Dear Filmmakers

We hope you have enjoyed the increased virtual programming we’ve offered in response to COVID-19. We are releasing six of our most popular recorded events for the community to enjoy.

If you’ve learned something from these events, please support the filmmakers’ work, and consider making a 100% tax deductible donation to NYCWF by clicking here.

The last few weeks have reinforced the need for what we do as storytellers. We hope to provide you with the resources you need to continue to learn, grow, and affect change. We need you now more than ever.


Q&A with Nia DaCosta
Indie Distribution with Naomi McDougall Jones
Distribution with Christina Raia
Directing Actors with Heidi Marshall
Pitching with Jamie Monahan
Taxes with CPA Nancy L. Adams

Please respect the presenters’ wishes to keep them private and do not post them publicly.

Q&A with Writer/Director Nia DaCosta

After a community watch party of Little Woods (Available to stream on Hulu, or Rent here!), Director Nia DaCosta will host a Q&A about her work and experience in the industry.

Thanks to our generous supporters, we raised $578 for Black Trans Femmes in the Arts!

Nia DaCosta (Website | Twitter | Instagram) is a writer and director based in New York City.

Her first feature film, LITTLE WOODS, starring Tessa Thompson and Lily James, had its theatrical release on April 19, 2019 through Neon Rated. She will be directing her second feature film, the Jordan Peele written and produced, CANDYMAN, this spring. The MGM film will be released September 25, 2020.

DaCosta has been supported by the Sundance Institute, New York Film Festival, the San Francisco Film Society and the Time Warner Foundation.

What the Direct-to-Fan Model Means for Indie Film with Naomi McDougall Jones

In Summer 2019, writer/actress/producer Naomi McDougall Jones moved into an RV and embarked on a 3-month, 40-city, 51-screening Joyful Vampire Tour of America to release her second feature film BITE ME direct-to-fans and see whether she and her team could invent a new model for independent film distribution. On the road, they gained an up-close, nitty-gritty understanding of the current distribution landscape, including how to market to audiences today, the horror stories of other filmmakers who put their films through traditional distribution models, and how online sales (TVOD, SVOD, etc) interact with in-person screenings.

In this workshop, Naomi will pull the veil back fully on everything they did right, everything they did wrong, and, most importantly, the foundational lessons they learned about how indie filmmakers should be thinking about distribution today. She will also share how, following the tour, her team parlayed the success of their in-person screenings into six offers from traditional sales agents and distributors and ultimately landed a domestic and international sales deal. Naomi offers radical, out-of-the box thinking and invites filmmakers to reconsider continuing to pump their films into the current system of distribution that is rapidly vanishing under our feet. She will also speak about her newly-published debut book, The Wrong Kind of Women: Inside Our Revolution to Dismantle the Gods of Hollywood.

Naomi McDougall Jones (Website | Twitter | Instagram) is an award-winning writer, actress, producer, and women in film activist based in New York City. Her second feature film, BITE ME, with producers Jack Lechner (The Fog of War, Blue Valentine) and Sarah Wharton (That’s Not Us), which she wrote and also starred in opposite Christian Coulson (Harry Potter, Love is Strange, The Hours), Annie Golden (Orange is the New Black), and Naomi Grossman (American Horror Story) premiered at the Cinequest Film Festival, followed by a 3 month, 51 screening, 40 city Joyful Vampire Tour of America that took the country by storm. Naomi’s first feature film, which she also wrote, produced, and starred in, was the 12-time award-winning IMAGINE I’M BEAUTIFUL. The film received a theatrical release and is now available on Amazon Prime. She is currently at work on her third feature film, a magical realism piece about a 7-month pregnant woman’s unexpected interaction with the brilliant, eccentric, and deceased inventor John Hays Hammond, Jr., and for which she received the honor of being the first artist in residence at the final home of Ernest Hemingway in Sun Valley, Idaho. Naomi is an advocate and thought leader for bringing gender parity to cinema. She gave a virally sensational TEDTalk, What it’s Like to Be a Woman in Hollywood, which has now been viewed over 1 million times and can be seen on Naomi’s first book, The Wrong Kind of Women: Inside Our Revolution to Dismantle the Gods of Hollywood, published by Beacon Press, is now available as hardcover, e-book, and audiobook wherever books are sold.

The Distribution Down-Low with Christina Raia

Distribution is one of the most mysterious and misunderstood topics for independent creators. Join us as we break down the current landscape of distribution for independent film and TV, including the economics of different avenues to take, the right questions to ask potential partners, and what needs to be done from pre-production through post-production to set yourself up for success.

This event was produced in partnership with Seed&Spark.

Christina Raia (Website | Twitter | Instagram) is a New York City based Writer/Director and the Founder of CongestedCat Productions. Her work, consisting of over a dozen short films, a web series, and two feature films, has screened at film festivals around the world and gained a large online following through multiple crowdfunding campaigns and coverage on press outlets such as Indiewire and BuzzFeed. Through a desire to support other filmmakers, she works for Seed&Spark as the head of education, teaching and empowering creators to build their audience and crowdfund their work. She also runs IndieWorks, a monthly screening and community-building series showcasing short films by other New York filmmakers.

Directing Actors with Heidi Marshall

Heidi Marshall shares her best practices for working with actors, including live scene work with two actors, followed by a Q&A.

