The Digital Hollywood Experience

The Digital Hollywood Experience


Christina Heller is the CEO and Co-Founder of VR Playhouse, a creative studio and full service virtual reality production company.  VRP's interactive 360/CGI narrative, "The Surrogate," was nominated for the Innovation Award at SXSW 2016, and was one of 15 projects produced by the company in 2015. She is on the board of Directors for SH//FT, a VR non-profit devoted to promoting diversity in virtual reality. Christina started at 88.9FM Boston, producing and hosting a weekly politics show which won Associated Press Awards for the two years under her leadership. She moved to television by producing, shooting, and hosting "My Voice"​, another politics program broadcast into 9 million homes. She covered the 2008 presidential election for both MyTV New England and Al Gore's Current TV, and was featured on Good Morning America as a commentator on the Millennial impact on politics. She directed and produced two feature documentaries, Libertopia and Reversing the Mississippi. Libertopia was featured on FOX Business, Huffington Post, and NHPR. Reversing The Mississippi premiered PBS's "America Reframed" in April 2016. VR Playhouse was founded in July 2014.


Anarghya Vardhana is a senior associate at consumer VC firm Maveron, where she invests in cutting-edge consumer startups commercializing frontier technologies such as VR, AI, 3D printing, and drones. Anarghya published a math theorem at the age of 17 that set her on a lifelong path in STEM. Anarghya previously worked in product management at several startups, including early-stage fintech and healthtech companies. She also worked at nonprofit Ushahidi, where she was a product manager and led user experience research across South America and East Africa. Anarghya also held various roles at Google, leading operational teams and focusing on international expansion of AdWords Express. She was also an investor at Rothenberg Ventures, where she focused on consumer, media, and frontier technology companies. At Maveron, Anarghya invests in companies navigating the intersection of cutting-edge technology and mass consumer experiences. She is a board observer for Booster Fuels. Anarghya holds a BS in Science, Technology, and Society from Stanford University. Her lifelong mission is to get more women involved in technology.


Tanna Frederick is a producer, director, actress, and activist. In her decade plus collaboration with indie film icon Henry Jaglom, she has starred in and helped produce six of his feature films, including the recently released, The “M” Word, the highly anticipated, Ovation, and three of his plays, including Train to Zakopane, which just completed a  run at the Edgemar Theatre in Santa Monica. Frederick — who got her start performing at the Steben’s Children’s Theatre and then the University of Iowa — is also a mainstay of the Los Angeles theatre community.  She has starred in successful productions of A.R. Gurney’s Sylvia, Richard Nash’s The Rainmaker — which was a Los Angeles Times Critic’s Pick — and Claire Chafee’s Why Why Have a Body, which also marked Frederick’s directing debut. She and Jaglom also collaborated on the stage adaptation of his film, Always… But Not Forever and the yearlong run of his original play Just 45 from Broadway, which was later adapted to the 2012 film of the same name. An Iowan by birth and a Californian by choice, actress Frederick is passionate about both of her home states. She is also the cofounder of the Iowa Independent Film Festival and of Project Cornlight, an initiative aimed at bringing film productions to the Hawkeye State and through which she produced her upcoming film Garner, Iowa. Project Cornlight currently has two other films are currently in development. Frederick has been hard at work producing the series, DEFROST in collaboration with Randal Kleiser, a revolutionary virtual reality experience using the Oculus Rift. She has a great skill for seeking out talented and dedicated individuals for her team. In California, Frederick fell in love with surfing and in 2007, she founded Project Save Our Surf, which is dedicated to ocean conservation, the improved availability of freshwater to those in need and exposing a wide range of people to the joys of the ocean through surfing. Since 2012, Project Save Our Surf Camp has reached thousands of underserved children and teens in Southern California and Mexico, educating them on environmental issues and giving them hands-on instruction in yoga and surfing. She has been instrumental in coordinating fundraising events, camps, beach clean-ups, and carrying out the mission of Project Save Our Surf. For her work on an off stage, Frederick has received numerous awards, including Broadway World Best Actress Award for Rainmaker, Best Actress awards from the Wild Rose Film Festival, Worldfest Houston, the Fargo Film Festival and the Montana Independent Film Festival. She has been named “One to Watch” by MethodFest and received the CineCause Award, the University of Iowa’s Distinguished Alumni Award, Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival’s Maverick Award.


