With the generous support of the City of Newport Beach Arts Commission, the Festival presents a series of interactive panels that focus on the art of filmmaking. This free educational event features talented and distinguished film industry professionals. The seminars give attendees an opportunity to go behind the scenes with some of the industry’s leading filmmakers. Screenwriters, directors, film composers, animators, actors, and producers share their extensive knowledge and insight into the business and art of today’s entertainment world.

This year we will host a series of moderated discussions as well as interactive panels with top industry professionals. Past guests include Aaron Sorkin, Aisha Tyler, Jared Harris, Richard M. Sherman, McG as well as guests whose work include First Man, A Quiet Place, Black Panther and more! Make sure to save the date and check back for more details. We look forward to seeing you for our 21st Anniversary.


2019 Schedule:

Saturday, April 27th

11:00 AM
Seminar and Panel

Variety Presents “10 to Watch” and Billion Dollar Cinematographer, Lawrence Sher

Variety’s Presents “10 to Watch” and Billion Dollar Cinematographer Presented by ZeissJoin us for back-to-back discussion with Variety as they host an insightful conversation with their 10 Cinematographers to Watch, which will be closed out by a look into the career of their Billion Dollar Cinematographer.

  • Lawrence Sher (Joker, Godzilla: King of Monsters)
  • Jessica Lee Gagne (Escape at Dannemora, Sweet Virginia)
  • Nick Remy Matthews (Hotel Mumbai, The Palace)
  • Matt Mitchell (Little Woods, Made from America)
  • Eric Branco (Stay Cold, Stay Hungry, Emerald City)
  • Quyen Tran (Pali Road, Here and Now, The Little Hours)
  • Christopher Aoun (Capernaum, Ismaii)

Newport Beach Civic Center – Community Room (100 Civic Center Newport Beach, CA 92660)

1:30 PM
2:00 PM

*ZEISS Cinema Lenses Presents: “Full-Frame Cinematography is here to stay” with Cinematographer Quyen Tran

What is Full Frame or Large Format cinematography, and is this something you should know about? The new crop of digital cinema cameras all have larger format sensors, which require a different type of lenses. This drive for larger image circles and a wider image is nothing new. There have been many film formats in the past that were based in the same concepts – Vista Vision, IMAX, 65mm and others. So what makes large sensors attractive for modern-day cinematographers? How does this have an effect on creative choice? Come find out in this easy-to-understand educational workshop sponsored by ZEISS. Participants can be new or experienced cinematographers and directors of photography, or filmmakers who are curious about all the new choices available on the market. Learn what it takes to elevate your art.

LA-based cinematographer Quyen Tran is deeply rooted in the world of independent filmmaking, having shot festival darlings such as “Deidra and Laney Rob a Train” and “The Little Hours”. More recently, Quyen’s work could be seen on television, lensing HBO’s hit comedy series “Camping”. Quyen’s background in photojournalism has a strong influence on her approach to a project, first understanding every nuance of the script then translating that narrative into a visual story.Just added! Janina Gavankar is known for her diverse acting career in television, film and major video games, such as True Blood, The League, Blindspotting, and Star Wars: Battlefront II. In 2019, she’ll be seen starring opposite Ben Affleck in Torrance, as well as Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell in Apple’s flagship series Morning Show. Her directorial debut, Stucco was chosen by ZEISS Cinema Lenses, as a special project to test out large format cameras (RED) and lenses (Supreme Primes).  Stucco was lensed by Cinematographer Quyen Tran.*Location: 1000 Avocado Ave, Newport Beach, CA 92660*

3:30 PM

Screenwriting Seminar with Michael Werwie and Mike Makowsky

Join us as professionals discuss the ins and outs of screenwriting. 

Michael Werwie won the Academy Nicholl Fellowship with his original screenplay Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile which was voted onto the Black List and is now a major motion picture starring Zac Efron, Lily Collins, and John Malkovich.  His upcoming movie, Lost Girls, stars Amy Ryan and Gabriel Byrne, based on the New York Times bestseller.  He is currently developing an original series for television and has written projects for Warner Bros., Legendary, Fox, and Amazon. Michael is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a graduate of USC.

