More speaker announcements and programming details to come. Note: Speakers and schedule subject to change without notice.
Writer/Showrunner, LOCKE & KEY
Working variously as a creator, writer, producer and director, Carlton Cuse is one of the most successful and well-regarded showrunners in television.
Cuse started his career in television as a writer on the Michael Mann series CRIME STORY, and then as co-creator and executive producer of the critically acclaimed Fox series THE ADVENTURES OF BRISCO COUNTY JR. He went on to create and executive produce the highly rated CBS show NASH BRIDGES, starring Don Johnson and Cheech Marin, which ran for six seasons and 121 episodes.
Cuse along with Damon Lindelof served as writer and showrunner for all six seasons of LOST for ABC. He most recently co-created, wrote, directed, and was the showrunner for the first two seasons of TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN, the most viewed show in the history of Amazon’s streaming platform.
Cuse is currently writer and showrunner of LOCKE & KEY for Netflix, filming in Toronto. His other credits include: BATES MOTEL (A&E), THE STRAIN (FX), and COLONY (USA).
In feature films, Cuse wrote SAN ANDREAS starring Dwayne Johnson, Warner Bros. highest grossing film of 2015. He followed up by co-writing the Warner Bros. and Dwayne Johnson film, RAMPAGE.
Cuse has received 10 Emmy Nominations for his work and has won 2 Emmys: for Best Drama Series and for Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Media.
Among his other honors, Cuse has won a Golden Globe, a Peabody Award, a Producers Guild Award, three AFI Awards, The Jules Verne Award, four Saturn Awards, The Saturn Legacy Award, a Writers Guild Award, the Variety Creative Leadership Award and the People’s Choice Award, and was named to Time Magazine’s annual List of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.
Ayanna Floyd Davis
Showrunner, THE CHI
Ayanna Floyd Davis has been making her mark as a writer and producer in the television industry for almost two decades. She has written and produced some of TV’s hottest series and has worked for some of the most renowned showrunners in the business.
Most recently, Ayanna flexed her leadership experience and creative muscles as showrunner and visionary of the new season of Showtime’s top rated drama, THE CHI, and brought audiences the most nuanced and timely season to date. The series, which returned this past April, continues to follow the Chicago residents as they navigate their daily lives, the grit of the city and the life or death consequences of their decisions. Under her direction this season, the show dives into storylines not driven by one particular event, but by a variety of moments and the show’s fully-fledged characters. The four stages of black manhood, single motherhood, female empowerment, gentrification, mental health and black boy fragility are but a few of the fresh themes the series touches on in this second season. As an African American woman in Hollywood, Ayanna is a champion of diverse voices and inclusive hiring practices.
Her passion project, COTTON CLUB, a limited series produced by Sony TV based on the 1920’s nightclub in Harlem, is currently being shopped. Signed on to executive produce alongside Ayanna are Emmy award-winning producers, Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, Tony award-winning director Kenny Leon and legendary music producer, LA Reid.
Previously, Ayanna was a writer and producer on EMPIRE, PRIVATE PRACTICE, HANNIBAL and FALLING SKIES. On the development side, she’s written projects for NBC, FOX, TNT and Freeform. Ayanna is a proud graduate of Eastern Michigan University and Columbia College Chicago, where she earned her MFA degree. She is a native of Toledo, Ohio and currently resides in Los Angeles.
EP/Co-Creator/Showrunner, HALT AND CATCH FIRE
Christopher Cantwell is an executive producer, co-creator, and showrunner of the highly acclaimed AMC series HALT AND CATCH FIRE, which is set within the early days of the computing revolution. The six-year endeavor of the series was a labor of love and vision accomplished with his writing partner, Christopher C. Rogers. Additionally, Cantwell directed episodes of the series in Seasons 3 and 4.
His professional writing career began when another script penned with Rogers, THE KNOLL, found its way onto the Black List in 2011, and in another life, Cantwell has also worked as a creative director for the Walt Disney Company.
He holds a BFA in Writing for the Screen & Television from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, and most recently directed his first feature, THE PARTS YOU LOSE (2019), starring Aaron Paul and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
He is also the co-creator and writer of the ongoing comic book series SHE COULD FLY for Dark Horse, and is penning two other upcoming titles to be released under their label in 2019.
