2018 Panelist Bios

Scott Budnick is the Founder and President of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC), which provides a support network for formerly incarcerated men and women and advocates for fairer criminal justice policies. He grew up in Atlanta, GA and graduated from Emory University. Formerly the Executive Vice President of Todd Phillips’ Green Hat Films, Scott executive produced many successful comedies, including the highest grossing rated-R comedies in history, THE HANGOVER series.

Outside of film, Scott is a fierce champion for young adults in need. He is a teacher and serves on the board for InsideOUT Writers, an organization that aims to reduce juvenile recidivism through creative writing and by providing a range of services for of currently and formerly incarcerated youth.

Nicholas Kazan’s first credited screenplay was as co-author of Frances, for which both Jessica Lange and Kim Stanley were nominated for Academy Awards. Other screenplays include At Close Range, the Roald Dahl children’s classic Matilda (written Robin Swicord), Fallen and Bicentennial Man. Dream Lover, which he wrote and directed, was called a “smart, diabolical thriller” by Janet Maslin in the New York Times. Kazan’s screenplay for Reversal of Fortune won several Critics Awards (Boston, Los Angeles) and was nominated for an Academy Award. Jeremy Irons won an Oscar for his portrayal of Claus von Bulow in that film.

Robin Swicord is primarily known for her work as a screenwriter for Memoirs Of A Geisha (Satellite Award for best screenplay); Little Women, (co-producer, Writers Guild award nomination); Matilda (co-written and co-produced with Nicholas Kazan); and the cult comedy Shag (shared); The Perez Family; Practical Magic (shared). She has written two plays that were produced off-Broadway (“Last Days at the Dixie Girl Café,” “Criminal Minds,” both published by Samuel French). In 2009 Swicord received an Oscar nomination for her contribution to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a project Swicord originated and worked on for more than a decade.

Swicord made her feature-directing debut with Sony Classic’s The Jane Austen Book Club, produced by Julie Lynn and John Calley, for which Swicord also wrote the screenplay adaptation.   In 2016, she wrote and directed Wakefield, starring Bryan Cranston and Jennifer Garner; it premiered at the Telluride Film Festival in August 2016, and made its international debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2016.  IFC released the film theatrically in May 2017; it is currently streaming and is available on DVD.

She is currently collaborating with Ava DuVernay on DuVernay’s five-part miniseries about the Central Park Five, for Netflix. Swicord is a Governor for the Writers Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and chairs the prestigious Nicholl Fellowship. She mentors for the Sundance Screenwriting lab, and often co-leads Film Independent’s Writers Lab. In 2015 she helped create and launch the inaugural Hedgebrook Screenwriting Workshop for women writers, which she led in October of this year.  Swicord is married to writer-director Nicholas Kazan; they have two daughters, actor-writer Zoe Kazan and actor-writer Maya Kazan.