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Speaker Bios

2019 Speaker Bios R-T

Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts Hedgpeth is the Executive Director of the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund (FMSMF), a 501(c)(6) non-profit that collects and distributes musicians’ residual payments from exhibition of films and television programs in “supplemental” markets as defined by the AFM-AMPTP collective bargaining agreements. From 2005-2012, Hedpgeth led the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) as its National Executive Director. During her 31-year association with AFTRA, Hedgpeth’s responsibilities included leading negotiations covering all areas of entertainment, news and information programming and sound recordings. She was a key leader in the successful merger of AFTRA with the Screen Actors Guild. Hedgpeth received her B.A. from Harvard University and J.D. from Georgetown University, and has served as a Vice President of the Associated Actors and Artistes of America; Trustee of the AFTRA Health and Retirement Funds, and Trustee of the AFM-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund. Her other board memberships have included the Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies, SoundExchange, and as a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s Twelfth District Economic Advisory Council. She is currently Chair of FilmL.A., Inc., the 501(c)4 not-for-profit public benefit organization and the official film office of the City and County of Los Angeles, as well as increasing roster of local municipalities, which provides streamlined permit processing and production planning services to filmmakers and comprehensive community relations, marketing services, film policy analysis and more to local governments in the Greater Los Angeles area.

Robson, Karen

Karen Robson

Karen Robson is a partner in the Media + Entertainment practice at Pryor Cashman, a 175-attorney law firm based in New York, Miami and Los Angeles.  She spent many years in NYC but moved west to found the LA office for Pryor Cashman over ten years ago. She is a transactional entertainment lawyer focusing on film, TV and all forms of audiovisual content. She represents a broad array of stakeholders in the entertainment arena, including television writers, screenwriters, producers, financiers, and distributors. Years ago and in another galaxy she was brought up in Australia and  as a teenage actress, even appeared in Peter Weir’s cult favorite Picnic at Hanging Rock. She is married to a writer/director and her daughter is a cinematographer, enabling her to pursue her passion for the arts with her loved ones nearly every waking hour of the day.

Joanelle Romero

Coming Soon …

Vanessa Saal

Vanessa Saal

Vanessa Saal was born in Chicago, USA and grew up in New York, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, and Milan. She graduated from Brown University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts in Classics with Honours. She began her career at Focus Features International in 2005 based in New York. In 2008, she moved to Paris to work at Kinology when it first launched as an international sales and acquisitions executive. Vanessa Saal then joined Studiocanal in 2010 as VP of International Sales, was promoted to SVP in 2012 and represented titles such as Tomas Alfredson’s TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER SPY, the Coen brothers’ INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, Jaume Collet-Serra’s worldwide box office hit NON-STOP, and David Heyman’s production, PADDINGTON during her time there. Vanessa Saal joined London-based Protagonist as Head of Worldwide Sales in 2014 where she oversaw sales on Cannes Jury Prize winners Yorgos Lanthamos’ THE LOBSTER and Andrea Arnold’s AMERICAN HONEY, Pawel Pawlikowski’s Academy nominated and Cannes Best Director award winner, COLD WAR, and Whit Stillman’s hit film, LOVE & FRIENDSHIP. In 2017, she was promoted to her current position of Managing Director, Sales & Distribution.

Suzy Sammons

Suzy Sammons

Suzy Sammons is Executive Editor at Giving Company and its four media brands, including,, iDisciple (and iDisciple Publishing) and Christian Cinema. She is an award winning creative strategist, a writer and a skilled marketer, having managed top accounts at famous advertising agencies. Suzy has studied the currency of influence through 20+ years serving TBWA\Chiat\Day, 180LA, Saatchi & Saatchi and BBDO, managing high profile teams and agency businesses including Toyota, Infiniti, University of Phoenix and Mattel.

With decades of defining audiences, honing messaging and media strategies, Sammons understands the connectivity between our culture, our families and the media we consume, and the two-way flow of power.

Today she moderates the cultural conversation through this global faith and family media network, igniting fun and thoughtful conversations around leading our families amidst the clutter. Suzy and her husband Steve lead a blended family of six children, three miraculous daughters-in-law, 2 grandchildren and one English retriever. The family headquarters in Lake Oswego, Oregon

Saxon, Evan

Evan Saxon

Evan is one of a select few executives that have successfully navigated both the music and film worlds. While working in the music space he marketed concert tours for iconic artists including Sting, Ramones, B.B. King, Pantera, Lucinda Williams, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, and more. Due to his trusted relationships in the music business Evan was contacted by a major record label to represent them in discussions with a tech company about bringing music content to cinemas. From there he was entrusted to distribute films from The Beatles, Tom Petty, Rush, Iron Maiden, Bob Marley, and many others. At Abramorama Evan is our Head of West Coast Acquistions and Business Development while overseeing our International Theatrical Distribution and Marketing where he spearheaded our release of films by Pearl Jam, Green Day, Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, John Lydon and Above & Beyond in cinemas around the world.

