Production Company Management

Sonja Armstrong, Executive Producer, Essential Media Group

Sonja Armstrong is an experienced Producer and Executive Producer with a passion for food, health and sustainability. Co-founder of Australian production company Essential Media and Entertainment, Sonja was instrumental in the growth of the company over 12 years. From producing some of SBS Australia's top-rating lifestyle programs, Gourmet Farmer (6 seasons) and Shane Delia's Spice Journey (3 seasons), to TV docudramas such as The Floating Brothel and Seduction in The City - The Invention of the Department Store, Sonja is also behind campaign documentary series such as What's The Catch? about sustainable seafood and For The Love Of Meat, about the ethical, health and environmental impact of intensive farming.

Prior to co-founding Essential Media, Sonja served as development executive at the Australian Film Commission and finance executive in film distribution in London, following an earlier career in corporate banking.

Julie Bristow, President, Bristow Global Media

Julie Bristow is the President, sole director and officer of BGM and each of its subsidiaries. Julie has been influencing how Canadians watch television for the past 20 years. She has created thousands of hours of original content, built entire entertainment divisions from scratch, innovated novel and exciting ways to reach new audiences, and garnered multiple industry and business awards for her contributions and leadership.

Before launching BGM, Julie was Executive Director of Studio & Unscripted Content at CBC. Her content portfolio included sports (Hockey Night in Canada, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio) and many of CBC’s most successful and original programs, including Dragons Den, Battle of the Blades, and George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight. Julie sits on the boards of some of the most influential domestic and international associations including the Academy of Canadian Television and Film and Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport. She volunteers her time to charitable organizations focused on addiction and mental health and is currently on the Foundation Board of the Hincks Dellcrest Centre for Children and Mental Health.

Jamie Brown, CEO and Executive Producer, Frantic Films

Over the past 16 years, Jamie Brown has been proud to see Frantic become one of Canada’s leading content creators, gaining recognition for its creative efforts and business success.

Jamie is the creator, producer and executive producer of many successful and award-winning projects. He created and produced Pioneer Quest, the first “living-history” program in North America, which went on to set several ratings records. He has created or co-created over a dozen series and is responsible for hundreds of hours of content, including TV movies and mini-series, feature films, lifestyle programs and documentaries.

Prior to joining Frantic in 2000, Jamie began his career as a lawyer with the prominent Toronto law firm McMillan LLP, where he focused on corporate finance and entertainment law. He also worked as Director of Business and Legal Affairs at Sullivan Entertainment Group and later Nelvana Ltd. He began his producing career at Credo Entertainment Corporation in 1998, where he worked on features, series and documentaries.

Jamie was the first recipient of the LIONSGATE Innovative Producer Award, was one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40, received the I.H. Asper Broadcast Entrepreneur of the Future Award, was nominated as the New Media Visionary at the Canadian New Media Awards and was named the CFTPA’s Entrepreneur of the Year. Among his many creative awards are Gemini, Banff Rockie, Golden Sheaf and Accolade awards. He is the Past-Chair of the Board of the Canadian Media Producers Association and has been Chair of Canada’s National Screen Institute.

Robert Cohen, President and Executive Producer, Media Headquarters Film & Television

Robert Cohen is a founder of MHQ. With 20 years of experience in the television and digital media industry, he is recognized as one of Canada's leading creators and producers of popular original content.

Robert collaborates with a wide range of broadcast and distribution partners worldwide and his programs have aired on dozens of networks and garnered multiple high-profile awards. Some successes as a creator, producer and director include the hit formats Canada’s Smartest Person, Red Button and Outlaw In-Laws, reality series Tessa & Scott and Modern Love, multiple award-winning dramatic miniseries The Summit, Emmy-nominated family movie The Great Polar Bear Adventure and popular documentary Souvenir of Canada, among many other titles.

Jeff Collins, President, Collins Avenue Productions

Jeff Collins is President of Collins Avenue, the eponymous company he founded in 2009. He also serves as Executive Producer on the hit Lifetime series Dance Moms and its spinoff series and specials, and he also serves as on-air host of the popular franchise’s reunion shows

An industry veteran with more than 1,200 hours of television production completed under his purview, Collins previously oversaw the U.S. office of September Films, serving as Show Runner for numerous long-running series, including the WE Television hit Bridezillas. He served as Executive Consultant on The Pregnant Man, Discovery Networks’ highest-rated show of 2008.

