2023 Festival Workshops

Our popular “Filmmaker Conversations” Workshop Series returns this year to Yavapai College Sedona Center! Each workshop is designed to give attendees insight into the various aspects of filmmaking.  Workshops and discussions are presented by industry experts with vast knowledge and personal experience in the featured subject. Go behind the scenes as our panelists and presenters give you a glimpse behind the curtain into the creative process of filmmaking and getting your vision to the big screen! Rub elbows with industry professionals who are willing to share their experience and insight. These are free and open to everyone. 


CLICK HERE to download the program for the
Filmmaker Conversations Workshop Series.


Tuesday, February 21 • 10:00 a.m.   

Docs that Make a Difference: Documentary Filmmaking

at Yavapai College Sedona Center


Inspired by our “Docs That Make a Difference” film series, we are proud to present a filmmaker discussion that focuses on turning the art of film into activism and movies into movements through documentary filmmaking.

Filmmakers are making statements, effecting lives and changing the world through thought-provoking, inspiring docs that challenge audience members to make a difference through involvement, activism and motivation.

Make a movie, make a difference in this inspiring conversation! The panel will feature festival filmmakers who are bringing powerful non-fiction stories to life and to audiences around the world. Get a behind-the-scenes look at the issues that face documentary filmmakers and what it takes to get these films into the marketplace.



Tuesday, February 21 • 1:00 p.m.   

Attending Film Festivals and Networking for Career Success

at Yavapai College Sedona Center


What film festivals are right for you and your film? Where will you get the most exposure to the right audiences that will launch your film to big-screen success? And how do you capitalize on the momentum gained at the festival experience? This workshop is about tuning in to your needs to build your own strategy and networking tools to move your career along.

Sandrine Faucher Cassidy is the Senior Director of Talent Development, Festivals & Distribution at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. She advises students and alumni on strategies for their student films and independent features in the festival circuit and how to best utilize their projects to network for their upcoming projects and reach their career goals.

USC’s large catalog of short films continues to grow in number every year, and Cassidy licenses both recent and archived films throughout the world. With over 35 years of experience in the film industry and international festivals dating back to her position at Unifrance, Cassidy is uniquely specialized in the distribution and exhibition of independent films.

Cassidy is often invited to festivals to participate in panels, round tables or to give individual mentoring sessions to filmmakers. She has served as a Jury member for short or feature competitions at Cleveland, Hot Springs, Annapolis, Santa Fe, Hollyshorts, Indy Shorts, Sedicicorto, the American French Festival in Los Angeles, and more. She has also been a mentor for the Red Sea International Film Festival’s Talent Days program and the Film Independent’s Global Media Makers program which is a U.S. State Department initiative connecting filmmakers from the Middle East and South Asia with Hollywood Professionals.



Wednesday, February 22 • 10:00 a.m.   

Demystifying the Sound in Film

at Yavapai College Sedona Center


Veteran Supervising Sound Editor (and Director) Vickie Sampson (“Donnie Darko”, “Return of the Jedi”, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl”, “Speed”) gives filmmakers practical information and resources to make your films sound phenomenally professional no matter what your budget is!

As a filmmaker, knowing what creative sound can do for your film puts you ahead of the game!  Sound is often the forgotten and misunderstood part of the filmmaking process and yet it’s probably the most important after the story, the performances and the camera work!  So why is sound so “scary?” “Oh, it’s too technical!” Not really. There is a technical component but sound is first and foremost a story-telling element that is hard to pin down. It’s not black or white.  It’s not even gray!

This workshop will introduce you to the process – from script to screen – and give you tools to put into practice. Sampson will have examples from films and fabulous hand-outs which will increase your awareness, spark creative ideas and give you practical applications.

For filmgoers, don’t worry – it won’t destroy the magic of seeing/hearing films!

For filmmakers, this will give you new tools with which to expand your knowledge of what post sound can do to elevate your film to the next levels!

