We started Seed&Spark because we want to make films but we needed a healthier environment in which to make them. We believe the art of storytelling is about expanding imagination, shining a light on the world inside and deepening empathy for the world outside. In the current social climate where many consider the arts a luxury, we believe artists are responsible for teaching their audiences why they are essential. We also believe films are not just art, they are business ventures. They require the seed of an idea and the sparks of human and capital investments to bring them to life.
Yet the film business has grown removed from what it really is: playing make believe. That’s something we all know how to do. The make believe we played as children was essential to our development: brains are firing on the most cylinders when the imagination is stimulated. It’s creative, inclusive, expansive, and playful. We want Seed&Spark to be a platform that reflects this spirit, expanding the space for more, different kinds of stories to be told. With an audience’s early support, a storyteller is emboldened to take greater risks. With the storyteller’s passion, the audience is enticed to become included in the process. Together, they create an ecosystem for truly independent film!
As of June 29th, 2013, at the close of our own crowdfunding campaign, we also became a product of the biggest wishes and dreams of the indie filmmaking and film loving community. We will strive to fulfill those dreams every day we are in business, to somehow begin to show our gratitude for the gift our community bestowed on us with their support:
Alan Best + Alexis Boling + Alix Fenhagen + Amanda Cann + Amanda Giordano + Amanda Trokan + Andre Theelen + Andrea Miller + Andrea Willis + Andy Barkett + Andy Laird + Angela Cohen + Anna Kerrigan + Anne Flournoy + Amie Klepack + Ashley Hedrick + Bararunde Thurston + Barbara Ann O'Leary + Ben Hess + Ben Jaszczak + Ben Lum + Betsy Cussen + Bodine Boling + Bret Goldin + Bryan Benenati + Carlton Tanis + Caroline Von Kuhn + Carolyn Maher + Catherine Ryan + Charlie Phillips + Charysse Tia Harper + Cheryl Isaacson + Chris Wadsworth + Christina Raia + Christine Davila + Clarke Scott + Courtney D'Aquino + Daniel Goldberg + Daniel Parnes + Danielle Bernstien + Danny Derakhshan + Darren Goldberg + David Bernfeld + David Bly + David May + Deborah Meijer + Derek J. Johnson + Elena Rossini + Elizabeth Beeby + Elizabeth Stein + Elle Schneider + Emily Best + Emilie Delcourt + Eric Best + Eric Owens + Erica Anderson + Erika McGrath + Erin O'Reilly + Feenix Films + Felipe Tewes + Franck Onouviet + Matt Pelak + Heidi Haaland + Igor Kluin + James Belfer + James Biss + James Kaelan + Jay Faires + Jeff Newton + Jeffrey Hemphill + Jennifer Dougherty + Jenny Lovin + Jesse Borkowski + Jesse Kale + Jessica Rose + Jillian Corsie + Jim Anderson + Joe Bender + Joe Rubinstein + John S. Wadsworth Jr. + Joseph Williams + Josey Gist + Joshua Levine + Josie Maynard + Joyce Wu + Julie Lebedev + Karl Stelter + Katja Schroeder + Kesav Wable + Kristen Tucker + Kristin McCracken + Lauren Edward + Liam Edward Brady + Lisa Ishimaru + Lizzy Brooks + Lucas Hammer + Malaika Paquiot + Martin Hession + Mary Attea + Mary Brady + Matt Pritchard + Matthew Robert Bowers + Melvin Harris + Meryl Cohen + Michael DiBiasio + Michal Stoppa + Michelle Soffen + Mikaela Shwer + Mike Wilson + Milton X. Trujillo + Molly Huddleston + Nathalie + Nick Kelly + Nick Rumaczyk + Orlando Bassi + Owen Benson + Peter Meijer + Rachel A Lee + Ranjit B-A + Robert Mockler + Rohan Chitrakar + Rollo Hollins + Ruth Blank + Sandra Alvarez-Smith + Sara Kiener + Scott Osman + Sean Finley + Shane Hurlbut + Shaun Mavronicolas + Shelley Worrell + Sian Melton + Snow R. Shai + Stephen Green + Steven Beer + Steven R. Sanzo + Vashi Nedomansky + Vijay Pandurangan + Vincent Laforet + Vivian Tse + Will Kreth + Yosef Halawi + Zack Arias
Emily founded Seed&Spark to make a contribution to the truly independent community in which she would like to make moving pictures. In 2011, she had the great fortune of producing her first feature with a remarkable group of women. The spirit, the community and the challenges of that project, Like the Water, inspired Seed&Spark. Before producing Like the Water, Emily produced theater, worked as a vision and values strategy consultant for Best Partners, ran restaurants, studied jazz singing at the Taller de Musics, tour guided and cooked in Barcelona, and before that, was a student of Cultural Anthropology and American Studies at Haverford College. Emily was named one of the 2013 Indiewire Influencers, 2014 New York Women of Influence, 2015 Upstart 100. Emily is touring film and tech festivals around the world as a part of the #StayIndieTour to educate filmmakers and learn their best practices in connecting with their audiences to build a sustainable career. She has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in crowdfunding for film, and contributed to over 300 campaigns to date.
