Information on 2017 Macon Film Festival juror bios will be available soon!
For more info on 2016 festival jurors please see below.
2016 GRAND JURORS
With her bubbly persona and drive to perform, CARRIE PRESTON has landed roles in everything from stage to the big screen to a starring role as Arlene Fowler, the red-headed sassy waitress in the Golden Globe nominated HBO series TRUE BLOOD. Preston’s breakout Outer Critics Award nominated turn as “Miranda” in George C. Woolf’s Broadway production of Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST with Patrick Stewart, led to roles in major television series such as LOST and DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES along with scene-stealing turns in DUPLICITY with Julia Roberts and Clive Owen; Woody Allen’s VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA; the Oscar nominated TRANSAMERICA, playing Felicity Huffman’s sister; Alan Ball’s TOWELHEAD opposite Aaron Eckhart, the Daisy 3 Pictures’ (her production company) film READY? OK!, and the critically acclaimed independent film, THAT EVENING SUN, with Hal Holbrook, which just completed its theatrical run.
Born and raised in Macon, Georgia, where her mother was an artist and art therapist while her dad was a geo-technical engineer, a young Carrie Preston discovered her true calling in life lay in performing arts. At the age of 12, she became the impresario of her own front-yard theater company as producer, writer, casting director, costumer, director – and of course, actress. Preston later obtained a BFA from the University of Evansville followed with an acting diploma from the prestigious Juilliard School.
Carrie made an auspicious big screen debut as one of the two sexy, Southern bridesmaid sisters in the Julia Robert’s blockbuster MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING. Some other film credits include playing the 50’s housewife Sally, struggling with her Rock Hudson-esque husband in STRAIGHT-JACKET; playing the lead in the indie festival hit LOVELY BY SURPRISE; MERCURY RISING with Bruce Willis; FOR RICHER OR POORER with Tim Allen and Kirstie Alley; GUINEVERE with Stephen Rea and Sarah Polley; WOMAN WANTED with Holly Hunter and Keifer Sutherland; STEPFORD WIVES with Nicole Kidman; and Robert Redford’s THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE.
On television, she was a series regular on the sitcom EMERIL, starring the chef Emeril Lagasse. Guest appearances include Felicity Huffman’s sister (again) on DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES; PRIVATE PRACTICE; LOST; NUMBERS; THE INSIDE; the series finale of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT; WONDER FALLS; playing two killers and one victim on LAW AND ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT; SEX AND THE CITY with Sarah Jessica Parker; SPIN CITY, with Michael J. Fox; UNION SQUARE; SIGNIFICANT OTHERS; and TRINITY.
A crucial role playing “Ophelia” in HAMLET 15 years ago at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival is where Carrie met her husband, Emmy Award winning Michael Emerson, who was playing Guildenstern in the production. Since then, the two have both starred in the movies STRAIGHT JACKET, GRACE & GLORIE, and THE JOURNEY. Keeping it in the family, Carrie played Michael’s mother in a flashback on his hit series LOST. Michael also had a role in the film 29TH AND GAY, which Preston produced and directed.
Always up for the next challenge, Preston is currently shooting the third season of the highly rated TRUE BLOOD, the HBO series from creator Alan Ball (mastermind of “Six Feet Under”), alongside an international muli/culti ensemble of actors, including Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin. She also just completed two episodes of THE GOOD WIFE, playing Chris Noth’s new lawyer. Preston can be next seen on the big screen starring opposite Jennifer Connelly and Ed Harris in Dustin Lance Black’s WHAT’S WRONG WITH VIRGINIA? Also on the horizon is her harrowing turn as a struggling single Mom in A BAG OF HAMMERS, with Rebecca Hall and Jason Ritter. Carrie is also busy preparing to direct her next feature film, THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID, written by Kellie Overbey. She will produce the film with Emmy and Golden Globe winning producer Lucy Barzun Donnelly (GREY GARDENS), and it is slated to start production in NYC in the fall.
Carrie and Michael travel back and forth between Los Angeles and New York with their dog, Chumley.
Jayson Warner Smith
Best known for his recurring role of Wendall Jelks on SundanceTV’s Rectify, Jayson has recently been working all over the Southeast from Wilmington, NC to New Orleans. With roles on CBS’ NCIS:New Orleans, FOX’s Sleepy Hollow, CW’s The Vampire Diaries and in the films, Mena, Christine, The Birth of a Nation, 99 Homes and Mississippi Grind, Jayson has been busy working with wonderful film makers and show-runners such as Doug Liman, Nate Parker, Antonio Campos, Ramin Bahrani, Ray McKinnon, Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden. He also found time to star in the films Heavy Water and Northfield. Both are small budgeted high-end Atlanta produced independent films.