Ted Schilowitz

Ted Schilowitz

Ted spends his time and pursues his passion in a unique role in the motion picture entertainment industry. As the Futurist at Paramount Pictures, Ted works with studio leadership and the technology teams at Paramount / Viacom, exploring forms of new and emerging technologies, with an emphasis on Virtual and Mixed Reality.

Prior to joining Paramount, Ted was the Futurist at 20th Century Fox, where he worked on the evolving art, science and technology of advanced interactive visual storytelling.  He was part of the creation team for the Martian VR and Wild VR experiences, which premiered at CES and Sundance as groundbreaking projects that pushed the envelope of Virtual Reality storytelling.

Ted was an integral part of the product development and launch team at Red Digital Cinema as the company’s first employee.  The Red One and Epic cameras have made a significant impact on the Motion Picture Industry, winning a scientific and technical academy award. Many of the world’s biggest movies are now being shot with these ultra high resolution digital movie cameras.

Ted is one of the founders and creators of the G-Tech product line of advanced hard drive storage products.  As one of the most recognized brands in that industry, they are implemented worldwide at the highest levels on cinema, episodic television, sports and news production.

In his role as Chief Creative Officer at Barco Escape,  he spearheaded an experimental immersive cinema project for movie theaters worldwide.  Titles include Paramount Pictures Star Trek Beyond and 20th Century Fox Maze Runner & Maze Runner 2.

Before being part of the founding teams at Red Digital Cinema and G-Tech, Ted was on the team that developed and launched the Macintosh desktop video division of AJA Video Systems, creating professional video products in tandem with Apple.  These products are used on a massive scale worldwide for video production and post at the highest levels, on many of the world’s biggest movies, TV series and sporting events.

Ted has presented worldwide at numerous conferences on the advancements in next generation visual experiences for the movie, television and, interactive entertainment industries.  He’s been featured in Wired, Variety, NY Times, LA Times, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, The Hollywood Reporter, NBC, CNET, Studio Daily, Videography, Film and Video, DV Magazine, TV Technology, HD Video Pro, Engadget, Gizmodo, Millimeter, American Cinematographer, MacWorld, Post Magazine, Popular Science, and countless other publications discussing his areas of passion and exploration.

Schwartz, Russell

Russell Schwartz

Russell Schwartz has been President of Pandemic Marketing Corp since its inception in 2008. Pandemic Marketing provides strategic marketing, theatrical distribution, ancillary placement solutions and digital execution for the motion picture industry. Among the movies he most recently worked on were Chappaquiddick and the jazz movie, Bolden.

He is also currently the lead marketing professor in the Creative Producing Program at the Dodge College of Film and New Media at Chapman University.

From 2013-2014, he was President of Worldwide Marketing at Relativity Media and was responsible for the entire slate including The Family, Don Jon and Beyond the Lights.

From 2001-2008, Schwartz was President of Theatrical Marketing at New Line Cinema where he oversaw all of the company’s marketing efforts which resulted in over 44 Academy Award nominations and extraordinary success at the domestic box office. Included in this list: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Hairspray, Wedding Crashers, Elf, RushHour 2 and 3, The Notebook, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, About Schmidt and Little Children.

Prior to that he was President of USA Films and released such films as Traffic, Nurse Betty, Topsy Turvey, Being John Malkovich and Pitch Black.

From 1992-1999, Schwartz was President of Gramercy Pictures and oversaw the marketing of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Fargo, The Usual Suspects, Elizabeth, The Big Lebowski, Dazed and Confused, Dead Man Walking and many others.

Russell’s new book, co-written with Katherine MacDonald, The Marketing Edge for Filmmakers: Developing a Marketing Mindset from Concept through Release has just been published by Focal Press. The book is an American Film Market presentation.

Schwenk, Gregg

Gregg Schwenk

Gregg Schwenk is a writer, educator and entrepreneur. He reports on a number of subjects including: film, art, technology and politics. Mr. Schwenk is an adjunct faculty member at California State University Fullerton in Orange County, California. He is also a consultant and advisor to several entertainment and technology firms. He is the co-founder of the Newport Beach Film Festival and Orange County Film Society.

Mr. Schwenk is an extremely active member of his community. He is the CEO of the Newport Beach Film Festival and President of the Orange County Film Society. The Newport Beach Film Festival is the largest film and entertainment event in coastal Southern California – screening over 360 films from 55 countries and attracting an audience of 58,000 in 2019. The Orange County Film Society has become a key destination for award-worthy films – since 2006 films such as: The King’s Speech, The Artist, 12 Years a Slave, The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game, La La Land, I, Daniel Blake, Manchester by the Sea, Darkest Hour, Call Me By Your Name, The Big Sick, Ford v Ferrari, Parasite, The Two Popes and Knives Out all made major preview screenings with this prestigious cinematic organization.

Mr. Schwenk is a director of the British American Business Council in Orange County and member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. He is also a member of: the International Animated Film Association, Film Independent, International Documentary Association and the American Film Institute.

Mr. Schwenk was a Presidential Fellow at the University of California at Berkley, where he received his degree in Political Economics with high honors. He has completed the Advanced Managed Development Program at The University of Southern California.