Erica is the Director of Crowdfunding and Community Manager for Seed&Spark. She is an actress and producer in NY's commercial advertising worlds. In 2011, she had the privilege of working on her first feature film with a remarkable group of women that included Seed&Spark CEO & Founder Emily Best and CCO Eve Cohen. Erica hails from colorful Colorado and graduated from Smith College in Massachusetts. Erica's deep commitment to her family, the arts, and her community has lead her to assist in the start-up of a "'Mom and Pop" bakery business. Through her guidance as the Development and Marketing Director, My Mom's Pie is evolving into a national Pie enterprise. She is now thrilled to be in the development phase with Seed&Spark and hopes to bring an easier and more inspiring avenue for independent filmmakers and audiences alike.
Eve loves cameras and gear and photography. She works as a cinematographer in the film/TV world; however, she has also produced, directed and edited her own documentaries -- truly independent. She is thrilled to help develop Seed&Spark as a creative community for other independent filmmakers. Eve graduated from UCLA/School of Arts and Architecture with a BFA in Photography and later received an MFA in Cinematography from UCLA/School of Theater Film and Television. She has also taught small boat sailing on both the east and west coasts. When asked if she'd rather be in the ocean, the answer is most always, yes.
James Kaelan is the Editor-in-Chief (and mastermind) behind BRIGHT IDEAS Magazine — a Seed&Spark publication — and is also a screenwriter, director, and amateur oxford comma enthusiast living and working in Los Angeles. After more than two years he and his filmmaking partner, Blessing Yen, are finally premiering their directorial feature debut, Eel, at the American Film Festival in Wrocław, Poland. Yen and Kaelan hope that Eel will eventually be the sort of deliberately non-commercial film that most people will hate, but that some will just totally love. Kaelan is also a novelist, and his first documentary, We're Getting On, chronicles the 2,000-mile bicycle book tour that he and his co-director, Miles Kittredge, embarked on to promote his debut novel. In his spare time he also enjoys building pitch decks for potential brand partners.
Max strives to keep the team operating efficiently, building the most valuable product possible, and continually delivering actionable insights through data to our community through data. He comes to Seed&Spark after spending the better part of the last decade working in a jack-of-all-trades capacity for venture-backed startups (and the other part of that decade wandering the globe, camera in hand). He understands the transformative power of storytelling through images and has a rekindled optimism for what independent cinema might look like ten years from now. He feels privileged to be working alongside such a brilliant and committed team, and is inspired to help build the platform that will empower independent filmmakers to build sustainable careers. Extracurricularly, he tends to be outdoors and/or working on other creative pursuits.
Greg comes to Seed&Spark with 10 years of sales and account management experience in the outdoor advertising industry. As director of business development, Greg is responsible for managing current and establishing new partnerships that align with Seed&Spark’s vision. Working as an actor and writer in Brooklyn, NY, he shares his passion for film, theater and the creative arts with the entire Seed&Spark community and is excited about helping that community grow. In his spare time he enjoys exercise, cooking, and anything involving a glue gun.
