David Acosta is a Senior Vice President and team leader at City National Bank, running the bank’s film, television and sports entertainment group. Acosta and his team of nearly a dozen colleagues are responsible for sourcing and structuring single- and multiple-picture film financings, financing for television productions, and financings for sports teams and other media businesses.
Acosta has more than a decade of experience in the entertainment and media financing business. Prior to his current role, he served as a Senior Vice President, head of the Entertainment, Sports and Syndicated Finance Group, and head of Mid-Corporate Banking for Israel Discount Bank of New York.
Stephanie Azam. As the National Feature Film Executive at Telefilm Canada, Azam manages the funding decisions for the National portfolio of English-language film investments. Prior to coming to Telefilm, she was at Zeitgeist Films in New York, as the Director of Theatrical Marketing. Azam began her career in finance with the Business Development Bank of Canada in Toronto. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce form the University of Ottawa.
Miranda Bailey—Producer, Cold Iron Pictures. Bailey is a prolific producer, actor and director, known for producing high quality independent films. Her passion for bringing strong, well-crafted stories to the screen is evident in the diversity of her movies. In a 15-year filmmaking career, Bailey has distinguished herself by producing over 20 films, among them the Oscar-nominated The Squid and the Whale and the Spirit Award-winning The Diary of a Teenage Girl, as well as James Gunn’s Super and this year’s Sundance hit Swiss Army Man.
In addition to producing, Bailey is an accomplished director and actor. Her directorial debut Greenlit—a humorous documentary examining the hypocrisy inherent in Hollywood’s “green” movement - premiered at the 2010 SXSW Film Festival to critical acclaim and was acquired by IFC International. The documentary is available on iTunes, Amazon & Hulu. Also, Bailey wrote and directed a comedy short film about a couple who go on the quest for the perfect three way titled, Another Happy Anniversary, which premiered at the LA Shorts Festival and went onto to win several awards in the film festival circuit.
Judith Baugin was born in Paris, France. She worked at Pandora in Paris before moving to the UK to work at Icon Entertainment International. She joined Content 14 years ago and now lives in Los Angeles.
Matthew Belloni is Executive Editor of The Hollywood Reporter and a frequent television and radio commentator on the business of entertainment.
A former entertainment lawyer, Belloni brings unique and diverse experience to his role at The Hollywood Reporter. He oversees editors and reporters of the weekly Hollywood Reporter magazine and 24/7 entertainment news website HollywoodReporter.com. He also writes and edits articles about the business of Hollywood, with an emphasis on the legal and financial aspects of the entertainment business.
Before joining the Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a practicing attorney at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He also writes a legal column for The Hollywood Reporter highlighting the cases, trends and personalities in entertainment law and edits THR’s entertainment law blog, Hollywood, Esq., which is the premiere resource for legal news and analysis in entertainment.
Belloni also is a contributor to several magazines including Esquire and Details, and he often appears as a commentator on radio and television, including NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, KFI in Los Angeles, Bloomberg, CNN, “Entertainment Tonight” and PBS’ “News Hour.”
He is a graduate of UC Berkeley and USC Law School.
Jonathan Bronfman is a Toronto-based film producer and entrepreneur. He is the founder of JoBro Productions & Film Finance, a company that specializes in the development, financing and production of feature film and television projects.
Recent productions include The Witch, winner of the Best Director Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015; Race, the Jesse Owens biopic; Indignation, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2016; and Bang Bang Baby, winner of the Best Canadian First Feature Award at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2014 and Best Picture at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in 2015.
Two Lovers and a Bear, directed by Oscar nominee Kim Nguyen and Mean Dreams, a coming of age thriller, recently premiered in the Director’s Fortnight section at the Cannes Film Festival. Currently in postproduction is The Void and in pre production is Adam Macdonald's, Pyewacket.
Prior to starting his production and financing companies, Jonathan worked for several years alongside Canadian producer Martin Katz. Jonathan received his Bachelor of Commerce from the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University.
