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DIY Series: Content Creator's Journey

The Digital Age has revolutionized the way media is being created and consumed which means new ways of telling stories and interacting with viewers across multiple platforms. For content creators, the ability to use more than just film or traditional media also means more opportunities to make their work available to a wider audience.

NYWIFT has assembled a talented panel of experts who will discuss their experiences creating content across multi-platforms, including film, television and the web. Among the topics they’ll address: finding material that engages an audience; creating and maintaining a fan base; navigating marketing and the festival circuit; putting together the right distribution deals and organizing a theatrical release.

Shari Berman
is an award-winning filmmaker who focuses on making innovative pictures with unique styles. Her first feature film, My Life as Abraham Lincoln, received rave reviews from The New York Times, Variety, and Film Journal. Her previous award-winning film, the 3D-Expressionist Short The Trial of Jack, was screened in over 30 festivals worldwide. Berman combined the style of the 1920s expressionists with the anaglyph technology predominantly used in the 1950s to create her award winning 3-D Expressionist film The Trial of Jack. She recently completed two new screenplays and is looking forward to making her next feature film. Her previous film work has appeared in several festivals. She has also had her work presented by NYWIFT.

Marie Therese Guirgis
is an independent producer in New York. She produced The Loneliest Planet and Keep The Lights On. She was executive producer of Unknown White Male. In addition she is a development, marketing and distribution consultant for MPI, producer and distributor of House of the Devil, The Innkeepers, and Stakeland and DVD distributor for IFC Films. She was previously the Senior Vice President of Wellspring, a leading independent distributor of arthouse films. While there she ran acquisitions and distribution and helped launch Wellspring’s theatrical releasing initiative in 1999, acquiring both classic films and new releases to create a notable library that was sold to The Weinstein Company in 2006.

Adam Leon
was born and raised in NYC. His short, Killer, premiered at The Museum of Modern Art and Lincoln Center as part of their New Directors/New Films festival. His feature debut, Gimme The Loot, won the Grand Jury Prize at SXSW and was an official selection of the Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard). It went on to play all over the world and was released theatrically in the U.S. by IFC Films. He is a winner of the Independent Spirit “Someone To Watch” grant award.

Alysia Reiner
stars as Natalie “Fig” Figueroa, badass executive assistant to the Warden, in Netflix’s comedic prison drama Orange is the New Black. Reiner, a member of the SAG Award-winning ensemble of Sideways, also appears in Scorsese’s Revenge Of The Green Dragons, The Girl In The Book, Kelly & Cal  and Are We Officially Dating. Other films include The Vicious Kind, Primrose Lane, Not For Nothing, Arranged, Schooled and One Last Thing. TV credits include The Starter Wife, 30 Rock, White Collar, The Sopranos, Blue Bloods, Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, Law & Order: CI, Love Monkey, The Jury, The Drew Cary Show, The Practice, Family Law, Jack & Jill, lead in the pilot Englishman in NY and the web series Puppy Love. Recent theater includes Hillary, The Obie-winning An Oak Tree, Jayson with a Y and Pentecost. Her short film Speed Grieving (speedgrieving.org), has been invited to over a dozen film festivals and is used as a grief counseling tool worldwide.

Al Thompson is an actor, writer, producer, and director in all his original projects. In 2007, he founded ValDean Entertainment, a production company dedicated to creating high-quality and original content that resonates across multiple entertainment platforms. Al Thompson & ValDean Entertainment are rolling out a slate of Web series that are garnering a buzz in the industry. His comedy series, Johnny B. Homeless, received rave reviews at the New York Television Festival, winning the “People’s Choice Award”. It premiered on Atom.com and Comedy Central’s Atom TV. ValDean Entertainment is also launching Lenox Avenue, a compelling drama that follows three friends navigating through love and relationships while living in Harlem, NYC. Upcoming projects include a new original comedy entitled Tilt-A-World. As an actor, Al’s appearances include The Royal Tenenbaums, A Walk to Remember, Love Don’t Cost a Thing, ESPN’s A Season on the Brink, Sidney Lumet’s 100 Centre Street, Law & Order.

Moderator Thelma Adams is the Contributing Editor at Yahoo! Movies. St. Martin’s Press published her debut novel Playdate, an O Magazine pick. She was film critic at Us Weekly from 2000 - 2011, following six years at the New York Post. She has twice chaired the New York Film Critics Circle, where she has been a member since 1995. She has also written for Marie Claire, The New York Times Magazine, O: The Oprah Magazine, Parade, The Huffington Post, More, Interview Magazine, The New York Times, The international Herald Tribune, Cosmopolitan and Self. Adams has been a regular on the weekly Time Warner Video on Demand show “Talking Pictures.” She has appeared on CNN, E!, NY1, NBC’s The Today Show, CBS’s The Early Show, Fox News Channel, Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, Bravo and VH1. 

Produced by Cheree Dillon, Rosalind Murphy and Marisa Vitale.

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NYWIFT programs, screenings and events
are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of
Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York
State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and
the New York State Legislature.