Jurors & Judges
Stay tuned for 2020 juror and judge announcements.
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.
Rooster Teeth Fellowship Award
The Rooster Teeth Fellowship Award is open to original features, TV pilots, digital series, and fiction podcast scripts. The fellowship will be awarded to the project that best fits Rooster Teeth’s voice by incorporating elements of comedy and genre filmmaking and accomplishing a low budget/high concept feel. Stories about ordinary people in extraordinary situations, coming-of-age stories, and other engaging journeys of self-discovery.
The winner of the Rooster Teeth Fellowship Award will receive a $5,000 prize along with a one-on-one mentorship. This will include a week-long mentorship in Austin. In addition to the Fellowship Award, Rooster Teeth will offer development deals to three (3) finalists, who will be given the chance to develop an original concept in conjunction with the Rooster Teeth team.
2019 SCRIPT COMPETITION JUDGES
Austin Film Festival has assembled a panel of influential industry judges to read and determine the Semifinalists, Finalists, and winners of this year’s competition. We are proud to announce the following confirmed judges:
SCREENPLAY COMPETITION JUDGES
-Herschel Weingrod (Trading Places, Twins, Kindergarten Cop, Space Jam)
– Andrew Logan (Chappaquiddick)
-Paula Pell (SNL, Sisters, Wine Country (actress))
Sci- Fi Feature
-Christina Hodson (Bumblebee, Unforgettable, Shut In)
-Gary Whitta (After Earth, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The Book of Eli)
-Nicole Perlman (Captain Marvel, Guardians of the Galaxy)
-Steven De Souza (Die Hard, Judge Dredd, Commando)
-Owen Egerton (Mercy Black, Blood Fest, Follow)
-Guinevere Turner (American Psycho, BloodRayne)
-Laura Eason (Sex with Strangers, House of Cards, Here and Now)
-Heywood Gould (Cocktail, Streets of Gold, One Good Cop)
Drama & Comedy Specs
-Amy Berg (Counterpart, Person of Interest, Shut Eye, Eureka)
-VJ Boyd (SWAT, Justified)
-Steve Conrad (Perpetual Grace, LTD, Patriot, Walter Mitty, Pursuit of Happiness)
-Ben Cory Jones (Boomerang, Underground, Insecure)
-Jameel Saleem (Whiskey Cavalier, Manhattan Love Story, Telenovela)
-Rupinder Gill (Schitt$ Creek, I feel Bad)
-Herschel Weingrod (Trading Places, Twins, Kindergarten Cop, Space Jam)
-Ya’Ke Smith (Wolf, Katrina’s Son, Hope’s War)
PLAYWRITING COMPETITION JUDGES
-Sofia Alvarez (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Man Seeking Woman, To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You)
-Chisa Hutchinson (Chance of Rain, Staging Film)
-Eisa Davis (She’s Gotta Have It, Bulrusher)
SCRIPTED DIGITAL SERIES COMPETITION JUDGES
-Rebecca Windsor – Warner bros (Director, Warner Bros. Television Workshop)
-Kathleen Grace – New Form (CEO of New Form) (RePlay)
-Kesila Childers – Powederkeg (VP of Development for Powderkeg Media)(Co-executive Producer: Chachi’s World, Best Ink: Redemption)
-Jason Lubin (Literary Manager at First Story Entertainment)
-Shelby Rachleff (Program Manager at Westridge Foundation)
-Meta Valentic (Producer: The Donors, Urbania; AD: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Nixon)
-Kathleen Grace (CEO of New Form) (RePlay)
-Tony Gil (Literary Manager at The Gotham Group)
-Karen Kirkland (Literary Agent and Founding Partner at Culture Creative Entertainment)
-Jamund Washington (Random Acts of Flyness; Co-director/producer: First Baptist; Producer: Gimme the Loot)
-Stephan Dubreuil (Co-founder, Owner at Woolf + Lapin Agency) (L’Anniversaire)
-Sonya Gauthier (Representative, President, Co-founder at Woolf + Lapin Agency)
-Samantha Shear (Mommy Group Murder, A Deadly View, Road Less Traveled)
-Daniel Seco (Literary Manager at Schemers Entertainment)
-Chris Burney (Guitarist for ‘Bowling for Soup’, theme songs for Jimmy Neutron, Phineas and Ferb)
-Brin Lukens (Senior Vice President of Programming at Awesomeness) (Executive producer: pen15, Trinkets, Light as a Feather)
-Chris Coggins (Manager at Heroes and Villains Entertainment) (Co-produced: The Back-Up Plan, Hope Springs)
-Zack Zucker (Creator/Executive Producer at Swamptown) (Creator/Executive Producer of Zach & Viggo)
-Evan J. Cholfin (Evan Cholfin on IMDb) (Head of Development and Production at Stories International, Inc.) (The Garlock Incident, Three Nights of a Dreamer; Producer: Beyond the Sky, Higher Power)
-John Zaozirny (Literary Manager at Bellevue Productions) (Executive producer: Parallel, Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story)
-Jeff Portnoy (Literary Manager at Bellevue Productions)
-Kate Sharp (Producer/Founder at Daughter Films) (Co-Producer: Madame Bovary; Co-Executive Producer: Behind the Mask; Executive Producer: The Hallow)
-Lee Stobby (Literary manager/producer and founder of Lee Stobby Entertainment) (Executive Producer: Wildling; Co-producer: Making the Rules)
-Ray Utarnachitt (DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, The Tomorrow People)
-Joyce San Pedro (Co-producer: Troop Zero; Associate Producer: Salomé, Wild Salomé)
-Mark Marshall (Associate producer: Free Willy, Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home; Co-producer: Free Willy 3: The Rescue)
-Cami Delavigne (Blue Valentine, Homecoming, Quantico)
-Joe Pirro (Associate Producer: A Prayer Before Dawn; Executive Producer: The Tomorrow Man, Producer: Driveways)
-Samantha Kern (Writer/Actress: The World of Cory and Sid; Executive Producer: Manson Family Vacation; Co-producer: G.B.F.)