Since Rectify‘s debut in 2013, Jayson has become a bit of a fixture at the Sundance Film Festival. Attending three out of the last four years representing not only Rectify but two films in 2015 and two again in 2016.
Other recent work includes I Saw the Light, Anchorman II, 42, Being Mary Jane, Footloose (2011), Coma and other projects and plays. Jayson has shared set time with some Hollywood heavyweights such as Tom Cruise, Armie Hammer, Maisie Williams, Michael Shannon, Andrew Garfield, Ryan Reynolds, Ben Mendelsohn, Laura Dern, James Woods, Lauren Ambrose, Cuba Gooding Jr., Demi Moore, and David Duchovny.
Atlanta remains his home and he lives in Sandy Springs with his wife Lisa. Jayson teaches acting at The Robert Mello Studio in Atlanta. He is repped by Alexander White in Atlanta and The House of Representatives in Los Angeles.
Hailing from the Midwest, Kai Choque Walker was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. In 1998, she received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Telecommunication and Film from Eastern Michigan University (EMU), and in 2002 she earned a MFA in Film and Video from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Her credentials include the film Lonnie’s Cousin (produced and directed by Kai Choque, 2001) for which she received an award for Creative Independent Achievement, and the short film The Duet (co-produced by Kai Choque and directed by Anwar Jaramogi, 1999). The film was recognized as the Best of Show. Her other works include participating on the live sound stage recording of the Grammy Award Winning CD, Dianne Reeves LIVE (Blue Note Records, 2000).
Shortly after completing her course of study in film and cinema, Walker began her career as an assistant professor of audio and video production in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications (JMC) at Savannah State University (SSU), where she is a tenured member of the faculty. When not professing, Kai pursues her creative passions. In 2008, she co-produced the documentary, and coinciding website, From West Broad Street to MLK, Jr. Blvd for the National Black Programming Consortium, and participated in subsequent lectures and presentations. Later that same year, she traveled to Africa and taught an exchange course at the 6th of October University. In 2010, Walker began working on the documentary entitled It Is Well, a biography of civil rights activist the Rev. Dr. Bennie R. Mitchell, Jr. (currently in production). In 2015, she produced an award-winning segment for LifeLink of Georgia, for which the Department ofJMC received a trophy and a cash reward. Kai most recently added to her credentials a video documenting the 3rd Annual Tybee MLK Human Rights Celebration, held on Tybee Island, GA.
Kai is a member of the Society of Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS), and the University Film and Video Association (UFVA). She considers herself truly fortunate to serve as a university professor and to pursue her passion as a filmmaker.
2016 CATEGORY JURORS
Gareth Jones just completed his ninth year teaching Film Studies, starting at Brewton-Parker College in 2007. He moved to Macon in 2013 to work at Wesleyan College and immediately fell in love with the town. He is currently working at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Few things bring him as much joy as sharing a great film with a student and helping expand their cinematic world.
In addition to working in the academic film world, Gareth Jones has worked in the film festival world, including the past 18 years for the Sundance Film Festival. While living in Macon, Gareth was on the Macon Film Board and the Macon Film Festival Board. He is delighted to return to Macon and serve as a judge for the Macon Film Festival!
MARTIN SHORE began his entertainment career at fourteen as a PA for his brother’s award winning 1977 film PUNKING OUT. As a musician Shore has toured with Bo Diddley, Albert Collins, Bluesman Willie, and others. He has produced soundtracks and has acted as music supervisor for a number of feature films, including SAW, SAW II, RIZE, and ROCK SCHOOL, among others.
Shore’s films have been featured in festivals around the world, including Cannes, Tribeca, Sundance, South By Southwest, Raindance, and the Los Angeles Film Festival. A partial list of his credits as film producer include: HOOD OF HORROR (2006), starring Snoop Dogg; starring Josh Lucas, and produced with Ridley and Tony Scott; Julie Delpy’s THE COUNTESS (2009), starring Delpy and William Hurt; 2001 MANIACS: FIELD OF SCREAMS (2010), and DARK TIDE (2012), starring Halle Berry.
J. Elvis Weinstein
J. Elvis Weinstein directed the Macon Film Festival 2015 Best in Show award winning film “Michael Des Barres: Who Do You Want Me To Be?” He is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota where he began a career as a stand-up comedian at age 15 and at 17 was one of the co-founders of the TV show “Mystery Science Theater 3000” performing the role of Tom Servo. Currently living in Los Angeles, J. Elvis has spent many years as a TV writer/producer on numerous shows including “Freaks and Geeks” and “AFV”. He is currently wrapping post-production on his next feature documentary about stand-up comedy in Asia.
