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International Indie Filmmaker Day and Pitch Competition during Sundance

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Join us for an incredible chance to hear from top actors and filmmakers in the independent film industry and to get your questions answered.

About this Event

International Indie Filmmaker Day will be held live via Zoom on Saturday, January 30th followed by a exclusive invitation only virtual live pajama party. On January 31st, it’s time for “Pitch Fest” where well over $35,000 of needed in-kind services will be awarded.

We are excited to host this event during Sundance to specifically move independent filmmakers around the world forward in their career. Content is needed right now with the addition of so many more avenues, and we are here to help you create and sell that content.

Topics important to the needs of independent filmmakers will be addressed with your questions answered in topics from funding, producing, screenwriting, casting, elevating your film with the right music, distributing, and handling post-production.

Top Filmmaker and Actor Panels with Live Q&A, Saturday, January 30th

10AM - 5:30 PM

Film Funding 10-11 AM CST

Corky Kessler - Mr. Kessler has extensive entertainment law, corporate and entertainment industry experience. He regularly speaks on the business and legal aspects of feature film development and tax incentives in connection with the entertainment industry. Corky is actively involved in film fund transactions and counseling, and film funding source development in North America, and is expanding his practice internationally.

Dave Conlon - Mr. Conlon is the co-Founder and Partner of Eggplant Productions

Ted Reilly - Executive Director of the Chicago Media Angels, whose mission is to organize, educate and accelerate savvy media investors in Chicago. He is also the co-founder of SRH Partners where he leverages his passion for creativity and extensive experience in finance to help creative talent organize and flourish. With CMA, Ted has financed and/or executive produced over 30 films since 2016. Before launching his own company to focus on content as an asset class, Ted worked in the investment management division of Goldman Sachs and received his BBA in Finance from the University of Notre Dame.

Ali Aksu - Ali M. Aksu is an international film producer, director and entrepreneur. He is the executive producer of several groundbreaking projects, including "Laid in America" the first-ever feature film to cast YouTube celebrities and directors, that was distributed by Universal Studios. He is the founder of FilmCapital.io, a community focused Hollywood crowdfunding platform that was incubated at Singularity University to empower independent filmmakers. Ali is the Southern California Young Professionals Ambassador at the United Nations Association of America. He is an MBA candidate at Chicago Booth School of Business. He holds a B.A. in Economics, with a minor in film, TV and digital media from UCLA, and earned executive-level degrees from MIT, Wharton and Singularity University.

Rachel Rusen - CEO & Manitoba Film Commissioner for Manitoba Film & Music, Rachel Rusen leads the province’s crown corporation charged with driving Manitoba’s dynamic film industry. Prior to joining Manitoba Film & Music, Rachel was a partner with MLT Aikins LLP and practiced law since 1997. She was selected by the Government of Canada to the Judicial Advisory Committee, appointing judges to the Manitoba Court of Appeal, Court of Queen’s Bench, and Federal Court of Canada. Specializing in the area of entertainment law, Rachel served provincial and national clients in film, television, music, new media, and book publishing while achieving a notable career in mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and secured lending, and general corporate and commercial law. T

Film Distribution 11-12 Noon CST

Tamara Bell - As Vice President of Koan, Ms. Bell oversees the acquisition and development of feature films, documentaries, series, and animation in genres ranging from sci-fi and action to romantic comedy and faith-based for an ever-growing worldwide audience.

Michael Slifkin - Award winning Producer and Filmmaker with over 30 years of hands-on-experience and more than 100 feature film and television credits as Producer, Executive Producer, Writer and Distributor/Sales company. Mr. Slifkin has an extensive background in virtually every aspect of content creation and completion including: development/packaging, talent acquisition, physical production, post production, financing, worldwide sales and distribution, and the development of multiple corporate strategic alliances and business partners/ventures.

Scott Martin - Talented, multi-hyphenate filmmaker and award-winning Producer and Director, Scott Martin, has been personally responsible and successfully completed every aspect of filmmaking, including writing over a half dozen screenplays, budgeting, development, acquiring talent, pre-production, production, post-production, has edited multiple 􏰁features as well as the technical output and delivery of the final product, and has overseen the sales and distribution on over 150 films to nearly every country in the world.

Strathford Hamilton - Mr. Hamilton is a principal in the production and distribution company TriCoast Worldwide, which distributes feature films and television shows internationally.

Kristine Kreska - Ms. Kreska has been working in entertainment for two decades. She began her entertainment career at Winstar Communications (formerly known as Fox Lorber, Winstar Home Video, and Wellspring Media). In 2004, Ms. Kreska joined the key art award-winning entertainment creative agency B.D. Fox & Friends, Inc. where she launched the company’s film sales division as Vice President overseeing all aspects of acquisition, key art, movie trailers, and international sales. After the retirement of B.D. Fox in 2007, Ms. Kreska switched her focus to consulting for independent film development and sales as a producer’s rep and buyer’s rep.

