Careers in Film Summit Panelist Bios

Panel 1
 

Effie T. Brown is a film and television producer known for such feature films and TV movies as Rocket Science, In the Cut, Real Women Have Curves, Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her, Everyday People, Desert Blue, But I'm a Cheerleader. From 2011-2013, Brown re-teamed with the award-winning producing and directing team of Jon Avnet and Rodrigo Garcia to produce WIGS, an original content channel for Google/YouTube. During the summer of 2013, Brown, under her company Duly Noted, Inc., produced the feature film Dear White People. The film was accepted to the Dramatic competition category in the 2014 Sundance Film festival and won the Special Jury Prize for Breakthrough Talent. Brown currently appears as a mentor on HBO’s “Project Greenlight.” She has a B.A. in film production and theater from Loyola Marymount University.

Debra Martin Chase is a two-time Emmy®-nominated and Peabody Award-winning motion picture and television producer. Her company, Martin Chase Productions, has been affiliated with the Walt Disney Company since 2001, when she became the first African-American woman to have a producing deal at a major studio. Her feature films and TV movies include The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Just Wright, Lemonade Mouth and Sparkle. Her new television series, “Zoe Ever After,” starring Brandy Norwood, will debut in early 2016 on BET.

The 2013 comedy Peeples, starring Kerry Washington and Craig Robinson, marked screenwriter Tina Gordon Chism's directorial debut. Chism started writing as a college student at the University of Virginia. Although Chism had an early interest in journalism, even working as a writer and editor at the Atlanta Tribune, her career in television and film sparked when she interned in the writing department for “The Cosby Show” as a college student. Chism later penned the acclaimed 2002 hit Drumline, staring Nick Cannon and Zoe Saldana, for Fox 2000 Pictures. She went on to write ATL, staring rapper T.I., for Warner Bros. in 2006. Currently Chism is developing Inheritance, a thriller she penned and will direct for Sony.  

Caleeb Pinkett is an American producer, who currently serves as SVP of creative affairs at Overbrook Entertainment. Pinkett began in the entertainment business as an actor, appearing in such films as Lakeview Terrace and The Human Contract. He has co-produced several episodes of the critically acclaimed medical drama “Hawthorne,” and most recently, Pickett was a producer on the feature films Men in Black 3, After Earth and Annie for Sony.

Adam Rodriguez, perhaps best known for his role as Eric Delko on the CBS crime drama “CSI: Miami,” for which he also wrote and directed two episodes, can next be seen as Cookie’s love interest on Fox's record-breaking series “Empire.” He also has been cast in a recurring role in the second season of the CW hit romantic comedy-drama “Jane the Virgin,” and will be directed an upcoming episode of the CBS series “Scorpion.” Rodriguez recently co-starred in the films Magic Mike, About Last Night and Magic Mike XXL.

Shelby Stone is the president of production for Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere’s company, Flavor Unit Entertainment. She has produced over 60 hours of episodic television, as well as several feature films and TV movies, including this year’s Emmy Award-winning Bessie. Stone and the projects she has headed are the recipients of over 60 awards and nominations, including Emmys, Golden Globes, Peabody Awards, Humanitas Prizes and NAACP Image Awards. Stone is an active member of Women in Film, for which she served on the Board from 2007-2014, as well as the Producers Guild and Film Independent, where she taught the Producer’s Lab. 

Tim Story is an American director, producer and writer. He is the number one African-American director at the box office, with his nine feature films grossing over $1 billion in revenue. He is the only African-American director to have six films debut at No. 1 at the box office during opening weekend. His films include Ride Along and Ride Along 2 with Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, Think Like a Man and Think Like a Man Too, Fantastic Four (2005) and Barbershop, among others. He graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts in 1991.

Moderator

A former industrial engineer, Mike Muse is co-founder and CEO of the record label Muse Recordings. He has established himself as a strategic outreach and engagement expert who is leading conversations around the country on the business of music, pop culture and their intersections with politics. Most recently, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) named Muse as the SBA’s My Brother’s Keeper Millennial Entrepreneur Champion. Additionally, he is a frequent lecturer at Columbia University, Berklee College of Music and the Wharton School of Business, and is the recipient of numerous honors, including formal recognition by the state of New York for his outstanding leadership in Civics and business. He has served in key leadership positions under President Barack Obama, New Jersey senator Cory Booker, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg.