Jacquelyn Ford Morie, Founder and Chief Scientist. MS, MFA, PhD With degrees in both art and computer science, Dr. Morie has 25 years experience in developing innovative techniques for rich, emotionally evocative virtual reality (VR) environments. As part of this pioneering work, she invented a scent collar to bring the emotional power of smell to immersive experiences, and developed new types of functions for VR, such as connections to multiple sensor and feedback systems to make VR more effective. Dr. Morie spent 13 years as a Sr. Research Scientist at USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT), which she helped found. While there, she created novel VR telehealth care activities using her deep understanding of art, computer animation and human behavior to enhance patient engagement with these programs. In the mid-1990s, Dr. Morie started comprehensive computer animation training programs at Walt Disney Feature Animation combining art and technology topics, which she later expanded to the special effects industries at studios such as Rhythm and Hues. Prior to that, Morie worked at UCF’s Institute for Simulation and Training, where she developed techniques to make VR environments more immersive and emotionally compelling, and helped lead a group of innovative students called The Toy Scouts. She has been expanding her VR research to include neuroscience and avatars, developing methods to determine how such technologies can effect positive change in those who use them.


Alethea Avramis, Creative Producer, Specular Theory: As the first producer hired on the team of award-winning virtual reality content studio Specular Theory, Alethea works directly at the intersection of new technology, innovation and filmmaking in the burgeoning industry of VR. With Specular Theory, Alethea has produced the Sundance 2016 and Tribeca 2016 official selection Perspective: Chapter 2; The Party, widely considered one of the best examples of narrative storytelling in VR. She has also served as producer on YoutubeRED's first-ever series in 360, MatPat's Game Lab, which launched in June 2016 and has garnered over 5 million views since launch. Prior to Specular Theory, Alethea was an Associate Producer at OWN and Relativity Media. A passionate filmmaker who is dedicated to finding new ways to generate empathy through new technology, Alethea also currently develops projects both in the US and her second country of citizenship, Greece.


Rachel Skidmore is the Director of Media Development and Production at Skybound Entertainment where she serves as an Executive Producer of high quality web content and other non-traditional/new media projects. At Skybound, Skidmore recently co-developed and Executive produced the most popular series of YouTube Red’s first programming slate, “Scare Pewdiepie,” with Robert Kirkman and David Alpert, starring Felix Kjellberg (aka PewDiePie). Additionally, Skidmore was the Executive Producer on the first-ever scripted virtual reality series for Samsung’s MilkVR platform entitled “Gone.” Her other producing credits at the company include Gary Whitta’s “Nerd Court” and “Superfight,” a web series based on Skybound’s hit party card game of the same name. Prior to serving as the founder of the Media Development and Production Department at Skybound Entertainment, Skidmore was a talent manager and producer at Big Frame where she worked with top YouTube creators and emerging digital talent. Skidmore has worked in various facets of production including commercials, documentary television, music videos and features; specializing in delivery high quality content on a low budget. She holds a B.S. in Electronic Arts from Missouri State University and an M.F.A. in Film and Television Producing from Chapman University.


Louisa Spring, is Chief Operating Officer at Prologue Immersive, the VR sister company to Prologue Films. Founded by Kyle Cooper and Kimberly Cooper, the Prologue Immersive has already secured its place as a world class VR studio. Prior to joining Prologue Immersive she was Interim COO at Innerspace VR, (Firebird: La Peri), and the former CEO of Bipolar ID, (Mini Cooper NYTVR). Ms. Spring has worked as a television producer with Far Moor, (The Fall, Netflix), Barry Films, (Life) and represented the U.K.’s most iconic and beloved actors such as John Rhys-Davies (Lord Of The Rings, Indiana Jones) and Roger Moore (James Bond, The Saint). Speaker at the Women in Film Virtual Reality Panel, Women in VR Digital Hollywood Spring 2016, Judge for the AICP Virtual Reality Awards 2016, speaker on virtual reality and storytelling at the Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Conference 2016 and speaker at AWE 2016. She’s a former member of the board of BAFTA Los Angeles, and practiced law in London for 3 years.


Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

2:30 PM - 3:30 PM

Track I: Ahmanson Hall, Live Webcast

Women in Virtual Reality and Immersive Entertainment: Experiencing New Dimensions and Creative Experience

Jacki Morie, Founder / Chief Scientist, All These Worlds, LLC.

Tanna Frederick, Producer/actor, Defrost (VR Narrative Film)

Christina Heller, CEO & Co-founder, VR Playhouse

Alethea Avramis, Producer, Specular Theory

Rachel Skidmore, ‎Director of Media Development, ‎Skybound Entertainment

Anarghya Vardhana, Senior Associate, Maveron VC

Catherine Day, Head of Unscripted/EP, Jaunt VR

Louisa Spring, Chief Operating Officer, Prologue Immersive, Moderator


Catherine Day, Head of Unscripted/EP, Jaunt VR: Catherine Day has spent her career at the intersection of media and technology, working to leverage silicon and story to inform and inspire. She began in the studio system  (Sony, Dreamworks, and Miramax), before moving into TV (BBC, Current TV, and Showtime). Most recently, Catherine worked in live interactive developing formats and content for HuffPost Live and Screenz before joining Jaunt VR to head up their Unscripted vertical.