Advancing Your Career Through Film Festivals 12-12:45 PM CST

Jon Fitzgerald - Mr. Fitzgerald has directed many film festivals, including Slamdance, AFI, Santa Barbara, Abu Dhabi, Hollywood and Naples. He has guided countless directors on their festival journeys, with custom Festival Strategy packages, as well as introductions to talent managers, studio executives and distributors. He has been instrumental in numerous sales to companies, such as Netflix, HBO and Gravitas.

Justin Giddings - Mr. Giddings is an award-winning actor, writer, and director. The empowerment of a filmmaker to totally control their creative expression in the world continues to drive Justin's coaching and educational work. He is the CEO of The Kickstarter Guy with a 97% success rate having raised $6 million dollars .

Tony Armer - Tony Armer is the Film Commissioner for St. Petersburg Clearwater, Florida. He is an Award Winning Filmmaker and the Founder of the internationally acclaimed Sunscreen Film Festival. He works with hundreds of productions each year. Tony led the Film Commission to its best year and best 5 year period ever in the 28 year history of the organization. Tony led the Sunscreen Film Festival from its inception in 2005 to an annual event in St. Petersburg, FL each Spring and Los Angeles, CA each fall. Sunscreen is consistently ranked as one of the Top 100 reviewed films on Film Freeway out of over 9000 film festivals. Sunscreen was voted one of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals in the Country” by Movie Maker Magazine, and “Best Film Festival” by Tampa Bay Magazine. It is one of only 23 fests in the country to be sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the Oscars) for 2013-2014. Tony works closely with film distributors and sales agents attending markets like Cannes, Sundance, Toronto, AFM and more.

Natasha Marburger - Ms. Marberger is a London-based producer whose most recent feature “We Too” premiered at Cannes. She serves as the Festival Director for the London Independent Film Festival as well as Festival Director for the Los Angeles International Film Festival.

Producing Your Film 1:00 – 2 PM CST

Dianne Ladd - The amazingly gifted Diane Ladd received immense praise for her dramatic efforts throughout the course of her electric and unique seventy-year career. Nominated an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, she won the BAFTA Film Award, same category, for her account of a wiseacre roadside diner waitress in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. She received additional Academy Award nominations for Wild at Heart, in which she delivered a spellbinding characterization of a diabolical mother sending her daughter into hedonistic rebellion, and for her performance as a loving and principled southern family woman in Rambling Rose. All of which she appeared alongside daughter-actress, Laura Dern. Diane's timeless offbeat charm and beauty reminiscent of a lamented Hollywood Golden Era actress gleam in the most understated roles and continue to make her a sought-after unconventional performer.

Rudy Langlais – Mr. Langlais is an acclaimed producer of Oscar-nominated, “The Hurricane” starring Denzel Washington and “Sugar Hill” starring Wesley Snipes.

Bill Straus – Mr. Straus is a top producer serving as Executive Producer of the box office smash “Straight Outta Compton” and as Co-Producer of “The Man” starring Samuel L. Jackson and Eugene Levy.

Carol Shine – Ms. Shine is an award-winning producer who has produced over 50 titles for film and television. Highlights from her long list of credits include “Blackbird” starring Academy Award winner Mo’Nique, and “I Am Legend” starring Academy Award nominee, Will Smith.

Liliana Kawase -She is a business partner at Titanio Films, a production company based in Miami where she has produced several TV series, documentaries, shorts and feature films. For the past few years she has been a jury and curator for film festivals like Jaipur International Film Festival and Inffinito Film Festival. Liliana was born in Salvador, grew up in Rio de Janeiro and now lives in Miami. Liliana is an Electrical Engineer by formation with a Master and a PhD degree in the area, and a cinematographer executive producer by passion.

Suzanne Lyons - In 1999 Ms. Lyons launched Snowfall Films and to date has produced/executive produced twelve movies with top actors Susan Sarandon, Tim Curry, Christopher Walken, Peter Fonda, and so many more. Suzanne is working with writer/producer Joanna Bloem as an executive producer on Joanna’s film MOSAIC. She is in development on an award-winning screenplay, SCOUTS HONOR, a family action drama about the boy scouts who served as spies in WWI. She has joined producer Rob Deege on a one-hour TV pilot WUNDERLAND and they have attached Showrunner James Thorpe (“Motive”, “Private Eyes”). Most recently Suzanne optioned the book DRAWING FROM MEMORY by Ronnie Berman and has partnered with Producer Anne Marie Gillen (“Under Suspicion”). Suzanne is a member of the Producers Guild of America.

