PW5 Producer's Panel Series Spring 2020



  John Ritchie       Robyn Wiener

Lael McCall          Tim Carter

Lori Massini        Josh Epstein

Cynde Harmon      Kate Green

   Kim Roberts       Zach Lipovsky

Doreen Manuel        Betsy Carson

                             Matt Drake         Amanda Verhagen (Moderator)




With over thirty years of experience, John Ritchie has overseen the creation of more than 500 hours of scripted and factual television series and one-offs. Most recently, he was Chief Creative Officer and Partner at Force Four Entertainment, which was acquired by Entertainment One in 2014. John is now heading his own independent company.

Some of the highlights of John's scripted career include Executive Producing two seasons of the sitcom series Seed, which aired on The CW and City TV in Canada. He has also Executive Produced numerous television movies, including The Color of Love for Lifetime and CTV in Canada. Earlier in his career, John was a Co-Producer of the Peabody Award-winning mini-series Human Cargo, which also won multiple Gemini Awards, and he was a Producer of the feature film The Love Crimes of Gillian Guess, which debuted at the Toronto Film Festival.

In the unscripted realm, John began his career writing and directing documentaries and was a Producer of the multiple award-winning feature length documentary 65 Red Roses, which aired on OWN and CBC in Canada. He has overseen numerous factual and lifestyle television series, including Border Security: America's Front Line (Netflix), The Bachelor Canada (City TV) and Murder She Solved (Discovery ID). 



Lael McCall began her career as Creative Affairs Executive at London's United British Artists Developments, founded by Harold Pinter, Glenda Jackson, Albert Finney and Maggie Smith to develop projects for West End Theatre, television, and films including The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne. She joined Alliance Communications in 1988, and during seven years there produced Turning April, a Canada/Australia co-production, and Executive Produced The Boys Club (Chris Penn) and On My Own (Judy Davis), as well as overseeing the development of in-house productions and independent acquisitions (Crash, Exotica). Lael was raised in the Yukon and educated in British Columbia. 

Principia Productions was established in 2002 to develop and produce projects for theatrical and television audiences. Principia’s most recent film is Marie Clements’ 2019 feature for CBC Films, Red Snow. Other Principia productions include a performing arts film The Overcoat, the feature Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom, Season II of Exes & Ohs, and a six-part educational series, Marion Woodman and the Conscious Feminine, based on interviews with the beloved Canadian Jungian analyst and writer.



Lori Massini practices entertainment law, representing numerous Canadian and American producers and studios with their legal and business affairs needs. Clients come to Lori for her counsel on a wide variety of entertainment law matters. Her involvement in the legal and business affairs of an extensive list of film and television series can be seen on her IMDB page.

Lori has acted as production counsel for original programming for networks such as Nickelodeon, Netflix, Disney, the Food Network and Discovery. She has extensive experience negotiating contracts for actors, directors, producers and crew, managing employment and labour issues, advising on corporate legal matters and overseeing complex financing arrangements. Formerly Vice President of Legal and Business Affairs for a film and production studio, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with First-Class Honours at the University of Calgary and a Bachelor of Laws at the University of British Columbia. She is called to the Bars of British Columbia and Ontario.

Lori is Chair of the CBA National Entertainment Law Section and Chair and founding member of the Meritas Entertainment Law practice group, connecting and developing practitioners of all aspects of entertainment law within Meritas member firms around the globe.



Cynde Harmon is the Executive Producer/CEO for Really Real Films: a feature film and television production company based in Vancouver, BC, since 1998.       

With an educational background in finance from Ryerson University, her film career has included accounting, production management and producing. Cynde is a familiar presence at International Film Markets, and is pro-active with work on CMPA’s national co-pro committee, MPPIA, board member for AAMP (Alliance Aboriginal Media Professionals), and is involved in mentoring emerging producers for a number of organizations, On Screen Manitoba, AAMP, Women in Film, Whistler’s Aboriginal Filmmaker Fellowship.

This past year Cynde has produced a slate of 4 films based on VC Andrews book series, The Casteel Saga. Principal photography will be completed this month, and the films are to be aired this summer on A&E Network. Previous titles also include, Pumpkin Pie Wars (Hallmark),  Christmas Calendar, (Corus/MarVista) with 7 Leo nominations,  Joyous Christmas (Hallmark), and Maggie’s Christmas Miracle (Hallmark/MarVista) A Princess for Christmas (eOne/UP TV), winner of 4 Leos 2018 including Best TV movie.



Kim C. Roberts brings over two decades of experience as an entertainment lawyer to Sepia Films.  As a partner at the boutique law firm of Roberts & Stahl, Roberts provided legal advice on a wide range of film and television projects. At Sepia, Roberts oversees co-productions, production financing, contract negotiations, E&O insurance and tax credits for Canadian and foreign productions, as well as all aspects of production legal.

Roberts is also involved in the development and production of Sepia’s feature film slate, utilizing strong working relationships with financiers, cultural agencies and distributors, and providing input on the slate’s creative elements.

