Judges

The industry judges for the 2019 Big Break Contest are listed below. Final Draft thanks these executives and managers for their time and passion for supporting scriptwriters.


  • Jeff Portnoy
    Bellevue ProductionsPrior to joining Bellevue, Jeff Portnoy worked at Creative Artists Agency, The Gotham Group, Resolution Talent Agency and Heretic Literary Management. At CAA, Jeff worked as a story analyst for six years, writing coverage and story notes for scripts written by clients and projects set up at major production companies and studios.

    Jeff’s clients include Josh Golden, whose script Road to Oz landed on the prestigious Black List, was an Academy Nicholl Fellowship Finalist and sold to New Line Cinema; Mark Mavrothalasitis, who has projects set up at Alcon Entertainment and Awesomeness Film & TV; and writing team Samuel Franco & Evan Kilgore, whose script Mayday 109 is set up at Thunder Road Pictures.

    Originally from Massachusetts, Jeff received a bachelor of fine arts degree in film production from Point Park University in Pittsburgh and studied film and television writing at UCLA Extension.


  • Daniela Gonzales
    Circle of ConfusionDaniela Gonzalez is a literary manager at Circle of Confusion, a feature film & television production and management company with offices in New York and Los Angeles. Daniela identifies as a TCI – a third culture individual: Venezuelan-born, with a childhood in South East Asia, Daniela’s found her roots in the United States. Her international background informs her taste as she builds her roster of clients who have unique voices and backgrounds. Daniela holds a BA in Film Production with a minor in Film Producing from New York University.

  • Jewerl Ross
    Silent R ManagementJewerl Ross grew up in Los Angeles and left Southern California to study political philosophy at Yale. After graduating in 1997, he returned to L.A. to work in entry-level positions at ICM and Paradigm before joining APA as an agent in early 1999. Three years later, after making a name for himself selling spec scripts, Marathon Entertainment hired Ross as a manager. In January 2006, Ross left to form his own company, Silent R Management.

    Some of Ross’ director clients include: Academy Award Winner Barry Jenkins, the writer and director of Moonlight for A24 and Brad Pitt’s Plan B. Moonlight was nominated for 8 Academy Awards and won 3 (Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor). Barry previously directed Medicine for Melancholy. Brad Buecker, executive producer and director on American Horror Story on FX. Buecker is currently under an overall deal at Twentieth Century Fox. Buecker is in post-production on his debut feature Billy Boy, starring Blake Jenner (Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some, Glee) and Melissa Benoist (CBS’ Supergirl). Stephen Piet’s film Uncle John recently premiered in competition at the 2015 SXSW and he is currently directing all six episodes of season 2 of Channel Zero for Syfy and UCP. Patrick Wang’s film The Grief of Others premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and SXSW.

    Some of Ross’ writer clients include: Matthew Aldrich who is currently writing Opening Belle for Warner Bros. and Reese Witherspoon. Matt also wrote Coco for Pixar Animation Studios and director Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3) which is slated for a 2017 release. Aldrich also wrote Father Daughter Time: A Tale of Armed Robbery and Eskimo Kisses that Warner Bros. purchased in a bidding war for Matt Damon. That script was #5 on “The Black List”. Jack Stanley sold his original screenplay Possession: A Love Story to financier Ken Kao with Ross attached to produce; Jim Byrkit (Coherence) is attached to direct and Blake Lively is attached to star. Stanley’s original screenplay Sweetheart was #15 on “The Black List” and landed Patty Jenkins to direct. Jack also wrote Chronicle 2 at Fox. Our Lady J, who is currently a writer and producer on Transparent for Amazon Studios. Moises Zamora is a staff writer on Fox’s Star and was previously on ABC’s American Crime. Evan Endicott is writing and producing the AMC’s series Into the Badlands. Evan just was hired to adapt the book Florida Roadkill to series for Sonar Entertainment. Sam Sheridan, whose original pilot Caligo Nox was set up with CBS Television Studios and producer Eric Tannenbaum is currently staffed on SEAL Team at CBS.
    .


  • Kailey Marsh
    Brillstein Entertainment PartnersKailey Marsh is a literary manager & producer at Brillstein Entertainment Partners. She created The BloodList in 2009 while still an assistant at Circle of Confusion, and after having worked as an assistant on the break out hit PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. Kailey struck out on her own to pursue a career in management with a specialty in horror and dark genre writers, directors, and creators in the film and television
    space.