Music: A Crucial Element of Film 2:00 – 3:00 PM CST

Richard Orga - Mr. Orga is a Grammy award winner for Best Country Song “It’s Five O-Clock Somewhere and an ACM Best Country Song award winner for “I’m Movin’ On”. He currently serves as the CEO for I-Prop Management in Nashville, an independent broker for the sale and acquisition of Intellectual Properties, including sound design and music catalogs.

Caron Nightingale - Ms. Nightingale has been involved in almost every area of the music business for more than 35 years. Starting as a touring artist, she went on to write and produce commercial songs, jingles and film music, winning numerous awards along the way. In 1992 Caron founded the internationally recognized and respected, Nightingale Music, which represents indie artists and produces and publishes music and sound effects for licensing. Nightingale Music can be heard in just about every country and network in the world. Caron has spoken on many industry panels including Sundance and the Toronto Film Festival in 2018. In 2012, Caron opened the Canadian office of APM Music, a production and creative house co-owned by Universal Music Group and EMI, where she currently holds the position of Director of Sales, Canada. APM offers the most comprehensive collection of music available for licensing to entertainment and media producers, providing U.S. and Canada-based production clients with access to over 800,000 tracks of every style of music produced specifically for use in film, television, radio and new media.

Cristina 'Trinity' Velez-Justo - Ms. Velez-Justo is an award-winning composer for film and media through her business ReelScoring, LLC. She is an instructor at UNC School of the Arts in the MFA Film Music Composition program and is a former Emmy’s music intern. Through film events, she educates filmmakers on the significance of music in film and how to successfully work with a composer.

Heather Gardner - Ms. Gardner is Head of Music Supervision and Licensing at Vapor Music. Heather lives and breathes music. With professional training in piano performance and arts management, her ears intimately understand the relationship between song and picture, and how to harmoniously capture that magic within any budget parameters. Heather balances her right brain creativity with extensive left brain attention to detail, allowing for a seamless licensing process from concept to contract to cue sheet.Her credits include work on television series ‘Vacations of the Brave’ (Amazon Prime), ’Hello Goodbye’ (CBC), ‘Shoot The Messenger’ (CBC/ITV/WGN America), ‘Rookie Blue’ (ABC/Global)), feature films, video games and advertising campaigns that have been seen worldwide. She was awarded the prize for Best Sync - Commercial at the first Canadian Sync Awards (2018) for her work on #EatTogether for President’s Choice, where she licensed the world renowned Burt Bacharach classic “What The World Needs Now”, which was reimagined by the Vapor Music team featuring Walk Off The Earth’s Sarah Blackwood on vocals.

Darice G. - Darice is the CEO and founder of Synapse Publishing & Entertainment, LLC . Darice has been an actor, ballroom dancer, innovator, musician, international speaker, marketer, award winning author, software developer and serial entrepreneur having founded multiple corporations in several industries. She has been a requested speaker, moderator, coach, sponsor, and contributor to expert panels for film and music festivals including TIFF, Cannes, Sundance, Springboard, FIIFF and others. From serving on theatre boards, to raising money for not-for-profit organizations to managing touring artists and providing original musical content and supervision for various media and films She is currently a member of BMI, TWIFM, WIFT, BMI, NSA, AIMP, MMF, and other professional organizations and brings a ‘joie de vivre’ to every Synapse Publishing & Entertainment prides itself on not only its development and support of talent, but on its publishing catalog, music supervision, easy sync licensing and artist management. Its unique expert level roster of award-winning music composers both in the US and internationally have created music for films, television, gaming, and ad industry.In addition – Darice is addicted to competitive Scrabble and is a devoted new grandmother to Owen.

Documentaries: Story to Screen 3-3:30 PM CST

Noemi Weis - Ms. Weis is an award winning Producer that has spent over 20-years telling stories on the big and small screens, from her worldwide advertising projects to her award winning documentaries. Director/Producer Noemi has built an exceptional documentary portfolio. Her tangible skills are guided by moral integrity and a keen sense of balance. Noemi is an articulate and sensitive filmmaker with purpose. Born in Buenos Aries and educated in Argentina and Canada, Noemi brings her skills and love for humanity to every project. She continues to create and develop films to promote human rights and social justice. She is fluent in English, French, Italian and Spanish.

