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© 2018 Screen Awards.
Chris Bird, Worldwide Head of Film Licensing, Amazon
As a media distribution executive specialising in content acquisition and marketing, Chris Bird has over the last 15 years worked across a number of key UK distribution sectors. From start-up organisations such as Momentum Pictures and LOVEFiLM, to international studios such as NBCU and Sony, he has worked through the development on the online distribution age, and delivered retail growth to TVOD/EST, and customer subscription growth to subscriptions platforms such as LOVEFiLM and Amazon through curation, management and commissioning of content.
As a content commissioner Chris has been responsible for bringing as series of successful, exclusive 1st run TV shows to Amazon Prime. Series such as Outlander, Vikings, Extant and Black Sails as well as securing the AMC output of drama show for Amazon. Chris also led the commissioning of the BBC1 hit Ripper Street Season 3 to Amazon Prime in 2014, and brought The Grand Tour to Prime Video in 2016.
Chris now leads global film acquisition for Amazon Prime, responsible for movie content on Prime Video Worldwide, and has teams in London, Munich, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Miami, working to invest in film development for the Prime Video business worldwide.
Amazon – WW Head of Film Licensing
Director Content Strategy; Prime Instant Video EU
LOVEFiLM – Head of Marketing Services/Director Content Strategy
Universal Pictures – International Marketing Manager EU
Sony Pictures – Marketing Manager (Home Entertainment)
Momentum Pictures – Product Management
Yung Kha, Publicist, Dogwoof
After cutting her teeth in a commercial agency working on accounts for Universal Pictures, Momentum Pictures and ITV amongst others, Yung moved in house to the ICA as film and digital arts press officer. Since starting with Dogwoof in May 2010; Yung has has worked on releases including Dreams of a Life, The Spirit of ‘45, Blackfish, Dior and I, BAFTA winning The Act of Killing. Yung was born in Ban Mê Thuột, Vietnam.
Simran Hans, Film critic, The Observer
Simran Hans is a culture writer and film critic for The Observer. Her writing has also appeared in Dazed & Confused, The Guardian, The New Statesman and Sight & Sound. From 2015 to January 2018, she co-programmed the Bechdel Test Fest.
Jonathan Sadler, Consultant, Magus Marketing
I have worked in filmed entertainment distribution for over eighteen years in senior positions at Universal Pictures, Momentum Pictures, Revolver Entertainment and Arrow Films, playing a key role in marketing, acquiring and distributing film and TV content across all platforms, internationally.
During this time, I have created marketing campaigns for iconic films such as Amelie, American Beauty, Shakespeare in Love, The Mummy, The Hunt, Love is All You Need, Cinema Paradiso – 25th-anniversary release, Donnie Darko – 15th-anniversary release and, most recently, Heathers – 30th-anniversary release.
I have also worked agency-side in commercial and creative roles as well as in the music industry, at Warner Music International, and was previously the video buyer for two UK retail chains.
I am now running my own consultancy and virtual agency, Magus Marketing, helping independent producers and filmmakers bring their content to multi-platform audiences.
Rosie Alison, Heyday Films
Rosie Alison was a documentary producer/director for ten years, working on many television films about writers, dancers, actors and playwrights. Her documentary credits include The South Bank Show, Omnibus, Bookmark, and Grand Designs. In 2001 Alison joined David Heyman’s production company Heyday Films, where she has been Co-Producer of THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS (written and directed by Mark Herman), and IS ANYBODY THERE? (written by Peter Harness, directed by John Crowley), Executive Producer of PADDINGTON 1 and 2 (written and directed by Paul King), and THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS (written and directed by Derek Cianfrance), and Producer of TESTAMENT OF YOUTH (written by Juliette Towhidi, directed by James Kent) and the forthcoming THE SECRET GARDEN (written by Jack Thorne, directed by Marc Munden.) She has also been a producer on various BBC TV dramas, including David Hare’s intelligence thriller PAGE EIGHT, and Christoper Hampton’s ghost story THE THIRTEENTH TALE (directed by James Kent), and the forthcoming Andrea Levy adaptation THE LONG SONG (written by Sarah Williams, directed by Mahalia Belo). Alison is also the author of a novel, The Very Thought of You, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 2010.
