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Speaker Bios

Jesse Sisgold

Jesse Sisgold is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Skydance Media. He joined the company as President of Business Affairs and Strategic Planning in 2014; was promoted to the company’s Chief Operating Officer that same year; and was promoted again to President in 2016. During this time, Jesse has played a pivotal role in Skydance’s evolution from film financier to leading next-generation motion picture, television, and VR game studio, increasing its team and capacity seven times over.


As President and Chief Operating Officer of Skydance Media, Sisgold helps to set and execute the overall corporate strategy and growth plan for the company, while managing key operations across all units. He also oversees the following divisions: business affairs and business development, interactive and virtual reality, international acquisitions and sales, licensing, and studio facilities
and administration. In 2017, Sisgold helped oversee Skydance’s formation of an animation division to develop and produce a slate of high-end feature films and television series in partnership with Spain’s Ilion Animation Studios. In 2016, he helped to lead Skydance’s first
acquisition – of leading game developer The Workshop Entertainment – to form Skydance Interactive. Also, in 2016, he helped to secure a $700 million recapitalization to enable continued growth and expansion, and established Skydance’s first China film co-production with Alibaba Pictures. Sisgold oversaw the formation of Skydance’s global television distribution pact with Lionsgate in 2015, which resulted in the launch of Skydance International. In 2015-2016, he oversaw the company’s global film distribution and co-financing pacts with Paramount, Sony, and Warner Bros., as well as distribution and co-production pacts for its current television series with
ABC, Amazon, AMC, AT&T Audience Network and Netflix. Jesse was recognized on Variety’s “Dealmakers Impact Report” in 2015 and 2016.


Prior to joining Skydance, Sisgold served as the managing shareholder of his own boutique entertainment and venture capital law firm and launched the graphic novel and augmented reality company Anomaly Productions. He began his career at Heller Ehrman LLP focusing on Silicon
Valley ventures. Sisgold serves as a board member of UCLA’s Institute of Environmental Sustainability and Angels at Risk. He was named to Variety’s 2015 and 2016 Dealmaker’s Impact Report and is a regular speaker at media and technology conferences such as CES, Variety’s
Summit, Digital Entertainment World, and Digital Hollywood. Jesse holds a J.D. with honors from the University of California, Hastings and a B.A. with honors from the University of California, San Diego.

Ada Solomon

Ada started her career in the film business almost 25 years ago. She is the most internationally acclaimed Romanian producer, having received awards in prestigious festivals such as Berlin (“Child’s Pose” – Golden Bear winner 2013, “Aferim” – Best Director winner 2015), Locarno (“Scarred Hearts – Special Jury winner 2016.), and many others around the world. She was an Executive Producer on the Oscar Nominated & European Film Academy Best Film of the Year winner “Toni Erdmann” (63 awards and 54 nominations).


Ada is a member of the Board of European Film Academy and the Romanian National coordinator in EAVE (European Audio Visual Entrepreneurs). In 2013, Ada received the European Film Academy Award for Co-production – Prix Eurimages, acknowledging her decisive role in European co-productions.


She is currently in production with award winning director Radu Jude’s new feature “Is This What You Were Born For?”, a Romanian-Czech-French-Bulgarian co-production.

Valerie Stadler

Stadler started her career as a producer, co-founding Fat Chance Films where she developed the play PREY FOR ROCK & ROLL, which was adapted into a feature film starring Drea de Matteo and Gina Gershon (Sundance 2003). She developed and co-produced CAVEDWELLER for Showtime starring Kyra Sedgwick and Aidan Quinn (2004 Spirit Awards nominee).


Her past films include LIFE OF A KING starring Cuba Gooding Jr (LAFF 2013) and SUNSET STORIES (SXSW 2011) which also marked her debut as a screenwriter. She produced and co-directed the feature documentary FALLEN STAR: FINDING HOME about the site specific installation piece by artist Do Ho Suh, which had its LA Premiere at MOCA in June, 2016 and its NY premiere at Whitney Museum, October, 2017.


Most recently Stadler was the head of Production and Development for Fluency, a multi platform studio under NBCU Hispanic Enterprises. Aimed at the emerging majority, Fluency is committed to celebrating new heroes and amplifying bold voices. With Fluency she Executive Produced several films, including FAT CAMP which had its world premiere at LAFF, 2017 and sold to BET.