Bridget Cook-Burch - Ms. Cook-Burch's books have enjoyed Oprah/Dateline/2020/GMA/Dr. Phil/History Channel status and NYTimes and Wall Street Journal bestseller status, as well as being translated into multiple languages. She is focused on how the power of story does change the world. It is her greatest passion to disseminate vital technical information to hungry artists and being inspirational at the same time. Ms. Cook-Burch is the founder and CEO of YourInspiredStory.com

Erin Kenway - Ms. Kenway graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree with honors from University of California, Irvine, majoring in both Criminology, Law & Society, and Psychology & Social Behavior. She holds a Juris Doctorate degree from Seattle University School of Law, is admitted to the National Order of the Barristers, and is a certified mediator. Prior to shifting careers to focus full-time on independent filmmaking, she practiced law for over a decade primarily represented economically disadvantaged victims of domestic violence in civil dissolution and child custody cases, and also served on several committees for both the Washington State and King County Bar Associations. She was also a Global Campaign Manager for broadcast, print, digital, and social advertising campaigns for Amazon’s award-winning Brand / Mass Advertising team. She is the co-founder of Tarina Productions, which is currently in development on multiple feature documentaries. She was a writer and producer on the award-winning film "The Prison Within".

Screenplay and Beyond 3:30-4:30 PM CST

Ronnie Yeskel - Ms. Yeskel has had a prolific career casting film and television since 1989. Projects of note are Pulp Fiction (1994), Bean (1997), Hope Floats (1998), Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 (2011), and The Sessions (2012), which won the Audience Award at Sundance in 2012. This merely scratches the surface of her extensive resume. Ronnie’s many awards over the years include 2 CSA Artios award wins and 7 nominations, an Emmy nomination and a Method Fest Heart of Performance Award win.

Lisa Arnold - A veteran of the film industry, Lisa is an award winning director, writer, and producer with over twenty five years experience in Film, Television and Stage. An advocate of female, family, positive, and purpose-driven projects, Lisa strives to create stories that will entertain and inspire audiences through her visionary storytelling. Her projects include One Nation Under God, Kid Combat, Caged No More, Camp Cool Kids, Because of Gracia, Beautifully Broken, God’s Not Dead, This Is Our Time, Letting Go, Flywheel, and Christmas Angel, among others. Lisa is currently developing a slate of film projects with industry leaders including four powerful stories based on true events. Lisa is also collaborating on the development of three, unique and captivating television series. She was honored by ICFF and KIFF as the recipient of the OUTSTANDING WOMEN IN FILM award. Her latest film has captured 35 film awards and speaks vividly to the times that we are in. Lisa is the Executive Director of Check The Gate Productions in Louisiana. She continues to mentor individuals in the film industry, assist her colleagues to reach excellence with their projects, and make a difference through the art of filmmaking. We can be the voice for the voiceless. We can entertain while touching lives and spread inspiration.

Robyn Van Arx - Ms. Von Arx is well-established in the film industry as not only an accomplished actor, but also as a writer, director and producer. As a small child, Robyn was painfully shy. Her mother got her into acting, just for fun, to help bring her out of her shell. Being on stage, as a child, imbued Robyn with a desire to write and direct. She spent years learning how to direct and finding her voice as a filmmaker. (All the while acting whenever she could.) She attended Vassar College for her BA and the MFA film directing program at NYU/Tisch. She also traveled the world, studying and making little films. (She enriched her perspective and worldview by living and going to school in Spain, France, Brazil, China, and Ecuador.) After writing a couple of feature scripts and having a successful stint with her first short on the festival circuit, (Moving Pictures magazine named her short film the best animated short of 2007.), Robyn realized how much she missed acting full time. She immersed herself in top notch actor training (with private coaches and classes) and improv training at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater (Certificate of Completion), and Improv Olympic West (She is an alumnus, Certificate of Completion). She has been working full time as an actor ever since. The life experience she gained by pursuing validation as a writer and director enriched her acting ten fold.

Bruce Fleming - Bruce Fleming is Partner, Business Development and Audio Lead of Eggplant Picture & Sound, which is a full service post facility catering to all genres of television, film, commercial and music production. Bruce has over 30 years experience in the audio industry. Starting out in the music industry, Bruce worked with many internationally acclaimed artists. He expanded his skills into post production (film, and television) as a sound designer and mixer and has been involved in many award-winning projects. Bruce has worked for many top studios in Toronto as well as running his own studio for 10 years before joining Eggplant in 2017.