Uzma Hasan, Producer, Little House Productions
Uzma Hasan is co founder and producer at venture capitalist backed Little House Productions. Her latest feature Nirpal Bhogal’s Firstborn premiered at Edinburgh International Film Festival 2016 ahead of a worldwide sale to Netflix. Her first feature The Infidel (2010) was released internationally to commercial and critical acclaim, was remade by Viacom India as Dharam Sankat Mein (2015) and as a musical that ran at Theatre Royal Stratford. She is currently producing the adaptation of Gautam Malkani’s cult novel Londonstani for the BFI.
Uzma is developing projects with a diverse range of talent including Ritesh Batra (Rail D’Or winner for The Lunchbox), Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw, novelist Nikesh Shukla as well as with Amazon Studios, the BFI and Creative England.
She is a non executive director on the board of Channel 4, and Ingenious Media backed Babber Films and Chisel Films. She consults for the International Film Festival Rotterdam and sits on the selection committee for the British Independent Film Awards.
Uzma has worked internationally with companies including Focus Features, Doha Film Institute and Tribeca Enterprises on the development, production and exploitation of feature films. In 2010, she was nominated for HRH Prince’s Trust Mosaic Arts & Culture Award; in 2012 she was nominated for the Asian Woman of Achievement Award and became a Woman of the Future Ambassador; and in 2013 she won the British Muslim Award
for Services to Creativity.
She attended Harvard University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences as a Kennedy Scholar to read Film and Literature.
Claudia Yusef, Head of Development, Number 9 Films
Claudia Yusef is Head of Development at Number 9 Films (Colette, Their Finest, Made in Dagenham, Carol), where she works with producers Stephen Woolley and Elizabeth Karlsen. Prior to this she was Talent Development Executive for the Scottish Film Talent Network, which forms the Scottish element of the BFI Network, designed to identify and support new and emerging talent. Before this she worked as a development executive at 42 Management and Production.
Number 9 is currently in development with So Much Love, a fantastic and original take on a vibrantly creative period in the life and career of British soul icon Dusty Springfield, written by award winning and Oscar nominated screenwriter Phyllis Nagy (Carol), which is being co-developed with Studio Canal. Also in development is Mothering Sunday, which is being adapted by Alice Birch from the novel by Graham Swift, and co-developed with Film 4.
Nish Panchal, Literary Agent, Curtis Brown
Since 2014, Nish has been a Literary Agent at Curtis Brown. He specialises in writers, directors, producers and authors working across film, television and theatre. Prior to joining Curtis Brown, Nish worked for the development team at BBC Films, working with world-class filmmakers across a slate of award-winning films.
Caragh Cook, Managing Director, Organic
Caragh Cook has been instrumental in building ORGANIC, which opened its doors twelve years ago, into a fully integrated communications agency for the entertainment industry, with a focus on film and television PR. Cook has worked for seventeen years in the film and television sector, specialising in publicity. She joined ORGANIC from the London office of Rogers & Cowan in 2011 where she worked across UK, International and personal publicity and prior to that at DDA PR where she started her career in 2001, working on UK and international campaigns for films that included The Lord of the Rings Trilogy; Million Dollar Baby; Wedding Crashers and Gangs of New York.
After joining ORGANIC in 2011, Cook helped grow the team and the agency’s PR business, and the following year, in 2012, the agency’s achievements were recognised at the Screen Awards when ORGANIC was awarded PR Team of the Year. The company launched an international division in 2013 and ORGANIC now has a stable of clients that includes sales agents, producers, and international distribution companies and has a presence at every major international film festival. In the past five years, ORGANIC has also significantly developed its television and SVOD business with a raft of retained clients. ORGANIC now has a thriving workforce of over thirty, working with almost every film studio and independent film distributor in the UK. The team takes a fully integrated approach in delivering their PR and social marketing services. The company went on to win PR Team of the Year (Agency) two further times in 2015 and 2017.