Simon has been developing websites for the last ten years. He especially enjoys working on streaming video applications and ecommerce websites. He studied Mathematics and Economics at UCLA. When he’s not geeking out, Simon loves paddleboarding, running, cheering for the UCLA Bruins, finding himself in awkward situations, and exploring Los Angeles. Seed&Spark is the first startup that Simon has been involved with, and he’s extremely excited to be disrupting the film funding and distribution system with such a talented team.
Nicole is a recent graduate from UCLA, where she majored in English Literature and minored in film, TV, and digital media. Hailing from the mild temperatures of San Luis Obispo, California, Nicole is primarily interested in the world of independent film, its criticism, and the food truck culture of Los Angeles (here’s looking at you, Grilled Cheese Truck). She has written for MovieMaker magazine and is co-author of a soon-to-be-published video essay on Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood. Nicole is very excited to be joining the talented and enthusiastic team at Seed&Spark.
Mia Bruno comes to Seed&Spark as the Producer of Marketing and Distribution, where she combines her passion for independent film with a love of collaborating with artists, working closely with filmmakers to hone innovative distribution strategies. Mia is a fervent believer in filmmaking as a comprehensive process, and works with directors and producers to become creative entrepreneurs of their own films. Mia joins Seed&Spark from Gravitas Ventures, where she served as Director of Acquisitions, identifying and bringing in quality independent films for the marketplace. A graduate of Barnard College/Columbia University, Mia speaks French, adores Freudian psychology, and has a vast love of adventure despite a lamentable sense of direction.
Liam is a filmmaker by vocation who came to Seed&Spark to help build a revolutionary new tool for independent artists and storytellers working in motion pictures. It's possible he fell in love with cinema when his favorite toy was his cousins' video camera. Who else remembers editing with the 'play' and 'record' buttons on two VCRs? Or maybe it was after discovering an old super-8 camera and a box of unexposed Kodachrome in the attic. Splicing a work print and running it through the projector for the first time was an experience he will never forget. Before attending the graduate film program at Tisch/NYU, Liam worked as a carpenter, an energy consultant and a project manager in the construction field. He graduated from Stanford University with degrees in English and creative writing.
Nancy Schafer is currently a consultant who works in independent film. Until July 2012 she was Executive Director of Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) and Executive Vice President of Tribeca Enterprises (TE). In her current role as consultant Schafer continues to work with Tribeca as well as the Film Society of Lincoln Center, filmmakers, and a handful of other startups across the film industry. Schafer became co-executive director of TFF in 2007 and executive director in 2008. She joined the festival staff for the first Festival in 2002 as a programmer and has held positions as programmer and managing director. As Executive Vice President, Schafer leads the artistic curation and business development for Tribeca’s business expansion, specifically with Tribeca Film, the distribution label which launched in 2010. As Executive Director, she oversaw all budgeting and operations for the Festival as well as working closely with the sponsorship team to raise funding. She has lead programming for the Festival since 2007, sharing the responsibilities with Geoff Gilmore and Frederic Boyer this past year. She also worked on Tribeca’s year round events and was involved in the launch of the Doha Tribeca Film Festival.
Prior to joining Tribeca, she created and ran the South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW Film) in Austin, Texas for eight years. Along with her festival experience, Schafer has worked on several films including two from director John Sayles (Sunshine State, Limbo); two from director Robert Byington (Olympia, Shameless) and began her film production career on The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Schafer is a graduate of the University of Virginia and currently resides in Manhattan.
David is a social entrepreneur and pioneer in the development of crowdsourcing. His newest venture, SpringRaise, focuses on pay transparency and crowdsourced compensation data to help promote pay equality. Prior to SpringRaise, David was Co-Founder and CEO of InvolveCare, a task crowdsourcing mobile app for family and professional caregivers inspired by his 10-year caregiving role with his mother, a multiple cancer survivor. Incubated within Aetna’s Healthagen unit, InvolveCare reached thousands of families and attracted multi-millions in revenue in its first year. With this early success, InvolveCare was acquired after only fourteen months in operation by a leading health information exchange—the fastest exit of any Heathagen startup. Prior to InvolveCare, David was Founding Executive at PatientsLikeMe, the world’s first health data crowdsourcing platform. Responsible for marketing and business development, David invented the first non-advertising revenue model for a social health company and was heralded by numerous media outlets including Fast Company—ranking PatientsLikeMe the #2 Most Innovative Healthcare Company in 2010 (behind GE Healthcare). His previous corporate experience includes neuroscience global strategy with Lilly and management consulting with Deloitte. David currently serves as a Board Member of The Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at UCLA where he mentors hundreds of student entrepreneurs and helped found UCLA’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans. David earned a BS in Economics and Entrepreneurial Management from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA in Digital Strategy with a certificate in Corporate Governance from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. David is a member of the 2013 Class of Henry Crown Fellows at the Aspen Institute.