Jim Pasternak - Jim Pasternak is a master teacher who has taught film directing, screenwriting, and producing for 40 years. He has taught at Hofstra University, Rutgers University, The School of Visual Arts, and the Los Angeles Film School. He founded and administered the Feature Film Production Program at The New School For Social Research (New School University) in New York City. He is currently Senior Directing Instructor at the New York Film Academy, Burbank, California. Studios and producers hire Jim to help new directors prepare their feature films. He travels the world empowering people to write, produce and direct movies. Two of his directors, Christine Lahti and Ray McKinnon, have won Oscars. Jim directed the feature films: “Bonaparte, Private Investigator,” “One Helluva Guy,” starring Rob Lowe, and “Certifiably Jonathan,” starring Jonathan Winters and Robin Williams. He directed the shorts, “In A Train Station” and “The Wayfarer,” from short stories by Robert Coover, and the documentary, “The Casting.” He wrote the final production draft of “Cousins,” directed by Joel Schumacher, for Paramount. His western, “Lightning Bender,” was developed at the writer-director lab at the Sundance Institute. To the delight of his children, he wrote a “Gummi Bears” animation episode for Disney. He began his career as Assistant to Otto Preminger and as a producer on the Emmy-Award winning ABC documentary series, “The Saga Of Western Man.” He has published interviews with Jean Renoir, Abraham Lincoln Polonsky, Joseph Strick, and Boris Kaufmann. He holds a Masters Degree in Film from UCLA .

Live With Ice T, Harry Lennix, Anthony 'Treach' Caldwell, Michael Pellegrino and Tina Treadwell: 4:30-5:30 PM CST

Ice T - The legendary gangsta hip-hop emcee Ice-T was born Tracy Marrow on February 16, 1958, in Newark, New Jersey. He moved to Los Angeles, California, to live with his paternal aunt after the death of his father while he was in the sixth grade; his mother had died earlier when he was in the third grade. His aunt lived in the South Los Angeles district of Crenshaw, colloquially referred to as South Central. He became immersed in the street life of the inner-city and eventually became a member of the West Side Rollin 30s Original Harlem Crips. In 1979, Marrow joined the Army after leaving Crenshaw High School, but his 4-year hitch was enough for him, as he was a leader, not a follower. "I didn't like total submission to a leader other than myself," he said. After ETSing from the Army in 1983, he returned to South Central with the intention of becoming a hip-hop musician. More than music, his life got caught up in street life as as a jewel thief and as a pimp. (His nomme de guerre, Ice T, is an homage to the fabled pimp and raconteur Iceberg Slim (Robert Beck). He committed himself totally to his music after a 1985 car crash. As a musician, Ice-T played a major role in the creation of the gangsta incarnation of hip-hop music and was a colossus of the West Coast hip-hop scene, despite his East Coast, greater New York, origins. Though his music displays a political consciousness, like the indictments of racism that were a hallmark of seminal hip-hop group Public Enemy, it also is nihilistic as befits a chronicler of street life. His most infamous song, the heavy metal "Cop Killer," was one of the major battle in the cultural wars of the 1990s, in which cultural conservatives enlisted the Moses of the right wing, Charlton Heston, to get Ice-T dropped from his then-label, Sire/Warner Bros. The charismatic Ice-T has also achieved success as an actor in movies and on TV. He plays Detective Odafin Tutuola on the TV series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, which is ironic for someone famous for "Cop Killer" and his feud with the L.A.P.D. Ice-T currently resides in North Bergen, New Jersey, with his wife, Coco Austin.

