About Us

Mission Statement

NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA) is a non-profit 501(c) 3 organization designed to showcase innovative works by emerging filmmakers from around the world, providing the Los Angeles community of entertainment professionals and film goers with a constant surge of monthly screening events. NFMLA provides a forum where filmmakers can be recognized for their contributions, have open audience discussions about their projects and connect with industry professionals for insight on distribution, production, acquisition and representation.

About Us

With the goal of showcasing, supporting, educating and connecting emerging filmmakers, NFMLA rapidly expanded to become much more than a monthly film festival. NFMLA regularly partners with organizations, companies, and film schools such as the Producer’s Guild of America (PGA), International Documentary Association (IDA), Sundance Institute, Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Film Independent, Women in Film, Disney, Sony, DreamWorks, The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA | Golden Globes), NBC Universal, Legendary, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS | Oscars), HBO, Netflix, USC, TheWrap, UCLA, MovieMaker Magazine, Variety Magazine, FilmLA, NALIP, the City of Los Angeles, foreign consulates, and more to host an array of annual programs, workshops, panels, competitions, and learning and networking opportunities.

  • NFMLA Monthly Film Festival – NFMLA’s core program is its monthly film festival. Each festival presents screenings of shorts, documentaries and feature films that have been submitted from all over the world. All of the programs are followed by a Q&A with each filmmaker. The program also offers a special reception so the audience can meet the filmmakers and incredible talent involved, while also networking with industry professionals.
  • InFocus Series – NFMLA’s InFocus diversity initiative seeks to combat the lack of diversity in the film industry by giving underrepresented groups of filmmakers (i.e. race, gender, sexual identity, region and socioeconomic background) the opportunity to showcase their work on a large, public platform during our monthly festival.
  • On Location: The Los Angeles Video Project – NFMLA’s On Location: The Los Angeles Video Project is a community outreach initiative that celebrates and enlists LA’s remarkable pool of filmmakers. By engaging these storytellers to act and serve as Ambassadors of LA, NFMLA is able to share what these artists call their LA with the world; an insider perspective into this diverse city and its neighborhoods.
  • DocuSlate – The program dedicates an entire day of programming focused on documentary filmmaking that represents new stories and unique voices from around the globe.
  • Best of NFMLA Awards – Each year, NFMLA presents awards for the best films shown in the previous year’s NFMLA Monthly Film Festivals at an exclusive gala event.
  • Stage 5 (On-Camera Interview Series) – All filmmakers featured in each NFMLA Monthly Film Festival are invited to participate in on-camera interviews published by MovieMaker Magazine.
  • NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA) Interview Series – An ongoing program that hosts virtual discussions with accomplished film and television professionals. These candid conversations provide resources and insight to those who want to evolve their craft and advance their career in the entertainment industry.
  • Special Events, Programs, and Cine Sessions – Year round, NFMLA partners with universities, high schools, studios, guilds, government entities and others to host a wide variety of educational programs and special opportunities for emerging storytellers and aspiring film professionals.
Some Name

Some Position

Lorem ipsum



Larry Laboe - Executive Director

A member of the Producers Guild of America (PGA), Larry is the President of Production at international digital production house SXM, where he has produced numerous digital properties. The first series was NBC’s ‘Ctrl’ starring Tony Hale and Steve Howey. Since, Larry has produced for top networks and brands including Disney, NBC, CBS, VEVO, Dailymotion, MTV, Break Media (now DEFY Media), Comedy Central, IKEA, Samsung, Coca-Cola and Smuckers.

These series have been viewed more than 1 billion times over both traditional and new media, and have garnered multiple awards at BANFF, SXSW, NATPE, MIPTV, Cannes and The Webbys. The series have been covered by media outlets worldwide and SXM has been profiled by publications such as Fast Company, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. Larry has produced projects directed by James Franco and Joseph Gordon Levitt. Notable titles produced include Fact Checkers Unit, Easy to Assemble, Armed Response, SOS Island, Matumbo Goldberg, The Comment Show, Kitchen Jam, Diagnosis Stories, Jump Outs, In a City and Extreme Retreat among others.

In addition to his work at SXM, Larry also serves as Co-Founder and Executive Director of NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA).

Bojana Sandic - Programming Director

Bojana Sandic is a film festival programmer with an enthusiasm for emerging and unique voices. As the Programming Director for NewFilmmakers Los Angeles, she is focused on connecting diverse perspectives with new audiences and opportunities. 

Formerly the Director of Short Film Programming at the Newport Beach Film Festival, she maintains a love of short film as a medium for storytelling, and has served on a number of short film juries including those of Slamdance, Outfest, New Orleans Film Festival and Palm Springs Shortfest.

Born in Belgrade and raised in Southern California, she has a degree in Literary Journalism and Psychology & Social Behavior from UCI, where her honors thesis was about the relationship between 70’s and 80’s Yugoslavian rock and roll and Yugonostalgia. In the past, she has worked with Lexus Short Films, LAIKA and Music in Press, an online magazine with an experiential approach to music writing that incorporates elements of creative nonfiction.

Bojana is always looking for ways to share great storytelling and has an abiding fascination with the ways the stories we tell mediate our experience of the world and how we relate to one another.

Andrew Acedo - Events & Outreach Director

Andrew Acedo is a UCLA graduate who is passionate about cinema, literature, Bojack Horseman, Kanye West and the Lakers. In college, he taught a course about the lack of access to higher education in the Pilipinx Community and currently serves as a counselor for UCLA’s largest non-profit organization called UniCamp, where he leads groups of kids from urban areas in a week-long camping trip in the mountains. Having an older brother with Down syndrome, Andrew loves contributing whatever he can to the disabled community. He also serves as a Script Reader for the International Screenwriter’s Association (ISA), where he reads, scores, and gives feedback for script submissions from writers around the world. His goal is to give a platform to films by hidden talent around the world, and he believes that NFMLA gives him the opportunity to do just that.