Alexis holds a BA in Anthropology from UChicago and a MA in Communications from DePaulU. Her experience with the film industry comes from covering Midwest and Texas films and advertising as a writer and then part of the ad sales team at SCREEN Magazine. Alexis first shifted to UX work as a research consultant for P&G and Coke, focusing on brand architecture, packaging hierarchy and product innovation. In her spare time she has dedicated her energy to creating safe spaces for women, founding TyK [Thought You Knew] to help raise awareness of women in cycling, and #XXHack as a learning and networking group for women in tech. Over the last three years she has consulted for and mentored startup companies on growth strategy, improving information architecture, and user flows. As the pencil behind GraphiteMind she has sketchnoted talks by many of the luminaries of the tech scene, and taught developers the path toward visual thinking. She remains a UX Mentor with WIM, Parisoma and DevBootcamp.
Lisa Kleiner Chanoff is co-founder of Catapult Film Fund. Lisa founded Catapult, along with filmmaker Bonni Cohen, in order to fill a gap in the documentary funding landscape for development support and to enable important and moving documentary films to get off the ground.
An investor and philanthropist with a long history of involvement in education and the arts, as well as health and poverty issues, Lisa’s passion for early venture support has led to crucial first funding of projects, from San Francisco area education and poverty alleviation work to providing the initial funding for a school for girls and community center in the Kibera slum of Nairobi.
Lisa has a J.D. from University of California, Hastings College of the Law and practiced law in San Francisco and with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington D.C. After leaving law practice, Lisa received a master’s degree in Museum Studies and worked with museums in the San Francisco bay area designing exhibitions and education programs. Lisa assists several non-profits in an advisory capacity, and serves on the board of Working Films.
Lisa has three children and lives in San Francisco with her husband Matt.
Darren Goldberg is a producer and co-founding partner of Atlantic Pictures, a full service production company that develops, finances, and produces original material and functions as a US co-producer for international producers that are developing projects to shoot in the United States. Atlantic’s most recent production, The Brass Teapot, stars Juno Temple and Michael Angarano, and premiered at the 2012 Toronto Film Festival and sold to Magnolia Pictures. Previously, Darren produced The Art Of Getting By, starring Emma Roberts, Freddie Highmore, Rita Wilson, Alicia Silverstone and Blair Underwood. The Art of Getting By debuted at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and sold to Fox Searchlight. Additional credits include: Brant Sersen’s Splinterheads, starring Rachael Taylor and Thomas Middleditch, Tom O’Brien’s Fairhaven, starring Chris Messina, Sarah Paulson and Rich Sommer and Lex Sidon’s Grand Street starring Charlotte Riley and Tom Byam Shaw. Prior to starting Atlantic Pictures, Darren produced numerous independent films including Manito (Sundance 2002), Cry Funny Happy (Sundance 2003), Room (Sundance 2005, Cannes 2005), Gardener of Eden (Tribeca 2007) and The Cake Eaters (Tribeca 2007). He was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for his work on ROOM.
Chris Marsh co-founded Atlantic Pictures with Darren Goldberg in 2007. His producing credits include writer/director Peter Glanz’s “The Longest Week”, starring Jason Bateman, Olivia Wilde and Billy Crudup, Brant Sersen’s Splinterheads, starring Rachael Taylor and Thomas Middleditch, Tom O’Brien’s Fairhaven, starring Chris Messina, Sarah Paulson and Rich Sommer and Lex Sidon’s Grand Street starring Charlotte Riley and Tom Byam Shaw. In 2010 he made his first foray into writing and directing for brands with Chief Household Officer, a branded entertainment web series, which Atlantic produced in partnership with Howcast for Hewlett Packard and Youtube. Prior to starting Atlantic, he spent the first decade of his career working freelance as a line producer, location manager, production manager and in other capacities on dozens of feature films, television shows, commercials and new media projects.
