Jurors & Judges
2019 Film Jurors
We’re proud to begin sharing our list of exciting jurors! Submit to the competition and have your films viewed by industry insiders. This year we have judges from FilmRise, New Form, POV on PBS, Seven Summits, and Writ Large and many others. We will begin announcing jurors in our newsletter so keep an eye out!
Juror Spotlights – Narrative Feature
Garineh Nazarian handles festival and non-theatrical screenings of titles at FilmRise, a major indie distribution company based in NY. Before joining FilmRise, she ran her own distribution company working with Iranian filmmakers to present Iranian cinema to North American audiences.
Ashley Edward Miller is a film and television writer best known for Thor and X-Men: First Class. Most recently in television, Ashley wrote and produced for the second season of Lore on Amazon Prime, and the critically acclaimed fourth season of Black Sails on Starz. He also worked as a writer-producer on Fringe and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Ashley is currently hard at work as Executive Producer on a new adult anime series for Netflix, as well as developing a number of feature projects at multiple studios.
Dark Matters Feature
Dave Kajganich is a screenwriter and producer in both television and features, having come to filmmaking from studying fiction writing at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop. He’s most recently written an adaptation of Tim Winton’s THE RIDERS for Ridley Scott, an adaptation of the YA novel BONES AND ALL for director Antonio Campos, and he will soon begin his third feature collaboration with director Luca Guadagnino. In previous lives, Dave has been a university professor, a professional wilderness guide, and, for one surreal year, an ethics officer at a Manhattan insurance company. He quit this last job after having been asked to do unethical things.
Chloe Gbai serves as POV Shorts & Streaming Producer where she leads POV’s streaming strategy and, in 2018, launched POV Shorts, which earned POV it’s third documentary short Oscar nomination. Her work has appeared on Teen Vogue, HBO, VH1, Logo TV, and been chosen as a Vimeo staff pick. She is a New York native and proud to say that she grew up on channel 13, WNET.
Kevin Hamedani began his filmmaking career with the feature ZMD: ZOMBIES OF MASS DESTRUCTION. Produced by Academy Award nominee John Sinno (IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS) the film went on to receive critical acclaim showing in film festivals worldwide. ZMD was acquired by Lions Gate and premiered theatrically in January, 2010. In 2013 Hamedani’s second feature, JUNK won the Audience Award at the Austin Film Festival and stars Brett Davern (MTV’s “Awkward”), Jake Johnson (“New Girl”), and James Hong (BLADE RUNNER) with music by OK GO. In June of 2015, Hamedani won is second audience award for his short film IN HER PLACE at the LA Film Festival. Starring Sheila Vand (A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT), the feature is currently in development. In 2016, Hamedani was chosen as one of “25 Screenwriters to Watch” by Moviemaker Magazine and the Austin Film Festival. Hamedani’s latest script, THE SAVIORS, was selected on the 2017 Black List. Ben Stiller and his production company, RED HOUR is producing with Hamedani directing. Finally, Hamedani is the producer/showrunner of a new television show currently executive produced by Donald De Line (Ready Player One).
Matt Dartnell is a California-bred literary manager with a deep love for film, television, podcasts, and the unique voices and strange perspectives that generate these stories. His specialty is helping creatives navigate the ups and downs of Hollywood while developing great material for a variety of mediums. When not at the office, you can find him watching genre films, eating burgers, or hanging out with his dog.
Felicia D. Henderson is the award-winning creator of the Emmy-nominated hit Soul Food: the series, television’s first successful drama featuring African Americans. Currently, Felicia co-executive produces the Netflix adaptation of Marvel’s The Punisher and has signed a multi-year deal at 20th Century Fox to write, produce and direct television dramas and comedies. Under this deal, she is a consulting producer on Fox’s Empire. She also co-created and executive produced The Quad, a one-hour drama for BET Networks, named one of the “Top 15 Shows to Watch” by The New York Times in 2017.
Mike Vanderhei is an LA based Literary Manager and Producer at Seven Summits Pictures & Management where he has been building a roster of young, diverse voices primarily for television working on staffing and developing their original materials. Mike’s clients have written on series such as LOVECRAFT COUNTRY, SMILF, MARVEL’S AGENTS OF SHIELD, CHARMED, THE NEVERS among others. In 2018, Mike set up original projects with multiple studios and networks while also being attached to produce two original pilots with one selling to Freeform with Co-Producer Jeremy Elice.
Originally from Chicago, Mike started his career in sports journalism during where he was a sideline reporter for The Chicago Bears at WONU Chicago. He then finished his Bachelors in Los Angeles that provided him an opportunity in scripted development at AMC Networks working on all of their outstanding original series while also producing the Award Winning short film THE INTERVIEW which was Academy Award eligible though the USA Film Fest. After spending a year at the network, Mike moved into representation where he worked at several companies before being upped to Manager, he joined veteran manager / producer John Ufland at Protocol Entertainment for several years before moving to Seven Summits where he currently resides.
