SPOTLIGHT: Female Filmmakers @ ATLFF


Monday, March 27th, see the premiere of WIFTA’s own past president Fran Burst-Teranella’s narrative feature The 12 Lives of Sissy Carlyle, 7:00 pm, Plaza Theatre



Saturday, April 1st, come out as WIFTA sponsors the New Mavericks Narratives Shorts Block A Chapter in Her Life – 12:15 pm, 7 Stages Theater with a talk-back to follow. TICKETS


And to really enjoy all that the film festival has to offer, check out these other great women directors and filmmakers:


Sunday, March 26, 2017, 4:45 PM — Plaza Theatre, Main

No Light and No Land Anywhere (Narrative Feature Film

This female directed, female lead film is part of our narrative competition. It deals with issues surrounding abandonment and depression, in a way that feels familiar and powerful. 

Synopsis: Grieving her mother’s death and her own failing marriage, Lexi boards a plane from London to Los Angeles in search of the estranged father. Based out of a seedy Hollywood motel, she follows a tenuous trail of breadcrumbs, beginning with his aging former in-laws, collecting numbers and addresses in the hopes that one will lead to her father. 

You can find more information about the film and a trailer here


Saturday, April 1, 2017 at 2:45 PM, Plaza Theatre

The Nine (Documentary Feature) 

This beautiful and haunting documentary was created by master photographer Katy Grannan. She crafts moving portraits of the residents of the an often forgotten and abandoned segment of society. 

Synopsis: The Nine is a no-man’s land where rules of polite society do not apply; a resting place for those who have relinquished the American dream. This emotional documentary unearths the stories of those living along the Nine in Modesto, an area in California’s Central Valley devastated by the Great Depression.
You can find more information about the film and a trailer here


Saturday, April 1, 2017 at 5:15 PM, Plaza Theatre

Cortez (Narrative Feature)

This film is also part of our narrative competition. Not only does the director star as the female lead, but she also crafts an intimate portrait of failure and fatherhood in the US. 

Synopsis: Jesse—a misguided musician—finds his way to the town of Cortez where he will face old love and new relationships. Anne—a woman from his past—will teach him a little something about what happens when a rockstar lifestyle meets responsibility and how re-creating oneself doesn’t always mean saying goodbye to adventure.

You can find more information about the film and a trailer here


Friday, March 31, 2017 at 7:15 PM, Plaza Theatre

 Wexford Plaza (Narrative Feature)

This female directed and female fronted film finds itself in our narrative competition as well. Strikingly poignant in its familiarity, the plight of Betty will resonate with viewers as they examine what it means to be stuck. 

Synopsis: The daily occurrences within Wexford Plaza uncover what it means for 20-year-old Betty to explore love whilst maintaining her job as a security guard. A cohabiter of the Wexford Plaza, Danny, weaves his way into Betty’s life, and both parties need to decide where their priorities lie and at what cost they come.

You can find more information about the film and a trailer here


Saturday, April 1, 2017 at 2:45 PM, 7 Stages Theatre

 Stories We Tell (Documentary Short Film Block)

It’s not often that we get the chance to create a documentary short film block of only female directors. But in this case, these films we found in our submissions begged to be shown together. This block of films cover topics ranging from poor neighborhoods in Silicon Valley, to a refugee fighting to bring her family to the US, to an illegal immigrant working in the US.

You can find more information about all the featured short films here

Other films you may be interested in include: City of Joy,  Wonder ValleyTwo WorldsJacksonThe League of Exotic DancersWoman on Fire, and In the Radiant City.

Volunteer Meeting March 25th

Get Involved!

Come and hear President Cheryl Jenkins explain what all is on the agenda in 2017!

Saturday 3/25 at 1:00 p.m. at the GPB Studios 260 14th St. NW Atlanta.

Things we have on tap for this year:

Women in Production Summit
Legal Clinic
Monthly Mixers
Writers Weekend
Monthly Meetings/Workshop
Web Series/Mentorship
Member Newsletter
Website Refresh
and more! If you’re a member, you can contribute. We’re looking for Committee Chairs and Members to help with:
Special Events
We’ll outline the opportunities and talk about ways you can put your skills to work for WIFTA. AND we’ll have raffle prizes and movie passes to win! You must be a member to volunteer.

