8:00 a.m.: Venue Opens
8:45 a.m.: Welcome/Opening Remarks
9:00 a.m.: General Sessions Begin
11:20 a.m.: Networking Break
11:30 a.m.: Breakout Sessions
1:15 p.m.: Networking Break
1:30 p.m.: General Sessions Resume
3:30 p.m.: Closing Remarks/Networking Reception


The New Stars of Hollywood IT: Diversified, Unified and Ready for a Post-Pandemic World

As a community of dedicated professionals in a time of unforeseen industry chaos, we have collaboratively overcome challenges, created new opportunities and supported each other. Perspectives once widely divergent required alignment for the greater good. In this moment we have met new talents, heard new voices and accepted viewpoints other than our own. New ideas, models and strategies were developed and perfected in newly-connective ways. Bringing everyone to the table – even virtually – has been propulsive and positive for our industry. We are best prepared for persistent technological disruption as a united community. Together we not only survived, we thrived…and made it better. We innovated and transformed.

Our HITS: Spring program celebrates both, on two stages, by featuring cutting-edge thought-leadership and technology as well as our collective and continuing professional evolution.



8:45 – 8:55 a.m.
Opening Remarks
Guy Finley, President & Chief Executive Officer, MESA

8:55 – 9 a.m.
Conference Welcome Remarks
Chinar Patel, Director, IBM Security

9 – 9:15 a.m.
Securing Everything – An Introduction to Zero Trust
Who can you trust? If you are following a strict zero trust philosophy, the answer is no one and nothing. Is this achievable? Is it practical? Does it even make business sense? This session will discuss the principles that underlie the zero trust philosophy along with providing some context of the origins of this approach and how it has evolved to become a top concern for organizations today.
Jeff Crume, Distinguished Engineer, Chief Technology Officer Americas Security Technical Sales, IBM Master Inventor



9:15 – 9:45 a.m.
“Where’s the Beef?” ETC Digs Deep into the Meat of Virtual Production
Are you fluent with the key aspects and considerations around Virtual Production and Cloud workflows? The Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California (ETC) produced a bespoke R&D short film testing virtual and remote production. In conjunction with USC School of Cinematic Arts grad students and alum, this initiative provided a real-world pressure-test of the critical steps required in restarting and continuing film productions in a new world due to the COVID shelter in place orders and social distancing. How do we get back to work with the majority of work now being conducted remotely? Which are the best solutions for studios to continue production during these times? This high-level discussion will explore and unpack the plan and process behind the “Ripple Effect” project – and share the wealth data learned during the production and delivery.
Kathryn Brillhart, Executive Producer & Director of Virtual Production, Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California (ETC@USC)
Greg Ciaccio, Production & Post Technology Design, Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California (ETC@USC)
Erik Weaver, Director of Adaptive Production and Special Projects, Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California (ETC@USC)

9:45 – 10:15 a.m.
KEYNOTE: Writing the Playbook on Virtual Production
Our Keynote presenter authored the Virtual Production Field Guide for Epic Games in 2019 and has just released Volume 2 in early April. This compendium of creatives, technologies and information has quickly become the Bible for Hollywood and is quickly becoming essential reading for any content creation. This session digs deeper into the evolution of virtual production workflows and how these techniques have moved from stealthy POCs to standard operating procedure for many streaming feature and episodic content currently in production. Drawing from interviews of dozens of directors, cinematographers, producers, visual effects supervisors, animators, compositors, Unreal Engine artists, systems integration specialists, and more, you’ll hear from many of these individuals expressed their unbridled enthusiasm for how positively “real-time” technology impacts their workflow.
Noah Kadner, Senior Writer, Epic Games/Unreal Engine

