Our Speakers

Ben Applegate

  • Director of Publishing Service, Random House Publisher Services

    Ben Applegate has been working in English-language manga since 2007 as a translator, editor, and publishing professional. In his capacity as director of publishing services at Penguin Random House Publisher Services, he has managed publishing, editorial, and production work for the Kodansha Comics print program since 2015. Prior to that, he was senior editor on the Kodansha Comics team. He lives in Spider-Man’s hometown of Forest Hills, New York, with his wife Winnie and two superb cats.

Brian Deulley

  • Senior Director of Programming, Fathom Events

    Brian Deulley, Senior Director of Programming for Fathom Events, is a proven organizational leader with more than 19 years of experience in the media and entertainment industries. Deulley develops new content verticals for Fathom Events and currently heads up their anime and outdoor sports channels.
    With his many years of experience in the industry, Deulley’s solid understanding of Fathom’s distribution platform technologies, marketing, finance and business management have enabled him to help bring multiple dynamic events to the big screen including the annual GKIDS’ STUDIO GHIBLI FEST series, Dragonball Z throwback events with TOEI Animation, annual movie premieres in partnership with the Pokémon Company International and the ever popular Fate/stay night series by Aniplex USA. Most recently, Deulley has also worked with other new partners such as The Orchard to bring events like “The Dawn Wall” to screens across the country.
    Previously, Deulley served as the Senior Director of Business Development at Fathom Events, heading up live eSports events, international events with Sony Playstation and managing all Fathom’s private corporate events. His experienced in program acquisition, developing strategic alliances with content partners, background in sales operations, business development and distribution technology helps him play a critical role at the company.
    Deulley resides in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, with his wife and two daughters.

Chuck Williams

  • Chief Creative Officer, Marza Animation Planet USA (a subsidiary of SEGA)

    Chuck Williams has over 18 years of feature film development experience. A 21-year Disney Feature Animation veteran, Chuck has served as a development exec, writer, editor and producer on several films. During his time at Disney, he worked on Beauty & the Beast, Lion King, Aladdin, and several other films. He wrote the approach to and produced Brother Bear (Disney’s 40th animated feature) and likewise worked as a producer and writer on several other Disney development projects. Under Pixar’s John Lasseter and Ed Catmull, Chuck was asked to head the Disney Shorts program which was the vanguard for the Pixar development process into Disney.

    Since 2013, Chuck has lead the development of both animated and hybrid films at Marza Animation Planet (a subsidiary of SEGA) and heads their US office. Currently, he is working with producer Neal Moritz (Fast & Furious franchise) and Tim Miller (Deadpool) developing a Sonic the Hedgehog live action/hybrid film for Paramount Pictures for a 2019 release. As well, he is producing the upcoming animated feature Mean Margaret as well as having several other features, TV shows, and even a VR feature-length project in active development.

    Chuck is a passionate filmmaker, a veteran in emotional, big scale stories, and a relentless pursuer of quality, family entertainment.

Dave Jesteadt

  • President, GKIDS

    David Jesteadt is President at GKIDS, a distributor of award-winning feature animation for both adult and family audiences. David joined GKIDS founder Eric Beckman at the company in 2007, and they released their first film, Michel Ocelot’s Azur & Asmar, in 2008. Since that time, GKIDS has received eleven Best Animated Feature Oscar nominations with The Secret of Kells in 2010, A Cat in Paris and Chico & Rita in 2012, Ernest & Celestine in 2014, Song of the Sea and The Tale of The Princess Kaguya in 2015, When Marnie Was There and Boy and the World in 2016, My Life as a Zucchini in 2017, The Breadwinner in 2018, and Mirai in 2019. GKIDS also handles North American distribution for the acclaimed Studio Ghibli library of films, one of the world’s most coveted animation collections, including such titles as Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononoke.

    In addition to overseeing all distribution and marketing activities at the company, David is also an Executive Producer of the Academy Award®-nominated The Breadwinner, and has co-produced the English language versions of several GKIDS films, including Mia and the Migoo, featuring the voices of Whoopi Goldberg, Wallace Shawn and James Woods, A Cat in Paris, featuring the voices of Anjelica Huston, Marcia Gay Harden and Matthew Modine, Ernest & Celestine, featuring the voices of Forest Whitaker, Mackenzie Foy, Lauren Bacall, Paul Giamatti, William H. Macy, Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman and Jeffrey Wright, and My Life as a Zucchini, featuring the voices of Ellen Page, Nick Offerman, Will Forte and Amy Sedaris.