Joseph N. Cohen. A graduate of Yale and Oxford, Cohen is highly regarded for his investment banking and media expertise. Prior to becoming President and Chief Operating Officer of Largo Entertainment in 1989, followed by co-chairmanship of Intermedia/Film Equities in 1994, Cohen held senior positions at several of the leading investment banking firms, including N.M. Rothschild & Sons, Salomon Brothers, Lehman Brothers Kuhn Loeb, Orion Royal Bank and Samuel Montagu. For the past thirty years he has focused his efforts on the entertainment and media industries and is active in motion picture, television and other media financing throughout the world.
Cohen’s involvement in the motion picture industry began in the UK in 1980, where he pioneered the use of tax-based lease financing for feature films and with several partners, including Samuel Montagu and Investors in Industry, financed over GBP 400 million of UK-qualified production. Cohen also founded Canadian Entertainment Investors (C.E.I.), which was one of the leading financiers for the Canadian film and television industry and which pioneered the use of public limited partnership offerings to finance Canadian-qualified productions.
Julie Dansker. As Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Dansker oversees Digital, Cable, Satellite, DVD, Airline, Hospitality, Educational and Non-theatrical sales across all windows, including EST, VOD, SVOD and AVOD. In addition, her team develops and executes marketing campaigns for The Orchard’s titles in post-theatrical windows, supporting a fast-growing slate of commercially successful and award winning films such as Hunt for the Wilderpeople, The Overnight, What We Do in the Shadows, Dior and I, and Academy Award-nominated Cartel Land. Upcoming features include Christine, Neruda, All These Sleepless Nights, and Life, Animated.
Dansker came to The Orchard from MGM Studios where she spearheaded worldwide global strategy for MGM’s new film releases, acquisition titles, TV series and library content. Previously she worked at Spyglass Entertainment, New Line Cinema and William Morris Endeavor.
Robert Darwell is a senior partner in the firm's internationally acclaimed Entertainment, Technology and Advertising Practice Group, which was recently ranked by Chambers and U.S. Legal 500 in their top tier and by Law 360 as Media and Entertainment Group of the Year.
Mr. Darwell represents major motion picture studios, television networks, independent producers, new media companies, investors, financiers and other institutional and individual entertainment, media and convergence clients in connection with all aspects of the development, production, acquisition and worldwide distribution of motion pictures, television programming, music videos, video festivals. He has been recognized by many publications, including “Best Lawyers in America;” “Leading Lawyer,” The Legal 500 US, “Best of the Bar,” Los Angeles Business Journal; Finalist, Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers In America, Lawdragon Magazine; “Attorney of the Year,” Entertainment, California Lawyer; “Power Lawyer,” The Hollywood Reporter; “Super Lawyer,” Los Angeles Magazine; “Leading Lawyers in America,” Lawdragon Magazine; and Transactional Entertainment Rating, Chambers and Partners.
Dennis Dembia. In his role as Senior Vice President, Dembia spearheads Rogers & Cowan's corporate accounts in the company’s global corporate entertainment division, handling worldwide marketing and publicity initiatives for the company’s highly respected roster of clients in the film and television space. He is responsible for managing long-term and day-to-day strategic campaign initiatives for leading film and TV production companies, financiers, distributors, studios and sales companies and works with major international film festivals around the globe.
Dembia has over fifteen years of public relations and corporate communications experience within the entertainment industry. He was Manager of Corporate Publicity at Denmead Marketing, a boutique agency specializing in international marketing & PR, when the agency was folded into Rogers & Cowan in 2004.
Previously, he served as Director of Corporate Communications for leading independent studio Artisan Entertainment where he directed corporate PR initiatives activity across all operating divisions, which included theatrical film, home entertainment, new media, television and corporate affairs.
Dembia holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Maryland.
