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: Navigating the Landscape in the New Golden Age of Television

co-presented by

A frank and open discussion about the challenges women face in the television business.  Q & A to follow. Moderated by Women In Film’s Executive Director Kirsten Schaffer.

Credits for The Caucus: Co-Chairs, Robert Papazian, Tanya Hart; Event Chair, Chuck Fries

Stephanie Allain – Executive Producer, “Dear White People,” “Crushed”; Women In Film BOD
Davah Avena – Writer/Producer “East Los High,” “Devious Maids,” and “Daytime Divas”
Amy Israel – SVP Original Programming, Showtime Networks
Nancy Schreiber – Prolific, award-winning cinematographer
Betty Thomas – Comedian, Actor, TV and Feature Director & Producer, Activist

Kirsten Schaffer, Women In Film Executive Director

Scroll down for bios. 

Monday, February 27
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 & Caucus Members – FREE
(WIF, Be sure to log in for your free ticket. Caucus, you will be provided with a discount code.)
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
The Caucus for Producers, Writers & Directors.

Stephanie Allain is an accomplished film producer who has been an advocate for visionary filmmakers for more than twenty years.

Allain began her career at Columbia Pictures where she shepherded John Singleton’s, Boyz N The Hood. As Senior Vice President of Production she launched the careers of several writer/directors including Robert Rodriguez.

In 2003, Allain formed Homegrown Pictures and produced Hustle & Flow, Something New, Black Snake Moan, Peeples, Beyond the Lights, Dear White People, French Dirty and Burning Sands. She is executive producer of upcoming Netflix Original Series Dear White People and Crushed.

Ms. Allain is a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, WGA, PGA and sits on the board of Women In Film.  She has taught producing at USC’s Peter Stark Program and UCLA’s Entertainment Studies Division. A former board member of Film Independent, she served as director of the LA Film Festival from 2012-2016.


Davah Avena is the industry’s first and only Can-exican (Canadian-Mexican) television writer/producer.  Not only can she break story and write awesome scripts, she can also tap her own maple tree and make a killer margarita.  After graduating from USC Film School and the National Hispanic Television Writers’ program, Davah got her first network gig writing on MEDIUM for NBC. When she left MEDIUM (the politically correct way of saying she was fired) she went on to sell pilot scripts to ABC FAMILY and NICKELODEON.  She also had a Blind Pilot Deal with SONY.  Davah’s pilots most often reflect her youth growing up working in the family business and her love of magic realism.   While she loves to bring the drama, she can’t help but see the humorous side of life, so she considers herself a dramedy writer.  After several years of selling pilots, she went on to staff on the critically acclaimed EAST LOS HIGH for HULU.  Then went on to write/produce on DEVIOUS MAIDS for LIFETIME and DAYTIME DIVAS for VH1.  


Amy Israel serves as Senior Vice President, Original Programming for Showtime Networks, Inc. She is responsible for the creative oversight of a number of SHOWTIME original series including Billions, created and executive produced by Brian Koppelman and David Levien, and starring Damian Lewis, Paul Giamatti, Maggie Siff and Malin Akerman. Her other series include The Affair, created and executive produced by Sarah Treem, starring Ruth Wilson, Dominic West, Maura Tierney and Josh Jackson, Dice, starring Andrew Dice Clay, and Masters of Sex, executive produced by Michelle Ashford, starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan.

Israel has numerous shows in development including SMILF, starring, produced and directed by Frankie Shaw, and Purity, based on the novel by Jonathan Franzen, starring and executive produced by Daniel Craig. Todd Field is attached to write, direct and executive produce, along with Franzen, David Hare and Scott Rudin.

Prior to joining Showtime in 2011, Israel served as New Regency’s Executive Vice President of Production. Before that, she was Head of the Production and Acquisitions at Paramount Vantage, where she oversaw the development and production of a number of award-winning films including The Coen Brother’s No Country For Old Men, Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, Sean Penn’s Into The Wild and Ed Zwick’s Defiance. She was also instrumental in the acquisition of the Academy Award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

Previous to Paramount Vantage, Israel was co-head of the Acquisitions and Co-Production departments at Miramax Films, where she was responsible for the acquisition and co-production of over 60 movies including the seminal films Life Is Beautiful, The Others, Il Postino, Kids, Swingers, Flirting with Disaster, Sling Blade, Clerks and Trainspotting, among others.  

As a producer, Israel executive produced Andrew Niccol’s In Time, which starred Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, and Peter Chelsom’s Shall We Dance with Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez. She also produced Hysterical Blindness for HBO, for which Uma Thurman won a Golden Globe® award, and Griffin and Phoenix with Amanda Peet and Dermot Mulroney. Israel is a member of the Producer’s Guild.

She is a graduate of Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Art History. Israel is based in the SHOWTIME offices in Los Angeles.


Nancy Schrieber, ASC  is an American cinematographer with an eclectic list of narrative film and television credits as well as commercials, music videos and documentaries. Her work includes Your Friends and Neighbors, The Nines, Visions of Light, In Plain Sight (pilot), HBO’s The Comeback, episodes of ABC’S The Family, and the new FX series Better Things. Schreiber’s cinematography on Chain of Desire earned her an Independent Spirit Award nomination , which she followed with an Emmy nomination  for her work on the The Celluloid Closet.

Schreiber landed on Variety’s 10 Cinematographers to Watch before taking home the coveted Best Cinematography Award at Sundance for November in 2004. She previously shared a Sundance Cinematography Award on My America… Or Honk if You Love Buddha .

Schreiber  was the fourth woman to be admitted  into the American Society of Cinematographers,  and is the recipient of the 2017 ASC Presidents Award, the first woman  ever to receive this prestigious award.

In addition to serving on the ASC Board of Governors, she was on the Foundation  board of Women In Film (WIF) . the board of NYWIFT, and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Schreiber has taught advanced cinematography at the American Film Institute and, between shooting, continues to guest lecture at film schools in California, New York, and around the world.


Betty Thomas arrived in Los Angeles from The Second City improvisational theatre in Chicago. Los Angeles brought drama and she received an Emmy® for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role on Hill Street Blues. Her shift to directing brought a second Emmy® in 1993, Best Directing in a Comedy Series (Dream On). She received a DGA Award for directing HBO’s The Late Shift and an Emmy® nomination for directing My Breast. Eventually directing her first studio movie, the box office hit The Brady Bunch Movie, Betty has directed the feature films Only You, Private Parts, Dr. Dolittle, I Spy, 28 Days, 3R, John Tucker Must Die, and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. Betty’s television credits include 9 pilots –and numerous series. In 2012 she directed her first web series for You Tube’s WIGS Channel . She’s currently casting DEL, a look at the comedy improvisation master teacher who affected both Betty’s and every other American comedian’s approach to comedy in the last 40 years.

Betty is involved in the leadership of the DGA. She currently serves as First VicePresident of the DGA, member Western directors Council, and the National Board as well as numerous committees working with networks and studios to develop inroads for minority and women directors.


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

NOVEMBER– Producing 101
Deniese Davis (“The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl”)
Kelly Thomas (SPA NIGHT)
Giulia Caruso (SPA NIGHT)
Ashley Chrisman, Independent Producer/Women In Film Staff


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

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