Storytelling Celebration Panelist Biographies

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PANEL 1:

Moderator: Barnaby Dallas

Barnaby Dallas is the Director of Production for Film and Theatre at San José State University, the Director of Film Production for Spartan Film Studios, and the Executive Producer at Maverick Film Studios. He also teaches screenwriting and story development for DreamWorks Animation.

He has produced twelve feature films that received theatrical, DVD, and online distribution as well as multiple film festival awards. He has produced more than fifty plays and has co-written two children's books.

Darrien Michele Gipson
SAGindie Executive Director

Darrien Michele Gipson is the Executive Director of SAGindie. An M.F.A. recipient from the Peter Stark Producers Program at the University of Southern California, Darrien was formerly the Vice President of Production for DEF Pictures. As Executive Director of SAGindie, Darrien leads a team that is responsible for independent filmmaker outreach and specializes in teaching low budget production focusing on the process for hiring professional actors via SAG-AFTRA’s low budget contracts. She is a frequent moderator and speaker on panels and production workshops, negotiates sponsorship agreements with film festivals around the country, spearheads SAGindie’s annual national advertising campaigns, oversees SAGindie.org, and throws several epic filmmaker parties. Darrien has traveled to over 55 film festivals in more than 25 states and 5 countries to consult with independent filmmakers. Yes, she has a lot of frequent flyer miles. No, she isn’t sharing them.

Darrien’s (new) favorite book about moviemaking is As You Wish: Inconceivable Takes from the Making of THE PRINCESS BRIDE by Cary Elwes. It includes amazing behind-the-scenes information about the best movie ever made (she will fight you on that). Darrien especially loves how Elwes has different cast members write their own memories throughout the book. It might be lighthearted and irreverent, but it is done with sincerity and just made her happy. Just like maewidge, it bwings us togetheh.

Jonathan Duffy
Producer & Actor

Jonathan Duffy is a producer & actor, known for Sorry to Bother You (2018), The Long Dumb Road (2018) and The Sound of Silence (2019).

Tim Rhys
Founder, MovieMaker Magazine

Tim Rhys: is a writer, producer, director and actor & Founder of MovieMaker Magazine. He was the editor of several national publications prior to creating MovieMaker Magazine in 1993 and still serves as its Editor-In-Chief and Publisher. MovieMaker currently enjoys the largest readership of any independent film magazine in the world.

Rajiv Shah
Actor, Writer, Filmmaker

Rajiv Shah is an actor, writer, and filmmaker from the San Francisco Bay Area. Through acting Rajiv discovered his love for storytelling, which often centers on familial love discovered as a result of life’s challenges. Rajiv wrote and co-produced RUN THE TIDE, a feature film starring Taylor Lautner and Constance Zimmer. The screenplay won the Grand Jury Prize for Project Catalyst at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival and was a finalist in Final Draft's Big Break Competition. Recently, Rajiv co-wrote and directed the short film CARRY TIGER TO MOUNTAIN which won the Showtime Networks’ Tony Cox Screenwriting Award at the Nantucket Film Fest and has screened at film festivals across the country. Rajiv is a proud member of SAG-AFTRA and serves as a member of SAG-AFTRA’s Asian Pacific American Media committee.

PANEL 2:

Moderator: Maureen Fan
CEO of Baobab Studios

Maureen Fan is CEO & Co-Founder of the 6 time Emmy and Annie award winning and leading interactive animation studio Baobab Studios, whose mission is to inspire you to dream by bringing out your sense of wonder. Make YOU matter. Baobab Studios has won an Emmy Award for Best Interactive Media for every qualifying project the studio has created. Baobab was named Most Innovative Company for 2018 by Fast Company and is creatively led by Eric Darnell, the writer and director of Antz And all 4 Madagascar films. Darnell is the 2nd highest box office grossing animation writer and director of all time. In a 1st, Hollywood is taking Baobab's VR IP to become a feature film: Roth Kirschenbaum Films (Maleficent, Alice in Wonderland, Snow White and the Huntsman) has signed on to adapt INVASION!, Baobab’s first interactive movie into a traditional feature film, Penguin Random House has partnered to turn The Magic Paintbrush into a multi-book series, and MacMillan has partnered to turn INTERCATS into a graphic novel series.

Founded in 2015, Baobab is considered to be the world's leading independent interactive animation studio. They have won six Emmy awards as well as two Annie awards for Best Virtual Reality Production. Crow: The Legend, both a traditional linear animated short film as well as an interactive VR experience, won the most awards of any animated program or series, traditional and/or interactive, at the 2019 Emmy Awards. Crow also won the 1st ever Annie Award for Best Virtual Reality Production. This story inspired by a Native American legend stars a diverse cast including John Legend, Oprah, Constance Wu, Diego Luna, Liza Koshy, Tye Sheridan, Sarah Eagle Heart, and Randy Edmonds and features Legend’s original song, “When You Can Fly.”