After a successful and award-winning 40-year career as a Supervising Sound Editor with over 200 film credits, Sampson retired in 2014 to devote her time and energy to directing and teaching. She has received an Emmy, 4 Golden Reel Awards (from the Motion Picture Sound Editors) and has edited on Sound Oscar-winning films “Speed” and “The River”. Her mother, Kay Rose, was the first woman sound editor to win an Oscar for her stellar work on “The River”. Sampson worked with her mom on many award-winning films, including “On Golden Pond”, “The Prince of Tides”, “The Rose” and Best Picture-winner “Ordinary People”.

In 1987, Sampson was one of twelve women (out of 600) selected to the prestigious Directing Workshop for Women from AFI, where she made her first short film, “The Last Chance Saloon”. She has since directed 8 award-winning short films, including 3 of her short films that premiered at the Sedona Film Festival (The BEST Festival in the world!), and over 15 commercials and PSAs. Sampson is slated to direct a $9 million feature film, “Revolutionist” starring Virginia Madsen and is in pre-production for a new short, “Love is…”.



Wednesday, February 22 • 1:00 p.m.   

CGI in the Movies

at Yavapai College Sedona Center


Since “Jurassic Park” and “Toy Story” were released in the early 1990s, there has been a major revolution in the way movies are made through computer generated visual effects. Today, “CGI” is an essential part of almost every Hollywood movie production.

This workshop focuses on the distinct art of defining visually immersive 3D experiences and the considerations necessary to be successful. This highly visual and animated session will be illustrated with anecdotes, lessons, and examples from Chris Ford’s career in visual effects technology at SGI, Autodesk, Pixar, Disney, and others, and will also provide observations on defining future virtual 3D experiences including the Metaverse.

Chris Ford brings over 30-years of experience in computer generated feature film special effects, animation, game development and visualization technology.

For many years, Ford was Business Director at Pixar Animation Studios (Walt Disney Co.) where he grew the companies photorealistic RenderMan technology to a dominant global market share of 75% of all feature films containing rendered VFX and animation and has worked with all the most renowned studios in this field.

Ford has also held key positions at Autodesk where he was Director of Product Management for 3D Media & Entertainment applications including 3D Studio Max, and at Alias|Wavefront (SGI) as Senior Product Manager where he introduced Maya to the market, the world’s leading professional movie quality CGI content creation software. Recently, Ford has been associated with Roblox Corp, Prezi Inc, and new developments in motion capture and photorealistic virtual humans.

During his terms of product leadership, visual media applications managed by Ford have been awarded three Scientific and Technical Academy Awards, and he is credited in twelve feature films.



Thursday, February 23 • 10:00 a.m.   

Screenwriting Truth

at Yavapai College Sedona Center


In this lively Q&A discussion, working professional screenwriter Paul Guyot gives you a rare look behind the curtain of Hollywood. He shares tales from the trenches, helps you navigate the corrupt world of “screenwriting experts,” and answers any questions you have. For anyone who wants the truth of screenwriting in Hollywood, this is one not to miss!

Paul Guyot has written and produced over 200 hours of television. His work includes the JJ Abrams created “Felicity”, the Emmy-winning “Judging Amy” and “Leverage” which won back-to-back People’s Choice Awards.

Guyot took over as showrunner for season two of the TNT hit series “The Librarians”. He served as the Co-Executive Producer for “NCIS: New Orleans” — at the time the 8th most watched series in the world.

He has written pilots for multiple networks and studios including his original pitch “The Black 22s” — based on the true story of the first all African-American squad of detectives in St. Louis, MO — which sold in a fierce bidding war between four networks. The series died in development, but Guyot retains all rights to the story and is currently writing the feature film version with award-winning screenwriter Geoffrey Thorne.

Guyot has written feature films, including co-writing the Warner Brothers feature “Geostorm” starring Gerard Butler and Andy Garcia, which grossed more than a quarter billion dollars worldwide. But don’t hold it against him.

