Emilia Zboralska, PhD (President)
Dr. Emilia Zboralska is an Instructor at Ryerson University, a Research Associate at Ryerson’s Media Innovation Research Lab, and is currently serving as Interim Director of the Transmedia Zone, Ryerson’s storytelling and media innovation incubator. Her SSHRC funded PhD research project critically investigates the realities of entrepreneurship in the emerging, Canadian digital-first storytelling sector and provides the first benchmark analysis of gender and race across key creative roles in Canadian digital scripted series. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals, and she has presented her research at conferences worldwide.
Emilia is also co-founder of King Squared Media, a boutique production startup that focuses on premium, narrative storytelling. With an eye toward innovation and solving real problems for real users, Emilia is also a strong proponent of design thinking as a problem solving and audience engagement strategy. She is involved in the delivery of high profile design jams that bring together a wide cross-section of stakeholders to address social, cultural, technical, organizational, and policy challenges.
Dan Speerin (Chair and Vice President)
Dan Speerin was one of the first YouTube Partners in Canada, and the first Canadian host on The Young Turks Network. Along with Vince Kesavamoorthy he is the co-creator and producer of several successful multiplatform series, from the narrative series Twixters, which aired on television in over 60 countries to the award winning digital series Truth Mashup. The pair also created the first multiplatform Canadian election special which led to a panel discussion-based series on Millennial issues called "The What Is". Their work has even been brought up on the floor of Canada's House of Commons. Dan has also been a pundit on Millennial and digital culture and has created digital content for Rogers, Bell, CBC and VH1 among others. He is a seasoned specialist in digital strategy and communication, with experience in the development, production, distribution and promotion of content that transcends platforms.
Luke Black (Treasurer)
Luke Black is a filmmaker who was born and raised in Western Canada. After attending the University of Alberta and Red Deer College, he built his filmmaking practice by creating over a dozen DIY short films and helped strengthen the local filmmaking community serving on the board of directors for the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers. His work has screened in film festivals around the world and in 2013 Luke was invited to attend the Canadian Film Centre's Cineplex Entertainment Film Program. Now based out of Toronto, Luke is focused on creating high-concept narratives with an ensemble of creative partners.
More than anything else, Joseph strives to facilitate the aspirations of creative people. A lawyer by trade, his work with traditional media organizations like Cineplex Entertainment and the Toronto International Film Festival has given him a solid understanding of the legal and commercial realities of the entertainment industry. On a personal level,Joseph is uniquely inspired by the willingness of independent content creators to harness emerging technologies for the purposes of their craft, making it a priority of his to ensure they have access to the tools and relationships that will help them tell their stories in new, imaginative ways.
Sarah Senechal has spent her career working in the background of numerous high-profile events in Toronto. She holds an Honours degree in Theatre & Film from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Previously she has worked on numerous theatrical productions, Awards presentations, and live events. Sarah has been employed by The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television as a Box Office Coordinator for the Genie and Gemini Awards.She will be the lead coordinator for T.O Webfest 2018, and is very much looking forward to the challenge!
Lauren has a passion for Web Series and being able to create and share diverse, engaging stories has been a dream come true. As an award-winning Producer with Cherrydale Productions Ltd. Lauren has built a wide set of skills specialized for digital content creation. In true indie creator fashion, Lauren has guided her projects from development & grant applications, crowdfunding through production, distribution, and Social Media marketing. Her credits include the IPF-funded project “The March Family Letters”, the Bell Fund/Corus Entertainment production “All For One Season 1”, and she is currently in production with the CMF Web Series Pilot Program funded “All For One Season 2”. She looks forward to serving on the IWCC-CIWC board and helping give a voice to digital creators.
Sarah Shelson is an award-winning screenwriter, producer and audience engager. She has years of experience in the digital sphere and particular interest in transmedia properties that feature narratives and themes not found in mainstream media. Along with her partners at Cherrydale Productions, she has created and produced The March Family Letters webseries which was the successful recipient of funding from the Independent Production Fund and was featured in Macleans Magazine, as well as a webseries co-production with Corus Digital called All For One which was nominated for a Digi Award. All For One was one of ten recipients of the inaugural CMF web series pilot program and is currently in production for its second season. When not creating, she is kept busy managing the programming of Ryerson's Transmedia Zone. These events span from critical discussions on the challenges facing our current media landscape to games and independent creator nights.
Graduated Seneca College with Event Production and Digital Media Arts diplomas, James has a passion for the fast paced nature of live event production and visual arts in the entertainment industry. Originally started working in the music scene developing an ear, eye and feel for the culture playing in bands, shooting club/concert/festival photos and DJ mixing. Currently working as an audio/video/lighting/stage technician and production assistant for multiple Toronto production studios/event companies. Prior joining the 2015 T.O. Webfest team, James worked with Executive Producer Courtney as part of the Fall Tour Interactive media team which helped bring all his skill sets together. Currently James is now working creatively behind the camera and on set freelancing for multiple clients in the corporate and and independent creator community.
Mariah Owen is an award-winning producer, actress and filmmaker originally from Toronto who formed GTE Productions at just 21 years old. Since getting her start in the web and digital space, she has gone on to produce several web series, shorts, television and feature films. Her most recent project is the SXSW favourite film, "M.F.A." starring Francesca Eastwood. With experience behind-the-lens, on camera and in the writer's room, Owen brings many perspectives to filmmaking. She is currently in production for a new web series and in development for her first feature film as a writer. Furthermore, she'll be taking the lead on events this year and can't wait to meet all of our members and reach out to new ones too. She is very excited to be on the board of directors for IWCC-CIWC and knows that we can make this world a better, more progressive place for creators.
Andrew got his start in the digital space producing and directing the online content
for MTV’s teen drama Skins. He then joined forces with lifelong friend Matt King to
build LaRue, a creator-driven production and distribution company that specializes
in premium short form digital content. In 2017, Andrew was nominated for Best
Direction in a Digital Series (True Dating Stories) at the Canadian Screen Awards,
while winning for Best Short Form Digital Series – Fiction (The Amazing Gayl Pile),
which is also nominated for a 2017 International Emmy Award (fingers crossed!).
He was also called a ‘scumbag’ by Doug Ford for his involvement in LaRue’s latest
production Filth City, which premieres on Studio+ and YouTube in late 2017. With
an exciting slate of projects in development with partners both foreign and
domestic, Andrew continues to pursue the creation and sustainability of compelling,
premium stories for digital audiences.