Their most recent release, Bonfire, starring Ali Wong, premiered at The 2019 Tribeca Film Festival to critical-acclaim with how it seamlessly weaved together narrative and interactivity with innovative AI systems. Bonfire released as an exclusive launch partner with Oculus Quest. Bonfire won Best in Show at SIGGRAPH’s inaugural Immersive award, Sandbox Film Festival, Best of 2019 at Venice Film Festival, and is the winner of a Best VR Annie.

Baobab’s Emmy award-winning VR animation, INVASION!, starring Ethan Hawke, launched to substantial critical-acclaim and has become a top downloaded VR experience. In a first, Hollywood is taking IP from VR to become a feature film: Roth Kirschenbaum Films (Maleficent, Alice in Wonderland, Snow White and the Huntsman) has signed on to adapt INVASION! into a big screen feature film "flattie". Baobab won a second Emmy for its second immersive animation, ASTEROIDS! starring Elizabeth Banks, an official 2017 Sundance Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival selection. Baobab also premiered Jack (Part 1) at The Tribeca Film Festival, a location based immersive theater experience, starring Lupita Nyong'o.

Maureen has held leadership roles in film, gaming and the consumer web. Fan was most recently vice president of games at Zynga, where she oversaw three game studios including FarmVille, which contributed 40% of the company’s revenues. Previously, she worked on Pixar's Toy Story 3 film and at eBay in product management and UI design. Her collaboration, The Dam Keeper, directed by Dice Tsutsumi and Robert Kondo, was nominated for the 2015 Oscar Best Animated Short. Maureen was named one of ‘The Most Creative People of the Year’ by Ad Age, Top 100 Influential Asians by A100, and Variety crowned her as one of the execs to watch earning a spot on their ‘Top Digital Creatives’ list. She’s been covered by The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune, USA Today, Business Insider, The New York Times, The LA Times, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety and C|Net.

Maureen’s insights have been shared on the main stage at both the Web Summit and Tech Crunch Disrupt. She’s been a technology and entertainment convergence champion keynoting Oculus Connect and presenting at F8, South by Southwest, DICE, E3 and Variety Business Insider’s Ignition. As an advocate for diversity in the entertainment, Maureen is an active member of many organizations for minority groups and women and she gave the keynote at Grace Hopper Conference, as well as presented at Women in Animation, Fortune Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit and Fast Co’s Impact Council.

Kevin Lin
Chief Operating Officer, Twitch

Kevin Lin is a co-founder of Twitch, the world’s largest live social video platform for gamers and creators. As its long-time COO, Kevin brought live social video to hundreds of millions of people around the world, helping thousands of creators make a living building their communities around live, shared experiences. Twitch functions as a center of gravity to the esports industry and is reimagining gaming, traditional sports, music, and other interactive technologies. Having sold Twitch to Amazon in 2014, Kevin is also the co-founder of Gold House, a nonprofit collective of diverse leaders dedicated to forging stronger relationships that empower Asians to have more authentic, more successful, and healthier lives to, in turn, advance all of society. As an avid angel investor and advisor, Kevin is also a consistently deep patron to his hometowns of New Orleans and Taipei, as well as to founders and creatives.

Eric Darnell
Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder, Baobab Studios

Eric Darnell is Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of the Emmy award-winning and leading VR animation studio Baobab Studios, whose mission is to inspire you to dream by bringing out your sense of wonder. Started by industry leaders Maureen Fan (Zynga VP of Games, Farmville Franchise), Eric Darnell (Director of all 4 Madagascar films), and Larry Cutler (Dreamworks' Head of Character Tech, Pixar TD Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc, Oscar tech judge), the company's Emmy-award winning VR animation, INVASION!, starring Ethan Hawke, launched to substantial critical acclaim and has become the top downloaded VR app. In a first, Hollywood is taking IP from VR to become a feature film: Roth Kirschenbaum Films (Maleficent, Alice in Wonderland, Snow White and the Huntsman) has signed on to adapt INVASION! into a big-screen feature film "flattie".

Baobab Studios first VR experience INVASION! garnered laurels from film festivals globally including Sundance, Toronto, Cannes and is currently a top-ranking download on major VR platforms including Oculus, VIVE, PSVR, Samsung, Within, Hulu and others. Their follow up experience ASTEROIDS! starring Elizabeth Banks was an official 2017 selection for both Sundance and Cannes and recently won the “Outstanding Interactive Media” 2018 Daytime Emmy. Crow: The Legend, their most recent production, stars John Legend, Oprah Winfrey, Sarah Eagle Heart, Randy Edmonds, Liza Koshy, Tye Sheridan, Diego Luna, and Constance Wu. The piece won an Annie Award for the Best VR Production and was an official selection at Annecy Cannes Venice, where it premiered. The 2D version of Crow: The Legend went viral with over 3 million views online in less than 2 weeks.

Baobab was named Most Innovative Company for 2018 in the VR/AR category by Fast Company. Baobab has raised $31M to date making them one of the largest independent VR studios today. Baobab’s vision is to create experiences with the empathy of film, the agency of games, and ultimately the motivation of real life.