10:15 -10:45 a.m.
Wrangling Ones and Zeros: The Wild Wild West of Virtualized Production
A streaming original’s camera operator uploads his footage to his personal cloud for “personal backup.” A network show’s music editor posts a “really cool” music cue to SoundCloud. A toy manufacturer machinist snaps and shares a candid photo of an action figure well before the parent film is destined for public eyes! All these incidents have happened, and will continue to happen, as opportunities for crucial IP leakage have never been more pervasive across the supply chain. This mission-critical discussion dives into the latest innovations in secure, remote, cloud-based environments and how they integrate into the enterprise and broader supply chain. Whether you are onboarding, cutting, visualizing, creating music or rendering VFX, this session highlights emerging technologies and solutions that are virtualizing critical workflows across production.
Joachim “JZ” Zell, Hollywood Professional Association (HPA)



9:15 – 9:45 a.m.
How Transparency Ensures DEI, Accessibility & Belonging in Leadership
Ongoing research tells the story clearly: companies which make unwavering commitment to diverse leadership are able to engage and keep top talent, improve clarity in decision-making, and improve customer experiences. (McKinsey – “Why Diversity Matters”) In a period of unprecedented cultural movement, is our industry riding the wave or just staying afloat? Which companies and individuals are setting the bar as high as possible and leveraging opportunities for necessary change? The ability to truly understand and trust a company’s actions requires a fully open-book posture. Hear the POV of those leading the charge for change in diversity, equity and inclusion – and how they are making positive things happen.
Moderator: Jeanette DePatie, Owner, Propellerhead
Ana Achaval, Tri-Chair, WiTH DEIAB Committee and Global Execution for Brand, Creative, & Media, Intel
iAsia Brown, Tri-Chair, WiTH DEIAB Committee and Data & AI Specialist, Microsoft
Gina Cavalier, Tri-Chair, WiTH DEIAB Committee and Founder & Teacher, The Liberated Healer
Lydia Elle, Chief Executive Officer, Supplies For Allies
Dr. Michael V. Nguyen, Ph.D., Founder, Chief Innovation & Inclusion Officer, Inclusive Insights, LLC
Michele Spitz, Woman of Her Word

9:45 – 10 a.m.
Driving Operational Agility with a Virtual Workforce
The media and entertainment industry has undergone a tectonic shift in the past year as consumers have sought to replace physical experiences with digital ones. Companies have had to transform on the fly to stay ahead of rapidly evolving revenue generation models. And they’ve had to find ways to release capital trapped within archaic organizational structures and sub-optimal processes to fund growth. Empowering their distributed workforce with digital solutions is at the heart of this winning transformation strategy. Join this session to learn how augmented intelligence can enable your media company to keep up with changing customer behavior, transform the employee experience, and boost revenue and growth. Discover how having the right operating model with a mature data ecosystem is becoming central to delivering on businesses’ information needs and to drive operational agility.
Brajesh Jha, Global Head, Media & Entertainment, Genpact

10 – 10:30 a.m.
KEYNOTE: Developing Teams, Services and Customers at Scale
As our industry emerges from the chaos of the past year, our Opening Keynote addresses the environment that IT leaders need to create in order to recruit, foster, and grow the leaders of tomorrow. Moving beyond the mission statement mentality and conference table directed strategy of conventional IT, this presentation helps create a new direction for your team to become ambassadors, advocates, and stewards of customer satisfaction that evolves from the voices, demands, and wishes of the consumer We’ll address people and process as a leadership strategy that unfolds as a way of directed action that keeps pace with technology disruption to create profit and generate product perpetuation. Growth is the outcome of an environment (home or office) where the willing and able are encouraged to attempt and perform. Learn how to create an environment that treats failure as an indispensable teacher in developing the people who create your culture that encourages teams to think and act. This is the marriage of anticipation and action where delivering value is a product of cooperation and collaboration. You’ll learn how to attract and engage customers by “closing the circle” in all aspects of communication, a critical tactic for five-star reviews and performance testimonials.
Bill Wooditch, Speaker, Chief Executive Officer, Entrepreneur, Sales and Leadership Coach, Author