Ben Stillman

Ben Stillman is Senior Vice President of Black Bear Pictures, where he has worked since the company’s formation.

Ben has been a part of the creation and production of a number of films while at Black Bear. Recently, Ben produced BARRY, directed by Vikram Gandhi, which was distributed by Netflix after premiering at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. He was Executive Producer of GOLD, directed by Steve Gaghan and starring Matthew McConaughey, Co-Producer of BROKEN CITY and A.C.O.D., and Associate Producer of AT ANY PRICE. He was also actively involved in the development and production of eight-time Academy Award-nominated THE IMITATION GAME, directed by Morten Tyldum and starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley.

In 2016, Ben was named one of Variety’s Ten Producers to Watch. He also serves on the Board of Directors for prominent Canadian distributor Elevation Pictures.

Prior to Black Bear, Ben worked at Cinetic International, selling international distribution rights for such films as EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP, MEEK’S CUTOFF, and Diego Luna’s ABEL.

Ben earned a Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies and English with a concentration on Creative Writing from Stanford University. He lives in Los Angeles.

Stefanie Taub

Stefanie Taub is National Director, Music at SAG-AFTRA, the world’s largest entertainment and media artists union, representing actors, recording artists, singers, dancers, and news and entertainment broadcasters, among other media professionals. Taub originally joined AFTRA’s staff in 1994, and currently leads SAG-AFTRA’s representation of its recording artist, singer, and dancer members who work on records, music videos, television programs, theatrical films, commercials and video games.


She is co-lead negotiator of the SAG-AFTRA Sound Recordings and Music Video contracts, governing the wages and working conditions of recording artists, singers and dancers working for the major record labels in the United States. She also serves on the boards of the AFM and SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund, the Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies, and as Chair of the SAG-AFTRA and Industry Sound Recordings Distribution Fund. Taub received her Bachelor of Arts degree from UC Berkeley and her Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School, where she served as an editor of the Loyola of Los Angeles Entertainment Law Review.

Alison Thompson

THOMPSON’s career spans 3 decades. She is Co-President of London/LA production and international film sales company, Cornerstone Films, which launched in the Spring of 2015. Thompson co-owns the company with Mark Gooder. A leader in its field, Cornerstone Films collaborates with world-renowned filmmakers to secure rights to the best independently produced films and optimise the value of those rights by exploiting them across the world through sales and distribution to studios and independent distributors. The current slate includes, amongst others, HAMPSTEAD starring Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson, John Turturro’s GOING PLACES in which he stars with Bobby Cannavale, Susan Sarandon and Audrey Tautou. GEORGETOWN, directed by Christoph Waltz and starring himself, Vanessa Redgrave and Annette Bening and Mike Leigh’s PETERLOO. Thompson is a board member of The Independent Film and Television Association (IFTA), Deputy-Chair of BAFTA’s Film Committee and a trustee of Birds Eye View.


Prior to Cornerstone, Thompson spent 8 years as Co-President of Universal’s Focus Features International, overseeing all aspects of the exploitation of the Focus slate in the international arena be it through parent company, Universal, or through independent sales and distribution. During her tenure at Focus, she worked with many of the world’s leading filmmakers including Wes Anderson, Pedro Almodovar, Sean Penn, Mike Leigh, Sophia Coppola, Alejandro Iñárritu and Ang Lee.


Thompson started her career at Channel Four Television, following which she joined The Sales Company, a leading sales company during the 1990’s. She rose through the ranks to become Chief Executive in 1996. The Sales Company collaborated on more than 100 titles with filmmakers including Bille August, Stephen Frears, John Huston, Neil Jordan, Ken Loach, Roger Michell, Nanni Moretti, Nicholas Roeg and Michael Winterbottom. In 2000 Thompson headed to Pathé Pictures International and continued to work with many of the same filmmakers and others including Jane Campion, Gurinder Chadha, Kevin McDonald and Walter Salles.

Cynthia Tollett

As Assistant Executive Director, Tollett oversees the DGA’s Signatories department and aids in the enforcement of the Guild’s contracts. Tollett joined the DGA in 2009, where she previously served as Associate General Counsel and Assistant General Counsel in the Legal Department until her promotion to Assistant Executive Director in 2017. Prior to the DGA, Tollett was an attorney at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, where she focused on mergers and acquisitions and corporate governance issues. She received a B.A. from the University of Texas, an M.A. from Rice University, and a J.D. from the UCLA School of Law.