Harry Lennix - Harry Lennix is an accomplished film, television, and stage actor. His recent credits include Warner Bros.' "Man of Steel", The CW's "Emily Owens, M.D.", Fox's "Dollhouse," HBO's "Little Britain," as well as the critically acclaimed series "24" as Walid Al-Rezani. Harry Joseph Lennix III was born November 16, 1964 in Chicago, Illinois, to Lillian C. (Vines), a laundress, and Harry Lennix, Jr., a machinist. He is of African-American and Louisiana Creole descent. He was not always certain he wanted to be an actor. An A student, he decided to act in his high school's play while he waited for the baseball season to begin. Lennix attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he was recognized in "Who's Who Among American College Students." He majored in Acting and Direction at Northwestern and upon graduation stayed teaching in Chicago for a bit, before moving to New York, and from there to Los Angeles, California.He has appeared in a veritable bevy of movies and guest-starring roles in many popular television shows such as ER, Diagnosis Murder, Century City, and House. Lennix made his Broadway debut in August Wilson's Tony nominated play, Radio Golf. He was seen on the big screen in Working Title's "State of Play." In 2006, Lennix starred in the Golden Globe nominated ABC show "Commander in Chief" as Jim Gardner, the Chief of Staff. His other appearances include the Oscar winning film "Ray," "The Matrix: Reloaded," and "The Matrix: Revolutions." Lennix received critical acclaim and a Golden Satellite Award as Aaron in Julie Taymor's "Titus" starring Anthony Hopkins. A host of other film credits include "Across the Universe," "Barbershop 2," and "Love and Basketball." Lennix starred his as the legendary Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. in Showtime's "Keep The Faith Baby," for which he won a Black Reel Award and was nominated for both an NAACP Image Award and a Golden Satellite Award. He continued to make his presence known with recurring roles on "ER" and "Diagnosis Murder" and other guest starring appearances on shows such as "Law & Order: Los Angeles." Lennix has directed and appeared in stage productions across the country, including the Northlight Theater Company's production of Permanent Collection, at the Greenway Arts Alliance in Los Angeles. Under his directing consultation, it was remounted at Los Angeles' Kirk Douglas Theater. He directed the stage version of Robert Townsend's The Five Heartbeats, which received 3 NAACP Theater Award nominations and The Glass Menagerie for the Steppenwolf Theater Company. As a stage actor, Lennix was the first distinguished recipient of an Ollie Award for his portrayal of Malcolm X at the Goodman Theater in Chicago and two Joseph Jefferson Citations for his roles in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and Caught in the Act. He also starred as King Hedley II, another play by August Wilson, at the Mark Taper Forum. In 2001, he was part of the first American company to be invited to the Royal Shakespeare Company in the production of Cymbeline. Lennix has also been extremely active in his native Chicago community where he was an English and music teacher before becoming an actor.He founded Legacy Productions with renowned director Chuck Smith in 1989. The company is dedicated to promoting significant works about the African American experience. He is on the staff of the Goodman Theater Co. He also is active in various civic groups and is on the Advisory Council for his alma mater, Northwestern University.

Anthony ‘Treach’ Criss - Born in Newark, New Jersey, Criss found his future while still attending high school. Befriending two musical brothers, Vinnie and Kay Gee, the three formed a rap group, called Nasty by Nature, that would eventually take the U.S. by storm. By 1991, the group broke into the big time with the smash hit 'O.P.P.' from their self-titled debut album. They soon followed up the success with another hit song 'Hip Hop Hooray' from their second album, released in 1993. A year earlier, Criss had been given the opportunity to have a small walk-on role in the feature film, Juice (1992). About the experience Criss says, "It is like you can slip into a whole different mode. You are a different person. It is like a high. You are someone else and the way you get the high is by convincing people that you are that character. The whole acting thing is great. I love it." He fell in love with acting so much, in fact, that he dedicated half of his time in the '90s playing minor roles in features such as The Meteor Man (1993), Jason's Lyric (1994), the television film First-Time Felon and a re-occurring guest role in the series Oz, playing Malcolm "Snake" Coyle. Criss returned to rap work in the mid-'90s to complete his fourth album 'Nineteen Naughty Nine: Nature's Fury', which was released in 1999. He then submerged himself in film work landing larger roles in films like Boricua's Bond (2000) and 3 A.M. (2001), followed by his first lead role in Love and a Bullet (2002) about an expert assassin whose next target is a woman he has fallen for.