Together with Tina Pehme, Roberts has produced Sepia’s feature films including Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet (2018), The Games Maker (2014), In Their Skin (2012), A Shine Of Rainbows (2010), Partition (2007), Civic Duty (2007), Love On The Side (2004), feature documentaries including Keepers of the Magic, The Boy From Geita (2014), Hue: A Matter Of Colour (2013), And The Beat Goes On... (2009) and more than a dozen movies for television since 2012. Roberts also executive produced the award-winning Canada/UK co-production It’s All Gone Pete Tong (2004). 

Roberts is also the company’s resident mixologist.



Doreen Manuel is a respected Secwepemc/Ktunaxa First Nations filmmaker, as well as the Director of the Nat and Flora Bosa Centre for Film & Animation. She is the sixth child of Grand Chief Dr. George Manuel and Marceline Manuel. Doreen is a graduate of the Aboriginal Film and Television Diploma Program at Capilano University and is the recipient of the Governor General of Canada Bronze Medal Award for academic excellence for her studies in AFTP. She has an extensive background working in First Nations education and community development in both rural and urban centres. Doreen comes from a long line of oral historians and factual storytellers from her First Nations traditional background. She has experience directing for television and was the Canadian Correspondent for the Native Heartbeat a USA Native American news magazine program.  She spent 13 years as the Coordinator/Instructor of the Indigenous Independent Digital Filmmaking program at Capilano University. She is a Matriarch with the IM4 virtual reality program and on the Board of Directors of Knowledge Network. She also owns and operates Running Wolf Productions.

Doreen is also a Telefilm Partner with the Micro-Budget Indigenous Category. Her goal is to see more feature films produced in the First Nations community, which address the issues of First Nations people. She also has a strong interest in incubating an authentic First Nations, Metis, and Inuit voice in film storytelling as well as an authentic process of production that represents cultural values of respectful work ethic.


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Matt Drake is a Canadian film producer, post production supervisor and sound designer based in Vancouver BC. With experience in many areas of film, Matt is able to offer a unique blend of skills to the productions he is involved with.

His company White Hart Post Production has been at the forefront of Vancouver’s growing independent film community and has landed him multiple awards and film collaborations on projects that have screened worldwide. Matt has also worked as a visual effects supervisor for Zoic Studios, where he worked on broadcast network shows such as ABC’s Once Upon a Time, Beyond and Fox’s remake of Rocky Horror Picture Show.

As a producer, Matt is focused on developing feature film projects with international partners. His work over the years have led him to collaborate with some of Canada's top emerging talent. He is best known for producing Wayne Wapeemukwa’s debut feature Luk’Luk’I, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017 and took home the award for Best Canadian First Feature and the DGC Discovery Award. His most recent film To Live To Sing directed by Johnny Ma, premiered earlier this year in the prestigious Directors’ Fortnight competition at the Cannes Film Festival. 

In 2018 Matt was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for his work on Never Steady, Never Still and was selected as one of 250 participants in the Berlinale Talents Program. Matt is a standing member of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, and the Canadian Media Producers Association.



Robyn Wiener is an award-winning producer, line producer & production manager with over 60 professional credits to her name. Her latest feature, Numb which opened at the Busan International Film Festival in 2015, has played across the globe. Her previous feature, Black Fly, was selected by Telefilm for Perspective Canada (Marche du Film at Cannes 2015). Robyn also co-produced & line produced multi-award winning features including Lawrence & Holloman, American Mary & The Wingman, Amazon Falls (TIFF 2010) & the presentation pilot Kits. Her production company, Synergy Cinema Inc. has been involved in Executive Producing an indie feature, shorts & a commercial video. Robyn has also production managed Canadian shooting segments of TV shows from China, and the Indian blockbuster feature Phantom for Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment. She is a sought after DGC Production Manager and has production managed and line produced numerous features, Hallmark TV movies, TV pilots and more. She has also produced numerous award-winning short films & a music video. Her company is in development on several feature films & Robyn has become known as one of the go-to indie producers in Vancouver. Robyn also produced the Hallmark TV Movies, Match Up and The Sweetest Heart, and works regularly as a Production Manager and Line Producer with various production companies in Vancouver on pilots, MOWS and features.

Robyn was a part-time instructor for the Vancouver Film School where she developed & taught budgeting & scheduling for their Entertainment Business Management Program.  She also sits on numerous film juries, panels & mentors emerging filmmakers. Robyn is a past president of Women in Film & Television Vancouver & was the 2013 recipient of the Wayne Black Service Award. In 2014, she was awarded the Irving Avrich Film Fund by TIFF which recognizes 10 Canadian emerging filmmakers



Tim Carter is a writer, producer, and co-owner of Contradiction Films. He develops and produces for film, television, digital, and gaming in partnership with Legendary Pictures, and recently released Dead Rising: Endgame with Legendary Pictures and CracklePrior to that, Carter produced Electra Woman & Dyna Girl, starring Hannah Hart and Grace Helbig, and Dead Rising: Watchtower.