Yuliana Franco - Programming Assistant

Yuliana Franco is an emerging Latina filmmaker born and raised in Toluca, Mexico and currently resides in Los Angeles. As a recent graduate of California State University, Long Beach, her attention is focused on nonfiction filmmaking. Yuliana’s passion for filmmaking began in her homeland where she had the opportunity to co-manage a production company that films and photographs life events, music videos, and sports events. While attending university, she was the Outreach Coordinator & Panel Moderator of CSULB Doc Club; and she connected with national and international filmmakers to be guest speakers and share their experience with students.

Prior to finding her passion for filmmaking, Yuliana was a professional Mexican folklorico dancer for twenty years and served as an instructor at Grupo Folklorico Mexica de CSULB for the intermediate and advanced students. She co-produced and co-directed over five shows, and choreographed over twenty songs. Folklorico has always been a way for her to learn and stay connected with her culture and country’s traditions.

As an aspiring Latina filmmaker, she is seeking to create documentaries that bring awareness to Mexico’s extensive culture and give a voice and exposure to its communities. Yuliana will continue to follow her passion for dancing through her lenses as she captures the craft and stories that are brought to life through the movement of the dancers.

Emma Hughes - Committee Member

Emma Hughes is an experienced non-profit arts professional who is dedicated to supporting film and media and sharing stories across audiences. She holds an M.A. degree in Cinema & Media Studies from the University of Southern California, and a B.A. degree from Carleton College in the same field. She has worked at film festivals and museums across the country, including the Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca, NYFF, and the Museum of the Moving Image, and her academic work has been published in the journal Film Matters.

She is passionate about education and research, having worked as a Teaching Assistant at USC teaching undergraduate students during her time in graduate school. In particular, through her work she hopes to support the use of education and programming in film and media to create dialogue and inspire new storytellers, as well as to connect diverse perspectives and underrepresented voices to new audiences.

At NewFilmmakers Los Angeles, she works to connect emerging and underrepresented filmmakers to resources, programs, and education so that they have every opportunity to tell their stories.

Philip Huynh - Web Developer & Designer

UI/UX Designer at Filmtools

Philip is both a full stack designer and entrepreneur, who has dedicated his time and space within the digital arts of the 21st century. He holds a B.A. degree in Cinema & Television Arts from California State University, Northridge. Prior to becoming a full stack designer, he was looking to contribute to the film industry through pre-production, production, and post-production.

Eventually, Philip pivoted roles from a film artisan to development & design through NewFilmmakers Los Angeles. He landed his first job a Jr. Web Developer at a local film e-commerce company before transitioning to UI/UX Design work. He currently works at a Silicon Valley startup, Groovetime, as a product designer and is helping build a product that teaches people how to dance.

Additionally, Phillip is passionate about giving back to his community. During high school, he joined a service club to help local schools and organizations with the community-driven efforts. On top of that, he was part of a tutor program to help elementary and high schoolers with their academics. In college, he joined the Vietnamese Student Association, which drove high community engagement with the Vietnamese population in the Southern California region. Today, he works with small businesses and non-profits with their digital needs.

Board of Directors

Danny De Lillo - Board Chair

Danny De Lillo grew up in England but spent the majority of his adulthood living in the United States. Danny is currently the Head of Development for North America for SCREEN International and works as a host and producer of content.

Well versed in stage and screen acting, Danny is a graduate of the prestigious New York conservatoire, The American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Currently Danny serves on the NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA) Board as the board chair supporting their remarkable efforts to showcase innovative works by rising filmmakers from around the world. Danny presents the NFMLA monthly film festival due for his passion for celebrating storytellers and produces and hosts the Stage 5 interviews for NFMLA.

His passion for celebrating global storytellers is why he loves NFMLA so much and the dedication for all voices to be heard.

He programs LGBTQ content for festivals and appears on many film juries as well as passionately making a conscious effort to support gender equality and diversity in his roles in entertainment.

Danny lives in Los Angeles with his partner Eric and their first child, Lula the Cat.

If you have any questions related to NFMLA you can email him at chair@nfmla.org

Noree Victoria - Vice-Chair

Actress, producer, and Baltimore native, Noree Victoria, has been active in the creative arts since childhood. Initially writing imaginative children’s stories, she completed her first bound book at the age of 7. Loving both arts and academics, at age 16, she successfully petitioned her school board, winning their approval to bypass her senior year and go directly to college, earning Bachelor of Arts Degrees in Creative Writing, Biology, and African Studies. Noree taught 9th grade Biology in Baltimore City immediately upon graduating, and subsequently completed her Master of Science Degree in Applied Information Technology. Finishing her master’s program with a 4.0 GPA, she was recruited as a Financial Analyst for the Black and Decker Corporation; however, after a spell of integrating and upgrading financial systems, the lure of the dramatic arts proved too enchanting for her to ignore. Noree took flight to pursue a creative passion for acting full-time, studying at the New York Conservatory for the Dramatic Arts, and the British American Drama Academy at Oxford University in England. Noree went on to win the ‘Best Actress’ award at AMTC, and to appear regularly in various Emmy-winning television shows, including FX’s ‘American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson’, and ‘Queen Sugar’. She has also produced various short and feature length film projects.

Noree continues to pursue her acting career and training in Los Angeles, and in cherished spare time, enjoys volunteering with youth in marginalized communities, advocating for social justice, surfing, and outdoor adventures with a tight-knit circle of friends.