Felix Tsang

Felix Tsang is the Sales & Acquisitions Manager at Golden Scene in Hong Kong. Founded in 1998, Golden Scene is an independent distribution company renowned for its diverse lineup. Apart from mainstream entertainment, such as the ‘Twilight’ series, and the ‘Step Up’ series, Golden Scene is also the distributor of various award-winning arthouse gems, such as ‘Spotlight’, ‘The Intouchables’, ‘A Separation’, and ‘The Hurt Locker’. Golden Scene is also the distributor of contemporary Asian cinematic masterpieces, such as Hou Hsiao Hsien’s ‘The Assassin’, and Asghar Farhadi’s ‘The Salesman’.


Moreover, Golden Scene has always been committed to supporting local Hong Kong film productions, such as ‘The Way We Dance’ (2013), and ‘The Midnight After’ (2014). Widely known for being supportive toward new directors, Golden Scene is also the international sales agent of various directorial debuts, such as the controversial ‘Ten Years’, ‘Weeds on Fire’, and the multiple award-winning ‘Mad World’.

Haylen Van Koppen

Coming soon.

Adrian Ward

Adrian has been an entertainment banker for over 26 years. During 15 years working with his mentor, Lewis Horwitz, at the pioneering lender LHO, Adrian was involved in the development and structuring of some of the first ever bank-financed production loans based on international sales contracts. In the following years he was instrumental in pioneering the first ever gap finance transactions. Adrian was also the main lender for many transactions involving a variety of globally available co-production structures and tax incentives. Following LHO, Adrian became Portfolio Manager for ICB Entertainment Finance (ICBEF) where he was responsible for oversight of a loan portfolio with an aggregate value of approx. $200,000,000. Titles funded at LHO/ICBEF included, Big Fat Greek Wedding, Monster, and The Tudors. In 2008 he created National Bank of California’s Entertainment, Sports & Media Department and provided financing for over 60 films representing over $175,000,000 in production budgets including The Tempest, Red Dog and The Ward.

In 2013 Adrian joined Pacific Mercantile Bank (PMB) and is now SVP/Manager of the Entertainment Industries Division. Titles financed at PMB include Outcast (a Chinese/Canadian co-production), Z Nation (TV series) and the upcoming Shock & Awe. PMB continues to be a pioneer in the entertainment business and Adrian and his team are a dynamic lending group in an ever-changing and ever-challenging marketplace.

Jim Whitaker

Jim Whitaker is the founder and director of Project Rebirth. When he visited Ground Zero shortly after September 11, 2001, he was struck by the determination and resolve that he witnessed in the first responders and volunteers, and felt strongly that the process of rebuilding and recovery should be captured on film. Since 2002, Rebirth’s 14 time-lapse cameras have recorded the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site and chronicled the lives of nine people coping with 9/11. Jim hopes Rebirth can help audiences to understand and appreciate how people cope and recover from trauma and disaster. Jim is currently the Chairman and Producer of Whitaker Entertainment at Walt Disney Studios. Previously, he was the President of Motion Pictures at Imagine Entertainment and completed notable films, including Cinderella Man, Flight Plan, Friday Night Lights, 8 Mile and many others. He began his career as a documentary filmmaker to raise money for nonprofit organizations. He wrote and directed LOADED, an award-winning public service announcement against drinking and driving, in memory of a Georgetown University classmate. He was also a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute.

Lisa Wilson

A veteran of over forty years in international distribution, Lisa’s career started in January 1972 when she joined John Heyman’s World Film Services.

In 1974 WFS amalgamated with ITC Entertainment under the leadership of entrepreneur Lord Grade. During the next several years Lisa climbed the corporate ladder under the personal mentorship of Grade, becoming Director of Latin American sales, the youngest executive at the company..

A move to Los Angeles in late 1985 provided the opportunity for growth. Lisa joined Scotti Bros Pictures in Santa Monica as President of International Sales. In 1987 she segued to Epic, run by Eduard Sarlui and Moshe Diamant, which amalgamated with Mark Damon’s MDP in 1988, where she worked closely with Ernest “Etchie” Stroh handling sales for all international territories.

In July 1990, Lisa joined Nu Image. The position, initially “part time consultant”, quickly grew into a full time job as President of International Distribution.

