The Creativity Conference
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 25th: 2:30 - 4:30 PM

Presented by: InPursuit Research

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Making Your First Feature Film

DaVinci International Film Festival, in partnership with The Creativity Conference and supported by InPursuit, will present a special series of talks followed by a panel of industry luminaries exploring the unique challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for first time filmmakers. The panel will be chaired by Creativity Conference Founder and DIFF Board of Directors Member, Maxim Jago.

Whether it’s finding that powerful story that demands to be told, connecting with and inspiring the right team, or following through with the blood, sweat, and tears you’ll inevitably invest in bringing your first feature film to the world, you find impactful insights and wisdom from our highly experienced speakers.

Perhaps you’re planning a major action sequence or diving deep into shadow work and the universal emotional stakes that capture the hearts of audiences. For first time filmmakers, it can be difficult to know the pitfalls when pushing hard to share an important story with the world.

Our speakers will give you a head start with practical, actionable, specific advice on the most important step: The next one!


Melanie Hicks (InPursuit) – TALK It All Starts with a Story: Using the 3Es to Discover Universal Writing Truths.

Whether you are looking to overcome writer’s block, deepen your audience connection, or inspire action through your words, Dr. Hicks’ 3E method offers practical and simple tips for improving your screenplay or script. Developed organically over two decades and hundreds of clients all over the world, every new filmmaker is sure to walk away with at least one nugget of knowledge to improve their storytelling expertise.

Steven Adams (Alta Global Media) – Show me the money: How finance really works for indie’s.

You may have heard of the famous “chicken and egg” problem for indie filmmakers: You can’t get the money without the cast, you can’t get the cast without the money. How can you bridge that gap and bring your genius to the world while retaining the integrity of your original work and honoring the needs of you investors? Learn the secrets of successful film financing in this session.

Dream Team Directors (Bayou Bennett & Daniel Lier) – How to Break into the Big Leagues with your Cinematic Dream

We all aspire to have a breakout film like Rian Johnson did with “Brick, Jared Hess with “Napoleon Dynamite” or Morgan Spurlock with “Supersize Me” but are these just lucky breaks?

When we closely analyze these productions, we find that they possess many well thought out professional qualities and strategies and that “luck” is actually calculated skill and knowledge mixed with talent.

This workshop will inspire and empower you to think and act confidently like a professional Filmmaker from Production and through to Distribution and use their linked power to change your destiny in Hollywood.

PANEL: Producing your first feature film

Join our experienced panel to learn how to beat the “chicken and egg” problem and bring your first feature film to the world!  Our speakers will give you a head start with practical, actionable, specific advice on the most important step: The next one!

Maxim Jago - DIFF


Maxim Jago is a Best-Selling Author, Award-Winning Filmmaker, Founder of The Creativity Conference and The Creative Community, and a Strategic Advisor for a number of organizations around the world on future and emerging technologies. Jago has directed over thirty short films in addition to the feature length documentary ‘Trust Me: Working with Richard Foreman’, and the forthcoming supernatural-thriller feature film ‘It’s Haunted’. His films have won Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actor awards. He has guest directed for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, the Director’s Guild of Great Britain, and the Pit-Bull Snyder Casting and Actors Studio in Hollywood. A regular keynote speaker at conferences around the world, Maxim offers an optimistic-realist perspective on the future and our creation of it.

DIFF6 - Creativity Conference


Award winning Manager/Producer Steven Adams is a Founding Partner at Alta Global Media where he represents international media companies and talent.

He is a producer on the Netflix Original adaptation of Roger Guenveur Smith’s solo performance piece RODNEY KING, directed by Academy Award winner Spike Lee. Adams recently collaborated on the marketing of 2 seasons Spike Lee’s hit series Netflix SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT, and the Oscar campaign for the Academy Award winning BLACKKKLANSMAN.

Adams served for 4 years as a VFX Executive Producer with Paris-based VFX house BUF. His credits there include such Academy Award winners as James Cameron’s AVATAR, Ang Lee’s LIFE OF PI, THOR for Marvel Studios, as well as GREEN LANTERN, GREEN HORNET, Stephen Sommers’ ODD THOMAS, and Tim Burton’s DARK SHADOWS.

Steven was also VFX Executive Producer for French VFX house Digital District whose credits include the Academy Award winning features THE ARTIST & THE INTOUCHABLES.

As a partner in Luna Ray Media, Adams produced the Peabody Award winning A HUEY P NEWTON STORY, directed by Spike Lee, the first Starz original Production. Other indie credits with Luna Ray include GOD’S WAITING LIST, JUSTICE and BURNING SHADOWS, and the Sundance indie pilot IT’S NOT ABOUT JIMMY KEENE.

