Laura Varma has worked in the area of digital marketing, entertainment and corporate communications for over 25 years. She most recently was director of content and online for Starbucks Coffee where she lead the production of video storytelling. Prior to this position, she held a variety of marketing and public relations positions for technology and entertainment companies, public relations firms, internet start-ups and radio and television channels.
She serves as an advisory board member of Foundation Rwanda (http://www.foundationrwanda.org/photosmedia.aspx).
She currently resides in Seattle, Washington with her family.
Bryan Sipe is a screenwriter living in Los Angeles. He was born and raised in Toms River, New Jersey and went to college at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
Sipe dropped out of college just a few credits shy of graduation when he decided that the best education as a filmmaker was probably to dive in headfirst. He co-wrote and directed the feature film A MILLION MILES at 21 years old and followed the movie to festivals around the country, ultimately landing him in LA.
He found the business to be harder to crack than he’d imagined, and after several years of working in Hollywood bars, he started writing DEMOLITION. The script landed on the Black List and doors seemed to finally be opening, but the bar job continued to be his primary source of income. He was ready to quit the business in 2010 when his manager called and told him that AMERICANO, a spec pilot he had written a year earlier, had sold to NBC with Parkes/ MacDonald producing.
That began Sipe’s working relationship with Walter Parkes (former studio chief of DreamWorks SKG) who became a mentor and more importantly, employer. Parkes next hired him to write the remake of the Hitchcock classic THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH for Paramount studios. Next came a pilot that Sipe sold to HBO with Parkes/ MacDonald producing and Kevin Bacon attached to star called VALENTINE. After one more development project with NBC, Sipe moved on to adapt the Nicholas Spark’s novel, THE CHOICE.
Finally, after years of development, DEMOLITION began shooting in late 2014 with Jean-Marc Vallee directing and a cast lead by Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts and Chris
Cooper. THE CHOICE went into production one month later with Lionsgate and Peter Safran producing.
In 2015, DEMOLITION was selected as the opening night film for the 40th anniversary of the Toronto International Film Festival. It went on to win the Audience Award at SXSW and was released worldwide in April 2016.
Sipe recently finished another adaptation for the Sparks’ novel THE GUARDIAN. At the end of 2015, he was selected by Variety magazine as one of the “10 Screenwriters to Watch.” He’s currently writing a spec feature while developing another project with Jean-Marc Vallee.
Janet Brownell has been a screenwriter since 1988. She first started writing on “Days of Our Lives.” For one year. Only. Since then she has written for features and television. Some of her credits include: a production re-write of “The Santa Clause” (Disney), “Eloise at the Plaza,” (ABC TV), “12 Dates of Christmas,” (ABC Family) “Northern Lights” (Lifetime) and “Hide” (Lifetime).
Kate Becker is the Director of the Seattle Office of Film and Music. She considers it a great privilege to work on behalf of Seattle’s creative community. Prior to working with the city, Becker served in leadership roles at Seattle Theatre Group, Art Share LA in Los Angeles, and The New Art Center in Newton, MA. She co-founded Seattle’s Vera Project and the Old Fire House, nonprofit art and music based all ages venues that have helped build Seattle’s creative economy talent pipeline. Becker has produced more than 1,000 all ages shows and numerous major fundraisers and galas. While her roots are in music production, filmmaking and working with young creatives, she is becoming more of a policy wonk day by day. She relishes the opportunity to be a juror for the Orcas Island Film Festival, as this island is one of her favorite places on earth.