Drummer/percussionist/producer Steve Moretti is a two time Grammy® Award nominee and the winner of two Telly Awards. Recognized for his versatility in multiple styles, Steve has performed with numerous artists from Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, Jo Dee Messina, Arturo Sandoval, Toni Tennille, Lionel Hampton, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Lorna Luft, and Michael Brecker to The Coasters, The Pointer Sisters, The Temptations and Louie Bellson.
He toured with the legendary Rosemary Clooney for six years and recorded two Grammy® nominated CDs on Concord Records: Sentimental Journey and The Last Concert. Steve is co-founder, executive director and drummer for Macon Pops, a new pops orchestra he has created in his hometown of Macon, GA with his long-time collaborator, conductor/performer/arranger Matt Catingub. The current and recent projects of Steve’s production company, Morettiman Music, include producing the music for the nationally televised PBS Special “A Grand Mercer Christmas”.
Victor started his career under contract at 20th Century Fox Studios in Beverly Hills as a screenwriter where he wrote the original screenplay, "VOICE OF THE NORTH END” for Director, Martin Ritt. In 1990, Victor met and married Judy Belushi, widow of John Belushi. They, together with actor Dan Aykroyd, were involved in the formation and development of an entertainment restaurant/venue called, The House of Blues.
For 20 years, Victor was also the lead negotiator for setting up many additional royalty streams and sub-licensing agreements for the Blues Brothers Intellectual Property rights. Victor has spent much of the last five years lecturing on Intellectual Property and Performing Arts on the lecture circuit while creating and developing the worldwide launch of a new entertainment restaurant/venue called, The BluCaratTM.
A proud resident of Macon from 1999-2015, Sean currently resides in Nashville, TN with his wonderful partner, Emma, and their dog, Billie, and is attending Belmont University to earn his undergraduate degree in Liberal Studies/Music Business. Prior to his better-late-than-never approach to academics, Sean played an active role in Middle Georgia’s cultural growth, specifically in live music, through work with The Blue Indian, Bragg Jam, Cherry Blossom Festival, Rock Candy Entertainment Group and numerous other organizations and companies. In 2015, Sean became the youngest recipient of Macon Arts Alliance’s Cultural Award. He currently serves as the Entertainment Co-Chair for Bragg Jam. and is always looking for ways to stay involved in all that Middle Georgia has to offer. Sean is constantly missing IVP. This is his third year serving as a MAGA Juror.
Kathleen Hogan is a film, TV, and stage actress who relocated to Atlanta after living and working in NYC theatre for many years. Favorite NYC credits include Richard II, Line, Held Back, A Coupla White Chicks..., and The News in Revue. Regional highlights include Macbeth, Metamorphoses, Steel Magnolias, Into the Woods, The Threepenny Opera, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and the Diary of Anne Frank. In between NYC and Atlanta, Kathleen is so happy to have had the opportunity to co-found, produce, and perform in the Circle Ensemble Theatre Company, a professional theatre company based here in the Southeast. Film and TV roles include The Conspirator (directed by Robert Redford,) Parental Guidance, Devious Maids, Necessary Roughness, and Your Worst Nightmare.
Joshua has written, produced, and directed numerous short films, including Dawn, which has been screened at several film festivals, including the Cannes Film Festival and the Macon Film Festival. In 2012, Joshua moved to Austin, Texas, where he co-founded Giant Step Films, a documentary production company. Since then, he has gone on to produce the short documentary film Elias, and feature-length documentary The Great Journey. OP-ID, his second feature film, is currently in production.
Davd Smith is an award winning filmmaker, writer and photographer. He is happy to be a juror at this year's Macon Film Festival, where his short film, TAKE ONE TABLET, was an official selection in the 2011. His work in commercial video production has earned him two corporate top-honor awards from KINKO's and The Bridgestone Group, as well as three Telly Awards for his work with the Tennessee Center for Child Welfare. Also, his photographs have most recently appeared in the Local Color Exhibit as part of the 2013 Atlanta Celebrates Photography festival. He is currently an Associate Professor of Media Studies at the University of North Georgia and enjoys taking photographs while hiking with his wife and twin daughters.
David is a veteran filmmaker and graphic designer who has worked on numerous projects including feature films and motion design work for the World Cup. David studied film and television at the University of North Texas before he went on to pursue film editing studies in Los Angeles.
David has been in video and film production since 2000. He is a co-founder of Pilot Moon Films, a production company specializing in music videos, commercials, and marketing and mini-documentary videos for companies and organizations. He is also co-founder of Et Cultura, a film, music, and art festival in St. Petersburg, FL.