 

Panel 2

Cinematographer Gabriel Beristain was born in Mexico and his interest in filmmaking began with his involvement in Mexico's independent film scene in the 1970s. While attending the National Film and Television School in the U.K., he shot Jenny Wilkes’s 1984 Student Academy Award®-winner, Mother's Wedding. Beristain moved to Los Angeles in the early ’90s and has gone on to a successful and versatile career, working on such films as K2, The Ghost and the Darkness, The Green Mile, Blade: Trinity, Thor: The Dark World, Guardians of the Galaxy and Fury. He is a member of the ASC, BSC and AMC, as well as an Academy member for 18 years. 

Phillip Boutte, Jr. graduated from Cal State Long Beach in 2006, and it was there that he discovered a love for costume illustration. A costume concept artist for motion pictures, television, commercials and music videos, Boutte, Jr. has worked on a multitude of blockbusters including Star Trek, Inception, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Man of Steel, The Divergent Series: Insurgent and the upcoming Justice League movie. His job is to conceptualize costumes for the costume designer so that the costumes can be made and put on the actors as you see them in the film.

Set decorator Jan Pascale was a psychology student at a small college in Pennsylvania when she became interested in the drama department and the entertainment industry. After beginning her career working on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” in her hometown of Pittsburgh, she moved to Los Angeles. Pascale received an Academy Award nomination for her work on Good Night, and Good Luck, and an Emmy® Award for the television series “Boston Public.” Her wide variety of credits includes such films as Training Day, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Syriana, Horrible Bosses, Argo, The Internship and Sicario. Pascale currently represents the Designers Branch on the Academy’s Board of Governors and is one of the founding members of the Set Decorators Society of America.

Jim Plannette caught the film bug at a young age from his father Homer, who started as a gaffer in 1919. Plannette became a gaffer in the early 1970s and rose quickly through the ranks as he learned his trade on the job. As a professional gaffer for more than 40 years, Plannette has over 80 feature films to his credit. His wide range of movies includes Young Frankenstein, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Ocean’s Eleven and its two sequels, Braveheart, Traffic, Syriana and, most recently, Suffragette, about women fighting for the right to vote in Great Britain in the early 20th century. 

Emmy Award-winning casting director Robi Reed’s ability to match a role with the right talent has led to the success of household names like Jamie Foxx, whom she discovered at a Los Angeles comedy club. Reed has more than 50 films to her credit; her first studio film came with Spike Lee’s School Daze and she went on to cast Lee’s Do The Right Thing, Mo’ Better Blues, Crooklyn, Clockers, Malcolm X and Jungle Fever, the latter of which helped to break out two of Hollywood’s biggest stars, Samuel L. Jackson and Halle Berry. After 25 years of running her own company, she became the vice president of talent and casting for original programming at Black Entertainment Television (BET). Reed holds a BA in speech communication and theatre from Hampton University. 

Johnny Villanueva is a Los Angeles native who realized he had an eye for hair while still in high school. Soon after, he started his career when he became a salon stylist. He moved to New York to try out a career in fashion but realized his sensibilities and uncontrived style were best suited for film. Moving back to L.A., he has since worked with some of the industry's top actors including Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Tobey Maguire, George Clooney, Gwyneth Paltrow, Amanda Seyfried, Evan Rachel Wood and Amy Adams. He has also worked with some of the industry's top photographers and directors, such as Annie Leibovitz, Herb Ritts, Martin Scorsese, Sofia Coppola, Peter Jackson and Sam Rami.

Moderator

Shaun Robinson is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, TV host, producer, author and actress.
She has covered the red carpet for the entertainment news show “Access Hollywood,” contributed reports to “NBC Nightly News,” “Dateline NBC” and CNN, and hosted specials for TLC and Lifetime. She has written the girls empowerment book Exactly As I Am, and her acting career include roles in “Real Husbands of Hollywood,” “Law & Order,” Bruce Almighty and Dr. Dolittle 2. Robinson is a native of Detroit, Michigan, and a graduate of Spelman College in Atlanta.

 

Panel 3

Southern California native Andrew DeCristofaro holds a BA from the USC School of Cinema and is a supervising sound editor with over 100 feature films to his credit. Along with colleague Becky Sullivan, DeCristofaro received an Academy Award® nomination for Sound Editing for the film Unbroken. DeCristofaro is known for his work on such movies as The Pink Panther, The Dictator, Iron Man 3, The Heat, Dumb and Dumber To and Spy, as well as numerous independent films such as Little Miss Sunshine, Chuck and Buck, Crazy Heart and Butter. His next project is the remake of Ghostbusters with director Paul Feig.