In 1994 Lisa joined Phoenician Entertainment. After two years, Phoenician amalgamated with sister company, Franchise Pictures, and Lisa became President of Distribution for the joint venture,

In 2002 Lisa joined Splendid Pictures, which was acquired by Bob Yari in 2003 to become Syndicate Films (later the Yari Film Group). As President of the International Division she handled the Academy Award winning picture CRASH.

In 2005, Lisa joined Hyde Park Entertainment to create a new sales arm, Hyde Park International. As President of the company, Lisa built HPI into a thriving sales entity, adding many pictures from outside producers

In September of 2008 Lisa joined Graham King’s GK Films as President of International Distribution looking after overseas territories on several high profile studio features. Within a few months she was also able to establish Parlay Films, a GK Films affiliate company set up to handle international sales for third party pictures..

In January 2012 , Lisa left her position at GK to partner with film financier Myles Nestel. The pair formed The Solution Entertainment Group. In 5 1/2 years of operation Solution has been involved in arranging financing and/or handled international sales for more than twenty five titles

Lisa has served four terms as a member of the board of IFTA and is also a frequent guest speaker on various instructional panels, including most recently Women in Film and UCLA. She is a current member of BAFTA LA.

Reggie Wilson

Reggie Wilson worked in the Walt Disney Studios Music Department beginning in 1987. His last responsibilities included administrative oversight of all musician union and musician payroll issues for all production divisions of the studio including, Live Action TV (ABC Studios fka Touchstone Television, and ABC Family), TV Animation, Disney Toon Studios, Live Action Features (Walt Disney Pictures, and Touchstone Pictures), Feature Animation (including Pixar), Theme Park Productions, and even the Disney Interactive Game division. He was the studio contractor – meaning he hired and did payroll for musicians involved in various television and film projects produced under the studio’s control. He was also responsible for oversight of musician payments generated by re-use of union music throughout the company.


Though he started as a coordinator in the Disney Music Department, he had been in the music and entertainment business for more than ten years prior to his tenure at Disney. He worked in the record business doing everything from road management to record promotion. He also spent several years as an entertainment journalist writing for several magazines. He is also the co-author of the first Diana Ross biography published by Doubleday Publishing, “Diana Ross”. Born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, he is a graduate of California State University Dominguez Hills, and is a U.S. Army veteran.


He retired from Disney in 2013. Since then he has worked through his company, Guardian Music Services, as an independent musician contractor, and as a consultant specializing in musician union, and score production issues.


His television credits include the musicals “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella”, and “Annie”, and the successful series’ “Home Improvement”, “Dinosaurs”, “Lost”, “Alias”, “Desperate Housewives”, “Revenge”, and “Mickey Mouse Shorts”. Motion Picture credits include “The Lion King”, “What’s Love Got To Do With It”, “Bringing Down The House”, “Mulan”, “The Incredibles”, “Ratatouille”, “Star Trek”, “Star Trek Beyond”, “Up”, and “Frozen”, “Jurassic World”, “Zootopia”, and “Star Wars: Rogue One” among many others.

Kay S. Wolf

Kay S. Wolf is the Writers Guild of America, West’s Senior Representative in Los Angeles. She conducts outreach to writers, encouraging them to use WGA contracts both domestically and in international markets, and is involved in WGA screenwriter matters within the Member Organizing Department. From 2000 through 2017, Kay managed the Guild’s independent film activities, including the launch of the WGA Low Budget Agreement and Documentary Screenplay Contracts for theatrical films and their periodic revisions. Kay started at the WGAW in 1995, overseeing many of the Guild’s burgeoning new media, animation and nonfiction activities. During a brief hiatus from the Guild, she worked for a year at IFTA (Independent Film & Television Alliance) as the Director of Producer Services. Before her WGAW work, Kay was at ABC Productions/The Hemisphere Group in Los Angeles developing and producing international TV co-productions and at Saban Entertainment in development. Kay received a B.A. in Telecommunications and Broadcast Journalism from Indiana University.

Jonathan Wolf

Jonathan Wolf is Managing Director of the American Film Market and Executive Vice President of the Independent Film & Television Alliance. Jonathan’s full bio is on his LinkedIn page and he welcomes connections with all AFM participants.

Steven Wolfson

Steven Wolfson has taught screenwriting, playwriting and creative writing at The Writers Program at UCLA for the past 20 years and holds the distiction of having created the most new classes, workshops and seminars of any instructor in the program’s history. He has been awarded The Outstanding Instructor of the Year award twice, in both screenwriting and creative writing.


