Speaker Series

The Women In Film Speaker Series features filmmakers and industry leaders across many areas of entertainment who share valuable professional insights into the art and craft of film, television, and media-making. Past events have included experts in production, entertainment law, pitching, digital funding and crowdsourcing, screenwriting, and many more. Speaker Series events also always provide Members and guests time to network and learn more about who’s in the room. The Speakers Series is generally held monthly on the last Monday of the month. It is co-sponsored by the West Hollywood Women’s Advisory Board. Please visit our calendar or sign up for our newsletter to find out about the next event!

Next Event: PRODUCING 101

Great films require great producers, but what makes a great producer? Join Women In Film for this month’s panel featuring seasoned film producers as they share early tips for breaking into production. Deniese Davis (“The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl”), Kelly Thomas (SPA NIGHT), Ramaa Mosley (GIRL RISING, THE BRASS TEAPOT), Mel Jones (FRENCH DIRTY) & Giulia Caruso (SPA NIGHT) will discuss how they got started, and how to launch your producer career to the next level. Moderated by our own Ashley Chrisman.

deniese giulia-caruso-jpg kelly-thomas-jpg ramaa-mosely-jpg

Deniese Davis (“The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl”)
Kelly Thomas (SPA NIGHT)
Giulia Caruso (SPA NIGHT)

Ashley Chrisman, Independent Producer & Office Coordinator at Women In Film

Scroll down for bios. 

Monday, November 28
7:00 doors open for networking
7:30 panel begins 

City Council Chambers
(located on ground level)
West Hollywood Library
625 N. San Vicente
West Hollywood, CA 90069
WIF Members – FREE
(Be sure to log in for your free ticket)
Non Members – $10
Validated parking available in the five story parking structure (left side of driveway) at 625 N San Vicente.

This event is co-sponsored by the City of West Hollywood
the West Hollywood Women’s Advisory Board.

Deniese Davis has produced countless music videos, short films and various online content. In the web-series realm she is best known for producing Issa Rae’s award-winning web series “The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl”, which accumulated over 17 million views with seasons one and two combined. As a freelance producer she has worked with companies such as Macro, AwesomenessTV, All Def Digital, Pulse Films, Caviar Films, Valhalla Entertainment, and AlrightTV, including a brief stint as Head of Production for Marlon Wayans’ digital network “WhatTheFunny?!” (WTF Studios, Inc.) in 2012. She is currently an Associate Producer on the HBO comedy series INSECURE starring Issa Rae and continues to produce and oversee content for Issa Rae Productions. She also serves as COO of ColorCreative.TV, an exclusive launchpad for diverse and emerging writers that she co-founded with Issa in 2013.

Originally from Las Vegas, NV, Deniese graduated from CUNY-Brooklyn College in New York with a BA in Film Production and minor in TV/Radio. She is also a graduate of the American Film Institute Conservatory (MFA, Producing ’12), where she was awarded the prestigious Disney/Jerry Bruckheimer Scholarship and was the 2012 recipient of the Debra Hill Fellowship that is given by The Producer’s Guild of America (PGA).

Giulia Caruso is an LA-based Italian producer and founding member of Nonetheless Productions.
With Nonetheless, she recently produced COLUMBUS, starring John Cho, Parker Posey and Michelle Forbes (currently in post-production), and Andrew Ahn’s Sundance-winning debut feature SPA NIGHT (Strand Releasing/ Sundance TV). Giulia produced content for clients such as Focus Features, MTV, GoPro and Intel, including the Sundance short film Myrna the Monster, directed by Ian Samuels, and the docu-series We’ve Been Around, directed by Rhys Ernst.
Giulia is an alum of Sundance’s Creative Producing Summit, Film Independent’s Project Involve and the Berlinale Talent Campus. She holds an MFA in Film Directing from the California Institute of the Arts.


