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Women in Entertainment: Ushering in a New Era of Brand Storytelling

Gretchen McCourt (BLBK, Inc.), Sarah Klein (Redglass Pictures), Susan Cartsonis (Resonate Entertainment), Renee Rossi (Relativity Ventures),  Angela Matusik (HP), Tessa Blake (Writer/Director), and Alison Hoffman (Starz)

This year, Brand Storytelling 2019 hosted a powerhouse panel presented by Women in Entertainment, the organization bringing together forward-thinkers from all areas of the entertainment industry to explore topics that greatly impact women - from human rights and women’s leadership to storytelling across platforms and empowering the next generation of women to emerge as creatives. Brand Storytelling is proud to bring you video of this panel, now available for viewing on our YouTube Channel.

The discussion explores the new paradigm in which brands and key talent can cohesively work together to tell great stories - telling a brand’s story from an earned, paid and influencer perspective. Leading key female talent in the creative industry discuss what it takes to create authentic content that resonates with audiences; and more importantly how brands need to embrace a new chapter in brand storytelling by leaving the old agency model and entrusting talented women (and men) to help them craft thoughtful, engaging campaigns.

About the Panelists

Renee Rossi is the Founder and CEO of Relativity Ventures, specializing in global strategic media, corporate brand positioning and creative campaign building. She is also the co-founder of Women in Entertainment, an organization dedicated to the advancement of women and girls working in and aspiring to work in the entertainment industry. In 2015, she helmed the inaugural Women in Entertainment Summit, building a full-day program of high-caliber speakers for an audience of 800. Women in Entertainment has grown to launch networking evenings, mentorship programs, a WIE Network, and a series of workshops to provide women the tools to succeed, partnering with esteemed organizations including the Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media and the Los Angeles Film Festival. Renee leads the team in creating partnerships for Relativity clients in their target markets, to help translate the vision of the brand into compelling messages and experiences to drive overall engagement. She has extensive experience in the media, entertainment and technology arenas and a proven track record of generating positive press, producing large-scale events, promoting general positive brand reputation, and creating strategic platforms and securing placements (global media, speaking opportunities and awards) for executives across numerous industries. Key clients have include DreamWorks Animation, Skydance Productions, Paxos-itBit, Satisfi Labs, VNTANA, Samsung, Flipboard, ArcLight Cinemas, Lumi Organics, Starburst Accelerator, Fender and Fast Company Magazine. For these organizations, she directs individuals on how to effectively communicate priorities to key internal and external stakeholders in alignment with key business objectives. Prior to founding Relativity Ventures, Renee held roles handling strategy and executive positioning at A+P and Weber Shandwick for clients including Highland Capital Partners (and their portfolio), Cadwalder, Wickersham and Taft, BestBuy, HP, Honeywell and PepsiCo. Gretchen McCourt is the Principal and Founder of BLBK Inc., a consulting firm where she develops acquisition and distribution strategies for content across entertainment verticals. She also specializes in building creative brand partnerships and content activations for key clients such as Slamdance, the Writer's Guild of America, ArcLight Cinemas amongst others. Prior to founding BLBK, Gretchen was the Chief Content Officer and EVP of Cinema Programming of the Pacific Theaters Entertainment Corporation. In her role she oversaw the film, marketing, and communications of ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theaters; including mainstream and art film selection, specialty event programming, site rentals, studio relationships, guest communication, marketing strategy and public relations. During her tenure at ArcLight, Gretchen was part of the executive team who developed the national expansion strategy to grow the company from one location in Hollywood to currently operating eleven locations in five cities. She oversaw annual revenues over $200M and budgets ranging from small marketing projects to multi-million dollar developments. Gretchen developed key initiatives while at ArcLight including a monthly series with Women in Film and a first-of-its-kind partnership