We’re delighted to announce the following jurors for this year’s Film and Script Competitions! We will announce more judges soon, so stay tuned or sign up for our newsletter to stay informed!
SCRIPT COMPETITIONS – FINALIST ROUND
Two-time Oscar Nominated Writer/Director Bryan Buckley has been dubbed the “King of the Super Bowl” by the New York Times, having directed over 65 commercials for the big game since 2000. Many pieces of Buckley’s work have been inducted into the Museum Of Modern Art’s permanent collection and he is an esteemed recipient of the DGA award, multiple Emmy awards, and over 60 Cannes Lions – including two Grand Prix wins in 2019. A 2010 Adweek Readers Poll named Buckley the Commercial Director of the decade and he was also chosen as one of the 50 best Creative Minds in the last 25 years by Creativity Magazine.
Buckley’s directing career started in 1994, when he directed the Emmy Award-winning “This is SportsCenter” Campaign. In 1997, Buckley co-founded Hungry Man Productions along with “This is SportsCenter” creator, Hank Perlman. By 2004, the company won the Cannes Festival’s Palme D’or as the top commercial production company in the world and has finished in the top ten for more than ten consecutive years, the first production company to do so. Hungry Man has offices in New York, Los Angeles, London, Rio and Sau Paulo, and boasts an impressive roster of directors including Taika Waititi, Wayne McClammy, and Nanette Burstein.
In 2013, Buckley wrote and directed the short film ASAD. The film was shot in Africa with an all Somali refugee cast, and screened at over 50 film festivals worldwide, taking top honors at the TriBeCa Film Festival and Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival, among others. The film was nominated for Best Live Action Short Film at the 85th Academy Awards.
Buckley’s first feature film, The Bronze, was selected to open the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and made a splash in Park City as the breakout comedy of the festival, most notably with what Indiewire called, “one of the most hysterical sex scenes ever put on screen.” Bryan returned to Africa for his second feature film, Pirates of Somalia, starring Oscar-winner Al Pacino, Evan Peters, Melanie Griffith, and Barkhad Abdi.
In 2020, Buckley received his second Academy Award Nomination for his short film, SARIA. Based on true events, the film explores the unimaginable hardships young female orphans faced at the Virgen de La Asuncion Safe Home in Guatemala in the days leading up to a tragic fire which claimed 41 of their lives in 2017. The film was cited by members of Congress in a 2020 letter to the Secretary of State. Congressmen Adriano Espaillat and Vicente Gonzalez stated the film “amplifies global awareness” of the issue, and demanded justice for the victims and an investigation into the whereabouts of the remaining survivors.
Later in the summer of 2020, Buckley created the Trump Statue Initiative, a protest art project to mock Donald Trump and actions taken during his presidency. Noting “Trump is obsessed with statues,” Buckley and his team have created pop-up living statues criticizing President Donald Trump in New York City, Portland, and Washington DC. Their work has received worldwide attention, and been covered by The Hill, NPR, The Guardian, AdAge, ARD German TV, AFP France, Sputnik News Russia (was not a fan) and many others. The Daily Mail called one of TSI’s NYC statues, entitled The Final Push: “A monument Trump will WANT to tear down.”
Lindsay Graham is the CEO and founder of Airship, a podcast publishing company. He is also the Webby Award-winning and Ambie-nominated host of the podcasts American Scandal, American History Tellers, American Elections: Wicked Game and Business Movers, and is the executive producer of the audio dramas 1865 and Terms. He is a podcast producer, sound designer and composer who has worked on Dirty John, Dr. Death, Bad Batch and others, reaching hundreds of millions of listeners.
Chuck Hayward is a renaissance man – in that he’s a man who’s stayed multiple times at Renaissance Hotels. But mostly he writes things. A lot. And sometimes he actually writes them well. And sometimes they’re even funny! Just ask his fellow writers on Netflix’s Dear White People, Disney+’s WandaVision, ABC’s Mixed-Ish, or Showtime’s Flatbush Misdemeanors. Or you can ask the directors and producers of the movies he’s written, Netflix’s Step Sisters, the indie film Fat Camp; and the upcoming remake of the 90’s cult classic, Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead. Chuck promises they’ll confirm it. You calling him a liar?!?!
