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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.




Create Your Career in the Film Industry with Nadia Valencia - Ep# 116

Naida Valencia originally hails from the West Coast of the US, but holds a strong identity within her Chilean and Colombian heritage. A theater virtuoso from the age of 9, she attended The Northwest School of the Arts, as well as the acting division of UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television. Since then her career has been an eclectic mixture of marketing, management, writing, event planning and overall industry involvement. She currently works as a marketing manager for Whatevergroup, a production company in Northern Finland. Whatevergroup is a TV and film production company based in Oulu, Finland. The company was initiated in 2011 and is run by three writer producers: Antti Kaarlela, Antti Kairakari and Aleksi Puranen. A modest, yet dynamic team runs the engine of this enterprise, setting the course for unique and ambitious horizons. Whatevergroup sets itself apart as one of the primary industry players within the northern regions of Finland. Brandishing an eclectic profile of enthralling pieces, such as the Evilside thriller series for Elisa Viihde and the family feature Susikoira Roi for Cmore MTV3.


Film Making for the LGBTQ Community and Beyond - Ep #114

Mark Salyer is an award-winning producer and director whose work in the arts and multi-media explores intergenerational themes, stories and mythology of the Appalachian Mountains where he is from and the LGBTQ+ experience. As an actor and director in the theater, Mark has won numerous awards and performed across the country and abroad. His Hedwig in the Atlanta premier of Hedwig and the Angry Inch was both a critical and commercial success. He performed in the ruins of Delphi for the International Symposium on Greek Drama playing a gender-fluid Electra in Sophocles’ tragedy. In Los Angeles, he co-created the four part harmony drag show She Haw which enjoyed a long run at Largo. Directing highlights include Williams’ Suddenly Last Summer, Madama Butterfly, Sondheim’s Into the Woods, Cabaret, An Evening with Stephen Schwartz starring Ben Vereen and Corbin Bleu and the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center’s gala opening performance of Big River. In 2012, he created NewStages, a dynamic and ground-breaking performing arts program for and about LGBTQ+ seniors. NewStages has reached thousands in the Los Angeles queer community through dynamic classes and workshops, innovative intergenerational projects and an annual Pride Arts Festival production featuring the seniors of the LA LGBT Center in a performance of music, theater, and dance inspired by their remarkable life stories. In 2016, he co-founded ARAY Productions with his co-Appalachian Melissa Palmer. Since then, ARAY has produced projects that are by and about the people of Central Appalachia, including the award-winning short Ladies Most Deject directed by Martha Elcan and starring Conner Wharton. Mark lives in Palm Springs and in Los Angeles with his husband of 31 years. He is currently working on a book about art and aging.


How to Market a Killer Sports Documentary - Ep# 114

Today Leslie has on John Wayne S III, Tyawanna Smith, Kristine McPhearson the creators of the sports documentary "Ballin' Aboard" to talk about how to market a film in todays industry. Ballin Aboard is the journey of five Champion and top-tier American athletes playing basketball in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) and Euro-Leagues.


Film Making in the Dominican Republic with Marianna Vargas Gurilieva - Ep #113

Marianna Vargas Gurilieva was appointed Film Commissioner of the Dominican Republic Film Commission (DGCINE) in 2021, a position dedicated to regulating, developing, and promoting the Dominican film industry. A Magna Cum Laude graduate in Law of the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM), Vargas continued her studies obtaining a L.L.M. in Business Transactions at Erasmus University Rotterdam. In 2021, she completed a master's degree in Legal Strategy from the OMG Institute of Santo Domingo. Prior to her appointment as Film Commissioner, Vargas served as a Senior Director of the Business Department at OMG, a legal firm in the Dominican Republic. From 2011 to 2016 she worked as Director of Business and Legal Affairs for Pinewood Dominican Republic Studios, where she acted as in house counsel for the Chief Operating Officer (COO) and the production team in international and national productions directed by the studio. Furthermore, Vargas participated as a representative of the Film Studios at the Intersectoral Commission for Promoting Cinematographic Activity in the Dominican Republic (CIPAC) and collaborated in the preparation, revision, and modification of Law No. 108-10 to promote Cinematographic Activity in the Dominican Republic and its applicable regulations. She has extensive knowledge and a well-established background in Corporate and Commercial Law, specializing in legal planning and entertainment.


