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2016 Keynote Speakers
Vancouver Web Fest was honored to have the following Keynote Speakers for the 2016 festival. Buy your tickets to the festival here.

Keynote Speaker
Saturday March 19, 2:10pm - 3:10pm
New Form Digital

New Form Digital is an independent venture between Discovery Communications, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Craig Jacobson, Ed Wilson, Jim Wiatt, Michael Rosenberg and CAA. It is the leader in Scripted Digital Originals, creating cinematic content for release on digital platforms

Melissa Schneider
Santa Monica, USA
SVP Development and Production

Melissa Schneider is the head of series and current scripted development, while overseeing all aspects of series and pilot production for New Form Digital. With an extensive background in both digital and traditional media, Schneider bridges the gap by working closely with digital and established talent to develop episodic and serialized stories that will resonate with audiences on emerging digital platforms.

In little over a year at New Form, she has developed and launched 25 pilots, with 18 series orders launching over 2015/2016. She executive produced Oscar’s Hotel for Fantastical Creatures, a co-production with The Jim Henson Creature Shop, featuring Chris Kendall, Grace Helbig, Mamrie Hart, Hannah Hart, PewdiePie, Patrick Stewart and Alfred Molina.

Prior to joining New Form, Schneider was SVP of creative development at the Collective Digital Studios (CDS) and spearheaded the YouTube strategy and programming for Mashable’s YouTube channel, in addition to working closely with CDS’s top digital talent (Hannah Hart, Lilly Singh, Elliott Morgan), to create original scripted IP. Before that, Schneider worked for Jeffery Katzenberg and Charles Segars as the executive in charge of production at Dreamworks Animation’s exclusive series with YouTube, YouTube Nation. While there, Schneider built a top-of-the-line studio and oversaw daily production operations for over 40 full time employees and worked closely with the DreamWorks and YouTube creative teams to execute the project’s vision.

Previously, Schneider was the director of development and production at My Damn Channel, where she created and oversaw the first daily live comedy show on YouTube, My Damn Channel Live, hosted by Grace Helbig, with over 200 episodes. And as the director of production at Digital Broadcasting Group, Schneider specialized in branded entertainment for the digital space, working with top tier brands such as McDonald’s, Toyota, Heineken, Dentine, and Dell. Schneider has been developing and producing content for the digital space since 2009 and her work has been nominated and won Streamys, Webbys and IAWTV awards. She started her career as a writer’s assistant for The Sopranos, working for David Chase, Terence Winter, Matthew Weiner and Ilene Landress.

Schneider is an alum of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. She currently resides in Los Angeles.

Keynote Speaker
Sunday March 20, 2:10pm - 3:10pm
Bernie Su
California, USA
Writer, Director

Bernie Su is a two-time Primetime Emmy Award-winning writer, director, and multi-platform storyteller. In 2013 he co-created “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries,” an interactive adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, which earned the first Primetime Emmy Award for a YouTube distributed series. In 2015 he won his second Emmy with the series “Emma Approved,” a five-platform interactive re-imagination of Austen’s novel Emma.

In 2014 he was named Creator of the Year by Video Ink News, when he executive produced “Emma Approved”, the gender-bending science drama “Frankenstein, MD” for PBS Digital Studios, and published “The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet” with Simon & Schuster, a book based on the web series based on the book.

His most recently co-founded Canvas Media Studios which launched with, “Vanity." A revenge drama set in the world of fashion and beauty. The series was StyleHaul’s first original online series, with Maybelline New York attached as the exclusive sponsor.

Special Guests
Jessica Valentine
California, USA

Jessica was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, but has resided in the USA for the past eight years. She began performing at an early age in theater and film and enjoyed the creative process of acting, but was also fascinated by the vast opportunities that exist behind the camera. It was this interest that drove her to make-up school where she studied to become a special effects artist. Her skill and dedication earned Jessica her first feature credit just days before graduating. It was on this production that she was exposed to the many different jobs and departments that go into making a production come to life. Soon afterwards she joined the crew of the TV series “Supernatural”, working in the locations department while pursuing special effects jobs. Jessica’s ambitions grew and before her twenty-first birthday she produced her first feature film. Numerous shorts and commercials soon followed on which she served as everything from a makeup artist, story developer, post-supervisor, editor and production coordinator. This period in her career was very valuable as it’s where she learned about the business of film, budgeting, marketing, etc. In 2013 everything changed when she decided to face her fears about her dyslexia, this anvil of a secret she had been carrying around for years, and began writing her own projects. She knew she needed to do this if she ever wanted to pursue her real dream of directing. Jessica took a leap of faith that winter and submitted to the Jameson First Shot film competition founded by Kevin Spacey and Dana Brunetti. Out of hundreds of submissions, her original screenplay and treatment earned her the US winner title and her directorial debut. Soon, she was in Los Angeles directing Uma Thurman in JUMP!. Though she never attended any schools outside of studying makeup, she has been very lucky to have incredible mentors such as her husband, Richard Valentine, who is an accomplished writer and director. Additionally Jessica spends a lot of time learning through online programs and by watching others.

“Probably due to my dyslexia I am a very visual person, which I use to my advantage in filmmaking. My approach to storytelling is always balancing the visuals to match the story, never letting one outshine the other. I use music as inspiration to find the story and build a temporary soundtrack to which I write. Music is mathematical, so using it to write gives me something like a map that I can follow for the beats of a scene or a sequence. I’m always striving for that rollercoaster effect we all love to experience as a viewer. For me, using music I find makes it feel more organic rather than using rigid structures. Being that I have held so many positions, in the industry, I feel I have a healthy understanding and respect for everyone and the jobs that they do. I love collaborating, creating and working with fellow artists and professionals because when it comes down to it, whether I’m watching them or making them, I simply love movies.” - Jessica Valentine

Since making JUMP!, Jessica and her creative partner/husband, Richard, co-developed a television pilot script, which has won a screenwriting award and is currently being shopped. More pressing is that for the past year she and Richard have been researching and co-writing a historical feature film project which has already been pitched. The screenplay is set to be delivered in early summer of this year.

David Lynch
Calgary, Canada

From Fermoy, Co. Cork, Ireland, David started his Jameson Career far from Vancouver in Madrid Spain. There, he worked closely on the NOTODO Film Festival, a Spanish Film competition and Festival Where every year, thousands submit 30 second, 3.30 short films (stemming from the idea of triple distillation).

Today, David lives in Calgary Alberta and has represented until recently Jameson in Western Canada. He is no stranger to the arts previously acting in various plays and Musicals in Ireland.

‘These festivals that remind me of that buzz, the butterflies in your stomach. It’s hard to say I know more passionate people than those that write, create and take part in the art of Theatre and Film. It’s a pleasure to be here and I cannot wait to speak to you all on the amazing, Jameson First shot.'

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