Guest Speakers

2015 Guest Speakers

VIFF Industry Guest Speakers

Kevin Eastwood

Title: Co-Producer
Company: Optic Nerve Films

Kevin Eastwood is an award-winning film and television producer. He is currently the co-producing The Romeo Section – the highly anticipated new drama series from creator Chris Haddock for CBC Television. Other recent credits include executive producing the Hot Docs Award-winning documentary, Haida Gwaii: On the Edge of the World, screening at this year’s VIFF, and producing the comedy-drama Preggoland which won Most Popular Canadian Film at VIFF 2014 and starred Sonja Bennett, James Caan and Danny Trejo. Prior to that, Kevin was the series director and co-executive producer of Emergency Room: Life + Death at VGH, a ground-breaking documentary series that scored record-setting ratings for Knowledge Network, was nominated for two Canadian Screen Awards (including Best Director of a Documentary Series) and won Best Documentary Series and The People’s Choice Award at the 2014 Leo Awards. Some of Kevin's other producing credits include the cult hit zombie comedy, Fido, starring Carrie-Anne Moss and Billy Connolly (Opening Gala – TIFF 2006; Official Selection – Sundance 2007); the Canadian box office hit comedy, The Delicate Art of Parking, the award-winning documentary feature Eco-Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson, and the acclaimed CTV movie, Elijah (VIFF 2009) for which he won a Gemini Award.

Larry Bafia

Title: Faculty Masters of Digital Media Program Centre for Digital Media
Company: SPARK Animation co-chair, ACM SIGGRAPH

An animator who works with various media, Larry started his career in stop motion and Claymation with the Will Vinton Studios. At the studio Larry worked on stop motion projects such as the California Raisins, Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker, The Globeheads and numerous commercial projects before moving into CGI. While part of the Vinton CG commercial group, Larry animated characters for Chips Ahoy! Raid and  Fanta.

During his seven year tenure as Commercial Animation Director at PDI/Dreamworks, Larry directed commercials for many top clients including Coca-Cola, Sega, Intel, Kraft, Target, Circle K, and Saturn.

While with PDI/Dreamworks, Larry was also Sequence Lead Animator on several hit films including Antz,Batman & RobinA Simple Wish, and was on the effects team for Mission Impossible II, Forces of Nature & The Peacemaker.  At Warner Brothers Larry served as Lead Animator for the Stop Motion Division on Tim Burton's feature Mars Attacks.

From 2003 through 2008 Larry was Department Head of Animation and Visual Effects at the Vancouver Film School.  In 2007 the program was ranked 5th in the world by 3D World magazine.

 In 2002, Larry founded his own animation company,  Blam! Animation. As the company's Creative Director, Larry continues to develop commercials and short films with animated characters.

Leah Mallen

Title: Producer / Head of Development
Company: Reunion Pictures

Leah Mallen is an award-winning producer who has been making documentaries, feature films and television series for numerous years.  Accolades include the feature length, international co-production Best New Documentary awarded at the Zurich Film Festival in 2006, Hammer and Tickle, as well as the worldwide acclaimed documentary Coast Modern, which enjoyed a long theatrical run and top picks among digital views on iTunes and Vimeo. She served on the Hot Docs International Film Festival Board, and was the co-chair of the Documentary Organization of Canada’s BC Chapter for six years.  She was the Vice President of Screen Siren Pictures for several years, and helmed her own production company Twofold Films in Vancouver.  She now develops and produces content for Reunion Pictures, a Thunderbird company, known for its high quality mini series and series. Currently she is developing a new documentary film with the Coast Modern team for CBC called  Dense City . She attended the CFC in Toronto and Amsterdam’s Binger Film Lab, and currently sits on the board of Crazy8s. 