Collins began his career in non-fiction and informational programming, producing more than 500 hours of documentary, news and talk content. He went on to produce the prestigious Intimate Portraits series for Biography, then served as Producer on the long-running series Leeza. Collins was named Vice President of Leeza Gibbons Enterprises, where he had oversight of hundreds of hours of talk, documentary and specials programming.

Peter Cowley, Founder and CEO of Spirit Digital Media

Peter Cowley is Founder & CEO of Spirit, a company he started with partner Matt Campion in 2010. Spirit is a multi-platform production and audience building company specializing in branded content, short form content for broadcasters and running and operating digital channels and platforms.

Previous to Spirit, Peter was Managing Director of Digital Media for Endemol UK and global head of original digital programming at Endemol International. Peter has spent his career in content, internet portals and access at Freeserve / Orange, marketing at Videotron / Cable & Wireless, now Virgin Media and advertising at BBH.

Peter is also the founder and director of Ad Tech company, Connected Ventures Ltd, a non-executive director at Dynamic Ad Insertion company Yospace and a mentor for Ascension Media, a seed investment company.

Jesse Fawcett, President and Executive Producer, Essential Media Group

Jesse Fawcett runs Essential Media Group’s North American factual entertainment outfit, EQTV.

He's a 25-year TV veteran who has developed, executive produced and distributed many hundreds of hours of award-winning television in an array of genres - from animation to drama to reality. He launched his first production company (Telefactory) in 1999, which quickly became a high-volume production company of lifestyle programming for top US, Canadian and international broadcasters.

In 2009 Jesse founded Los Angeles and Toronto-based 11 Television, which has grown into today’s EQTV in partnership with Australia's Quail Entertainment and Essential Media & Entertainment. A few of his company's many diverse titles include SYFY's top rated hidden camera series Scare Tactics, Tru TV's hit series Carbonaro Effect, reality competition music series Cover Me Canada for CBC, Discovery’s docu-comedy Fool's Gold, DIY's all-time top rated series Texas Flip N Move and HGTV & DIY's multi-season hit Restored with Brett Waterman.

Alex Gibney, President, Jigsaw Productions

Director Alex Gibney has been called “the most important documentarian of our time” by Esquire and “one of America’s most successful and prolific documentary filmmakers” by The New York Times. Gibney’s signature cinematic style lends itself to his penetrating, gripping and deeply insightful documentaries which have been the recipient of the Academy Award®, multiple Emmy Awards, a Grammy Award, several Peabody Awards, the DuPont-Columbia Award, The Independent Spirit Award, and The Writers Guild Awards. In 2013, Gibney was honored with the International Documentary Association’s (IDA) Career Achievement Award and the first ever Christopher Hitchens Prize in 2015.

Gibney’s recent films include:the triple Emmy and DuPont-Columbia Award-winning Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January 2015 and on HBO in March 2015 becoming the most watched HBO documentary in a decade; Sinatra: All or Nothing At All, a two-part special on the life, music and career of legendary entertainer Frank Sinatra, which premiered on HBO in April 2015; and Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, which premiered at SXSW in March 2015 and was released theatrically and broadcast on CNN in January 2016 as the number one show in its time slot among the cable news networks.

Other career highlights include the Oscar® winning Taxi to the Dark Side, The Oscar-nominated Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, and the multiple Emmy Award-winning Mea Maxima Culpa.

Michael Hammond, COO, Collins Avenue Productions

As Chief Operation Officer Michael Hammond reports directly to Collins Avenue President Jeff Collins, and oversees all aspects of Collins Avenue’s production roster, including day-to-day operations of the company. Hammond is Executive Producer on the hit Lifetime series Dance Moms, as well as its numerous spinoff series and specials, including Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition, and the E! series The Drama Queen. Hammond has overseen production on numerous Collins Avenue series, including American Stuffers for Animal Planet, Outrageous Kid Parties for TLC, and American Colony: Meet the Hutterites for National Geographic Channel.

