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Speaker Bios

Alexis Garcia

Alexis Garcia is a partner at Endeavor Content, a division of global entertainment leader Endeavor (formerly WME | IMG). In his role, Garcia packages and sells films, and advises financiers on their entertainment strategies.

Garcia also oversees Endeavor Content’s China practice, leading the group’s activity in the region in conjunction with WME | IMG China. In this capacity, Garcia led the group’s investment in Perfect Village, a China based production company that is a joint venture with Perfect World and Village Roadshow. Garcia also advised filmmaker David Goyer on his groundbreaking deal with Tencent. Most recently, Garcia led Endeavor’s acquisition of Bloom, a premier film financing and international sales company, whose recent films include “The Nice Guys” starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, George Clooney’s “Suburbicon” starring Matt Damon and Julianne Moore, and Scott Cooper’s “Hostiles” starring Christian Bale.

Garcia joined talent agency Endeavor in 2006, and transitioned to WME in 2009 following the agency’s merger with the William Morris Agency. Prior to that, he practiced entertainment law at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton and O’Melveny & Meyers, where he counseled entertainment industry clients in the development, production, financing and distribution of motion picture and television content. Garcia earned his J.D. from UCLA School of Law, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Entertainment Law Review and Business Editor of the UCLA Law Review. He earned his B.A. in English and Theatre from Vanderbilt University. A Miami native of Cuban descent, he currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

Steven Gaydos

Steven Gaydos is an American screenwriter, songwriter and journalist. As a screenwriter, he has frequently collaborated with American independent film director Monte Hellman, and is best known for writing his 2010 film “Road to Nowhere.” Gaydos is an entertainment journalist and the co-author of several books on the entertainment industry, and is currently Vice-President and Executive Editor of Variety.

Gipson, Darrien

Darrien Michele Gipson

Darrien Michele Gipson is the National Director of SAGindie, an educational program that teaches independent filmmakers with limited budgets how to hire professional actors for their films. Darrien is an M.F.A. recipient from the Peter Stark Producer’s Program at USC and was formerly the Vice President of Production for DEF Pictures. As National Director of SAGindie, Darrien is responsible for the strategic planning and oversight of the organization and acts as a liaison between filmmakers and SAG-AFTRA, the actors union.

Anna Godas

Anna is Dogwoof’s CEO, and co-founder; she has an MBA, and MAs in film production and screenwriting. Anna has steered the company from a small indie film distributor to a leading global brand in the field of documentary. Anna was directly responsible for the creation of Dogwoof’s international sales arm, and is now focusing on growing Dogwoof’s production investments, having recently set up a fund. Anna was born in Barcelona, Spain.

Wayne Marc Godfrey

Wayne is the co-founder and owner of The Fyzz Facility, a prolific British production and finance company that has invested multiple millions worth of dollars into well over 200 feature films.

With more than 100 producer credits to his name, Wayne has optioned, financed and produced 11 feature films over the last two years. These include the BAFTA nominated and BIFA winning debut from acclaimed writer/director Stephen Fingleton THE SURVIVALIST and the STX backed action thriller THE FOREIGNER based on the best selling novel The Chinaman by Stephen Leather, directed by Martin Campbell and starring Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan.

Nelson Granados

Coming soon.

Laurens Grant

Laurens Grant is a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – Documentary Branch [Oscars] and the Television Academy [Emmys]. She is also a 3-time Emmy and Peabody award-winning filmmaker and a Sundance Institute filmmaker fellow.


Grant was a producer-director on the critically-acclaimed CNN series “The Nineties,” working with Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman and Mark Herzog.


Additionally, Grant directed the documentary “Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement” which received an NAACP Image Award nomination for outstanding news special. Actor Jesse Williams of “Grey’s Anatomy” is Executive Producer. The film also screened in London at the British Urban Film Festival and at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival.