Eunice Shin

Eunice Shin

Eunice Shin is a Digital Strategy Partner at Prophet, a customer growth and transformation consulting firm. Eunice provides strategy consulting across the media and entertainment landscape, focused on the disruption and opportunities of technology innovations improving the overall brand and customer experience. Understanding the speed and trajectory of change that has impacted the business of content, Eunice provides customer-focused strategies for direct-to-consumer businesses including content streaming services, digital native products and platforms, and immersive experiences.

Before joining Prophet, she was the managing director and head of Manatt Digital in Los Angeles, leading digital strategy and business development services for entrepreneurs and senior executives. With more than two decades of consulting experience, including key positions at Cognizant Business Consulting, Strategic Vision Consulting and Accenture, she’s helped such clients as Disney, Warner Bros, NBC Universal, the Los Angeles Summer Olympics 2028 Bid Committee, and AT&T on various direct-to-consumer initiatives. Eunice is an established leader and mentor in women’s diversity initiatives in the industry, including the VR/AR community and Asian-American women leaders in entertainment.

Jeff Shultz

Jeff Shultz

In his role as Chief Business Officer, Jeff Shultz is responsible for growing and managing Pluto TV’s portfolio of partnerships, strategically positioning the company to achieve its audience and revenue objectives and identifying and executing key growth initiatives. Shultz has spent nearly his entire 20+ year career at the intersection of media and technology. He has held senior digital business development roles at major broadcast media companies including NBC and most recently as SVP of Business Development for CBS. He has also held top roles at Internet TV startups including Clicker and Concert TV, which he co-founded. He began his career as a lawyer for Linklaters in London after receiving his law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.

Nick Spicer 2019

Nick Spicer

Spicer started XYZ in 2008 with partners Nate Bolotin and Aram Tertzakian. From 2006 – 2008 he was a partner in Idiomatic Entertainment, an unscripted television company, where he developed series for Animal Planet, Comedy Central, and VH1. During that time he independently produced a Spanish-language feature film in Mexico with the involvement of both Bolotin and Tertzakian, an experience that helped shape the international nature of XYZ’s production business today.

Spicer received an MFA from the UCLA Producers Program in 2006. He majored in English, History and French at Rice University, where he was a National Merit Scholar. He graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2004. Spicer was born in Seattle, Washington.

Stadler, Valerie

Valerie Stadler

Valerie Stadler is a filmmaker and co-founder of Big Swing Productions with partners Kyra Sedgwick and Meredith Bagby. She is a Fellow for the 2019 Sundance Episodic Lab along with co-writer Henry Alberto for their project Marimbero. Prior to Big Swing, Valerie was the head of Production and Development for Fluency, a multiplatform studio under NBCU Hispanic Enterprises. She co-directed Fallen Star: Finding Home which screened at the Whitney Museum and co-wrote Sunset Stories which premiered at SXSW. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Outfest.

Mike Stiller

Mike Stiller

Mike Stiller is Vice President, Development and Programming for History. During his time at History, Stiller has developed and commissioned a slate of hits and critically acclaimed documentaries. He developed The Curse of Oak Island, currently the highest-rated hit series on History, and the #1 rated cable series on Tuesday nights, and world-wide hits Ancient Aliens, MonsterQuest, and Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy. Stiller oversaw development at H2 where he guided the hit series Brad Meltzer’s Lost History. Most recently, Stiller developed Lost Gold of WW2, one of the highest-rated new nonfiction series of 2019, Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation, and Truck Night in America.. He has also shepherded a slate of critically acclaimed documentaries, including America’s War on Drugs, the Emmy-nominated Third Reich: Rise and FallWWII in HDVietnam in HDRoad to 9/11America’s War on DrugsAmerica Promised Land, and the theatrical documentary film Watergate, directed by Academy Award winner Charles Ferguson.

Prior to joining HISTORY, Stiller was a writer for MTV, Nickelodeon, and Noggin. In the 1990s, he developed video games and children’s edutainment software.

Illya Szilak

Illya Szilak

Dr. Illya Szilak is a writer, director, interactive story-teller, artist and physician. Her longtime artistic partner Cyril Tsiboulski. Their online works Reconstructing Mayakovsky and Queerskins: a novel were selected for the Electronic Literature Collection, and continue to be taught on a university level as important examples of digital literature and narrative game. Queerskins: a love story (2018), their first VR work, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival  and has been shown in commissioned site specific interactive installations around the world, most recently at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Queerskins: a love story was awarded a Peabody Futures of Media Award in transmedia, and the 2019 Breakthroughs in Storytelling Special Jury Prize by The Columbia University School of the Arts. Their second cinematic VR experience Queerskins: ark is being co-produced by Intel Studios and is expected early 2020. They are recipients of grants from the Tribeca Institute and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Sundance Institute/Arcus Foundation, and the Peter Reed Foundation. She currently teaches narrative design at the Independent Film Producers’ Made in NY Center and practices medicine at Rikers Island Correctional Facility.

Cynthia Tollett

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.