A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Eric began his career directing and producing music videos featuring such artists as Usher, Cee-Lo Green, Outkast, New Edition, Ice-T, and Tupac Shakur. His video for E-40’s song “Sprinkle Me” was selected by MTV and XXL Magazine as the #10 Greatest West Coast Rap Video of All Time.
Eric went on to write for such shows as ABC’s Private Practice and Showtime’s Soul Food: The Series. Along the way, he wrote and directed three short films (Nick of Time, Intersection, and Staring at the Sun), each of which screened at various film festivals around the country.
Eric also wrote the Hallmark Channel original movie Relative Stranger, starring Eriq LaSalle (E.R.) and directed by Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep). The film garnered three NAACP Image Award nominations and a Best Supporting Actress Emmy nomination for Cicely Tyson.
Eric wrote and directed the independent feature film Four of Hearts before joining the writing staff of the hit Fox drama Empire. He co-wrote and directed an episode of Empire’s fourth season, then directed the award-winning short film The Last Starship before going on to serve as a co-executive producer for Starz’s Power and ABC’s For Life. He is currently a co-executive producer for NBC’s supernatural drama Manifest.
Rochée Jeffrey is a Jamaican writer–director–performer. Her TV writing credits include SMILF (Showtime), WOKE (Hulu), BIGGER (BET+) and SANTA INC. (HBO Max). She wrote the award-winning short film SUITABLE which premiered on HBO. Rochée serves as producer and writer on the upcoming feature THROW IT BACK AND MAKE IT CLAP FOR TRUDY JONES starring Tiffany Haddish, Shahadi Wright Joseph, and Young Thug. She is a 2021 Film Independent Screenwriting Fellow for NOT YOUR AVERAGE QUEEN. She has an adult-animated series EP’d and voiced by Lizzo and a half-hour series set up at FX. She’s represented by UTA and Rain Management Group.
Glen Mazzara is a television writer/creator/showrunner whose most recent work was A&E’s series, DAMIEN, based on the classic horror film, “The Omen.” Before that, Mazzara was Executive Producer and Showrunner for AMC’s record-breaking series, THE WALKING DEAD, which earned him two Saturn awards and was listed as one of AFI’s Top Ten TV Programs of 2012. He was awarded the 2013 Bram Stoker award for Superior Achievement in a Screenplay. He also earned a Peabody for his work on the Golden Globe-winning THE SHIELD. He ran season two of TNT’s medical drama HAWTHORNE and worked on NBC’s LIFE. He created the series CRASH, the first scripted drama on STARZ and developed Stephen King’s DARK TOWER novels as a series for Amazon.
Mazzara is co-chair of the WGA’s Inclusion & Equity Group and has been working to improve television employment opportunities for writers of diverse backgrounds. He is a co-founder of the WGA Staff Writer Bootcamp. Mazzara is a frequent speaker at the WGA, the Writers Guild Foundation, the WGA Showrunner Training Program, and the WGA Writers Access Project. He is on the Board of Trustees for Humanitas. He is a member of ReFrame, which works to improve opportunities for women in the entertainment industry. He has taught classes and seminars at colleges across the country and is a frequent speaker at professional conferences both in the U.S. and overseas. He is a proud member of NYU’s Mentoring Network and received their inaugural Mentor of the Year Award. He has served as an advisor for the Sundance Institute’s Episodic Story Lab. Mazzara lives in LA with his family.
Robia Rashid – creator/executive producer/showrunner Atypical
DRAMA PILOT CATEGORY JUROR
Robia Rashid is the creator, executive producer, and showrunner of the Netflix series Atypical, starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Keir Gilchrist, Brigette Lundy-Paine, and Michael Rapaport.