with Slamdance to showcase new filmmakers and their content. She founded and curated ArcLight's bi-annual Documentary Film Fest, established in 2012 and executive produced ArcLight Stories, a behind-the-scenes brand narrative that debuted in 2014. Prior to joining ArcLight, Gretchen was at AMC Theaters with her last three as the national Head Film Buyer overseeing 375 theaters. Gretchen is also the co-founder and CEO of Women in Entertainment, non-profit organization. WIE provides a forum for women to share, mentor and learn in the areas of film, television, sports and journalism. She was invited to give a TedX Talk for the organization in 2016. Angela Matusik is HP’s head of brand journalism. In this newly created role, she is working with the tech leader’s Global Corporate Communication teams to bring stories of technology, innovation, impact and creativity to life. Her work since joining the company late last year can easily be found at by visiting HP’s digital magazine, the Garage. Previously, Matusik developed brand content for companies big and small, including Focus Features, Global Brand Group, Olivela and more. She brings over two decades of media experience to the table, after working as an editor, writer, and digital leader at brands like People, InStyle and NBC. Susan Cartsonis - The Hollywood Reporter named Susan Cartsonis one of the top 5 grossing producers of the year for WHAT WOMEN WANT and WHERE THE HEART IS. She recently produced the upcoming FREAKY FRIDAY THE MUSICAL (Disney), CARRIE PILBY (The Orchard) MIDDLE SCHOOL (CBS Films), and DEIDRA & LANEY ROB A TRAIN (Netflix). Other films include THE DUFF and BEASTLY, AQUAMARINE, NO RESERVATIONS, INVISIBLE SISTER, and FIRELIGHT. Cartsonis, an executive at 20th Century Fox for nearly a decade, rose from script reader to Senior VP of Production. At Fox, a few films she supervised include NELL, FRENCH KISS, THE TRUTH ABOUT CATS AND DOGS, FOR THE BOYS, DYING YOUNG, and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and serves on the Independent Producer Committee of the PGA. She is on the Advisory Boards of Wilkes University’s Creative Writing Program and Chapman University’s Dodge School of Film and Television. Cartsonis teaches producing at USC and she is a critique advisor at NYU. Cartsonis serves on the board of Cinestory, where she is a mentor. Cartsonis is a mentor for Meryl Streep's Iris Screenwriting Lab September. She has been quoted on by Lorenza Brascia and by Frank Bruni in the New York Times. Publications include: Australia's Screenhub and NY Times Room for Debate. Cartsonis earned a B.A. in Theater Arts from UCLA and an M.F.A. from N.Y.U.’s Dramatic Writing Program, Tisch School of the Arts. Alison Hoffman is a marketing and strategy executive with deep experience building entertainment brands and developing fully-integrated marketing campaigns. Currently, Alison serves as the Chief Marketing Officer at STARZ, overseeing all facets of marketing strategy, creative and media planning for the brand, the app and the original productions. Previously Alison worked at AMC as the Vice President of Creative and Brand Strategy where she was a key architect of award-winning marketing campaigns for series such as Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. Alison holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Brown University. Tessa Blake is an award-winning filmmaker and television director (iZombie, The Brave, Once Upon a Time, Life Sentence, NCIS: New Orleans, Guidance). An AFI Directing Workshop for Women alumna, Tessa’s films have premiered at Cannes and SXSW, have won awards at Nantucket Film Festival and the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, have been honored by the Academy, been released theatrically, and have played on Showtime, CBS, CW & Oxygen, PBS & DirecTV. She and her husband Ian Williams also work as a writing team for film and television and have enjoyed script deals with ABC, NBC, FOX and Warner Brothers. Sarah Klein - Redglass Pictures is an award-winning production studio co-founded by Sarah Klein and Tom Mason and based in New York City. Their body of work is defined by a simple idea: that short, cinematic storytelling has the power to touch, teach, and change people. Their most recent short video, Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s “Science in America” received close to 60 million Facebook views. Before that they released, “How To Win An Election,” with The New York Times OpDocs, George Saunders On Story for The Atlantic, and a twenty-part digital series: Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies with Ken Burns and PBS.

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