Jon has twenty-five years of experience in the independent film, internet and film festival communities. As a filmmaker, he has produced a number of award winning documentaries; and as a consultant, he has guided many independent film projects through the maze of festivals and hybrid distribution models.
As a co-founder of the Slamdance Film Festival (1995), he led the event the next two seasons before being named the Festival Director for the prestigious AFI Film Festival in 1997. After running AFI Fest for three years (1997-1999), he created a consulting business, guiding the launch of numerous film festivals (Bahamas, Lone Star, Orlando), directing several others (Santa Barbara, Naples and Abu Dhabi), and consulting to dozens more.
In October of 2012, Jon authored his first book, entitled Filmmaking for Change: Make Films That Transform the World, published by industry leader Michael Wiese Productions. He later self published Habits of Heroes: 100 Movies That Will Change Your Life. In 2015, Jon founded Cause Cinema, connecting audiences with social impact films with blogs and podcasts. And in 2019, Jon founded iGEMS.tv, as a guide to engaging movies and series. iGEMS added a Pro division in 2020, to provide resources and a directory to assist independent filmmakers with festivals and distribution. Jon is currently Head of Acquisitions for Filmocracy.
Jasper Grey is a Los Angeles based Manager and Producer who runs The Vendetta Group, an independent Management and Production company dedicated to championing emergent female and diverse voices in addition to an established roster of award-winning tv and film Writers and Directors. Jasper also represents production companies and financing entities that enable a holistic approach to development and production of content. With a penchant for darker themed material, Jasper is constantly on the look for tomorrow’s Cronenberg, Wachowski or Tarkovski. The team Jasper has built at The Vendetta Group has more than five decades of experience developing and producing some of the world’s biggest blockbusters including 300, V for Vendetta, and Safe House. Jasper is a Co-Founder of Filmocracy, and Co-Founder of The Crux Social.
Paul is a serial problem solver and USAF veteran. He served as an intelligence officer and upon completing his service he moved to the film industry where he worked as Director of Sales and Acquisitions at Covert Media. UCSD and CSUF MBA alum. He co-founded Filmocracy to help democratize the imbalance of power in the entertainment industry.
Michael is the Director of Acquisitions and Sales for The Video Project, a documentary distributor based in San Francisco. He leads the team’s efforts to acquire high quality environmental and social cause documentaries, and administers impact campaigns that focus on funded outreach and engagement. He is also responsible for direct U.S. Broadcast Sales and digital sales. His award-winning documentary SAVE THE FARM is about activist’s 11th hour attempt to save the largest urban farm in America. The film appeared on Netflix, The Doc Channel, and features Daryl Hannah, Alicia Silverstone and Amy Smart.
He co-produced the award-winning ROCK THE BOAT, a feature documentary about one man’s quest lead a kayak expedition down the Los Angeles River to successfully save its Clean Water Act Protection.
Michael is also the co-founder and Executive Producer of Shanti Generation, a leader in teen yoga and mindfulness content creation. Prior to entering the film business, Michael enjoyed a successful career as a finance & sales professional in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
Alex Nohe has worked with some of the world’s most noteworthy filmmakers including Christopher Nolan on Following, Don Coscarelli on Bubba Ho-Tep, and Bill Condon on Gods & Monsters, assisting them with representation, distribution and much deserved success. He also put together the first retrospective of the work of David Lynch in Los Angeles. This was while he was the Director of Programming of IFP/Los Angeles.
From 2013 to 2016 he was a Partner in Circus Road Films where he put over 100 films into distribution. Previous to that, he ran Walking Shadows, a theatrical distributor that released some 40 films. He is an Executive Producer of Ain’t it Cool with Harry Knowles, which launched on KLRU in Austin and expanded to over 50 other PBS stations. Guests included film directors Danny Boyle and Wes Craven, showrunner Beau Willimon, critic Leonard Maltin, and actor Burt Reynolds, among others.
Previously, Alex produced Independent Focus, a talk show on IFC with film critic Elvis Mitchell. Guests included such notable auteurs as Steven Soderbergh, Oliver Stone, Joel and Ethan Coen, Robert Altman and Richard Linklater, among others. He also produced and directed the feature documentary Burning Man – The Burning Sensation.
