From virtual reality experiences to multimedia mash ups of ideas, images, sound, and dialogue, technology in storytelling offers endless combinations of art and science for the scriptwriter to draw upon and for audiences to experience. With so many options, how do scriptwriters weave technology into narrative and how can they use technology to enhance the ways that they tell their story?

A panel of accomplished writers and film collaborators will explore this and other questions in an engaging and informative discussion moderated by Topanga Authors Group Coordinator, Kim Zanti.


Sara Baur Harding - 

Matt Mahurin - 

Mary Neely -

Paid parking is available at the venue. If parking on Topanga Canyon Blvd., make sure all tires are inside the white lines. Flashlights are advised for walking to your car after dark. Carpooling is encouraged.

Food and drinks available for purchase at the event. 



Topanga Community Club (map)


"Women in Cinema", an exciting statement all on its own. Join us for a panel of women  discussing the stereotypes, the achievements, and process of making a film, on screen and behind the camera, as a woman in the industry.

Even in 2015, the voice of the woman is not always the heard. To make a difference, you have to be the difference. Come and listen to ideas being articulated and enjoy the immediate inspiration to follow. 

Panelists include Jennie Lew Tugend, Brooke Anderson, and Johanna Watts. Moderated by Devon Baur.



Topanga Community Club (map)

Topanga Film Institute

Topanga Film Institute presents:
New Horizons - Exploring Storytelling in Virtual Reality

Matthew Gratzner - New Deal Studios
Zachary Richter - Vrse /
Nancy Bennet - Two Bit Circus
Eric Hanson - XRez Studio
Anders Hjemdahl - Hypnosis / Fractal Frontiers

Moderated by Camilla Andersson - Executive Director, Topanga Film Institute
with an introduction by Urs Baur - Founder of the Topanga Film Institute

Virtual Reality has been called the dawn of a completely new form of storytelling.
The new medium has a unique ability to make us feel like we’re present in another place - as passive spectators, or as part of the story.

While storytelling in VR is still largely unexplored territory, what is genuinely new, and what is relevant from other forms of storytelling? What are the challenges and possibilities for storytelling in VR, and how does this shape the stories we tell with it?

By enabling us to immersively experience other places and to share the experiences of other people, does VR have a potential to change how we understand the world and the human condition?

To address these questions, the Topanga Film Institute presents a TFI Talk round table discussion featuring a group of exceptional, award winning creative directors, film makers and producers, each with unique, hands-on experience from exploring the Virtual Reality medium.


Matthew Gratzner - Writer/Director/Producer, New Deal Studios

Matthew Gratzner is Co-Founder, Director and Creative Supervisor for New Deal Studios whose feature credit list include award winning independent films along with billion dollar franchises: Hugo, The Aviator, Shutter Island, The Dark Knight Rises, The Dark Knight, Inception, Iron Man, Alien Resurrection, Live Free or Die Hard, X-Men, Avengers, Terminator 3, Pirates of The Caribbean, Spiderman, Inception, I Am Legend and Interstellar. 

Matthew Gratzner was writer, director and producer of the groundbreaking cinematic virtual reality short film The Mission.

He was nominated for a BAFTA for his work on The Aviator and received a Primetime Emmy nomination for the visual effects on From The Earth to The Moon. He has won numerous VES awards as well as a Clio and Cannes Grand Lion for his work on the historic Halo3 “Believe” Campaign. Matthew is currently finishing post on the Western film “Hot Bath an’ a Stiff Drink” and it’s sequel that he directed, co-wrote and produced.

Zachary Richter - Creative Director, Vrse / Director,

Zach is an award-winning Director, Creative Director and Graphic Designer. Combining interactive media and technology, his work looks for new ways to tell stories.

Since 2012, he has collaborated closely with Chris Milk and in 2014, Zach worked with Milk and Beck to create, 'Sound & Vision' the world's first 360-degree live action virtual reality film, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival. This year they worked together on Evolution of Verse, which was produced by Megan Ellison (Annapurna Pictures) and they co-directed The New York Times Magazine VR documentary, 'Walking New York' with French artist, JR.

Zach's work has been honored with all of the top industry awards including 16x Cannes Lions, 5x Webby Awards, 5x One Show Awards, and 13x FWA's. His work has been officially selected at Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, SXSW and Future of Storytelling.Zach lives in Los Angeles and leads the creative department at Vrse. He is represented by for virtual reality and digital work. 

Nancy Bennett - Chief Content Officer, Two Bit Circus

Nancy is a former senior television and music executive, producer, and director. She has created TV shows and award winning music videos, and currently leads Two Bit Circus’ Virtual Reality production specializing in 3D 360 immersive experiences.