“Atypical is irreverent when it needs to be, insightful when it counts and, above all, empathetic to the pressures of growing up — on or off the spectrum,” according to Lorraine Ali, television critic at the Los Angeles Times. For the series, Robia was awarded the 2017 Writers Guild of America West Evan Somers Memorial Award at the Media Access Awards, which honors individuals who are showcasing the disability narrative. Additionally, AutFest 2018 honored Atypical with their Spotlight Award. Robia was nominated for a HUMANITAS Award in 2020 and the show was nominated for a Peabody Award for 2018.
In 2019, Robia was honored by The Miracle Project as Entertainment Angel. She was named by The Hollywood Reporter as one of the “Showrunners to Watch” for 2017. Robia has been at Sony TV since 2013 and has an overall deal with the company.
Robia began her career as a playwright, receiving her MFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Born and raised along the Texas-Mexico border, Alvaro Rodriguez is executive producer/co-creator of Seis Manos, a Netflix original adult-animated series from Austin’s own Powerhouse Animation. A coming-of-age feature set in 1950s Italy, You, Mine, is in development for a 2021 start date. His latest feature as writer and co-producer, Last Rampage, starring Robert Patrick and Heather Graham, was released domestically by Epic Pictures and premiered internationally at the Sitges Film Festival in October 2017. His most recent TV writing work is for the upcoming Showtime series RUST (2021) starring Jeff Daniels and Maura Tierney, and the Netflix original series FLORIDA MAN (2021). He has television projects in development with Exile Content in Mexico and Abot Hameiri in Israel.
Rodriguez spent years as a journalist and some time in academics while pursuing a creative career. He wrote and performed music for Robert Rodriguez’s breakthrough film El Mariachi and began writing screenplays with Robert including the features Shorts (2009) and Machete (2010). His border-set short fiction has appeared in print and online journals and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Additionally, he has served as a frequent speaker, panelist, moderator and judge at writing workshops and conferences in Austin, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and Seattle, and was recently a keynote speaker at the 2018 University Film and Video Conference at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.
Dailyn Rodriguez was born in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City to Cuban immigrants. She earned a BFA in Dramatic Writing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. In 2001 she participated in The Walt Disney Studios Writing Fellowship. Some of her TV writing credits are: George Lopez, Ugly Betty, Lie to Me, The Glades, The Night Shift. She has been nominated for two Alma Awards and received a Writers’ Guild Award for writing for an Outstanding New Series (Ugly Betty). She was most recently the Executive Producer and Showrunner of Queen of the South.
Tracey most recently wrote the teleplay for MGM’s upcoming film RESPECT based on the life of Aretha Franklin. On the TV side, she served as a Co-Executive Producer on FOSSE/VERDON at FX and Apple’s MORNING SHOW. Before that, she was a Co-Executive Producer on FX’s award-winning series THE AMERICANS, where she wrote for 4 seasons and received two WGAE awards, two Peabody awards and a Golden Globe. Tracey is also a renowned playwright, and her plays include BUZZER (Guthrie Theater, The Public Theater), THE GOOD NEGRO and THE STORY (both at The Public Theater and the Goodman Theater). Tracey is the winner of the 2001 Helen Merrill Emerging Playwright Award, the 2003 AT&T Onstage Award, the 2004 Whiting Award, the 2004 Kesserling Prize, the 2007 Weissberger Playwriting Award as well as the 2007 Time Warner Storytelling Fellowship. In 2009, she was the writer-in-residence at the O’Neil National Playwriting Conference. She has taught and guest lectured at several schools including, Brown University, Yale University, Rutgers University and NYU. She holds a Master’s degree in English Literature from Temple University.
April has several series in development at FX including LOVE RULES with producers Larry Wilmore, Joanna Coles, and The District, and has series in development at WBTV and Paramount Television Studios. April has written for FX’s critically acclaimed comedy YOU’RE THE WORST, MRS. AMERICA (starring Cate Blanchett), and Amazon’s UNDONE, and served as Supervising Producer for Season 2 of DAVE.
April has been a fellow of the Sundance Episodic Story Lab, CAPE New Writers Fellowship, CBS Writers Mentoring Program, and the inaugural Film Independent Episodic Lab.