Mackenzie Lush

Title: Director, Creative Affairs
Company: Entertainment One Television

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As Director, Creative Affairs with Entertainment One Television, Mackenzie collaborates in the acquisition, development, and production of new Canadian series and international co-productions. During her time with eOne, she has worked on numerous scripted half hours, one hours and mini-series for CBC, CTV, Global, CityTV, ABC, Space, Starz, TMN and Movie Central and at present has over 24 shows in various stages of development. In addition, there are over a dozen series being developed in concert with Canadian and American co-producing partners including first-look deals with Seven24, Pier21 and Take the Shot, as well as eOne companies Force Four and Paperny Films. Most recently, Mackenzie has been involved in the development and production of The Code, a new P.I procedural for Global Television starring Jason Priestley, set to air in 2016. She has also served as the Associate Producer on the CBC MOW, Wishing Well from writer Sean Reycraft (The Vampire Diaries), and was involved in the development and production of eOne series including Bitten (Space/Syfy), Men With Brooms (CBC), and award-winning comedies Call Me Fitz (TMN/Movie Central/Direct TV), and Almost Heroes (Showcase/Hulu).

In addition, Mackenzie has served on advisory committees, panels and juries across Canada including the Toronto Screenwriting Conference, the imagineNATIVE Film & Media Festival, Film Nova Scotia Broadcaster/Distributor Forum, as well as the CSAs, the CFC, and many more. As part of the eOne scripted development team, Mackenzie is passionate about cultivating emerging and established Canadian talent in delivering exciting and diverse programming that reaches millions of viewers worldwide.

Matt Di Paola

Title: Managing Director, Digital Innovation
Company: Sid Lee

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With over 19 years of agency experience, Matt brings a culture-first leadership style to organizations with a focus on innovation, entrepreneurialism and digitally led thinking. Having worked across the spectrum of communications services, including PR & event marketing, traditional advertising, CRM, digital, UX and media, Matt applies that breadth of experience and advises clients holistically and objectively on their marketing problems. He has also worked across key verticals, including finance, consumer packaged goods, travel & tourism, technology, retail and automotive. These clients have allowed him the opportunity to work at the Global level, as well as service specific markets, including Canada, US, Hong Kong & Australia. His focus on the work has helped 3 different agencies win Agency of the Year as well as Cannes Lions, Best in Shows at the CMAs & FAB Awards, and LIAAs along with many other local awards. His entrepreneurialism has helped digital & media agencies evolve and introduce new Comms Planning models (across Paid, Owned & Earned), Business Intelligence & Analytics, Branded Entertainment, Mobile & Social Strategy specialties. Matt is an Executive Mentor with CFC's ideaBOOST start-up accelerator program, sits on the Advisory Board for Dx3, the Fundraising Committee for Toronto's Covenant House and was a Nominee for the 2012 Premier's Awards. He has been published in Strategy magazine and Media in Canada on Innovation. He has presented on Branded Entertainment at SXSW & Banff's nextMedia; MultiScreen Marketing with the AMA & Advertising Week; and the Future of Advertising & Media at Dx3, Schulich, Nielsen360, & Centennial College. In 2011, he was Executive Producer of the off broadway play, Quake in NYC and wrote, directed & produced The Grind in 2001's Toronto Fringe Festival.


Melanie Friesen

Title: Board Member
Company: Harold Greenberg Fund

Melanie Friesen began her career in London, England as a literary agent for film and television writers and directors. She was then appointed Creative Director of MGM/UA in the UK, finding material and talent for the studio, headed by Alan Ladd Jr. at the time. After two years in Los Angeles as Creative Director for Cineplex Odeon Films, she met Martin Scorsese who offered her the position of Head of Development with his company, Scorsese Productions, in New York. Melanie returned to Vancouver in 1994 to produce the Trade Forum at the Vancouver International Film Festival. She is also on the board of the Harold Greenberg Fund and has conducted pitching workshops in Luxembourg, Hungary, Wales, Mexico, and The Republic of Georgia and in Vancouver at Praxis and the Vancouver Film School. She is producer and presenter of Cinema Salon at the Vancity Theatre.

Morris Ruskin

Title: CEO
Company: Shoreline Entertainment

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Morris Ruskin is an independent film producer and CEO of Shoreline Entertainment. Shoreline is one of the longest running and most respected international sales agencies in the industry and has brought hundreds of films to market.

