PILAR ALESSANDRA started her career as Senior Story Analyst at DreamWorks SKG. In 2001, she opened the Los Angeles-based On the Page Writers’ Studio, dedicated to teaching and consulting with screenwriters and TV writers at all levels. She’s the author of the top-selling scriptwriting book, “The Coffee Break Screenwriter,” and host of the popular “On the Page Podcast.” An in-demand speaker, she’s taught at Disney Animation, ABC, CBS and MTV, and traveled the world coaching writers and producers in the UK, China, Poland, Vietnam, Colombia, Portugal and South Africa. Pilar’s greatest accomplishment is the success of her students, many of whom have won top competitions like the Nicholl Fellowship, are working on TV shows such as “The 100,” “Silicon Valley” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” and have sold scripts and pitches to studios including DreamWorks, Warner Bros. and Disney. For more information about Pilar, her classes, consultations, book and podcast, go to www.onthepage.tv
Tobin Armbrust is currently President of Worldwide Production and Acquisitions at Virgin Produced. Virgin Produced is the film, television and digital entertainment arm of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. Armbrust is building a slate of content over multiple platforms that is disruptive, high concept and youth oriented.
Prior to joining Virgin Produced, Armbrust held the same position at Exclusive Media where he produced the romantic music comedy “Begin Again” starring Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Adam Levine and Hailee Steinfeld from writer/director John Carney. Previously, he executive produced Ron Howard’s epic action thriller “Rush,” starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl, “Parkland” starring Paul Giamatti, Billy Bob Thornton, and Zac Efron, the box office hit “End of Watch” starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña, the fast paced thriller “Snitch” starring action superstar Dwayne Johnson and Susan Sarandon, and the action romantic comedy “Hit and Run” starring Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell and Bradley Cooper. Additional films from Exclusive Media produced and/or executive produced by Armbrust include “A Walk Among the Tombstones” starring Liam Neeson, “Dark Places” starring Charlize Theron, and the follow up to The Woman in Black, “The Woman in Black: Angel of Death.” Other films Armbrust has produced include “The Quiet Ones,” starring Jared Harris and Sam Claflin, “The Woman in Black” starring Daniel Radcliffe, Matt Reeves’ “Let Me In”, “The Resident” starring Hilary Swank, “So Undercover” starring Miley Cyrus and Peter Weir’s “The Way Back” with Saiorse Ronan and Ed Harris. For Exclusive Media’s documentary feature label, Spitfire Pictures, Armbrust produced “Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who”, “Billy Joel: Last Play at Shea” and “Guys and Divas: Battle of the High School Musicals.”
In his capacity as Head of Production and Acquisitions, Tobin oversaw several films for the company in an executive role. He served as the key creative member on the green light committee that determined which films were financed and was ultimately responsible for the scripts, casts and budgets. In this role he oversaw George Clooney’s “Ides of March”, and the Academy Award winning documentary “Undefeated”.
Prior to joining Exclusive Media, Armbrust served as a producer at Thunder Road, a production company with a first look deal at Warner Bros. Armbrust oversaw over thirty projects in various stages of development, and Co-Produced “Firewall” starring Harrison Ford and Paul Bettany. During his time at Thunder Road he helped develop “Clash of the Titans”, “We Are Marshall” and “Seventh Son”, all of which went on to be made. Before joining Thunder Road, Armbrust spent seven years at Intermedia serving under Co-Founders Nigel Sinclair and Guy East. At Intermedia he held positions as both a VP of Business Development as well as a VP of Production. During his tenure, he helped oversee several feature films including “K-19” starring Harrison Ford, “Basic” starring John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson, “The Wedding Planner” starring Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey, “Adaptation” starring Nicolas Cage, “National Security” starring Martin Lawrence, “Terminator 3” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, “Welcome to Mooseport” starring Gene Hackman and Ray Romano, and “K-PAX” starring Kevin Spacey.
Armbrust began his career in the film industry as Head of Acquisitions at The Steel Company, a Los Angeles based agency that represented some of the largest film distributors in the world, including France’s Canal Plus, South Korea’s Samsung, and Japan’s Pony Canyon.
