There was something for everyone and never a dull moment.
One of the favorite groups to attend was Pitch Like a Pro. Headed by Pat Quinn of Quinn Media Management, the panel included Lillah McCarthy (TNT Veep), Sam Martin (HBO VP), Tendo Nagenda (VP Mandate Pictures) and Melissa Myers (TV Literary –Endeavor Agency). The members instructed us not only how to pitch but on the second day of the event gave us actual practice and feedback with great results. ‘It’s hard,” said Pat Quinn,” when you leave a pitch meeting and have no idea of how you’ve really done.”
On line Storytelling and Production talked about the differences and similarities and was moderated by Stefanie Henning (SVP Global Marketing & New Media for Fox TV) and included Stan Rogow (Electric Farm Entertainment) Keven Townsend (Partner Science+Fiction), Felicia Day (Creator “The Guild”), Steven Amato, Partner Omelet and Peter Marx (Partner Analog Protocol.)
Those who had entered films in the various festivals were interested in Film Festivals run by Craig Emanuel (Loeb and Loeb’s Chair) with Richard Raddon (Director, the Los Angeles Film Festival), Caroline Libresco (Sr Programmer at Sundance Film Festival), Deborah Kolar (International Consultant for the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival) and Leslie VanderPool (Ex Director for the Bahamas International Film Festival.)
Jeff Gordon of Writer’s Boot Camp gave us a mini taste of the successful program that has helped many struggling writers to find their voice and complete their screenplays. “It takes dedication and commitment to both your script and yourself, but in the end it is well worth it,” said one former student.
Those interested in the new digital media got a chance to hear George Ruiz (Head of New Media ICM), Kim Verbonitz (agent William Morris), Joel Wright (Paradigm Agency) and Nathan Coyle (Agent CAA.)
With reality shows making such a statement and being here, it seems to stay, Hot Button Issues in Reality Television was an extremely popular seminar. It dealt with the deal making and international franchising of many hit reality shows. Moderated by Barbara Rubin (Raskin Peter Rubin and Simon), it featured Marc Jansen (Indie Exec Producer), Shelley Reid (SVP Business and Legal Affairs for Fox TV), Jeffrey Schneider (SVP Business Affairs for Lifetime TV), and Julie Shapiro (SVP Business and Legal Affairs Newline Cinema.)
Our delicious Saturday honors luncheon featured Susanne Daniels (former Lifetime Exec) and Rena Ronson (Sr. VP William Morris Independent Films.)
The afternoon of information continued with Lights Camera, Social Action where Effie Brown (Rocket Science) talked about the ways we could make our films more significant and meaningful. She was assisted by panelist Eva Orner (Taxi to the Dark Side) and Lesley Chilcott (co producer of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.)
Those with films already made took advantage of the International Distribution panel moderated by June Shelley and assisted by Helen Lee Kim (President Mandate International), Chevonne O’Shaughnessy (President American Cinema International), Clay Epstein (VP Sales The Little Film Co.), Marion Edwards (President of International Television for 20th Century Fox Distribution) and Stuart Ford (CEO – IM Global.)
With my own TV show soon to be in production, I favored the seminar on the Showrunners. Moderated by Nancy Gates (UTA Talent Development), it included Betsy Beers (Ex Producer for Gray’s Anatomy and Private Practice), Jenny Bicks (Men in Trees) and Pam Veasey (CSI: New York.)
Following this and closely related was the seminar How To Package Your TV Project. Moderated by Carolyn Finger from TV Tracker, it shone the talents of Chris Newman(Wm Morris Agency), Ruthanne Secunda (Co Head TV Division, UTA) and Martha Haigh (President of RAT TV.)
Both groups stressed the importance of not only having good material but good connections, as well, and the necessity for studying your audience and those you were hoping to sell to.
Actors were treated to Ivana Chubbuck’s coaching while others who wanted a job in the business went to Get A Job. Moderated by Krista Parkinson (Content Partners), she hosted Kelsey Nixon (Next Food Network Star), Kim Oelman (TV Packaging at ICM) , Kim Koser (VP Human Resources at William Morris), Corin Nelson (Exec Producer Rosie O Donnell Show), and Joanna Sucherman (Sucherman Consutling Group.)
Sat urday evening we had cocktails and chatted with the stars of Saving Grace from TNT – Laura San Giacomo, Bailey Chase, Lorraine Toussaint, and Leon Rippy. Accompanying them were Gary Randall, executive producer and TNT Veep, Lillah McCarthy. For those of you who have not seen the show, the first season is on DVD now and it is highly recommended. It will speak to everyone not just about action and crime drama but about our own souls and our personal journeys.
Day Two commenced with the second part of Pitch Like A Pro where actual feedback was given to the participants and several received positive comments that encouraged them.
The challenges of doing reality shows was addressed next with Jody Simon (Partner –Raskin, Peter, Rubin and Simon), Kirk Schenck (General Counsel for RDF USA), and David White (former SAG General Counsel.
Another popular seminar was Women’s Voices in the Film Blogosphere. Hosted by Melissa Silverstein (Hollywood.com), she had on her panel Anne Thompson (Variety.com,) Kim Voynar (Movie City News.com), Dara Nai (After Ellen.com) as well as Jen Yamato,(Rotten Tomatoes.com.)
Domestic and International Incentives discussion was led by Barbara Rosenfeld with Joseph Chianese (Entetainmnet Partners), Kathleen Courtney (The Film Department), Mary Ann Hughes (Walt Disney company), and Carol Savoie (Deloitte Tax LLP.)
Luncheon gave us the pleasure of Sandra Yancy, a networking whiz and female entrepreneur.
Several writers of the Paradigm Agency— Attica Locke(Black Water Rising), Tina Chism(Drumline), Jessica Bedinger (Bring It On) and the writers of Legally Blonde – Kristen Smith and her partner Karen McCullah Lutz. Each talked about the woes and joys of writing to a packed room.
Also in that time slot was the 411 of Sales Agents with Shelby Stone (Foxx King Entertainment) and Rena Ronson (William Morris Independent Films.)
The forum ended with a cocktail hour as we shared stories of the show, Dancing with the Stars. Dancing with the Stars brought on host Samantha Harris, dancer Karina Smirnoff and stars Laila Ali, Marissa Jaret Winokur and Lisa Rinna. Moderated by Heather Atkin, the ladies talked about the difficulties of training for new dances each week and especially for the celebrities of giving up their own control. Marissa, whom we know as Tracy from Hairspray, had been totally determined to show the producers that anyone can do it and she certainly did with high marks.
Sponsors for the event included HBO, Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Endeavor, William Morris Agency, Paradigm, Patricia Barry, Deutsche Bank, Panavision, Fred Segas, Kodak, Lifetime, Fidelity, CAA, Lone Star, Entertainment Partners, Morgan Stanley, Commercial Bank, See’s Candies, and XYZ films.
As expected, I not only learned a lot from the seminars but also benefited from the great networking.
Women In Film sponsors this again next year but they also have many other great events that need to be investigated if you want to get ahead in this industry.
Please check out www.wif.org for more information about future events.