Grant produced the Peabody and Emmy-nominated documentary “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution;” directed the Emmy-winning documentary “Jesse Owens,” the first full-length documentary about the African-American Olympian and the 1936 Olympics. And produced the Peabody and 3-time Emmy winning documentary “Freedom Riders” which influenced the Hollywood films: “Selma” and Lee Daniels’ “The Butler.”


Additionally, Grant has had 3 films premiere at the prestigious Sundance film festival.

Catherine Hand

Coming soon.

Paul Hanson

Paul Hanson is founder and Chief Executive Officer of Covert Media, a new independent feature production, financing, and distribution company. Covert Media will focus on creating high quality, commercial content for worldwide audiences by fostering meaningful relationships with filmmakers and creative artists. At the core of its mission, Covert seeks to be a reliable and trustworthy partner that deploys its resources and expertise to ensure each creative partner’s vision is realized and their unique voice is heard.

Prior to Covert Media, Paul was Chief Operating Officer of Annapurna Pictures, where he managed all of the business activities of the company. Annapurna projects released during Paul’s tenure included David O. Russell’s AMERICAN HUSTLE, Spike Jonze’s HER, and Bennett Miller’s FOXCATCHER. Paul also helped begin the company’s extension into television and new content formats such as virtual reality and augmented reality. Additional feature projects that Paul worked on while at Annapurna include Richard Linklater’s EVERYBODY WANTS SOME, David O. Russell’s JOY, Ana Lily Amirpour’s THE BAD BATCH, the Seth Rogen’s R-rated animated film SAUSAGE PARTY, and Todd Solondz’s WIENER DOG.

Previously, Paul Hanson co-founded and was Chief Operating Officer of QED International, where he oversaw all aspects of the company, including all film financing, production, and distribution activities. During his tenure at QED, Paul managed the company’s slate of productions and sales agency projects, built out the executive team, and negotiated and closed the company’s various production financing instruments with lenders and third-party equity investors. Notable projects produced during Paul’s time at QED include Neill Blomkamp’s DISTRICT 9, Oliver Stone’s W., John Turturro’s FADING GIGOLO, David Ayer’s SABOTAGE, and Richard Shepard’s THE HUNTING PARTY.

Prior to QED, Paul was Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Key Creatives, a literary management company. In addition to supervising the company’s operations, Paul advised the company’s writer and director clients on deal structuring, domestic and international film financing, and distribution.

Prior to Key Creatives, Paul served in finance and operational capacities at Artisan Entertainment. Initially, Paul was a Manager in Artisan’s Corporate Development and Strategic Planning group where his responsibilities included the company’s M&A activity for content library acquisitions, overseeing the greenlight process for new theatrical productions and acquisitions, preparing Artisan’s financial forecast, and providing strategic consulting and operational support to the company’s various business units.

Paul subsequently worked as a production executive at Artisan where he supervised the creation of feature films, ensuring their successful completion on-time and on-budget. He managed line producers, accountants, and other members of the production and post-production teams to ensure deadlines and objectives were met from pre-production through principal photography, post-production, and final delivery.

Before venturing to Los Angeles, Paul was an investment banker at Broadview International, specializing in software and digital media mergers and acquisitions. Working in Broadview’s New York and Boston offices, he advised technology companies on both buyside and sellside M&A transactions and private placements. Over the course of his tenure there, Paul worked on transactions totaling nearly $2 billion in value.

Paul received a degree in Civil Engineering and Operations Research from Princeton University, and was inducted into the Sigma Xi honor society for excellence in scientific research.

Hertzberg, Paul

Paul Hertzberg

Paul Hertzberg is the President and Chief Executive Officer of CineTel Films, Inc. Under his auspices and direct involvement since its founding thirty years ago, CineTel has become one of the leading independent production and distribution companies in the entertainment industry. In addition to theatrical features, the firm has been highly successful in the production of pay television specials for HBO, Lifetime and the SyFy Channel. New Line, Warner Bros., Lions Gate, Miramax, MGM, Anchor Bay and Columbia/Tri-Star have distributed much of the CineTel product, 16 of which have been released theatrically.