ANTHONY BATT has turned generating online buzz into a science. As the founder and chief creative officer of the Web-publishing juggernaut Buzzmedia, he turned culture blogs like Idolator and Stereogum into must-reads for today’s influencers. He was CEO until 2008 and CCO until 2010. He then joined Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg at their founding company Katalyst as President and Head of Digital where he consults for heavyweight brands such as Virgin Media, Intel, and GE on how to design their digital presence and the most effective ways to expand their reach online. Previously, he was co-founder of Metapa (now Greenplum) a technology company specializing in data warehousing, which sold in July 2010 for $350 million. Batt, together with Craig Newmark, co-founded Troon, an early San Francisco based web agency and award-winning pioneer of brand published entertainment for the Internet. It was at Troon that Newmark started a side project, which Batt helped take from its original format “an email list to acquaintances” to the eponymous online global destination, Craigslist.
PETER SAMUELSON has thirty years experience at the intersection of media and social change and has been described as a “serial pro-social entrepreneur”. Peter is a graduate of Cambridge University with a Masters in English Literature and the fourth of five family generations employed in the film industry. A member of the initial board of Participant Media, Jeff Skoll's pro-social media company, Samuelson has produced and executive produced 25 motion pictures including Wilde, Arlington Road, Revenge of the Nerds, and Tom & Viv, as well as television and interactive media. In 1982, Samuelson founded the Starlight Children's Foundation www.starlight.org, a leading multi-national charity now serving 4.6 million seriously ill children and their families each year. In 1995, Samuelson and Steven Spielberg co-founded Starbright World, the first fully interactive multi-media, online social network, a virtual playground for ill children that still operates internationally, 24 hours a day. In 1999 Peter co-founded www.firststar.org, a national advocacy non-profit representing abused and neglected children and, in 2006, he launched www.edar.org, a non-profit that provides single-user portable housing to our nation's urban homeless. Peter has lectured extensively on philanthropic entrepreneurship and pro-social media. He served as Chairman of the Executive Committee of Panavision, Inc. and serves on the Committee that selects the winners of the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Mr. Samuelson is President of ASPIRE – the Academy for Social Purpose in Responsible Entertainment, which teaches pro-social media to undergraduates across disciplines, piloted at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Faires is founder of Band of Outsiders - a tv production company developing a slate of non scripted shows built around a core thesis that the proliferation of channels and distribution platforms has created a unique opportunity in television driven by a power shift from the networks to the best content aggregators. This is creating unprecedented potential to drive licensing and brand sponsorship revenue altering back end IP ownership structures. Throughout his career, he has built and nurtured close relationships with entrepreneurs and talent across a wide spectrum of entertainment while bridging the world to high net worth individuals, family offices, strategics, equity funds and senior bank lenders. Through JFE, Faires actively invests and serves on boards and advises in wellness, music, fashion, action sports and ad tech including Mind Body Green, Seed & Spark, Go Flow, Hone, Averti, Mise En Scene and Permission among them. He works closely with numerous non-profit / NGO's he is passionate about serving as an adviser or board member for My Friend's Place, 4th Estate, 15X15, Women @ the Frontier and Invisible Children. Faires previously founded Mammoth Records – an independent record label, publishing and lifestyle marketing company. He exited Mammoth, selling to the Walt Disney Company for a 65x return on capital then building his music publishing company, BNY Music, which he quickly sold to Lionsgate. While there, he doubled the value of their publishing asset as President of Music, while working closely with many of the biggest names in music for their slate of tv and film. He has held senior executive positions at Lionsgate, Disney and Warners. Faires received his BA with Honors from The University of the South and his MBA from Duke.
