by | Sep 26, 2019 | Past Panels


Name of Seminar


This panel will explore the real methods used to get your short film or web series noticed and launch your career. Learn tangible successful actions you can follow to get in the door. Q&A to follow.

PANEL 1: SATURDAY October 19th– 11:00am-1:00pm

VENUE: LA Live – Regal Cinema , 1000 West Olympic BLVD., Los Angeles 90015 (3rd Fl-screening room)Auditorium 12

Deborah Gilels (Moderator)

Deborah Gilels experience in the entertainment industry has run the gamut from film/television production and development, to mergers and acquisitions in the international film market and public relations for film companies, writers, actors, authors and directors. From 2000- 2014 she was a senior executive with the Japanese media company Media Design Institute, acquiring television product for Japan TV and producing an entertainment talk show for Japan and South Korea. As a development executive, she has also worked with JVC’s entertainment division. Gilels has run a successful media consulting PR company for the past 14 years, assisting writers, filmmakers, and actors launch their careers in the entertainment industry, as well as promote independent feature films and documentaries, by way of public relations, marketing, distribution and project development.

Among the films she has launched are: Keiko the Untold Story of the Star of Free Willy, Cevin Soling’s award-winning documentary The War on Kids on Pivot, the Chazz Palminteri- Andie MacDowell family drama Mighty Fine for Lionsgate, the US premiere of the documentary Fallout and James Haven’s short film Court of Conscience starring his father Jon Voight and the

late Anton Yelchin. She did publicity for anime series Lupin 3rd Part 4 on Adult Swim in May 2017, Lupin the 3rd Part 5, Megalobox on Crunchyroll. She also was the lead publicist on Fathom Events release of Hayao Miyazaki’s Lupin the 3rd: The Castle of Cagliostro, where she set up the filmed interview with John Lasseter to promote the film. Gilels is currently launching the indie film The World Without You starring Radha Mitchell and James Tupper, Valerie McCaffrey’s acclaimed short Dirty Bomb, about the Jewish prisoners who sabotaged Hitler’s V2 Bomb, and Hajji starring The Walking Dead’s Ross Marquand.She has successfully promoted films in festivals such as Dances WithFilms, LA Femme, Starz, Toronto International Film Festival, Palm SpringsInternational Film Festival, New Filmmakers, St. Louis, UN Film Festival, and has represented feature films and documentaries in markets such as AFM, Berlin, Cannes, and MIP-TV. She executive produced the award-winning documentaries Bearing the Torch: Politics & the Games for ESPN/Hearst Entertainment and The Gilligan Manifesto soon to be released by Gunpowder. Prior to that, as a development executive and producer Gilels collaborators included actors Robert Duvall, Jenna Malone, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Rachel Leigh Cook; writers and directors A. Scott Berg, Michael Hirst, and Paul Verhoeven. Companies and producers such as: Warp Films, Disney, ESPN, Wind Dancer Films, Lionsgate and New Line Cinema/TV.

She has also held executive positions at Fox, Warner Brothers TV and PFG Entertainment. In that capacity, the films she has worked on as a development executive include: Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead starring Christina Applegate and David Duchovny, Crossing the Mob starring Jason Bateman, Showdown in Little Tokyo starring the late Brandon Lee and Cary- Hiroyuki Tagawa, Penthathlon starring Dolph Lundgren, Enemy of the State starring Will Smith, A Cooler Climate starring Sally Field and Judy Davis, and A Slight Case of Murder starring William H. Macy.


 Seth Nagel

Seth Nagel is a Manager and Producer based in Hollywood, California  where he represents writers, directors and other content creators.  Most recently he worked as a manager and producer at Infinity Management International (IMI), having joined the company in August 2014 after spending several years as a manager at Code Entertainment. Prior to joining Code Entertainment, Seth partnered with Brett Carducci to launch Aligned Entertainment, a management and production company originally located in Westwood, California. At Aligned, Seth was responsible for “Deep Blue Sea 2†at Warner Premiere. Beginning in 2010, Seth co-produced two seasons of the series “Femme Fatales” for HBO/Cinemax, which were sold internationally and released on DVD and digital platforms by EOne.

With almost 20 years in the entertainment industry, Seth has overseen, managed, negotiated and otherwise been involved in the acquisition and distribution of dozens of projects on a multitude of platforms, including theatrical, home video, DVD, PPV, VOD and the internet. He has first-hand knowledge of all aspects of deal structures, both historical and present, including release patterns, financial compensation, promotion and contractual obligations of both buyers and sellers.

Prior to starting Aligned Entertainment, Seth founded Lafayette Drive Entertainment, a production and consulting company with several projects still in active development, including an adaptation of Georgette Heyer’s classic novel, “The Grand Sophy,†currently in development at BBC Films, the comedy “Roadies†and the martial-arts comedy, “This Time Its Percival.†Seth also co-produced “Laid to Rest,†with Lena Heady, which was released in April 2009 by Anchor Bay.