Dan Fisher manages acquisitions operations for Gravitas Ventures. He previously served as Director of Worldwide Acquisitions at Entertainment One, licensing theatrical and home entertainment content for domestic and international distribution. His experience extends to film packaging, finance and production as well. He holds a MA in film studies from The School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California and a BA in Art History from the University of Notre Dame.
John Hadity is the Executive Vice President for EP Financial Solutions, the film financing subsidiary of Entertainment Partners, the global leader in entertainment payroll, residuals, extras casting, tax incentives, finance and other integrated production management solutions. He specializes in the monetization of tax credits. Projects recently financed include Oliver Stone’s Snowden, Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq, Doug Liman’s Mena, Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, and Peter Sollett’s Freeheld. Prior to joining EP, Mr. Hadity was the President and CEO of Hadity & Associates, Inc., a consultancy firm that specializes in risk management and production finance for film and television.
With over 20 years of studio experience, Mr. Hadity previously served as the Executive Vice President of Motion Picture & Television Production Finance for Miramax Films. During his 12 year tenure with the company he was responsible for a portfolio of production budgets valued in excess of $4 Billion. Hadity oversaw the strategic planning, risk management, labor relations, business affairs, tax, government relations and financial reporting for over 250 production entities, as well as managed all of the parent company’s structured finance and off balance sheet transactions. He has worked closely with government policymakers on the regional, state, provincial, and international levels to incentivize the movement of production to these areas, resulting in over $250 Million being brought back into the studio while supporting inward investment in those territories. In addition to his corporate responsibilities at the company, Hadity also served as production rep on several Miramax releases including Academy Award winners Shakespeare in Love, The English Patient, Emma, and Restoration.
Paul Haggis. In 2006, Paul Haggis became the first screenwriter to write two Best Film Oscar winners back-to-back – Million Dollar Baby (2004) directed by Clint Eastwood, and Crash (2005) which he himself directed. For Crash, Haggis won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. The film also received an additional four nominations including one for Haggis’ direction. Crash reaped numerous awards during its year of release from associations such as the IFP Spirit Awards, the Screen Actors Guild, and BAFTA.
Most recently, Haggis directed all six episodes of the HBO mini-series Show Me A Hero, starring Catherine Keener, Winona Ryder, James Belushi, and Alfred Molina.
In 2013 he wrote and directed the romantic, personal drama Third Person which tracked the course of three interconnected love affairs set in Rome, Paris and New York. The film starred Liam Neeson, Olivia Wilde, Mila Kunis, Adrien Brody, James Franco, and Kim Basinger.
The Next Three Days, which starred Russell Crowe, Liam Neeson, and Elizabeth Banks, was released in 2013 by Highway 61 and Lionsgate Films. Hwy 61 is the production company Haggis formed with his friend and producing partner Michael Nozik.
In 2007, Haggis’ screenplays included the duo Clint Eastwood productions Flags of our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, the latter earning him his third screenplay Oscar nomination. He also helped pen Casino Royale, which garnered considerable acclaim for reinvigorating the James Bond spy franchise.
In 2007, Haggis wrote, directed, and produced In the Valley of Elah for Warner Independent Pictures, Samuels Media and Summit Entertainment. The film, which starred Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, and Susan Sarandon was a suspense drama of a father’s search for his missing son, who is reported AWOL after returning from Iraq. Jones earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his performance in the film.
Haggis was born in London, Ontario, Canada and moved to California in his early 20s. For over two decades he has written, directed and produced television shows such as “thirtysomething” and The Tracey Ullman Show, and also developed credits as a pup writer on many Norman Lear sitcoms. He created the acclaimed, if short-lived, CBS series EZ Streets which the New York Times cited as one of the most influential shows of all time, noting, that without it “there would be no Sopranos.”
Equally committed to his private and social concerns, Haggis is the founder of Artists for Peace and Justice. Under this umbrella, many of his friends in the film business have come forward to build schools and a rehabilitation clinic serving the children of the slums of Haiti (www.APJNow.org). Haggis was a key element in the 25th anniversary updating of the “We Are the World” video which he directed and was used to benefit Haiti relief. He currently resides in New York.