During the course of producing more than fifty films, Morris has structured deals that incorporate deferments, soft money and international co-productions in order to create financially-viable motion pictures. These productions focus on bankable genre content and star-driven projects that can secure success in a sometimes-uneven marketplace. Morris currently has three films in post-production: the horror-comedy from YouTube sensations Good Cops, Bloody Good Time, a romantic drama, Learning to Breathe, and the irreverent romantic comedy Alex & Eve

Notable amongst Morris’ earlier films are the modern classic Glengarry Glen Ross (Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey, Alan Arkin) which led to an Academy Award Nomination for Al Pacino; The Man from Elysian Fields (Andy Garcia, Mick Jagger, Angelica Huston); The Visit (nominated for four Spirit Awards) and Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing & Charm School (John Goodman, Marisa Tomei, Octavia Spencer, Robert Carlyle, Danny DeVito).  Morris is no stranger to the festival circuit having had films in the most distinguished festivals worldwide such as the Toronto International Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, and Sundance, where The Signal was sold in a multi-million dollar bidding war hours after the world premiere. 

Morris’ productions have spanned a variety of genres and locations, from a stereoscopic RealD 3D-animated film based on a comic book being released by Anchor Bay (The Amazing Adventures of the Living Corpse) to a wartime dark comedy starring Harvey Keitel and Gérard Depardieu (A Farewell to Fools). A documentary narrated by Jeff Bridges (Pablo), a co-production shot on location in China (Wushu Warrior) a comedy that was the opening night gala film at Slamdance (Weirdsville), an action thriller shot in India starring Harvey Keitel (Beeper), a heist crime caper starring Timothy Olyphant that premiered in The Berlin International Film Festival (High Life) and a South African feature dedicated to Morris’s mother (‘Master Harold’… And the Boys).

Moyra Rodger

Title: Founder & CEO
Company: Magnify Digital

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Moyra is a successful serial entrepreneur, an award-winning producer, and industry innovator. After her first business start-up at the age of sixteen, Moyra went on to develop and produce high impact prime time programming for every major network in Canada through her company Out To See Entertainment. Expanding to become an early adopter in the are of online audience engagement, Moyra created Magnify Digital, a strategy agency specializing in products and services that enable content creators and businesses to create purposeful, powerful and measurable online footprints. Moyra and the Magnify team pioneered ALERT® TV+, a first-of-its-kind interactive system that arms users with data and meaningful insights so they can find, engage, and monetize target audiences online. Recognized as a thought leader in the areas of audience engagement strategy and cross-platform content, Moyra is a sought after consultant, speaker and business mentor.

Nick Soares

Title: CEO
Company: Distribber

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Nick Soares is the CEO of Distribber, a GoDigital, Inc. film distribution company that delivers content to Netflix, iTunes, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and others, while allowing the filmmaker to keep 100% of the revenue. Prior to Distribber, Nick founded Digi Distribution where he oversaw the development of sales tracking software that enabled filmmakers to gain transparency with their distribution data. Nick Soares is also the founder of a filmmaking community called Filmmaker Forum and he has produced several feature films.

Nimisha Mukerji

Title: Director
Company: Tempest Storm

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An award-winning director, Nimisha Mukerji’s debut feature 65_RedRoses was one of the first official selections for Oprah Winfrey’s Documentary Club on OWN. Distributed by PBS International, Ro*co (US) and Hellocoolworld (Canada) the film is currently available on Netflix, iTunes and through the NFB online. Nimisha’s second feature Blood Relative was produced for Knowledge Network and screened in competition at Hot Docs ’13, winning Audience Awards in Vancouver, New York and Paris before receiving 3 Canadian Screen Award nominations including Best Direction in a Documentary Program (her second nomination in that category). She has been a series director for National Geographic and is an alumnus of TIFF’s Talent Lab. Nimisha sits on the boards of DOC National and POV Magazine. She was the 2015 DGC recipient of the Women In Film Toronto Mentorship Award and the 2015 UBC Young Alumnus Award. Her latest feature Tempest Storm will be releasing in the spring of 2016 and is being produced with Super Channel, ARTE and SWR for distribution by Mongrel Media (Canada). 