Lessons from an Actor who is a Writer/Producer in Hollywood with Julia Morizawa - Ep #112

Julia Morizawa is a writer/producer with over 20 years of experience in film, television, new media, theater, and fiction podcasting. Produced projects include JESUSCAT (OR HOW IACCIDENTALLY JOINED A CULT) (feature film), SIN & LYLE (short film), TWENTY-TWO (play), and AMERICAN COMEDY HORROR STORY: ORPHANAGE (fiction podcast). Her current project, DRAGONFLY (animated short film), was awarded Best Short Screenplay by Scriptation Showcase and Screenwriting Master in 2019 and will be premiering at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival in May 2023. She is currently in development on a feature, SOMETHING ABOUT THE TIDE, which placed in the Top 5 Features in Roadmap Writers’ 2022 JumpStart Competition. Julia started her career as an actor with credits including JUDAS KISS (feature film), SCANDAL (TV), SEAL TEAM (TV), MASHA NO HOME (stage), STAR TREK: ODYSSEY (new media), and THE BRIGHT SESSIONS (fiction podcast). Julia is also a freelance script analyst, the Short Film Fund Coordinator at Shore Scripts, and the proud mom of two tiny superheroes.


How to Make the Most of the Film Festivals with Franklin Ritch - Ep # 111



From the Cannes Film Festival to Hollywood with Katherine Sheyno - Ep #110

Katherine graduated as a medical biotechnologist (MD in Bioсhemistry and Molecular biology) and worked briefly in a Cancer Research Center. But due to serious circumstances, she moved to Hong Kong and spent the next 12 years as an interior designer and small-form architect, heading her own studio Cheshire Cat and founding a construction company Berling Co. Deciding to expand her activities, she entered a film school, after which she went with her student short film to the Cannes Film Festival. There she was noticed by producers from Los Angeles and was invited to the USA to develop the new projects.


ReFrame ReSource and the LGBTQ Community with Andria Wilson Mirza - Ep #109

Andria Wilson Mirza is the Director of ReFrame, the screen industry's gender equity coalition founded and led by Sundance Institute and Women In Film. Since joining the organization, she has expanded their mid-career talent accelerator and launched the ReFrame ReSource, an industry-leading initiative to create connections across Hollywood’s diversity advocacy sector. Previously, Andria was Executive Director of Inside Out, Canada’s largest LGBTQ film festival. There, she established the world’s only LGBTQ Feature Film Financing Forum, launched two development funds, co-founded the North American Queer Festival Alliance (NAQFA), and spearheaded a 4-year partnership between Inside Out and Netflix. Andria and her wife Fawzia Mirza co-founded and run Baby Daal Productions, and are currently in post-production on the feature THE QUEEN OF MY DREAMS, a Pakistan-Canada co-production. Baby Daal’s feature slate also includes Sandra Itäinen's upcoming queer Muslim documentary COMING AROUND and Drew Denny’s GIFTED, which centers survivors of intimate partner violence with an all-survivor crew and creative team. Andria serves on the advisory board of Hire Survivors Hollywood, and is a consultant for EFM’s Toolbox program to support underrepresented directors in navigating their first international film market. Named ‘one of 15 Canadian women to watch’ by the CBC, Andria has been a featured speaker at festivals including TIFF, Sundance, SXSW, AFM, San Diego Comic Con, Berlin’s European Film Market, Oslo Fusion, and the Iris Prize Producer’s Forum. Twitter: @reframeproject @andriawilson Instagram: @reframe_project @andriawilsonmirza