David Uslan

  • Partner, Uslan Entertainment

    David Uslan began his career even before graduating from college as an intern with D.C. Comics, Walter Cronkite’s production company and Wild Brain Animation Studios. After graduating from Indiana University in 2002, Mr. Uslan joined International Creative Management (ICM). In late 2003, Mr. Uslan went to work for his mentor and father, Michael Uslan, Originator and Executive Producer of the Batman movie franchise, as well as The Lego Movie, Lego Batman, National Treasure, and many others. Alongside his father, David assisted in developing films including Batman Begins, Constantine, and many others. Uslan’s producing credits include the Emmy award winning animated series Sabrina: Secrets of a Teenage Witch (The Hub Network; Disney Channel), Valentine’s Day Massacre (National Geographic Channel), AMC Mob Week documentary series (AMC Network), and American Icons (PBS Network).
    Beyond North America, Uslan is primarily focusing his time and energy on strengthening relationships between the US and Asian media markets, including the building of global franchises through international co-productions. Partners include iQIYI, Huace and Tencent, including Tencent Academy, in China, as well as JTBC, MBC, and KBS in South Korea, and Zee Entertainment in India. At MIP in 2017, Uslan announced a new joint venture between Banijay, Bunim/Murray Productions, Uslan Entertainment, and Signal Entertainment in South Korea. In December 2018, Uslan signed a first look deal with Renegade 83, an eOne Entertainment company, in the area of unscripted, international formats. Additionally, Michael and David Uslan, along with Jon Karas, are partners in Strawberry Pictures Global Media, a Chinese registered company, with offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Los Angeles and New Jersey. David is also serving as Director of TDG Media, the entertainment division of The Digit Group, a next generation real estate company specializing in smart city strategies + solutions in China, The Middle East, the US, and across the world.
    During the fall of 2009, David helped start Graphicaly, a revolutionary digital publishing, conversion, and distribution company. Before the company was acquired, Graphicly had partnered with over 12,000 publishing companies and 15,000 creators to produce and distribute their content in new interactive ways. Many of these publishers were brought in through Uslan’s pre-existing relationships including Penguin Random House, Scholastic, Chronicle Books, Capstone, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics, Legendary Pictures, Relativity Media, Warner Bros., Universal Studios, Amazon Studios, and many more.
    Along with his career in the feature film, television, gaming, and publishing industry, Uslan has consulted for a number of media companies and events as well, including Imagination Park, Smithsonian Enterprises, VenSat Animation, a leader in the Indian animation industry later bought by the Reliance Group, the Hong Kong International Film Festival, the Shanghai International Film Festival’s Film Finance Forum, and the Asian Film Awards. In 2018, David also expanded his consulting business into the Chinese mobile gaming market by adding Beijing Tongzhuo Game Technology Co. (aka Same Table Games) and EGLS Technology LTD to his list of clients, helping locate and acquire Western intellectual properties that could make successful Chinese mobile games, as well as with endorsement, sponsorship, and live event opportunities. Uslan and his team are also acquiring the rights as well as managing the Chinese social media platforms for top Western stars, including Emma Dumont, the star of the hit FOX series “The Gifted”. Additionally, he is an independent contractor for The Third Floor, the global leader in previsualization. Uslan is also on the Board of Advisors for the NAB Show, which now includes a Shanghai based conference every summer, an advisory board member for the Stan Lee Foundation, as well as being on the Board of Directors for Team Prime Time, an influential afterschool organization based in Los Angeles. He also maintains strong ties to the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) as well as the New Jersey Film Commission, where his father is currently serving as Chairman.

Deborah Gilels

  • Publicist for Lupin the 3rd Part 4 on Adult Swim, Megalobox on Crunchyroll, and Hayao Miyazaki's Lupin the 3rd: The Castle Cagliostro.