Christiana grew up in the Philippines watching Hollywood movies and is now based in LA working in the industry. She initially worked as a content producer and instructor for the Chicago non-profit media organization, Free Spirit Media, where she won an Emmy award and got nominated for three. She has a wide array of industry experience including working on big production sets, developing indie features, and working in international distribution for films and TV series. She is currently working in theatrical distribution for the MGM and Annapurna Pictures venture, United Artists Releasing, and worked on films such as the Addams Family, Booksmart, and the upcoming James Bond movie.
Sunny Vachher is a Digital Content Executive and Producer in Los Angeles, CA for the Hollywood entertainment industry. He is a visionary entrepreneur with purpose-driven missions bridging technology and entertainment. Sunny is the co-creator and co-founder of Hollywood Casting and Film—a leading digital casting platform for the entertainment industry connecting emerging talent with emerging filmmakers across America. Sunny is an award-winning independent Producer of film, TV, digital, and branded content that has achieved international success and celebrated recognition globally. Sunny believes in creating and producing stories and experiences that genuinely have the power to INSPIRE and do GOOD for others through sparking global change. He is a Producer at TED Conferences of prestigious TEDTalks presented by influential individuals from around the world bringing change globally. Sunny serves on the Board of Advisors and Film Screening Committee for NewFilmmakers Los Angeles. Sunny is a Head Mentor and motivational speaker for Young Storytellers Foundation to 5th thru 12th grade students who dream of being in entertainment. And he is also one of LinkedIn’s top career advisors in Entertainment and Media Production, and one of AT&T Shape’s creators helping filmmakers of all calibers tell cinematic short stories through the organization’s developer program.
Jeffrey Winter is co executive director at The Film Collaborative since 2010, an LA-based independent film distribution company with specialities in human rights, social justice, environmental issues, and LGBT cinema. Highlight films during this time include Kirby Dick’s THE INVISIBLE WAR, Louie Psihoyos’ RACING EXTINCTION, Ondi Timoner’s MAPPLETHORPE, David France’s THE DEATH AND LIFE OF MARSHA P. JOHNSON, Nanfu Wang’s HOOLIGAN SPARROW, Rita Coburn Whack and Bob Hercules’ MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISE; Andrew Haigh’s WEEKEND and many more. Other career highlights include five years managing strategic investments and U.S. sales/acquisitions for the largest media conglomerate in Spain (under the banners Maxmedia, Sogepaq, Sogetel, and Sogecine); several years handling grassroots marketing for L.A.’s two largest film festivals (the Los Angeles Film Festival and AFI FEST); a long tenure handling non-theatrical/festival/educational screenings for Wolfe Releasing (the world’s largest catalogue of LGBT films); and 11 years as a panel programmer/programming consultant for the Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier.
Lauren is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Struum. As an award-winning senior executive in the digital media and entertainment industries, she has successfully led businesses for some of the world’s largest consumer brands including The Walt Disney Company and Microsoft. Lauren is recognized for driving innovation, including pioneering the new Direct-to-Consumer IPTV and SVOD business models that are now standard in the industry.
Prior to Struum, Lauren was the head of product for Discovery Networks International in the Digital Ventures group, where she led the international launch of their business subscription video on demand service.
Lauren also spent eight years heading digital at the Walt Disney Company, where she led all aspects of digital media and experience for the multi-billion dollar cable and franchise business of Disney Channels Worldwide, including Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, and Radio Disney brands. Lauren developed high-quality content and strategically leveraged traditional and emerging distribution platforms to deliver compelling viewing experiences to millions of users. She drove innovations including the groundbreaking authenticated TV Everywhere Disney video streaming apps and Disney Junior Appisodes, and she holds a patent for interactive episodes technology. She also innovated the Disney Channels business model, fully integrating digital content and strategy into the larger Disney ABC TV network business, as more of the viewing market shifted onto digital platforms.
Prior to joining Disney, Lauren was the operational head of Yahoo! Kids for Yahoo! Media Group and cross managed these services with other Yahoo! Lifestyle Portfolio products. Yahoo! Had over 500 million daily active worldwide users during Lauren’s tenure there.