10:30 – 10:45 a.m.
Breaking (Down) the News: A New Evolution in Real-Time Data Empowerment
In this unique “inside look” session, learn how Microstrategy and ABC Local News are innovating how data drives real-time empowerment in broadcasting. Utilizing a new methodology for the automation of insights, news management teams are able to deploy resources timely, track viewership-to-goals and merge both incoming and historical data. Join us to discover how this strategy is streamlining decision-making and deepening user engagement across today’s increasingly dense news cycles.
Sahand Sepehrnia, Executive Director, Content Strategy & Analysis, The Walt Disney Company
Jim Whelehan, Senior Account Executive, M&E, MicroStrategy



10:45 – 11:15 a.m.
CELEBRITY KEYNOTE: Reimagining the Moviegoing Experience
During this special interactive unveiling, Mandel will utilize Magic Screen to reintroduce Bobby, his iconic character from the Emmy Award-nominated animated series Bobby’s World, and engage with the HITS crowd. Magic Screen is a joint venture between Mandel’s production company Alevy Productions and Los Angeles-based Super 78 Studios. Technology partners Microsoft and NVIDIA supply the hardware and software to power Geppetto, a proprietary real-time animation system built by Super 78 that renders the 3D version of Bobby.
Moderator: Guy Finley, President & Chief Executive Officer, MESA
Howie Mandel, Producer, Alevy Productions
Joel Sloss, Senior Program Manager, Microsoft
Brent Young, President & Creative Director, Super78

11:15 – 11:20 a.m.
Innovation and Transformation Showcase Introductions
Caroline Baines, Member Services Director, MESA
Guy Finley, President & Chief Executive Officer, MESA
David Millar, Business Development Director, Europe, MESA
Dann Novak, Chief of Staff, MESA
Evie Silvers, Director of Business Development, MESA
Mary Yurkovic, Director, Smart Content

11:20 – 11:30 a.m.

11:30 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Industry experts share innovative ideas, processes, or perspectives in an interactive and intimate way with the audience who are free to choose which topic/area they find most interesting. Sessions will address key areas on SIX separate tracks:


1:15 – 1:25 p.m.
During this networking break, it is all about you, the individual who has come to realize that you hold the power to heal yourself in a variety of ways. “We are here to teach, educate, and provide the support, tools and the up-to-date information you need to guide you on your journey of self-realization. Energy is always dynamic and never static and learning how to recognize and control your own energy will help you in every aspect of your life. This may include your relationships, career, creativity, health, fears, and anxiety while gaining an authentic understanding of your soul’s purpose and how to recognize if you are on the right path. Not all meditations are alike. Learn the tools here to heal yourself and others from suffering, while being part of a supportive community.” (Gina Cavalier) The online meditation is offered via Zoom, with attendees encouraged to wear whatever they feel comfortable in, with lighting, blankets and water in their personal space recommended. Attendees can leave their cameras on or off for the entire period and a chair with a strong back is recommended during the meditation.
Gina Cavalier, Founder & Teacher, The Liberated Healer



1:25 – 1:30 p.m.
Welcome Back Remarks
Guy Finley, President & Chief Executive Officer, MESA



1:30 – 1:45 p.m.
Virtuous Innovation: How Innovation Ecosystems Enhance Corporate Outcomes
Award-winning executive, entrepreneur and philanthropist, Shelton Mercer has founded, led and exited venture-backed companies in tech, media, entertainment sports and social impact. Mercer has created a global, gravitational pull through his Virtuous Innovation ™ methodology and MiOS ™ — Mercer Innovation Outcomes System which merge invention, equity, incubation and commercialization to launch and scale new companies and collaborations. Mercer has taken entrepreneurial x educational x enterprise x economic ecosystems to new heights through the creation of multiple innovation districts, hubs and initiatives and a global network. At HITS Spring event Mercer will give attendees a front row view into some of the principles and key initiatives that illustrate Virtuous Innovation ™ and MiOS ™ in action and enhance corporate innovation outcomes.
Shelton Mercer, Founder & Chairman, Mercer Innovation