Sheena Duggal is a visual effects supervisor, director and artist whose work has shaped numerous studio tentpole and Academy Award-nominated productions. She is known for her design skills, creative direction and visual effects supervision on blockbuster films such as Contact, Spider-Man 3 and The Hunger Games. Duggal has worked extensively with Marvel Studios as the visual effects supervisor for Iron Man 3’s China unit and Thor: The Dark World, for which she acted as the additional photography VFX supervisor. Most recently, she is the VFX supervisor for Marvel’s television series “Agent Carter,” which is now shooting its second season. Duggal is a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and holds a BA in graphic design, specializing in animation and lens media.

Film and television composer Richard Gibbs has written scores and themes for Doctor Dolittle, “The Simpsons,” “Battlestar Galactica,” Queen of the Damned, 10 Things I Hate about You and over 60 other projects. He also served as the musical director for “Muppets Tonight” and several TV shows for Tracey Ullman. For four years, Gibbs was the keyboardist in the popular band Oingo Boingo; he has also produced records for Korn, Eisley and Richard Page, among others. His Malibu recording studio, Woodshed Recording, has served as a recording home for U2, Barbra Streisand, Kanye, Coldplay, Pink and many more.

Pilar McCurry is a music supervisor for both film and television, and is known for her work on Set It Off, love jones, Bowfinger, Karate Kid and Battle of the Year. From 1998-2000 she oversaw soundtracks at Overbrook Entertainment, including Love and Basketball and Wild Wild West. In 2000 she joined the Sony Entertainment family as senior vice president of music creative affairs to oversee all aspects of music for all genres of film, including Seven Pounds, You Got Served and Obsessed. Presently she is supervising the series “Make It Pop” for Nickelodeon and “Roots” for A&E, as well as “The Chicago Project” for Showtime with music supervision partner Common.

Film editor Michael Tronick’s first professional job was with an industrial film production company in Hollywood, Gene McCabe Productions. It was at McCabe that Tronick first developed an interest in post-production. Tronick began as a music editor, working on such films as All That Jazz and Star 80 for director Bob Fosse, Xanadu and A Chorus Line, before transitioning into film editing. His over 30 credits as a film editor include Beverly Hills Cop II, Days of Thunder, Meet Joe Black, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, 2 Guns and Straight Outta Compton. Tronick is currently serving his second term on the Academy’s Board of Governors, representing the Film Editors Branch. He received his undergraduate degree in political science from UCLA.

Moderator

Shaun Robinson is an Emmy® Award-winning journalist, TV host, producer, author and actress. She has covered the red carpet for the entertainment news show “Access Hollywood,” contributed reports to “NBC Nightly News,” “Dateline NBC” and CNN, and hosted specials for TLC and Lifetime. She has written the girls empowerment book Exactly As I Am, and her acting career include roles in “Real Husbands of Hollywood,” “Law & Order,” Bruce Almighty and Dr. Dolittle 2. Robinson is a native of Detroit, Michigan, and a graduate of Spelman College in Atlanta.

 

Panel 4

Eric Pertilla is a literary and talent manager at Mosaic Media Group, where he works with writers, directors, actors and playwrights. He previously worked as a coordinator of motion picture production at the Walt Disney Studios and has interned at talent agencies and major studios. Pertilla counts studying abroad in the Dominican Republic as one of the most transformational experiences of his life.

Cameron Mitchell is a motion picture talent agent at Creative Artists Agency. He is based at the Los Angeles office and represents many leading actors, writers, directors and music artists, including Common, RZA, Terrence Howard, John Ridley, Mike Epps, Reginald Hudlin, Zendaya, Gabrielle Union, Maggie Q, Paula Patton, Melina Matsoukas, Djimon Hounsou, Cedric The Entertainer and Jill Scott.

Los Angeles native Greg Longstreet, a senior publicist at Polaris Public Relations, has spent the last 10 years working in entertainment PR. He has spearheaded campaigns for such filmmakers as Edgar Wright, Shane Black, Greg Mottola, Bryan Singer and James Gunn; he also has handled film festival campaigns for the feature Attack the Block, Eric Bana’s documentary Love the Beast and the documentary NOW: In the Wings on a World Stage, starring Kevin Spacey. His clients in the nonprofit sector have included such organizations as the Gary Sinise Foundation, the Kevin Spacey Foundation and Film Independent. 