Hammond began his entertainment career in front of the camera, then segued into producing for commercials and music videos prior to joining CBS/World Race Productions, where he served as Producer on the hit primetime Emmy Award-winning series The Amazing Race for seven seasons. He was Line Producer for Reveille’s Losing It With Jillian and served as Line Producer for multiple seasons of Granada Entertainment’s Emmy-nominated hit series, Hell’s Kitchen.

Chris Hilton, CEO and Executive Producer, Essential Media Group

Chris Hilton is one of Australia's most prolific and award winning producer/directors who has made films across a broad spectrum of subjects for the world's major broadcasters. He was a founding partner of Essential Media and Entertainment, the multi award-winning Sydney-based production company with a track record in blue-chip factual, lifestyle, television drama, feature films and children’s animation. He later went on to build Essential Media USA before entering into a joint venture with Quail Entertainment to form the North American factual entertainment outfit EQTV.

Chris has produced over 400 hours of content for international broadcasters and digital platforms such as PBS, BBC, Channel Four, Discovery, National Geographic, Sundance, UKTV, CuriosityStream and Arte, as well as all Australian television networks.

Chris' recent Executive Producer credits include: Living Universe, Body Hack, The Pacific with Sam Neill, Texas Flip and Move, Afghanistan: Inside Australia's War, Australia: The Story of Us, The Real Mary Poppins, Australia: The Time Traveller's Guide, My Brother the Serial Killer, A Traveller's Guide to the Planets, Miracles, Solo: Lost at Sea and The Grammar of Happiness.

Chris served as a Documentary Councilor for Screen Producers Australia for 7 years and won the 2014 Stanley Hawes Award for his outstanding contribution to the documentary industry in Australia.

Marc Hirshberg, Financial Advisor, Kew Media Group

Marc Hirshberg, the Chief Executive Officer and President of EVRA Media Solutions Inc., has acted in an advisory capacity to Kew, lending his considerable financial analysis and business optimization skills to its strategic planning and operations.

EVRA has a proven track record of providing high-level clients with both short and long-term business solutions, with particular emphasis on the monetization of films, financing strategies, restructuring, and mergers and acquisitions.

Joseph Houlihan, President, Our House Media

Before co-founding OHM in early 2014 with Simon Lloyd, Joseph Houlihan worked as Executive Vice President of Programming at Cineflix Productions. His projects included, among others, Property Brothers, Buying and Selling, Food Factory, Dinner Party Wars, and My Teenage Wedding.

Prior to that time, Joseph was Director of Programs at Twofour Broadcast Ltd. There, he oversaw shows, including, Are You Smarter Than a 10 Year Old? and Design For Life with Philippe Starck. Before then, Joseph was President of RDF Media Group (now Zodiak Media) in Los Angeles, where his credits included Wife Swap, Faking It and I Hate My Boss. Before moving to North America, he was a senior creative executive at ITV Studios, where he created Airline for ITV and A&E and oversaw numerous hit shows, including Parking Wars and I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.

Jennifer Kawaja, Co-Founder, Sienna Films

Jennifer Kawaja is a seasoned producer with over 25 years of experience in content creation for the international marketplace. She joined partner Julia Sereny to form Sienna Films in 1995.

Since that time, the duo has continuously made critically acclaimed and award-winning television, film and digital media, building on their reputation with indie feature films including breakout comedy New Waterford Girl (Sundance/ TIFF/ Berlinale), Gay Muslim romantic comedy Touch of Pink starring Kyle MacLachlan and Jimi Mistry (Sundance; Sony Pictures Classics) and Caribbean-community centered dance drama How She Move starring Rutina Wesley (Sundance; Paramount Vantage/MTV Films). Always venturing into challenging territory with productions including Afghanistan-set medical series Combat Hospital (13x1 hours, Global/ABC/Sony Int’l), television movie One Dead Indian (Bell Media) about the death of Indigenous activist Dudley George, mini-series Diamonds starring Derek Jacobi, James Purefoy and Judy Davis (CBC/ABC), an unflinching look at the deadly global ramifications of diamond industry practices, and documentaries Black, Bold and Beautiful: Black Women and Their Hair. Sienna’s television projects and feature films have been widely distributed internationally while making their mark at home.Slated for production in 2018 in Ireland and Ethiopia is the feature film adaptation Sweetness in the Belly starring Wunmi Mosaku, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Kunal Nayyar and directed by Zeresenay Berhane Mehari.