From January 2007 through June of 2009, Seth served as the VP of Content and Acquisitions at the website IKLIPZ. Seth produced over 165 segments for the site and created the series “The Inside Film Show,“ “that indie film show†and “Hanging Out,†as well as segment produced the show “CeWEBrity.†In addition to producing, Seth also initiated partnerships with Bloody-Disgusting.com and VMARK.

In late 2003, Seth joined Brainstorm Media to oversee production. He co-produced their film, “3-Way,†based on a classic pulp fiction novel. This film was acquired for worldwide distribution by Columbia/TriStar and starred Ali Larter, Dominic Purcell and Gina Gershon. While at Brainstorm, Seth co-produced the SyFy Channel premiere “Crimson Force†and worked on several other SyFy Channel and Lifetime programs.During his time at Brainstorm, Seth began consulting for Hart Sharp Video and was instrumental in helping the company acquire the smash hit “Super Size Me.â€

Prior to joining Brainstorm, Seth spent nearly three years at Columbia TriStar/Screen Gems. While there, he acquired numerous films for both the domestic and international markets, including the Academy Award Winner “Nowhere in Africa,†and festival favorites, such as “Spun,†“Returner,†and â€Read My Lips.†Seth also worked on various productions including “Motives,†“Wild Things 2,†“Pandora’s Box,†“Bayou†and “Soccer Dog: European Cup.â€

Before joining Screen Gems/Columbia TriStar, Seth held the position of Director of Theatrical and Ancillary Acquisitions at USA Films (previously know as October Films). While there, he also worked on their productions, “Trippin’†and “Cherry Falls.â€

Prior to his career in acquisitions, Seth worked on Robert Townsend’s WB show “The Parent’Hood.†He began in Hollywood at Rogers and Cowan, working on the best-selling novel, “Enter the Zone†by Barry Sears, and the film adaptation of the critically acclaimed book, “Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored.â€

During his career, Seth has represented various distribution and acquisition companies at film festivals and markets including Cannes, Toronto, Sundance, Telluride, SXSW, Tribeca and many more. He continues to speak as an expert at film festivals and numerous colleges and other programs. His contacts include leading directors, writers, producers, lawyers, agents, foreign sales agents and more.

Before moving to Los Angeles, Seth graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Telecommunications and Film from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.

While growing up in Cleveland, Seth first discovered his love of film. While still in high school, he was hired as the film critic and entertainment reporter for “2010,†a news program for teens on the local Fox affiliate. In addition, he was a reporter and film critic for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and had an entertainment segment on the local Public Radio station. Seth also appeared regularly on a radio program devoted to film that was broadcast in 11 states in the Midwest. At age 13, because of his knowledge of film, Seth was the youngest person ever chosen by Cleveland Magazine for its Most Interesting People in Cleveland issue.

While his career is important, philanthropy has also played a big part in Seth’s life. He was a Jewish Big Brother for over 13 years. Additionally, he has held a leadership position within the Entertainment Division of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Jewish Federation.

Seth is a loving father of two young sons.


Michelle Sam

Michelle Sam is an award winning filmmaker, writer, British- trained actress, and a daughter of Ghanaian immigrants. Her short film that she directed and wrote, Missed Connections, supported by GLAAD Transgender Media Equality Program, and executive produced by and starring Angelica Ross (Pose on FX) has screened at over forty film festivals around the world and has won various awards. She was an Outfest Screenwriting Lab Fellow for her feature script, Sankofa.

She is a Film Independent Project Involve Fellow and was named a Notable Writer by the New York Television Festival for her half hour pilot, African Black Sheep, about a first-gen Ghanaian graphic comic book novelist who explores her manic depression and anxiety through comics, while moonlighting as a dominitrix, which has been picked up by Topic Studios.

She is doing unique, astonishing, and great work. She has similar comedic sensibilities to Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Donald Glover, along with some of the artistic risk taking of Terence Nance. She is also an alum of Second City Chicago Training Center and iO Chicago. Sam’s work explores the ongoing themes of race, sexuality, class, and gender across the diaspora.


Jenny Hayden

Jenny Hayden has over twenty years of experience in acquisition and distribution of award winning television programs and home video / DVD / streaming releases across all platforms in the US and globally. She’s built a library from a catalog of 25 hours to a catalog of 2000 hours with sales in over 180 countries selling to name-brand networks including the BBC, Fox, Ch4 UK, ITV UK, TV2 Denmark,  Viasat, Discovery US, Discovery International, France 5,  Outside Television, Scripps Networks, Globosat Brazil, Prisa TV Spain, Sogecable Spain,

RAISAT Italy, TVB Hong Kong, Living Channel New Zealand, Fox Australia’s Lifestyle Network, Voice of America and more.