Earlier in her career while at Microsoft, Lauren was part of the founding and launch team for MSN.com, which became the #1 network in Europe, Canada, Australia and other international markets, while reaching 40% of all US Internet users. Lauren also built the global developer program for Microsoft TV, from strategy to global implementation. Microsoft’s TV business was the leading provider of IPTV platforms to telecom operators globally.
After getting his start in international film sales, Brian now works for Chinese entertainment technology company First Brave Group, the pioneer of the award-winning Eqain system for short-clip monetization and leading antipiracy company in China.
Filmmaker, Youtube Creator and Producer of many feature films and documentaries, J. Horton is known for boldly crossing genre boundaries and ‘getting it done.” In addition to his prolific work in the film industry, he’s gained a lot of traction in recent years as a Youtube personality. His Channel The J. Horton Show is a go to spot for filmmakers wanting to learn more about the business side of filmmaking.
Jordi is an award-winning Director and Producer, who has made a career by focusing on stories at the intersection of technology and human interaction. The majority of his work has been in the commercial world. Under the banner of his production company, Marching Penguin, he has worked with prestigious brands like Sony, Marvel, Disney and more.
More recently, Jordi has ventured into original content. In 2020, he was an Executive Producer for the feature film, 5 Years Apart. Jordi is currently working on 2 other features: a documentary about the future of mobility, and a sci-fi romance narrative about dating in the future.
Christopher Wehling is a former photojournalist, and has also worked in video production as a camera operator, field producer and PA. He holds two Bachelor’s degrees in Journalism and Sociology. Currently he is the content manager for CGood TV and also works for the non-profit Food Forward based in LA. In his free time, he shoots street photography. Learn more about Chris at: ctwehling.com
Mehrdad Sarlak’s left brain/right brian dichotomy has enabled him to achieve an eclectic mix of accomplishments in this life- being a graduate of MIT, a patented engineer, SAG-AFTRA actor who’s been cast by and worked with Ben Affleck and the late Mike Nichols, a TV host and producer for a live International talk show, and most recently a successful, film producer. Mehrdad’s recent films have been sold to HBO (El Astronauta) and Oscilloscope (Just Hold On) and all of them have played at elite, Oscar qualifying festivals in the world where they have won numerous jury, audience, and programmer’s choice awards. He’s managed and run two very successful Oscar runs for 2 of his films (Madaran and El Astronauta) and has produced 2 films for Oscar-winning director Rayka Zehtabchi (Madaran and Just Hold On). Mehrdad enjoys working on live-action narratives with deep emotional impact and thought-provoking elements that are based on true stories as well as on documentaries that uplift, inspire, and warm the heart. His areas of passion continue to be science, engineering, filmmaking and storytelling, and acting, and through all of it, his overarching goal is to use these universal paradigms of understanding and expression to bridge gaps among people and achieve understanding, awareness, and harmony.
Leslie Vanderpool is the founder and executive director of Bahamas International Film Festival (BIFF). In 2004, Vanderpool launched BIFF, which has showcased more than 1000 films from 150 countries. She has paid tribute to countless A-List Celebrities such as Johnny Depp, Debra Messing, Danny Glover, Nicholas Cage, Laurence Fishburne, Heather Graham, Alan Arkin, Sean Connery, Roger Corman, Daryl Hannah, Grace Jones, Michael K. Williams, Sophie Okonedo, Anna Faris, Naomie Harris, Zoe Kravitz, Sydney T. Poitier, Chaz Ebert, Denys Arcand and more.
For over a decade, she has had extensive knowledge in the planning and development of film festivals. She has been innovative in taking filmmaking into various institutes and schools, teaching all aspects of filmmaking.
An entrepreneur with a strong background in marketing, branding, film production and sponsorship she has raised millions of dollars & has a wide range of networks around the world. Spending her time in The Bahamas she has been advancing the film industry while consulting filmmakers on how to take the next steps and creating unique cultural experiences such as ‘Summer Films In The Square’ and ‘Theater In The Park.’
Vanderpool received a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations before going on to pursue her passion for theater & filmmaking. She studied at Lee Strasberg Acting Institute & Shakespeare at Balliol College, Oxford University, Oxford, England, where Alan Rickman, Fiona Shaw and many more honed her skills.
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