Vice-President, Current Programming, NBC
Phil Breman currently serves as Vice President of Current Programming at NBC Entertainment where he oversees all creative and production elements of a number of NBC’s drama and comedy series such as MANIFEST, THE ENEMY WITHIN, THE BLACKLIST, TIMELESS, WILL & GRACE, TRIAL AND ERROR and A.P. BIO to name a few. In this capacity Mr. Breman has partnered with a wide variety of high profile creative talent such as Shawn Ryan, Eric Kripke, Jeff Rake, Shawn Hayes, Tina Fey and many others. Prior to NBC, Mr. Breman ran live action series development for the Disney Channel where he developed over a dozen globally successful series such as Good Luck Charlie, Jessie, Austin & Ally, KC Undercover and more. Mr. Breman is also a former sit-com writer who has written and produced over one hundred episodes of network television. He was a writer/producer on the Paramount Television/WB sit-com RAISING DAD starring Bob Saget, Kat Dennings and Brie Larson, and the NBC/WB sit-com, FOR YOUR LOVE with Holly Robinson Peete and James Lesure.
Creator/Showrunner, HAND OF GOD
Ben Watkins is a writer/filmmaker/actor from Berkeley, California. He started his career in Hollywood as an actor, playing the “mysterious” Dr. Wesley Carter on THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS. The transition to writing began in earnest with his award winning short film QUEST TO REF, which he wrote, codirected and starred in. The film was an official Sundance Film Festival selection and won the American Black Film Festival. Soon after adapting that project into a feature screenplay for Universal, Ben joined USA Network’s BURN NOTICE. He rose from Staff Writer to Executive Producer, before moving on to create the provocative Amazon Originals series, HAND OF GOD. Most recently he executive produced TRUTH BE TOLD (starring Octavia Spencer), which will premiere on Apple’s new streaming service in 2019, and he is currently developing the continuation of NEW YORK UNDERCOVER for ABC.
Ben also has several projects in development through his production shingle, Blue Monday Productions.
He actively supports community programs and people who are looking to improve issues around civil rights, public education and homelessness.
He and his wife, Kandi, have four sons.
Screenwriter, THE BIG SHORT
Charles Randolph is an American screenwriter and producer who has worked with many iconic film-makers, including Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Milos Forman and Ridley Scott.
He won the 2016 Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay with Adam McKay for THE BIG SHORT, starring Brad Pitt, Steve Carell, Christian Bale and Ryan Gosling. His other credits include LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS (2010), directed by Ed Zwick with Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway, THE INTERPRETER (2005) directed by Sydney Pollack with Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman, and THE LIFE OF DAVID GALE (2003) directed by Alan Parker with Kevin Spacey, Laura Linney and Kate Winslet.
A not-yet-titled comedic drama about three women at Fox News who fought back against sexual harassment will be released on December 20. Directed by Jay Roach, it stars Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margo Robbie, John Lithgow and Allison Janney.
For 2019, he’s adapting the Ron Chernow biography of John D Rockefeller, Titan, with David O Russell and writing a comedy about French antique dealers with Alexander Payne.
He lives in upstate New York with his wife, the actress Mili Avital, and their children, Benjamin and Fanny.
Vice President, Scripted, Global Content Division, Keshet International
Heather Brewster is VP Scripted, Global Content Division for Keshet International where she oversees a slate of projects catering to Young Adult audiences, collaborating with International partners and creatives across the globe.
Prior to joining Keshet, Heather served as VP of Digital at Smokebomb (Shaftesbury); commissioned and oversaw series including ELECTRA WOMAN AND DYNA GIRL and FILTHY PREPPY TEENS as the founding content exec for Fullscreen’s SVOD service; and, produced Family and Kids programming as the Director of Development at Dolphin Entertainment.
Heather has developed and produced content that has been nominated or won awards from The Streamy’s, WGA, and NATPE; including Canadian Screen Award nominated tween series, WHAT’S UP, WARTHOGS! for Family Channel and Webby Award nominated Snapchat Original, THE DEAD GIRLS DETECTIVE AGENCY.
Director, Programs and Policy, Canada Media Fund
As Director, Programs and Policy at the Canada Media Fund, Rod is responsible for developing CMF policy and analyzing and advising on legal and regulatory issues that impact the CMF.
Prior to joining the CMF, Rod worked at the Writers Guild of Canada and Entertainment One.
A trained lawyer, Rod obtained his Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from Queen’s University and his Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) degree in Media, Information and Technoculture from Western University.
Speaker and Pitching Coach
Kevin Wright is a dynamic speaker with thirty years’ experience in screen-based media. He has commissioned over sixty television series and heard thousands of pitches. His workshop helps people convey their ideas in a concise and persuasive manner by providing tips and secrets from the Decision Maker’s Perspective.