Steven J. Wolfe - Treasurer

President: Sneak Preview Entertainment

Steven J. Wolfe is a seasoned film producer (500 DAYS OF SUMMER, BAGGAGE CLAIM) and president of Sneak Preview Entertainment, a Production and Talent Management Company currently celebrating its 20th anniversary.

He has produced a diverse range of films throughout his career including Fox Searchlight’s sleeper hit 500 DAYS OF SUMMER, starring Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt; Searchlight’s, OUR FAMILY WEDDING with Forest Whitaker and America Ferrara, MISS MARCH for Fox Atomic; PHAT GIRLZ (also for Searchlight) with Mo’Nique; A DENNIS THE MENACE CHRISTMAS for Warner Premiere; Sony Classic’s, TWIN FALLS IDAHO, the debut feature of the Polish Brothers and the Sundance Film Festival hit, RELAX IT’S JUST SEX! with Jennifer Tilly, Lori Petty and Mitchell Anderson.

Along with, THE SECRET LIVES OF DORKS, he just completed producing a screen adaptation of David E. Talbert’s best-selling novel, BAGGAGE CLAIM, starring Paula Patton, Derek Luke, Jill Scott, Adam Brody, Taye Diggs and Trey Songz, for Fox Searchlight Pictures. THE SECRET LIVES OF DORKS marks Wolfe’s third film with director Salomé Breziner and his sixth film with Academy Award® nominated actress Jennifer Tilly. Previously Wolfe and Breziner did the off-beat romance TOLLBOOTH, which world premiered at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival as well as FAST SOFA. with Jake Busey, Jennifer Tilly, Crispin Glover, Natasha Lyonne and Eric Roberts.

He also produced, BEAUTIFUL LOSER , the award winning CIVILIZAITON OF MAXWELL BRIGHT; HELLBENT; CIRCUIT; THE CLEAN & NARROW; BIRD OF PREY; ONLY YOU, starring Andrew McCarthy, Kelly Preston and Helen Hunt; David Beaird’s SCORCHERS, starring Faye Dunaway, James Earl Jones, Emily Lloyd, Denholm Elliott, Jennifer Tilly and James Wilder; and MY MOM’S A WEREWOLF.

Other producing credits include supervising producer on NIGHT CLUB and DEATH ROW GAME SHOW, Associate Producer on HUNK, Production Manager on TOMBOY and the critically acclaimed MY CHAUFFEUR during his seven year tenure at Crown International Pictures.

His vast production background includes diverse credits on such films as MISS LONELYHEARTS, CREATURE, CHATTERLY II, OCTAVIA, EXTERMINATOR II, THE LOST EMPIRE, WEEKEND PASS, MY TUTOR, THE PATRIOT, LIES, SPACE RAIDERS, as well as numerous short films and commercials. Wolfe is currently developing THREE FACES OF EVE with Lesley Ann Warren, written by Jack Plotnick, HICKEY, by Alex Grossman, H.Y.D.E., HOSTILE ELEMENT and MADAME PSYCHOSIS, as well as a sequel to RELAX IT’S JUST SEX! with the original cast of the Sundance Film Festival favorite.

David Quan - Secretary

David is a Texas-born screenwriter who moonlights as a Production Supervisor for an LA-based online education company. He enjoys Tolkien, saltwater aquariums, and potatoes in their many forms. David graduated from the University of North Texas with a Bachelor of Arts, Radio, Television and Film. David enjoys giving back to young filmmakers and has taught all aspects of video production to aspiring filmmakers.

Margaret Wu - Board Member

Founder at 3 Dots Entertainment

Margaret is a veteran in the advertising industry with over 20 years of experience in the U.S. and Greater China where she managed brands including Pepsi, Gatorade, General Motors, L’Oreal, across different disciplines (traditional advertising, digital, PR) and a number of territories. At her last agency DDB, Margaret was based in China for 11 years where she managed clients such as Johnson & Johnson and

Unilever on a regional level. She has a deep understanding of Greater China, and is skilled in leading integrated campaigns across different countries in Asia-Pacific. She was nominated by Campaign for “Account Person of the Year” in 2010 and 2011. She was also named as one of the “Best Performing Professionals” in Asia-Pacific in 2009 by R3, a highly regarded brand consulting company in China. In 2012, Margaret started 3 Dots Entertainment to connect brands with entertainment. Margaret is a board member of the Shanghai International Film Festival and works closely with Shanghai Cultural Department to build the “Hollywood of the East” in Shanghai. Margaret is currently based in Los Angeles and travels frequently to China on cross-border projects.

Damien Lichtenstein - Board Member

CEO of Equilibrium Entertainment

Born in 1966, Demian Lichtenstein began his career as a child actor in New York City, performing at the distinguished 18th Street Playhouse, Circle in the Square, and Joseph Papp’s Public Theatre.

Lichtenstein graduated in 1984 as the preeminent film and television student of New York City’s High School of Art & Design. A National Honor student, Regent Scholar, recipient of the New York City Media Award for excellence and achievement in cinema, upon his graduation from Carnegie Hall, he was voted the number one High School film student in NYC.

Lichtenstein received the Helena Rubenstein Scholarship to attend New York University. In his sophomore year, he was chosen by then University Chairman, Charles Milne, to be his personal Assistant Teacher and entered the senior level film production program. While in school, Lichtenstein won an MTV Award for Best Independent Music Video, and received the “Best Action Adventure Director” Award at the NYU film festival.

