SGFF Draws Judges From Across the Country

SGFF Draws Judges From Across the Country

March 1, 2021

VALDOSTA, GA – The fifth Annual South Georgia Film Festival will features judges from across the country this year, including previous winners, feature filmmakers, comedians, Oscar nominees, and much more. With 109 films in this year’s festival, awards will be given for each of the following categories: Feature Film, Short, College, High School, Family Friendly, Poster, and Best in Fest.

“Celebrating the hard work of filmmakers is important to us,” Jason Brown, Festival Director said. “Along with showcasing films from across the country and the world, we strive to work with recognizable film professionals to judge our work.”

Previous South Georgia Film Festival winners top the list of judges for this year’s festival. Liz Manshil’s SPEED OF LIFE won Best in Fest at the 2020 South Georgia Film Festival. The feature film starring Ann Dowd and Allison Tolman about a woman being ripped through time when dealing with the death of David Bowie currently is available on Showtime.

Along with winning the College award in 2018 for FIRST MONTH, Laura Holliday has had her film GIRLFRIEND play the 2019 festival. Holliday’s work has appeared at many festivals and on Funny or Die. Along with being a director and actress, Holliday has been working recently as a musician. This will be her first year as a judge at the festival.

Professor Dave Brock joins the South Georgia Film Festival for the first time this year. His short film THE ROAD VIRUS HEADS NORTH, adapted from a Stephen King short story, was nominated for a Student Academy Award. Brock currently teaches at WV State University, where he made THE WOMAN IN THE ROOM, another King adaptation.

Another Student Academy Award nominee is cinematographer Justin Litton. Litton, COO of Mountain Craft Productions, proudly creates content all over Appalachia. His work on BORDER PATROL was nominated in 2013 for a Student Academy Award. Mountain Craft continues to produce quality industrials, shorts, and PSAs for business and civic groups.

Stand-up comedian and podcaster Michael Shea joins as a judge this year. Hailing from Dayton, OH, Shea has performed as a stand-up for over 15 years. His podcast, The Ultimate Schmoedown Aftershow can be heard nationwide through The Outlaw Nation podcasting network.

J.T. Arbogast is a Los Angeles-based writer/producer and actor. Prior to arriving in Los Angeles, J.T. spent four years as the Associate Director of the critically acclaimed National Comedy Theatre in New York. He produced the films Angel’s Perch and Auld Lang Syne while successfully crowdfunding both of them. He might be best known as an actor in the film WHEN IN ROME or the TV show 30 ROCK. He holds a B.A. from Penn State University and an M.F.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. 

AFC Indie Filmmaking podcast Chuck Thomas will participate as a judge for this year’s festival along recording his podcast on Saturday March 6. Returning as festival judges this year include Community Board President and Channel 17 host Marcus McConico, Turner Center for the Art’s Jessica Ganas, University of Findlay professor Chris Medjesky, and former SGFF Student Director, Jennifer Rainer. Due to COVID all of our judges will participate virtually to view the films and discuss the eventual winners.

Along with our nightly open-air screenings, over 100 films will be available virtually through our partnership with Eventive. Like hundreds of other festival around the country, the South Georgia Film Festival will be available through your computer and over your smart TV. Passes for $40 includes all the virtual films, virtual panels and preferred seating to the in-person events. Students of all ages can get a discounted pass for $25. You can get a ticket to any screening (in-person or virtual) for only $5.

This year’s festival could not happen without the support of our community sponsors, including Georgia Power, Valdosta State University, the Valdosta-Lowndes Development Authority, Wild Adventures, the Turner Center for the Arts, Valdosta Main Street, the Valdosta Daily Times, the City of Valdosta, Georgia Production Partnership, Fairway Outdoor, the Georgia Film Office, Georgia Beer Company, and MUBI.

The South Georgia Film Festival continues to promote the regional film industry with panelists discussing both the craft and industrial impact of film for local businesses. For more information about tickets, visit Passes for all open-air and virtual events are $40, $25 for students. You can purchase a ticket for any single screening for $5.

For more information on the South Georgia Film Festival, visit or contact Prof. Jason Brown at 229-219-1298 or

–  20  –

Director Liz Manshil
Filmmaker/Actress/Musician Laura Holliday
Writer/Producer J.T. Arbogast
Cinematographer Justin Litton
Podcaster Chuck Thomas
Comedian/Podcaster Mike Shea

South Georgia Film Festival Announces Judges for 2019 Competition

South Georgia Film Festival Announces Judges for 2019 Competition

February 25, 2018

VALDOSTA, GA – Filled with local and regional media professionals, the South Georgia Film Festival announces the judges for this year’s 2019 expanded competition – including feature films and best in fest awards. This year’s judges include filmmakers Tara Ansley, Luke Pilgrim and Brad Kennedy of Sozo Bear Films, Brandi Nicole Payne of Seed & Spark, and many more.