1:45 – 2:15 p.m.
The New Normal: A Post Covid Content Ecosystem Today, Tomorrow, Forever
Covid-19 has been and continues to be, one of the greatest global disruptions of our lifetime. Within the media and entertainment industry, the changes that have come from TV and movie viewing over the past year are positioned to remain that way for years to come. Billion-dollar blockbusters were challenged by a shrinking theatrical window and an increasingly competitive streaming environment. Now, SVODs have normalized direct-to-consumer releases, and with the acceleration of AVOD, consumers are finding alternative ways to consume content. The ever-changing content climate only continues to transform itself as media companies struggle to optimize releases for fixed schedules, primetime TV slots or popular holiday milestones. In order to tackle this new world of what to watch, you must be able to identify the demand for content, understand consumer data and leverage audience engagement metrics to predict title success. Born from the pandemic were new strategic workflows along with a new way of conducting business, which have altered the way the industry operates. Join our panel to hear from industry experts on adapting to today’s new normal and how to prepare for the future with an advantageous content strategy plan; turning the Covid chaos into a change for the better.
Introduction by Anthony Anderson, Executive Producer/Actor
Moderator: Carol Hanley, Co-President, Whip Media
Richard Brookbanks, Vice President Financial Controller, The Walt Disney Company
Will Gurman, Vice President, Global Content Partnerships, PlutoTV

2:15 – 2:30 p.m.
Navigating the New Norm of Box Office & Engagement
As we move beyond isolation and back to our “normal” we have a unique opportunity to analyze changes in viewing behavior, sentiment and the associated implications on programming choices, theatrical attendance, release windows and streaming services. Measurement and reporting in a rapidly changing environment requires new approaches to quickly understand why viewers are engaging in content, beyond just traditional viewership metrics, and how to interpret and adjust to those patterns in real-time, whether that be data-driven or new workflow automation processes. ETC is developing next-generation applications drawn from AI and neuroscience for the media and entertainment industry. This session looks at building a comprehensive knowledge engine to help media and entertainment companies develop deep, “genomics”-type insights into how their content resonates with audiences.
Yves Bergquist, Director, AI & Neuroscience in Media Project, Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California (ETC@USC)

2:30 – 3 p.m.
Driving Delivery of Global OTT
Driving opportunities in global end-to-end efficiencies throughout our distribution supply chain is essential to our evolution out of the pandemic. The pressure felt across multiple business units within content companies to build out their global digital supply chain is immense. With the increase in volume and the demands of global scale, there is a growing expectation from every link in the chain which culminates in the end-user experience and subscriber growth. As data and processes become more efficient, more reliable, and more transparent, our supply chain grows exponentially along with the content being delivered through it. What are the strategies and methodologies OTT organizations are using when they bottleneck? What’s working and what isn’t? Experts in this session provide insight into how we can work the chain more effectively towards our industry’s direct to consumer future.
Moderators: Matt Turner, Chair, Applied Data Working Group and Mary Yurkovic, Director, Smart Content
Sharon Elliott, Head of Global Operations Development, Amazon Studios
David Klee, Vice President, Strategic Media Solutions, A+E Networks



1:30 – 2 p.m.
Transforming Our Industry Through Community & Volunteerism
Our afternoon panel discussion kicks off the Transformation Stage by highlighting the prolific work being done across Women in Technology: Hollywood. Through our engaged Board and Committees we’ve produced over 20 virtual events and transformed our engaged community through our committee based activities around community building, professional development, mentoring & networking and more. By moving our “tent-pole” events to single-day, stand-alone community engagement activities, WiTH has truly transformed over the past year both retroactively and prospectively as we look to the rest of 2021!
Moderator: Nina Skorus-Neely, WiTH Foundation Secretary, Women in Technology Hollywood
Christina Aguilera, WiTH Foundation President and Head of Technology Workflow & Strategy, Amazon Studios
Nadya Ichinomiya, WiTH Foundation Chair and Executive Director, Head of Agile Center of Excellence
Iseabail Lane, Co-Chair, WiTH Professional Development Committee
Cybill Miklaszewski, Co-Chair, WiTH Mentoring & Networking Committee
April Schneider, Chair, WiTH Community Engagement Committee