Television credits also include 3 seasons as Consultant on THE CULTURE CLASH SHOW.

Steven launched the ALTA GLOBAL MEDIA // HOLLYSHORTS FILM FINANCE SUMMIT, now preparing for its third edition in August 2024, featuring all aspects of the current state of finance.

Adams previously served as President of FilmPro Finance, consulting for such film finance-based clients as Bloomberg/Cite and its predecessor the Atlas Film & TV Finance Summit, Film Production Capital, and various global film commissions and festivals.

An accomplished host, Adams moderates panels at the Motion Picture Academy, Co-produced and hosted the web series Show Me The F$#!ing Money: How to Invest, Raise Finance, and Recoup Money in the Film Business, featuring interviews with over 150 top names in the world of Film Finance.

He is a frequent public speaker at Cannes, NATPE, Sundance, Content London, Toronto, amongst many others.

Steven  studied at San Francisco State University and began his career at the Paradigm Talent and Literary Agency.

Steven is a member of BAFTA, the Producers Guild of America, the Television Academy, an Advisory Board member for Content London and also serves as Advisory Board chair and Chief Strategist for the Oscar qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival.

DIFF6 - Melanie


Melanie Sue Hicks is an adventure-seeking, social impact advocate, author, coach and speaker. She has more than two decades of professional experience helping individuals and organizations use storytelling to change lives and connect with audiences. Her global philanthropy and to more than 44 countries gives her a unique and first hand lens on the ways that words can connect people, overcome adversity and affect change.

She is the founder of InPursuit, a writing, coaching, a training firm; owner of Inked Elephant Publishing House, a boutique publisher targeting first time and lesser known authors; and Member-Owner of Truce Studios, a cooperative TV/Film company based in Denver, Colorado. In February 2023, she released Incongruent; Travel, Trauma, Transformation, a memoir on healing trauma through travel. Writing her first book at 10 years old, she has been published in more than two dozen magazines including Forbes, Marie Claire, Authority Magazine, Elephant Journal, Wander Magazine, See Beyond Magazine, The District, Doctor’s Life Magazine, Healthcare Business Today and interviewed on TV, radio and podcasts around the world.

It All Starts with a Story: Using the 3Es to Discover Universal Writing Truths

Whether you are looking to overcome writer’s block, deepen your audience connection, or inspire action through your words, Dr. Hicks’ 3E method offers practical and simple tips for improving your screenplay or script. Developed organically over two decades and hundreds of clients all over the world, every new filmmaker is sure to walk away with at least one nugget of knowledge to improve their storytelling expertise.

Daniel and Bayou - DIFF


In their 15 years of working as a stellar team, Bayou Bennett and Daniel Lir aka “Dream Team Directors have had the opportunity to collaborate, direct and produce with great talents such as Oscar nominees Michelle Pfeiffer, Mark Ruffalo, Juliette Lewis as well as brands and celebrities such as Bella Hadid, Paris Hilton, Coldplay, Lindsey Stirling, Oscar Winner Jane Fonda and more.

Dream Team’s inspiring drama, “Tombstone Pillow”, shot in a Manila cemetery where 6,000 families live received 34 awards including Best Inspiring Film, Best Drama, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Short Film bringing their total festival wins to over 60. “Tombstone Pillow” was introduced in Italy by one of their cinema heros, Oscar nominated actor, Edward Norton.

They won Best Picture and Best Director for their empowering fashion film “Time is Eternal” at the prestigious La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival 2022 as well as Best Short Film at the UK Fashion Film Fest, Roma International Fashion Film Fest and Fash Film Fete.

Most recently they released their documentary “Destination Angels” co-produced with the Jack Kerouac Estate and narrated by Norman Reedus which won Best Short Documentary at French Riviera Film Festival, Cannes.

Bayou and Daniel strongly believe in inspiring other filmmakers to reach their dreams and have mentored countless filmmakers on building a profitable career doing what they love.  Check out their “Art of the Film Business” course in partnership with the Radio Recording Film Connection here.

Ramfis Myrthil - DIFF


Ramfis Myrthil is a New York-based filmmaker who applies a city-grown work ethic to the world of film and media. He made his name producing films by people of color, women, and the LGBTQ community, and seeks to promote themes of passion and integrity in all of his work.