“Seven years ago, there seemed to be a sizable number of independent film companies that on the surface appeared to be doing quite well,” noted Mr. Hertzberg, who has been duly recognized for his contribution to the entertainment industry by his inclusion in Who’s Who in America. Mr. Hertzberg is also a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences-Producers Division, the Screen Actors Guild, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Independent Film and Television Alliance (I.F.T.A.). “Then, one by one, they began to disappear. Now there are only a handful of us left. CineTel’s strength has always been to remain on target with a certain philosophy: to produce, acquire and distribute motion pictures that appeal to a wide variety of audiences, yet are economically feasible for continued success.”


Mr. Hertzberg’s most recent theatrical productions include, A Rumor of Angels, starring Vanessa Redgrave, Ray Liotta and Catherine McCormick, was distributed by MGM/UA. The action film KILLING MACHINE, starring and directed by Dolph Lundgren and the remake of the 1978 classic film I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE.


CineTel was founded in his home state of Illinois by Mr. Hertzberg in 1980 and was originally known as Chicago Teleproductions. During its early days, Mr. Hertzberg and Chicago Teleproductions produced comedy and musical programming for HBO, Showtime, ON-TV, and RCA/Columbia Home Video. Among their programming was The Four Tops in Concert, An Evening at La Cage, and Well…It Seemed Funny at the Time starring Martin Mull. In 1982, the company was awarded a regional Emmy for the show Terminal Laughter, which starred Robert Klein, Tim Reid and Bruce Baum.


Changing the company’s name to CineTel Films, Mr. Hertzberg moved the corporate offices to Los Angeles in 1983. After arriving on the West Coast, CineTel had continued success with television productions, which included a special starring Jayne Kennedy and two 30-minute HBO specials entitled And If I’m Elected…, hosted by the Smothers Brothers. Other titles include The Monterey Jazz Festival, and Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul.


In 1985, Mr. Hertzberg began to direct his focus on the production of feature films and that year, CineTel produced The Tomb, starring John Carradine and Sybil Danning. Since then, among the 100 features CineTel has produced and distributed under Mr. Hertzberg’s charge are Armed Response, Cyclone, Cold Steel, Bulletproof, Tripwire, Hit List, 976-Evil, Out of the Dark, Fear, Far Out Man, Masters of Menace, Robert Downey’s Too Much Sun, Fast Getaway and Relentless, a psychological thriller starring Judd Nelson, Robert Loggia, Leo Rossi and Meg Foster. It became the company’s highest grossing feature to date, and spawned three sequels.


CineTel and Mr. Hertzberg have also produced the following feature films: Serious Money, starring Dennis Farina, Leo Rossi and Fran Drescher; Past Midnight, starring Rutger Hauer, Natasha Richardson and Clancy Brown; Where the Day Takes You, a gritty drama about homelessness that stars Dermot Mulroney, Lara Flynn Boyle, Will Smith and Sean Astin, directed by Marc Rocco; and Teresa’s Tattoo, starring Lou Diamond Phillips, Jonathan Silverman and C. Thomas Howell.


Mr. Hertzberg produced Carried Away, a romantic drama starring Dennis Hopper, Amy Irving, Gary Busey and Hal Holbrook. Directed by Bruno Baretto and based on the Jim Harrison novel “Farmer”, Carried Away was released by Fine Line Features.


Mr. Hertzberg also completed Below Utopia, starring Alyssa Milano and Ice-T, directed by Kurt Voss and released domestically by Artisan.


“We’ve now finished our thirtieth year,” says Mr. Hertzberg, “and it’s been an exciting, tremendously rewarding experience for all of us. In November of 2003 we sold our 100 film library and in 2010 we plan to produce and distribute twelve new films as we continue to build a new library which now totals 72 films.”