    Kailey joined Brillstein Entertainment Partners as a literary manager and producer in the fall of 2018. Prior to Brillstein, Kailey founded her own management and production company, Kailey Marsh Media which she ran for over five years. Among other projects, Kailey is an Executive Producer on the HULU / Awesomeness horror series, LIGHT AS A FEATHER. She also represents the showrunner and a Co-EP on the series. Her dream is to win a Best Picture Oscar for a horror film she’s produced.


  • John Zaozirny
    Bellevue ProductionsJohn Zaozirny is a principal at Bellevue Productions, where he oversees a slate of film and television projects and heads their literary management department. His projects include Blond Ambition by Elyse Hollander, set up at Universal Pictures and produced alongside Michael De Luca and Brett Ratner; Infinite by Ian Shorr, set up at Paramount Pictures and produced alongside Lorenzo Di Bonaventura; Eli by David Chirchirillo, set up at Broad Green Pictures; Capsule by Ian Shorr, set up at Twentieth Century Fox and produced alongside Hutch Parker; and Cristo by Ian Shorr, which was set up at Warner Brothers and is now set up at Audible.com as an audio mini-series.

    Eli, Cristo, and Capsule made the prestigious annual Black List, the collection of the best unproduced screenplays of the year, as voted on by film industry executives and Blond Ambition topped the 2016 Black List.

    John most recently produced Parallel alongside Bron Studios, which stars Aml Ameen, Martin Wallstrom, Georgia King and Mark O’Brien. Parallel was written by Bellevue client Scott Blaszak and directed by Isaac Ezban. John also produced Always Watching, written by Bellevue client Ian Shorr and directed by James Moran. As a literary manager, John’s clients including Ian Shorr (Infinite, Always Watching, Office Uprising, Splinter) David Chirchirillo (Cheap Thrills, Eli, Good Match), Scott Blaszak (Parallel), Andrew Zilch (A Crooked Somebody), Peter Gamble (Office Uprising), Elyse Hollander (Blond Ambition), Kathy Charles (Kings of Maine), Edwin Cannistraci (Pierre, Pierre), Chris Thomas Devlin (The Wretched Emily Derringer), and Tom Cartier (The Builder). Raised in Vancouver, Canada, John is a graduate of the Tisch Film and Television program at New York University.


  • Natalie Covault
    Brillstein Entertainment PartnersNatalie Covault is a manager at Brillstein Entertainment Partners. She represents writers and directors in both TV and film. Hailing from Kansas City, Missouri, she began her career in entertainment working in the comedy touring department at APA. After working with the industry’s top standup comedians, she transitioned into literary representation and joined Brillstein in 2013. As an assistant, she worked with many of Brillstein’s clients and began building her own list of artists including a slew of up-and-coming writers. Natalie is a graduate from the University of Nebraska where she received her BFA in Film and New Media at the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film.

  • Scott Stoops
    Good FearScott Stoops is a manager at Good Fear, a production/management company based in Los Angeles. The company represents writers, directors, actors, comic book publishers, authors and more. Hailing from Seattle, Washington (go Hawks), Scott started in the industry working at Paradigm, where he was an agent trainee in the feature literary department. He transitioned to Benderspink in 2014, and followed Chris Bender and Jake Weiner to their new outfit Good Fear. Today he represents a variety of emerging writers and filmmakers, and has sold both TV and film projects including Man Alive which was written by Joe Greenberg and sold to Fox with Noah Hawley (creator of FX’s Fargo) directing. Passionate about all things elevated and genre, his favorite films/shows of the last few years include Wild Tales, Coherence, BBC’s Black Mirror and the UK TV series Utopia. He is an avid consumer of horror, science fiction, comic books and comedy.

  • Sonia Gambaro
    PollinateSonia A. Gambaro is a producer & manager based in Los Angeles. She launched her own shingle, POLLINATE ENTERTAINMENT to develop and produce diverse stories for TV, Film, Digital and VR at the top of 2017. Prior to starting her own company Sonia was the development executive at Madhouse Entertainment where she focused on acquiring rights to various types of intellectual properties; books, international formats, articles, and life rights, to adapt for film & television. She had previously took a step down in position to work as an assistant for Madhouse Co-President, Adam Kolbrenner to learn the finer aspects of management. Two lengthy stints at Televisa USA as the Development Coordinator and Paradigm Talent Agency as an Agent Trainee were integral to creating her foundation. As a student at UCLA, Sonia interned at Todd Garner’s Broken Road Productions and Gary Goetzman’s and Tom Hanks’ banner, Playtone.