In 1988, Lichtenstein earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film, with a minor in Business from NYU. Upon graduating, he was immediately hired as Manager of Creative Affairs for Columbia Pictures, under the direction of Dawn Steele. He was 21 years old. Upon leaving Columbia, he became Head of Worldwide Production for General Media, then the fourth largest private entertainment company on the globe. During that time, Lichtenstein also became one of the top music video directors in the business; producing and directing videos for Warner Brothers, Sony Music, Columbia Records, Epic Records, Tommy Boy Records, Universal/MCA, and many more. To his credit, Lichtenstein produced and directed over 250 music videos for Grammy Award winning artists including Sting and Eric Clapton, as well as having achieved #1 world videos in the Pop, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Rap, and Reggae genres.

During his rise to the top of the music video industry, Lichtenstein founded Lightstone Entertainment where he partnered with Rebel Films, Psuedo Online Entertainment, and Film Inc. in NYC to produce a series of film and television projects. Tommy Mottola, former Chairman, of Sony Music hired Lichtenstein and Lightstone Entertainment as the in-house production company for Sony Music Studios in New York City. It was here that Lichtenstein forged his business partnership with Ric Wake, Head of A&R for Sony Music Worldwide. Wake, a world-renowned music producer, received several Grammy Awards for musical acts Celine Dion and Mariah Carey, as well as the soundtrack for the Academy Award winning motion picture Chicago.

As a founding partner, Lichtenstein served as Executive Producer for Film Bond International and was instrumental in securing financing on numerous feature productions, including the critically acclaimed, O, produced by his partner Anthony Rhulen (Film Engine), and distributed by Miramax and Lions Gate Entertainment. O, based on Shakespeare’s Othello, stars Martin Sheen, Josh Hartnett and Julia Stiles. After Lichtenstein and Rhulen formed Film Bond, Rhulen went on to finance The Butterfly Effect, starring Ashton Kutcher, and Lucky Number Slevin, starring Bruce Willis and Josh Hartnett. Lichtenstein has also written scripts for RKO pictures, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, Electric Entertainment, Crusader Entertainment, Constantine Films, and Warner Brothers.

In 1997, Lichtenstein made his feature directorial debut with the film Lowball which he also wrote and produced for the Showtime Network. Lowball received numerous awards on the independent film circuit.

After serving as Chairman of the New York Independent Film Coalition, Lichtenstein arrived in Hollywood where within six months, he raised $60 million dollars for 3000 Miles To Graceland, which he wrote, produced and directed for Warner Brothers. The film’s cast includes Kevin Costner, Kurt Russell, Christian Slater, Courtney Cox, Ice T, Howie Long, Jon Lovitz, Kevin Pollak, Thomas Haden Church, and David Arquette. Lichtenstein also produced the soundtrack, featuring songs by Elvis Presley, BT, Filter and The Crystal Method. Graceland has gone on to become an international cult hit in constant worldwide rotation on HBO.

Having worked as a producer, director, writer, with hands-on experience developing projects for all of the major studios, Lichtenstein and Wake formed Equilibrium Entertainment, a state-of-the-art independent motion picture and post production company formed to take advantage of the technological breakthroughs in motion picture, music, gaming, internet and television programming.

Currently, Ric Wake is producing the GLOBAL TOUR and Albums for renowned music star, Yanni.

Lichtenstein has completed principal photography on the international Documentary Discover The Gift, featuring the Dali Lama, Jack Canfield (author of “Chicken Soup for the Soul”), and Reverend Michael Bernard Beckwith, world leader and teacher in the New Thought-Ancient Wisdom tradition of spirituality and founder of the Agape International Spiritual Center. Equilibrium Entertainment recently finished delivery of the MGM picture Hit and Run, for director Enda McCallion, and La Linea, starring Andy Garcia and Ray Liotta for director James Cotten.

Lichtenstein credits include producing and directing the independent feature Venus And Vegas, an action comedy starring Donald Faison, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Jaime Preston, Molly Simms, Abraham Benrubi, Roselyn Sanches and Joe Rogan. He also produced The Unseen, and was Producer and Director of Photography on Love And Suicide, an inspirational character study shot entirely on location in Havana Cuba.

Lichtenstein has been mentored in 3D filming techniques by James Cameron on Avatar, to date the most expensive film in history and the highest Grossing film of all time. Lichtenstein has also been trained in 3-D techniques by James Mainard and Phil McNally of Dreamworks.

Lichtenstein has over twenty motion picture projects, five television shows, multiple music acts, and a new video gaming division in active development, in addition to running a full service production and post-production company.

Currently, he is preparing to direct BOUNTY and THE GUARDIANS, a $45 million dollar 3D action thriller with his producing partner Greg O’Connor (The Warrior, Pride and Glory, Miracle and Tumbleweed).

For the past 14 years, Lichtenstein has served as senior head coach for the Self-Expression and Leadership Program for Landmark Education, an internationally recognized seminar conglomerate specializing in transformational leadership. Lichtenstein is a member of the Director’s Guild of America, The Writer’s Guild of America and the Screen Actor’s Guild. As a founding member of the Senior Leadership Council of the Director’s Guild of America, along with Steven Spielberg and Taylor Hackford (President of the Directors Guild of America) Mr. Lichtenstein works closely with award-winning directors to protect the rights of filmmakers worldwide by having a direct influence on domestic and global politics in the entertainment world.

Lichtenstein currently serves as the CEO of Equilibrium Entertainment where he overseas all creative affairs, worldwide production and financing with his primary focus on Directing great action/adventure pictures. He maintains residences in both Los Angeles and New York City.

Franco Sama - Board Member

Independent Feature Film Producer

Independent feature film producer Franco Sama boasts a remarkable and extensive history in public speaking, public relations and a decade of independent film development, production and financing.

