Yeah I Said Feminist, and other activist organizations.
LAUREN TRACY is a writer/director living in Los Angeles and Boston. She studied undergraduate film at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). When she was in college Lauren started a company with her father, X-Factor Filmmakers, to support female filmmakers. After three years in Los Angeles directing shorts and editing feature films, Lauren and her team are now developing her own feature thriller entitled Sweet Desert Palm and intend to continue working together on future projects creating a reputation for themselves as viable business partners in the film industry.
TZIPI TROPE is a writer and director and professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She has astute observations on the issues of gender in the industry and continues to make films in addition to teaching at the University. Her feature films include: Tell Me That You Love Me, HBO; Tel Aviv Berlin – Best Israeli film Award, Best Script Award, screened at: Berlin, Montreal, London, Kadis, Munich, Monpelie, Barcelona; Chronicle of Love screened at: Torino, Milan, and Taromina; Six Million Pieces, Israeli Television Movie of the Week; Adela, documentary; The Magic Circle (writer, director, producer); A Day With Madeline; My Brother; A Dream Comes True; Nava’s Hair Salon; Political Theater; Close And Far Away, Golden Gate Award, San Francisco International Film Festival, First Prize New York Expo of Short Films and Video; and The Prime Minister’s Wife (documentary).
DIANA VALENTINE made her episodic directorial debut with a ground breaking episode of Nip/Tuck and recognition for it resulted in its inclusion in FX’s Emmy screener package. She has directed multiple episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles, Criminal Minds and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders and has added Code Black for the 2018 season. Diana has spent the last 20 years working side by side with the best directors in the business. And as one of the most respected script supervisors during those years, she was able to not only learn the technical aspects of directing, but also the intricacies involved in bringing out the best performance from her actors. On the feature side, Diana enjoyed success with her directorial debut of the independent film Down the Barrel which gained an international release. She then went on to direct Amy Adams in the short film Pennies… which was chosen as an official selection in the LA Shorts Film Festival, the St. Johns International Film Festival and the Bahama’s One World Film Festival.
LINDA WEITZLER is the mentoring program manager at Women in Film (WIF) in Los Angeles. After graduating from Hofstra University, Linda gained the patience necessary for non-profit work while teaching third and fourth graders in the New York City school system. Ms. Weitzler started her career in show business as an assistant at ABC Television in New York, and moved up to talent booker on AM America, the name before the show was re-branded as Good Morning America. After being transferred to California, Linda became Director of Talent Relations at ABC until Frank Price hired her to be Vice President of Talent Relations at Columbia Pictures. She held the same position at Universal Studios, and then Lew Wasserman singled out Weitzler to handle fundraising. Ms. Weitzler also spent time at The Gersh Agency. Linda is the longest-standing employee at WIF, having handled the gift bags for the Crystal+Lucy Awards for two years before joining the WIF staff in 2004.
ANNA WENGER is the Head of Physical Production at Funny or Die, a comedy video website that combines user-generated content with original, exclusive content. They are one of the few revenue generating webseries sites and in 2008 Funny or Die made a deal with HBO where they produce shows with the network separately from the web generated content. Wenger manages the budgets for all of the online shows produced by Funny or Die and produces their HBO show Billy on the Street.
JOYCE WU was awarded a Maurice Kanbar Institute fellowship and a scholarship from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to pursue her master’s degree in Film Production from NYU’s prestigious Graduate Film program, whose alumni include such directors as Martin Scorsese, Joel Coen, Ang Lee, Spike Lee, Amy Heckerling among numerous others who have contributed to American independent cinema. The first season of her web series Mr. Right is available to view and her first feature film She Lights Up Well was acquired by American Express for its Amex Now app on Roku boxes and Smart TVs and has screened at several festivals and universities and at the United Nations. It is currently available on iTunes and Verizon VOD.
DEBRA ZIMMERMAN has been the Executive Director of Women Make Movies, a non-profit NY based film organization which supports women filmmakers, since 1983. During her tenure it has grown into the largest distributor of films by and about women in the world and our internationally recognized Production Assistance Program has helped hundreds of women get their films made. Films from WMM have won prizes at the last three Sundance Film Festivals including The Oath by Laura Poitras, Rough Aunties, Best Documentary World Cinema and Best Director, Natalia Almada for El General. Zimmerman is in great demand around the world as a speaker on independent film distribution, marketing and financing as well as on women’s film. She has moderated panels and given master classes at the Sundance Film Festival, MIPDOC and Reel Screen as well as film festivals in Europe, Africa, Asia and South America.