NYWIFT 2022 Finance Institute: Day 1: Finance for your Project

Welcome to the NYWIFT 2022 Finance Institute! 

Join us for this three-part virtual finance series to refine your business strategies.

Gain fresh insights from some of today’s leading experts in the industry and position your projects for optimum success. Hear from industry professionals who have successfully funded their projects, incorporated their businesses, and even learn about how to file taxes under your new business. During this three-part finance institute, panelists will provide insider perspectives and frank advice on what it takes to get your business started.


For NYWIFT Members: $20 per day; or $50 for a 3-day package
For Non-members: $40 per day; or $100 for a 3-day package

NYWIFT Gold, Platinum, and Leadership Members attend for free!
(Discount is applied after login)


Become a member today to receive discounted access: email membership@nywift.org to join!

New York Women in Film & Television is a non-profit professional association dedicated to helping women reach the highest levels of creative achievement in television, film and media. In addition to providing services to members, NYWIFT plays a vital role in recognizing the contributions of women in media. To learn more about NYWIFT and our programs, please visit www.nywift.org

Welcome Address:

NYWIFT Board President Jamie Zelermyer

Jamie Zelermyer has been a New York based Producer and Production Executive for the past 20 plus years. Currently, she is the co-host and creator of I Was Never There, a serialized eight episode non-fiction podcast, made in collaboration with Wonder Media Network. Jamie also teaches group and one on film and television pitching sessions giving attendees practical strategies and practice before they pitch to outside companies. She was the VP, Physical Production at Focus Features / Rogue Pictures. Prior to Focus Jamie was a Line Producer and Production Manager working on films such as Igby Goes Down, Boys Don’t Cry and You Can Count on Me. Jamie is the President of the Board of Directors of New York Women in Film & Television, and is an adviser on NYWIFT’s The Writers Lab, a program for female Writer’s over 40 funded by Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman.


Welcome and Presentation:

Peter Marra (Group Director – Senior Vice President, Signature Bank)

Peter Marra began his banking career at Republic National Bank of New York in 1987.  After a long tenure at Republic National Bank he joined Signature Bank in 2004.  During the course of his career at Republic, Peter worked extensively with clients and their advisors in helping them meet their diverse banking and credit needs.   Peter worked in Middle Market Lending and Retail Private Banking at Republic for many years.  Peter’s clients have operated in a variety of industries including entertainment, a variety of service businesses, manufacturing, importing and real estate.  His customer base has further included professional firms such as business managers and their clients, law firms and accounting practices.  Extensions of credit to these clients have included working capital lines of credit, term loans as well as loans to clients pledging intellectual property such as music copyrights as collateral.

Since joining Signature Bank in 2004 Peter has continued to work with clients to meet their credit, deposit and cash management needs.   His team currently services a wide variety of both clients who need solely depository services as well as those who need credit products in addition to their depository needs.  Signature Bank recently began to offer its clients a unique payment solution through its digital payment platform – Signet.   Signet affords clients the ability to pay vendors and partners 365 days a year 24 hours a day utilizing blockchain technology.   Peter and his team are always available to meet with prospect new clients to discuss how they can help with their banking needs.


Keynote Speaker:

Melissa Silverstein (Founder/Publisher, Women and Hollywood)

Melissa Silverstein is the founder and publisher of Women and Hollywood, an initiative and website that educates, advocates, and agitates for gender diversity and inclusion in Hollywood and the global film industry. She is a speaker and consultant with extensive expertise in the area of women and Hollywood. She is the Artistic Director and Co-Founder of The Athena Film Festival at Barnard College, a weekend of inspiring films that tell the extraordinary stories of fierce and fearless female leaders. In 2020, she launched the Girls Club, a community for women creatives, culture-changers and story-tellers to connect, create, network, advocate, support and redefine entertainment. In 2018, Melissa was named to Variety’s New York Power list and in 2016, she received the Marie C. Wilson Emerging Leader Award from the Ms. Foundation for Women. In 2015, she was selected to be a film envoy for the American Film Showcase, the major film diplomacy program of the U.S. Department of State. In 2013, she published the first book from Women and Hollywood, In Her Voice: Women Directors Talk Directing, which is a compilation of over 40 interviews that have appeared on the site. Melissa has written for numerous publications including: The Washington Post, NY Times, The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg and her work has been featured on CNN, the BBC as well as in Newsweek, Salon, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, NY Times, and many other publications. She was a contributor to The Tattooed Girl: The Enigma of Stieg Larsson and the Secrets Behind the Most Compelling Thriller of Our Time. Previous experience includes work on high profile public education campaigns such as Take Our Daughters to Work Day, and she was the founding project director for The White House Project. Prior to that was the Chief of Staff at the Ms. Foundation for Women.  