Eric’s career spans 25 years as a computer animation director, screenwriter, story artist, film director, and executive producer. He was the director and screenwriter on all four films in the “Madagascar” franchise, which together have grossed more than $2.5 billion at the box-office. He was also executive producer on “The Penguins of Madagascar.” Previously, Eric directed DreamWorks Animation's very first animated feature film, “Antz,” which features the voices of Woody Allen, Gene Hackman, Christopher Walken, and Sharon Stone. Eric earned a degree in journalism from the University of Colorado and a master’s degree in experimental animation from The California Institute of the Arts.

Bernie Su
Creator, Showrunner, Storyteller

Bernie Su is a three-time Primetime Emmy award-winning short form and interactive creator, showrunner, and storyteller.

Growing up in Silicon Valley, Bernie eventually moved to Los Angeles to pursue dreams of being a screenwriter. Once in Hollywood, he quickly emerged as a unique and versatile storyteller, able to merge his creative abilities with his technological roots.

His breakout series was The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a groundbreaking, interactive reimagining of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The series is known as one of the seminal Transmedia franchises of the era, incorporating social media storytelling with short-form video seamlessly. In 2013, this series went on to win the Primetime Emmy award for Original Interactive Media, capturing the first-ever Primetime Emmy awarded to a YouTube Series, and was eventually re-adapted into a novel, making it the first novel based on a web series based on a novel.

In 2014, Bernie created Emma Approved, another Jane Austen adaptation, this time focusing on building a sustainable creative ecosystem. Emma Approved was designed as a five-platform interactive series where the title character, Emma, spawned a real fashion blog and advice column that tied into the show. The brand synergy of this franchise was groundbreaking in how it incorporated products into the story. Partners included Nordstroms, Modcloth, and Samsung. This series also won the Primetime Emmy for Original Interactive Media in 2015.

In 2018, Bernie pushed storytelling innovation once again by creating Artificial, the first live, audience-interactive, science fiction series. The series debuted on the live platform Twitch, presenting the unique ability for the audience to be consequential to the story, affecting the serialized story in real-time.

In 2019, Artificial, while in its second season, gained the unique distinction of being awarded both The Peabody Futures of Media Award for Innovation in a Webisodes AND the Primetime Emmy Award for Innovation in Interactive Media, cementing the series as the most Innovative series of the year, and closing out an incredible decade for Bernie.

Carla Engelbrecht
Director of Product Innovation at Netflix

Dr. Carla Engelbrecht Fisher, Director of Product Innovation at Netflix, is an internationally recognized expert in developing interactive and educational media. She leads the interactive storytelling division at Netflix, which includes Emmy-award winning Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and You vs Wild with Bear Grylls. Previously, she founded the game design firm No Crusts Interactive and worked for Highlights for Children, PBS KIDS, and Sesame Workshop.

Chris Thomes
Governor of Interactive Media at Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Vice President of Marketing Strategy at Walt Disney Television / ABC Studios

As Vice President, Marketing Strategy for ABC Studios, Thomes is responsible for developing and implementing marketing strategies from development, broadcast, and international roll out for all current ABC Studios TV content across North America with a specific requirement to build the Studio brand and its visibility through the creation of creative, high profile and targeted initiatives to support ABCS development team, producers, North American sales directors, partners and broadcasters across the US and Canada. Previously Thomes was responsible for general management and oversight of branded digital video programming at ABC’s Digital Studio. There he oversaw production for content created by external producers, including derivative digital series, original digital first series and special event live programming for the Disney-ABC Television Group’s diverse portfolio of broadcast and cable networks, including ABC Entertainment, Freeform and Disney Channel networks.

He has been awarded two Emmys for his work at ABC in interactive programming, was responsible for helping launch ABC’s foray into original scripted digital short with ABCd, and was granted a Disney
Inventor Award and patent for developing a method and system for non-linear content creation in storytelling.

Prior to joining the Disney/ABC Television Group, Mr. Thomes oversaw digital production and programming for Saban Brands. There he managed the digital assets of Power Rangers and Paul Frank, among others.

Before Saban Brands, Mr. Thomes oversaw ABC.com's Digital Oscar Experience, which won the 2011 Emmy for Creative Achievement in Interactive Media. He served as executive producer at Disney's Direct to Consumer and International Group where he oversaw video production and integrated ad sales production earning four Disney Inventor Awards and patents for his work on Disney Xtreme Digital interactive methods and systems. At DTCI, Mr. Thomes also produced The Muppets Kitchen with Cat Cora web series, a comedy cooking show, and the Webby Award-winning Jim Henson¹s The Possibility Shop, a Disney.com, web-based original production focused on instilling creativity in kids and parents. Mr. Thomes is an active member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences serving as Governor for Interactive Media. He also served as Vice President, New Media for the Producers Guild of America and currently sits on the PGA’s New Media Council Board. He is a regular, contributing writer for the PGA industry magazine, Produced By, and
recently launched the Guild’s new, Innovation Award, honoring outstanding entertainment endeavors across VR, AR, experiential and other emerging media. Mr. Thomes holds a BA in Film and Television from the University of California, San Diego.