Kevin worked previously as SVP, Programming for Astral Television Networks where he was responsible for the acquisition and commissioning of content for HBO Canada, The Movie Network, TMN Encore, Family Channel, Disney Junior Canada and Disney XD Canada.
Kevin joined Astral in 1995 as VP, Programming for Family Channel. He simultaneously served as VP, Programming for Teletoon where he participated in the licensing and launch of the network. Prior to Astral, Kevin held positions at YTV Canada, Paragon International and Telefilm Canada.
Kevin graduated from McGill University with a B.A. in Psychology and holds a B.A.A. in Motion Picture Production from Ryerson.
Morwyn Brebner is a Toronto based screenwriter and award-winning playwright.
She is the creator and showrunner of CBC’s hit series CORONER, and co-created SAVING HOPE (CTV/ION), on which she was an executive producer and showrunner for the first three seasons. She also co-created the ABC and Global Television drama series ROOKIE BLUE. Series work includes MARY KILLS PEOPLE (Global/Lifetime) and BELLEVUE (CBC/WGN America).
She was a longtime playwright-in-residence at Tarragon Theatre, where many of her plays premiered. Morwyn is a graduate of the National Theater School of Canada.
Sherry is a screenwriter and filmmaker based in Canada. She most recently wrapped directing an episode of Global’s upcoming drama series NURSES after showrunning and directing season 2 of LITTLE DOG for CBC. Previously, she worked as an Executive Producer on Tassie Cameron’s ABC drama series 10 DAYS IN THE VALLEY starring Kyra Sedgwick. Other recent credits have been as writer and executive producer on season two and three of Netflix/Discovery’s period drama FRONTIER, as well as co-executivie producer on Shondaland series THE CATCH. Before that, Sherry served as Co-Executive Producer for the ABC/Global series ROOKIE BLUE, a show she has been writing on for six seasons. She has also written and produced for ORPHAN BLACK, as well as CTV’s hit series SAVING HOPE.
Besides writing and producing for television, Sherry wrote the award-winning feature film, MAUDIE, starring Ethan Hawke and Sally Hawkins, released by Mongrel and Sony Pictures Classics in 2017. Other film writing credits include RELATIVE HAPPINESS, DOWN TO THE DIRT, and THE BREADMAKER. She also wrote and directed the genie nominated feature film CRACKIE, which screened at over thirty festivals worldwide, including Toronto International Film Festival, Karlovy Vary, and Torino Film Festival, where it took home the jury prize. It was also named one of the top ten films in Canada for 2009, and screened at the MOMA in New York City March 2010. Sherry has also directed several award winning short films that played at various festivals across the Globe. She is represented by Harrison Artist Management in Canada, and by United Talent Agency in the US.
East Coast Television Editor, The Hollywood Reporter
Marisa Guthrie has been writing about the television industry for more than a decade. In 2010, she joined The Hollywood Reporter, which was re-launched as a weekly glossy and has since become one of the most buzzed about publications in the industry. Based in THR’s New York office, in June 2013 she was promoted to East Coast Television Editor. She has written cover stories on the re-invention of former Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, John Oliver’s move from THE DAILY SHOW to HBO, Jon Stewart’s foray into directing in 2014 with ROSEWATER, Derek Jeter’s post-MLB career as a media executive with The Players’ Tribune, and two cover profiles on Stephen Colbert; one in 2016 when his LATE SHOW was foundering and another after the inauguration of Donald Trump galvanized the comedian and his audience. For the last several years she has edited THR’s annual 35 Most Powerful People in Media list, an exclusive tally of New York’s media influencers. She also writes feature profiles, and regularly breaks news on THR online. Prior to THR, she was an editor at Broadcasting & Cable where she covered programming and the advertising and television news industries. There she wrote cover stories on the skyrocketing price tag of sports rights, the death of investigative journalism and the incredibly wasteful but enduring network development process. She makes frequent television appearances including on CNN’s RELIABLE SOURCES, Fox New Channel’s MEDIA BUZZ, CBS THIS MORNING and GOOD MORNING AMERICA.
Jill Golick is well-known in Canada’s media industries as a writer, producer and digital storyteller. She has written for children’s, drama, soap and interactive. She’s best known for the internationally-acclaimed digital detective series RUBY SKYE P.I. which she created, financed, wrote, produced and distributed. Her work has been rewarded with two Writers Guild of Canada Screenwriting Awards, a Canadian Screen Award, a Youth Media Award of Excellence, a Banff Rockie, and the grand prize from the LA-Marseilles WebFest among others. Jill served as the president of the Writers Guild of Canada from 2010 to 2018. She is co-author of the Women in View On Screen Report 2019 which documents the participation of women in the roles of writer, director, cinematographer, showrunner and producer in Canada’s publicly-funded film and television production. Jill mentors screenwriters at every career stage and teaches workshops on TV series creation. Her weirdest and coolest recent gig was creating the character for an artificial intelligence. She is currently writing a musical, developing a fictional podcast and creating new TV series for both adult and children’s audiences.
