Academy Award Winners, Industry Legends, and More to Lead HollyShorts Film Festival’s 2020 Official Panels & Conversations

By Oliver Carnay

For more information on HollyShorts please visit:

The annual Academy Awards® Qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival will celebrate its 16th year in November 2020. HollyShorts (HSFF) brings together top creators, industry leaders, and companies and has launched many filmmakers into the next stages of their careers. HollyShorts, a regular on the MovieMaker Magazine Top 50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee list, also engages its community and spotlights short films year-round through monthly screenings, panels, and networking events. HollyShorts Film Festival will take place between November 9-15, 2020 online at Bitpix.

Ahead of the 16th annual HollyShorts Film Festival, the organizers behind the Oscar®-Qualifying festival have announced their official panel lineup. Starting this Monday, November 9th, filmmakers looking to take the next step in their careers will have the opportunity to watch industry leaders discuss everything from monetizing your short film, casting secrets, screenwriters and film festival directors roundtables, to the new normal of working under Covid-19 guidelines.

The festival will kick off with HollyShorts alumna and acclaimed director Kat Coiro, who’s worked on the award-nominated series Dead to Me, critically-acclaimed It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and the upcoming Jennifer Lopez film Marry Me. Before the anticipated Awards Show on Sunday, November 15th that will announce which shorts will go on to be qualified for the 2021 Academy Awards, HollyShorts will feature a Spotlight Conversation with Academy Award-winning producer and HollyShorts alumnus Andrew Carlberg (Skin, Best Live Action Short Film 2019) then with the Closing Conversation with industry legend Tom Ortenberg (Spotlight, Snowden).

Full list of panels, fireside chats, and conversations:

Monday, November 9th


Opening Keynote: Kat Coiro
A conversation with director, writer and HollyShorts alumna Kat Coiro (MARRY ME, IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA, DEAD TO ME) on how she went from HollyShorts filmmaker to in demand director and writer working on some of the industry’s hottest projects and her insights for emerging filmmakers.

Tuesday, November 10th

Festival Formula Spill The Tea Presented by Festival Formula
Join Mark Brennan (Exit 6 Film Festival) as he talks to the whole Festival Formula team about festival strategy and submissions, and the festival landscape right now. Advice, tips, myth-busting, and some very frank conversations about what to expect when you step on to the worldwide competitive circuit.

Moderated by: Mark Brennan, Exit 6 Film Festival

Ian Bigness, Festival Formula
Katie McCullough, Festival Formula
Kate Stocker-Wright, Festival Formula
Frankie Stewart, Festival Formula

How Can You Monetize Your Short Film?

There is a real market for Short Films at an international level and on diverse media outlets like TV, Airlines, Librairies, Theatre, VOD and more. This panel will reveal buyers’ perspective on the Short Film market, its requirements, expectations, how the buying process works and what Short Films brings them in terms of revenue and audience.

Moderator: Audrey Clinet, CEO and Founder, EROÏN

David Van Poppel, Content Specialist, SPAFAX
Antoine Schmidt-Roy, CEO/Founder, Nikita Ventures
Wes Fleming, CEO – MINIFLIX, Executive Producer -Third Coast Films
Katarina Eriksson, Acquisitions Executive / International Project Coordinator, UR
Indie Filmmaker’s Survival Guide Presented By Film Threat
Join Chris Gore (Publisher/Editor, Film Threat), Bri Castellini (Film Community Manager, Seed&Spark), Larry Laboe (Executive Director, NewFilmmakers Los Angeles), and Alan Ng (Managing Editor, Film Threat) for a conversation on how indie filmmakers can navigate the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities of these unprecedented times.

Moderator: Chris Gore – Publisher/Editor, Film Threat

Bri Castellini, Film Community Manager, Seed&Spark
Larry Laboe, Executive Director, NewFilmmakers Los Angeles
Alan Ng, Managing Editor, Film Threat

Wednesday, November 11

Launching Your Career with your Short Film Presented by LA Media Consultants

How can your short film open up the “big doors” in Hollywood, helping you to break into film and TV, and build strategic alliances? How can it help you attract the attention of an agent or manager? What steps can you take to turn your short into a feature film or episodic? How can you make the most of distributing your short on media platforms to get your name out there? Come see a panel of experts discuss how your short film can become the conduit for you to reach your Hollywood goals. Panelists include manager Seth Nagel, breakout writers Andrea Janakas and Michelle Sam (both of whom had short films that catapulted them to success), producer Garrick Dion, and Gunpowder & Sky executive Sophie Carroll. The panel is being moderated by Publicist/Media Consultant Deborah Gilels, and is sponsored by LA Media Consultants.

Moderator: Deborah Gilels, LA Media Consultants

Seth Nagel, Manager/Producer
Andrea Janakas, Writer
Michelle Sam, Writer
Garrick Dion, Producer
Sophie Carroll, Sr. Manager, Gunpowder & Sky

Nothing About Us Without Us

Dr. Joely Proudfit of Native Media Strategies spoke those words to Cheryl L. Bedford, Founder of Women of Color Unite/Creator of The JTC List, regarding Native Sovereignty and a panel was born. With Joely’s permission, Cheryl borrowed the phrase regarding any content having to do with marginalized communities. Bringing together, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Disabled, LGBTQIA+, also representing sizeism, colorism and ageism; these WOC discuss what the phrase means to them and their communities.