Sign up HERE.


 March 15th – 6:30 – 9:30 pm

with special guest instructor Dave Pileggi

Free to members; $25 guest fee – REGISTER HERE

Along with having sharp and professional skills, actors need to be super savvy on the business side of the equation too.  Join Victoria Smith and her special guest Dave Pileggi for this in-depth look at how to up your business game to the pro-level.

Dave Pileggi is a successful actor as well as entrepreneur. Over the last 9 years since starting his acting career he has run both of his companies while continuing to grow his third…his acting business. With over 15 years of business and life coaching experience as well as having over 150 total bookings in film, television, commercial and industrial work, Dave has amazing insight on how to grow successfully in this industry. Some of Dave’s credits include ‘Anchorman 2’, a recurring role on ‘Powers’, BET’s ‘The Game’, USA’s ‘Satisfaction’, and CW’s ‘Containment’, just to name a few. Dave has helped hundreds of actors grow their careers through his workshops, classes, taping service, and one on one coaching.  Learn more about Dave HERE

Back at our wonderful hosts – ATLANTA MOVIE TOURS:  

327 Nelson St SW, Atlanta, GA 30313


March Meeting: Website Workshop

Ever wanted to learn how to build your own website to showcase your work?  Have you been thinking about learning how to code?  Mix and mingle with other filmmakers while you learn the basics of HTML/CSS to show off your film or trailer online.
What You’ll Take Away: During this workshop, attendees will build a basic website using HTML for structure and CSS styling, as well as how to code a video into your site.
Why It Matters: Your work is your passion. Learn how to show it off online and kickstart learning an ever-more-essential skill: how to code!
Featured Expert: Leslie Hochsztein is an Enterprise Application Engineer Specialist at General Electric and a WIFTA Board Member. As a web developer and former film publicist, Leslie will share her insight into building websites as well as how to present film work on the web.




  • General Assembly Atlanta @ Ponce City Market
  • 675 Ponce De Leon Avenue NE, 2nd Floor
  • Atlanta, GA 30308

More info and registration HERE

Thursday, 23 March, 7 – 9 pm EDT

Director & Actors: Getting the Right Performance


The technical aspects of being a director are challenging enough but it’s the human element that can make or break a project.  

Talented director Carrie Schrader hosts a vibrant and helpful discussion on how directors can work with actors to get the end result they need.  She will focus on how to create a shared language between the director and the actor – utilizing active verbs and clearly articulated through lines in order to create engaged, active characters who aredoing.  Every actor can emote (hopefully) but a great director can use impelling language that leads the actor beyond simple expression and into a deeper, more dynamic vulnerability that captivates the audience.  Two of Atlanta’s top working actors, Mike Pniewski and Karen Ceesay will join Carrie for this informative program.

Actors are encouraged to attend to better understand the director’s process.

February 22nd, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm at GPB Studios – register HERE

Carrie Schrader3

Carrie Schrader is a Writer/Director whose short films and screenplays have won film festival audience awards internationally. She directed an award-winning short written by Ethan Coen (Coen bros.) and her feature-length documentary The Founders recently won the audience award for “Best Feature Film” at the Atlanta Film Festival.  Her short films and screenplays, such as “Boys and Dogs and Kids Are Weird”, “Mine”, and “First Date”, have won film festival audience awards internationally and she was labeled one of the “Top Ten Directors To Watch Out For” by Her most recent work has included spots for Netflix, WE TV, TLC Networks and Dominos.  She has an MFA in directing from Columbia University and is co-founder of Mighty Fine pictures.  



Mike Pniewski

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Mike Pniewski has been one of the busiest actors in movies and TV for more than 30 years. Most recently you’ve seen him in the Emmy Award winning CBS drama “The Good Wif”e, “Madam Secretary”, “Blue Bloods”, “Halt and Catch Fire” and “The Red Road”. Mike’s other recent credits include “Army Wives”, “Devious Maids”, “Nashville”, “Drop Dead Diva”, “Red Band Society”, the Cinemax Original Series “Banshee” and the film adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ “Safe Haven”.  Mike was also in the new film “The Founder” with Michael Keaton and in 2017 Mike will appear with Tom Cruise in the film “Mena”.



karen ceesay


Karen Ceesay was born as Karen Renee Mauldin. She is an actress, known for  her film work in “The Internship” (2013), “Last Vegas” (2013) and “Rings” (2017) as well as television appearances in “The Walking Dead”, “Satisfaction”, “Resurrection” and “Army Wives”.