Paul Hanson is founder and Chief Executive Officer of Covert Media, a new independent feature production, financing, and distribution company. Covert Media will focus on creating high quality, commercial content for worldwide audiences by fostering meaningful relationships with filmmakers and creative artists. At the core of its mission, Covert seeks to be a reliable and trustworthy partner that deploys its resources and expertise to ensure each creative partner’s vision is realized and their unique voice is heard.
Prior to Covert Media, Paul was Chief Operating Officer of Annapurna Pictures, where he managed all of the business activities of the company. Annapurna projects released during Paul’s tenure included David O. Russell’s American Hustle, Spike Jonze’s Her, and Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher. Paul also helped begin the company’s extension into television and new content formats such as virtual reality and augmented reality. Additional feature projects that Paul worked on while at Annapurna include Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some, David O. Russell’s Joy, Ana Lily Amirpour’s The Bad Batch, the Seth Rogen’s R-rated animated film Sausage Party, and Todd Solondz’s Wiener Dog.
Tifanie Jodeh is the Founder and the Managing Partner at Entertainment Law Partners, PC, where she specializes in representing artists, producers and companies in their entertainment, corporate and business affairs.
She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder and her J.D. from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.
Jodeh began her career as head of Business and Corporate Affairs for the prestigious personal management company of Royal and Associates in Beverly Hills, California, representing entertainment talent (mainly for Nancy Cartwright of The Simpsons) as well as corporate interests in the industry. From Royal, Jodeh was recruited by the cable channel, TFN, The Football Network, as General Counsel, to manage corporate governance, talent negotiations, development and acquisition of programming including options, live and taped sporting events, documentaries, home video/DVD and digital distribution, news shows, reality, internet content development and syndication. Then, she has served as Senior VP of Business and Legal Affairs for Saddle Ranch Productions where she Executive Produced 3 feature films and conducted production legal on various digital, film and television projects. She has maintained her own practice since 2005.
Jodeh is a voting member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and a certified mediator. She has lectured at various film festivals and film conferences over all over the country discussing various issues in the entertainment industry. She is a past columnist for InsideFilm and Hollywood and Vine magazine under a column entitled "Showbiz, Esq." She also serves on the board of directors for the Romance in a Can Film Festival. And, in 2011, Jodeh was named a "VivMagnificent Woman" by Viv Magazine.
Jessica Lacy is head of the international and independent film department of ICM Partners, a talent and literary agency representing clients in the fields of motion picture, television, publishing, music, theater, branded entertainment and digital media. ICM Partners is one of the predominant agencies in the United States and Europe, with its principal offices in Los Angeles, New York and London.
Ms. Lacy leads her department in structuring and arranging financing, packaging and securing distribution for independent films. She was elevated to the position in 2012 and has brokered distribution deals for many of the most acclaimed films of the Sundance Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival and SXSW. Among the titles that she has represented are Woody Allen’s film Café Society, which recently opened the Cannes Film Festival; Jim Jarmusch’s film Paterson; Sean Baker’s critically hailed award winning and nominated Tangerine; Sian Heder’s film Tallulah, starring Ellen Page and Allison Janney; Spike Lee’s critically acclaimed Chi Raq; the Safdie Brothers’ award nominated Heaven Knows What; Maya Forbes’ Infinitely Polar Bear, which garnered a Golden Globe nomination for its star Mark Ruffalo; Charlie McDowell’s The One I Love; Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive; Patrick Brice’s The Overnight; Sundance darling The Skeleton Twins; Hannah Fidell’s films; Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation; Robot and Frank, starring Frank Langella and Susan Sarandon; the Duplass Brothers’ Safety Not Guaranteed; and Fading Gigolo, starring John Turturro and Woody Allen, as well as Oscar winner Crazy Heart.