Patricia Rozema

Title: Writer/Director
Company: Into the Forest

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Patricia Rozema’s films, though varied in style and content, have always been marked by a humane and tender sensibility. Described as “so fresh, so funny, it amazes the heart” to “visually sensuous” and “wryly sophisticated,” her work invariably shows social prescience and deep humanity. She is a director and writer, known for Mansfield Park (1999), When Night Is Falling (1995) and I've Heard the Mermaids Singing (1987). Rozema co-wrote Grey Gardens for HBO starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange. She received an Emmy nomination, a Writer’s Guild nomination, a PEN USA award. Other television credits include the pilot and several episodes of the groundbreaking sexually explicit Tell Me You Love Me (2008) with Jane Alexander, Adam Scott, Luke Kirby and, an episode of the critically acclaimed HBO series In Treatment (2010) starring Gabriel Byrne and Debra Winger. Rozema has just completed adapting and directing the feature film Into the Forest, (2015) with Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood, Max Minghella, Callum Keith Rennie & Wendy Crewson, a story about two sisters surviving in the forest when all power has gone out for reasons unknown (produced by Ellen Page, Kelly Bush, Niv Fichman & Aaron Gilbert).

Rachel Langer

Title: Writer
Company: This Life

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Rachel Langer got her start writing for docudrama and freelancing for various publications including TV, Eh?. She transitioned into scripted content with the creation of the digital sci-fi series "Aeternus", which she co-wrote and produced. Aeternus has screened in LA, Vancouver and London and has won multiple awards. Rachel was a recipient of the Bell Media National Fellowship in 2012. She gained scripted experience as a writer’s assistant on Continuum season three and Olympus season one. In 2014 she attended the Canadian Film Centre’s Prime Time Television Program, and is now writing for the CBC drama This Life as well as Mainframe Entertainment's Reboot: The Guardian Code. Rachel co-owns a digital production company alongside Aeternus producers Derek Langer and Daniel Kilby, and is currently in development on a new digital project.

Raul Inglis

Title: Writer/Story Editor
Company: Continuum, Insomnia

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Mr Inglis commenced his directorial and writing career in theatre. His critically acclaimed play In The Eyes of God was published by Talon books in 2007. Other plays include: FOR WHAT WE REAP, COP PLAY, WALTER, and SURVEILLANCE.
His produced screenplays include The Final Cut, The RED DRESS, Icarus, SUDDENLY, Vice, and most recently AMERICAN HEIST starring Adrien Brody and Hayden Christensen.

The Falling was Inglis' feature film directorial debut. He was nominated for the Claude Jutra Award for Best First Time Director, The City TV Award for Best First Director at the Toronto Film Festival, and the Best First and Second Film Award at the Chicago Film Festival. His second feature film, Vice, premiered at the world famous Grauman’s Chinese theatre in Los Angeles and opened theatrically in the US and Canada. Dennis Hopper called the film “One of the best cop films I have seen”.
To promote the 2010 Winter Olympics, Inglis was commissioned to produce and direct the short film, DUET which was also screened in Berlin and across the U.K.
His third film, TRANSPARENCY, starred Lou Diamond Phillips, Estella Warren and Deborah Kara Unger. It won best director and editor at the 2011 Leo awards.
In television, Inglis has worked in animation, comedy, action, and Sci-fi. He worked in the writer’s room on season two of CONTINUUM as writer and story editor.
Recently, Inglis just completed being senior story editor and writer on the TV show INSOMNIA that completed shooting in Moscow this last summer.

Ryan Nadel

Title: Executive VP
Company: Twenty Year Media Inc.