SCOTT OSMAN brings the spirit of imagination, discovery and new thinking to everything he does. In 2005, Osman created the Chrysler Film Project, a yearlong marketing initiative of the Chrysler Corporation. The project awarded $1 million to a first time filmmaker to make a feature film. The winning script, Blue Valentine, was accepted into the Sundance Film Festival in January 2010, and was picked up by The Weinstein Company. The film was also accepted into the 2010 Cannes film festival, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress, Michelle Williams. He is currently the Global Director for the Brand Purpose Group, an initiative he established for Landor Associates. He also recently created the STAR EMBA program at the George Washington School of Business. The first of its kind, this customized, fully accredited, degree-granting business school gives professional athletes, celebrities and other individuals with personal brands an opportunity to achieve their MBA degree during the off-season. In 1999, Mr. Osman founded DoubleSpace, raising a capital fund to make seed stage investments in companies in publishing, media and entertainment, online, and consumer products. He is a founding board member of the Food Allergy Initiative, sits on the board of the Paris-based international arts charity Signature International, as well as FriendFactor in New York and the Lifeline Center for Child Development.
STEVEN BEER is an attorney with the firm Franklin, Weinrib, Rudell & Vassallo, P.C. and concentrates his practice on film, television and music matters. He represents industry-leading film production, film finance and film distribution companies and has acted as counsel to numerous award-winning writers, directors, producers, and multi-platinum musical artists. Steven has been listed annually as a "Super Lawyer," in the field of Entertainment and Sports, since the 2006 edition of New York Super Lawyers/ Manhattan, ranking among the top 5% of Manhattan attorneys. According to the magazine, this selection was based on an independent survey of 59,000 lawyers and an evaluation by a "blue ribbon panel of preeminent peers" in each area of practice. Also, Research and Markets listed him as one of the top lawyers in Entertainment Law, Settlements and Negotiations, and he was cited in The Wrap online magazine as one of "21 Great Thinkers of Indie Film." Steven frequently writes and lectures about issues related to film finance production and distribution. In 2012, his article "The New Renaissance Paradigm - A Break-through Time For Artists" was published in the inaugural edition of the Berkeley Journal of Entertainment and Sports Law and his article "Life After Sundance: Distribution and Marketing for the 99 Percent" was published in Indiewire. Each January at the Sundance Film Festival, in conjunction with the New York State Film Office, Steven programs and moderates panels for filmmakers, producers and financiers. Before joining FWRV, Steven practiced as a shareholder with Greenberg Traurig, LLP from 2003-2012, and was a founding partner of Rudolph & Beer. LLP where he practiced from 1993-2003. Steven received his B.A. with Honors from Washington University in St. Louis in 1981. After working as a Legislative Assistant to United States Senator Arlen Specter from 1981-1983, Steven received his J.D. from The Villanova University School of Law, in 1986 where he was named to the Villanova Law Review.
CHRIS WADSWORTH is co-Founder and Managing Director of Manitou Ventures and Manitou Media. Manitou Ventures makes early stage investments in a variety of sectors and industries. Manitou Media primarily supports the Freshgrass brand and festival, which is a bluegrass event held annually, as well as other creative projects. Prior to this, Chris was co-Founder and Managing General Partner of Ceyuan Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm based in Beijing China, which now manages $600 million in commitments. Before Ceyuan, Chris held a variety of financial and business positions at AtomShockwave, Macromedia, Montgomery Securities and Fleet Bank. Chris was a founding member of the Golden Elixir Bluegrass Band and was accepted into New England Conservatory for a Masters degree in Composition (did not complete). Chris received a MBA from the University of Chicago in 1996 and a BA from Williams College in 1991, with a major in music composition.
Prithvi Rai is Director of Technical Programs at Facebook, responsible for a large portfolio of multi-disciplinary engineering projects supporting Facebook's fast-growing billion+ user base.
Prithvi brings in extensive experience building and running large-scale applications and infrastructures in both small and large fast paced high growth environments across the globe. He started his career with Infosys a global leader in Technology consulting and then moved on to CyberCash (acquired by PayPal), one of the pioneers in E-Commerce enabling secure payments on the Internet, Later joining Yahoo! where he was Director of Engineer responsible for supporting Yahoo!'s phenomenal growth in Asia Pac, Europe and LATAM
Prithvi lives in the Silicon Valley with his wife and is passionate about disruptive technologies, mentoring urban young adults to help close the opportunity divide, adventure travel and movies.