Before joining Sienna Films Jennifer was a partner in the Winter Films production collective, producing and directing documentaries, music videos and short dramas. She directed Beyond Borders a two-part documentary series for the NFB on Arab Feminist movements and their on-going struggle not to be used in the geo-political war between east and west and produced The Other Prison, a drama set in Kingston penitentiary about an inmate learning to read as well as, produced :30 Second Democracy, an hour long documentary by writer/director David Vainola about the history of political advertisements in North America. She also consulted for the Department of Multiculturalism, the Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council and the National Film Board on issues of diversity. She immigrated to Canada from the Caribbean and settled in Montreal where she studied Philosophy and subsequently Film, TV and Communications theory.

Tanya Linton, Executive Manager, Architect Films

Tanya Linton joined Architect in 2015 following her departure from Shaw Media Inc. (later acquired by Corus Entertainment Inc., Canada’s primary broadcaster for lifestyle and factual programming). While at Shaw Media Inc., Tanya served as the Director of Original Lifestyle Content for several years, creating, commissioning and helping develop numerous internationally successful series, brands and personalities.

She was an integral part of Shaw Media Inc.’s creative and strategy team. Tanya moved to Architect to lead the successful series, Home to Win (broadcast on HGTV Canada, a Shaw/Corus network), as well as to join Mike Sheerin in running Architect, generally. Home to Win was recently heralded as Specialty Hit of the Year by Playback Magazine, Canada’s widely-read broadcast and production industry publication. She has equally established herself as a respected broadcast executive and creative talent.

Simon Lloyd, CEO, Our House Media

Simon Lloyd is Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of OHM. In this role, he oversees OHM’s corporate affairs and its creative output. Simon is an award-winning producer and a leading innovator in non-scripted programming in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Prior to founding OHM, Simon was Chief Executive Officer of Cineflix Productions. In his eight years at Cineflix Productions, he oversaw enormous growth in the company’s unscripted programming slate, eventually running more than 400 hours of production, annually. Previously, Simon was Managing Director of Outline Productions Ltd., Head of Wall to Wall Media Ltd. (Scotland), and Head of Programs at Prospect Pictures (part of DCD Media plc). He has also created and overseen some of the world’s most successful non-fiction TV brands inducing Property Brothers, American Pickers, House of Tiny Tearaways and Property Virgins. He has also won almost every major international honor, including BAFTA, Emmy, Gemini, RTS, Rockie and Rose d’Or awards.

Greg Phillips, President, Kew Media Distribution

Greg Phillips, President, Kew Media Distribution is responsible for directing the overall trajectory and growth of the Kew Media Distribution business in the international market. With more than 11,000 hours of diverse, multi-genre content currently in the library, his role includes actively identifying, sourcing and contracting programming that fits the company’s business model, as well as driving sales to ensure annual budgets and group revenues are achieved. He directs and co-ordinates all global Kew Media Distribution departments including development and acquisitions, sales, marketing, sales administration and operations.

His role also encompasses initiating and building synergies with other Kew Media Group companies, identifying ways the companies may co-operate to maximise worldwide opportunities in production and distribution. As a member of the Kew Media Group management team he represents and reports on the strategy and delivery of annual and longer-term goals for Kew Media Distribution.

In addition to his time at Kew Media Distribution (formerly Content Media Corporation and Fireworks International), which he joined in 1999, Greg has a wealth of experience in the industry, previously holding senior roles at EMI, CBS Broadcast International and MTM International.

Greg Quail, CCO and Executive Producer, Essential Media Group

Greg Quail is an award winning Australian television and feature film producer who takes an intensive, hands-on approach to all aspects of the company's creative operations in both Australia and the US operations through EQTV.