Mike Makowsky is a screenwriter and producer based in LA. He is a New York native and graduate of Brown University.His most recent feature, Bad Education, tracks the unfolding of the single largest public school embezzlement scandal in history — which took place at his own school while he was a student there. The film stars Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney and Ray Romano and is currently in post-production. He also wrote and produced I Think We’re Alone Now, which premiered in competition at last year’s Sundance Film Festival and stars Peter Dinklage, Elle Fanning and Paul Giamatti. His first feature, Take Me, was produced by the Duplass Brothers

Moderated by Kim Adelman (Producer, Writer, and Professor)

Newport Beach Civic Center – Community Room (100 Civic Center Newport Beach, CA 92660)

Sunday, April 28th


Music in Film Presented by Costa Communications

Last year’s panel included two-time Academy Award-nominated composer Marco Beltrami, who composed the score to the critically acclaimed A Quiet Place, for which he was Golden Globe-nominated and shortlisted for the Oscar for Best Original Score. Last year’s panel also featured the Captain Marvel composer Pinar Toprak, the first woman to score a film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Back for the 20th Anniversary, Ray Costa will host a conversation with Kris Bowers, composer of the score of the Academy Award-winning Green Book, and Michael Abels, composer of Jordan Peele’s Academy Award-winning Get Out, and Peele’s follow up Us, which has taken the box office by storm. Also set to join are Tom Howe (Whiskey Cavalier), Leanna Primiani (The Daughters of Virtue, Saturn Returns), and legendary composer and songwriter, Diane Warren,  Newport Beach Civic Center – Community Room (100 Civic Center Newport Beach, CA 92660)


Animating for Disney

Join us for a special conversation all about animation. 

Don Hahn 

Don Hahn produced the classic Beauty and the Beast, the first animated film to receive a Best Picture nomination from the Motion Picture Academy.  His next film, The Lion King, broke box-office records all over the world to become the top-grossing traditionally animated film of all time and a long-running blockbuster Broadway musical.  Hahn also served as associate producer on the landmark motion picture Who Framed Roger Rabbit.  His other films include The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, the 2006 short The Little Matchgirl (which earned Hahn his second Oscar® nomination), Maleficent, and Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, as well as the Disneynature films Earth, Oceans, African Cats, and Chimpanzee.  He also directed the documentaries Waking Sleeping Beauty, Hand Held, and The Gamble House, and produced the documentary High Ground.Hahn has also authored three books on the art of animation, including the 2008 book, The Alchemy of Animation, which provides the definitive account of how animated films are created in the modern age.  His other books include Brain Storm: Unleashing Your Creative Self, Before Ever After: The Lost Lectures of Walt Disney’s Animation Studio, and the upcoming Yesterday’s Tomorrow: Disney’s Magical Mid-Century.He is currently directing Howard,  a documentary film about a writer and lyricist Howard Ashman, the creative force behind Little Shop of Horrors, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and Aladdin.David A. Bossert is an award-winning artist, filmmaker, and author. He is a 32-year veteran of The Walt Disney Company where he contributed his talents to Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), Fantasia/2000 (1999), Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) among many others. Bossert is an independent producer, creative director, and writer known as an authority on Disney, art and animation history. He is a member of the CalArts Board of Trustees and is a visiting scholar at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) in Pittsburgh. Bossert is the author of eight books and dozens of articles. His latest books are, Kem Weber: The Mid-Century Furniture Designs for the Disney Studios (The Old Mill Press, 2018) and Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas: Visual Companion (Disney Editions, 2020). Learn more at www.davidbossert.comModerated by Art Jeppe with over 25 years in animation, he has oversaw local and international teams of artists on such films as Independence Day, Mars Attacks, Stuart Little, Elf, and The Chronicles of Narnia. Arthur’s latest work includes Walt Disney’s Frozen and Big Hero 6.Moderated by Arthur JeppeArthur worked in the film industry for 25 years. He specialized in visual effects and animation, supervising local and international teams of artists on such varied films as Independence Day, Mars Attacks, Stuart Little, Elf and The Chronicles of Narnia. Arthur closed out his film career at Walt Disney Feature Animation with Frozen and Big Hero 6.These days, Arthur leverages his degree in Architecture helping clients buy and sell residential real estate in and around Newport Beach as an agent for Compass..Newport Beach Civic Center – Community Room (100 Civic Center Newport Beach, CA 92660)


Heroes On and Behind the Screen Presented by The Chimaera Project

Join us for a moderated discussion about the steps they take to create a hero as well as how they make a difference in their position such as challenging stereotypes, diverse storytelling and steer the industry towards a more inclusive environment.

Carlease Burke

A schizophrenic homeless mother in Touch. A refined principal of a deaf school in Switched At Birth.  A flashy football mom enjoying her son’s money in ballers. A foul-mouthed, truck driving lesbian in Shameless.  These roles are listed among over 140 credits on Carlease Burke’s imdb page. She has been a familiar face in commercials, film and television for over 30 years. One of her most exciting projects is the recent completion of Season 1 of Crowded on NBC, a sitcom created by Suzanne Martin and produced by Hazy Mills Productions.  The cast also starred Patrick Warburton, Carrie Preston, Miranda Cosgrove, and Mia Serafino.Raised in Hollis, Queens, she attended City College of New York where she received her B.A. in Pre-Law before pursuing her passion and moving to Los Angeles. Some of her most memorable film credits include working with Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks in The Terminal, Jennifer Lopez in The Back Up Plan, & Toni Collette and Cameron Diaz in In Her Shoes directed by the late Curtis Hanson. Look for her in the upcoming remake of the 1988 horror classic Child’s Play starring Brian Tyree Henry and Aubrey Plaza.While continuing to add to her theatrical resume, Carlease took up American Sign Language where she earned an A.S. degree in ASL Interpreting. This new language came in very “handy” for her work with Marlee Matlin in Sweet Nothing In My Ear and Switched At Birth.