Currently, Guyot is developing the series “Colonie 07” for French television, one of the first American screenwriters ever hired to do so.     He is the author of the forthcoming book “Kill the Dog: The First Screenwriting Book to Tell You the Truth”, which will hit shelves summer of 2023.

More prosaic information on Guyot as well as help with screenwriting can be found on his website: http://screenwritingtruth.com



Thursday, February 23 • 1:00 p.m.   

Women in TV

at Yavapai College Sedona Center


“Women in TV” features a sit-down with a TV Literary Agent (Talia Myers), Showrunner (Rachel Shukert) and Script Coordinator (Sydney Ross) to discuss the ins and outs of the television series-making process from start to finish.

Talia Myers is an agent in UTA’s Television Literary division where she identifies premium scripted opportunities for an array of diverse writers, directors, producers, production companies, musicians and more. She and her colleagues represent clients such as Alan Ball, Bad Bunny, Chance The Rapper, Demi Lovato, Don Cheadle and his company Radicle Act, Julia Garner and her company Alma Margo, Kevin Hart and his company Hartbeat, Lili Reinhart and her company Small Victories, Nicholas Hoult and his company Dead Duck Films, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and her company Purple Pebble Pictures and more.

Rachel Shukert is currently showrunning the second season of “Nine Perfect Strangers” for Hulu. She was also the Creator and Showrunner of the Emmy-winning Netflix series “The Babysitters Club” and an Executive Producer on Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”. Prior to that she was a Supervising Producer on “Glow” for Netflix. She previously wrote on “Supergirl” for CBS and “Red Band Society” for FOX. Shukert wrote the “Starstruck” novels, a three-part young adult fiction series set in Hollywood in the 1930s, as well as two memoirs, “Everything Is Going To Be Great” and  “Have You No Shame?”.

After receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Film & Television with a minor in Screenwriting at the University of Southern California in 2016, Sydney Ross worked for TV Literary Partner, Tim Phillips, at United Talent Agency. After a year and a half spent at UTA, she was the Writers’ PA on season one of “Dead to Me” at Netflix and on one of the “Game of Thrones” spinoffs at HBO. Following these jobs, she worked for Bryan Cogman during his 2-year overall deal with Amazon Studios and as a Writers’ Assistant on his show there, “Lazarus.” Currently, Ross is the Script Coordinator on season two of Shukert’s “Nine Perfect Strangers” at Hulu.



Friday, February 24 • 10:00 a.m.   

Directing in Film

at Yavapai College Sedona Center


Join directors Stephen Campanelli and Rick Cohen for an open exchange of ideas, dialogue and advice for first-time directors or seasoned veterans. They will conduct a frank and informative conversation about what it takes to be in the director’s chair in this ever-changing world of filmmaking. Learn from those who have been in the trenches, making movies and making a difference. Whether a big blockbuster or an indie arthouse success, these directors have done it all.

Stephen Campanelli has worked on many Academy Award-winning films with his boyhood idol Clint Eastwood. He has also witnessed 6 Academy award-winning performances in front of his watchful eye — including “The Bridges of Madison County”, “Million Dollar Baby”, “Mystic River” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri”.

Campanelli’s talents have been recognized by winning several prestigious awards throughout his career. He has been directing from a young age, and has recently helmed 4 feature films, including, the multiple award-winning “Drinkwater”, “Momentum”, “Grand Isle”, and the #1 box office film, “Indian Horse”, which won over 18 film festival awards worldwide.

Campanelli has also directed a pilot for Fox, a commercial with Morgan Freeman, and a nationwide Nissan Titan Commercial, and is now ready to breathe life into his next project.

Rick Cohen is an accomplished WGA screenwriter, award-winning documentary filmmaker, editor and TV & Film producer in the entertainment industry. Early in his career, he appeared in numerous SAG national TV commercials & films. He then moved to LA in 1991 and earned his WGA card by selling two screenplays to two major studios. From there he became an accomplished documentary filmmaker in the sports genre.

