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Judging Panel

The ACEFEST Judging Panel is the backbone to our legacy in this industry. Our judges cover an eclectic range of expertise and determine the very highest honors in our annual program.

"The panel’s talent pool is deep and diversified" - New York Press
Brant Sersen  
Brant Sersen, Screenwriter / Director
Accomplished writer/director of 'Splinterheads' starring Rachael Taylor, Christopher McDonald, Lea Thompson and Dean Winters. He made a name for himself in Hollywood with his release of 'Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story' in 2004.
Ash Beck  
Ash Beck, Visual Effects Supervisor
VFX supervisor to some of the biggest stars in the music industry including Michael Jackson, Jay Z, Shania Twain, Fiona Apple, Beck, The Eels, Nine Inch Nails, Lenny Kravitz and others. Some of his commercial clients include Pepsi, The Gap, American Express, and Fox.
Karl Iglesias  
Karl Iglesias, Screenwriter / Author
UCLA teacher and sought-after script doctor & consultant, specializing in the reader’s emotional response to the written page.  Best-selling author of Writing For Emotional Impact and The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters.
Kenneth Hughes  
Kenneth Hughes, Director / Actor
Director of the absurdly-popular film 'Donkey Punch', Kenneth has a vast and diverse resume. He's worked with Coen Bros, Michael Bay, Jim Carrey and Madonna. His storytelling expertese is often called upon to speak at countless festivals, universities and industry events.
Ben Grossman  
Ben Grossmann, Visual Effects Supervisor / Producer
Emmy Award-Winning Visual Effects guru. Worked with legendary director Martin Scorsese and on such films as 'Sin City', '2012', 'Public Enemies', 'Land of the Lost', 'The Day After Tomorrow' and the upcoming 'Shutter Island'.
Zenon Kruszelnicki  
Zenon Kruszelnicki, Acting Coach / Theatrical Director
Received his MFA in Acting from National Academy of Drama in Poland and MFA in Directing from The New School. He is a member of SSDC, The Actors Studio, FIA, ZASP and SAG. In 2004 he professionally coached Willem Dafoe, among other A-list stars.
John Kenneth Muir  
John Kenneth Muir, Author / Critic
Award-winning author of over 20 reference books about film and television, such as The Encyclopedia of Superheroes on Film and TV and The Rock'N'Roll Film Encyclopedia.  His blog was recently named one of the top 100 film study blogs on the net.
Tom Lazarus  
Tom Lazarus, Screenwriter / Author
Writer of seven produced features, eight Movies of the Week, Writer/Producer of nine TV series, and writer of two books on screenwriting. He is presently teaching The Master Class in Screenwriting at UCLA.
D.B. Gilles  
D.B. Gilles, Screenwriter / Author
Screenwriting and Writing For Television professor at NYU, D.B. also wrote the screen adaptation of the play Spinning Into Butter starring Sarah Jessica Parker. He is the acclaimed author of The Screenwriter Within and The Portable Film School.
Jon Dorf  
Jon Dorf, Screenwriter
Author of more than 20 internationally-published plays, Jon Dorf is co-chair of the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights, resident writing expert for Final Draft and co-founder of  He holds a BA in Dramatic Writing and Literature from Harvard University.
Marc Weigert  
Marc Weigert, Producer / Visual Effects Supervisor
CEO of production company Uncharted Territory in LA. Credits include Roland Emmerich’s '2012' (co-producer and VFX supervisor), “The Triangle” (of which he won an EMMY), “Dark Kingdom” and “Coronado”. Currently, he is co-producing another film by Emmerich.
Kevin Manthei  
Kevin Manthei, Film, TV & Multimedia Composer
Scored and composed pieces for countless television, video game and film productions. His credits include 'Batman: Gotham Knight', 'Resident Evil', 'Scream 2 & 3', "Invader Zim", "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and many more.
Marco Cappetta  
Marco Cappetta, Cinematographer
Created iconic images for films, commercials, music videos and TV. Marco's films have been released by The Weinstein Company, New Line Cinema, Lionsgate and have aired on Showtime and HBO with stars like Kevin Smith, Damon Wayans and others.
Tom Camarda  
Tom Camarda, Director of Photography
Famous for his D.P. work for the film 'Transamerica' but his resume extends across all facets of the industry. His work can be seen in the music videos of Celine Dion, Snoop Dogg and others. Tom's commercial client list includes Sony, ESPN, AOL, Direct TV, etc.
Rhet Bear  
Rhet Bear, Director of Photography
Director of Photography for music sensations such as Leann Rimes, Kieth Urban and Death Cab for Cutie, Rhet Bear has a wonderfully diverse resume. His claim to fame on TV is his involvement with "The Sarah Silverman Program". 
Past Judges

J. Michael Straczynski
Peter Weller
Barry Norman
Gregory Hatanaka
David Sullivan
John Threat
Ian Fischer
Murphy Gilson
William Ericsson Crawley
Colin Boyd
Claudia Jean
David Nusair
Jim Connors
Lloyd Kaufman
Chris Gore
Elle Martini
Gabriele Barrera
Russell Hess
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