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Ryan Nadel is the Executive VP of 20 Year Media is a media and technology company developing advanced technologies for the entertainment and motion picture sector. TYM owns and operates Emerging Pictures, a US-based all-digital film and alternative content network of movie theaters. Using data and social media analysis together with seamless digital delivery to theaters, the Emerging Pictures platform enables content owners and exhibitors to be more effective and innovative in their distribution strategies and programming decisions. Emerging Pictures works with content and data partners such as Sony Pictures Classics, The Weinstein Company, Magnolia Pictures, IFC, and Vimeo to maximize the value of their content. Recent releases include, Sony's Oscar winner Whiplash, IFC's acclaimed Boyhood, Weinstein Company's horror hit It Follows, and Vimeo's upcoming documentary about the death of Kurt Cobain, Soaked In Bleach.

S. Siobhan McCarthy

Title: Co-creator/Executive Producer
Company: PARKED

Award winning film and web series producer, S. Siobhan McCarthy, is the CEO and Executive Producer of blyssful PRODUCTIONS and red trike media inc. She is the co-creator, Executive Producer and Showrunner of the award-winning IPF funded web series Parked. Down Here, her first feature film, premiered at the 2013 Whistler Film Festival. As an innovative, transdisciplinary artist and educator, Siobhan also produced WAM, BC’s first international disability media festival through Kickstart Disability Arts when she was the Co-Artistic Director. Whilst she was there she Executive Produced five short films including Will, that won the Golden Sheaf at the 2013 Yorkton Film Festival and Patience and Absurdity, which represented Canada at the Paralympics Games in London in 2012. Siobhan has been the Production Manager of the Vancouver International Film Festival Forum for over almost two decades. She has a slate of film, television, and web properties in development including the Bravo Fact, The Kiss Goodnight which she will produce November 2015 and the feature film, Glendale an inter-provincial co-production that she will direct and produce in 2016. In 2014 she was chosen as a Bell Media National Fellow and won the WIFT Banff Scholarship.  

You can follow Siobhan @siobhanisblyss 

Selena Paskalidis

Title: Co-Founder & CFO/CMO Partner
Company: Dotstudioz

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Selena Paskalidis has more than 10 years of experience in film, television and digital production, as well as creating financial and operational business models in tech and entertainment. At Dotstudioz, she deals with all aspects of the business and manages Dotstudioz’s financials, as well as the marketing strategy and content creation. Paskalidis is a highly accomplished filmmaker, and worked her way up very quickly in Canada’s film, television and digital industries.  She started her career as Head of Business Affairs in long form drama, and moved effortlessly in to development before taking the reins in production. In 2013, Paskalidis has worked with companies such as the Food Network, History Channel, Women’s Network, National Film Board of Canada and the Discovery Network. She has also developed and produced feature length films in conjunction with Telefilm Canada and her current film John Apple Jack will be screening in September at the California Independent Film Festival. 

Paskalidis loves being thrown out of her element, and feels this is when she learns the most and grows as a person. She believes that in order to be a Producer, one needs to understand the business side of finance, marketing and distribution. Her hobbies include basketball, cooking and international travel. She has a BComm in International Business & Marketing, and holds a special place in her heart for Excel. 

Twitter: @salsapasks |" target="_blank">LinkedIn

Simon Davis Barry

Title: Creator/Executive Producer
Company: Continuum

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Simon is the Creator/Executive Producer/Show-Runner of the top rated and award winning series Continuum, now in its fourth season on Showcase, SyFy and Netflix. Continuum has been sold in 133 countries world wide and has been nominated for more than 40 major TV awards. Simon’s writing and directing work on the series has been recognized by the WGC and DGC with guild award nominations. Over the last 20 years, Simon has sold Film and TV projects to Warner Bros, DreamWorks, Universal, Columbia, Working Title, CBS, FOX, FX, TNT, USA, WGN, Bell, Shaw and many independent companies. Feature film credits Include Warner Bros, The Art of War. Simon is a graduate of the UBC Film and Television Degree Program and a member of the WGA, WGC, DGC and IATSE (Camera).