Todd Rubenstein is a partner at the law firm Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein Kohner & Gellman. He joined the firm in 1998 and has been instrumental in expanding the practice into online media and branding. Rubenstein notably helped celebrity blogger and television personality Perez Hilton become a global brand. He also represents Academy Award®-nominated actors Anna Kendrick, Harvey Keitel and Minnie Driver; actor-comedian Mike Epps; author and journalist Bryan Burrough; actor-writer-director-producer Chris Rock; and many others. Rubenstein is the board chairman of InsideOUT Writers, a nonprofit creative writing program for incarcerated youth, and also serves on the board of Jail Guitar Doors, a nonprofit focusing on rehabilitation through music and the arts. 

Brad Slater is a partner and co-head of the talent department at WME. His clients include Academy Award winners Kevin Costner, Forest Whitaker, Billy Bob Thornton and Octavia Spencer; professional sports stars Kobe Bryant, Michael Strahan, LeBron James, Terry Crews and Ray Lewis; mixed martial artist and actress Ronda Rousey; and music industry entrepreneur Russell Simmons. Slater started his career as a manager at AMG and The Firm, and became an agent in 2003. 

Moderator

A former industrial engineer, Mike Muse is co-founder and CEO of the record label Muse Recordings. He has established himself as a strategic outreach and engagement expert who is leading conversations around the country on the business of music, pop culture and their intersections with politics. Most recently, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) named Muse as the SBA’s My Brother’s Keeper Millennial Entrepreneur Champion. Additionally, he is a frequent lecturer at Columbia University, Berklee College of Music and the Wharton School of Business, and is the recipient of numerous honors, including formal recognition by the state of New York for his outstanding leadership in Civics and business. He has served in key leadership positions under President Barack Obama, New Jersey senator Cory Booker, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg.


Panel 5

Laura Kim, the senior vice president of film marketing at Participant Media, oversees the marketing strategy, partnerships and campaign development for the company’s films, which this year includes He Named Me Malala, Beasts of No Nation, Our Brand Is Crisis, Spotlight, The Look of Silence and Best of Enemies. Kim previously provided marketing and distribution expertise through her own company, Inside Job, and has consulted on such Academy Award®-winning and nominated films as Ida, Undefeated, The Act of Killing, Margin Call, Restrepo and Winter’s Bone. Kim is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and serves on the board of directors of Film Independent. 

Pete Hammond is currently a film critic for the entertainment website Deadline Hollywood and contributes to Boxoffice Magazine, Backstage, Hollywood.com, Movieline and Maxim. He also is the awards editor and columnist for Deadline and hosts the “KCET Cinema Series” in Los Angeles. He has held producing positions on “Entertainment Tonight,” “Extra,” “Access Hollywood,” “The Arsenio Hall Show,” (for which he was also a writer) and “The Martin Short Show,” as well as at the AMC network. Hammond earned five Emmy® nominations for his television writing and won the Publicists Guild of America’s Press Award in 1996 and 2013. 

As president and COO of online comedy and music network All Def Digital, Sanjay Sharma leads the company’s strategic direction and runs its day-to-day business and operational affairs. He also serves on All Def Digital’s board of directors. Sharma previously was the executive vice president of strategy and business development at Machinima, where he was a key architect of the online video company’s expansion and growth. A graduate of Columbia University and Stanford Law School, Sharma began his career as an attorney and has several years’ experience in the business and legal affairs division of Warner Bros.

Nikkole Denson-Randolph is the vice president of specialty and alternative content at AMC Theatres. Her responsibilities include overseeing AMC’s relationship with special events broadcaster Fathom Events, negotiating film rentals with independent distributors, and overseeing targeted programming initiatives that support Indian, Asian-Pacific, Hispanic and other culturally specific motion picture offerings for diverse audiences. Denson-Randolph previously orchestrated the launch of AMC independent (AMCi) and led exhibitor negotiations in the release of Kevin Hart’s hit stand-up comedy film Kevin Hart: Laugh at My Pain. The film’s distribution through exclusive contracts with AMC was considered by many industry publications to be one of the biggest independent film success stories of 2011. 

Moderator

Amy Elisa Jackson is an experienced entertainment and lifestyle journalist with expertise in content management and social media strategy. She currently is an editor and content creator at Levo.com, the largest and fastest-growing professional network for the under-35 set. A graduate of Stanford University, Jackson has spent more than a decade contributing to a variety of digital and print media platforms. She served as the lifestyle editor for Ebony magazine, executing cover stories and exclusive interviews with such luminaries as Magic Johnson, Mariah Carey and Mike Tyson. She also was instrumental in the 2012 launch of CocoaFab.com, a pop-culture destination for young women of color, and served as the site’s senior entertainment editor.