Sama has Executive Produced an impressive array of over twenty (20) independent feature films including most notably, “Guns, Girls and Gambling” starring Gary Oldman, Christian Slater and Dane Cook which is quickly becoming a cult favorite; this film was released into theatres on December of 2012 and, in January 2013, acquired a worldwide distribution deal from Universal Pictures.

Other films Sama has produced include; “Black Limousine” starring David Arquette and Vivica Fox, “Tooth and Nail” starring Michael Madsen and Vinnie Jones, “Paid,” starring Corbin Bernsen and Tom Conti and “The Penitent Man,” starring “The Terminator’s” Lance Henriksen. Sama also serves as Executive Producer on the film festival darling “Petunia” starring Thora Birch, Brittany Snow and Academy Award winner Christine Lahti.

Samaco Films released two films in 2015, the first, “The Livingston Gardner” stars James Kyson the beloved “Ando” from the NBC television hit series “HEROS” and the second, “3 Days in Havana” starring Ally McBeal alum, Gil Bellows; both of which have been released through Samaco Films’ sister company, Synergetic Distribution and have been released via all digital and Video on Demand (VOD) platforms worldwide.

The company also released two films in 2016, the first of which is the highly-lauded WWI action thriller titled “Game of Aces” directed by Aussie Director Damien Lay and starring heartthrob and former “American Pie” star Chris Klein alongside “Transformers” Victoria Summer (Transformers: Age of Distinction”) and Werner Daehn (“Valkyrie”, xXx) which is scheduled to hit theaters early this fall.

The second, “Chimera” a Sci-Fi Thriller written and directed by first time Helmer Maurice Haeems and starring “Apollo 13” Oscar nominated actress Kathleen Quinlan, veteran “Lost” alumnus Henry Ian Cusick and the incomparable “American Horror Story” scene-stealer Erika Ervin is currently in negotiations for worldwide distribution with several high profile distribution companies.
His shingle “Samaco Films” is currently financing and producing a slate of several independent feature films, including three psychological thrillers “Stockholm”, Séance, and Alexis Colette”, all of which are projected to begin principle photography before the fall of 2017.

Varda Bar-Kar - Board Member

TV & Film Director

Award-winning DGA director and world traveler Varda Bar-Kar had lived on three different continents by the time she was 10 years old. Her international upbringing provides her with a uniquely global and expansive perspective. Varda is an activist filmmaker focusing her lens on the breadth of the human condition. Her work addresses society’s challenges with an uplifting approach that speaks into possibility.

She developed her directing voice creating cause-driven viral videos that amassed tens of millions of views; short films garnering awards at major film festivals; and web series. Varda now directs feature projects and episodic television. Her feature documentary Big Voice chronicling a challenging year in the life of a determined high school choir director won “Best U.S. Premiere” at the Heartland Film Festival and “Best Documentary” at New Filmmakers Los Angeles. Big Voice was picked-up by Netflix.

Varda was selected to participate in Ryan Murphy’s Half Foundation Director Diversity Program. Following her participation in the program, Varda was hired to direct the hit FOX TV show 9-1-1.

Varda is currently directing Fandango at the Wall a feature documentary that delves into the lives and music of the masters of son jarocho, a 300-year-old folk music tradition rooted in the land of Veracruz, Mexico, who join New York City Maestro Arturo O’Farrill and his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra for a historical music festival called Fandango Fronterizo. This festival takes place simultaneously on both sides of the United States/Mexican border transforming the border wall from an object that divides to one that unites.

Advisory Board

Thomas Bannister - Advisory Board Member

Distribution & Development partnership w/ SXM Inc

Thomas Bannister founded SXM in 2008. He recently created Break Media’s Armed Response and VEVO’s upcoming series The Comment Show.

Through SXM Thomas has also produced top digital series including CTRL, Fact Checkers Unit, Easy To Assemble, Matumbo Goldberg, Kitchen Jam, Diagnosis Stories, Extreme Retreat and a series of high profile Samsung commercials starring and directed by James Franco.

Thomas has worked with companies such as Disney,NBC, CBS, Comedy Central, MTV, IKEA, Samsung, Intel, Coca-Cola and Smuckers.

His series have received awards at BANFF, NATPE and The Webbys.

Barney Oldfield - Advisory Board Member

Barney Oldfield Programming

Barney Oldfield has a long history serving the entertainment community on both coasts. As longstanding and current chairman of the board for New York City’s utmost respected center for independent film and film preservation – Anthology Film Achieves, Mr. Oldfield tends to many responsibilities.

A graduate of NYU School of Film and Harvard, Mr. Oldfield serves as founder of the Harvard Film Group, is the general manager of famous motion picture company Angelika Corporation, brought the Havana Film Festival to NY and started the NewFilmmakers Series in 1997.

Joakim Baage - Advisory Board Member

Digital Media Wire

Joakim “Jay” Baage is an international media executive focused on the transition from an analog to a digital world, and how to build successful media and entertainment properties accordingly.

Jay sifts, sorts and filters daily news, finance and entertainment trends to tens of thousands of executives and professionals throughout the world as VP of Content for Digital Media Wire. His responsibilities also include Business Development; overseeing ad and sponsorship sales, marketing, social networking strategy as well as new partnership development. Last, but not least, Jay heads up the company’s youth-focused Project Millennials as well as the NY and LA Games Conferences.

Jay has a Masters Degree in Media, Entertainment & Technology Management from the Gallatin School at New York University and a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from Goteborg University in Sweden. He has been awarded Wallenberg Scholarships in 2004 and 2006, a Sweden-America Foundation Fellowship in 2005 as well as scholarships for being “A Promising New Media Manager” by Swedish Newspaper Publishers’ Association 2005 and 2001.

