Penn Film and Media Pioneers West: Get your tickets! (LA, 3/15)

Penn Film & Media PioneersPenn Film and Media Pioneers – West

Join Penn Alumni, Penn Parents and Penn students at this afternoon event bringing Penn Cinema Studies to Los Angeles. Panels featuring Cinema Studies faculty and local alumni will discuss issues in the entertainment industry today.

Saturday, March 15, 2014
1:00 – 5:00 PM
Hosted by
Doug Belgrad, C’87, PAR’15, PAR’17 & Christine Belgrad, W’87, PAR’15, PAR’17

Sony Studios
Culver City, CA

Register here

  • Current students: Free
  • Young Alumni: $10 (undergraduates 0 – 10 years since graduation):
  • Alumni and Parents $20

Attendee list here



1:00 – 1:30 PM Registration and Mingling

1:30 – 1:45 PM Welcome
Doug Belgrad C’87, PAR’15, PAR’17
President, Columbia Pictures
Peter Decherney
Professor of English and Cinema Studies, University of Pennsylvania

1:45 – 2:45 PM Panel – Writing in the Digital Age
Moderator: Tim Corrigan
Professor of English and Cinema Studies, University of Pennsylvania

Alex Toumayan, C’11
Creative Director, Omnia Media

Kathy DeMarco Van Cleve, C’88, W’88
novelist, screenwriter, film producer

2:45 – 3:00 PM Break

3:00 – 4:00 PM Panel – The Producer as Artist
Moderator: Peter Decherney

Stacey Snider C’82
Partner, Co-Chairman, and CEO of DreamWorks Studios

Marc Platt C’79, PAR’05, PAR’08, PAR’12
Producer, Marc Platt Productions

4:00 – 5:00 PM Reception

Seating is limited.



Penn Pioneers West is a half-day conference in Los Angeles that grew out of the biennial Penn Film and Media Pioneers Conference that has been organized at Penn every other fall since 2006. The first Penn Film and Media Pioneers conference in October 2006 celebrated the new Cinema Studies major at Penn (begun in 2004) and connected the new major to a long tradition of film and media history, theory, and production at Penn. The conference featured scholars, practitioners, and industry professionals who spoke on topics ranging from 19th century film pioneer Edweard Muybridge (who taught at Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine), alumus and broadcast visionary William Paley, and faculty member and founder of the New York Film Festival Amos Vogel, among others.

The Pioneers conference has since been held every other year on Family Weekend. Penn students, faculty, and alumni come together to talk about their careers and their current projects. Students have spoken about films they have made or archival projects they have undertaken. Faculty have presented new research and media policy advocacy. Both young and more senior alumni have talked about their careers and the state of the media industry. The conference has helped to create a network of Penn media artists and professionals, who regularly return to campus to speak with students and who have helped guide the careers of Penn students through internships or advice.


Writing in the Digital Age
The media landscape is changing quickly. YouTube promotes short form web content, Netflix releases entire television seasons for binge consumption, and transmedia narratives unfold across films, games, and the web. Is the art of storytelling changing? What are the new challenges for writers?

The Producer as Artist
Producers accept the best picture Oscar, but what role do producers and studio executives play in shaping the art of film and television? Some producers are involved in all aspects of production, but their contributions often stretch far beyond the decisions that go into the making of individual films and television shows. Pursuing innovative financing, assessing new markets, and managing the many complex moving parts of production, distribution, and exhibition is an art of its own. What makes a great producer and who have been Hollywood’s visionary producers?


Timothy Corrigan is a Professor of English and Cinema Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His work in Cinema Studies has focused on modern American and contemporary international cinema. He received a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame, and completed graduate work at the University of Leeds, Emory University, and the University of Paris III. Books include New German Film: The Displaced Image (Indiana UP), The Films of Werner Herzog: Between Mirage and History (Routledge), Writing about Film (9th ed., Longman/Pearson), A Cinema without Walls: Movies and Culture after Vietnam (Routledge/Rutgers UP), Film and Literature: An Introduction and Reader (2nd ed., Routledge), The Film Experience (4th ed., Bedford/St. Martin’s), Critical Visions: Readings in Classic and Contemporary Film Theory (Bedford/St. Martin’s, both co-authored with Patricia White), American Cinema of the 2000s (Rutgers UP), and The Essay Film: From Montaigne, After Marker (Oxford UP), winner of the 2012 Katherine Singer Kovács Award for the outstanding book in film and media studies. He has published essays in Film Quarterly, Discourse, and Cinema Journal, among other collections, and is also an editor of the journal Adaptation. In 2014 he received the Society for Cinema and Media Studies Award for Outstanding Pedagogical Achievement.

Peter Decherney is Professor of Cinema Studies and English and Director of the Cinema Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania. He also holds a secondary appointment at the Annenberg School for Communication, and he is a faculty affiliate of the Center for Technology, Innovation, and Competition at Penn Law School. Prof. Decherney is the author of Hollywood’s Copyright Wars: From Edison to the Internet and Hollywood and the Culture Elite: How the Movies Became American, as well as the co-editor of the journal Critical Studies in Media Communication and co-editor of the forthcoming book Iran Cinema in a Global Context. He has testified before the Copyright Office of the United States, and in 2011 he filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court Case of Golan v. Holder. Prof. Decherney has been an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Scholar and a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies.

Alex Toumayan, C’11, is the creative director of Omnia Media, a next-generation media company focused on helping global brands maximize the power of online video. He is in charge of helping YouTube channels optimize their content, while also packaging ad-integration campaigns to connect brands to their audience. Previously, he worked for Machinima, where he ran one of their most successful YouTube channels. At Machinima, he became an expert in developing content for the web, producing all the series that aired on the channel. Alex graduated magna cum laude from Penn in 2011, where he studied Cinema Studies and Consumer Psychology.

Register here

Attendee list here


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