  • Brian Spink
    REALMA literary manager/producer at management company REALM which he started over five years ago. Prior to that, he spent over a decade at Benderspink. He represents screenwriters, TV writers, and directors as well as comic book and video game writers. Brian is one of the producers behind Sony’s Ratter movie which he discovered as a short film and developed into a screenplay. Film projects that Brian is producing include Abducted at Paramount, Last Voyage Of The Demeter at Millennium, and The Champion at Endurance. His clients have worked at every studio and with A-list filmmakers including Sam Raimi, Roland Emmerich, Michael Mann, Robert Zemeckis, Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy, Michael Bay, Ridley Scott, David Goyer, Neal Moritz, Drew Goddard, Gale Anne Hurd, Chuck Roven, Eva Longoria, and Will Smith.

  • Audrey Knox
    The CartelAudrey Knox is currently at the Cartel, a management and production company with clients on shows including LUCIFER, HAPPY!, BLACK LIGHTNING, and STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, where she worked her way up from Receptionist to Executive Assistant to Coordinator. She has experience in both scripted and unscripted television, on set, in production, and in writers’ rooms, and she has a BFA in Screenwriting from Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. Her true passion lies in producing depressingly introspective comedies, but she’s never met a British gangster drama she hasn’t liked. Audrey also has a three-year old rescue mutt who has performed with the hit comedy rap trio “Three Loco.”

  • Markus Goerg
    Heroes and Villains EntertainmentMarkus Goerg was born and raised in Germany and came to the US in 1997 to attend Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, where he graduated cum laude in 2000 with a degree in photography and cinematography. After spending years at two major talent and literary agencies, and running development for a film and television director thereafter, Markus partnered with his long-time friends Mikhail Nayfeld and Dick Hillenbrand in November 2007, the trio founding Heroes and Villains Entertainment, making a dream come true. Markus primarily focuses on unique voices in the drama, thriller and action genres as well as IP creators in those arenas. He’s worked with numerous storytellers in film, TV, comic books and novels, and enjoys helping his clients excel in their respective areas of interest.

    When Markus is not working on his clients’ behalf, he enjoys watching some of his favorite television shows, movies, spinning, working out, making furniture for his house, or creating various, photography-related art projects. He loves staying active and participated in the Los Angeles marathon in 2014, which he finished in just under six hours. He became a dual citizen (US/Germany) in the fall of 2010.


  • Chris Coggins
    Heroes and Villains EntertainmentChris Coggins has over a decade of experience in feature, television and digital series development and production. She began her career directly after graduation from The University of Southern California School for Cinematic Arts working as a Creative Assistant at Escape Artists/Sony Pictures.

    At Escape Artists she assisted on productions The Pursuit of Happyness, The Weather Man, The Taking of Pelham 123, Knowing and The Great Debaters. There, she ascended through the ranks and procured numerous projects for the company including The Ends of the Earth, Fall From Grace, Seven Pounds, Masterpiece, Rumspringa! and I Want to *$&% Your Sister. She also secured the scripts for and co-produced The Back-Up Plan and Hope Springs. Coggins then moved on to working at Allison Shearmur Productions at her home studio Lionsgate and procured projects Burial Rites, Endangered and Nerve for the studio. There, she also developed Pride, Prejudice and Zombies and Cinderella. She then progressed to Rock Paper Scissors Entertainment as Head of Development. There she built a production slate, produced the PSA Take Yourself on a Date and was responsible for development on the company’s new media projects for The Oscars, HBO and Amazon. Coggins recent independent projects include producing the spec pilot Angelino Heights, PSA Not on My Watch and the music video for Alekesam’s All is Forgiven. Next, Coggins worked at Luc Besson’s studio EuropaCorp and procured projects Unt. Aniston Superhero Project, Fae and the English-language remake for the Japanese blockbuster Shield of Straw.

    She recently moved into management at Heroes and Villains Entertainment representing writer, actors, directors and wellness professionals. Currently, She is a member of Film Independent, LACMA, the LA Conservancy and the spcaLA.


  • Zack Zucker
    Bellevue ProductionsZack Zucker is a Junior Manager at Bellevue Productions. Hailing from Michigan, he holds an MFA from the USC’s Peter Stark Producing Program, and has worked at Google, United Talent Agency, 20th Century Fox, and as an independent producer.