April is currently under an overall deal at FX where she is creating, developing, and producing meaningful, soul-oriented content under her production banner DIVERSITY HIRE LTD with her producing partner Jen Goyne Blake.
Lauren Shippen is a writer best known for her work in fiction podcasts. She was the creator and sole writer of the popular audio drama The Bright Sessions, which ran from 2015 to 2018. She went on to write MARVELS for Marvel + Stitcher and co-produce the #1 podcast Passenger List, for which she received a BBC Audio Drama Award, Webby, and British Podcast Award. Most recently, she wrote Surviving Hawkins, an official Stranger Things podcast. She has written three novels with Tor Teen. Lauren was named one of Forbes 2018 30 Under 30 in Media and one of MovieMaker Magazine and Austin Film Festival’s 25 Screenwriters to Watch. Through her company Atypical Artists, she helps bring others’ audio stories to life.
Kira Snyder is Executive Producer and Co-Showrunner of Demimonde, J.J. Abrams’ upcoming new sci-fi drama for HBO, where she currently has an overall deal for television. Previously Kira was a writer and producer on The Handmaid’s Tale for Hulu, for which she has won an Emmy, a Golden Globe, a PGA Award, and two WGA Awards. Kira also received nominations for the Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Emmy and the USC Scripter Award for her Season 2 episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, “Holly.” Her other film and television work includes the blockbuster feature film Pacific Rim: Uprising, pilot scripts for Hulu, FX, and Amazon, The 100 on the CW, Incursion for Starz, Syfy’s Eureka and Alphas, and the CBS vampire cult hit Moonlight. The Parish Mail ebooks, Kira’s interactive Young Adult supernatural mystery series, are available for Kindle. Formerly a computer game designer, Kira has created games for Microsoft, the MIT Press textbook Rules Of Play, and Electronic Arts, including the seminal, award-winning alternate reality game Majestic. Kira grew up in a Navy family and is a longtime mentor with the Veterans Writing Project at the Writers’ Guild Foundation. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their two black cats.
Brian was most recently the Executive Producer and Showrunner of 13 Reasons Why for Netflix, Paramount Television and Anonymous Content. As principal of That Kid Ed, Inc., Brian is involved in writing and developing numerous projects for Netflix, where he is under an overall deal, as well as for HBO Max, Charter, and other outlets.
Brian received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the 2009 Tony Award for Best Score, and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Next to Normal and was also nominated for the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical. He partnered again with the Next to Normal team on If/Then (Tony Award Nominee for Best Score) starring Idina Menzel. Brian co-wrote the libretto for The Last Ship (Outer Critic’s Nomination, with John Logan), with a score by Sting. His musical adaptation of Freaky Friday (for Disney Theatricals) was made into a Disney Channel Original Movie.
Additional theatre credits include Making Tracks, which has played off-Broadway and regionally, the musical adaptation of Ang Lee’s The Wedding Banquet and the play, Book of Jobs with Alex Glover. Brian has directed off-Broadway and regionally and for seven years was associate artistic director at Village Theatre in Washington state, one of the nation’s leading producers of new musicals.
He’s a graduate of Columbia University, where he was artistic director of the Varsity Show, an alum of the BMI/Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop and a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and the WGA.
Herschel Weingrod is a graduate with Honors at the University of Wisconsin with a B.A in History and then attained an MFA from the London Film School. While in London, he was also employed as a film critic and reviewer at Time Out as well as The Monthly Film Bulletin, a publication of the British Film Institute.
Mr. Weingrod has been a working screenwriting and producer based in Los Angeles for the past 40 years. Among his credits are Trading Places, Brewster’s Millions, Twins, Kindergarten Cop, Falling Down, Space Jam, and The Final Season. His directorial debut, Last Wishes, was the winner of the Special Jury Award – Best Narrative Short Film at the 2014 Houston International Film Festival and was also an Official Selection at the Austin Film Festival, Montreal International Film Festival, and G.I. Film Festival. His other awards include, for Trading Places, Best Motion Picture – NAACP Image Awards and a nomination for Best Screenplay by BAFTA, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Trading Places was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score. In addition, Twins was the winner of the Hollywood Foreign Press Award for Best Comedy.