Nancy Bennett is a virtual-reality marketing veteran who does not deal in hyperbole when it comes to the impact the much-hyped virtual reality will have on marketing. Rather, Bennett leans on data. One-third of her agency's new business in 2014 was powered by the Oculus Rift developer's kit, helping grow her 2-year-old Los Angeles digital shop from 15 to 35 employees. Two Bit Circus lives at the intersection of technology and spectacle, engineering entertainment that is imaginative and interactive, blurring the line between physical and digital playgrounds to create a new world of social amusement.

Based in Los Angeles, Two Bit Circus’ interdisciplinary team of artists, engineers, and entrepreneurs develop spectacular productions with the goal to inspire, engage, and reinvent the way people play.

Eric Hanson - Visual effects designer & Founder, xRez Studio

Eric Hanson is a visual effects designer specializing in the creation of digital environments. Having worked with leading visual effects houses such as Digital Domain, Sony Imageworks, Dream Quest Images and Walt Disney Feature Animation, his work can be seen in “The Day After Tomorrow”, “Cast Away”, “Mission to Mars”, “Fantasia 2000”, and “The Fifth Element”, Björk’s special venue film “Black Lake” and many others. 

Eric Hanson is the founder of xRez Studio, a creative imaging and visual effects production house which explores and applies emerging techniques in computer graphics and computational photography. Beginning with pioneering the production of extreme resolution gigapixel photography in 2006, xRez Studio continues to innovate with new technologies such as 3d photogrammetry, laser scanning, terrain modeling, and multi-spectral imaging. 

Eric Hanson specializes in applying computer graphics to meaningful projects in entertainment, natural history, museums, and immersive fulldome theatre, and has extensive experience in recreating historic events in film, revealing complex processes in scientific visualization, or illustrating environmental change, offering powerful media solutions for filmmakers, companies, researchers, or activists. 
Eric is also an Associate Professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, leading their curriculum in visual effects, and a member of the VES, IVRPA, PMA and ACM/Siggraph. He has authored four educational DVDs on digital environment creation for The Gnomon Workshop, as well as having published two books on Maya technique. 

Anders Hjemdahl - Creative Technologist, Hypnosis / artist, Fractal Frontiers

is a creative technologist, artist and communication strategist who has worked with creative direction and interactive media development since the early 1990s, with a special interest in innovative technology, visualization and immersive experiences.
Anders Hjemdahl was co-founder of the world’s first Internet-based music company in 1999, whose BootlegTV service was the world's first online video service for live concerts. Anders has developed several ground-breaking web based services for short films and live concerts, and was co-founder of Hypermovies, the first online movie service, promoting independent films and music videos in cooperation with artists, music labels and fiber operators. 

As an artist, Anders has explored generative, algorithm-based 2D and 3D art for over 25 years, holding numerous exhibitions and presentations on the subject, most recently about fractals and visualization at Interstellar And The Science of Entertainment at MindShare LA.

He is represented in the “Swedish Design - 100 Years” encyclopedia, and was awarded the Templeton Freedom Awards in 2009 by the Atlas Foundation for his international Human Rights related work, and in 2011 was awarded the Order of Terra Mariana by Estonian President Toomas Ilves. Anders is currently working on a VR film exploring 3D fractal worlds and virtual reality experience about the history of Downtown Los Angeles.

Camilla Andersson - Executive Director, Topanga Film Institute

Camilla Andersson is the Director of the Topanga Film Institute. She has worked with brand development and strategic communications for 25 years with a special interest in storytelling, interactive media and innovative technologies such as virtual reality, and has worked with a diverse range of clients spanning from governments and NGOs to international brands such as Sony, BMG, Virgin Music, Ericsson and Nokia.
Camilla is also founder and developer of several influential ventures such as electronic music pioneer Ohm Records and online music and film distribution platforms Hypermedia and BootlegTV.

With a strong interest in democracy and human rights, Camilla is co-founder of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience, and has been instrumental in several international initiatives in the European Union parliament in cooperation with embassies, NGOs and cultural and historical institutions. She has been awarded The Templeton Freedom Award for international public relations and educational change, and the Order of Terra Mariana by the President of Estonia for long term strategic communications relating to democracy, history and culture.

Paid parking is available at the venue. If parking on Topanga Canyon Blvd., make sure all tires are inside the white lines. Flashlights are advised for walking to your car after dark. Carpooling is encouraged.

Food and drinks available for purchase at the event. 





Ted Fishbowl.jpg

TED SCHILOWITZ VR Creator & Futurist/CinemaVangelist - 20th Century Fox/Barco

Join in a conversation moderated by Festival Director, Cari Ann Shim Sham* with VR Creator and Futurist, Ted Schilowitz, at the TFF Fishbowl. This format allows the audience to be a part of the discussion on connecting technology to storytelling with one of Hollywood's most cutting edge innovators. 