After ten years reporting for news and current affairs programs, Greg freelanced as a writer, director and producer of documentary and reality TV, before opening Quail Television in 2005. The company quickly became a prolific provider of factual programming for Australian and international broadcasters and through a joint venture with Essential Media USA in 2016 that became EQTV, they created hit lifestyle series Texas Flip N Move, spin offs Louisiana Flip N Move and Restored.

Julia Sereny, Co-Founder, Sienna Films

Julia Sereny is a seasoned producer with over 25 years of experience content creation for the international marketplace. She co-founded Sienna Films in 1992 with partner Jennifer Kawaja.

Since that time, the duo has continuously made critically acclaimed and award-winning television, film and digital media projects including Cardinal (now in production on season 3 – aired on CTV in Canada, Hulu in the U.S. and BBC in the UK), Ransom (now in production on season 2 – aired on Global Television in Canada and CBS in the U.S.), Combat Hospital (for Global Television in Canada and ABC in the U.S.), and Diamonds (CBC in Canada and ABC in the U.S.), Touch of Pink (Sony, Sundance Official Selection) and How She Move (Paramount, Vantage/MTV Films, premiered at Sundance and nominated Sundance Grand Jury Prize).

Mike Sheerin, Executive Manager, Architect Films

Mike Sheerin founded Architect in 2010. Prior to that time, he was an award-winning documentary director and producer covering a wide variety of topics from politics to wars to Santa Claus.

He is regarded as a creative and operational powerhouse with a mastery of all elements of production. He created and grew brands such as Decked Out, which was subsequently spun-off into other series, such as Deck Wars, Disaster Decks and Custom Built. He created the popular game show, Ice Cold Cash and the successful series Extreme Collectors. Under Sheerin’s leadership, Architect has produced 10 successful series, the majority of which are multi-season properties.

Carrie Stein, EVP, Global Scripted Series, Kew Media

Carrie has worked in the entertainment industry for more than 20 years in all phases of the business, including feature film and television development and production. She was most recently Executive Vice President of Global Productions for Entertainment One Television.

In that capacity, she forged strategic alliances with global producers, and packaged and oversaw international co-productions including Ransom (CBS and Shaw) which is in its second season, Welcome to Sweden (TV4 and NBC), the multi award-winning The Book of Negroes (CBC and BET), Gap Year (Channel 4 and Hulu) and Cardinal (CTV), now in production for seasons 2 and 3. Prior to joining eOne, Carrie launched the global division of 3 Arts, managing production companies and showrunners worldwide. Before that, she was CEO of Alchemy Television, a UK and LA-based production and distribution company responsible for a slate of high-end television properties including Coco Chanel, Ben Hur, The Company and Flashpoint. Earlier, she ran the longform packaging department at ICM for eleven years.

Dina Subhani, Executive Director, TCB Media Rights

As one of the founding directors of TCB Media Rights, Dina has played a strategic role in the management and growth of the company since its inception, overseeing accounts, marketing and financial planning. In her current role as Executive Director, Subhani oversees the newly expanded Marketing and Events division.

Subhani began her career in sales at national UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph, regional television station Yorkshire Television and a number of radio stations including as Head of Sales and Marketing of the launch team for Liberty Radio. She then took a logistics management role at event organizer Original Concept, where she, along with an established team, planned corporate events and award ceremonies for clients such as Blockbuster and Colombia Films.

Paul Heaney, CEO, TCB Media Rights

Paul Heaney launched TCB Media Rights in October 2012 to distribute and co-create factual entertainment and formats with strong-pre-sales and revenue potential. Heaney and his 15-strong team work with some of the most highly regarded production companies in the business and leverage their network of co-production, broadcaster and pre-sales relationships in the US, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Australia/New Zealand and the Nordics to help them realise their programme-making ambitions.

Paul has in-depth market intelligence and insider knowledge of what the global content industry wants and where and how it wants to watch it, which has contributed significantly to TCB’s content and corporate development. Prior to launching TCB as a one-man operation, Heaney served as President and Managing Director of Cineflix Rights, which he started in 2002. Over the next decade, he built up the business from a boutique operator into a major distributor, posting double- or triple-digit growth year-on-year.