This year’s South Georgia Film Festival judges will be looking at films in the categories of – Feature (movies over 45 minutes in length), High School (films made by filmmakers attending secondary schools or under the age of 18), College (films made by students attending a college or university), and Shorts (movies under 15 minutes made by professionals). Due to the influences of previous judges, this year a trophy will be awarded for Best in Fest, to the best film regardless of category.

Winners in each category will receive a trophy created by Harmon Awards in Valdosta, along with a day pass to Wild Adventures theme park and a Chromecast provided by streaming service MUBI. Winners in the High School and College categories will also be eligible for scholarships to Valdosta State University thanks to the University Admissions office.

Partially due to the increase in the number of films screened and attention to the festival, this year there will be thirteen judges. Along with the trophies, every year the judges have the freedom to recognize films with other awards, such as best actress, best production design, or best editing.

“We bring together a strong collection of professionals to survey our festival’s films,” Jason Brown, South Georgia Film Festival director said. “They find what’s exciting and worthy of recognition and we want to support that.”

This year’s judges run the gamut of professional experiences.  Filmmakers Brad Kennedy and Luke Pilgrim of Sozo Bear Films in Dahlonega, GA return to the South Georgia Film Festival for a second year to talk about how they use storytelling in their production work for business clients. Actress and filmmaker Brandi Nicole Payne will be serving as a judge this year. Payne works with the streaming platform Seed & Spark and will be giving a presentation on Crowdfunding, Saturday March 2. Tris Sicignano returns for a second year to the South Georgia Film Festival and will be on the Women in Media panel Friday, March 1. Tris’s work as the co-founder of SurgeTV has brought her in touch with thousands of media makers across the Southeast.

VSU’s own Terrell Sandefur returns after a year where he has expanded his presence in Georgia Film. As the Managing Director of, Terrell hosted the tremendously successful Georgie Film Industry party at the Sundance Film Festival for a second year in a row. Another returning Georgia filmmaker, Brantly Jackson continues to work as the Program and Outreach Manager for Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta and will be taking her latest film “Spoon” to festivals this Spring.

New to the South Georgia Film Festival is Melissa Simpson, the Executive Director of Film Impact Georgia, a non-profit designed to promote native filmmakers here in Georgia. Simpson is a graduate of the University of North Georgia and works with both the Atlanta Film Festival and Rome Film Festivals.

This year’s other judges include Professor Jeff Marker of the University of North Georgia, Prof. Chris Medjesky of University of Findlay, Event Coordinator and Film Programmer Charles Judson, along with local media personality Marcus McConico of Channel 17 and Jessica Ganas formerly of Red Door Records. The majority of judges will be attending the festival screening films or participating on panels.

Along with the judges able to attend the festival, numerous volunteer screeners helped choose which films appeared at this year’s event. This year’s screeners included TV Producer/Editor Robert Huntley, VSU’s Director of New Media Center Kyle Culpepper, local filmmaker Zane Ally, Alan Hancock College Associate Professor Chris Hite, PA Indie Shorts Film Festival Director Samantha Kolesnik, and filmmaker Justin Litton. Along with these professionals, the VSU student film festival organization run by Jennifer Rainer made their recommendations in the high school and short categories as well.

Festival screenings will take place at the VSU Student Union Theater at the corner of Baytree and North Oak Street. The festival added the use of the Mass Media Screening room, on the corner of Patterson and Brookwood. Over the three days, visitors can park at both the Oak Street Parking Deck and the University Center parking lot. With over a dozen panels and workshops across both locations, attendees will find plenty to do.

This year’s festival continues to connect with partners in the Valdosta community, including Valdosta State University, Georgia Power, Wild Adventures, the Turner Center for the Arts, WAITR, Valdosta Main Street, the Valdosta Daily Times, the City of Valdosta, Miss Kate’s Tours and Coca-Cola. Promoting entrepreneurship through filmmaking, the festival continues to promote the regional film industry with panelists discussing both the craft and industrial impact of film for local businesses. This year’s festival has also includes panelists Brandi Nicole Payne of Seed & Spark to discuss Crowdfunding, producer Tara Ansley, actor Ian Anderson, along with many others.

Passes to this year’s festival are currently available. The All Access VIP pass, which includes a t-shirt, access to the VIP areas, and a ticket to Thursday’s Georgia Production Partnership event costs $100. The Festival Pass which offers access to all screenings, panels and daily events are $40. Day Passes are $15 for all screenings and panels. Both High School and College students can get a free Day Pass with their school id. Tickets are available through the website.

For more information on the South Georgia Film Festival, visit or contact Prof. Jason Brown at 229-219-1298 or

–  20  –







Luke Pilgrim (left) and Brad Kennedy (right) of Sozo Bear Films










Brandi Nicole Payne, filmmaker/Seed & Spark







Terrell Sandefur,





Brantly Jackson Watts, Filmmaker







Marcus McConico, host of City Focus on Channel 17