-Hannah Ozer (Director of Development at Mad Chance Productions, manager)
-Daniela Gonzalez (Literary Manager at Circle of Confusion)
-Lindsay Goffman (Producer at Gratitude Productions) (Co-executive Producer: The Good Doctor; Producer: Dumbstruck)
-Liz Kelly (Manager, Creative Talent Development at Walt Disney ABC Television)
-Casey Minella (Feature Coordinator and Executive Assistant at Circle of Confusion)
-Jay Wade Edwards (Creative Editor at Kino-Edwards, Inc.) (Stomp ! Shout ! Scream!; Editor/Producer: Aqua Teen Hunger Force)
-Alessandra Maman (Manager of Development at Universal Content Productions, NBCU) (Co-director: Food for Thought)
-Kate Ryan (Playwright) (The Beebo Brinker Chronicles, Cavedweller, 25 Questions for a Jewish Mother)
-Nick Oleksiw (Producer at Mischief Entertainment) (Executive Producer: Welcome to Mercy)
-Briggs Hatton (Love, Beta, Africa; Writers Assistant: Community)
-Adam Kolbrenner & Lit Entertainment (Founder of Lit Entertainment Group) (Producer: Prisoners, Free guy; Executive Producer: The Christmas Chronicles, Slender Man, Deadfall)
-Andrea Dimity; (Literary Manager/ Producer at Pannon Entertainment, Inc.) Writer/producer: Halloween Knight; Producer: Emma)
-Laura Goodfriend (Coordinator at United Talent Agency) (Producer: You Are Here; Executive Producer: Bay State)
-Garrett Anderson (Director: The November War; Director/Producer: And Then They Came Home)
-Alexandra Boylan (Co-founder at Mustard Seed Entertainment and Mirror Tree Productions) (Wish for Christmas, Catching Faith)
-CJ Curtis (Agent at Gersh Agency)
-Angelina Chen (Literary Manager at Energy Entertainment)
-Ross Saxon (Head of Development at Braven Films) (Executive on Production: Magic Magic)
-Conrad Sun (Associate at Meridian Artists) (Writer/Producer: Sir John A, Giri)
-Glenn Cockburn (Founder of Meridian Artists) (Executive producer: Unspeakable, YPF; Associate Producer: The Go-Getters)
-Elizabeth Cutbirth (Original Series Development Coordinator at Cartoon Network)
-Mikki Daughtry (Xevius) (The Curse of La Llorona, Five Feet Apart)
-Tobias Iaconis ( Xevius) (The Curse of La Llorona, Five Feet Apart, Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia)
-Nathan Miller (partner at Manage-Ment)
-Renee Tab (President of Sentient Enterntainment) (Executive Producer: Peppermint, Map to the Stars; Producer: Feud: Bette and Joan)
-Jamie Wager (Literary Manager)
-Jesse Silver (Manager/Producer at Mindframe Films & Management)
-Chris Cook (Literary Manager & Producer and Founder of Skyway Entertainment)
-Jewerl Ross (Manager, Owner of Silent R Management)
2019 Fiction Podcast Script Judges
- Lauren Shippen, creator The Bright Sessions, The AM Archives; CEO, Atypical Artists
- Tim Street, Vice President, Influence & Production, Authentic
- Rob Herting, QCODE
- Jonathan Mitchell, producer The Truth podcast
- Matthew Derby, writer Phreaks, Sandra, The Silent History, Super Flat Times