Film Festival Strategies and Distribution Seminar

February 24th, 2021

11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. EST on Zoom

Jon Fitgerald

co-founder Film Festival Mastery, co-founder Slamdance Film Festival, former festival director AFI


Jon Fitzgerald is the co-founder of Film Festival Mastery. He has twenty-five years of experience in the independent film, internet and film festival communities, a rare leader with a unique combination of skills.  As a filmmaker, he has produced a number of award winning documentaries; and as a consultant, he has guided many independent film projects through the maze of festivals  and hybrid distribution models.

As a co-founder of the Slamdance Film Festival, he led the event the next two seasons before being named the Festival Director for the prestigious AFI Film Festival. After running AFI Fest for three years, he created a consulting business, guiding the launch of numerous film festivals (Bahamas, Lone Star, Orlando), directing several others (Santa Barbara, Topanga and Abu Dhabi), and consulting to dozens more. 

In October of 2012, Jon authored his first book, entitled Filmmaking for Change:  Make Films That Transform the World, published by industry leader Michael Wiese Productions.

Again, based on the premise that powerful stories can create change, Jon founded Cause Cinema, connecting social impact films to related causes. The Company acts as a filter to the best of social impact cinema, integrating numerous film programs, social action campaigns and unique exhibition models, giving audiences the tools to take action.

​Jon has recently launched to help filmmakers navigate the festival and distribution landscape.

Alyssa Rallo Bennett

Producer/Director and Founder StoneStreet Studios

Alyssa Rallo Bennett is a director/producer and the co-founder of Stonestreet Studios, an incubator for new content and talent.

Many wonderful talents have developed themselves at Stonestreet, including Miles Teller (Whiplash, Divergent), Rachel Brosnahan (Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Nik Walker (Hamilton), Camila Mendes (Riverdale), Gil Zabarsky & Chris Modoono (Tenured, Teacher of the Year), Ashley Skidmore (Younger), Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart), Idina Menzel (Frozen).

She has developed and directed high-concept features alongside her partner Gary O. Bennett:  ReRUN, starring Christopher Lloyd, Rain Without Thunder starring Jeff Daniels and Linda Hunt, and The Pack (Tribeca Film Festival), which stars Lucie Arnaz, Elisabeth Moss, Zach Galligan. ReRUN, now streaming in Apple TV/iTunes and Amazon Prime, premiered closing night of the Woodstock Film Festival, and screened opening night of the Big Apple Film Festival. Rain was theatrically released and distributed by Orion Classics, featured in over a dozen major international film festivals from the Berlin Film Festival to the Toronto International Film Festival, distributed by Warner Brothers on available now on Amazon Prime. Originally released by FilmRise, theatrically and on multiple platforms, The Pack was just re-released on FLIXA, where many of Rallo Bennett’s pilots, series and award-winning festival shorts and features can be seen. Additionally, ShortsTV has licensed over 20 Stonestreet Shorts, including, five festival shorts she directed.

As a writer/director team with Gary O. Bennett, she directed the pilot, Videola, starring Sean Young, Gil Zabarsky, Michael Pemberton and Janet Zarish, the series Paradise by the Dashboard Light, now streaming via FLIXA, and End it all Now, featuring Zach Galligan, Jen McCabe, which is being distributed internationally by HG Distribution. Alyssa also directed the docudrama feature, Sonnets in the City, starring Joe Siravo (The Sopranos, Jersey Boys), and Jarrod Spector (Jersey Boys).

In addition to her creative ventures, Alyssa hosts the series Behind the Scenes at Stonestreet Studios. Guests have included Bryan Cranston, Aubrey Plaza, Mike Myers, Edie Falco, Kevin Bacon, James Earl Jones, and many more.  

Alyssa’s first training ground was as an actor working with directors such as Woody Allen, Franco Zeffirelli, Andre Gregory and Martin Scorsese.  

Dr. Rebekah Louisa Smith

Film Festival Consultant

Dr. Rebekah Louisa Smith, Founder of The Film Festival Doctor, can help you get your film seen by audiences around the world. 

So far, Rebekah and her team have helped their clients win over 900 awards.

Rebekah guides and mentors filmmakers in various capacities, including:

  • Building new business relationships on the festival circuit so you can create more work for yourself

  • Finding a suitable sales agent/distributor to sell your film so you can get a return on investment

  • Lobbying your film to our film festival programmer contacts so you can get your film seen on the circuit and get the best value from it. 

  • Creating a bespoke, streamlined and focused film festival strategy

  • Winning prestigious & useful awards

  • Lobbying and placing your film into the right film festivals

  • Completing BAFTA, Oscar, BIFA & Independent Spirit award applications (if applicable)

  • Supporting you on your journey whilst travelling the festival circuit

  • Taking care of all the planning, logistics and organization required

  • Creating a desirable P.R. campaign for your film 

Matthew Butler-Hart


Matthew Butler-Hart 

co-founded Fizz and Ginger Films with Tori Butler-Hart.


In 2013 they were picked by Screen International for their 'Stars Of Tomorrow' edition and since then have written and directed two theatrical features, Two Down, which premiered at the Manchester Film Festival, starring Alex Hassell(George Clooney's "Suburbicon") and Graham Butler (Penny Dreadful) and The Isle, starring Alex Hassell, Graham Butler, Fisayo Akinade and a TV movie, Miss In Her Teens (based on an 18th Century comedy).  His book, "Full to the Brim with Fizz, Ginger, and Fierce Determination: A Modern Guide to Independent Filmmaking", will be released in spring 2021.

Tori Butler-Hart


Tori Butler-Hart is an actress, writer, producer, and the founder of Fizz and Ginger Films, an independent film production company that aims to create high quality, fresh and original content. Tori's feature film credits include The Isle and Two Down, and television credits include Doctors, The Academy and Home Again. Her book, "Full to the Brim with Fizz, Ginger, and Fierce Determination: A Modern Guide to Independent Filmmaking", will be released in spring 2021.