Actors Track – The Monologue Challenge!


Victoria Spencer Smith returns with special guests and challenging exercises to strengthen actors skill set and industry information.

February 15th, 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm at The Warhorse at The Goat Farm – register HERE

The Goat Farm is at 1200 Foster Street, NW Atlanta 30318.  

Coming from Howell Mill, take Huff Rd to the stop sign and turn left on Foster St. Just after the Howard School on the right turn right into the Goat Farm. Follow the path to where you see cars parked and park there on the right or left. There is a path that passes by an old cotton gin mill and through into the Goat Farm. Follow that and cross the next parking lot to a small set of stairs. Down the stairs turn right and go through the tunnel, the Warhorse is on the right on the other side of the tunnel.  See parking diagram below.

MONOLOGUE MADNESS  – supporting Atlanta Mission*

Bring in a 1 minute monologue of your choice.  It should be in your age range; have it memorized, prepared and ready to work.

Monologue Madness will give each of you a chance to really connect with your material and to truly benefit a worthy cause…

We will begin the evening with a quick warm up then the group will be divided into two groups. Each person in the group will have an opportunity to present their monologue to their group.  Points will be awarded based on four areas 1) age appropriate material, 2) connection to material, 3) preparation of material and 4) adjustment based on second read though.  Please understand we are all here to learn, grow and give back to those who need us most and all you have to do is be yourself & connect.

To support Artist in Connection for Hope & The Atlanta Mission, for every point each actor and guest scores they can buy a laundry pod from us to donate or bring their own pods to donate (points range from 5-20).  All proceeds will support homeless women through The Atlanta Mission.

We will also have a special guest & New Talent agent Jaron Matthews from J Pervis Talent Agency visiting WIFTA for the evening to assist me with monologue score sheets.

Happy Valentines Week to you all & thank you for being part of our mission to assist others in our community!

I look forward to seeing all your smiling faces…

Victoria Spencer Smith

* please bring laundry detergent/products for donation to Atlanta Mission

The Goat Farm

January Membership Meeting = Tax Talk: Deductions, Credits & You

Join Georgia’s Film & Television Tax experts for an informative speed clinic to learn more about Georgia Film Tax Credits and commonly missed tax deductions for above and below the line professionals working in today’s film and television industry.  Come prepared to ask questions and have a short one-on-one session with one of the CPAs most proficient in your field. Feel free to send your questions early by tweeting @whtcpa #ATLfilmtax

Who should attend? 

  • Producers,
  • Directors,
  • Actors/actresses,
  • Production staff,
  • Grip and camera, and
  • All other creatives

Free to Members; $25 Guest Fee


About the panelists:


The professionals at Whaley Hammonds Tomasello, P.C. understand that film and entertainment is an exciting industry with not-so-exciting regulations.  In film and entertainment, there are certain tax incentives that are not only unique to the industry, but are also proving to be increasingly beneficial and lucrative. These incentives principally come in the form of state film tax credit, and can provide significant tax savings for entertainment companies and their investors.




Greg Hammonds, CPA

Greg is the leading partner at WHT CPA where he provides income tax planning for small business owners and high net worth individuals. His services has an emphasis in the Georgia entertainment tax credit industry which allows the transfer and monetization of tax credits earned by filming television and digital entertainment productions in the state.  Greg was the chairman of the Henry County Chamber of Commerce in 2005 and received the Jim DeVan award for excellence in business in 2006. He is requently invited as a guest speaker throughout the nation to offer his expertise in tax and financial planning.




John Thomas, CPA

John is an Audit Manager at WHT CPA, serving the film and entertainment industry. John helps production companies navigate the reporting requirements Georgia Production Tax Credit, including assisting production companies with pre-production planning to ensure they get the most benefit from the credit, performing tax due diligence on qualifying expenditures (comfort letters), and connecting production companies with those wishing to purchase tax credits.  John also provides financial statement audits for film and production companies.