Special areas of interests include online video, music, digital arts, youth and pop-culture in general. Jay is a frequent speaker at international media industry events such as the LA Film Festival and Canadian Music Week.

Nancy Collet - Advisory Board Member

Cinema Collet

Nancy Collet’s experience in the film industry spans over 18 years. With her extensive knowledge of working with studios and film festivals, she founded Cinema Collet in 2007. Her company offers a variety of services to film festivals, filmmakers and distribution companies. Her clients include the Toronto International Film Festival, The Middle East International Film Festival, Heartland Truly Moving Pictures, The Whistler Film Festival, The Gasparilla International Film Festival, Malibu Celebration of Film and Sharmill Films in Australia. Her services include festival start-up, festival strategy, film programming, event management, VIP/industry procurement, marketing and publicity.

Collet has also served as a juror and panelist for international film festivals and events around the world, including the HBO Aspen Comedy Arts Festival, The Cleveland International Film Festival, the American Film Market, the Ashland Independent Film Festival and the Los Angeles Film Festival.

From 1997 to 2007, Collet worked for the American Film Institute’s AFI Fest. She was promoted to Director of Programming in 2000 and produced seven editions in this capacity. Collet was responsible for selecting all of the films in the festival and putting together a strong and varied program. In an extensive and rigorous selection process, she often viewed upwards of 1,000 films per year. In 2006, Collet and her staff screened more than 3,500 submissions and put together a slate of 149 films representing 45 countries. During her time at AFI Fest, she secured the premieres of Academy Award winning films The Lives of Others, Pan’s Labyrinth, Tsotsi, Walk The Line, Hotel Rwanda, The Sea Inside, The Barbarian Invasions, Monster, Nowhere In Africa, City of God, Talk To Her, No Man’s Land, Monster’s Ball, Cider House Rules, All About My Mother and Life Is Beautiful among many others. She also helped the festival to more than triple in size and firmly establish itself as a world renowned international film festival.

Collet also supervised a large staff and oversaw production of the marketing, publicity, programming, scheduling, theater management and industry programs at AFI Fest.

In 2002 Collet launched AFI’s year round programming initiative at the ArcLight Hollywood and the Skirball Center, creating and overseeing numerous screening series, retrospectives and special events.

Previously, Nancy worked for Tom Hanks at his Clavius Base Films. Prior to that, she worked at 20th Century Fox in publicity, and served as a producer’s assistant at Interscope Communications. Ms. Collet started her career in the mailroom at the William Morris Agency.

Nancy is a 1989 Magna Cum Laude graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School and has a dual degree in marketing and psychology.

Michael DeVous Jr. - Advisory Board Member

Director of Communications for the Aspen Filmfest

Michael Devous showcases more than 20 years of experience in many areas of the entertainment business. His first successes began with a colorful stage career. This eventually led him to the big stage in Las Vegas, where he performed with Michael Crawford, David Cassidy, Tommy Tune, Siegfried & Roy, as well as a private performance for the late Michael Jackson. Michael also made time for lucrative commercial and film work, among other things. To diversify his talents, Michael took on the title of a PR Coordinator, working behind-the-scenes of the film festival circuit. It was there he facilitated red carpet events for such film festivals as AFI, Sundance, Dallas International, and many more. His event work continued in Los Angeles where he worked on productions for the non-profit sector and clients such as LACMA, KCRW, Paramount, Universal, Gucci, and Bvlgari. Michael is currently the Events Manager for the Manhattan Country Club. Since 2001, he has served as a board member for many film organizations. His resume of achievements and successes allows for a solid understanding and support to filmmakers through is passion for the art form.

Bill Grundfest - Advisory Board Member


Writer-producer and WGA member who has received a Golden Globe Award and three Emmy nominations for his work. Mr. Grundfest’s numerous writing credits include NBC’s Mad About You, CBS’s That’s Life, HBO’s Mind of the Married Man, Showtime’s special Pryor Offenses starring Eddie Griffin and Exes and Oh’s for LOGO. He also has written for several Emmy and Academy Awards telecasts, including the 2009 Emmy telecast.

“My major goal in educating is (to overuse an overused word) “empower” other writers. My wife assures me this is due to my no longer having any actual power myself. My kids and pets concur, but they are all in cahoots. By “empower” I mean to help you tap into you. How to write from your own guts and experience and passion and nightmares and silliness, even when you’re writing about characters who a) you didn’t create and b) are in situations you’ve never faced (after all, how many of us have been marooned on a desert island or been married to a henpecked sportswriter?). So many new writers I have worked with, and who’ve worked for me, think writing on a TV series is one thing, and are floored when they realize what it’s really about. “Nobody told me this would happen” is a common refrain. I’d like you to at least be able to say “well, he told me this would happen.”

Richard Krelstein - Advisory Board Member

Operations and Financial Advisor

Richard Krelstein has over 40 years of operations and financial experience with both domestic and international firms. Richard’s experience as a business visionary and leader, able to “look outside of the box”, has led to numerous companies retaining him as their president and/or CEO to lead them through troubled times.

Richard has worked in a diverse range of industries including military/government contractors, greeting card industry, packaging industry, food industry and as a supplier to many retail chain stores and independent retailers for a wide range of products.

In addition, Richard has been involved in multiple business transfer activities including mergers and acquisitions of companies with gross sales in the millions of dollars.

Richard has also acted as a consultant to a wide range of firms aiding them in business planning, increasing market share, operations and logistics audits, and market penetration.

