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Best in Fest

Media & Entertainment Podcasts

Host Leslie LaPage, Director of LaFemme International Film Festival uncovers the Secrets of Filmmaking with her lineup of industry professional guests. In every episode you will learn things like how to make the most out of the film festival circuit, how to find a great distribution partner, how to attract A list talent, finding the perfect representation, the dirty little secrets of Hollywood and much more.


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Host Leslie LaPage, Director of LaFemme International Film Festival uncovers the Secrets of Filmmaking with her lineup of industry professional guests. In every episode you will learn things like how to make the most out of the film festival circuit, how to find a great distribution partner, how to attract A list talent, finding the perfect representation, the dirty little secrets of Hollywood and much more.



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What the Heck are the Upfronts? - Ep #161

In this episode Leslie breaks down the Upfronts in Hollywood. What are they and why are they so important?


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New Trends in Animation with Tony Bancroft - Ep #160

With over 30 years in the animation industry, Tony Bancroft has been creatively involved in almost every position making an animated film, video, commercial, or short film. His animation and directing skills have been sharpened and honed while working at Walt Disney Feature Animation, Sony Pictures, his own animation company, Toonacious Family Entertainment, and currently, as an independent contractor working with Disney, Warner Brothers, and many more. Bancroft was accepted into the exclusive California Institute of the Arts (Cal-Arts) in 1987, where he thrived artistically and developed a lifelong passion for animation. Soon after, he realized one of his childhood dreams as he was hired to animate for Walt Disney Animation Studios. During his 12-year career with Disney Studios, Bancroft helped create and animate Pumbaa, the lovable warthog in The Lion King; Kronk, the dim-witted sidekick in The Emperor’s New Groove; Cogsworth the nervous clock from Beauty and the Beast; and Iago the pestering parrot in Aladdin. Bancroft’s most notable accomplishments include being the co-director of Walt Disney’s animated film, Mulan, for which he received the Annie Award for Director of the Year from ASIFA-International; and animation supervisor of Sony’s


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Lessons From a Hollywood Director with Ken Kwapis - Ep #159

Ken Kwapis has been a motion picture and television director for four decades. He directed eleven feature films, among them A Walk In The Woods, Big Miracle, He’s Just Not That Into You, and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Kwapis helped launch nine television series, including The Larry Sanders Show, The Bernie Mac Show, and The Office. He earned an Emmy nomination for directing the “Gay Witch Hunt” episode of The Office. He also earned an Emmy nomination for his work as a producer-director of Malcolm In the Middle. Kwapis contributed episodes to such shows Freaks and Geeks, Parks and Recreation, Santa Clarita Diet, and One Mississippi. Most recently, he directed the entire second season of Space Force. He is currently prepping the feature Thelma, based on the real-life story of the mother of John Kennedy Toole, author of A Confederacy of Dunces. Toole died before his novel was published, and his mother Thelma spent over a decade trying to find a home for her son’s masterpiece. In addition to his film and television work, Kwapis is the author of the memoir But What I Really Want To Do is Direct, published by St. Martin’s Press. Kwapis studied filmmaking at Northwestern University and the University of Southern California. He won the Student Academy Award in Dramatic Achievement for his USC film For Heaven’s Sake!, a contemporary


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How to Become a Successful Writer with Dr. Beverly J. Graf

B.J. Graf (aka Beverly Graf) lives in Los Angeles with her family and a menagerie of four-footers. Her near-future-mystery-novel, GENESYS X, featuring Detectives Eddie Piedmont & Shin Miyaguchi, will be published 11/10/2020 by Fairwood Press and is available for pre-orders now at,, www.b&, and an independent bookseller near you. In her alternate identity Dr. Graf is an Adjunct Professor who teaches Film Studies and Classical Mythology at Pepperdine, UCLA, and CSUN. Previously, she worked as V.P. of Development for Abilene Pictures where they produced several features and television projects including Primal Fear, Frequency, Fallen, Fracture and NYPD 2069.