Heidi Marshall’s (Website) career has spanned over 20+ years and includes time as the lead Casting Director at Telsey + Co. for the Broadway musical RENT, as well as casting for 70+ projects in theater, film, television, commercial, and voiceover. Most recently, she coached and prepped Halle Bailey for her audition and screen test for Disney’s upcoming live-action The Little Mermaid.

After studying at Carnegie Mellon University and Pittsburgh Filmmakers, Heidi initiated and received the first directing internship at Humana Play Festival at Actors Theater of Louisville. Here, she directed Balm in Gilead and assisted John Jory, Anne Bogart, Tina Landau, and Lisa Peterson.

Heidi then completed a fellowship through the Drama League before heading to New York City, where she began working as an assistant for Bernie Telsey’s casting office. Her first casting project was RENT. In the midst of RENT’s explosion into mega-hit status, Heidi became the show’s lead Casting Director—for seven years, she found and developed talent for its Broadway casts and national/international tours. Heidi also served as Casting Director for Baz Luhrmann’s La Bohème on Broadway for which the rotating cast all won a TONY Award for Excellence in Theater.

Baz’s artist mentorship led to a shift away from casting; Heidi was then hired as Resident Director on La Bohème, which had a critically acclaimed Broadway run. She later directed La Bohème for Baz at the Ahmanson Theater in LA.

Her work as a director continued when she was selected for the prestigious American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women. She returned to Broadway as an acting coach for The Color Purple and worked with Fantasia, Chaka Khan, and Bebe Winans. She also served as an Associate Director for The Adamms Family musical from development through opening night.

Today, Heidi’s directing experience spans film, television, documentary, theatrical events, regional theater, off-Broadway, and Broadway.

Her film Muscle has won 7 awards and has played at over 30 festivals worldwide, including Oscar-qualifying fests. She continues to work as a director, independent filmmaker, and acting coach and teacher.

Heidi actively champions diversity in front of and behind the camera. Over 2,500 actors have been taught and coached through her private studio. She purposefully surrounds herself with passionate actors, collaborative filmmakers, theater lovers, and driven artists who care about Community.

Lauren Sowa (Website | Instagram | Twitter) is a New York-based actor and filmmaker. She has been featured in the films 42 Seconds of Happiness (now available on Amazon Prime), Café Artist, The Rainbow Experiment (Slamdance 2018), and The Devil’s Well. Upcoming: the indie feature Paris is in Harlem. Select theatre credits include: The Importance of Being Earnest, Private Lives (Walnut Street Theatre), the title role in Emma (Lantern Theater Co.) and The T.S. Eliot US/UK Exchange with the Old Vic Theatre. Training: BFA, NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Proud member of Actor’s Equity and SAG-AFTRA. In 2016, she and Tim Eliot founded Form & Pressure Films to create content with a conscience. Their first film, Marisol, directed by Zoé Salicrup Junco, is currently streaming on HBO. Lauren is a big-time animal lover, and has yet to meet a pretzel she doesn’t like. When not acting, you can find her reading a good book, taking photographs, catching up on old films, and doing yoga!

Shunori Ramanathan (IMDB) is a New York-based actor from Bangalore, India. Shunori’s love for performing started early with Indian classical dance, and continued at Yale University, where she double majored in Political Science and Theater. Although she had a keen interest in global economic development, Shunori found that her passion was in acting, and so moved to New York after graduation to pursue a career as an actor. After a couple of years of honing her skills, she began to book roles on TV shows like Netflix’s Gypsy, Law and Order: SVU, Master of None, Chicago Med. Shunori also played Sumera in the movie The Big Sick, and Allison in the movie Jonathan, opposite Ansel Elgort.

Most recently, she played the role of Priya Khundi in the movie Worth – the true story of the 9/11 Victim’s Compensation Fund – opposite Michael Keaton, Amy Ryan, and Stanley Tucci. The film premiered at Sundance 2020.

Top 5 Secrets of Pitching Your Project with Jamie Monahan

Filmmaker, Director, Producer and Actress Jamie Monahan shares her hard-won insights to get your project picked up. From general meetings to contracts she’ll help you feel more confident walking into the room.

Jamie Monahan (Website) is an award winning filmmaker, director, producer and actress. She produced and directed ALMOST MAINE at The Shell Theater and produced SWINGTIME CANTEEN (Off Broadway) at Cherry Lane Theatre. Jamie produced and directed the award nominated short THE WISHING TREE, and assistant directed the award nominated short ANATOMY OF AN ORCHID. Fall 2017 she produced and cast the proof of concept for ASTRAL (greenlit by Adaptive Studios) and FLAT EARTH (Sundance New Voices Lab Finalist). Summer 2018 she executive produced TRIAD, and produced BELOW THE BELT. She executive produced, wrote, directed, and starred in LUCID (nominated for Best Pilot at the 2019 NYC Web Fest), a new original sci-fi series. Her latest project LEGACY is a finalist for the Sundance 2020 Episodic Makers Lab.

Taxes for Film & TV by Nancy L. Adams

Nancy L. Adams, CPA returns for a third year at NYCWF with her popular and timely tax workshop for film & media professionals.

Nancy L. Adams (Website) is an experienced CPA who works with a wide range of organizations and individuals, with particular emphasis on the independent film industry and same gender couples. Her services provided encompass everything from essential tax compliance for businesses and individuals to outsourced controller functions for businesses and strategic financial planning for individuals.

Copyrighted 2020 by Nancy L. Adams, do NOT duplicate or distribute.

Download Nancy’s presentation slides

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