Kiska Higgs

Kiska Higgs is SVP and head of acquisitions & co-productions at a Focus Features, the specialty division of Universal Pictures, whose fall slate includes Joe Wright & Gary Oldman’s “Darkest Hour” and Paul Thomas Anderson & Daniel Day-Lewis’s last collaboration, and the international distribution of “Lady Bird.” She’s spent the last eleven years in the Universal family, as a production executive in Los Angeles and at the studio’s international head office in London, before joining Focus’s new management team in 2016. A seventh-generation Californian and San Diego native, she graduated from Princeton in 2001 with a degree in Philosophy.

Thomas Hughes

Thomas Hughes oversees sales and distribution for all of Lionsgate’s businesses in the on–demand, digital and non-theatrical arenas, including multi-channel video providers and digital retailers. He also manages business development opportunities surrounding the rapid emergence of digital platforms worldwide, including mobile, as well as other new and emerging technologies.
He has played an instrumental role in Lionsgate’s launch on several new platforms. He also led the negotiation and subsequent launch with Valve’s STEAM platform entry into global VOD and EST. Mr. Hughes has negotiated expanded global content licensing deals with digital retailers such as iTunes, Amazon and xBox as they enter new territories around the world.
Additionally, Mr. Hughes shepherded the Company’s exploration of new windowing strategies, including the day-and-date theatrical/VOD releases. He is a key member of the executive team which has guided Lionsgate to industry leadership in VOD-to-box office and digital-to-box office conversion rates. In addition to his distribution and sales responsibilities, Hughes leads business development efforts for the division.
Mr. Hughes joined Lionsgate in March 2011 after serving as Vice President of Worldwide Digital at MGM for three years and prior to that he was at Scripps leading a digital sales team. Mr. Hughes has years of diversified media experience including distribution, sales, marketing, production and operations, with a major focus on innovating new business models for content creation and distribution in the digital marketplace.
Early in his career, Mr. Hughes served as personal and production assistant for Emmy award-winning producer, director, and choreographer Kenny Ortega on projects like Michael Jackson’s Bad Tour and Dirty Dancing (TV). He began his media career in local broadcast TV news at WIS TV (NBC) while studying Media Arts the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC.

Kevin Iwashina

Kevin Iwashina in the Founder & CEO of Preferred Content, a film, television and digital sales & finance company.


Founded in January 2010, Preferred Content (PC) specializes in the sale of North American and Worldwide distribution rights for both narrative and documentary filmed entertainment content. Additionally, PC represents filmmakers to assemble creative and financial elements for film, TV and digital projects.


Recent PC sales projects include I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS and Rodney Ascher’s THE NIGHTMARE which both premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, the 2015 SXSW documentary ROLLING PAPERS and narrative feature THE DIABOLICAL and THE OTHER ONE: THE LONG, STRANGE TRIP OF BOB WIER acquired worldwide by Netflix as an Original Documentary. PC also produced and handled worldwide sales on the hit documentary JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI released by Magnolia


Iwashina holds a B.A. in English Literature with minor in French Language and Culture from U.C.L.A. He is active in the non-profit sector and serves as the Chairman of the Board of the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE) and is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Documentary Association (IDA). He began his career in the mailroom at the United Talent Agency (UTA).

Tania Jones

Tania Jones is the VP of Marketing & Customer Success for SHIFT72, a leading provider of secure Video On Demand platforms to the entertainment industry, including the AFM Screenings on Demand service. SHIFT72 have become a leading authority on VOD distribution, digital film marketing and the film industry’s paradigm shift from physical to digital. Tania regularly advises entertainment brands, filmmakers, exhibitors, distributors and festivals on digital distribution, sales and marketing strategies to increase revenues and capture audiences with premium viewing experiences.