As a highly sought-after story consultant and dramaturg, Wolfson’s clients span the worlds of film, television, theater and prose. He has worked one-on-one with several A-list Hollywood writers and directors, shepherding new projects from inception to production. Wolfson’s series of unique writing exercises have been secretly passed throughout Hollywood for years.


As a screenwriter, Wolfson has sold projects to Fox, Lions Gate, TNT, MTV, Langley Entertianment, Beacon Films and producer Arnold Rifkin. Wolfson wrote the independent romantic comedy, Dinner and Driving, which premiered at The Austin Film Festival and went on to win audience awards at several film festivals and was sold to HBO. Wolfson also wrote and co-produced the critically acclaimed Lionsgate feature, Gang Tapes, a coming-of-age drama set in South Central, Los Angeles. Gang Tapes played to sold out audiences at film festivals in both The United States and Europe.


Wolfson is a founding member of the Mark Taper Forum’s Mentor Playwrights Project . His original plays have been produced and workshopped at The Mark Taper Forum, Taper Too, The Getty Museum, Cornerstone Theater Company, The Virginia Avenue Project and The Geffen Contemporary. His most recent play, The Absence of Wanting, premiered in Berlin.

Vicky Wong

Vicky Wong Wai-kit is a Hong Kong film director. He co-directed the 2016 film Trivisa produced by Hong Kong film director Johnnie To and screen writer Yau Nai Hoi.


Trivisa has won numerous awards including Best Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Picture at the 36th Hong Kong Film Awards, Best film at the Hong Kong Film Critics Society Award. Vicky was also nominated for Best New Director at the 53th Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards.


Trivisa was premiered at 66th Berlin International Film Festival and opened 40th Hong Kong International Film Festival.


Wong studied in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at Hong Kong Shue Yan University. He worked professionally as a filmmaker in broadcast and independent production for several years before deciding to further his career by studying filmmaking in UK. He studied at London Film Academy in London. After he finished his filmmaking course, he started making scripted short films including Wish, Valediction, Variable and the Decisive Moment. Variable won the Excellence Award at 30th JVC Tokyo Video Festival and received Special Mention at the 13th Hong Kong Independent Short Film and Video Awards. His most successful short film is Decisive Moment which won Best Cinematography award at Fresh Wave 2010, which led him to be picked by Johnnie To as one of the three directors of Trivisa.

Marie-Pacifique Zeltner

Marie-Pacifique Zeltner works in book publishing since 2002 and is handling film and foreign rights at Au diable vauvert publishing since 2009. In 2014, she sells in 36 countries the translation rights of THE READER OF THE 6.27 in 36 countries before its release and before its commercial success in France.

Andrei Zinca

Andrei Zinca is a producer/director, owner of Double 4 Studios. He is a native of Romania, where he started his career as a Cameraman and Director of Photography. He came to the US in 1982 and continued his Cinema studies at USC, in Los Angeles.


After spending a few years in Peru and Argentina, he settled in Miami, and soon became a leading director and producer for the US and Latin America Hispanic TV market. He directed over 1,000 hours of television series, launching the careers of actors such as Carlos Ponce (“Spy”, “Couples Retreat”, “Devious Maids”), and Emiliano Diez( “George Lopez Show”, “Bates Motel”, “Anger Mangement”). As a director, Andrei worked for producers like Jerry Perenchio, Emilio Estefan, Michael Jay Solomon, John Kramer, Bill O’Dowd.


In 2006 Andrei returned to Romania as a Line Producer for “Mirrors”, a New Regency/20th. Century Fox production starring Kiefer Sutherland. He also directed the 15 episodes (first season) series “La Urgenta”, a Romanian version of “E.R”, for which he received the Best TV Series Awards from The Romanian Filmmakers Association and from The Romanian TV Professionals Association. In 2011/2012 he directed “Puzzle for a Blind Man”, his first theatrical feature, shot entirely in Romania, with post being done in both Romania and the US. His US based company Double 4 Studios co-produced with Castel Film Romania. Andrei is currently in post-production with a new feature film he directed, co-produced by Double 4 Studios with a Romanian partner. In 2015, together with partners Andrei opened in Los Angeles Voxx Studios, a successful audio post production and localization facility.