The Inner workings of Sales Agents with Clay Epstein - Ep #108

Clay Epstein has over twenty years of experience as an Entertainment Executive. Since launching his own company in 2016, he is the President and Owner of Film Mode Entertainment, a worldwide sales and distribution entity with a producer friendly initiative. In addition to bringing films to audiences around the globe, Clay executive produces many of the company’s titles. As an Executive Producer, Clay is instrumental in working with filmmakers in the early stages of pre‐production to help build the financing, and creative elements to achieve these successes worldwide. To better help producers and directors who may be less experienced, Film Mode has an active consultancy division, offering producers expertise and guidance on financial models, marketing, and distribution strategies. Film Mode represents over 50 independent feature films worldwide, with a client base that spans the globe. Recent successes include BREACH starring Bruce Willis, AS THEY MADE US starring Dustin Hoffman, and Candice Bergan, CRYPTO starring Kurt Russel, LITTLE PINK HOUSE starring Catherine Keener, and MONSTROUS starring Christina Ricci. Prior to launching Film Mode, Clay was SVP Sales & Acquisitions at Arclight Films. He was instrumental in representing high profile films such as Paul Schrader ’s DOG EAT DOG starring Nicolas Cage, and the Spirig brother’s PREDESTINATION starring Ethan Hawke. Earlier in his career, Clay represented prestigious titles such as TSOTSI (2006, Academy Award Winner for Best Foreign Language,) and THE LAST STATION (2010, Academy Award Nominee for Best Performance by an Actress.) Clay earned a BA in Fine Arts, from California State University, Northridge majoring in Film Production and minoring in Italian Language. In addition to his professional accomplishments, he holds the elected position of Chairman of Independent Film and Television Alliance. Clay is an instructor at UCLA Extension, and a frequent lecturer at film festivals worldwide., a member of PGA, FIND, BAFTA LA, and the Australian Academy Cinema Television Arts.


Character, Theme, and all the Things That Make a Film Great with Mary Jane Skalski - Ep #107

Mary Jane’s films have screened at the Toronto, Venice, Berlin, Cannes and Sundance Film Festivals and have received numerous awards and nominations, including several appearances on the National Board of Review ‘best of’ list, a BAFTA best screenplay win for The Station Agent and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for Richard Jenkins in The Visitor. Mary Jane received the Independent Spirit Award for Producing in 2004 and was selected as one of Variety’s Producers to Watch in 2003. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and serves on the Branch Executive Committee for the Producers Branch. Mary Jane has served as an adjunct at Columbia University and New York University and regular acts as an advisor at the Sundance Creative Producing and Catalyst Labs. In 2016 she served as the Allesee Chair at Wayne State University. From 2013-2018 Mary Jane was the Senior Advisor to Gamechanger, a financing entity focused exclusively on films directed by women. Gamechanger’s inaugural slate of films included The Tale, The Invitation, Busters Mal Heart, Love Song, Land Ho, Addicted to Fresno and The Strange Ones. She is a graduate of The University of Michigan. Mary Jane Skalski is currently the President of Production for Echo Lake Entertainment, a production, management and financing company where, in addition to overseeing the company’s slate, she is also producing a number of projects in film and tv and has a small number of clients.


Financing Your Filmmaking in Finland with Antti Kaarlela - #106

Antti Kaarlela is a Finnish screenwriter, producer and a production company CEO. Antti has studied and lived in many different places around the world, including Rome, Italy and New York City, US. Antti set a production company called Whatevergroup in 2011 together with his namesake Antti Kairakari and a fellow entrepreneur Aleksi Puranen and since then Whatevergroup has produced for example the 2022 Oulu International Children and Youth Film Festival winning feature film Roi and the MIPdrama official selection Evilside that will open in Finland on Elisa Viihde Viaplay in October 2023. Antti lives Northern Finnish town of Oulu a mere 100 miles below the Arctic Circle. Antti is a strong believer in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and these basic values have been the main building blocks of the Whatevergroup mission; to make the world a better place through entertainment. Currently Whatevergroup is in production with a mini series for the Finnish pubcaster YLE. The dramedy mini series entitled Critical point tells the story of a Somali-Finnish young woman who wants to become the best ski jumper in the whole World. The series is planed to open on YLE channels in February 2024.


The Latest in Virtual Production with Joan Webb- Ep #105

It's all about virtual production in this episode with one of the industry experts, President of Roninfilms Virtual Production Joan Webb. Roninfilm Virtual Production pioneered in Unreal Engine as early adopters with 2 Epic Games/Unreal Engine MegaGrants, becoming evangelists, leading speaking engagements at NAB, AFM, CineGear, VES, Wacom, ASUS, Poppy Jasper Film Festival, and over 35 articles world-wide in American Cinematographer, Variety, Sci-Fi, NAB Show Daily, and other trades written on our accomplishments, discoveries and endeavors as the preeminent leaders in Virtual Production. As experts, in a field of limited experienced contenders/participants, our unmatched, deep experience, discoveries and knowledge in this new frontier provided Roninfilm Virtual Production the ability to recognize and identify the requirements necessary to create standards and offered guidance to Rapid Industry Solutions (RIS), SMPTE's new Virtual Production Standards advisory & working group focusing on On Set Virtual Production, by interjecting the necessity/inclusion of ASC for an accurate integration and representation for Virtual Production to create standards for this new workflow. Roninfilm Virtual Production's talent fulfilled Director, Writer, Creative Director, Virtual Production Supervisor, Virtual Production Producer, CG Supervisor, and Unreal Asset Creation for the first Super Bowl spots to air using this new workflow, as well our team has completed: Feature, Commercials, Shorts, Corp, Experimental in Virtual Production and 7 BTS how-to mini docs on Virtual Production.


