SPEAKERS

Maureen Bharoocha

Maureen Bharoocha is a Los Angeles-based writer/director. She recently directed her third feature film, the arm wrestling comedy, GOLDEN ARM. It was set to screen at SXSW 2020 but sold to HBO and premiered in 2021. Maureen is currently writing a new horror-comedy feature that she’ll also direct, TINA’S 40TH BIRTHDAY PARTY, with Mary Holland and Betsy Sodaro which is in development with Sharon Horgan’s Merman. On the TV side, Maureen is pitching a comedy pilot with her brother comedian Ahmed and Kahlea Baldwin the EP of Adult Swim’s Dream Corp LLC. She has also directed episodes of DRAMA CLUB, CRANK YANKERS, and later this year SAVED BY THE BELL. Maureen recently wrapped on EDITH, a podcast for QCODE starring Rosamund Pike which will be released this summer. Prior to this Maureen was a segment director on Jimmy Kimmel Live! for three seasons.

 

Maureen started her career with her short film, Abajee (shot on the streets of Karachi) which premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2009. Maureen was then commissioned by Sprinkles Cupcakes to create a film series in which she wrote and directed 10 shorts based on their cupcake flavors. Maureen is half Irish Catholic and half Indian/Pakistani/Burmese Muslim and because of her mixed background, she enjoys telling stories about complicated characters and mixing genres. She is a master of tone.  Maureen was named one of Indie Wire’s Rising Female Directors  of 2020,  she was on HBO’s 2018 Director’s List, and nominated for the SXSW 2020 Adam Yauch Hörnblowér Visionary directing Award. Maureen has also been chosen to participate in NBC’s 2020 Female Forward program. 

Lena TH.png

Lena is a writer and director. Her first feature film, THE TIGER HUNTER, was released in over 70 cities nationwide and garnered effusively positive reviews from The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and more. Fresh off of her first film, Disney tapped Lena to direct FLORA AND ULYSSES, a live-action family comedy, that was released this year and was among the top streamed movies in the world for multiple weeks. She recently filmed several episodes of Mindy Kaling's Netflix Show, "Never Have I Ever" and is now working on several features and television projects, including a show she recently sold and a feature passion project she is incredibly excited about.

Josephine Green Zhang

Born in Pasadena, California, and raised by a single Taiwanese immigrant mother, Josephine was lucky todiscover her passion as a storyteller through loving reading and joining her high school drama club. The youngest of four kids, her whole family hoped she would grow out of this artsy phase and basically become a crime-fighting nun with a law degree --- but instead, Josephine turned her passion for acting into writing and filmmaking.

 

She went on to graduate with a B.A. in directing and an MFA in screenwriting, both at UCLA. She has been an artistic fellow on the micro-budget side in Film Independent’s Project: Involve and on the studio feature side in the Universal Writers program. Josephine aspires to create stories which empower characters to rise above their circumstances and create their own happy endings– with a special focus on misfits and flawed, funny women. She also hosts many episodes of the WGA's podcast, Third and Fairfax -- interviewing TV and feature screenwriters about the work behind the scenes. Josephine just wrapped as a staff writer on Season 2 of FIRST WIVES CLUB on BET+ and is currently developing an animated kung fu fantasy TV series for Netflix.

Anu Valia

Anu Valia is a writer/director whose roots are in India and Indiana. A graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, Anu's award-winning short films have been screened around the world. Her short film, LUCIA, BEFORE AND AFTER premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and was awarded the Short Film Jury Award for US Fiction

Anu’s TV directing credits include SHRILL(Hulu), LOVE LIFE (HBO Max), multiple episodes of NEVER HAVE I EVER (Netflix), MIXED-ISH (ABC), AP BIO (Peacock), LOVE VICTOR (Hulu), AT HOME WITH AMY SEDARIS (TruTV), FIRST WIVES CLUB (BET+), and multiple episodes of AWKWAFINA IS NORA FROM QUEENS, THE OTHER TWO, and ROBBIE (Comedy Central). She is slated to direct episodes of Marvel & Disney+'s SHE HULK next summer.