He has nationwide reputation as a mentor for small to mid-sized company presidents. Richard prides himself on his ability to look at the long range goals of the company while keeping in mind that every company’s most important assets are its management and employees.

Richard’s business career has had a parallel involvement of over 40 years with Not For Profits, sitting on numerous boards, as well as holding positions from President to Financial Manager.

Terri Melkonian - Advisory Board Member

TERRIMEL Productions

Ten years managing film and television productions at NBC/Universal preceded by a freelance television production career and the last five years as Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Sunset Gower and Sunset Bronson Studios, Terri Melkonian felt it was time to pursue her filmmaking dreams and follow her passion of producing quality, uplifting entertainment. She joined the Producers Guild of America, and with offices at Paramount Pictures she formed TERRIMEL Productions, focusing on developing as well as funding marketable films with a positive message. As a producer, she understood how absolutely vital a strong marketing campaign was to the success of her projects. After seeing highly regarded projects fitted for success fail because they lacked an effective marketing campaign, she wanted to ensure her films would not succumb to that demise. Relying on her extensive marketing experience and an innovative team of tech gurus, Terri and fellow filmmaker Lou Simon created Moving Forward Media Group. By offering the engagement of their New Media expertise, they provide every content creator/producer an optimum opportunity for success by designing and overseeing a cost effective transmedia campaign encompassing multiple platforms and formats while using the latest digital technologies.

Terri Melkonian is a member of the New Media Council of the PGA, serves on the board of NewFilmmakers Los Angeles and serves on the advisory board of Kat Kramer’s Films That Changed the World.

TERRIMEL Productions/Paramount Studios, Dreier Bldg. Suite 210

5555 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood CA 90038 Phone: 323.997.7735

John W. Fagerholm - Advisory Board Member

Attorney: M.E.T.A.L. Law Group LLP

John W. Fagerholm, Esq. is the managing partner of M.E.T.A.L. Law Group LLP. He gained his experience with a litigation law firm and with a high profile entertainment law firm before co-founding Fagerholm & Jefferson Law Corporation nearly a decade ago. His background is in business and entrepreneurship and he has owned several businesses, including a car buying business, a kickboxing studio, a mortgage company, an escrow company, a nightclub, a publishing company and a convalescent home.

Mr. Fagerholm practices in the areas of entertainment and business law, including business litigation, corporate structures, and intellectual property for clients primarily in media (websites, magazines, etc.), entertainment (film, television and music), technology (iPhone aps, web aps), action sports (UFC and other MMA) and lifestyles (fashion and nightlife). He also acts as head of business and legal affairs for several prominent clients.

He currently writes articles and acts as a commentator for several monthly Internet and hardcopy magazines on subjects related to business and legal matters in media, entertainment and technology. He is also involved in local politics, youth sports, and several charitable causes.

Mr. Fagerholm has an undergraduate degree in Sociology from the University of Washington and a Juris Doctorate degree from Southwestern University School of Law. He attended Law School after receiving the prestigious Schumacher Scholarship and graduated from the accelerated two year SCALE program.

Screening Committee

David Quan - Secretary

David is a Texas-born screenwriter who moonlights as a Production Supervisor for an LA-based online education company. He enjoys Tolkien, saltwater aquariums, and potatoes in their many forms. David graduated from the University of North Texas with a Bachelor of Arts, Radio, Television and Film. David enjoys giving back to young filmmakers and has taught all aspects of video production to aspiring filmmakers.

Andrew Acedo - Events & Outreach Director

Andrew Acedo is a UCLA graduate who is passionate about cinema, literature, Bojack Horseman, Kanye West and the Lakers. In college, he taught a course about the lack of access to higher education in the Pilipinx Community and currently serves as a counselor for UCLA’s largest non-profit organization called UniCamp, where he leads groups of kids from urban areas in a week-long camping trip in the mountains. Having an older brother with Down syndrome, Andrew loves contributing whatever he can to the disabled community. He also serves as a Script Reader for the International Screenwriter’s Association (ISA), where he reads, scores, and gives feedback for script submissions from writers around the world. His goal is to give a platform to films by hidden talent around the world, and he believes that NFMLA gives him the opportunity to do just that.

Alexandra Diantgikis - Committee Member

Marketing Manager, Scriptation

Alex is a writer, television addict, and semi-professional dog belly-scratcher. She has a strong passion for storytelling and aims to advance the careers of underrepresented talent in the industry. Alex currently serves as the Marketing Manager of Scriptation, a PDF annotator app specifically designed for film and television professionals and created by the script coordinator of ABC’s Black-ish. Alex is also a Script Reader for the International Screenwriter’s Association (ISA)’s myriad of screenplay contests, where she reviews, scores, and crafts feedback for script submissions of various genres.

Formerly the Outreach Director of NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA), Alex managed the operation of NFMLA’s Monthly Film Festival, co-curated an array of special screening events, and pursued development and partnership opportunities to better advance the careers of indie filmmakers.

A Boston native, she is a graduate of Boston University, and has previously worked on E! Entertainment’s The Soup and the PBS cooking show, Simply Ming.

Melissa Azizi - Committee Member

Until 2018, Melissa Azizi worked closely with critically acclaimed US Producer, Gail Mutrux to help produce Academy-Award winning THE DANISH GIRL, the Golden Globe winning SHOW ME A HERO mini-series (for HBO) and iBOY (UK’s first Netflix Original).

Melissa has since formed Sparkwood Films and has several feature projects in development, including an adaptation of the PEN/Faulkner nominated book, THREATS by Amelia Gray; a road trip dramedy about grief called SCATTERING JAKE with MXN Entertainment (TULLY, YOUNG ADULT, JUNO); a documentary about the first African-American rhythmic gymnast poised for 2020 Olympics called BREAKING BOUNDARIES; and a biopic on Elise Cowen, a beat poet whose legacy has long been defined by a colleague she dated briefly, Allen Ginsberg.

