Panel 4: SUNDAY OCTOBER 22, 10am-12noon

Finance and Distribution: How to get the money to make your film!

Venue: LA Live- Regal: 1000 West Olympic BLVD., Los Angeles 90015 (3rd Fl-screening room)

If you are an independent filmmaker the hardest part is getting the funding to actually make your film. This panel of experts will provide real world solutions to your issues and illustrate methods that can be mastered to make your dream a reality. Q & A to follow.

Deborah Gilels – Moderator

Deborah Gilels

Deborah Gilels

Deborah Gilels currently is a media consultant representing screenwriters, directors, actors, production companies and book authors.  Consulting duties include project development and packaging, public relations and marketing.

From January 2002 – August 2004, Deborah was an executive/consultant for Media Design Institute, a Japanese/American media company where she was instrumental in the creation of a video-on-demand/satellite network financed by NTT-Data, the content coming from the Lion’s Gate and Echelon Entertainment, as well as acquired film/television product for the Japanese territory (Television, Video/DVD).

Deborah also created and produced MAJESTIC STUDIO, an entertainment talk show for Japan television. Covering all aspects of the movie business and Hollywood, past participants include: actors Rachel Leigh Cook, Sean Astin, Charlize Theron, Diane Lane, Will Yun Lee and Lainie Kazan, A-List directors Paul Verhoeven, Peter Jackson and Jay Russell, Oscar winning producers Barrie Osborne, Lawrence Turman and Mark Johnson, and esteemed writer/director Nicholas Meyer. MAJESTIC STUDIO premiered in Japan October 2003, and is now being shown on SkyPerfect TV and Coming Soon TV, as well on several networks in Korea.

After attending both the University of Miami and Harvard University, Deborah moved to New York to work in the talent management office of famed musician Lionel Hampton.  She went on to work in the literary and audience development departments at several top theater companies in Manhattan including: the Second Stage, American Place Theater, Theater of the Open Eye and Prism Theater.  She also served as the Producing Director of Prism Theater’s 1985 Season and produced a slate of plays including ROCK ISLAND, which was nominated for an Oppenheimer Award.

In 1986, Deborah relocated to Los Angeles, where she worked in motion picture and television development for producers Kent Bateman and David Permut, studios such as Tri Star and Twentieth Century Fox, as well as The Agency, Innovative Artists and Leading Artists (UTA).  In 1988, she was a producer on NBC’s CROSSING THE MOB, which starred Jason Bateman.

In 1990, Deborah became Vice President of Production at Blue Ribbon Films, supervising the company’s television deal at Warner Brothers and feature film distribution deal at foreign sales company PFG Entertainment.  While at Blue Ribbon she also developed film projects for JVC, LIVE Entertainment (Artisan), Disney/Hollywood Pictures and Republic Pictures, as well as for actors Jean Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren and the late Brandon Lee.

Among the projects she produced and developed are: SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO (Warner Brothers/1992), PENTATHLON (LIVE/1994) and SPECTRE (Hollywood Pictures), a WWII action drama written by the late Donald Stewart.

In 1995, Deborah founded Torch Productions and currently has several projects in various stages of development and production.  Among her collaborators past and present are actors Robert Duvall, Reese Witherspoon, Rachel Leigh Cook and Bill Pullman; writers and directors Hossein Amini, A. Scott Berg,  Allan Scott, Gail Gilchriest, John Bishop, Michael Hirst, Nicholas Meyer, Jay Russell and Paul Verhoeven.  Companies and producers she has been in business include Lucas Foster/Warp Films, Touchstone/Hollywood Pictures, Hearst Entertainment, ESPN, Phoenix Pictures, Baltimore/Spring Creek, Wind Dancer Films, DIC, Talent Entertainment Group, Alive Entertainment, First Look International and New Line Cinema


Susan Simms


Susan Simms has been the Los Angeles Liaison for the Florida Film & Entertainment industry for over 20+ years, spanning the administrations of 4 Governors. In addition to her tenure for the State of Florida, she also works for the statewide industry trade group, Film Florida, which represents some 60 local film offices, 16,000 businesses and 100,000 Floridians working in the film, TV and digital media industries. She has helped secure countless high-profile projects for the state including the current Emmy nominated ‘Bloodline’ for Netflix, shot in the Florida Keys and HBO’s new dramedy hit, ‘Ballers’, shot in Miami. In addition to numerous financial incentive projects, Simms also helps work on more than 1000+ projects a year, shooting throughout the State of Florida, the majority of which receive no incentive.

TBA panelist will be populated mid September