Matthew Liebmann oversees Movio’s operations in the Americas and provides strategic services and loyalty program design assistance to global exhibitors. He has 20 years of experience in entertainment and media organizations, including as Chief Operating Officer of Hoyts Cinemas, Board Member of Screen Australia and Director—Entertainment and Media at PwC.
Laurie May has been in the Canadian film distribution business for over twenty years. She is currently Co-Founder and Co-President of Elevation Pictures, a Canadian distribution company launched at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival. Elevation has already established itself as a significant player in the Canadian distribution landscape, with titles such as The Imitation Game winning the prestigious 2014 TIFF People’s Choice Award and 2015 Academy Award for Best Screenplay, and Room winning the 2015 TIFF People’s Choice Award and 2016 Academy Award for Best Actress. Prior to Elevation, she was Executive Vice President of Entertainment One, following the purchase of Alliance Films in January 2013.
Laurie had joined Alliance as Executive Vice President when they purchased Maple Pictures in August 2011, and at Alliance had an active role in corporate matters and acquisitions including Academy nominated Zero Dark Thirty and American Hustle. Laurie had been Co-President and Co-Founder of Maple Pictures from April 2005 until the sale to Alliance. At Maple she was involved in successful releases including Academy Award winners Crash, The Hurt Locker, Precious, and The Cove, and Emmy award-winner Mad Men.
John Penotti serves as both the President of Sidney Kimmel Entertainment (www.skefilms.com ), a USA-based, English-language film and television company; and the President of Ivanhoe Pictures (www.ivanhoepictures.com ), an international film production and finance company that specializes in local-language projects, primarily in Asia. The companies recently entered into a joint venture arrangement called SK GLOBAL, where they participate together on selected projects. John has produced over forty films, and has been a prominent industry executive since his start working with legendary director Sidney Lumet (Network, Dog Day Afternoon).
With Ivanhoe, John has crafted a four-year, multi-picture co-financing pact with Fox International Productions to produce local language films in India, Korea, China, Japan, and Taiwan. Similarly, he orchestrated the company’s multi-country, five-year financing and production deal with Jason Blum's Blumhouse Productions (Paranormal Activity, Insidious, The Purge) to make ten genre pictures in both India (with Phantom Films as the local partner) and Korea (with Showbox Mediaplex as the local partner).
Currently, he is the Executive Producer of Dir. Na Hing-jin's Korean box office phenomenon The Wailing, the #2 Fox Korea film of all time (2nd to Avatar), and a 2016 Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival. He is also the Executive Producer of the upcoming CBS/Lionsgate film Hell or High Water starring Jeff Bridges and Chris Pine, which was also a 2016 Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival. John also Executive Produced the upcoming Focus Features release The Book of Henry, directed by Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World).
Christina Piovesan is the founder and principle of First Generation Films, a production company that creates award-winning premium content across platforms. FGF is dedicated to working with the most innovative storytellers from around the world. Past films include the Cannes winner Amreeka, directed by Cherien Dabis (Empire); The Whistleblower starring Rachel Weisz and Vanessa Redgrave; Life, directed by Anton Corbijn starring Dane DeHaan and Robert Pattison; Regression, directed by Academy Award winning director Alejandro Amenabar and starring Ethan Hawke. Most recently, FGF produced acclaimed actress Chloë Sevigny’s directorial debut, Kitty, which closed Critics Week at Cannes and will premiere as part of Refinery29’s Shatterbox Anthology. Upcoming projects include a one-hour series based on Jeff Lemire’s cult graphic novel Essex County.
Piovesan graduated with a BA from McGill University and an MFA in Film Production from the University of Southern California. She started her career at the William Morris Agency in Los Angeles. She is a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Science, the Producer’s Guild of America, and WIFT-T.
Peter Saraf founded Big Beach in August 2004 with Marc Turtletaub to produce and finance independent feature films. The company’s production of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’ Little Miss Sunshine won Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor (Alan Arkin) and Best Original Screenplay (Michael Arndt). Mr. Saraf was an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominee with the movie’s Best Picture nominations, and he shared the Producers Guild of America Awards’ top prize and the Independent Spirit Award for Best Feature, among many other honors he and the film earned.