Mr. Weingrod has been a member of the Writers Guild of America since 1980, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since 1988, and the Advisory Board of the University of Oklahoma Department of Film & Video Studies since 1998.
He’s been a panelist, speaker, and Screenplay Finalist Judge at the Austin Film Festival for the last decade; he’s also done panels, seminars, and workshops at the Eugene, Oregon Film Festival; Loyola University – New Orleans; Victoria University – Wellington, New Zealand; Nashville Independent Film Festival; University of Oklahoma; Screenwriting EXPO – Los Angeles; Monterrey, Mexico International Film Festival; Seattle Film Festival; and several screenwriting seminars in Greece in conjunction with the University of Oklahoma Dept. of Film & Video Studies.
Mr. Weingrod also maintains a website – scriptmaven.com – which offers consultation services to aspiring writers by analyzing, reviewing, critiquing, and evaluating their screenplays.
Chris Lane serves as Vice President of Distribution at Participant, the leading company focused on content to inspire social change, where he has worked on such Academy AwardÒ-winning films as Judas and the Black Messiah, American Factory and Roma, as well as OscarÒ-nominated documentaries Collective and RBG. He has also worked on acclaimed recent films including Final Account, Totally Under Control, John Lewis: Good Trouble, Just Mercy, Foster, Aquarela, On the Basis of Sex and Dark Waters, and the highly praised docuseries America to Me. In addition to collaborating with distributors on the release of Participant’s content, Lane also works closely with the company’s Social Impact team to harness distribution opportunities for its social impact campaigns. Before joining Participant, Lane previously worked at Park Circus, where he served as the Sales & Marketing Director of the Americas and distributed live broadcasts of operas, ballets and theatre performances, as well as art and music concert documentaries. Prior to that, he held positions at Sony Pictures Entertainment and MGM. Lane received his BA in Critical Studies from the USC School of Cinema-Television and received his MA from UCLA’s Moving Image Archive Studies specializing in the archiving and restoration of documentary, industrial, governmental and amateur films. Lane currently sits on the Outfest Legacy Project Advisory Board, has been a panelist for DOC NYC PRO, and has been a regular attendee and panelist at the Art House Convergence.
Hailing from the Midwest, Halle graduated from Columbia College Chicago in film business before moving out to LA. Previously, she worked in film sales for Shoreline Entertainment and Preferred Content. Currently, Halle works at APA as an agent in the Scripted Literary Department. As a honoree of Colour Associates 2019 Next Up List, Halle is also a part of Women Wednesday’s BIPOC Mentorship Program Committee and #Startwith8 Mentorship program.
Mike Vanderhei is a literary manager / producer originally from Chicago where his pursuit of a career in sports journalism ended his senior year of college when he landed in original scripted programming at AMC Networks working on their multiple Emmy winning series including BREAKING BAD, MAD MEN, and THE WALKING DEAD. After AMC, Mike assisted at Principato-Young Entertainment where he discovered his passion for working with storytellers and championing their careers which lead to Avalon Management & TV where he started to develop a client roster along while helping with their domestic and international TV slate including WORKAHOLICS, CATASTROPHE, and LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER. Vanderhei then took an opportunity to solely focus on his client roster at Protocol Entertainment with industry veteran John Ufland before moving to Rain Management in 2019. Some of Mike’s clients have written on popular series including THE BLACKLIST, CHARMED, DOCTOR DEATH, LOVECRAFT COUNTRY, THE NEVERS, HAPPY!, ACCESS HOLLYWOOD, MARCO POLO, AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. and WESTWORLD to name a few.
James was accepted onto the Dogwoof Student Internship Programme in November 2019, and was welcomed back to work for the company in January 2020. After a period assisting in UK Theatrical Sales, James is now working as the Acquisitions and Development Co-ordinator, providing administrative support and assistance for new film acquisitions, as well as leading and co-ordinating research into new ideas for development and production. James was born in Kent, UK.