Carter is currently developing numerous game IPs for live action adaptation, feature films and television. He has produced Mortal Kombat: Legacy for Warner Brothers, know officially as the biggest digital series ever made with 100 million hits and counting. Carter has also written and produced The Chateau Meroux, a romantic comedy feature starring Barry Watson, Marla Sokoloff, and Christopher Lloyd, with Worldwide distribution through Starz Entertainment.



Josh Epstein’s work as a writer, producer and actor has taken him to all corners of the world. Currently, he's writing an original feature for Paramount, a remake for Aircraft Pictures, re-writing another feature for Mark Gordon/E1, as well as developing television, alongside business partner Kyle Rideout. 

The duo's latest film Adventures in Public School stars Judy Greer, and has premiered at TIFF, and opened TIFF Top Ten with theatricals in CDN/US/UK/JPN before landing on Netflix, Crave, and HBO Eastern Europe. Their first film Eadweard won 5 Audience Choice Awards, had 15 Leo nominations and has been distributed around the world. 

As an actor Epstein has won 4 Jessies, been nominated for 3 Dora's and is the recipient of the Most Promising Actor Award at the Stratford Festival. He just directed Studio 58’s Cabaret, their highest grossing show in their 54 year history.




Kate Green has worked mainly as a producer and director in lifestyle and factual television, on networks as varied as HGTV, W Network, CBC, History, Fuel TV, and Slice, but is expanding into both documentary and narrative dramatic story-telling. 

Her first documentary, Not A Stranger, won the Audience Choice Award at the Vancouver Short Film Festival and was nominated for Best ‘Made in Canada’ Short at the Northwestfest. Kate’s second documentary, Melting Stars, won Best Short at the International Wildlife Film Festival. 

Kate is now thrilled to be following her passion for scripted work by producing and directing her recently released sci-fi web series NarcoLeap, which aired on CBC’s digital stream GEM and TELUS Optik. NarcoLeap garnered a Canadian Screen Award nomination, a Writers’ Guild of Canada nomination, and three Leo Award nominations.  It went on to win Best Sci-fi at Miami web fest, as well as the Baltimore and Asia web festivals. 

Kate is a proud alumna of Women in the Director’s Chair Story & Leadership Program, the National Screen Institute of Canada, Reykjavík International Film Festival Talent Lab, Vancouver Island University, and the University of British Columbia.



Emmy-nominated director Zach Lipovsky started his career on Spielberg's filmmaking competition "On The Lot," where he placed 5th out of 12,000 directors worldwide.

Zach has gone on to direct and produce projects for TV and film for Syfy, Lionsgate, Legendary and Disney where he was the producing director for the award-winning series Mech-x4, and the feature live action adaptation of the hit series Kim Possible.

His first theatrical feature Freaks was the biggest Canadian sale at TIFF 2018, and was distributed in over 115 theatres across North America, making it one of the largest Canadian theatrical openings of the year. 

Zach is currently writing, directing and producing upcoming films for Disney+ and Universal Pictures, and sits on the board of the DGC BC where he represents all the directors in BC. 



Betsy Carson is an award-winning producer, Executive Producer, and director with over 30 years experience in documentary film, television, and digital projects.  She has collaborated for decades with filmmakers Nettie Wild, Gary Marcuse, Hugh Brody and Mark Achbar, and has produced over 100 hours of innovative projects ranging from television to theatrical features, interactive websites and public art installations. Current credits include: The New Corporation: An Unfortunately Necessary Sequel (coproduced with Trish Dolman); The Global Environmental Justice Project, directed and curated by Gary Marcuse; UNINTERRUPTED, a digitally mapped public art project directed by Nettie Wild and co-produced with Rae Hull; 500 Days in the Wild, Dianne Whelan's 6-year journey on The Great Trail; Deadman’s Switch (EP), directed by Sheona McDonald  on crypto-currency; Cannabis: Year One, on current cannabis research, directed by and co-produced with Peter Klein. The films she has collaborated on have won numerous national and international awards and honours including multiple Genie and Gemini awards, American Film Institute, Berlin, Hot Docs, International Documentary Association, Prism, Grantham and other humanities and environmental awards. Betsy was also Co-Vice Chair of DOC National for six years. 



Amanda Verhagen is a producer known for content that has been continuously recognized on the international stage. Her company, Notable Content, strives to create a lasting impression on audiences and believes that collaboration makes for a dynamic and compelling story.

She is known for films such as The Devout (World Premiere – Busan IFF, Canadian Screen Awards nominee) and To Live To Sing (World Premiere - Directors’ Fortnight – Cannes FF, BFI London FF, Winner of the Best Film Asia New Talent Award – Shanghai IFF).

Her training includes The Whistler FF Producer Lab, The Reykjavik FF Talent Lab, The JETS Co-Production Initiative at Berlinale and The Netflix - Banff Diversity of Voices Program.

Amanda has been fortunate enough to enter into the industry as a Production Coordinator for over 30 features and series - with studios and networks such as MGM, 20th Century Fox, Sony, CBS, WB, Point Grey, NBC Universal and Netflix. Amanda is a proud member of IATSE, Glass Elevator, The Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television and the Canadian Media Producers Association  

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