Kelly Thomas is an independent producer and co-founder of Extraordinary Renditions, a media development and production company.  Most recently, Kelly produced Spa Night, which premiered in Dramatic Competition at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival where it won a Grand Jury Award and was acquired by Strand Releasing for distribution.  She has produced over seven feature films and has worked with acclaimed directors Rodrigo Garcia, Phedon Papamichael, Robin Swicord, and Brad Silberling.  

Kelly was the Producer in Residence for Film Independent’s Artist Development programs where she produced branded entertainment for Vanity Fair and Lincoln Motors and managed labs for writers, directors, producers, and documentary filmmakers.  Thomas also served as VP of JuntoBox Films’ Incubator Initiative and has been a frequent Guest Lecturer in Media and Entertainment Management at the University of Virginia.  

Prior to the film industry, Kelly taught college-level English classes and worked in the financial sector at Standard & Poors.  She has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Michigan and an MBA from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.  She currently lives in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles with her husband and their three cats.


Ramaa Mosley is an advocate and filmmaker who at the age of sixteen years old directed her first documentary about the environmental problems titled: “We Can Make A Difference”, which won the UNEP Global 500 award. While at Bennington College, Mosley directed “Two Seasons and Home” a documentary following the plight of twenty Jamaican farm workers working in the US. Upon graduation, Mosley worked with the Dutch government to make “Altos Planos”, a documentary about the Aymara Indians of Bolivia. Over the past seventeen years, Mosley has directed feature films and hundreds of award winning commercials. She was named one of Shoot Magazine’s top 10 Female directors and is represented for commercials by Splendid and Co.

In Fall of 2013, Mosley directed the Afghanistan Segment of “Girl Rising” which was nominated for outstanding documentary at the Image Awards. She is a vocal advocate for girl’s and women’s rights around the world, launching the US social media campaign behind Bring Back Our Girls which brought the story of 276 kidnapped Nigerian School Girls to the main stream media and founding Food for School a grass roots program to send girls to school in rural Afghanistan.

In 2014 Mosley, founded Adolescent Content a production company and media company dedicated to content made by youth for youth. Mosley is CEO and oversees the mentoring of all Adolescent’s youth filmmakers, as well as new campaigns and creation of original content. Mosley recently gave a Ted Talk about being a teen director called “The Power of Adolescent Directors” Mosley directed her debut feature film, “The Brass Teapot” starring Juno Temple which premiered at TIFF, was distributed by Magnolia pictures in 2013 and was nominated for the International Critics’ Award (FIPRESCI) and Saturn Award.

Mosley just finished post production on her second feature film the dramatic thriller “Tatterdemalion” which was shot in the Ozarks starring Levin Rambin, Taylor John Smith and Jim Parrack. The film is currently being submitted to film festivals.



2016 Speaker Series

February – The Directors’ Panel 
Lake Bell (In a World, Children’s Hospital)
Nisha Ganatra (Transparent, Chutney Popcorn)
Jennifer Phang (Advantageous) 
Moderated by Effie T. Brown (Dear White People, Real Women Have Curves) 

March – Music in Television 
Colleen Fitzpatrick, Vice President of Music at Nickelodeon, Kids & Family
Frankie Pine, Music Supervisor (Army Wives, Magic Mike, The Newsroom)
Alicen Schneider, SVP NBCUniversal Television Music Division
Moderated by Thomas Golubić, Music Supervisor (The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Six Feet Under)

April – Good Rep 
Tara Kole (Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown)
Jennifer Levine (Untitled Entertainment)
Chelsea Radler (CAA)
Dana Sims (ICM)
Jonathan Howard ( Thor, The Dark World)
Moderated by renowned entertainment attorney, Nina Shaw (Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano)

May – Diversity In Practice  
Grace Borrero Moss (Manager of Entertainment Diversity Initiatives, NBC Entertainment)
Brett King (Vice President, Creative Programming, Diversity & Inclusion for Sony Pictures)
Gina Reyes (Director, Creative, Fox Audience Strategy)
Heather Washington (Manager, Emerging Writers Program, NBCUniversal).
Moderated by Ellen Huang, Director, EEO & Diversity at SAG AFTRA