Martin Katz

Martin Katz is Founder and President of Prospero Pictures. One of the most prolific feature film producers in Canada, Martin’s credits include Hotel Rwanda, which was nominated for three Academy Awards and three Golden Globe Awards, and four films with celebrated director David Cronenberg, including Spider, A Dangerous Method, Cosmopolis and Maps to the Stars, for which Julianne Moore received the Best Actress Palme d’Or at Cannes. Martin’s television projects include Spectacle: Elvis Costello With…, an award-winning music and performance series co-produced with Rocket Pictures and Ice Road Truckers, now in its tenth season, one of History Channel’s highest-rated documentary series.


Martin holds degrees in law from the University of Toronto and the Université de Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne). He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, a Director of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, a recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Medal and Chair of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television.

Val Kupeev

Coming Soon.

Ken LaZebnik

Ken LaZebnik writes for television, film, and the theatre. He shares story credit with Garrison Keillor for director Robert Altman’s last film: A Prairie Home Companion. LaZebnik wrote the Lionsgate film Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Cottage, starring Peter O’Toole. He has written for television for twenty-five years, including seven years as a writer/producer for Touched by An Angel. He also has written for Army Wives, Providence, Star Trek: Enterprise, and the new series When Calls The Heart on the Hallmark Channel.


His many plays have been performed across America. Three of his plays have focused on autism, including On The Spectrum, which was awarded a Steinberg Citation from the American Theatre Critics Association, and had a successful run in Los Angeles at the Fountain Theatre.


He is the Director of the Stephens College Low-Residency M.F.A. in Television and Screenwriting. Its a new M.F.A. based in Los Angeles, with a mission to increase the number of women writing for film and TV. It features two ten-day workshops each year, held at the Jim Henson Studios in Hollywood.

Russell Levine

Mr. Levine is the co-founder and CEO of Route One Entertainment. He has been a media specialist, technologist and entrepreneur for over 25 years. Mr. Levine began his career as a screenwriter. From 1986 until 1994, Mr. Levine developed and wrote film and television projects for Warner Brothers, Disney, Universal Studios, Orion and CBS Television. In 1994, Mr. Levine founded Zoomedia, Inc., a pioneering Internet software and communications company in San Francisco. He served as its CEO for ten years and as Executive Chairman until 2013. From 2007-2008, Mr. Levine served as CEO of MediaOne, an independent television studio in San Francisco, which provides resources for global news outlets including MSNBC, CNBC and Fox News. Mr. Levine served as an executive producer on A Walk in the Woods, Equals, Secret in their Eyes and The Free State of Jones and as a producer on Tallulah, Colossal and Landline. He is also producing the upcoming thriller The Claim scripted by Damien Chazelle.

Mr. Levine is from Memphis, Tennessee and graduated from Carleton College with a B.A. in Asian History and Languages. He has lived in both Hong Kong and Japan and traveled extensively throughout Asia. He currently resides with his family in Los Angeles.

James F. Lopez

James F. Lopez is a Producer/Head of Motion Pictures at Will Packer Productions. In the position he is responsible for developing and overseeing production on all film projects through the company’s first look deal with Universal Pictures.

He is an executive producer on the $100M + grossing massive hit comedy Girls Trip starring Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, with Jada Pinkett-Smith and Queen Latifah. He is also a producer on the upcoming projects Breaking In starring Gabrielle Union and City of Saints and Thieves starring Kerry Washington. He was an executive producer on the recently released Almost Christmas, starring Gabrielle Union, Danny Glover, Mo’Nique, Romany Malco, Nicole Ari Parker, Kimberly Elise, JB Smoove, Jessie T. Usher and DC Young Fly and as well as Jacob’s Ladder, a reimagining of the 1980’s thriller classic, starring Michael Ealy, Jesse Williams and Nicole Beharie.

Prior to joining Will Packer Productions, Lopez was Senior Vice President of Production at Screen Gems, a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment. During his tenure, Lopez oversaw some of the company’s top grossing and most anticipated projects. He was the production executive for the box office hit Think Like A Man. He also oversaw production on About Last Night, Think Like A Man Too, The Wedding Ringer, The Perfect Guy and When The Bough Breaks for the studio. He also produced and conceived the story for the acclaimed short film #AmeriCAN, directed by Nate Parker.

