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NOVEMBER 6 - 13, 2019 • SANTA MONICA

Speaker Bios

2019 Speaker Bios U-Z

Baba Uppal

Baba Uppal

Baba Uppal is the SVP of Strategy and Business Development of two-time Emmy® Award-winning Secret Location – an Entertainment One Company, a content and technology studio for emerging platforms. In August 2016, it was announced that Secret Location had been acquired by global independent studio Entertainment One (eOne).

Baba comes from a background of management, strategy consulting and finance, with an MBA in Strategy and Entrepreneurship from USC. After founding his own start-up, he took up strategy and business development and mentorship for two other start-ups. He has also worked in strategy and digital media for institutional media companies, including Endemol Shine and A&E Television Networks.

For Secret Location, Baba leads the strategic and business development effort for the company’s immersive content business – focused on location-based entertainment (LBE) & athome premium VR content distribution. He brings a keen ability to identify inefficiencies and untapped opportunities in an industry, currently focusing his efforts on the Virtual Reality realm and its applications in entertainment, and other enterprise sectors. Since joining the team almost three years ago, Baba has been crucial for developing strategic partnerships for Secret Location, and building trust in these relationships.

Secret Location has been recognized with numerous awards for its spearheading innovation in Virtual Reality Media, becoming the first to win a Primetime Emmy® for a Virtual Reality project with FOX (2015), and securing a Peabody: Facebook Future of Media Award with Frontline on PBS. With over 100 other awards, including three Webby’s, 13 Canadian Screen Awards and a Cannes Lion, Secret Location has built a stellar reputation as one of the top digital studios in the world, as well as a key asset in the eOne empire.

Mike Upton

Mike Upton is a feature film line producer having worked on projects of all sizes in virtually every genre around the globe for studios and independent production companies.  He has solved for the complexities inherent in budgets both large and small. His expertise led him to be an instrumental contributor to the development of the upcoming new Move Magic Budgeting.

Tony Vassiliadis

Tony Vassiliadis

As Chief Operating Officer for MarVista Entertainment, Tony Vassiliadis oversees key areas of the company’s business strategy ranging from co-production and distribution, corporate partnerships and deal-making, and overseeing initiatives that improve the company’s operations and profitability.  Tony has negotiated several co-production slates ranging from partnerships with independent filmmakers (including Spectrevision / Company X), output deals with major studios, agency relationships to identify emerging filmmakers and talent to fuel MarVista’s significant independent film pipeline, and several deals related to building out MarVIsta’s music strategy ranging from an in-house music library to a global music partnership with Universal Music Publishing Group.  Tony also oversees MarVista’s production team and its global production strategy, including managing Joint Ventures in Canada and Latin America.

Tasked with developing more efficient processes across all business groups, Tony has completed Vista Equity Partners’ exclusive High Potential Leadership Program and implemented best practices from across the entertainment and technology sectors to build an efficient and scalable content creation platform at MarVista.  He reports to MarVista’s Founder & CEO, Fernando Szew.

He joined MarVista January 2013 rom Deloitte Consulting, where he served as a Senior Consultant within the company’s Strategy and Operations group for two years.  During his time with Deloitte, Tony analyzed the business case for Deloitte’s acquisition of Monitor consulting group, identified growth opportunities for Deloitte’s European subsidiaries, and delivered a recommendation on internal growth strategies and challenges to Deloitte’s own executive leadership team.Simultaneously, Tony Co-Founded KarmaGoat.com, a social media venture that raised money for non-profits.  He designed the business model and internal processes for the site, and established partnerships and negotiated terms with charities, businesses and student groups to source donations.  Prior to KarmaGoat.com, Tony served as a sales and marketing consultant to Fortune 100 companies.

Tony earned his Bachelor of Science degree in International Management and Computing Information Technology from Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University-Tepper School of Business before continuing with UCLA’s Anderson School of Management to earn his MBA in Strategy and Entrepreneurship in 2011.

