by | Sep 19, 2013 | 2013 Seminar Panels

SATURDAY OCTOBER 19, 10am-12noon

MAKING THE COMMERCIAL DOCUMENTARY: Exploring the formula that works

Venue: Regal Theatre Stadium 14 LA LIVE: 1000 West Olympic Blvd Los Angeles, CA  90015

This panel will explore the topics in documentaries that are thought provoking and inspiring while enhancing your ability to create a film that will sell in the competitive world of Docs. Q&A to follow.

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.

In 1999, Deborah joined New Line based Kahn-Power Pictures as a creative consultant where she developed feature films, MOW’s and series with producer Ilene Kahn Power (GIA, STALIN).

An avid sports enthusiast, Deborah created and executive produced a documentary for ESPN in association with Hearst Entertainment entitled BEARING THE TORCH: A HISTORY OF POLITICS & THE GAMES, which aired as the network’s Olympic special in June of 1996.  The show featured celebrities such as Henry Kissinger, Mark Spitz and David Wolper.

She is currently a Consulting Producer for 2 features slated for production, TARANTULA, starring Danny Trejo and A DOLL’S HOUSE, starring Ben Kingsley, Julian Sands and Michele Martin.

Deborah has also lead seminars for the USC Film School Writer’s Program and been a guest lecturer at UCLA Extension School and LA Film School.


Deborah loves to develop companies and projects- from promotion through fruition.

cevincolor2CEVIN SOLING
Cevin Soling
 is a writer, documentary filmmaker, and graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He directed and produced the documentary, The War on Kids, which was broadcast internationally on The Sundance Channel, and which is currently being broadcast on The Documentary Channel/Pivot.  He was a featured guest on The Colbert Report, and The Dr. Nancy Show on MSNBC. His work has appeared on HBO, Showtime, BBC, MTV, The Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, and other media outlets.




Katharine Kramer founded Kat Kramer’s Films that Change the World to showcase films that raise awareness about important social issues. In so doing, she is following in the footsteps of her late father, the legendary producer/director Stanley Kramer, who was know for taking artistic an financial chances by making movies about controversial subjects.  Kat recently premiered the powerful new documentary Teach Your Children Well, which deals with the growing problem of bullying in schools. Previous screenings have included The Cove; Elephants and Man: A Litany of Tragedy; and Barbra Streisand’s Yentl.  A singer and an actress, Ms. Kramer has appeared in a number of films and has won numerous awards for her on-stage performances.


Michael Kuehnert headshot 090813 2


Michael Kuehnert is an award-winning documentary filmmaker.  His first documentary, Save the Farm, about activists’ 11th hour attempt to save the South Central Farm in Los Angeles (the largest urban farm in America) has won numerous awards and is available on Netflix. He also produced the soon to be released documentary Rock the Boat, about one man’s quest to Kayak down the LA River in order to save it’s Clean Water Act Protection. He has joined The Video project/Specialty Studios as their Director of Broadcast Programming, where he will be heading the effort to bring environmental and social cause documentary films to broadcasters around the globe.  Along with Abby Wallis, Michael is the Co-Founder and Executive Producer of Shanti Generation, a groundbreaking collection of yoga DVD’s for teens, available on all major e-commerce sites.  He has recently started working as a producer consultant for documentary filmmakers.