Tasha Huo

Deven MacNair

Moderated by Darlene Conte

Newport Beach Civic Center – Community Room (100 Civic Center Newport Beach, CA 92660)


Editing with Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey

Join us for a special moderated discussion with Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey. 

Maryann Brandon 

Graduating from the prestigious NYU Tisch film school, Maryann Brandon began her career working on feature films in New York City. She worked on several films including The Cotton Club and A Chorus Line. A few years later she relocated to Los Angeles where a mutual friend suggested that she meet with a then up and coming writer/producer JJ Abrams for his new series entitled Alias, (she thought they’d be a good creative match). This proved to be the beginning of what has become a collaboration spanning almost 20 years. While working as an Editor on Alias, she received a Producer credit for her exceptional work and Directed two episodes, and many hours of second unit Directing. Maryann has edited all of Abrams’ features, starting with his first, Mission Impossible III, Super 8, Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Star Wars VII, The Force Awakens, which has grossed over $2 Billion in worldwide receipts, and brought Maryann her first Oscar nomination. She won a Saturn Award for her work on Star Wars TFA and Hamilton awards for Super 8 and Passengers. Other Award consideration for Maryann’s work includes a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Alias, and three ACE Award nominations, for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Trek and How To Train Your Dragon. Other credits include Sony’s PASSENGERS and VENOM. Maryann was hired by DreamWorks animation to work as a consultant on all 3 Kung Fu Panda films, Monsters vs. Alien and How to Train Your Dragon. That work required her to make shot lists for every scene. While JJ has kept Maryann quite busy over the years, she has worked with many other filmmakers on some iconic films like Grumpier Old Men, The Jane Austen Book Club, How to Train Your Dragon, A Thousand Acres, Endless Love,The Darkest Minds. She is currently at work on Star Wars IX with JJ Abrams due in theaters this Christmas.

Mary Jo Markey

Mary Jo Markey is an accomplished editor in both film and television.  After her studies in English Literature at Ohio State University and her move to the west coast, she got her first look at a cutting room and what editors do while working as an assistant to Robert Redford, and from that moment she wanted to know more.  With Redford’s help, Markey was hired to be an apprentice to Dede Allen in the MILAGRO BEANFIELD WAR cutting room, which was the beginning of her editing career.After cutting a series of independent films and television movies, Markey began her collaboration with JJ Abrams as one of the editors of the TV series FELICITY during its first three seasons (1998-2000).  Markey then moved over to edit the first two seasons of ALIAS, during which she received her first Emmy nomination. Later, in 2005, Markey won the Emmy for Drama Series Editing for her work on the LOST pilot.  In 2006, Markey’s collaboration with JJ Abrams moved to the large screen with MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3. Their work together continued in 2007 with the HBO pilot ANATOMY OF HOPE, 2009’s STAR TREK (which led to an ACE Eddie nomination), the 2010 UNDERCOVERS pilot, 2011’s SUPER 8, and STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS IN 2013.  Besides projects with Abrams, Markey has edited the award-winning HBO film LIFE SUPPORT, which was selected as the closing night film for the 2007 Sundance Film Festival (and brought her an additional Emmy nomination as well as an ACE Eddie nomination), THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, THE GREAT WALL, directed by a master of Chinese cinema Zhang Yimou, and the sci-fi thriller LIFE.  But the highlight of her credit list has to be 2015’s STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, which is still the domestic box office champ in the US by a wide margin, and which resulted in an academy award nomination and an additional ACE Eddie nod for Markey. Ms. Markey is an active member of several professional organizations. She was the prime mover behind the first “PRIME CUTS: Emmy Winning Editors on Their Craft,” (which celebrated its tenth-anniversary last year),  has served for four years on the Academy of Motion Pictures Editing Branch Committee, and is currently serving a term as an ACE board member. She makes frequent appearances on panels and seminars, and has served as a mentor to her former assistants and P.A.’s And she has never lost her love for the craft and creativity of editing.Moderated by Scott Arundale of Chapman University

Newport Beach Civic Center – Community Room (100 Civic Center Newport Beach, CA 92660)


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2018 Seminar Series

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2017 Seminar Series

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2016 Seminar Series

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2015 Seminar Series


2014 Seminar Series