Organic is part of TargetMCG, the UK’s leading media and communications group specialising in the arts, culture and entertainment sectors. TargetMCG is part of Havas, the world’s fifth largest advertising network, based in the Havas Village in King’s Cross.
Calum Gray, Head of Sales, Embankment Films
Calum is Head of Sales at Embankment Films Ltd. He was previously Head of Sales at Celsius Entertainment, Director of Sales at Independent Film Sales and Head of Sales at Mercury Media. He has sold such titles as Oldboy, McQueen, The Wife, What We Did On Our Holiday, Starred Up, Gimme Danger, Metro Manila, Exit Through The Giftshop, We Need To Talk About Kevin and Safety Not Guaranteed. Calum was voted one of Screen International’s 50 future leaders in Sales and Acquisitions in 2012 and has lectured on film distribution for the NFTS, Film Wales, The European Documentary Network and Creative England.
Matt Aspray, CEO, Motion Picture Solution
CEO of Motion Picture Solutions, Matt Aspray has been integral to the growth of the London-headquartered distribution and exhibition-focused film services company since he joined as employee number 1 back in 2006. With a background in product design and development, Matt’s drive has elevated MPS from a specialist provider of engineering and technical support for major premieres to a day-and-date facility that now handles content mastering, localisation, digital rights management and distribution for worldwide releases. Matt’s recent commercial successes include the launch of MPSLabo, an LA-based joint venture with LatAm’s LaboDigital, and the establishment of a pan-European content distribution partnership with Gofilex. In his spare time, Matt wears loud trousers.
Gareth Ellis-Unwin, Head of Film, Creative Skillset
Gareth Ellis-Unwin is the Head of Film for Creative Skillset, the industry-led skills body for the screen-based industries. He is leading on delivering the BFI’s action plan, Future Film Skills, and also manages the Skills investment Fund known as the film levy.
Gareth was previously co-Founder and CEO of multi-award-winning Bedlam Productions, which was formed in 2000. He was producer of the critically acclaimed The King’s Speech, the highest grossing British independent film to date, which won four Academy Awards including Best Film and seven BAFTAs, including Best Film and Outstanding British Film. His other credits as producer include Zaytoun, BAFTA-nominated British war film Kajaki: The True Story and Exam, which was also nominated for a BAFTA and won Spirit and Dinard awards. Most recently he completed Steel Country, starring Andrew Scott and Denise Gough, which is starting its festival campaign summer 2018. Gareth Ellis-Unwin will remain involved with Bedlam’s current projects as a non-executive director of the company.
Caroline Cooper Charles, Producer and Film Executive
Caroline’s 20 year career within the film industry has evolved from running her first production company with acclaimed music video director Dawn Shadforth to her most recent combined roles as Strategic Development Executive for Screen Yorkshire and Talent Development Executive for Scottish Film Talent Network. Along this journey she has spent time as Head of Film at Creative England, Head of Creative Development at Warp X, managed the UK Film Council’s nationwide short film programme through her company Lifesize Pictures and spent a year as Director of the Sheffield International Documentary Festival.
Alongside her various positions Caroline has continued her own producing career through her company Universal Spirits and is currently Executive Producing a number of features.
Caroline has particular expertise in identifying and cultivating new and evolving voices and is passionate about championing talent based outside of London.
James Norrie, Director of Global Sales and Acquisitions, AMP International
Over a 20-year career, James has overseen the sales of a diverse range of films, including blockbusters The Passion Of The Christ, What Women Want and Apocalypto and other critical and commercial successes such as Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead, An Ideal Husband, The Edge of Love and Miss You Already on which he was an executive producer.
