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Presented by AFMX and AFMI

Center Stage Conversation #7:

Perfecting Your Pitch

Sunday, October 1 at 2:30 p.m.

The Historic Lobo Theater

Back by popular demand! Albuquerque Film & Media Experience and Albuquerque Film & Media Incubator present the Center Stage Conversation, Perfecting Your Pitch Panel, with panelists Christopher Lockhart (executive, filmmaker, and educator), Karen Criswell (Executive Producer, Koncept Films, former VP of Operations for DreamWorks Studios), and Matt McDuffie (HBO, Showtime, CBS, Fox, and Warner Bros.). 

Five semi-finalists will practice pitching their stories to Hollywood executives and producers, and receive feedback on the pitch. NM Filmmakers are highly encouraged to participate in this opportunity!


The five semi-finalists are:

Ryan Beane for "Web of Thieves"

Victor Wuamett for "River of Lies"

Ryan Maples for Mia & the Skeletons"

Kate Bergeron for "Upstaged"

Debra Pralle for "No Demerits for Dancing”


Our finalists will practice pitching their projects live to panelists and receive feedback. The top three semi-finalist pitches will be awarded cash prizes of $500, $250, and $100, respectively. 

Awards for the top three semi-finalist pitches ($500, $250, $100 cash awards), will be presented by Karen Criswell, (Executive Producer, Koncept Films, former VP of Operations for DreamWorks Studios, during the AFMX 2023 Awards Ceremony & Lobo Closing After Party Sunday, October 1, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Historic Lobo Theater, 3013 Central Avenue Northeast Albuquerque, NM 87106



  • Christopher Lockhart

  • Karen Criswell

  • Matthew McDuffie

Moderator: Deborah Voorhees



Executive, filmmaker, and educator Christopher Lockhart has 30-plus years of industry experience and has read over 60,000 screenplays in his career.

  • As Story Editor at William Morris Endeavor (WME), the world's largest diversified talent agency, he curates film and TV projects for A-list actors such as Denzel Washington.

  • He also guides 14,000+ screenwriters and filmmakers on how to pitch and structure their projects for the best chance of success through his online group and classroom, The Inside Pitch, which lives on Facebook.


Executive Producer Karen Criswell served as VP of Operations for DreamWorks Studios. Karen ran strategy and operations for the teams behind a slate of interactive games, music development deals, narrative films, and television productions during her 18-year tenure.

  • Her time at the studio included three “Best Picture” Oscars for American Beauty, Gladiator, and A Beautiful Mind. In 2014, Karen left to focus on independent production consulting and creative work in documentary, film, and emerging new media.

  • Karen's collaboration with Frank Donner at BLKBX Creative Group spans decades, and she is currently focused on the growth of BLKBX Originals.


Screenwriter Matthew McDuffie has been a professional screenwriter for 30 years and has written for HBO, Showtime, CBS, Fox, and Warner Bros. (where he currently has a deal to develop a television series) and has worked with the producers of Six Feet Under, Rome, ER, Ocean’s Eleven, Shameless, and Saving Private Ryan.

  • He is the writer and director of Burning Bodhi, starring Kaley Cuoco and Virginia Madsen. He wrote the screenplay for The Face of Love, starring Annette Bening and Ed Harris, with the film’s director, Arie Posin.

  • He was nominated for a Writers Guild Award for his teleplay of Anne Rule’s account of Ted Bundy, The Stranger Beside Me. He also created the story for Lifetime’s Odd Girl Out, adapted Meg Wolitzer’s Surrender, Dorothy for Diane Keaton, and turned the novel A Cool, Dry Place into a film starring Vince Vaughn.

  • For 20 years, he's taught introductory, advanced, and graduate levels of screenwriting at The University of New Mexico as a Professor of Practice.

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