Among the other Big Beach movies produced by Mr. Saraf are Liev Schreiber’s Everything Is Illuminated, starring Elijah Wood; Sunshine Cleaning, directed by Christine Jeffs and starring Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, and Alan Arkin; Is Anybody There?, directed by John Crowley and starring Michael Caine; Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Jack Goes Boating, in which Mr. Hoffman starred opposite Amy Ryan and John Ortiz; Sam Mendes’ Away We Go, also a Focus Features release, starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph; Jeffrey Blitz’s documentary Lucky; Jesse Peretz’s Our Idiot Brother, starring Paul Rudd; Colin Trevorrow’s breakout directorial debut Safety Not Guaranteed; Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ The Kings of Summer; Max Landis’ Me Him Her; and Gaby Dellal’s Three Generations, starring Elle Fanning, Susan Sarandon, and Naomi Watts.
Matthew Shreder is the co-founder and managing partner of Concourse Media. Concourse Media is a multi-faceted entertainment group which manages the global film sales division, Concourse Film Trade (CFT), and marketing firm The Industry & Co (I&Co). CFT is dedicated to financing and acquiring motion pictures for domestic, international and/or worldwide distribution. I&Co engineers feature film release campaigns and engagement strategies that capture audience and culture verticals throughout the USA and abroad. Headquartered in Los Angeles, Concourse Media has positioned itself as an emerging player in the global content arena.
Brent Jordan Sherman is a Literary Agent at Canada's preeminent agency The Characters Talent Agency. With strategic focus on both domestic and international markets, Sherman represents a compelling roster of artists and companies and has packaged both film and television productions across the globe including at NBC, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel and the BBC and domestically at CBC, Bell, Shaw, HBO Canada, YTV and Family Channel.
Prior to joining The Characters, Sherman was a Creative Executive at Flower Films in Los Angeles, overseeing development for Producers Drew Barrymore and Nancy Juvonen (Never Been Kissed, Charlie’s Angels). He began his career as a Development Executive at Kopelson Productions (Seven, The Fugitive, Platoon). Sherman attended the University of British Columbia, the Vancouver Film School and earned a B.F.A. in Screenwriting Practicum at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.
William Santor—Chief Executive Officer, Productivity Media. Founder and CEO of Productivity Media, Mr. Santor has been in the financial services industry over 15 years. In 2006, he founded Prosapia Wealth Management, a multi-family office, where he managed the private equity portfolio for one of Canada’s wealthiest families. Based on his work at Prosapia, Santor became aware of the opportunities for participating in low risk, high yield investments in film and television.
In 2012, he launched Productivity Media, a late stage, senior lender to film and television productions, providing senior secured debt to film and television production. The firm provide innovative, short-term financing for quality projects serving Canadian and international producers. With vast experience in the money management and film financing industries, Mr. Santor is recognized as a leader in these fields and is often asked to speak about film finance and its role in investment portfolios.
John Zois was most recently the Director of Worldwide Acquisitions for EuropaCorp, where he worked on acquiring films for distribution in the U.S. as well as for France and around the world. While there Zois acquired James Ponsoldt’s The Circle, starring Tom Hanks, Emma Watson and John Boyega, for which IM Global subsequently acquired the international rights. Other films he worked on while at EuropaCorp include The Nice Guys (for French distribution) and John Madden’s Miss Sloane, with Jessica Chastain and Mark Strong.
Prior to joining EuropaCorp, Zois worked in both acquisitions and sales at FilmNation Entertainment. Some of the projects he worked on there include Room, A Most Violent Year, Looper, Side Effects, and Lawless. Zois, who was a student in Cinema Studies at NYU’s Tisch School, began his career at AMC Theatres and then the Gersh Agency before going into acquisitions.