    Deborah Gilels experience in the entertainment industry has run the gamut from film/television production and development to mergers and acquisitions in the international film market and public relations for film companies, writers, actors, authors, and directors. 
    For the past 15 years, Gilels has run a successful media consulting PR company, assisting writers, filmmakers, and actors launch their careers in the entertainment industry, as well as promote independent feature films, anime film, and TV, as well as documentaries, by way of public relations, marketing, distribution, and project development.
    Among the films she has launched are: Keiko the Untold Story of the Star of Free Willy, Cevin Soling's award-winning documentary The War on Kids on Pivot, the Chazz Palminteri- Andie MacDowell family drama Mighty Fine for Lionsgate, the US premiere of the documentary Fallout and James Haven’s short film Court of Conscience starring his father Jon Voight and the late Anton Yelchin. She did publicity for anime series Lupin 3 rd Part 4 on Adult Swim in May 2017, Lupin the 3 rd Part 5, Megalobox on Crunchyroll. She also was the lead publicist on Fathom Events release of Hayao Miyazaki’s Lupin the 3 rd: The Castle of Cagliostro, where she set up and produced the filmed interview with John Lasseter used to promote the film’s release.

Eric Calderon

  • Head of Studio, Octopie Productions

    Eric Calderon has over 25 years of experience in writing, development and production in animation across both traditional and digital formats. He has worked on globally renowned shows and projects, specifically in the US, Canada, South East Asia, and Japan. As the Head of Studio for Octopie Productions, an animation company that counts Joe and Anthony Russo (Avengers film directors) as its partners, he manages productions across the company, developing unique IP as well as bringing to light existing IP to new audiences. Prior to joining the team at Octopie, he was a producer at Warner Bros Animation working on Direct to DVD titles. Before that, he held pivotal roles including executive producer, writer and showrunner for the fan-favorite animated series, Transformers: Combiner Wars and Titans Return and executive producer at 20th Century Fox Films. He is also the founder and host of 'Surviving Animation,' an original industry-focused YouTube channel.

Geneva Wasserman

  • Producer, Project Z

    Geneva is a respected leader in entertainment and technology with experience spanning over 20 years in roles including: intellectual property licensing attorney, business and legal affairs, business development, creative development, technology development, marketing and all aspects of film and television production and distribution. She holds a B.A. with honors from the University of California, San Diego and a J.D. with honors from Hastings College of the Law.

    As an animation professional at Project Z Entertainment, President of a film finance company (Whitener Entertainment), President of a film and television production company (WV Enterprises) (Charming, Gnome Alone, Trouble, Douglas Family Gold, Muertoons), Director of a global media company (Invision by The Associated Press, an entertainment media company partnered with the Associated Press) where Geneva managed sales and marketing teams, business development efforts and global marketing campaigns, Founder and Director of an entertainment Digital Media Company (Zed1 Group, (formerly 360 AdSpots/MomentumXR) and a film and television producer, Geneva continually taps into her global network and draws upon her past legal, production, marketing, technology and business experience to develop, grow and commercially exploit 4 quadrant film and television properties.

Kaz Sasajima

  • Sr. Director, Media Unit, Sumitomo Corporation of Americas

    Launched Media Business Unit as the first international media dept. based in Los Angeles, among Sumitomo's international offices outside of Japan, to ensure growth room of media field, mainly focusing "Digital."
    Acquired minority share of The Chernin Group, founded and led by former COO of News Corp. Peter Chernin, which covers both traditional major movie productions for FOX and acquisitions of leading digital asstes, like the largest MCN, Fullscreen, the largest Anime Streaming Operator, Crunchyroll and a major sports blog, Barstool Sports. With those assets, contributions with Sumitomo's media assets has been creating.
    Launched Mobile Anime Game Publishing business with Crunchyroll, and acquired 1st title from the Gree and 2nd title from Ambition, which has generated $10mil level as gross revenue from 1st year.

Kiichiro Sugawara

  • VP, Kodansha Comics

    Kiichiro Sugawara is a 22-year veteran of manga publishing in Japan and the United States. For 16 years, he worked in Tokyo at Kodansha’s flagship Weekly Shonen Magazine, where he edited hit manga including GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka, Samurai Deeper Kyo, and Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle by world-famous manga collective CLAMP. In 2013, he was named chief editor of Weekly Shonen Magazine before coming to the United States to assume his current role as vice president at Kodansha Comics in 2018. He lives in New York City with his wife and son.

