October 15th - 16th, 2021 Film Festival

NFMLA Panel | Independent Film Directing and Producing with Sarah Adina Smith and Jonako Donley

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Join NewFilmmakers LA (NFMLA) for a detailed conversation with feature film director Sarah Adina Smith and producer Jonako Donley. Sarah and Jonako will discuss their creative process and careers in independent feature film, their work including the recent Amazon Prime release Birds of Paradise and the 2014 release Buster's Mal Heart (starring Rami Malek), as well as future projects under their production banner Everything is Everything.

  • Jonako Donley, producer, co-founder of EVERYTHING IS EVERYTHING

Jonako Donley is a producer and the creative partner of Sarah Adina Smith. Their company, Everything is Everything, has produced numerous projects including Buster’s Mal Heart and The Midnight Swim and has series in development at Amazon, Starz, Peacock, and elsewhere. Her first feature was the 2009 festival-favorite Dear Lemon Lima starring Oscar-winner Melissa Leo. Donley is a Los Angeles native who received her B.A. in Film Studies and Art History from Columbia University and an M.F.A from the Peter Stark Producing Program at USC.

  • Sarah Adina Smith, writer/director/producer/editor, co-founder of EVERYTHING IS EVERYTHING

The Los Angeles Times calls Sarah “...an exciting, singular filmmaker, who seems able to use genre elements for storytelling that can often take on a more spiritual, mystical tone.”

Her film BUSTER’S MAL HEART gave Academy Award winner Rami Malek his first lead role in a feature. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and enjoyed a worldwide release. Her first feature, THE MIDNIGHT SWIM, won six top prizes on the festival circuit. Sarah’s latest feature BIRDS OF PARADISE stars Kristine Froseth and Diana Silvers and premiered this September. She’s currently in post-production on her fourth feature, THE DROP, an ensemble comedy starring Jermaine Fowler, Anna Konkle, Robin Thede, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Jillian Bell, and Aparna Nancherla.

Sarah has also been making waves as a director in the TV space. She helmed the propulsive action-thriller HANNA for Amazon, which premiered in spring of 2019. She then directed the pilot of John Green’s LOOKING FOR ALASKA for Hulu which released to critical acclaim. Before that, she directed two acclaimed episodes of ROOM 104 for HBO: THE KNOCKANDOO starring Orlando Jones and RALPHIE starring Melonie Diaz, which the Hollywood Reporter described as “either a horror movie or an internalized nightmare… It’s creepy, weird and sticks with you.”

Sarah and her producing partner Jonako Donley are currently developing several TV concepts under their banner Everything is Everything with multiple networks. Sarah is also writing multiple projects, including an adaptation of the novel THE GIRL IN THE MIRROR for Starz and Endeavor Content and an original TV series for Peacock with Fox Searchlight TV producing.

Sarah was born in Fort Collins, Colorado and studied Philosophy at Columbia University, where she graduated with honors.