Formerly Senior Vice President of Marketing for Atlantic Records before joining Screen Gems, Lopez played an instrumental role in developing and overseeing the marketing campaigns for several multi-platinum artists including T.I. during his tenure in the music business. He also oversaw the soundtracks for numerous films including Hustle & Flow, P.S. I Love You, Step Up 2: The Streets, Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls, Meet The Browns, Why Did I Get Married? and Avatar. In addition to overseeing marketing for artists, Lopez has directed a series of television commercials for album campaigns and led efforts for film soundtracks and brand partnerships. His music video for T.I.’s “No Matter What,” from his double platinum album Paper Trail, was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award. Lopez also has a Grammy nomination for his producing of long form video “The World According to Nappy” by Nappy Roots.

Lopez is a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and has been included on Ebony Magazine’s Power 100 list and Imagen Foundation’s Most Powerful & Influential Latinos in Entertainment. He is also a board member for the African American Film Critics Association and ICON MANN. http://willpackerprods.com/james-lopez/

Dana Lustig

Dana Lustig has directed five feature films and produced over 20 independent features.

Dana is now busy producing the second season of successful Israeli TV show with Yehuda Levi Very Important Man, which shoots in Los Angels in December.

In 2017 Dana completed producing the feature film Look Away with acclaimed director of Fauda Assaf Bernstein, starring Jason Isaacs, Mira Sorvino and India Eisley.

In 2016 along with Arclight films, Dana produced the amazing true survival story Jungle, based on the book by Yossi Ghinsberg , starring Daniel Radcliffe.

Dana’s previous production, a film noir The Frontier, premiered at SXSW and was picked up for distribution by Kino Lorber.

Dana directed the dark love story A Thousand Kisses Deep starring Jodi Whittaker (Dr. Who) that was nominated to the British Independent Film Award. Other directing credits include the comedy Wild Cherry with Rob Schneider, Kill Me Later starring Selma Blair (Lionsgate), Confessions of a Sociopathic Social Climber starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, the highest rated telecast for Oxygen’s original programming and Wedding Bell Blues.

For ten years, Dana was a partner at Bergman Lustig Productions along with Ram Bergman (Star Wars). Amongst many of the movies, BLP produced Brick, nominated for the Independent Spirit Award and Dancing at the Blue Iguana, directed by Oscar nominee Michael Radford (Il Postino).

In 2018 Dana is going to direct the remake of an Israeli movie The Man in the Wall and she is now developing two movies to be shot in Israel.
Dana was born in Israel, and after her army service she moved to LA to graduate from the American Film Institute. Besides producing, writing and directing Dana also gives lectures about Independent movie making, at the AFI and other universities.

Stefan Lütje

Stefan Lütje is partner and chairs the Media Sector Group. The team was voted “Best Media Law Firm” by the well-known legal publishing house JUVE in 2010, has since been nominated many times, and is regularly recognized in all the important legal directories such as The Legal 500, Chambers & Partners and JUVE for their expertise and high-quality work. As an expert in the media industry, Stefan has advised national and international industry players for more than 25 years on strategic as well as commercial and corporate law issues. He has wide-ranging experience handling development, production, distribution, financing of content issues  as well as M&A and financing matters within the media and entertainment sector.


His practice includes cross-border transactional matters, public, regulatory and EU law issues as well as M&A and restructuring mandates and intellectual property law, including litigation. Some of Stefan’s clients include media companies and studios as well as banks, investors, insurance companies, funding and other public institutions. He also has an established practice in advising CEOs and companies on employment law regulations and contractual matters.


Prior to Greenberg Traurig, Stefan spent eight years working for Olswang in Germany and was a partner and group head of the Intellectual Property team at Linklaters for more than 15 years.