Digital Series presented by Stage 13
Kathleen Grace is a Los Angeles based creative executive, producer, and writer. She is the CEO of New Form, a digital studio that creates premium series for the mobile first generation. Since launching New Form she has developed and produced 43 pilots, with 23 projects being sold into series to TBS, go90, Freeform, CW The Seed, Refinery29 and many more. Prior to New Form Grace was the driving force behind the concept, build out and development of the YouTube Spaces initiative, establishing studios in London, Tokyo, Los Angeles and New York. She has also created several notable web series as an independent producer and creator, including the critically acclaimed The Burg and Vuguru’s mockumentary, The All for Nots. Most recently, she co-wrote and produced Replay for go90 and created the Facebook Watch series, 365 Days of Love which is executive produced by and stars Sofia Vergara.
Stay tuned for more juror announcements and submit today to throw your hat into the ring!
2019 Screenplay & Teleplay Judges
We are proud to have the following sponsors who will be participating as official judges for the 2019 Competition:
Comedy Screenplay Award presented by Sony Pictures Animation
The studio behind Hotel Transylvania 2 and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs will supply a representative to judge for the Semifinalist round of the Comedy category and one Sony screenwriter to join our panel of judges to evaluate the Finalists. Entries in this category are open to all genres of comedy and do not need to be exclusively animated scripts.
Drama Screenplay Award presented by the Writers Guild of America, East
Drama Finalist scripts will be judged by a select panel of WGAE screenwriters and the winner will be presented by a WGAE representative at the Awards Luncheon. This year’s judges include Matthew Chapman, Sabrina Dhawan, and Jim Strouse.
The HUMANITAS Originals Award
This joint initiative is a new addition to AFF’s Script Competitions and is open to both feature screenplays and teleplay pilots that reflect the kinds of stories HUMANITAS has honored for over four decades.
A classic HUMANITAS story examines what it means to be a fully realized human being in a world struggling with racism, sexism, ageism, anti-Semitism, poverty, religious strife, and a widening political divide. By deeply exploring the cultures, lifestyles, sexual orientations, and political and religious beliefs of people who are very different from ourselves, we can dissolve the walls of ignorance and hate that threaten the our global community.
Enderby Entertainment Award
Co-founded by Rick Dugdale and Daniel Petrie, Jr. (Beverly Hills Cop, The Big Easy), the production company acquired the 2008 AFF Finalist script Stranded (now titled Dawn Patrol). The film stars Scott Eastwood and Rita Wilson and was directed by Petrie. AFF proudly presented the world premiere of Dawn Patrol at the 2014 Festival. The Enderby Entertainment Award category is open to feature scripts in all genres with an original concept and distinctive voice that can be independently produced under $10 million.
Josephson Entertainment Screenwriting Fellowship
Acclaimed producer Barry Josephson has been a longtime supporter of AFF since the very first festival in 1994 when he optioned the winning script from the Screenplay Competition. For the second year, Barry will present the “Josephson Entertainment Screenwriting Fellowship” which will provide a one-on-one mentorship for the writers of two scripts – one feature script and one teleplay pilot – selected from the Final Round of the 2019 Screenplay Competition. Finalists will be invited to apply and AFF will select the top writers for Josephson Entertainment to further review. The selected fellows will be announced and presented by Barry Josephson at the Awards Luncheon on October 26, 2019. Each fellow will be flown to LA to be mentored by Barry and take meetings with various executives from Josephson Entertainment to take their writing to the next level.
Stage 13 is an award-winning, fearless, original content studio showcasing a new generation of inspired talent and voices in scripted and unscripted storytelling. The brand’s series are available on the Stage 13 platform, Facebook Watch and YouTube, as well as its distribution partners including Netflix, CW, CW Seed and HBO. Creating dynamic series for a multidimensional audience, Stage 13 is part of Warner Bros. Digital Networks.
2019 SCRIPT COMPETITION JUDGES
Austin Film Festival has assembled a panel of influential industry judges to read and determine the Semifinalists, Finalists, and winners of this year’s competition. We are proud to announce the following confirmed judges:
SCREENPLAY COMPETITION JUDGES
Tony Gil, Manager – Gotham Group
Amy Berg, Writer, Producer – Person of Interest, Shut Eye, Counterpart
Meta Velantic, AD, Producer – Castle, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, The Donors
Diana Williams, EVP of Content – Madison Wells Media Universe
Matt Dy – Manager, Lit Entertainment Group
More to be announced!
PLAYWRITING COMPETITION JUDGES
Judges to be announced!
SCRIPTED DIGITAL SERIES COMPETITION JUDGES
Ryan Hall – Head of Development, Rooster Teeth
Francesca Smith – Development Coordinator, New Form Digital
FICTION PODCAST COMPETITION JUDGES
Tim Street – Vice President, Influence & Production, Authentic
2018 Fiction Podcast Script Judges
2019 Judges to be announced soon!
- Chris Bannon, chief content officer for Stitcher and its growing network of original shows including hit podcasts HEAVEN’S GATE, KATIE COURIC, LEVAR BURTON READS and WOLVERINE: THE LONG NIGHT
- John Dryden, creator of the hit BBC podcast TUMANBAY and Peabody-winning writer/director of audio drama
- Jocelyn Gonzales, executive producer, STUDIO 360
- Lauren Shippen, writer/creator THE BRIGHT SESSIONS, Since its debut in November of 2015, the podcast has won numerous awards, and was named iTunes Best of 2016. Lauren was named one of Forbes 30 Under 30 in Media for 2018
- Tim Street, Vice President, Influence & Production, Authentic