Armbrust received his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science at UCSB and a Rotary Scholarship to study Business at the University of Munich, Germany. He has been a panelist and guest speaker at the USC School of Film, The American Film Market, Loyola Marymount, California State University, Los Angeles and several other industry events. He has been profiled in multiple newspapers and magazines, including, most recently, the Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Screen Daily and Deadline Hollywood.
Richard “RB” Botto is the Founder and CEO of Stage 32, the world’s largest platform for connecting and educating film creatives. Called “LinkedIn meets Lynda for film creatives” by Forbes, Stage 32 boasts a member base of over 500,000 and features over 1000 hours of film craft and business related education taught by over 500 industry executives across the globe.
RB is also a working actor, producer and screenwriter. As a producer, his films have played at dozens of festivals including Sundance and include the award winning feature, Another Happy Day, and short, All Things Hidden. His latest screenplay, THE END GAME was purchased and is in development at Covert Media.
RB was also commissioned to write the very first book on film crowdsourcing by Focal Press under the American Film Market (AFM) imprint. The book will be published in early 2017.
A sought after speaker and mentor, RB has been a keynote speaker and panelist at such festivals and conferences as Cannes, Venice, AFM, Tribeca, Raindance, SXSW and Winston Baker, and has taught at institutions such as Harvard and Columbia University on the subjects of filmmaking, producing, film finance, screenwriting, social media, crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, entrepreneurship and business.
Joseph D. Chianese is the Executive Vice President at EP Financial Solutions, a subsidiary of Entertainment Partners. He provides administrative, financial, tax and other consulting services for domestic and international film, television, and commercial productions. Mr. Chianese has almost 30 years of accounting, tax, and production experience, and has held positions at Sony Pictures Entertainment, The Walt Disney Company, The American Broadcasting Company, Paramount Pictures, and Ernst & Young.
Throughout his career, Mr. Chianese has been responsible for the tax, finance, and production structures for film and television productions in excess of $5 billion. He is also regarded as one of the leading experts in worldwide production incentives and other government subsidies.
Mr. Chianese is a CPA with a BBA in Accounting, a Masters in Tax, and an MBA.
Bruce David Eisen is a veteran entertainment attorney and media executive. Eisen’s legal practice focuses on the intersection of new and traditional media whose clients include Shout! Factory, RLJ Entertainment, Brainstorm Media, Rubicon Entertainment, Random Media, Hollywood Media Bridge and the Entertainment Merchants Association, as well as individual writers and producers, among others.
Eisen’s services include structuring and drafting various development agreements including option, writer, and JV agreements, providing production legal services, negotiation and drafting content acquisition and distribution agreements, negotiating film finance agreements, both domestic and foreign, and providing general legal/business affairs services for film, television and new media clients. Other recent activities include M&A legal work representing the seller of an entertainment company as well as the seller of a music library, each of which sold for seven figures.
Individuals and companies that Eisen has recently negotiated with on behalf of his clients include Bret Easton Ellis, James Franco, Cross Creek Pictures, Palm Star Media, Grindstone Entertainment, Voltage Pictures, Hulu, Redbox, iN DEMAND, Amazon, PlayStation Network, Showtime, HBO and Vimeo.
From 2009 through 2012 Eisen was the Vice President Online Content Development & Strategy for DISH Network where he negotiated agreements with most of the major television networks on behalf of DISH, licensing over 20,000 television shows for distribution and acquiring on-demand rights from the major Hollywood studios including VOD/EST/SVOD rights for distribution of their content across multiple platforms including set-top boxes, DishOnline.com, iPad, iPhone and Android devices.
Eisen was one of the principals who started CinemaNow in 1999 and, as the company’s general counsel, negotiated financing for the company in excess of $40 million, negotiated CinemaNow’s agreements with over 200 content licensors including all of the major Hollywood studios as well as agreements with local ISPs, portals and film distributors to bring CinemaNow to the U.K., the Netherlands, Taiwan, Philippines, Latin America, and Singapore. In addition, Eisen was instrumental in creating CinemaNow Japan, Inc., an affiliated entity that raised over $15 million in funding.