Michael Pellegrino - Before forming and co-founding Artists Management Agency, Michael Pellegrino has been in the entertainment industry most of his life… As a young teenager Michael appeared in the Marva Collins Story staring Cicely Tyson and Morgan Freeman. Later that same year Michael was also given the opportunity t o work with the late great John Belushi in the movie Continental Divide. As an adult Michael found his comfort zone behind the camera. In 1992, Michael joined Max Net entertainment as a casting director and went on to become a senior writer, and eventually became the head of the television division. In 1994 Michael teamed up with R&B and legendary Motown artist Ronnie McNeir, from the Four Tops, it wasn’t long after they fortified a brother like bond that Michael assumed the management position to Ronnie McNeir and they have been a team ever since. In 2000 Michael was recruited by Artist Management founded by legendary talent agent Michael Ovitz to be a writer and he began to work alongside Michael Ovitz. In 2001 Michael Pellegrino signed a multi-million-dollar publishing agreement one of the biggest ever given to an author. Later that year, Michael became a New York Times bestselling author. Michael teamed up with Area 52 Entertainment LLC to produce and co-write what would soon be a Las Vegas musical hit. Michael worked with legendary producers Gary Ouellet and David Tumaroff to make Tease the musical a Las Vegas smash hit. In 2004 Michael was recruited by Sunset Island Records to be the VP of Artist Development. In 2005 Michael went on to co-produce the CD entitled Ronnie Mac and company Michael also co-wrote the song “I Don’t Feel That Way Anymore” written with Ronnie McNeir and Kathy Lamar. In 2010, Michael was the executive producer of the CD titled “Living My Life.” Michael has continued concurrently throughout to do his first love, which is writing and developing movies and TV shows. In the span of time from 2014 to 2018, Michael was named Vice President of Film and Television at Media Artists Group. Also in 2015 Michael started his own production company called Relentless Entertainment. The company develops everything from reality TV, drama, comedy, to animation. Michael loves creating animation feature films and is currently developing and packaging a wonderful full length animation film titled “Sox.” In 2016 Michael was responsible for giving the world the best commercial featuring his close friend and client ICE-T. Who doesn't remember ICE-T selling lemonade with a bunch of children. This was considered one of the most memorable Geico commercials ever. Michael is considered one of Hollywood's most persuasive talent agents in the industry. He is in the process of launching his own clothing line called ‘Persuasion’. The line includes cologne for men and perfume for women. Michael’s production company was named Relentless Entertainment because he never gives up, and to do that you must also be persuasive. Michael’s gifts took light in his creativity, drive, and leadership for his A-list clients like Jermaine Jackson and Marlon Jackson of the Jackson 5, Larry Braggs of the Temptations, ICE-T, Coco, Anthony Cris, Hulk Hogan, Brooke Hogan, Nick Hogan, and many others. Michael is a voting member of the Recording Academy, a member of the Writers Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild, and the Author’s Guild. Michael is a highly rated speaker at Toronto International Film Festival, Sundance, and Dubuque Iowa Film Festival on industry related topics. Michael also has two causes that he is deeply passionate about. The first one is the charity Gifts from the Heart for Downs. Michael sits on the board and the charity grants wishes for people with down syndrome. The second cause that Michael is extremely passionate about is prison reform. Michael has an extraordinarily strong belief that a large percentage of people that are incarcerated can be rehabilitated, but the current system in place doesn't give these inmates the proper opportunity for reform. In 1999 Michael was responsible for setting up the first ever educational program in the state of Nevada to help inmates received their GED and help them obtain jobs before they were paroled. He also implemented a program to help inmates with anger management. In Michael's own words, “reform does not apply to everyone, but a large portion of inmates do deserve a second chance.”

Tina Treadwell - As president of Treadwell Entertainment Group, Ms Treadwell develops and manages the careers of groundbreaking talent through the management arm of her company. Recognized for her work as a talent executive (who helped launch the careers of young stars on Disney), she travels both internationally and domestically speaking about careers in film and TV. She also develops and produces film, tv and theatrical projects for her clients through collaborations with leading directors and producers.She produced and cast the world premiere of Les Wieder's Sojourner: The story of US abolitionist and early Women's Rights Advocate Sojourner Truth. It received 7 NAACP Theatre award nominations and won best ensemble. Ms Treadwell was nominated for best producer and music director. She also produced (along with actor / producer Douglas Sills) Oliver Goldstick's critically acclaimed musical, Dinah Was (starring Yvette Freeman of ER fame). She shared a nomination for both an Ovation Award and an NAACP Award for Best Musical. Dinah Was continued Off-Broadway to rave reviews. She served as executive producer and casting director for "ELLE: A Modern Cinderella Tale" starring Sterling Knight (Disney's "So Random"), Kiely Williams (star of Cheetah Girls), Thomas Calabro (Melrose Place) and Ashlee Hewitt (Nashville Star). As a consultant, she worked as casting liaison to director Andrew Davis on the Disney / Touchstone feature film The Guardian (starring Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher). She music supervised and co-executive produced (with Jay Landers and Darren Higman) the soundtrack album for Disney's original animated series Kim Possible. Treadwell was also included in VH1's documentary series Driven, acknowledged for her contribution in launching the career of 'NSYNC. As an independent casting director, she cast The Scream Team (starring Kathy Najimy, Tommy Davidson, Kat Dennings and Eric Idle) as well as You Wish! (staring Spencer Breslin, Lalaine and Tim Reid) for Disney Channel.During her tenure as an executive at Disney Channel, Ms Treadwell served as Vice President of Casting, Talent Development and Alternative Programming. She oversaw talent development, talent relations and casting as well as the development and production of music specials, reality series and documentaries.Treadwell oversaw the casting of all original movies including the critically acclaimed film, Northern Lights (with Diane Keaton), the Emmy Award winning film The Color of Friendship (directed by Kevin Hooks) and was involved in the development on the first Cheetah Girls movie with producer Debra Martin Chase. She also oversaw series casting for Lizzie McGuire, Even Stevens, The Famous Jett Jackson (through which she helped launch the careers of Shia LaBeouf, Hillary Duff and Lee Thompson Young) Mitchell Kriegman's Bear in the Big Blue House, Douglas Love's Out of The Box and Evolution's Bug Juice. Also at Disney, she developed and was the creative executive in charge of production for the network's In Concert Series. She spearheaded 14 music specials for artists such as Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, LeAnn Rimes, Backstreet Boys, Aaron Carter and most notably 'NSYNC. Ms Treadwell was recently invited to become an Arts Emissary for the US Embassies in Singapore, Malaysia and Jakarta along with her client Erinn Westbrook. Together with Ms Westbrook, she traveled to all three countries, August of 2014, to speak to students and diplomats about their experiences in the film and television industry. She earned her degree in English Literature from Princeton University. She is an equestrian, a sprint triathlete and an avid tennis fan. She is developing two feature films and working on a book about her parents, George and Faye Treadwell, managers of The Drifters and trailblazers in the music business.