Located in Los Angeles, Jenny Hayden has broad experience as a marketing and sales agent in the production, marketing and sales of original media content, including marketing and sales of third party media content across all platforms — as well as marketing and negotiating contracts for original and existing TV programs.

Having created and produced original television programs, Jenny Hayden also offers consulting services to content creators looking to get financing for their own original television programs.


Stavroula Toska


Stavroula Toska was born and raised in Sindos, a small town in Northern Greece.  At eight years old she announced to her family that when she grows up she will move to America to be in the movies.  And so she did, 15 years later.

Stavroula studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and acted in off-Broadway plays before realizing that stepping behind the camera to tell her own stories was way more satisfying.  She has received multiple awards and honors for her work as a writer, director, actor and producer, including top honors at the New York Women in Film and Television Festival, the Santa Fe Film Festival and many more.  Stavroula has managed to build a reputation for authentic storytelling, pushing boundaries, and for exploring human nature from a unique POV.  Her Greek-Italian and Romanian Jewish roots are evident in the passionate, spirited and methodic way she approaches her life and work.

Some of her most notable works include the feature documentary Beneath the Olive – narrated and Executive Produced by Academy Award winner Olympia Dukakis, The Sounding, In The Vice, Pronoia, Living’ The Dream,  Monsters, The New Abolitionists, A Photographic Memory and SWITCH — a multi award-winning series based on her years of working as an undercover dominatrix in New York City while battling PTSD and trying to build a better life for herself.

Stavroula is also a published author currently working on her first book and developing her multi award-winning series SWITCH into long form episodic.  She founded The Toska Matrix Productions as her vehicle for sharing untold stories and crafting work that will change it for the better by tapping into the essence of who we really are, exploring trauma and healing from a unique POV, and reminding people that we have much more in common than we have been led to believe.

Giving back to her community in any way possible is of extreme importance to Stavroula.  She serves as a mentor for underserved youth at Reel Works in New York, on the board of directors of the Hellenic Film Society USA, as the Events Director for Film Fatales, and advocates for victims of domestic violence.

Valerie McCaffrey

As an independent casting director coming from the studio level, Valerie uses her knowledge and her eye for talent to the producing/directing/ writing capacity as well. Inspired by relevant stories, she recently directed a short film called “Dirty Bomb†that stars J. Michael Trautmann and Ido Samuel. The film will have it’s North American debut at “Dances with Films†and recently premiered in The American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase in Cannes and has been nominated for Best Short and Best Actor in The Madrid International Film Festival. Her previous films which she cast and produce is LOST AND FOUND IN ARMENIA which got theatrical distribution and played to sold out audiences. The film starred Angela Sarafyan and Jamie Kennedy. She also completed a cancer documentary CANCER, IT’S IN THE SYSTEM in which she co-directed and co-produced with Cindy Pruitt. She produced an award-winning film directed entitled NEO NED, starring Gabrielle Union and Jeremy Renner. She recently completed casting a feature film for Patriot Pictures which starred Nicholas Cage, Larry Fishburne, Barry Pepper, Adam Goldberg, Cole Hauser, Leslie Bibb and Clifton Collin, Jr. called RUNNING WITH THE DEVIL. Valerie also loves to support new talent and cast Ellen Page in her first American film in the critically acclaimed film HARD CANDY. To date, she has cast over 100 films.

From April 1994-2000, Valerie held the position of Vice President of Feature Film Casting for New Line/Fine Line Films. During her tenure at New Line/Fine Line, Ms. McCaffrey cast scores of films, developing strong relationships with all major talent agencies and management firms. Among the many highlights, she cast Edward Norton and Eddie Furlong in New Line Cinema’s AMERICAN HISTORY X. Mr. Norton received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor for his gripping portrayal and Mr. Furlong’s performance was heralded as the best of his career. From 1985-94 as a casting executive at Universal Studios she cast James Cromwell in BABE, earning him an Oscar Nomination. She cast such films as HARD TARGET (John Woo’s first American Film) DARK MAN (Sam Raimi’s first studio film) among scores of others.

While an executive at Universal Studios, she cast the film BABE which garnered a nomination for Best Film and Best Supporting Actor James Cromwell. She also cast PROBLEM CHILD and was responsible for finding the lead actor, Michael Oliver. The film continued to have sequels because of it’s box office success.

While at Universal Studios, she taught drama to inner city kids for three and a half years for the LAPD Gang Prevention Program. She served on the Board of Directors for the Casting Society of America and is a member of The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. She is also on the Board of Directors for the World Children’s Transplant Fund, which provides life-saving organs to children. She is the Executive Director to Armenia, where significant strides have been made in the field of pediatrics in organ transplantations.