    Bellevue Productions is a Literary Management company. On the feature side, Bellevue has had the #1 script on the 2016 Black List and 2018 Blood List, respectively, has set up projects at numerous studios, and has a feature in post-production at Paramount Players. On the TV side, Bellevue has staffed clients on numerous shows, such as MR. ROBOT, CLOAK AND DAGGER, and THE CONTINENTAL.


  • Krista Sipp
    First Friday EntertainmentKrista Sipp is a literary manager based out of Los Angeles. She and her partner, Devon Byers, founded First Friday Entertainment in 2017. First Friday is a management and production company representing writers, directors, and producers in the film, TV, and digital space. Originally from Connecticut, Krista started her career at management company Circle of Confusion in 2008. After holding positions at studios and production companies across the industry, she returned to Circle of Confusion in 2015 before moving on to launch her own company. Currently, Krista is focused on developing clients with fresh voices and diverse points of view. She loves to discover writers and directors that traditionally have been under-represented. Her clients have worked on projects such as TRANSPARENT, LIVING SINGLE, FAMILY GUY, DR. KEN, as well as the comic book HARRIET TUBMAN: DEMON SLAYER.

  • Zach Book
    All Trades ContentZach got his foot in the door working in Baltimore on The Wire before moving to LA and working for Jerry Bruckheimer Television. In 2012, he partnered with Die Hard and Commando writer Steven De Souza to develop for film and TV, selling projects to FX, Hulu, and UCP among others. Zach transitioned from development into management at Pathfinder Media, before starting ALL TRADES CONTENT where he represents writers, directors, IP and companies, while also producing for TV, film and digital.

  • Chelsea Benson
    Echo Lake EntertainmentChelsea Marelle Benson came to Echo Lake after earning her Master’s Degree in Producing from AFI in Los Angeles. She holds a BA degree in Film Production (with a minor in Literature) and a BFA degree in Dance from the University of Arizona. As a performer, she brings a unique perspective on entertainment as it relates to film and television and provides a fresh approach to the management team at Echo Lake.

  • Jonathan Hersh
    Housefire ManagementAfter graduating from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, Jon Hersh went on to become a full-time story analyst at Creative Artists Agency. During his tenure there, he evaluated thousands of screenplays, pilots, and books, and gave detailed story notes to high-level clients of the agency. After four years at CAA, Jon moved on to the fledgling mini-studio Broad Green Pictures where he worked as an executive in development for the 100-employee company. Jon had a hand in developing a slate of quality projects for the company and delivering detailed notes to writers and executives. In the fall of 2017, Jon left Broad Green to create his own literary management company, Housefire Management, which represents writers and directors in film, television, and digital content. The company specializes in deep development, strong client relationships, and incendiary material that stands out like a house on fire.

  • Matt Dy
    Literary Manager, Lit Entertainment GroupMatt Dy attended the University of Texas at Austin and received a Bachelor of Science in Radio/TV/Film with a focus on screenwriting. He recently joined Adam Kolbrenner’s newly formed Lit Entertainment Group as a literary manager. Previously, he worked at Austin Film Festival (AFF) since 2008 where he served as the Director of Script Competitions and facilitated the evaluation of thousands of annual script submissions reaching a record 10,580 submissions in 2018. During his time at AFF, he helped shepherd the careers of countless writers and connect them with various top agents, managers, and producers.