Kristy Clabaugh, CPA

Kristy is the Firm Business Development Coordinator at WHT and focuses on providing accounting, tax and consulting services to the film/entertainment and hospitality industries, small and mid-size businesses, as well as high net-worth individuals. She is highly motivated by opening doors for her clients as well as helping them grow their businesses while educating them on the available deductions specific to their field. Kristy is an active WIFTA member and serving board member.

2016 Gala Honorees

Women in Film & Television Atlanta (WIFTA) announces the final slate of honorees for its 2016 Annual WIFTA Gala.  Walt Disney Studios’ Vice President of Film and Television Production Planning MaryAnn Hughes, Georgia Office for Film, Television and Digital Entertainment Deputy Commissioner Lee Thomas, Turner Entertainment Networks’ Vice President of Content Acquisition Valerie Meraz, The Vampire Diaries’ Line Producer Trish Stanard and Actress/Stuntwoman Jwaundace “JC” Candece will be recognized for their contributions to building a strong, diverse film industry within the state of Georgia

These talented and accomplished women will be recognized at the “Gatsby”-themed event, which will take place on Friday, November 11, 2016 at the Wimbish House in midtown Atlanta. The event honors those whose talent and services have made a significant impact on the industry and celebrates the women in film and television of Atlanta.

maryann-hughes-smMaryAnn Hughes will be honored with WIFTA’s Outstanding Contribution Award for her leadership, professionalism, and her commitment to bringing many of Disney’s top projects to Georgia.

MaryAnn Hughes is a 28 year veteran with Disney.  She has held a number of positions during her tenure at Disney ranging from a Senior Tax Analyst to Vice President, Film and Television Production Planning.

As a result of the growth and focus on production incentives and film finance opportunities, MaryAnn transferred from Corporate Tax to the Studio Finance Group in 2006 as Vice President, Film and Television Production Planning.  She now devotes 100% of her time looking for opportunities to reduce production costs through film and television production incentives and structured film financing deals.  She supports Disney’s feature film groups (Walt Disney Pictures, Lucas Films and Marvel) as well as Disney’s television groups (ABC Studios and ABC Cable Network).

lee-thomas-smLee Thomas will receive the Georgian Award for her tireless devotion and success in attracting top-level film productions to the state and creating jobs for skilled Georgians.

Lee Thomas is a Deputy Commissioner at the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and division director of the Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office. A native Atlantan, Lee received a Bachelor of the Arts in Radio -TV-Film from UGA, and returned to Atlanta to earn Master’s Degree in Film Studies from Georgia State University. In 1992, she entered the Tisch School of the Arts Doctoral Program in Cinema Studies at New York University, then began a job at the Brooklyn Arts Council. She returned to Atlanta in 1996 to work for the Georgia Film and Videotape Office as a project manager, and then became a location specialist for the office in 1998. After finding locations for film and television projects for 12 years, Lee became director of the film division in 2010. Films that Lee has worked with include “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “The Blind Side,” “Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil,” “Footloose,” “Fast 5,” “The Conspirator,” and “Zombieland.”

valerie-meraz-cropWIFTA is proud to present the inaugural Power BrokHer Award to Valerie Meraz.

Valerie Meraz is vice president of content acquisitions for Turner’s entertainment networks. She negotiates deals for films and off-network television series for use on TNT, tbs, Turner Classic Movies and truTV, as well as Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Boomerang. The content she and her colleagues acquire supports original programming and re-branding efforts for both TNT and tbs, and currently accounts for approximately 90% of the programming on those networks.

Valerie recently negotiated deals for rights on major Warner Brothers releases including The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, the NBC series Brooklyn Nine-Nine, an output deal for Marvel films including Avengers: Age of Ultron, and current films in the Hunger Games and Divergent franchises. This summer her team closed a deal to make TNT & tbs the basic cable home for the entire Star Wars franchise, which includes 6 classic films and the newest films in the franchise beginning with Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

Meraz joined Turner after serving as vice president of content acquisitions for Showtime Networks, Inc., where she oversaw the evaluation and acquisition of content for Showtime, The Movie Channel, and Flix (including on-demand and digital platforms). While at Showtime, Meraz negotiated deals for the acquisition of feature films, documentaries, short films, acquired series, and stand-up comedy specials.