Jesse Weiner

Jesse Weiner

Jesse is a managing partner at YK Law LLP, a New York-based full-service firm — affiliated with China’s largest law firm, Yingke (a firm with over 10,000 lawyers, and where Jesse previously served as partner) — with offices in Manhattan, Los Angeles, and Irvine.

Jesse’s main practice areas are general corporate, intellectual property, blockchain, and entertainment; having brokered countless international joint ventures and strategic partnerships, including the slate financing deal valued at $1.5billion between Hunan TV & Broadcast Intermediary Co. Ltd and Lionsgate.In addition, for most of 2018, Jesse served as CEO of a private equity company that was investing in the areas of life-sciences, gaming, and the entertainment industries. He was also a founding member and executive of a blockchain project company involving Mike Tyson, which was to be a blockchain-based global fighting competition, whose top contestants would earn the right to participate in an action star reality show, leading also to major motion picture roles and other branding opportunities.

Anni Wessman

Anni Wessman

As Head of International at APFI, Anni’s aim is to internationalize Finland’s audiovisual industry. Her vision is to help producers expand their international networks, help them finance, realize and sell their content globally, as well as market Finland’s production incentive and increase the number of international productions shot and serviced in Finland. Anni has previously worked for production companies, film festivals, film commissions, export initiatives, with funding, and as a translator.

 

David White

David White

David White is CEO of SHIFT72, the end-to-end online video platform provider helping innovative Businesses lead with online video in today’s ever-evolving multi screen world. Their solutions come with everything needed to securely host, management and deliver stunning video experiences via exceptionally designed AVOD, SVOD, TVOD or Private Video Channels. Their customers include The American Film Market, Marché Du Film, SXSW, Lonely Planet and many more.

SHIFT72 is also currently working alongside Cinemas and Distributors to explore the introduction of a new Premium Video On Demand window that would allow Cinemas to deliver films direct to audiences at home much earlier than currently possible. This comes as the Box Office faces slowing revenue growth and Streaming Services skyrocket. There’s a lot of skepticism towards what the future of Cinema will look like and SHIFT72’s aim is to equip Cinemas to continue leading in premium film delivery.

White, Tom

Tom White

Tom White is editor of Documentary magazine, the print and online publication of the International Documentary Association (IDA), and oversees the editorial content on documentary.org. He has written for several other publications, including The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Cinemontage, IndieWire, The Independent Film & Video Monthly and Release Print.

Documentary was honored with a Western Publications Association Maggie Award nomination for best publication in the Communication, Advertising and The Arts/Trade category. White has been affiliated with Documentary since 1996, when he was named assistant editor; he was appointed editor in June 2000.

White was also editorial manager for the American Documentary Showcase, a project of the US State Department, and he served as a delegate expert with the Showcase, heading delegations to Israel and Jordan in 2009 and India in 2011.

White has served on juries at DOCS MX, Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, Austin Film Festival, LA Asian Pacific Film Festival, International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam, AFI Fest, Denver International Film Festival, International Documentary Challenge and the HBO Comedy Film Festival; has participated on panels at the NALIP conference and the Seattle International Film Festival;  and has moderated panels at Cascadia International Women’s Film Festival, American Documentary Film Festival, Whitewater Films, AFI Dallas International Film Festival, NATPE and Westdoc, as well as panels and discussions at numerous IDA programs.

Wiessner, Benjamin

Benjamin Wiessner

Benjamin Wiessner is a producer and distributor with Vanishing Angle. He was named to Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Indie Film in 2012 as part of ornana films, where he began producing and self-distributing shorts and features with broadcast partners across the world, including Canal+ and PBS. He has produced over a dozen short films in both hand-drawn animation and live action, with awards at festivals including SxSw and Sundance. He has also worked on ten features, including producing THUNDER ROAD (SxSw 2018 Grand Jury Prize). He consults, mentors, and consoles numerous early career filmmakers. Raised by educators, he frequently speaks about distribution and film marketing at film schools, festivals, and conferences such as The Southern Producer’s Lab, Sundance Institute’s Self-Distribution Workshop, as well as many others. In 2019, he co-founded the Short to Feature Filmmaking Lab.