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Building A Career and Company as a Film Producer with Giovanni Labadessa - Ep #157

Giovanni Labadessa Award winning film producer and storyteller, founder of Lumiere Lab a boutique film production company working since 2010 to tell stories that entertain, edify and build more understanding and empathy for others. Passionate about strengthening the independent film ecosystem as whole, in 2018 I co-founded Nòt Film Fest, a film festival and non-profit that connects audiences to storytellers whose work champions creativity, uniqueness and innovation while fostering film and business education for the youth. In 2021 I co-founded Nòtstream a SVOD streaming service dedicated to indie films that promotes an innovative distribution ecosystem that supports Independent cinema and its filmmakers.


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Get an Oscar Nomination for Your Film with Rick Markovitz - Ep #156

Rick Markovitz is a partner in Weissman/Markovitz Communications. WMC forges connections between people, brands and media to convey powerful ideas. Grounded in the business of storytelling, we know how to use the right tools and channels in today';s complex social media environment. With decades of entertainment marketing and communications expertise, and an industry-wide network of resources, we help countless clients succeed in creative, effective and profitable brand-building relationships. Starting with our first breakout for AMC’s Broken Trail with 16 Emmy nominations and 4 wins in 2006, we have continually worked with the leading content producers and distributors across motion pictures, television, and digital on comprehensive release and awards campaigns covering the product lifecycle. With our “Awards Lifecycle” approach, in collaboration with our clients, we seek to build the best path to success in the consumer and awards stages. Our work on these clients includes the following services depending on the unique needs of each project: • Program Analysis, prioritization and strategic communications planning • Content development of press materials and editorial outreach for launch and awards coverage • Prepare video assets for editorial and promotion on social media • Screenings and events and other stunts (food trucks, event buses) • Advertising consultation based on target audience and campaign goals When it comes to the world of Hollywood entertainment, we are dynamically connected to consumer and industry audiences. We are keenly integrated in all facets of marketing from promoting a network program, feature film, film festival or advising our international Guild clients on their awards events and other strategic business issues.forge connections between people, brands and media to convey powerful ideas. Grounded in the business of storytelling, we know how to use the right tools and channels in today's complex social media environment.


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The Secret to Successful International Productions with Luca Severi - Ep #155

Luca was born in a little town in the north of Italy, Castelfranco Veneto, 30 minutes far from Venice. After high school, he moved to Milan to study communication at the University without an exact idea of what I wanted to become. Luca became an assistant to a television director who was managing some live broadcast shows for SKY Italy and wanted some help. After the first tv gigs, Luca learned to operate the camera, consequently the mayor editing systems to finally be able to create my own contents. In Milan Luca worked for a photo studio where he was filming behind the scenes of important film sets and started to collaborate with a press agency as a documentarian. That was the company that sent him to L.A. where he settled since 2008. After a fortunate meeting with Dino De Laurentiis, he was sent to Cinecitta’ for my first gigs in the actual film industry where he kept working still as a behind the scenes director on some of the major blockbusters of the following year and opened his own production company. Luca and his team have worked on three feature projects so far, entirely produced by his company, LSPG.


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Down and Dirty Distribution Tips That No One is Talking About - Ep #154

Everything you ever wanted to know about how to get your movie distributed, but were afraid to ask. This is the Best in Fest Best Of Distribution episode.


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Life in the Golden Age of Hollywood with George Stevens Jr. - Ep #153

In 1962, while he was doing pre-production work on The Greatest Story Ever Told, Stevens was recruited by Edward R. Murrow to serve as director of the Motion Picture and Television Service, a division of the United States Information Agency.[10][11] At age 31, Stevens moved from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., where as director of the service, he produced roughly 300 short documentary films per year.[11][12][7] One of the films Stevens commissioned was Nine from Little Rock, which followed the experiences of nine African-American students attending a previously all-white high school in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957. In 1965, Stevens was a consultant in the process that established the National Endowment for the Arts.[17] In June 1967, at age 35, Stevens resigned from his position at the USIA to join the American Film Institute. In 1973, Stevens established the AFI Life Achievement Award, to honor and recognize decorated figures in the American film industry such as Orson Welles, James Cagney, Bette Davis, and Lillian Gish.[24][7][25] Stevens produced and wrote for the Life Achievement Award's television broadcast from its inception until 1998. In 1978, along with Nick Vanoff, Stevens co-created the Kennedy Center Honors, a ceremony and television production recognizing people who have made significant contributions to American culture through the performing arts. Stevens has just released an unforgettable memoir entitled My Place in the Sun.