Creating Content that Represents all Communities with Alex Schmider - Ep #104

Alex Schmider is an Emmy, Peabody, and Critics Choice Award recognized film producer and the Director of Transgender Representation at GLAAD, the nation’s leading LGBTQ media advocacy organization. His producing credits include CHANGING THE GAME (Hulu), DISCLOSURE (Netflix), FRAMING AGNES (Kino Lorber), STAY ON BOARD: THE LEO BAKER STORY (Netflix) and upcoming CHASING CHASING AMY. He is an active member of the Producers Guild of America, the Television Academy, and board member for The 19th News. He remains a Forbes 30 under 30 list maker for media, but is gleefully no longer under 30. More about his work:


Cinematography & Visual Effects with David Stump - Ep #103

David Stump brings over 25 years of experience as a Producer, Director, Director of Photography, Visual Effects Director of Photography, Visual Effects Supervisor and Effects Cameraman. He has extensive experience in high definition film and video photography, content creation, CGI and visual effects production. He has won an Emmy Award and an Academy Award for Scientific and Technical Acheivement. He is a full member of the American Society of Cinematographers, where he currently serves as Chair of the Camera Subcommittee of the ASC Technical Committee. He was also the founder of camera and equipment company Motion Control Rental Services. He has photographed and supervised VFX work for every major studio and many independent production studios on feature film projects including James Bond 22 – A Quantum of Solace, Into the Blue, The Game of Their Lives, Garfield, X-Men 2, Sizzling Kung Fu Mice, Panic Room, The Bourne Identity, The One, Men of Honor, Pluto Nash, Hollow Man, X-Men, Navy Diver, Deep Blue Sea, Stuart Little, Soldier, Blade, U.S. Marshals, The Sphere, Contact, Batman & Robin, Mars Attacks!, Star Trek First Contact, Executive Decision, Mortal Kombat, Batman Forever, A Walk in the Clouds, Stargate, Clear and Present Danger, Exit to Eden, The Shadow, The Quick and the Dead, Wes Craven's Nightmare on Elm Street Part VII, Time Cop, Tall Tale, Double Dragon, Hot Shots! Part Deux, Ghost in the Machine, Dark Encounter, Free Willy, Toys, Batman Returns, Night Train, The Skateboard Kid, Doppelganger, Alien 3, Army of Darkness, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, Flight of the Intruder, Ghost Dad, Solar Crisis, Gremlins II, Karate Kid III, Rambo III, Beetlejuice, My Stepmother is an Alien, Adventures In Babysitting, Stand By Me, Runaway Train, Black Moon Rising, Ice Pirates, Jaws 3-D, The Man Who Wasn't There, Top Secret, The Last Dragon, and many others. Television projects completed include Storm of the Century, The Shining, Science Fiction Channel, The Tower, Space Rangers, Darkman, Beverly Hills 90210, Grand, Miracle Landing, Quantum Leap, Something Is Out There, The Christmas Star, Poor Little Rich Girl, Murder By The Book, Oceans of Fire, The Day After, Greatest American Hero, Condor, Hollywood Fever, Adventure Kids, Sidekicks, Completely Off The Wall, Crackers and others. His first and second unit Director of Photography credits include; Spring Break ’83, Killer Pad, The Bronx Is Burning, The Trident, What Love Is, Southland Tales, Red Riding Hood, Daddy’s Boys and The Black Gate. He has also completed numerous broadcast, commercials and industrial projects for leading companies, major brand names and various leading advertising agencies. He is a member of the Producer’s Guild of America (PGA), the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), Visual Effects Society (VES), the Society of Operating Cameramen (SOC), the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS).