  • Mitch Solomon
    Authentic Talent and Literary ManagementWhen Magnet Management formed its production arm, Pull Pictures, the company created a partnership with producer Mitch Solomon. Besides producing, Mitch also segued into managing screenwriters and directors at Magnet, where he has represented a number of established filmmakers and writers in both film and TV. In his time at Magnet, Pull Pictures has set up feature films in development at all the major studios. Among these are The Blacksmith at Sony, Hourglass at Fox and The Creepy Kid at Paramount. There are also television projects in development including Saint Anne at HBO and The Cornbread Mafia at Paramount TV. On the independent film side, the most recently completed movie is Pacific Standard Time, starring Alex Russell, Willa Holland and Miguel Gomez. Previously Mitch was the production head of The Bubble Factory and president of the feature film division at Film Roman. At Film Roman, he was responsible for creating the first feature film division for the company best known for its work-for-hire business in animated television. My First Mister, starring Albert Brooks and Leelee Sobieski, was the first live-action movie produced by Solomon for the company. That film opened the Sundance Film Festival and was distributed by Paramount Classics. While at the company, his division sold live-action films to Universal, Disney, Columbia and Paramount, while selling animated films to Universal, Disney, the French company TF1, as well as independent financiers out of South Korea, Taiwan and Israel. Prior to joining Film Roman, Solomon was the senior vice president of production at FilmColony, where he managed daily operations and supervised the development and production of a variety of films including Lasse Hallstrom’s The Cider House Rules, 54, starring Mike Myers and She’s All That, with Freddie Prinze Jr. and Rachael Leigh Cook. Before FilmColony, he developed film projects such as Universal Pictures’ The Family Man and DreamWorks’ Mouse Hunt. He also served as director of development for Wildwood Enterprises, where he was involved in the development of The American President and Quiz Show.

  • Jon Karas
    Infinity ManagementJon Karas is an established entertainment industry entrepreneur. He founded Infinity Management International in 1990, after working as a literary executive at the William Morris Agency, in film and television packaging. He currently represents top film and television writers and directors. His clients and collaborators include Ted Melfi (St. Vincent), Jim Uhls (Fight Club, Jumper), Sheldon Lettich (Max, Double Impact), Norman Steinberg (My Favorite Year, The Cosby Show), Douglas Day Stewart (An Officer and a Gentleman, The Blue Lagoon), Kenny Golde (End of Eternity), Maxwell Atoms (Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy) and Roger Towne (The Natural, The Recruit), among many others. He has packaged and produced content across all media, structured numerous financing agreements and negotiated and drafted complex contracts in this capacity.

    Mr. Karas formed Institutional Media Investments with Caspar von Winterfeldt in 2010, raising capital and serving in an advisory capacity to a number of technology companies, media companies and film funds, including Hemisphere Media Capital (World War Z, Men in Black III and The Smurfs, etc.).

    Mr. Karas is a founding partner of Arkham House Entertainment, a production and licensing company that controls all of the film and television rights to the works of H.P. Lovecraft and everything published by Arkham House Publishing. Currently the company has joint venture deals and/or is developing content with Radar Pictures, Napalm Films, Pukeko Pictures, Boom Studios (comics and graphic novels), Darko Entertainment and Radio Archives (audio books.)


  • Tony Zequeira
    Super VisionTony Zequeira has been working in the entertainment business since 1998. An alumnus of FSU Film School, Tony has gone from film maker to agent to manager and now producer. His unique perspective and focus on young up and coming talent provides his clients with advice and guidance that usually only comes from industry veterans.

    Tony has his own management/production company, SUPER VISION. He affectionately kids about his clients, calling them tomorrow’s talent, today, at yesterday’s prices. But the results are very real, with most of his clients already working on their first big breakout projects within their first year. Tony himself is also currently putting together two independent features which he will produce this year and in early 2018.


  • Spencer Robinson
    Art/Work Entertainment

    Spencer Robinson was born and raised in Los Angeles, and got his start in the film industry as a production assistant on glamorous productions like car commercial, cereal commercial, and other car commercial. He then landed a job in the mailroom at MBST Entertainment, where he learned about management from some of the legends of “old-school Hollywood.”

    Spencer then moved to an assistant desk at Cornice Entertainment, and eventually to Howard Entertainment. At Howard Ent, Spencer worked with actors, writers, and comedians. It was here that not only advanced his knowledge of talent and lit, but he also learned all about managing tour dates for nationally and internationally touring comics.

    After a 2-year stint at Howard Entertainment, Spencer spent 5 years as a musician touring in a rock ‘n’ roll band, playing for audiences across 15 countries. Once he returned from this adventure, he came back to the film industry, working as an assistant at Verve Entertainment, where he was eventually promoted to manager. When Verve merged with Art/Work, Spencer came along for the ride, and has been there ever since.

    Art/Work Entertainment is a boutique management company that represents actors, writers, and comedians. They have writers and performers from shows like Punisher, The Magicians, Shadow and Bone, Cloak and Dagger, You, Will & Grace, The Goldbergs, and many more. They also have writers and actors working on features for major studios. The comedian clients tour nationally and internationally, and several are also hyphenates who act and write in addition to doing standup. Spencer has been a manager for 11 years. He loves to watch TV, and even sleeps sometimes.