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How to Be an Effective Writing Team - Ep #152

Director/screenwriter Jace Anderson most recently directed her first feature film, The Long Game, which premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in February 2024. Based on a short story by New York Times-bestselling author Janet Fitch, the film stars Kathleen Turner, Jackie Earle Haley and newcomer Sekai Abeni. It is a “femme fatale origin story,” a contemporary neo-noir that tells the tale of young actress Holly Sloan and her entanglements with failed con man Richard Metzger and faded superstar Mariah McKay. Together with her husband/co-writer Adam Gierasch, she has written numerous projects in both the studio and indie realms and for companies such as Fox, The Disney Channel, Lakeshore Entertainment and CBS Films. Mentored early in their career by legendary horror director Tobe Hooper, the duo has also worked with Clive Barker and Dario Argento. Sixteen of their scripts have been made into feature films. Recent projects include the Saturn Award-winning “Tales of Halloween,” for which Gierasch directed and Anderson produced a segment. Gierasch has directed many of the duo’s scripts, and recently directed the film “Spaghetti.” Anderson graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, where her senior thesis, “Re- Writing Race: Subverting Language in Anne Moody’s Coming of Age in Mississippi and Alice Walker’s Meridian” was published in the academic journal a/b: autobiography studies. Before becoming a screenwriter she worked as an HIV test counselor/educator with homeless/runaway and incarcerated youth in Los Angeles and studied social work at the University of Southern California. She lives in the mountains outside of Los Angeles with her husband and two neurotic rescue mutts.


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From Dancer to Filmmaker with Nicolas Dozol - Ep #151

Nicolas Dozol first studied dance at the Conservatoire de Lyon and at the Rudra Béjart school-atelier in Lausanne (Maurice Béjart's school). He still dancing as an extra dancer in the Opéra de Paris ballet. He then continued his studies in cinema at the Conservatoire Libre du Cinéma Français (CLCF) in Paris. Nicolas directed one feature film and numerous short fiction films, as well as documentaries and commercials. He seeks to shape imaginary experiences while trying new ways of filming that will make the audience think and question the world around them.


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Story— Why it’s Critical for Film and Television with Steve Stockman - Ep #150

Steve Stockman is president of LA-based Custom Productions, Inc. and a producer, writer and director of over 250 commercials, web series, short films, music videos, and TV shows. Steve is also the creator of How to Shoot Video that Doesn’t Suck: The Video Course. The course is based on his book How to Shoot Video that Doesn’t Suck, the world’s best-selling book about directing and cinematography. It’s used as a text worldwide in middle through graduate schools. It’s available in 9 languages, as an audio book, and an updated edition from Workman Publishing. You’ll find tons of great information on how to make your video better—including TWO FREE LESSONS from the course at Steve wrote, produced and directed the award-winning MGM feature film Two Weeks, starring Sally Field, Ben Chaplin, Tom Cavanagh, Julianne Nicholson, Glenn Howerton and Clea DuVall.


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Top Tips From an Entertainment Attorney with Nina Ameri - Ep #149

With 20 years of legal experience in the entertainment industry, Nina Ameri has established herself as a well-known, and respected attorney, with deep connections and relationships within the entertainment industry. Over the years, Nina has utilized her skills to support clients in several entertainment industry-specific practice areas including, entertainment transactions, trademark and copyright law, business entity formation, and more. Nina provides personalized, hands-on representation when working with each of her clients. She takes the time to analyze the realistic outcome of each person's potential legal issues while simultaneously making recommendations that will provide the best outcome for them. She gives her clients strategic advice and helps them understand the foundational decisions they are making for their business and what consequences could occur. She isn't afraid to advise clients to walk away from deals that are not in alignment with their best interests. Her holistic and no-nonsense approach has been instrumental in securing great outcomes for her creative and entrepreneurial clients.