Prior to joining Showtime in 2000, Valerie worked in feature film development at Disney’s Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group.  She began her career at 20th Century Fox in the exhibitor services group as a sales trainee and was soon promoted to a position in international theatrical promotions where she helped develop media and retail promotions for such films as TitanicThe Full Monty and Romeo + Juliet.

A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Valerie holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of California, Los Angeles and a master’s degree in motion picture producing from the Peter Stark Producing Program at the University of Southern California.


Another talented woman who plays a leading role on the production side of episodic television will be presented with  A Woman to Watch Award –Production  Trish Stanard.  A film and television industry veteran with more than 20 years of production experience, Trish Stanard serves as the line producer on the hit Warner Bros. Television/The CW drama series The Vampire Diaries, which is currently in the midst of its eighth and final season. She joined the series at its inception and has helped start the careers of dozens of production assistants (PA), developing their talent and mentoring them into larger roles in the industry.

Since its inception in 2015, Stanard has been a member of the selection committee for the Sarah Jones Film Foundation and Scholarship Opportunity, an annual internship and job training program in television production dedicated to the memory of the late camera assistant Sarah Jones.

Stanard began her entertainment career as an on-set PA on location in Seattle during the production of the theatrical motion picture Practical Magic. She subsequently worked as an assistant director (AD) on 3:10 to Yuma, Employee of the Month and Green Lantern, among other films.

A graduate of UCLA with a bachelor of arts degree in anthropology, Stanard calls Los Angeles her hometown. She currently resides in Atlanta, where The Vampire Diaries is produced, and where she is a passionate supporter of PAWS Atlanta, a no-kill, not-for-profit animal welfare organization founded in 1966.


In addition, WIFTA’ will recognize Jwaundace “JC” Candece veteran stuntwoman and actor as A Woman to Watch on the other side of the camera. Jwaundace has been working in the film and television industry for over 15 years. She began her career when she secured a spot on the TV show, Women of Wrestling (WOW) becoming a household name in the wrestling field under the name Delta Lotta Pain — one of the members of the notorious trio “Caged Heat” who dominated the ring along with sidekicks, Loca and Vendetta, becoming WOW’s first Tag Team Champions in 2001.

Recognition for her talents in wrestling got her the spot as Queen Latifah’s stunt double, in “Bringing Down the House.” That fight scene was nominated for an MTV Movie Award for “Best Fight.” From there, Queen Latifah requested her to perform her stunts in “Scary Movie 3”, “Taxi”, “Last Holiday”, and “Bessie”. Jwaundace has also doubled for Academy Award winners in their movies — Mo’Nique (“Precious”), Jennifer Hudson (“DreamGirls”), Whoopi Goldberg (“The Cleaner”) and Emmy Winner Viola Davis (“The Help”, “Won’t Back Down”, “Beautiful Creatures” ,“Lila and Eve” and “Blackhat” ), Taraji P. Henson in “No Good Deed” and Oprah Winfrey in “Selma”, and other top entertainers such Tyra Banks, Patricia Belcher, Gabrielle Union, Hayley Marie Norman and Kym Whitley.

Her work now focuses on expanding her career as an actress while still continuing to perform her loves of stunts. She can be seen in 21st Century Fox’s “Let’s Be Cops” feature, BET’s “Let’s Stay Together”, Cinemax’s “Banshee” and had a recurring role in ABC’s “Resurrection”. She will also be in the upcoming “Barbershop 3”, a role in Lee Daniels pilot, “Star”, in IFC’s new horror comedy “Stan Against Evil” and in a thriller starring Nicolas Cage called “Vengeance: A Love Story”. She is currently filming for “Naked”, a comedy starring Marlon Wayans in Charleston.

“We are so excited and proud to honor these women who have each been champions of women in film in Atlanta,” said Cheryl Jenkins, WIFTA President.  “They exemplify the WIFTA mission of advancing the portrayal of women in the industry.  We look forward to celebrating their achievements.”


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