Moderator: Cherry Davis – Film Critic

Cheryl L. Bedford – Women of Color Unite/The JTC List
Dr. Joely Proudfit – Native Media Strategies
Thuc Nguyen – Bitch Pack/#StartWith8Hollywood
Kayden Phoenix – Chicana Director’s Initiative
Diana Elizabeth Jordan – Rainbow Cafe
Agents and Managers Roundtable
Hear from top agents and managers on the state of the industry, what they are looking for, and insights for HollyShorts filmmakers, especially given the current climate.

Moderator: Steven Adams, Founding Partner, Alta Global Media

Abraham Bengio | Endeavor Content
Tracy Christian | TCA Mgmt
Zach Cox | Circle of Confusion
Thursday, November 12th

GEM FINDER: A Conversation With Tracy “Twinkie” Byrd on Casting & The Evolution of Short Filmmaking Presented by Entertainment Speakers Bureau

An intimate conversation with veteran casting director & producer Twinkie Byrd (The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel, Christmas Unwrapped, Notorious) Catch this rare one-on-one discussion with Twinkie, moderated by award-winning filmmaker Bobby Yan (Marz, Loreen’s Gotta Boogie), and gain insights from her multi-decade career, her own transition into directing and exploring innovation in filmmaking. Presented by Entertainment Speakers Bureau.

The New Normal Presented by SAGIndie

Learn about the evolution of the indie film landscape, the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, and the rules that still ring true in this candid conversation between film industry veterans.

Moderator: Darrien Michele Gipson, Executive Director, SAGindie

Effie Brown, CEO, Gamechanger Films
Fanshen Cox, Playwright, Actor, Producer, and Educator
Yolonda Ross, Actress, Writer, Director, and Producer
HollyShorts Screenwriters Roundtable
A conversation with top HollyShorts screenwriting alumni on their journey, their current projects, and the lessons they have learned along the way to pass along to their fellow screenwriters.

Moderator: Ben Andrews, Founder, Seattle Film Summit

Bob Dearden (IZOMBIE)
Carlos Foglia (THE EXORCIST)
Winter Tekenos-Levy (SCHITT’S CREEK)

Friday, November 13th

Immigration Law for Filmmakers presented by Zoe Kevork Law
A discussion on the main immigration issues for international artists and filmmakers who may be exploring their options to be able to work in the United States with attorney Zoe Kevork.

Fireside Chat with Seed&Spark Founder Emily Best
An intimate conversation with Seed&Spark founder Emily Best on the creation and mission of Seed&Spark and the opportunities and challenges for filmmakers in an ever-changing industry landscape, moderated by HollyShorts co-founder Daniel Sol.

Hollyshorts Alumni — You made your short, then a feature… Now what?
Hear from top HollyShorts alumni on how you go from short to your first feature to what happens after that. This intimate conversation will explore insights from these established filmmakers on what they really wish they knew before they made their first feature and advice for HollyShorts filmmakers.

Moderator: John Wynn (THE RISING HAWK, GRAND ISLE)

David Dastmalchian (BLADE RUNNER 2049, DUNE)
Sarah Adina Smith (ROOM 104, HANNA)

Saturday, November 14

Film Festival Directors Roundtable

How do you get your film into a festival? What are festival directors looking for? How do you adapt your festival strategy to the current climate, and how are festivals adapting themselves? Hear from festival directors from respected festivals across the country as they offer insight and advice on submitting to festivals, including what to consider when you are putting together your festival strategy, the opportunities festivals provide, and what’s changed (and what’s still the same!) in the COVID-19 world.

Moderator: Dr. Rebekah Louisa Smith, The Film Festival Doctor Limited

Adrian Barber, Festival Director, Bolton International Film Festival
Michael Rabehl, Programming Director, Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival
Paul Sloop, Shorts Programmer, Cleveland International Film Festival
Ben Thompson, Shorts Programmer, Tribeca Film Festival
Has the Covid workforce paradigm shift moved the needle enough to encourage greater disability inclusion and representation? Presented by Easterseals Disability Film Challenge
Has the evolution of innovative, adaptive technologies and the greater flexibility in working environments since the onset of COVID-19 influenced the way employers in the entertainment industry could look at increasing disability inclusion and representation?

Moderator: Tim Gray, SVP, Variety

Dr. Tonya Browning, Vice President, Dell Digital
Margot Nack, Senior Product Manager, Adobe’s Video & Audio Team
Grace Wu, Executive Vice President, Casting, NBC Entertainment
Industry Insights: Tips and Takeaways from Top Execs
Film producers, development and acquisition executives reveal to HollyShorts filmmakers how they spot festival winners, how best to impress during festival meetings, the current state of the industry, and where content is headed.

Moderator: Zorianna Kit, Journalist, Producer, and Film Critic

Steven Adams, Founding Partner, Alta Global Media
Juliet Berman, Head of Development, Treehouse Pictures
Lauren Bixby, VP Acquisitions, Lionsgate
Ryan Black, VP, Acquisitions & Development, Grindstone Entertainment Group
Laura Fischer, CEO, Powderkeg

Sunday, November 15
Spotlight Conversation with Andrew Carlberg
A one on one conversation with HollyShorts alumnus and award-winning producer Andrew Carlberg (SKIN) on how to craft your short film, his experience and insights from the short films he’s produced, and what shorts filmmakers should know.

Closing Conversation with Tom Ortenberg

Closing conversation with industry legend Tom Ortenberg of Open Road Films (SPOTLIGHT, NIGHTCRAWLER, CHEF).

For more information on HollyShorts please visit:


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