Profitable Films From Research Data with Kevin Goetz - Ep #102

Kevin is the founder and CEO of Screen Engine/ASI, a research and data analytics company that prioritizes maximizing market potential while evaluating risk for clients in the media and entertainment sectors. SE/ASI works with entertainment clients to uncover the critical ‘WHY’ behind the choices people make in deciding what, where, when, and how they choose to watch content. Throughout his career, Kevin has produced twelve television movies. He is also the author of Audience-ology a book that chronicles how everyday moviegoers influence and help shape the making of America's cinematic masterpieces through the secretive process of audience testing of Hollywood movies. It offers an enlightening and universal perspective on how the power of audience feedback affects the final cuts of films and helps to make the playability the best it can be.


Music for TV and Film with Max Muscato - Ep #101

Max Muscato is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer and philanthropist. As a rock artist he brings electrifying performances to every show. Over the last several years Max has gained an extensive following and has toured and opened for: Citizen Cope, Theory of a Deadman, Aaron Carter, Finger Eleven, Eric Gales, Ripe, The Allman Betts Bandn and more. He is currently working on his next singles Valarie and Toxic & Poison due out in 2022. In addition to his music career, Max is also the founder of Rock Autism Music Festival and the creator/writer of the new TV show “Setlist.” The show is the truest depiction of their family dynamic while revealing the grind it takes to make it in the music industry. Max's powerful songs written about his brother's struggle with Autism and addiction is a deep-rooted catalyst that drives his passion and career. Proceeds from his festival fund Rock Autism programs for individuals with Autism, connecting them to a career in music and film.


Building the Future of Distribution with Alan D'Escragnolle - Ep #100

Alan D'Escragnolle is a Brazilian-American, currently building the future of film distribution for producers, sales agents and distributors. Prior to this, I've spent time wearing many hats building product, growth, and operations teams across many different verticals and stages of companies. From turnaround to high-growth companies, there's always a great learning experience.


From Film making to Film Festivals with Eleonora Granata Jenkinson - Ep #99

With her extraordinarily deep and varied background in managing and marketing film and cultural ventures on both sides of the Atlantic, Eleonora brings a global network of artistic and business alliances to her endeavors as a producer, film festival programmer, and international PR, marketing and distribution consultant. As an Executive: As a film production and acquisitions executive, Eleonora has worked as Vice President and head of the film co- productions and acquisitions division at Turner Pictures. ( then Time Warner Turner) She served as Senior Vice President at Pandora Films, running their U.S. office and was responsible for worldwide USA film productions and acquisitions. Eleonora She began her career with RCS Films and Television in Italy, where she held various acquisitions, distribution and marketing positions and eventually oversaw the company’s worldwide acquisitions buying in excess of one thousand films and various film library from Los Angeles.


Surviving Sex Trafficking with Sadhvi Siddhali Shree - Ep #98

Sadhvi Siddhali Shree is the first North American Jain monk, a US Army Iraq-war combat veteran, a TEDx speaker, an activist, and an award-winning filmmaker. Driven by her deep-seated devotion to humanity, she uses her talents and skills to raise awareness about non-violence, personal and spiritual transformation, and social issues. Since 2008, she has served as the Spiritual Director of Siddhayatan Tirth & Spiritual Retreat, a 250-acre retreat, ashram, monastery, and meditation park based near Dallas, Texas. Determined to bring about positive change and to help those who have suffered, she directed and produced two award-winning documentaries Stopping Traffic and Surviving Sex Trafficking. Surviving Sex Trafficking, which was released in early 2022, was picked up by a major streaming company, had a 20 theater nationwide release in partnership with anti-trafficking non-profits, and met the Academy qualification requirements for Oscar consideration. Her current film, For The Animals nearly complete. Sadhvi Siddhali Shree and her work have been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, TMZ, Newsweek, the Associated Press, Deadline Hollywood, The Daily Beast, Los Angeles Times, and the NY Post. Despite being a filmmaker, she considers herself a simple monk trying to do good in the world.


LaFemme Panel Part 2: Independent Financing - Ep #97

Join Leslie for this very special episode directly from LaFemme International Film Festival. Moderated by Debeorah Gilels from LA Media Consultants this is part 2 of a panel titled Independent Financing: From Bridge to Gap to Raising Capital.