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Create Your Own Career with Producer/Director Veteran filmmaker Julia Verdin - Ep #148

Veteran filmmaker Julia Verdin is a multi-hyphenate - she is known as an accomplished producer, award-winning Director and has written a number of screenplays. Having been in the film business for 30 years, Julia has established herself as one of Hollywood's leading independent producers, with over 36 critically acclaimed feature films produced to date. She founded and has been running Rough Diamond Productions since 1995. Some of the memorable, acclaimed theatrical releases and top film festival favorites Julia has produced, includes 2 Jacks, directed by Bernard Rose: the film starred Danny Huston, Jack Huston, Sienna Miller, Jacqueline Bisset, and Billy Zane; Stander, directed by Bronwen Hughes starring Thomas Jane, Deborah Unger, Dexter Fletcher, and David O'Hara; Sony Pictures Classics released The Merchant of Venice, directed by Michael Radford, starring Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, and Joseph Fiennes; and Riding The Bullet based on a Stephen King story, directed by Mick Garris, and starring David Arquette, Jonathan Jackson, Erica Christensen, and Barbara Hershey. Julia's faith-based film, The Least Among You was a Lionsgate release, starring Lou Gossett Jr., Lauren Holly, and William Devane, and featured in major festivals, being nominated for two N.A.A.C.P awards. Julia also Executive Produced the 2015 Lionsgate release Born of War, directed by Vicky Jewson, starring James Frain and Sophia Black D'Elia. Julia's films have been selected for many major film festivals including Sundance, Toronto, Venice, AFI, Raindance, Vancouver International, and London. As a director, her former acting background has given her the tools to support her actors and bring out amazing performances, and her producing background enables her to stay on budget while bringing out the best creative results.


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Best of Best in Fest Part 2 - Ep #147

Take a look back at some of the best moments of behind the scenes Hollywood talk with the Best of Best in Fest Part 2


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The Best of Best in Fest Part 1 - Ep# 146

Take a look back at some of the best moments of behind the scenes Hollywood talk with the Best of Best in Fest.


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Getting Your Script Ready to Sell with Peyton McDavitt - Ep #144

In this episode Leslie and Peyton talk about her career as an actress and a writer. Peyton gives great tips on how to prepare your script for sale in Hollywood. Peyton McDavitt was born on 12 January 1984 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. She is an actress and writer,


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Design Your Career as a Director of Photography with Jay Lopez Jr. - Ep #144

In this episode, Leslie speaks with Director of Photography at "In Reel Time" Jay Lopez Jr. Jay is a rising star in the industry and they discuss everything from the basic lighting of a shot to drone operating and AI. This episode has something for everyone.


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Starting an Animation Production Company with Lirit Rosenzweig Topaz - Ep #143

Lirit Rosenzweig Topaz has more than 20 years experience as a producer of animation, live action TV shows, films, music videos and live events. She has a strong passion for the industry and loves collaborating with clients. As the executive producer, Lirit has worked on a variety of projects including Sonic the Hedgehog, Marvel Avengers, Harry Potter, Barbie, Facebook, Spielberg Foundation, The Tunies and produced the animation in the feature film Ask Dr. Ruth which premiered at Sundance and Tribeca 2019 and is streaming on Hulu.


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From Live Action to Animation with Studio Head -Karen K Miller - Ep #142

Karen K. Miller is the current President & CEO of CGS USA LLC at Cyber group studios. Prior to this, they were the Senior Vice President of Content at NBCUniversal Media, LLC from July 2018 to March of 2022. In this role, they were responsible for creating and executing a content strategy, leading a development team, overseeing co-productions, short form team, and current production of original series. Karen also was responsible for identifying and executing acquisitions of content. Karen Miller began their career in 2007 as an Associate Producer for The Simpsons Movie at Rough Draft Studios, Inc. From December 2010 to July 2018 they worked for The Walt Disney Company as the Vice President Acquisitions, Co-Productions & Global Content Strategy-Disney Channels Worldwide. In this role they created & executed acquisition strategies for Disney Channel, Disney Junior & Disney XD worldwide, served as the sole creative liaison with input on creative development and production process, sourced & negotiated co-productions for all platforms, and created & implemented global programming strategies for Disney Channels Worldwide.