VIP Judges 2017

Each year the finalist short films are screened at our Gala Awards nights in London, in front of over 100 industry professionals and VIPs. It’s an exciting time for all because for many, it can be the first time they get a chance to go to a big festival and have their work screened in front of an audience that size. It’s truly exciting. And if you don’t believe us, watch the video and see what some of our participants have said in the past. But before the big gala, the shorts are seen by a panel of some of Britain’s top industry folk.

This year, our judging line-up is second to none. We have some of the industry’s finest Casting Directors, award-winning and festival nominated directors, and even a development department at a huge production company. It’s a BIG opportunity to have your work showcased in front of the big guns who make decisions!

Introducing you to our panel for 2017…

hat trick comedy departmentHat Trick Comedy Development Team

Hat Trick is one of the UK’s most successful independent production companies, and they’re responsible for many popular and award-winning programming. Some of the incredible shows you might be familiar with include Episodes, Revolting, Limbo, Boomers, Fonejacker, and Spy to name a few. This year their comedy development department, headed up by Mark Talbot, are one of our VIP judges for 2017’s TweetFest.

Casting Director Shakyra Dowling

An amazing Casting Director, Shakyra Dowling Casting is responsible for casting so many incredible award-winning pieces, cinema releases, Netflix films and more. Specializing in British Independent Feature Films, European co-productions, TV and commercials, Shakyra is a founder board member of the Casting Directors Association and a voting member of the European Film Academy and a member of the Casting Society of America. Credits include The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (2013), Look Again and Again (2016) and Spaceship (2017).

Deborah Haywood

Deborah Haywood, was selected for Screen International’s Stars of Tomorrow 2007. She was also BIFA nominated, as well as award winning for her short SIS. Her first feature, Pin Cushion, is a BFI iFeatures2 film that has a fabulous cast including Lily Newmark and Joanna Scanlan. Pin Cushion has also just screened in competition in Venice Film Festival 2017.

Ben-CoganCasting Director Ben Cogan

A BBC Casting Director for 15 years casting, Ben Cogan is no stranger to discovering new talent and helping many a new actor and filmmaker. Two years ago Ben Cogan became freelance, and has been busy casting a host of films and shorts including Trendy and Just Charlie since his departure. Prior to that, his extensive list of television casting included Doctors (345 episodes), Casualty (183 episodes), EastEnders, Holby City and Waking the Dead…plus a bunch more. And Ben is also a huge fan of helping and championing actor talent.

Award-winning Director Jesse Quinones

Jesse Quinones is an award winning feature film director and also documentary filmmaker, with over 10 documentary credits to his name. His first feature, Calloused Hands, starring Andre Royo (HBO’s The Wire), Daisy Haggard (Showtime’s Episodes), and Hans Howes (There Will Be Blood) premiered at the Miami International Film Festival, won at BUFF, and has gone on to screen in over 20 festivals around the world, picking up numerous awards. Its North American release was in March 2014. Jesse is a recipient of the 2011 All Roads Seeds Grant from National Geographic for his documentary Shoeshine Girls of Bolivia. It was also awarded a Channel 4 grant, and a grant from the Commonwealth Broadcast Association, as was his award-winning documentary, The Cable, shot in Colombia.

Rajita SHahProducer Rajita Shah

Rajita started work as a producer for National Geographic and Discovery in New York. She won more than 15 awards for the 2007 documentary 4 KILOMETERS which was shot with Bedouin Tribes in the unrecognized villages in Negev, Israel. Thereafter she worked with the UK Film Council Agency B3media as an in-house producer and produced several award winning films which were screened at BFI London Film Festival, East End Film Festival, Palm Spring Festival and Chicago Film Festival. Rajita produced feature film ZOHRA directed by Cannes and Venice award winning British director Barney Platts-Mills which enjoyed its World Premiere at the 40th International Rotterdam Film Festival.

Now if that’s not a reason to enter this incredible film festival, we don’t know what is.

Submit your short film today via the Film Freeway link below. Applications close in October 2017.