The Digital Hollywood Experience

The Digital Hollywood Experience


Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

2:15 PM - 3:30 PM

Track III: Herscher Hall, 3rd Floor, Room 303-304, Live Webcast

Working in the Industry: An In-Depth Discussion with Executives and Creatives from TV, Film and Technology

Simone Nelson, Managing Director, The CSU Entertainment Alliance, Moderator

Shannon Flynn, Television Director, Nickelodeon, The Disney Channel

Gretchen McCourt, Executive Vice President, Cinema Programming and Communications, ArcLight Cinemas

Heather Marion, Writer ("Better Call Saul”)
Evette Vargas, Writer, Director, Producer, Multiplatform and VR Creator

Darlene Hunt, Actor/Writer Producer (“Good Girls Revolt,” “The Big C,” “I Heart Huckabees”)

Gregg Katano, VR Ambassador, MaiTaiGlobal & Partner/Chief Business Strategist, Unofficial Cardboard, Inc


Simone Nelson, Managing Director, The CSU Entertainment Alliance, Moderator: Simone Nelson has developed and produced films, theater productions, festivals, and digital media entertainment start-ups for more than 20 years. She’s worked with, among others, the former head of Disney Studios & Theatricals Peter Schneider; filmmaker/writer Rebecca Miller and actor Daniel Day Lewis; Forensic Films; Film Arts Foundation; the Mill Valley Film Festival/California Film Institute; the Global Film Initiative; San Francisco Opera; The

 International Festival of Arts & Ideas and London’s famed Royal Court Theatre & Shakespeare’s Globe. More recently she produced the Berlin Film Festival award-winning documentary City of Borders; was a two-term President of Bay Area Women in Film & Media; served as head of distribution & partnerships for Webby Awards founder/filmmaker Tiffany Shlain’s Moxie Institute Film Studio; and as managing director of the inaugural Social Change Film Festival in Bali, Indonesia. Besides her work for CSU, Simone is a producer for Richard Branson’s Virgin Disruptors and a new narrative feature film, The Last Black Man in San Francisco. Simone is also a strategic communications & creative development consultant working at the cross section of entertainment and technology. She is skilled at crafting innovative, engaging & high impact new & traditional media funding, marketing, publicity, & distribution strategies across multiple platforms & channels generating increased presence, audience share & revenue. Simone trained as an actor and has performed in venues all over the U.S. and abroad in musicals, plays and as the lead singer of several bands.  She’s taught producing, acting and directing at The Art Institute of CA–San Francisco sand has trained at New York’s American Academy of Dramatic Arts, The Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute and the British American Drama Academy in London, England.  She graduated from Northwestern University with a B.S. in Theater and has an MFA from Yale University’s Graduate School of Drama.


Gretchen McCourt, Executive Vice President, Cinema Programming and Communications, ArcLight Cinemas: Gretchen McCourt is the Executive Vice President of Cinema Programming of Pacific Theatres Entertainment Corporation. In her role, she oversees all film programming, marketing and communications of ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres, including mainstream and art film selection, specialty event programming, site rentals, studio relationships, marketing partnerships and public relations. Gretchen also plays a key role in new theater site selection. During her tenure at ArcLight, Gretchen has developed key initiatives that have supported the brand’s commitment to the arts and entertainment including its involvement with the Women in Film organization and Slamdance.  She is the founder and content curator for the bi-annual ArcLight DocFest that takes place in May and October. Most recently, Gretchen has led the charge on introducing the ArcLight brand into three new key markets in its national expansion while continuing to grow the brand in its hometown of Los Angeles. Prior to joining Decurion in 2007, Gretchen was Executive Vice President and Head Film Buyer at AMC Entertainment, overseeing the film and marketing of 350+ theatres across the US and Canada.  She spent 19 years in various roles at AMC. Gretchen received her bachelor’s degree in Economics from Washburn University.  She resides in Los Angeles with her husband and four children.


Heather Marion is originally from Superior, Nebraska, where she lived and worked in her family's funeral home. She attended Concordia University – Nebraska, majoring in Biochemistry, with the intent to dominate the mortuary empire. During a New York City exchange program, Heather became involved in theatre, both writing and acting. She completed improvisational, stand-°©‐up, and sketch comedy training at Upright Citizens Brigade, Comedy Cellar, and Magnet Theater before ditching her embalming tools and moving to Los Angeles to pursue screenwriting. After working as a development intern for Laura Ziskin, Heather became Executive Assistant to Jill Soloway, showrunner of Diablo Cody’s United States of Tara (Showtime) and co-°©‐showrunner of How to Make it in America (HBO). Heather then worked as Executive and Writer’s Assistant to Jeff Garlin during his work as Executive Producer/Co-°©‐star of Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO) and star of The Goldbergs (ABC). Heather became Garlin’s producing partner in 2012, earning the title of Associate Producer of his second feature film, DEALIN’ WITH IDIOTS (IFC/Killer Films). Meanwhile, Heather wrote and performed in weekly sketch shows at Straitjacket Society and Upright Citizens Brigade, and attended graduate school full time, receiving her MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA in June 2013. She worked as the Writers’ Assistant on season 1 of the Vince Gilligan/Peter Gould Breaking Bad prequel, Better Call Saul (AMC), while continuing to write and produce with Garlin. She took on a dual Writers' Assistant/Script Coordinator role for Season 2 of Better Call Saul, while co-°©‐writing the finale with Gilligan, a script for which she is nominated for a 2017 WGA Award in both Episodic Drama and Outstanding Drama Series categories. She is currently staffed on the series’ third season. With one of her original pilot scripts, Bury Me, Heather was included as a writer in Sundance's inaugural Episodic Story Lab. She is represented by William Morris Endeavor and Management 360.


