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 CineSessions – 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. This includes an accessibility partnership with TeenTix LA to support LA based youth with low-cost access to any program that is fee based.
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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.

George Gomez
Programs Coordinator

A Southern California Native, George Gomez is a Mexican American writer/filmmaker who has always been passionate about the arts even as a child. He graduated from California State University, Los Angeles in 2020 with a B.A. degree in Television, Film and Media Studies. In the years since then, he has been involved in the filmmaking process and worked on projects for companies such as NBC, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. Within those projects, he has honed his skills in departments such as post, casting and production.

Understanding his own ambition to create impactful works of media, George is steadfast in his drive to assist underrepresented and arising filmmakers in their own journey.

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
Education & Special Programs Manager

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.

Lauren Muniz
Programs Assistant

Lauren Muniz has been in the role of programs assistant at NewFilmmakers Los Angeles since joining the organization in 2022. Hailing from Whittier, CA, she completed her studies in the CSUDH film program. As a devoted Chicana, she takes immense pride in discovering stories within her community that authentically capture the multifaceted essence of the Latinx diaspora.

Before changing her career aspirations, she pursued a degree in Sociology and gained experience in diverse child and youth care environments. While working as a behavioral therapist, she realized the significant impact of media on her clients’ progress. This realization motivated her to venture into a fresh career journey within the realms of film, television, and media.

Philip Huynh
Web Developer & Designer
Product Designer @ Groovetime

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 is an NFMLA Alumni that’s journey with the organization has spanned over a decade.

Serving on the board of NFMLA is one of Danny’s greatest life passions. Supporting the organization’s mission to celebrate local and global storytellers and the dedication for all voices to be heard as well as building the NFMLA family worldwide.

He is Founder and CEO of Sweet Humans, a production company dedicated to nurturing voices, creating safe spaces and building filmmaking families for humble humans.

As part of the LGBTQ+ community, he produces content in this area for festivals, public speaking, serves on juries and committees, passionately making a conscious effort to support gender equality and diversity in his roles in entertainment.

He also is a founding board member of Cures of Colors which embarks important conversations aiming at a younger audience through the art of coloring.

If you have any questions related to NFMLA or beyond you can email him at chair@nfmla.org or on Instagram/Twitter @dannydelillo

Kim Williams

Kim most recently served as Vice President, Casting at Disney Television Studios, a post she held from October 2019 – April 2023. Kim served as casting director for season 4 the critically acclaimed series Genius, this iteration called Genius: MLK/AND highlighting lives of the leaders of the civil rights movement Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. She cast the lead in Lee Daniels’ upcoming limited series for Hulu, Sammy Davis Jr. She also cast the teen leads Disney+ series The Crossover as well as the pilot and first season of Freeform’s hit series Single Drunk Female.  She oversaw the casting for Onyx’s new series Deli Boys, Lee Daniels’ The Spook Who Sat by the Door for FX, Showtime’sThe Chi. She was instrumental in shaping the casts and overseeing and the FX series The Old Man starring Jeff Bridges and the Emmy-nominated season 3 Genius: Aretha. Kim joined ABC as director of casting in early 2019, working on projects for the network, Disney+ and ABC Studios, including the critically acclaimed For Life. Kim is passionate about diversity, belonging, inclusion and equity and was actively involved in several projects and initiatives across The Walt Disney Company.

As an independent casting director, Kim worked on Greg Berlanti’s All American, Narcos, The Bernie Mac Show and Martin, and several Tyler Perry movies and series including Diary of a Mad Black Woman and feature films including My Little One and Payment Received. Williams worked on The HBO Access Project, allowing her to guide casting while mentoring creative minds from diverse backgrounds over eight projects. Previously, at Paramount Pictures and Television, Williams oversaw the casting for Annihilation, Looking for Alaska, Jack Reacher: Never Look Back, Baywatch starring Zac Efron and Dwayne Johnson, Shooter, The Alienist and Grease: Live! While at Fox, Williams served as director of casting on shows including Prison Break, Glee, and Sarah Conner Chronicles. Prior to that, Williams spent close to a decade at HBO as a director of casting.

Georgina González Rodríguez
Universal International Studios

Georgina currently serves as Director of Programming at Universal International Studios in the Los Angeles office. She was recently Director of International Originals at HBO Max, home of shows such as BAFTA winner “Starstruck”, the Peabody award-winning series “Sort Of”, as well as hit shows “The Girl Before”, “I Hate Suzie” and “The Tourist”. Before that, she was Director of Development in the SPLATAM team at Gaumont Television (home of “El Presidente” for Amazon, and the hit series “Narcos”, “Arsène Lupin” & “Barbarians” for Netflix, etc.), working on a slate of shows in development and production. Previously, in Mexico, she launched the film development department for Cinépolis, the second-largest theater chain worldwide, shepherding various films into production. Georgina started her career at Fox, Universal, MGM and the Univision-Netflix joint venture, Story House Entertainment on series such as “El Chapo” and “Tijuana”. In parallel, through her production company, Off-Hollywood Films, she was a producer on movies such as “The Reports on Sarah & Saleem” (International Film Festival Rotterdam 2018 audience and jury awards),”Finding the Werewolf” (PGA Diversity master class and IFP fellow 2018), “Sanctorum” (Venice International Film Festival closing film 2019), “Martinez” (San Francisco International Film Festival, Miami Film Festival 2023, etc.), Midday Cowboy (Mexican Academy Award nomination for best feature documentary 2020, now on Netflix), amongst others. She graduated from CUEC-UNAM & USC’s Peter Stark film producing program as a Fulbright, FONCA & HBO scholar.