Jennifer Holness is an award-winning writer and producer of scripted and factual films and TV.
On the TV side, Jen is in development with CBC on the comedy series, #RELATIONSHIPGOALS and the drams series, THE WILD. She also co-created the TV drama series SHOOT THE MESSENGER for CBC about cops and journalists. She co-wrote and produced the two-part CBC miniseries, GUNS, starring Elisha Cuthbert and Colm Feore that won five Canadian Screen Awards, including a shared best writing award for Jen. She also co-created, wrote and produced the thirteen-part comedy series SHE’S THE MAYOR for Vision TV that sold to BBC worldwide.
Jen’s feature film producing credits include feature film HOME AGAIN with co-writer and director Sudz Sutherland. The film stars Tatyana Ali, Lyriq Bent and CCH Pounder and won the prestigious PAFF–BAFTA Festival Choice Award. The film was also nominated for two Canadian Screen Academy awards and a DGC nod for Best Directing.
Jen also produced and co-wrote the feature LOVE, SEX, and EATING THE BONES that won 9 festival awards including the Best First Canadian Feature at Toronto International Film Festival and was nominated for a trifecta of Genies – Best Feature, Best Writing and Best Directing.
She is currently developing several feature projects including the German-Canadian coproduction, RIPTIDE, and OPERATION RED DOG with Canadian Academy Award-winning Director, Sudz Sutherland.
On the documentary front, Jen is in-post production on the feature documentary, HISPANIOLA, about the impact of mass deportations on Dominicans of Hattian decent with the Sundance award-winning team Michele Stephenson and Joe Brewster (AMERICAN PROMISE) and the National Film Board of Canada. Jen is in production on the feature documentary, SUBJECTS OF DESIRE, about cultural appropriation and the Black female image with TVO Canada. She is the Executive Producer of feature doc BLACK ZOMBIE, currently in development with CBC’s Doc Channel.
She has also produced numerous documentaries, including; BADGE OF PRIDE (CBC & PBS), BRICK BY BRICK (Omni), YIN YIN JADE LOVE (TVO), and DOLORES: THE ART OS ART MODELING (Bravo!), SPEAKERS FOR THE DEAD (CBC/NFB) which she also co-directed.
She is also working on several digital projects including adapting her award-winning digital app The Music Biz into an animated series called MONSTAH MUSIC BIZ.
Jennifer has been a member of several Boards including Women In View, the Regent Park Film Festival, Innoversity Creative Summit and CMPA’s Prime Time.
When she’s not working, Jen spends her down-time keeping up with her three spectacular girls.
Kurt is a veteran TV comedy writer and producer who currently serves as a co-executive producer on the popular CBC sitcom KIM’s CONVENIENCE. This year also saw Kurt serve as co-executive producer on both CAVENDISH and the 6th season of the hit show SCHITT’S CREEK. Kurt’s roots are in live comedy where he performed with the award winning comedy group Falcon Powder who created the web series THE WHOLE TRUTHS. In Radio, Kurt wrote for CBC Radio’s This is That including the award winning special The Christmas Letter. Other select writer/producer credits include CityTV’s YOUNG DRUNK PUNK, Crave/SuperChannel’s WHAT WOULD SAL DO? And CBC’s MR. D.
Duana Taha is a Canadian television writer whose credits include hit programs DEGRASSI: THE NEXT GENERATION and LOST & FOUND STUDIOS. She is the creator and executive producer of the popular new YouTube series UPSTAIRS AMY, and the tween digital series EMERALD CODE.
Duana is the author of the bestselling book The Name Therapist, which was nominated for a 2016 Evergreen award. She has been quoted on names in The New Yorker, The Globe And Mail, The Observer, and appeared on programs across the country discussing the culture of first names. In 2016 her TEDx talk about names was featured on TED.com.
Duana is a founding contributor on www.laineygossip.com, where she expounds on the intersections of television, feminism, "Hamilton” and more, and writes the popular name column 'Duana Names'. Duana is also one of the hosts of the hit podcast Show Your Work, where she and Elaine Lui discuss the work behind the magic of Hollywood. Find her on Twitter – @duanaelise