Ko Mori

  • CEO, Eleven Arts

    Ko Mori is a film producer and distributor. Originally from Japan, Ko now resides in Los Angeles, where he acts as the President and CEO of ELEVEN ARTS. ELEVEN ARTS distributes primarily Japanese Anime to the American market, and produces films in the US and globally. He has previously produced, LORDS OF CHAOS (2018 Sundance Film Festival Official Selection; Dir. Jonas Akerlund), DOWNRANGE (2017 Toronto International Film Festival Official Selection; Dir. Ryuhei Kitamura) MAN FROM RENO (2015 Independent Spirit Award Nominee; Dir. Dave Boyle), UZUMASA LIMELIGHT (2014 Winner of Best Picture and Best Actor at Fantasia International Film Festival; Dir. Ken Ochiai), and other film and tv programs. Ko is currently in Pre-Production for PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND, a feature film directed by Sion Sono, and starring Nicolas Cage and Imogen Poots, and GIFT OF FIRE, a Sundance Film Festival award winning script, co-produced by NHK Japan.

Marlene Sharp

  • Director, Production at LEVEL-5 abby, home of YO-KAI WATCH

    Marlene Sharp is a creative and business-savvy entertainment multi-hyphenate who originally hails from New Orleans but is now a Valley girl. Marlene is Director, Production at LEVEL-5 abby, home of YO-KAI WATCH and other top video game-based franchises. Formerly, as Producer, TV Series, at Sega of America, Marlene worked on much more than the Teen Choice Award-nominated cartoon “Sonic Boom.” For example, her Hedgehog duties took her to the heights of nerd-dom as an official San Diego Comic-Con 2017 panelist!
    As a freelance journalist, Marlene concentrates on popular entertainment for Geekified.net and DOGTV.com. As a short film auteur, she has snagged prizes at the Canine Film Festival and the San Luis Obispo Film Festival. And as a human being, basically, she loves dogs. Please visit her website for more fun: www.pinkpoodleproductions.com

Maya Kambe

  • Creative Executive at Paramount Pictures

    Maya Kambe is currently the Creative Executive at Paramount Animation where she oversees the development and production of animated features. Her current projects include SPONGEBOB: IT’S A WONDERFUL SPONGE and THE TIGER’S APPRENTICE. Maya previously worked at DreamWorks Animation in both production and development with credits on THE BOSS BABY and CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS. She attended Skidmore College where she majored in Art History and minored in Arts Administration and Business. Maya was born in Tokyo, Japan and raised in Los Angeles, CA.

Michael Masukawa

  • Manager of Strategy and Business Development of two-time Emmy® Award-winning Secret Location – an Entertainment One company.

    Michael helps lead Secret Location's growth strategy to support the studio's continued progress towards delivering premium immersive experiences to wide audiences. Identifying new opportunities and prospective partners, he negotiates distribution deals for the studio's immersive entertainment content and VR distribution software, Vusr. In addition to his role in business development, Michael leads co-production and IP licensing project development. He served as co-founder for Secret Location's cinematic VR narrative adaptation of Philip K. Dick's short story, The Great C.

    Michael kicked off his career in the entertainment industry at International Creative Management (ICM) Partners, one of the world's largest talent and literary agencies. He then spent the next several years in television development at companies including Bad Robot, ABC Studios, Piller/Segan and Sonal Entertainment, where he was supporting executive on the MTV fantasy series The Shannara Chronicles, Tom Hardy's series Taboo for FX/BBC and the AMC western series The Son.

Tony Ishizuka

  • VP International Productions at Sony Pictures Entertainment

    Tony Ishizuka is currently in charge of acquiring and producing both live action and animated films and series that involves Asian productions and/or Anime/Game IP franchises. Recent titles he produced include animated features such as RESIDENT EVIL VENDETTA, APPLESEED ALPHA, KINGSGLAIVE FINAL FANTASY XV, and STARSHIP TROOPERS franchise. Prior to producing films, he specialized in Marketing for over 2 decades in international territories, notably Japan and France. Born in Washington D.C., raised in Paris and Tokyo, studied at Waseda University (Japan) and Coe College (U.S.), MBA at INSEAD (France), fluent in Japanese, French, and English.

Vincent Imaoka

  • Head of Toy Acquisitions, Hasbro

    Vincent Imaoka is the head of Toy Acquisitions at Hasbro, Inc. He works on all their story brands, which include first-party properties like Transformers, My Little Pony, and Power Rangers, to partner brands like Marvel, Star Wars, and Disney Princess. Before joining Hasbro, Vincent worked in Japan in multiple industries, ranging from the financial industry at the company Fisco, to the anime industry at the company DLE. From merchandising to storytelling, Vincent knows it all.