June- No Speaker Series 

July – New Trends in Distribution
Sumyi Antonson (VP of Marketing & Distribution, Drafthouse Films)
Danielle DiGiacomo (VP of Acquisitions,The Orchard)
Sean Flanagan (Marketing and Sales Manager, Quiver)
Grace Royer (Independent Film Group, UTA)
Laura Lewis (Film Finance Agent, CAA)

August – Perfect Pitch
STEPHANIE ALLAIN – Producer, Homegrown Pictures; Director, LA Film Festival
NAKETHA MATTOCKS – VP Original Movies, Disney Channels Worldwide
TANYA LOPEZ – Senior Vice President, Original Movies, Lifetime

September – VR Pioneers
ALETHEA AVRAMIS, Producer – Specular Theory
NANCY BENNETT, Chief Creative Officer and General Manager of Virtual Reality – Two Bit Circus
KIMBERLY COOPER, Founder & CEO – Prologue Immersive
CATHERINE DAY, Head of Unscripted – Jaunt
EVETTE VARGAS, CEO, Writer, Director, Multiplatform Storyteller – Digital Reign Productions
LOUISA APRING, VR Consultant and Head of Industry Relations / Interim COO Innerspace VR

OCTOBER — Clearing the Hurdle
LAKE BELL (director, IN A WORLD)
MICHELLE SATTER, Founding Director of Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program


2015 Speaker Series

June – What Film Festival Programmers Want
Jacqueline Lyanga of AFI
Roya Rastegar of Los Angeles Film Festival
Kim Yutani of Sundance
Lucy Mukerjee Brown of Outfest

July – Perfect Pitch
Deborah Liebling, President of Ben Stiller’s company Red Hour Films
Amy Baer, CEO of Gidden Media
Stephanie Allain, Director of the LA Film Festival and producer of Beyond the Lights and Boyz n the Hood
Naketha Mattocks, VP of Original Movies at Disney Channels Worldwide

August – The TV Market

Shelby Stone, producer of HBO’s Bessie
Sasha Alexander, actor on hit TV show Rizzoli and Isles
Sandra Stern, COO of Lionsgate TV
Donna Pennestri, Associate Publisher of Variety
Moderated by Sharon Lawrence

September – The Business of Digital
Ronit Cohn, Fullscreen Director of Talent Relations & Marketing
Laura Fischer, Yahoo Originals Head of Production
Tamara Krinsky, Pemberley Digital Co-Producer, Writer & Story Editor
Robyn Marshall, Awesomeness Films Executive
Brittany Turner, Adaptive Studios VP, Digital Video

October –  Facts & Figures: Exploring the Data on Inequality in Film
Stacy L. Smith, Ph.D., Director of the Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative – USC Annenberg
Adriana Alberghetti, Partner – WME
Maria Bello, Actor, Activist Author and Producer
Michael De Luca, Producer

November – Inclusion On Screen: Casting for Today’s Audiences
Sharon Bialy, (The Walking Dead, Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad)
Sarah Halley Finn (Crash, Iron Man, Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy)
Vickie Thomas, (Straight Outta Compton, The Hateful Eight, D’Jango Unchained)
Gary M. Zuckerbrod (Pulp Fiction, Cold Case, Rizzoli & Isles)


Highlights from 2014 include:

Emily Best: Crowdfunding to Build Independence, Seed&Spark
Joanna Colbert: Producer & Casting Director
Dara Marks: Script Consultant, How To Write Your Best Story
Gita Pullapilly: Case Study on Financing for the Indie Film, BENEATH THE HARVEST SKY
Elsa Ramo of RLaw, PC: How To Legally Protect Yourself When You Create, Produce, & Exploit


Thank you

WeHo Arts aqua_closed