Eisen structured the strategy and business aspects of CinemaNow’s technology requirements to enable the efficient, cost-effective distribution of content on a worldwide, video-on-demand basis and, in that regard, licensed all required technology including agreements for content delivery network services, data services, data hosting, geo-targeting, recommendation engines, web analytics, network storage and customer relation management with companies such as Akamai, Limelight, Savvis, Intel, Microsoft, EchoStar, Qwest, RightNow Technologies and WebSideStory.
Eisen started his career as the head of Legal and Business Affairs for Trimark Pictures where his responsibilities included negotiating the company’s distribution agreements with companies including the Walt Disney Company, Miramax, The Samuel Goldwyn Company, Columbia Pictures, HBO and others. Eisen also negotiated and drafted Trimark’s development agreements as well as its production legal agreements including those with such talent as Samuel L. Jackson, Renee Zelweger, Peter Jackson and Jim Belushi. In addition, Eisen structured the company’s relationships with the Screen Actors Guild, the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America and was instrumental in negotiating Trimark’s $25 million line of credit with Bank of America and Trimark’s $75 million line of credit with The Chase Manhattan Bank as well as numerous production financing agreements with various lenders and bond companies.
Eisen received his J.D. from the University of Southern California in 1991 and his B.A. cum laude with high honors in Philosophy from Clark University in 1984.
Elwes began his producing career with 1983’s “Oxford Blues” starring Rob Lowe and Ally Sheedy and quickly went on to make another 29 films, including “Men At Work,” with Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen, and “The Chase” with Sheen.
In 1994, Elwes joined William Morris and headed William Morris Independent for 15 years. He financed such indie hits as “Slingblade” and “The Apostle,” both of which were nominated for multiple Oscars. “Monster’s Ball” was their follow up, which won the “Best Actress” Oscar for Halle Berry, the first African American woman to do so.
Wikipedia calls Cassian Elwes one of the most important figures in independent cinema and an expert in the field of arranging financing and distribution for independent films, having done so for 283 films during his tenure at William Morris Independent.
Since leaving William Morris Independent 5 years ago, Elwes has either produced or executive produced 40 films including John Hillcoat’s “Lawless,” Lee Daniels’ “The Paperboy,” and David Lowery’s “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”, which was nominated for a Gotham Independent Film Award for “Best Feature.”
Recently, Elwes produced the hit period drama “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” which featured an all-star cast headed by Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey. He also executive produced J.C. Chandor’s “All Is Lost” starring Robert Redford and executive produced and arranged financing for the Oscar winning hit “Dallas Buyers Club” directed by Jean-Marc Vallee, starring Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto and Jennifer Garner.
Elwes executive produced the Kevin Costner release “Black and White”, directed by Mike Binder, and has produced both Werner Herzog’s “Queen of the Desert” and Eli Roth’s “Knock Knock”. His most current release was “Elvis & Nixon” starring Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey. Cassian is in post on the 1980’s Los Angeles-set thriller “The Billionaire Boy’s Club”, starring Ansel Elgort, Taron Egerton, and Kevin Spacey.
Elwes most recently finished shooting “Mudbound”, which is being directed by Dee Rees, starring Jason Clarke, Garrett Hedlund, Carey Mulligan, and Jason Mitchell.
Clay Epstein is the President of Film Mode Entertainment, a leading worldwide sales agent and production entity, focusing on commercially driven feature films of all genres and budget sizes. Film Mode represents projects at all stages of the film-making process, often as Executive Producer, with the aim of helping our producers and distributors achieve maximum exposure for their films. Film Mode’s recent successes include SUGAR MOUNTAIN starring Jason Momoa, LITTLE PINK HOUSE starring two time Academy Award nominee, Catherine Keener and the SXSW official entry, THE GOOD NEIGHBOR starring the legendary James Caan. Upcoming productions include VIKING DESTINY starring Academy Award nominee Terence Stamp. In 2017, Film Mode launched DocMode to focus on award winning Documentaries that impact the world. Film Mode is based in Beverly Hills, CA. with a satellite office in New York City.