Cohen’s work has appeared in the theater and on TV, most recently through ESPN productions and Mandalay Sports Media. Currently, Cohen has written and is producing the feature “Superbird” with his director and pal, Stephen Campanelli. His documentary, “Season of a Lifetime” on Amazon Prime is being turned into a feature film in 2023.

Cohen is a part-time resident of Sedona and climbing is his major passion. He’s designed an adventure race for Spartan Racing to be held right here in Sedona in early 2024.



Friday, February 24 • 1:00 p.m.   

Screenplay Table Read: Award-winning Scripts

at Yavapai College Sedona Center


A Table Read is an invaluable tool to the writer! When a group of actors come together to read a scene or two, the writer listens in a different way. They can now hear it interacted on the “stage” literally and not just between the writer’s ears, in that lonely mind-space. They get a new perspective, a deeper level perhaps!

The genuine hope in presenting sequences from the winning scripts in LIVE READS is to help writers “hear” the characters come alive. A read allows a writer to fully understand the translation from page to stage to screen! Otherwise, it’s just voices in the head. What sounds perfect may in ‘reality’ come off as clunky in a read and allow the writer further refining. When their characters come to life, they can fully incorporate them into the working story — keeping what helps, cutting what hinders and learning more about their characters sub-text.

A read is one of the many tools that help a writer deliver on a winning script. And finally, after a read the writer, audience and actors can further exchange ideas to expand what works. In the end, it’s a win-win for all involved, (especially other writers looking on!).



Saturday, February 25 • 10:00 a.m.   

Working with Actors

at Yavapai College Sedona Center


Geared towards new filmmakers, award-winning writer/director John Gray discusses how to get the most out of your actors, exploring various approaches and techniques for casting, rehearsals, and shooting. The class will also examine the Writer/Actor/Director’s most powerful tool — subtext. By staging a short scene, we’ll explore ways in which altering the subtext can completely reshape the scene without changing a word of the text.

John Gray is a New York based writer-director-producer. He created the long running hit CBS series, “Ghost Whisperer”, starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, as well as writing and directing many award-winning and critically acclaimed movies for television, such as “Martin and Lewis”, starring Sean Hayes and Jeremy Northam; the Emmy-nominated “A Place for Annie” with Sissy Spacek; the Emmy-nominated mini-series “Haven” with Natasha Richardson and Anne Bancroft; “Helter Skelter” with Clea DuVall and Bruno Kirby, and many others.

Gray has directed dozens of episodes of broadcast and cable series and was also the producing director of the CBS series “Reckless”. He has written and directed several studio and independent feature films, including the award-winning “White Irish Drinkers”, starring Stephen Lang and Karen Allen, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and will play at this year’s Sedona International Film Festival.

Gray’s acclaimed short films have played and are currently in film festivals all over the world including “French Kiss”, which has also notched 6.3 million views to date on YouTube. His first novel, the supernatural thriller “The Desecrated”, was published in July 2022.



Saturday, February 25 • 1:00 p.m.   

Collaborating With The Costume Department

at Yavapai College Sedona Center


“Collaborating With The Costume Department” workshop will discuss the role of a costume designer on films. Costume Designer Paula Rogers will go over the different job descriptions in the department and what each job entails.

From discovery to the breakdowns and properly budgeting and outfitting your costume department. She will also discuss actors’ unique needs and requirements, stunts, photo doubles, blood doubles, budgeting for background and answer any questions.

Paula Rogers is a classically trained Costume Designer who designs for commercials, television and film. Paula designed her first play in High School and has been working in production ever since. She studied costume design at New Mexico State and went on to styling commercials and work on films in Arizona.

Rogers became a union costumer in 1997 working with studios like Netfilx, Sony, HBO and has since designed for Fox, INSP, Discovery, NatGeo, A&E, the BBC and VHI and over 20 feature films, She now owns a costume rental house in Albuquerque New Mexico that services the film and television industry in the southwest.



CLICK HERE to download the program for the
Filmmaker Conversations Workshop Series.