Ramfis’ started his journey in the film industry by premiering his first short, entitled Love and the Small Print (2012), at the 65th Annual Cannes Film Festival, where it was picked up by Shorts International for worldwide distribution. He then went on to produce a music video entitled “Any Other Way” for the legendary rock band The Zombies. After that, Ramfis became involved with the feature film A Boy, A Girl, and A Dream (2018), which premiered at Sundance and was acquired by Samuel Goldwyn Films for theatrical release.

Ramfis went on to co-found Beast of the East Productions, where he developed a successful and proven body of work as a producer. One of his most celebrated feature films, entitled Cicada (2021), has won awards at several film festivals around the world, and was purchased by Strand Releasing for North American distribution. Cicada was then sold to several distributors in the UK, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, France, and Ireland for theatrical release Spring 2022. Cicada was also nominated for an Independent Spirit award in the spring of 2022. More recently, Ramfis found success in the Tribeca Film Festival Creators Market with his project entitled 5150 (2021), which explores mental illness in the black community. The film was executive produced alongside David Oyelowo.

Ramfis is an advisor for Sundance Film Institute’s Collab producing program, where he works with a diverse group of worldwide filmmakers, develops work in progress, and helps elevate the voices of independent storytellers. Ramfis is also a co-founder of the Hyphen Grant, a program built to fund, develop, support, and champion Caribbean filmmakers and the development of the film industry throughout the Caribbean and West Indies.

Ramfis’ continued success and mentorship within the film industry has also earned him several accolades. He was named to Stars’ 2018 40 Under 40 list in 2018, and has served as a panelist across a variety of film festivals. He is a regular speaker, advisor, board member, and mentor at the Cannes Film Festival, the UK’s Raindance, South by Southwest, and most recently the British Film Institute. Ramfis is also serving as the co-president of the Black TV & Film Collective, where he continues to bring more black voices into the world of film and television.

Ramfis’ passion for film is matched only by his drive for sharing his knowledge with the next generation of creators. He has served as a judge for the 2018 BAFTA Student Film Awards, a member of PAC (Program Advisory Committee) at Five Towns College, and as a repeat speaker at NYU, Columbia University, Hofstra University, and HBCUs across the country, He is also an adjunct professor at Five Towns College, where he continues to teach “Advanced Producing” to the next generation of filmmakers.

Ramfis also volunteers with Mythic Bridge, The Parity Project, The “I Can Still Do That” Foundation, Teach for America, Schools That Can, Hofstra University’s Youth Film Day, and Blacks on Wall Street. He mentors students on both coasts by working with NPower, a nonprofit organization focused on helping young graduates enter the professional world. He is also an active member of BAFTA NY, Toastmasters International, SEC Roughriders, and he is a board member at The Long Island Film and TV Foundation and the Hollywood Radio & Television Society (HRTS).

Ramfis is excited to announce that his most recent achievement, a short-film entitled RICKY (2022), is premiering at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Sundance will also mark the launch of Ramfis’ new production company, entitled Ramfis Productions. This company is created by and dedicated to Caribbean filmmakers, and it is devoted to championing BIPOC, women-led, and queer stories from all over the world.



Kylee Peña is Product Marketing Manager for Pro Editorial at Adobe. As a former editor herself, she’s a seasoned problem-solver who wants to bridge the gap between creative and technology for all kinds of storytellers working in Premiere Pro. Kylee has over 15 years of experience in post-production, including hundreds of television and film credits as both a creative and technical professional on shows such as Jane the VirginColony, and Scorpion and a long stint in creative technologies at Netflix. Kylee is in leadership for the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers and is a Television Academy Science and Technology Peer Group member.

Andrea Blanco - DIFF


Andrea Sweeney Blanco (also known as Andi) is an international actress, producer, public speaker and television host.

She currently hosts the documentary series “The Fixers” which travels the world doing build projects for communities in need, the fourth season having just premiered on cable, BYUtv, and Discovery International. Andi hosts the show and is a builder on it, using her carpentry skills and people skills to foster positive change in the communities served.

Originally from Monterrey, Mexico she holds dual nationality. She has had recurring acting roles in TV series and telenovelas in Mexico City, Leading and Supporting roles in independent films across the USA, Germany and the UK, and performed professionally on theatre stages since she was very young.

A devout creative, she has also branched out into producing and has her first feature film as a producer in post-production this year. Currently developing a TV Documentary series with her company Diamond Pacific Productions, LLC. Recent producing partners include Golden Bloom Productions, LLC, A Turquoise Moon Productions, and KingVigor Productions.

Still in her 20’s, her mission is to bridge international and cultural understandings, to help people feel seen and come alive in Spirit, through the cinematic and performance arts.