Joel Malizia is co-founder of a full service production company in St. Pete with David Allison. Joel spent most of his early adulthood working as a professional musician and carpenter, which led to him building sets for HSN, where he learned about the many facets of the production process. During this time, he created and shot short films, which experienced success at national and international film festivals. Joel met David in 2011. Their love for music based content and storytelling quickly helped them build a reputation locally and nationally.
In 2014, SXSW hired them to work on the Pro Media Team providing coverage for the festival. They have decided to take their experience and their love for the arts one step further by co-founding a brand new festival in St. Pete called Et Cultura (And Culture).
Ryan graduated with a master’s degree in communications with a focus in journalism and electronic media from the University of Tennessee. He then accepted a teaching position at Georgia Southern University where he taught communication and film courses. Ryan went on to work for the City of Savannah Tourism and Film Department working as the city's location specialist for three years. Ryan has produced, managed and coordinated various film and television projects both nationally and internationally including Untouched and Desires of the Heart to name a few. He recently branched out his production services to include the New Orleans area where he's currently coordinating for BBC’s Asian Provocateur as well as working as a project manager for The Olinger Group.
Lee is a location specialist in the five-person Georgia Film, Music and Digital Entertainment office. As part of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the state's sales and marketing arm, the Film Office provides a number of services designed to attract new entertainment business investment to the state. As a location specialist, Lee is responsible for finding and showing appropriate locations for film, television, and commercial production. She also maintains the Department’s film tourism website TourGeorgiaFilm.com. Lee is a graduate of Butler University in Indianapolis, and a 20-plus year resident of Atlanta.
Jeff Marker is the Head of the Communication, Media & Journalism Department at the University of North Georgia and an Associate Professor of Film. He has been published in academic journals such as the Journal of Popular Culture and Literature/Film Quarterly and has also written film reviews for various publications for the past decade. He is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association and Georgia Film Critics Association and currently co-hosts The Film Fix podcast. He has also acted for the camera and stage, and has written and directed several music videos.
Mark Ezra Stokes
Mark is the founder of Holistic Storyteller--a business designed to encourage, enrich and empower storytellers in a variety of creative disciplines. He's also the founder and former president of Savannah Filmmakers, a nonprofit created to connect and strengthen the Savannah film community. Mark has served in a variety of capacities on film sets--from pudgy starfish stand-in on SpongeBob 2 to lowly production assistant on "Toddlers & Tiaras." He's written, directed and produced a variety of narrative shorts, and his documentaries have taken him across the country and as far as Ethiopia. He holds an M.A. in Screenwriting & Film Studies and an M.F.A. in Screenwriting, if you care about that sort of thing.
Student Shorts & LGBT
Laura is a Journalist-In-Residence and Visiting Assistant Professor at Mercer University’s Center For Collaborative Journalism in Macon, Georgia. She is an award-winning Photojournalist who earned a Master’s degree in Visual Journalism from Kent State University. Fong was named the Walton D. Clarke Fellow at WKSU radio, the NPR affiliate in Kent, Ohio. Currently she teaches classes in Photojournalism, International Storytelling, and and Video Production at Mercer and she continues to teach an online multimedia class for Kent State’s College of Digital Sciences; and raising her 10 year old daughter, Lily.
Jody Schiesser is responsible for the award-winning short films The Street Cleaner, You Are Beautiful, and Antigone’s Song. He directs, serves as Assistant Director, produces, and scouts/manages locations for film and television, and his body of work includes feature films Crackerjack, Untouched, Four Senses, Abraham Lincoln vs Zombies, Christine, Magic Mike XXL, Adam Sandler’s The Do-Over, and most recently Daisy Winters. His movies have gone on to win awards and play at festivals such as the Sundance Film Festival and his films have been selected three times for the Macon Film Festival. He works for studios and networks such as Tyler Perry Studios, the Style Network, the Travel Channel, the History Channel, Warner Bros., Netflix, and Amazon Studios. Telling important stories, and nurturing an idea from concept to completed vision, is his passion.
Brandon is originally from Jefferson, GA. Currently, he works as a photographer for WSMV-TV in Nashville, TN. Brandon has extensive freelance experience including working as a video playback operator for AOL / Autoblog for the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, camera operator for several MotoAmerica motorcycle races, EVS replay operator for Eurosport's coverage of the 2013 FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) in Sonoma, and Director of Photography for several short films and music videos.
Brandon's work has appeared in many outlets including ESPN, ABC, SportsCenter, HBO's OutFest in Los Angeles, USA Today's website, and the B-52's Facebook page to name a few.Brandon is a graduate of the University of Georgia, with a Bachelors of Arts in Journalism, a Film Studies minor, and New Media certificate