Melissa produced the short films, THE DISTANCE BETWEEN through Screen NSW’s Young Filmmakers Fund and SHOPPING, in association with Metro Screen and the Australian Cultural Fund. Both films have screened in over one hundred film festivals worldwide, including major gay and lesbian film festivals. They have both been nominated for City of Sydney and City of Melbourne awards and between them, collected Best Achievement in Sound for a Short Film at the 2009 Australian Screen Sound Guild Awards, nominated for an Australian Screen Music Award and collected Best Original Song for a Short Film at Long Island.

Melissa is on the judging panel for the scriptwriting contest, WeScreenplay; the programming panel for New Filmmakers LA, Outfest Los Angeles and NewFest NY; and is a mentor for the Young Storytellers Program, a non-profit that inspires low-income students to learn how to write original stories and see them brought to life on stage and film. Melissa is also an alumni mentor for students of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.

Melissa earned a Bachelor of Arts Hons I (Performance Studies and Art History & Theory) at The University of Sydney followed by a Masters in Media Arts and Production at The University of Technology, Sydney. She also graduated from UCLA’s Professional Producing Program.

In 2019, Melissa co-founded the IN DREAMS fellowship which is designed to connect unrepresented Australian screenwriters with the Hollywood industry.

Melissa is Australian and based in Los Angeles.

Zeynep Pinar Ucar - Committee Member

Film Critic

Coming from Istanbul, Turkey, Pinar is a true film nerd.


After studying Media and Visual Arts at Koc University, she has started working as a Film Critic for an independent film platform, FilmLoverss, based in Istanbul and she has started her own company, Armesta Cosmetics.


Following her graduation from UCLA Extension program with distinction where she studied Screenwriting, she interned with a LA-based international sales and distribution company, Film Mode Entertainment (BURN, CRYPTO) and with New Filmmakers LA. 


Pinar still works as a Film Critic and has projects in development including ‘Handcuffed’, a story about cell phone addiction and isolation.

Jonathan Rigler - Committee Member

Jonathan is a filmmaker who resides in Los Angeles, where he works in freelance film production and is working towards his goals of being involved in film curation. He recently graduated from California State University with his bachelor’s degree in film with an emphasis in screenwriting. Jonathan is passionate about all things film, especially film history.

Lohanne Cook - Committee Member

Lohanne Cook is a communications and events specialist with a passion for film and pop culture. With her work in non-profit, Lohanne has found joy in curating conversations to educate and inspire filmmakers at all levels. She has partnered with several festivals and organizations including ACE, The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix, NewFilmmakers LA, Variety and Newport Beach Film Festival – where she served as the Director of Seminars, Awards, and Industry Relations. Ultimately, she seeks to bring filmmakers and industry professionals together to educate and celebrate the art and craft of film.

Jessica Pribus - Committee Member

Dinh Thai - Committee Member

Writer & Director

Dinh Thai is a writer/director by way of commercial directing based in Los Angeles. Born in Vietnam, fled to France, and finally settling in Los Angeles. Dinh’s narrative work has aired on HBO and Cinemax. Specifically, MONDAY, a short film he wrote and directed has garnished 50+ festival awards, including first place in the inaugural HBO Asian Pacific American Visionaries competition, Next Generation Filmmaker Award at the prestigious NBCU Shorts Festival, and Best New Filmmaker of the Year at NFMLA.

Carol Alexander - Committee Member

Carol is an LA Native and graduate of UC Berkeley’s Film and Media program. With experience in festivals, awards, publicity and production, she loves immersing herself in new stories and is always looking for a great cold open. Areas of Interest: TV, Film, Digital Content, Inclusion.

Emma Hughes - Committee Member

Emma Hughes is an experienced non-profit arts professional who is dedicated to supporting film and media and sharing stories across audiences. She holds an M.A. degree in Cinema & Media Studies from the University of Southern California, and a B.A. degree from Carleton College in the same field. She has worked at film festivals and museums across the country, including the Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca, NYFF, and the Museum of the Moving Image, and her academic work has been published in the journal Film Matters.

She is passionate about education and research, having worked as a Teaching Assistant at USC teaching undergraduate students during her time in graduate school. In particular, through her work she hopes to support the use of education and programming in film and media to create dialogue and inspire new storytellers, as well as to connect diverse perspectives and underrepresented voices to new audiences.

At NewFilmmakers Los Angeles, she works to connect emerging and underrepresented filmmakers to resources, programs, and education so that they have every opportunity to tell their stories.

Tamika Lamison - Committee Member

SVP Development and Production - PhilmCo, Exec. Director- CDDP, Exec. Director - Make A Film Foundation

Tamika Lamison is an award winning Filmmaker, Writer, Producer and Exec. She is currently the SVP of Development and Production at PhilmCo, the Exec. Director of the Commercial Directors Diversity Program and Exec. Director of Make A Film Foundation. She was recently a showrunner for a series of shorts for Game Changer films. Tamika is in development for many projects and is a Producer for the Doc Feature – Ferguson Rises. Making a difference/telling stories with impact is her passion. Honors include: ABC/Disney Fellowship, Gordon Parks indie film award, Baron Jay Trailblazer Award, etc.

Vanessa Mancos - Committee Member

Television Writer

Vanessa Mancos is a television writer living in Los Angeles. Her first short film was screened at NewFilmmakers over a decade ago and she is passionate about finding and spotlighting diverse, emerging filmmakers and writers.