Katherine Winston

Katherine Winston

Katherine Winston has been at the forefront of marketing, event production, and emerging trends for nearly twenty years. As the co-founder and managing partner of WINSTON | BAKER, she oversees event production, marketing strategies, business operations, and new initiatives. Winston created the FILM FINANCE FORUM ® in 2008, which provides the leading series of events dedicated to bringing finance and entertainment executives together from around the world throughout the year. Prior to founding Winston Baker, she was Director of Marketing for RealD and was in charge of creative advertising, public relations, events, product launches, and screenings. Prior to RealD, Winston was Senior Marketing Manager for GoTV Networks, where she was responsible for all aspects of marketing strategy, including corporate and consumer marketing, new media advertising, experiential promotions, public relations, and brand partnership deals. Before GoTV, Winston was Conference Producer for Strategic Research Institute where she was responsible for producing high profile investment conferences for various sectors, including e-commerce, nanotech, medtech, defense & aerospace, biotech, law, real estate, and entertainment. Winston earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with honors from the University of Washington and is a Phi Beta Kappa member. As a fervent advocate of entrepreneurialism, Winston is dedicated to connecting creators and innovators with seasoned professionals who can fuel development and growth.

Jonathan Wolf

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.

Steven Wolfson

Steven Wolfson

Steven Wolfson has taught screenwriting, play writing and creative writing at The Writers Program at UCLA for the past 20 years and holds the distinction 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.

Xandra

Lauren Xandra

Lauren Xandra is Director of Strategic Initiatives at National Research Group (NRG), a leading global insights and strategy firm with 40 years of media, entertainment and technology expertise. In her role, she runs NRG’s internal think tank, special projects and strategic marketing–driving business innovation at the intersection of frontier technology and content.

Lauren has international experience across the US, UK and China helping industry leaders understand cultural shifts, connect with new audiences and productize new technology. Lauren holds a BA from NYU Gallatin in Immersive Media and an MA from the University of Oxford in History of Art & Visual Culture.

John Zois

John Zois

John Zois is the Executive Vice President of Acquisitions and Production at Anton, a global content provider of high quality commercial product for multiple platforms, with offices in London and Los Angeles.

Zois oversees the company’s film and TV operations including the overall acquisition and supervision of productions. Working closely with Anton’s Founder and CEO Sebastien Reynaud, John has shepherded three new features into production this year: as producer on THE NIGHT HOUSE, starring Rebecca Hall, directed by David Bruckner; as executive producer on GREENLAND, directed by Ric Roman Waugh starring Gerard Butler produced by Basil Iwanyk; and as executive producer on Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions’ NAKED SINGULARITY starring John Boyega, Olivia Cooke and Bill Skarsgărd directed by Chase Palmer. In addition, Zois is currently producing Anton’s fourth feature of the year, David Slade’s COME CLOSER.

Recent Anton television co-productions include the acclaimed BBC series “McMafia,” “Les Misérables,” “Gentleman Jack,” “North Water,” and the highly anticipated BBC/HBO adaptation of Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials.”

Zois was previously Head of Acquisitions & Co-Productions at Global Road where he oversaw the acquisition of the classic family drama THE SECRET GARDEN starring Colin Firth from producer David Heyman, slated for release in 2020 through STX; and THE SILENCE starring Kiernan Shipka and Stanley Tucci, released by Netflix.

Prior to that, Zois served as SVP of Production & Acquisitions at IM Global, and VP of Acquisitions at EuropaCorp. At FilmNation Entertainment, Zois worked on a slate of films including the Academy Award® winning feature ROOM. Zois began his career at The Gersh Agency and AMC Theatres. He is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.