FIRST TIME IN A FISHBOWL? In an open fishbowl, any member of the audience with a participant ticket can, at any time, occupy the empty chair and join the fishbowl. When this happens, an existing member of the fishbowl must voluntarily leave the fishbowl and free a chair. The discussion continues with participants frequently entering and leaving the fishbowl. Depending on how large the audience is, we can have many audience members spend some time in the fishbowl and take part in the discussion. 


TED SCHILOWITZ was founding member, first employee, and integral part of the product development team at RED Digital Cinema, that has made a significant impact on the Motion Picture Industry, with many of the worlds biggest movies now being shot with these ultra high resolution digital movie cameras.

Ted currently spends his time in 2 blended worlds; a major Hollywood movie studio and a major technology company in the Digital Cinema projection world. He has a unique role at Barco, the worlds marketshare leader in Digital Cinema projection, as their “CinemaVangelist” spearheading a project that is focused on the future of the cinema experience.

In addition, Ted has a studio deal at 20th Century Fox as their “Futurist”, working directly with senior leadership at the studio on the constantly evolving art and science of the digital age of motion picture creation. He advises and creates strategy on future technology and vision of cinema for the next generation of movie entertainment. Ted is one of the founders and creators of the G-Tech product line of advanced hard drive storage products, that are implemented worldwide for professional Television and Multimedia content creation, and are the most recognized brand in the space.

Before being part of the founding teams at RED Digital Cinema and G-Tech, Ted was on the team that developed and launched the Macintosh products desktop video division of AJA Video Systems, that created the groundbreaking Kona Cards and IO boxes. These products are used on a massive scale worldwide for video production and post production at the highest levels, including some of the worlds biggest movies, TV shows and sporting events.

Ted has presented on the future of technology and strategy for the media and entertainment industry in many regions of the USA, Europe, China, India, the Middle East, and the Far East. He has consulted worldwide on the technical advances of ultra high resolution digital cinematography and future of advanced next gen. visual experiences for the movie, TV, interactive and gaming industries.

Schilowitz has been featured in Wired, Variety, NY Times, Wall Street Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, NBC, Studio Daily, Videography, Film and Video, DV magazine, TV Technology, HD Video Pro Magazine, Digital Television Magazine, Engadget, Gizmodo, Millimeter, American Cinematographer, MacWorld, Post magazine, Popular Science, LA Times and countless other trade publications and mainstream press, discussing technology advancements in his areas of passion and exploration.





This live reading of excerpts from the winners of TFF'15's Screenplay Competition has something for everyone! In addition to experiencing great stories before they make it to the screen, you'll have an opportunity to chat with the writers, all of whom will be present for this special event.

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BOTH SIDES written by Alastair Murdoch

Bookish postgrad Harry Carlyle arrives in Berlin in 1989 to work on a study-abroad program, which he finds also runs a sideline in petty smuggling between the two halves of the city. When Harry discovers his bosses’ plan to turn East Germany's peaceful freedom demonstrations into murderous riots, and thus provoke the crackdown they believe will keep the Berlin Wall, from which they derive their livelihood, in place, he wants out. Knowing too much for his bosses to allow him to leave, and having been falsely implicated in heroin-trafficking and a murder, Harry must play the racketeers against both East German State Security and Western intelligence services long enough to get himself, and his East German girlfriend, to safety.


A man inherits a Civil War era mansion in Georgia that is haunted by the ghosts of the slaves who were murdered by his great grandfather - Confederate General James Longstreet.

INCREDIBULL written by Gregory Wolk

A fun-loving, young bull in Spain, heroically breaks up an animal fighting ring, only to be hunted by the ring-leader who seeks revenge on him and the animals he liberated.

THE SEIZURE written by Robert Rabinovitz

A NYC Design Professor experiences the initial stages of a life threatening brain abscess and seizure while we walk through his life of sex, drugs and rock and roll. His twisted ten block round about journey to the hospital questions the deeper and more complex issues and causes of a brain infection and disease.

TANGLED SPIRITS written by Eric P. Granger

When we die, our spirits leave our bodies and rise to rejoin the spirit sphere that encircles the earth. But a rogue comet rips through the earth's atmosphere and interrupts their ascent and entangles five ascending spirits; plummeting them back to Earth. In the mayhem, the spirits return to their wrong bodies. The revived body of eight year old Travis, who drowned in the family swimming pool, now houses the spirit of a violent Hispanic gang member. Travis's mother, along with paranormal Psychologist Dr. Sandoval, search for answers and discover many other persons with their spirits having shifted to the bodies of other people who should have died.

Paid parking is available at the venue. If parking on Topanga Canyon Blvd., make sure all tires are inside the white lines. Flashlights are advised for walking to your car after dark.

Food and drinks available for purchase at the event.