James was directly responsible for finding an acquiring TIFF Midnight Madness movie Baskin written and directed by the ferocious new talent Can Evrenol; Welcome to the Jungle with Jean-Claude Van Damme and Adam Brody (UK/US: Universal) and Viking epic Northmen: A Viking Saga (UK: eOne / US: Starz).
In 2016 he set up AMP International with Inderpal Singh and Bob Portal of Alliance Media Partners launching sales on cult sci-fi hit The Endless, Sam Rockwell starrer Blue Iguana and Anna And The Apocalypse (Orion releasing Christmas 2018) on which he is an executive producer.
Lawrence Francis, Director, Premier
Lawrence is a company director at leading integrated creative agency PREMIER, with responsibility for strategy and business development across the agency’s extensive portfolio of film and entertainment clients. Lawrence’s experience within the film industry began in production, and his career has since seen him bridge various marketing disciplines including advertising, PR, events and social media at various agencies. He has delivered UK and international campaigns for clients including Universal Pictures, SKY, The BFI, Channel 4, Sony, and Disney. Outside of the entertainment industry Lawrence has also led PREMIER’s work with a range of consumer brand clients, including the creation a number of award-winning global campaigns for sexual wellbeing brand Durex, international PR and social media for The Eurovision Song Contest and major fundraising activations for charities including Evelina London Children’s Hospital. Lawrence may also be familiar to some as the “man-on-the-mic” at the UK Film Centre at the Cannes Film Festival, where he has hosted the We Are UK Film event and seminar programme for the last seven years
Lawrence Atkinson, Chief Executive Officer, The DDA Group
Lawrence Atkinson is Chief Executive Officer of The DDA Group, leaders in global film, television and entertainment communications.
Atkinson joined DDA Public Relations in February 2006 as Executive Vice President and subsequently acquired a majority equity stake in the company and assumed responsibility for the agency’s future. He manages the agency alongside Chief Operating Officer John Stannard, President and partner Dana Archer and President, Film & Television, Neil Bhatt.
Founded in London in 1970, with offices in London and Los Angeles, as well as affiliates and associates in most other parts of the world, DDA is the leading global film and entertainment communications agency, offering a bespoke service and a truly worldwide reach for the Creative Industries. DDA provides creative and insightful strategies and, turnkey campaign solutions for film, television and brands.
DDA’s broad portfolio of services includes public relations, strategic consultancy, event production and management, digital & social, insight & analytics, brand partnerships and integration, personal representation, creative design, and awards campaigns.
Previous Employment history
Prior to DDA, Atkinson was Director of Film (UK) for UK Entertainment PR Agency Premier Communications. At Premier, he was responsible for developing and handling business for the agency across all areas of the Film industry, including UK Distribution Campaigns for both major studios and the independent sector, Premieres, Unit and Production Publicity, International Film Festivals and Home Entertainment.
Before Premier PR, Atkinson served as Publicity Manager for the UK Publicity Division of leading international film distributor Buena Vista International (UK) Ltd, operating in both London and at the Walt Disney Studios in Los Angeles. During his six years at Disney, Atkinson was responsible for UK distribution campaigns across a variety of titles from Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar, Miramax, Touchstone Pictures and local productions and acquisitions.
Atkinson started his career in film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 1995 where he worked in the press office during Artistic Director Mark Cousins’ tenure.
Atkinson is a member of BAFTA, AMPAS, the PRCA, and is on the Board of Trustees of MediCinema, a charity dedicated to improving the wellbeing of patients, their families and carers across the UK through the magic of the shared cinema experience.
Ste Thompson, CEO and founder, POWSTER
Ste is the CEO and founder of POWSTER, a provider of creative services to over 100 film distributors in over 40 countries and music videos and interactive content to the major music labels. Ste has led the POWSTER creative vision since its foundation in 2009, winning many prestigious awards. Ste’s primary skill is product development and innovation. Prior to POWSTER, he developed creative content for the music and brand industry and studied multimedia, computer game design and digital media. Ste is now located in Los Angeles with Powster studios in LA and London.