2 – 2:15 p.m.
Securing Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) is utilized across a wide variety of industries to automate human capabilities and streamline workflows, increase productivity and efficiencies, lower costs, and solve complex problems. From Siri suggestions, to smart cars, to asset creation for films or games, to box office prediction models, the applications of AI are seemingly limitless. However, just as AI can be used to make our lives easier, these algorithms can be stolen and leveraged for nefarious purposes. AI models are expensive and time-consuming to build, and as such are extremely valuable intellectual property to protect. Just as we protect or data and computer networks from hacking, securing AI solutions is critical to prevent misuse or interference. Here we will discuss current developments in securing AI from existing attacks (including data poisoning, network copying/cloning, privacy issues etc.) such as model obfuscation, watermarking, and incremental learning.
Will Hickie, Data Science Architect, Irdeto

2:15 – 2:30 p.m.
Experience Ecosystem – Where Virtual breathes Life into Real(ity)
Humans are all about creating stories from experiences. In today’s hyperconnected, personalized and boundaryless world, lines have disappeared between real and virtual. At TCS, we believe Virtual breathes Life in Real world and Real life experiences help enhance the Virtual world. The key challenge however currently there are a disparate number of companies trying to address our needs and wants without really tapping into a holistic ecosystem for experiences. This is the next frontier to explore.
Sabyasachi “Saby” Mitra, Global Head – Operating Model Transformation Industry Advisor & Lead – Strategic Accounts
Communications, Media & Information Services Business Group, Tata Consultancy Services

2:30 – 3 p.m.
Wide, Wide World of Content: Scaling to Ubiquity
Media companies are transforming their people, processes and technologies. Today’s digital opportunities allow faster content distribution and business model experimentation. The discussion is targeted to media company business-and-technology leaders who seek bleeding-edge strategies and flaw technologies. The audience interactive conversation will explore: Why ubiquitous access to content is critical for brands? The challenges of launching a new channel versus being included on an existing channel. Is there still room for long tail programming on highly differentiated channels? The content technology stack – build? Buy? or license? And much more. This panel discussion, moderated by Bob Gold (Bob Gold & Associates), will feature Vikrant Mathur (Future Today), Max Einhorn, SVP of Acquisitions & Co-Productions at FilmRise and Principal Media CEO Gary Rosenson.
Moderator: Bob Gold, CEO & Founder, Bob Gold & Associates
Max Einhorn, Senior Vice President, Acquisitions & Co-Productions, FilmRise
Vikrant Mathur, Chief Executive Officer & Founder, Future Today
Gary Rosenson, Chief Executive Officer, Principal Media



3 – 3:30 p.m.
CLOSING KEYNOTE: Disruptive by Design – Design Thinking’s Approach to Global Problem-Solving
Our Innovation Keynote speaker is at the forefront of the next generation of design thinking. He has worked with many of Hollywood’s ‘A-list’ directors, including Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, David Fincher, to name a few. As well as top-brands ranging from Apple, to RED/cameras, Samsung, BMW, and more. Highly regarded in the film, game, advertising, and design industries, with multiple awards and patents, he’s worked on a diverse portfolio of projects ranging from entertainment, to medical, tech, and sustainability. This broad experience drives the core strategic ideas he uses when working with global leaders, international researchers, innovators, and educational institutions. Nurturing creativity to overcome global problems in order to effect change in a real way, he addresses a wide range of topics from current water shortage crises to the revolution of our educational systems through implementing already existing tech. His HITS:Spring presentation will address how creative strategies can impact organizational breakdowns and provide insights to overcome communication barriers and cross-platform integration. He’ll revisit the ever growing disconnect between creative lateral thinking and the deep dive of basic research by discussing future design thinking and how to best prepare for the exponential acceleration of a t-shaped world in a future dominated by Artificial Intelligence.
Jeff Julian, Founder, Lab5

3:30 p.m.
Closing Remarks/Networking Reception
Guy Finley, President, MESA


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