Plus a potential surprise guest, you will not want to miss!

Virtual Pajama Party with Music from Grammy Nominees Yvette Landry and Beverly Davis

7:30 PM - 10:00 PM CST

Included with your ticket to the panels, all attendees and panelists are invited to enjoy some live music and further connections with each other.

Rapid fire Pitchfest, Sunday January 31st, 12 Noon - 4 PM CST

Perfect Your Pitching 12 Noon - 12:45 PM CST

Nan Puetz - Ms. Puetz is a producer and writer in addition to serving as Vice President of Women in Film & Television International (WIFTI) and President of Tennessee Women in Film & Media (TWIFM). She is also the Founder/Executive Director of Franklin International Indie Film Festival (FIIFF).

Rapid Fire Pitchfest

Each filmmaker is given three minutes to pitch their idea followed by two minutes of follow-up questions/comments from the judges.

Prizes valued between $35K and 45K include:

$5000 towards Development Services from Koan, Inc.

$5000 towards Funding Effort Services from Film Capital

$5000 towards Screenplay to Production Consulting Services from KP Films

50% off of Accounting Services from Todd J. Hein, CPA

50% off of legal fees/investor documents from the Law Office of Hal 'Corky' Kessler

Pitch Judges:

Hal 'Corky' Kessler - Mr. Kessler has assembled and built winning teams for more than 30 entertainment and other business ventures. Corky has developed, packaged, and executive produced over 20 feature films including The Sum of Us starring Russell Crowe, which won the Australian Academy Award for Best Film, Human Capital starring Marisa Tomei and Live Schreiber, and Certifiably Jonathan starring Jonathan Winters, Robin Williams, Howie Mandel, Rob Reiner, Jim Carey, Sara Silverman, and others.

Patti Price - Patti Price is an award-winning producer, owner of KP Films, a full film and music production studio in Monroe, North Carolina, and co-President of NC WiFT. She works to connect and empower independent filmmakers and to encourage young filmmakers through her 501c3, Teens in Film, a full scholarship film camp. She currently has several features in development. Ms. Price is a strong supporter of bringing the world together through film and giving everyone an opportunity to fulfill their potential. As an independent filmmaker, she has filled roles, but her favorite role is mentoring filmmakers and discovering that script that ‘has to be made’ and becoming the screenwriter’s biggest supporter and fan.

Tamara Bell - As Vice President of Koan, Tamara Bell directs acquisitions of theatrical and television products for the domestic and worldwide markets. With over twenty years in the entertainment industry her experience ranges from the acquisition of large feature film catalogues to the sale of numerous award-winning documentaries. Tamara currently oversees Koan’s extensive catalogue of feature films in genres ranging from sci-fi and action to comedy and religious. Her expertise lies in building long-term relationships with talented filmmakers and finding a home for their productions, whatever the size of the screen and audience. She is also heavily involved in digital media and business development for independent films.

Ali Aksu - Ali is an international film producer and entrepreneur. He is an executive producer to feature films distributed by Universal Studios and Netflix. He is also the founder of FilmCapital.io - a cutting-edge fundraising technology for independent filmmakers. Ali is also founder of the new Auteur Academy, the first Hollywood Accelerator designed to take the best of Silicon Valley to empower Independent Filmmakers.

Marc Gold - Marc Gold is an in-demand entertainment executive and producer of Fresh Cats Productions and currently oversees development, marketing, and finance for high quality independent films ranging from 500k to 15 million dollars. His passion for bringing compelling, well-crafted stories to the screen has shaped his career in Hollywood today. He has produced a wide range of film genres and platforms, building a reputation for handling high-octane films in the action/horror/thriller space. This includes his recent projects: Big Legend, Swell, and the feature film Wish Man. Outside of Los Angeles, Marc has refined relationships with many producers, writers, and studio executives in multi-billion dollar entertainment hubs such as Atlanta, New York, Nashville, Las Vegas and Vancouver. These new and ongoing rapports have created a tie-in with various production companies and with platform behemoths such as Amazon and Netflix.

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