Margaret Wu
Board Member
Founder at 3 Dots Entertainment

Margaret Wu has over 30 years of experience in the cultural sector in the U.S. and Asia. She was an award-winning advertising executive who became an entrepreneur and founded 3 Dots Entertainment which focuses on improving the understanding between East and West through the power of art. 3 Dots Entertainment has three main businesses; film development, film education and acquisition of intellectual properties. Margaret became a board member of NewFilmmakers LA in 2015 and has been an advocate of bridging emerging Chinese filmmakers with the Los Angeles film community through the NFMLA platform which has been effective in creating real impact.

David Quan
Board Member

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.

Varda Bar-Kar
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.

Screening Committee

David Quan
Board Member

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.

Alexandra Diantgikis
Screening 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
Screening 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.

Lohanne Cook
Screening 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.

Sunny Vachher
Screening Committee Member
Producer, TED

Sunny Vachher is an international award-winning South Asian (Indian American) Producer, Executive Producer, and Creative Executive in Film, TV, and Digital Media. As Producer at TED Conferences, Sunny creates prestigious TEDTalks presented by influential and inspiring individuals from around the world sparking global change. A purpose-driven visionary entrepreneur bridging technology and entertainment, Sunny is the Founder of Hollywood Casting and Film—a leading digital casting platform for the entertainment industry connecting emerging talent with emerging filmmakers across America. As a Head Mentor and Motivational Speaker for Young Storytellers Foundation, Sunny helps raise diverse, inclusive, and emerging creative voices.

Ana Laura Echenique
Screening Committee Member

With two decades’ experience in cinematic production, Ana has collaborated on several documentary, fiction and advertising projects. Graduated of the Cinematography Program, she worked at National Institutions, production companies and national Film Festivals as BAFICI. After settling in Mexico, she co-founded OaxacaFilmFest; being the Executive Director/Head of Industry for 10 years, connecting new filmmakers with big companies. She participated as jury member or speaker at various festivals, including BIFF(Korea), Montería(Colombia), Indie Grits(USA) and Pacific-Meridian (Russia).

Adriana Frausto
Screening Committee Member

Born & raised in San Diego, Adriana worked in the medical field before deciding to finish her college degree. Putting the dream to work after graduation, she made the move in 2013 to L.A. She worked her way around temp gigs in the biz, then landing at Annapurna in November 2014. She has recently started writing, seeing to where this will lead her next.

Nidhin Patel
Screening Committee Member

Born and raised in India, Nidhin Patel is an educator and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. He started his career as an entertainment journalist, and then worked as a creative writer, before moving to the US to pursue his MFA in TV, Film and Theater production. He is an award-winning film instructor, and also works as a freelancer in various production departments, having been a part of numerous film projects that have reached audiences through national/international film festivals and platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Jonathan Hammond
Screening Committee Member

Jonathan Hammond is a two-time Emmy-nominated writer/director. He is the co-recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Justice and Peace, and a San Diego Film Award for Best Writing. He is also a two-time recipient of the KPBS Explorer Program, winner of Best Writing for the 2016 San Diego International Fringe Festival, and his work was selected for the New Playwrights Festival at The Old Globe in San Diego. He attended the University of Illinois and NYU Tisch School of the Arts before moving to Los Angeles with his puppy, Dashiell Hammond.

Zekun Mao
Screening Committee Member

Zekun Mao graduated from American Film Institute Conservatory. She has recently worked on Everything Everywhere all at Once, Devotion and Let the Right One In as assistant editors. She also edited American Girl, which is currently streaming on Netflix.

Aashish D’Mello
Screening Committee Member

Aashish D’Mello is an editor/assistant editor from Mumbai, India. Since graduating from the American Film Institute Conservatory in 2017, he has worked on a variety of projects . Most recently, he was assistant editor on A24’s Everything Everywhere All At Once, HBO’s The Rehearsal, and the upcoming A24/Showtime series The Curse. He was additional editor on the 2020 film Sanzaru and the 2021 film American Girl, currently streaming on Netflix. He was editor on the 2021 film A Nomad River, currently available on major streaming platforms.

Guido Segal
Screening Committee Member

Born in Argentina, Segal moved to Los Angeles to study Screenwriting at UCLA. He was a juror at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. He was a documentary filmmaker for History and Discovery Channel and co-wrote the films Leones and Kékzsakállú, and the TV shows Zamba and Siesta Z, nominated for Emmy awards. Segal has taught Screenwriting at Universidad del Cine (Argentina), UPF (Spain), TAMK (Finland), UFM (Guatemala) and UCLA. He was a fellow at the Tomorrow’s Filmmakers Today program and a finalist for NBC’s Writers on the Verge. He has worked for Disney, Marvista, 30 West and Anonymous Content.

Neyom Friday
Screening Committee Member

Advisory Board

Damien Lichtenstein
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
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.