Darlene Hunt is an actor/writer originally from Louisville, Kentucky.  Hunt studied theater at Northwestern University outside of Chicago, the Royal National Theatre in London and the British American Drama Academy in Oxford. Hunt created the critically acclaimed and award-winning series, The Big C for Showtime. The Big C stars Laura Linney as Cathy Jamison, a Midwestern teacher who decides to change the way she lives her life after being diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma.  Laura Linney won a Golden Globe and Emmy for her performance in this role. Hunt is currently serving as executive producer on the brand-new Sony/Amazon series Good Girls Revolt, coming to Amazon Prime in October. Inspired by a real-life class action suit filed by female Newsweek employees in 1969, Good Girls Revolt follows a group of young female researchers at "News of the Week" magazine as they fight to be heard – in the newsroom and beyond – in the midst of a cultural revolution. As an actor, Hunt co-starred with Ted Danson on ABC’s Help Me Help You and on the big screen she has played opposite Jude Law and Lily Tomlin in David O. Russell's film I Heart Huckabees. Other Film credits include A Lot Like Love with Ashton Kutcher, Idiocracy directed and written by Mike Judge, and The Merry Gentleman directed by Michael Keaton.  She has also been seen in numerous commercials and television shows and recurring roles on Parks and Recreation and Suburgatory.

Darlene lives in Burbank, California with her husband and two little girls. She is now developing a pilot for FreeForm inspired by her childhood in Kentucky.


Shannon Flynn is an accomplished, energetic and thriving film and television director. She has directed a wide array of hit shows, including AwesomenessTV’s Betch Sketch, Nick Jr.’s Mutt and Stuff (produced by the legendary Sid and Marty Krofft), TV Land’s Instant Mom. Currently, she is in preproduction for a new show with ABCDigital. After which, Shannon will start production on her first full-length feature film. Other directing credits include, Disney Channel’s Bunk’d, Best Friends Whenever, Jessie, Liv & Maddie and Austin & Ally, Nickelodeon’s Bella and the Bulldogs, The Thundermans, Nicky, Ricky, Dicky and Dawn and The Haunted Hathaways, DisneyXD’s Mighty Med, Hannah Montana, Good Luck Charlie, Marvin Marvin and How to Rock. In addition, she has directed webisodes for Marvin Marvin, industrial videos for PepsiCo, and is the creator/producer of the web comedy series, Voodoo Skidoo. Shannon began her career mentored by director Lee Shallat Chemel on such hit series Gilmore Girls, Bernie Mac and Arrested Development. After founding the award-winning theatre company The Hunger Artists (serving as Artistic Director), Shannon returned to school and received her MFA in Directing from the prestigious Yale School of Drama


Evette Vargas is emblematic of Hollywood’s new breed of multiplatform storytelling talent. Named by the New York Times as an “Artist to Watch,” Vargas is an award-winning writer, director, producer, multiplatform and Virtual Reality creator. Co-founder of Digital-Reign, an emerging media production company, Vargas' work includes series for Amazon, MTV, Bravo, DirectTV; as well as writing, apps, games and branded entertainment for FAST & FURIOUS, LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy and Madonna. Vargas executive produced, wrote and directed her digital series DARK PROPHET, starring Henry Rollins. The series was nominated for two Emmys, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and is available on Amazon Prime. The Virtual Reality series will premiere on the Sony PlayStation VR. Vargas recently sold her one-hour series MUSES to Turner Broadcasting Super Deluxe, is developing her show TRANS with Electus, and her series TEMPEST with The Wolper Organization. Vargas has optioned her Y.A. series, THE SPECTORS, to Campanario Productions. Vargas’ slate of VR projects includes the VR experience for The Weinstein Company feature film, THE CURRENT WAR, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Vargas is also writing and producing two VR projects based on her original IPs, one of which she is producing with The Rogue Initiative. Vargas is a member of the Writers Guild of America, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the Producers Guild of America and serves on the advisory board of the Alliance of Women Directors. Vargas earned her BFA in Directing and Film/TV Production from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and her MFA from UCLA for Screenwriting with a concentration in Television Showrunning. Vargas was born in the Bronx and learned to tell stories at the dinner table with her family where the imagination ruled.


Gregg Katano is a media entrepreneur, solutions architect, and educator with over 20 years of experience in the areas of production, visual effects, stereoscopic 3D, and virtual reality. Gregg has been a thought leader in the virtual reality community. He has recently co-founded, MELD, an agency that is combining the latest VR & AR technology, creative minds, and customer service to help brands achieve unparalleled engagement with their customers. He is also currently partner and chief business strategist of Unofficial Cardboard, the very first and leading Google-certified partner that produces Google’s ‘Cardboard’ virtual reality viewers; Partner of the VR Arcade, a location-based entertainment company that brings curation and management of the leading virtual reality games and entertainment experiences to public venues, and VR Ambassador of MaiTai Global, a group of entrepreneurs, innovators, and athletes that fuels philanthropic activities around the world that works closely with Richard Branson, his Virgin Unite, and the OceanElders. Gregg has become one of the leading evangelists in the VR community, speaking at virtual reality and technology conferences both domestically and internationally. In the area of education, Gregg is a member of the advisory council of the Cal State University Entertainment Alliance, a collaboration between the CSU and entertainment industry leaders that helps to prepare students to serve the entertainment business. He regularly speaks to students at various universities including Pepperdine and UCLA, and he is also a former senior instructor in digital media at Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles. He has been a member of the Producer’s Guild of America since 2010.