New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) is not only an organization that brings filmmakers together – it also allows filmmakers to use our resources to fund their next project. This panel will focus on three NYWIFT members who have successfully funded their project through our NYWIFT Fiscal Sponsorship program. Learn about how these filmmakers utilized their sponsorship to gain success and how you can be part of our program.

NYWIFT’s fiscal sponsorship program allows filmmakers to access foundation and government grant funding that may only be accessible to nonprofit organizations or fiscally sponsored projects. It also provides the incentive to donors that their contribution to the project is a charitable deduction for income tax purposes. This program does not fund film projects. Instead, NYWIFT acts as a nonprofit umbrella organization for filmmakers and videomakers who are seeking to raise funds and require nonprofit status to do so. Funds raised by project directors is directed to NYWIFT who administers and disburses those funds back to project directors. There is no application fee. NYWIFT takes an administrative fee of 7% for any funds raised through the fiscal sponsorship program.

This discussion will include Jessica Beshir, Moira Griffin, and Trevite Willis.  Moderated by NYWIFT Director of Artists’ Programs & Finance Easmanie Michel


Mexican-Ethiopian filmmaker Jessica Beshir received her B.A in film studies and literature at UCLA. She recently directed the short He Who Dances on Wood and is currently producing her first feature film set in Harar. Jessica is based in Brooklyn, NY.




Moira Griffin is a producer and strategist based in Los Angeles with New Bumper & Paint.  As a producer and field producer, Moira has numerous productions under her belt including music videos, short films, features, documentaries and web-series for a variety of companies, including Disney, Hulu, Fox Digital, PBS, HBO, YouTube, and NBC Universal.  With award-winning projects such as Slow PulseCapNight Shift (exec Produced by Viola Davis), The New BlackBlack Folk Don’tHug  and The Contest premiering at festivals including Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, AFI Docs, Mill Valley Film Festival, and Human Rights Watch Film Festival. She is consistently focused on helping directors move their projects from development through post.  Prior to co-founding NB&P she was the Executive Director of Production & Creative Labs for 21st Century Fox where she was charged with furthering Fox’s goals to create content that reflected the company’s global audience by attracting diverse storytellers, while positioning the studio and network as the home of innovative storytelling. In addition, she was the Head of  Diversity Initiatives at the Sundance Institute. As a strategist she has worked with organizations such as TED Conferences, MPAC, Women in Film, Directors Guild of Canada, and the Blackhouse Foundation. Moira is a founding director of Rooftop Films and has curated film programs for multiple organizations from Ocularis (New York) to the Global Peace Film Festival (Bali). In addition, she developed the Ethiopia Film Initiative as well as FROM ADDIS TO CANNES as a consultant with the IETFA in Monaco, which supports Ethiopian filmmakers and the development of an Ethiopian film industry. The program has expanded to several countries including Bangladesh, Mongolia, Egypt, Sudan, Egypt, Lebanon, Bhutan and has collaborated with Torino Film Labs, Rotterdam, Berlinale, El Gouna, Dhaka DocLab and Cannes Marché Du Film.

Trevite Willis is a producer and film festival founder committed to courageous storytelling. Ms. Willis was an executive producer on the Sundance 2020 award-winning film, The Forty-Year-Old Version. She is currently in post-production on the 2020 political documentary, Black Voters Matter, following civil rights activists LaTosha Brown and Cliff and April Albright as they rallied voters in the general and Georgia’s U.S. Senate run-off elections. She has produced seven feature films, including Cargo, Blood Bound, Maya and Her Lover, and Children of God which had theatrical releases in the US, UK and The Netherlands, won 17 awards, and sold in 24 territories.

Easmanie Michel (Moderator) has worked continuously in the film and television industry since 2004. Michel’s work on films includes TransporterHoot and Miami Vice. Television projects include Miami Ink and Burn Notice. Michel is currently producing the feature Caroline’s Wedding, which she co-wrote, which was a finalist for the New York University Fusion Film Festival and it was also one of the scripts selected to participate in the Women at Sundance Financing and Strategy Intensive in 2016. In February of 2018 the script was the Grand Prize Winner of the American Zoetrope Screenplay Contest. Michel received the New York Council on the Arts Individual Artist grant for Caroline’s Wedding 2019 and she is currently completing Certificate in Financial Accounting at NYU. She also has Master’s Degree in Cinema Studies from New York University.


The NYWIFT 2022 Finance Institute is brought to you by

June 22 @ 4:00pm
4:00 pm — 6:00 pm (2h)



Join the conversation on social media:
#nywift | @nywift

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 Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.