Stephanie Ouaknine

Title: Producer
Company: Carmilla

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As a producer for Smokebomb Entertainment, Steph specializes in the development and production of digital series, multi-platform transmedia properties, emerging business models and online audience engagement. She has recently developed and produced two seasons (or 72 episodes) of Carmilla, a digital vampire dramedy entirely financed by U by Kotex, which has surpassed 25 million views, brought over 130,000 subscribers to our YouTube channel VerveGirlTV, and become a worldwide phenomenon with an enthralled and passionate fandom.
Steph has also produced  two seasons of MsLabelled for Schick Quattro & Shaw Media, the companion webseries to CTV's The Listener as well as the 3D motion comic State of Syn for HULU, and the upcoming 34 episode genre digital series Inhuman Condition. She runs No Exit Theatre Company by night, which incorporates new media and projection design on stage. The company recently toured Jennifer Tremblay's The List, starring Torri Higginson bringing it from Toronto's Artisan Factory to Theatre La Chapelle's 13-14 season in Montreal.

Tim Carter

Title: Writer/Producer
Company: Dead Rising: Watchtower

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Tim is a writer and producer with extensive experience in live-action and video games. He broke into the game adaptation world with the groundbreaking digital series MORTAL KOMBAT: LEGACY (Warner Brothers), then followed it up with DEAD RISING: WATCHTOWER (Legendary Pictures). He recently produced the reboot of ELECTRA WOMAN AND DYNA GIRL, also for Legendary. 

Tim is also an acclaimed writer and creator of video game IP, working on titles such as SLEEPING DOGS, SPLINTER CELL, and NEED FOR SPEED

Through his company, Contradiction, he has a production and overhead deal with Legendary Pictures, where he is developing a wide variety of fanboy content including numerous game titles.

Tim Goodman

Title: Chief TV Critic
Company: The Hollywood Reporter

Tony Pantages

Title: Director
Company: Three Days in Havana

At 17, Tony Pantages was the youngest member of the fledgling Vancouver Theatresports League before moving south to study acting full time alongside Sean Penn, Matthew Broderick, Crispin Glover, Lillian Tomlin and Meg Ryan under famed teacher, Peggy Feury in LA. At 27, he became the assistant to oscar-winning director John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy, Marathon Man). Tony’s music videos for acts like Sarah McLachlan, INXS, and 54•40 have received trophies and nominations for MMVA, MTV, and Juno awards. Along with co-creator Gil Bellows, his feature directorial debut 3 Days in Havana won best cinematography at the 2013 Leo awards. His acting credits span over three decades including his recent portrayal of Canadian photographer Lincoln Clarkes in Rachel Talalay’s anticipated Full Flood.

Victor Lucas

Title: CEO/Founder
Company: EP Media Ltd.

Warren Littlefield

Title: Executive Producer
Company: Fargo

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Warren Littlefield is the founder and President of The Littlefield Company which represents the latest chapter in his television career. He serves as executive producer on FX’s television adaptation of the Academy Award®-winning feature film, Fargo, alongside Noah Hawley, and Joel and Ethan Coen. Under his production banner, Littlefield has produced six primetime television series including the innovative documentary series My Generation and the critically acclaimed Keen Eddie. His development slate includes comedy and drama for both network and cable. Littlefield had a history-making two decade career at NBC where, under his watch as President of the Entertainment Division, the network won an amazing 168 Emmy® Awards. In this role, he oversaw the development and production of NBC’s primetime, late night and Saturday-morning entertainment programming. During his last three seasons with the network, NBC sold an industry record $6.5 billion in primetime advertising – $2 billion more than its closest competitor. While at NBC, Littlefield was responsible for developing many of the series that defined quality programming. As head of the comedy department he developed The Cosby Show, The Golden Girls, Alf and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. In his last four years, Littlefield orchestrated a renaissance at NBC and a return to first place in the ratings race, fueled by a long roster of hit series that he developed. They included: Seinfeld, ER, Friends, Frasier, Mad About You, Just Shoot Me, 3rd Rock From the Sun, NewsRadio, Homicide: Life on the Street and Law & Order. In his final year at NBC, he supervised the development of Will & Grace, Providence and The West Wing.

Zach Lipovsky

Title: Director
Company: Dead Rising: Watchtower

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