She is currently in development on her feature film, WE STRANGERS, produced by Vice and Cinereach.

Lara Everly

Lara Everly is a director who celebrates female-driven content and dark comedy. She loves bringing comedy to unexpected topics, exploring the delicate balance where comedy meets drama – whether it’s teaching a stand up and improv workshop to female inmates in her doc FREE TO LAUGH or pointing out the crazy questions parent ask before a playdate but forgetting to ask about guns in the house in her viral Scary Mommy video THE PLAYDATE or the original pilot she wrote CHILD OF MINE exploring the aftermath of donating unused embryos that was a finalist at the Sundance episodic lab and the Slamdance screenplay competition.

She was selected for NBC’s Female Forward and is excited to direct an episode of GOOD GIRLS. She just wrapped shooting a comedic pilot presentation starring Geena Davis entitled I CAN BY FRIDAY and a Netflix Family doc series called LIKE A MOTHER about working moms making in-roads in male dominated careers which was born out of a branded video Lara directed for Netflix showcasing mothers in the entertainment industry which garnered 16 million views. She’s currently on production directing a 12-episode comedic doc series about animal entrepreneurs called WAGS TO RICHES.

As a filmmaker, her narrative films and documentaries have played the film festival circuit, including Santa Barbara, Napa, Austin, Bentonville, Vail and the year-long Lunafest, winning awards and procuring distribution on Amazon, iTunes and New Wave Entertainment. Everly has written and directed for a range of platforms including Disney, Netflix Family, Refinery29, Scary Mommy, Oprah, Funny or Die, Awestruck, Swing Left, Acronym, Babycenter and more.

Her directing has been commissioned for broadcast commercials and high-profile brands including Walmart, Little Tikes, Fellow Americans, Bloomlife, Schwarzkopf, Geico, Diono and several fashion lines.

When she is not wrangling a cast and crew, she’s wrangling her children and rescue pets, which she would like to relay is often the harder job. She is repped by Gersh and Echo Lake Entertainment.

Cora Atkinson

Cora Atkinson is an award-winning producer and filmmaker. She is the Co-Producer of the film Summer of Soul (…or When the Revolution Couldn’t Be Televised) (Sundance Award 2021 - Audience Award and Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary.)

Her many years of experience in the film and television industry have afforded her the opportunity to work with some of the world's top media companies such as RadicalMedia, VICELAND, Discovery, National Geographic, and Viacom. She led the production for two short films for RadicalMedia/Annenberg Space for Photography's Contact High, which celebrates hip-hop photography, and Vanity Fair: Hollywood Calling which showcases the iconic imagery and stories behind the sartorial photography of its pages. Cora also produced the award-winning independent documentary film “Don’t Be Nice”, chronicling the lives of 5 young Black and Afro-Latino poets protesting the status quo and competing for the National Poetry Slam.

She also produced and managed the Viceland series and cult favorite Balls Deep. One of the highlights of the series was producing an episode featuring the First Lady of the United States of America Mrs. Michelle Obama. The episode also followed homeless veterans finding permanent housing due to the first lady’s initiative surrounding veterans and ending homelessness.

Felicity Wren is the VP of Development at the ISA. Originally from London, she studied all areas of performance: writing, directing, acting technique, and script analysis for her Honors and then Masters Degrees. She then formed her own Production Company: Unrestricted View concentrating on theatre, new writing, and comedy at their performance venue - The Hen & Chickens Theatre in London. Since moving to Los Angeles over a decade ago, she has continued acting, writing, and producing, winning five performance awards, and producing fourteen film projects to date.

Felicity’s focus with the ISA is to head up the Development Team, championing their top tier writers, providing support, opportunity, and development guidance whilst making introductions to many of the Producers, Studio Heads, and Distribution platforms the team has had the pleasure to meet. Felicity is also the Co-VP of Development for Creative Screenwriter Productions, and they are actively shopping the nine projects on their slate. Felicity has a passion for stories and storytellers.