 

Panel 6

Specializing in stop motion animation, Musa Brooker (that's “moo-say”) holds a BFA in animation from The University of the Arts and an MFA in experimental animation from CalArts, where he was a Jacob K. Javits Fellow. His directing resume includes the short film The Story of Pines, as well as the new “Bratz” web series. Brooker served as animation supervisor on commercials for McDonalds and PayPal, music videos for Jane's Addiction and the Foo Fighters, and season 8 of the award-winning series “Robot Chicken.” His credits as an animator include “The Simpsons,” “SpongeBob SquarePants,” the holiday classic Elf, and commercials for Acura, Bacardi, Google, Honda and Target. Since 2010, he has taught stop motion at the USC School of Cinematic Arts in the John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts.

As the university relations manager for DreamWorks Animation (DWA), Grazia Como spearheads the company’s outreach to more than 50 universities and colleges, internship and mentoring programs, college-level scouting and recruiting, and other industry- and community-related initiatives. She has been with DWA for 18 years, beginning her career there in 1997 as a render assistant on the studio’s first computer-animated feature film, Antz. In addition to her experience as a training supervisor and production manager at DWA, Como worked as a production manager at Stan Winston Studios and in production technical support and training development at Digital Domain.

Dan Haskett's career as a designer, animator and storyboard artist has spanned almost 40 years, covering feature films, television, video, commercials and webtoons. A native of New York, Haskett became interested in animation as a teenager, and after studying art and working on commercials and industrial films, he worked as an assistant animator on the feature Raggedy Ann & Andy under animation legend Richard Williams. Among his many other credits, Haskett designed the characters Ariel for The Little Mermaid and Belle for Beauty and the Beast. An Emmy® winner for his work on “The Simpsons,” Haskett has also contributed to such TV shows as “The Smurfs,” “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures,” “Batman: The Animated Series” and “Animaniacs,” as well as to the feature films Toy Story and The Prince of Egypt.

An avid artist from a young age, Antonio Pelayo began working for the Walt Disney Animation Studios right out of high school in 1994 as an inker and painter. Now the head of the special effects department, he has worked on The Princess and the Frog, Tangled, Winnie the Pooh, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen and Big Hero 6. Also well-known for his fine art, Pelayo has seen his artwork exhibited in museums around the world. Recently, he inked 12 “Disney villain” stamps for the U.S. Postal Service, which will be issued in 2016.

Tom Sito is an animator, director, animation historian and chair of the John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. His movie credits include Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Osmosis Jones, Shrek, Yogi Bear and Hop. In addition, he has worked on such television series as “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids,” “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,” “Ghostbusters” and “She-Ra: Princess of Power.” A longtime member of the Academy, Sito is a noted author, the president emeritus of The Animation Guild Local 839 and a member of the board of ASIFA-Hollywood.

Karen Toliver is a senior vice president of production at 20th Century Fox Animation, where she spearheaded the blockbuster hits Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Ice Age: Continental Drift, Rio and Rio2. The two Ice Age pictures have grossed nearly two billion dollars globally, while the Rio films have tallied almost a billion dollars. Up next for Toliver is the fifth installment of the Ice Age franchise – Ice Age: Collision Course, which Fox will release on July 22, 2016. She is also developing Ferdinand the Bull, a feature-length film based on the beloved book. Prior to her arrival at Fox in 2007, Toliver was an executive at Walt Disney Animation Studios, where she worked on Chicken Little and Meet the Robinsons. Toliver is a liberal arts graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. 

Liron Topaz is a character animator at DreamWorks Animation and is currently working on Kung Fu Panda 3. In 2008 he was selected by the Academy’s Science and Technology Council for an internship with Sony Pictures Imageworks. There, he worked on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and after graduating with honors from Ringling College of Art and Design, Topaz was hired by Sony to work on the Academy Award®-winning film Alice in Wonderland, directed by Tim Burton. After moving to DreamWorks, he worked on Kung Fu Panda 2, The Croods, and How to Train Your Dragon 2. Topaz teaches animation at the online school Frame by Frame Animation, and is a guest lecturer around the world. 

Moderator

As managing director of preservation and foundation programs for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Randy Haberkamp has direct oversight of the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library, the Academy Film Archive, Public Programming and other foundation programs including the Student Academy Awards, the Nicholl Fellowships and the Oral History Projects. He received his MA in motion picture production from UCLA and worked for 14 years at the CBS Television Network, where he last held the post of director of specials and feature films.