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Each year the GFC prides itself on working with an exceptional panel of industry professional judges. Ranging from actors, directors, producers, and diverse filmmakers these judges are a huge part of what sets the GFC apart and why our quality is so high. Below are our confirmed judges so far. Be sure to check this space often as we will be confirming several more surprise judges as the event draws near.

Aaron Blaise

Aaron Blaise displayed an affinity and a talent for drawing animals and nature scenes as early as five. After high school, he trained in painting and drawing at the Ringling College of Art and Design, hoping to one day work for either Disney Studios or Hallmark cards. In 1988, he graduated and relocated to California after winning an animation internship at Disney.

Following the internship, he was offered a position at Disney's brand new Florida Studio, and moved back home. If you have seen a Disney animated film in the last 25 years, Blaise likely had a hand in it. He has worked as a lead animator on films such as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Pocohontas, Mulan and more.

In 2003 Mr. Blaise made his feature film directing debut with Brother Bear (2003). He was co-director on the project. The film featured the voices of Hollywood stars such as Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Clarke Duncan, Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas. The film had an $80+ million budget and made over $250 million dollars at the box office. He is currently in pre-production on a new film Art Story. He and his production partner Chuck Williams have taken to kickstarter to fund this phase of the project. They are offering a unique "behind the scenes" glimpse into the world of feature film animation. Aaron Blaise is the first former Disney director to turn to the crowd funding platform.

Mr. Blaise is also a talented painter and especially enjoys painting outdoor nature scenes. IMDB - The Art of Aaron Blaise

Mike McCutchen

Mike McCutchen writes for Ain't It Cool News under the name “Muldoon,” a nod to his favorite film, JURASSIC PARK.

He runs a column called SATURDAY SHORTS where each week he selects a handful of short films submitted by readers to showcase to the AICN audience.

Outside of the internet movie blogs, Mike is a proud member of IATSE and has worked on films like SIN CITY 2, MACHETE KILLS, and most recently TRANSFORMERS 4.

Currently, Mike is in post-production on his first feature, THE NEXT KILL, a no budget, hyper stylized action film shot on nights and weekends.

Mystery Judge #3

We will be unveiling new mystery judges very shortly :)

Past Judges

Below is a brief sampling of some of the GFC judges we have worked with in the near past:

Ernie Hudson

As a child growing up in Benton Harbor, Michigan, Ernie Hudson wrote short stories, poems and songs, always thinking that his words might one day come to life on stage. After a short stint in the Marine Corps, he moved to Detroit where he became the resident playwright at Concept East, the oldest black theatre in the country. In addition, he enrolled at Wayne State University to further develop his writing and acting skills and found time to establish the Actors' Ensemble Theatre, where he and other talented young black writers directed and appeared in their own works. After graduating with a B.A. from Wayne State, he was rewarded a full scholarship to the M.F.A. program at the prestigious Yale School of Drama. While performing with the school's repertory company, he was asked to appear in the Los Angeles production of Lonne Elder III's musical "Daddy Goodness," which led to his meeting Gordon Parks, who gave Hudson the costarring role in his first feature film, Leadbelly (1976).

Unfortunately, all that followed "Leadbelly" was a year of "bit parts and some harsh lessons about Hollywood," which led Hudson to enroll in another academic program at the University of Minnesota that would lead to a Ph.D. Through his experience, he learned another vital lesson: "There are those who spend their lives studying it and those who spend their lives doing it." Hudson definitely wanted to be in the second group. Keeping in mind this self-revelation, Hudson accepted the starring role of Jack Jefferson in the Minneapolis Theatre In The Round's production of "The Great White Hope," a role that he put "everything he had into," including shaving his head.

A series of starring and guest roles followed on such television shows as "Fantasy Island" (1977), "The Incredible Hulk" (1978), "Little House on the Prairie" (1974), "Diff'rent Strokes" (1978), "Taxi" (1978), "One Day at a Time" (1975), "Gimme a Break!" (1981), "The A-Team" (1983) and "Webster" (1983), as well as costarring roles in the TV movies White Mama (1980) (TV) with Bette Davis, "Roots: The Next Generations" (1979), Women of San Quentin (1983) (TV), California Girls (1985) (TV), Mad Bull (1977) (TV) and Love on the Run (1985) (TV).

Other feature film credits include The Jazz Singer (1980), The Main Event (1979), Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983), Penitentiary II (1982), Going Berserk (1983), Joy of Sex (1984) and, of course, in 1984 the mega-hit Ghostbusters.

Since appearing in Ghostbusters, Ernie has appeared in hit after hit on the big screen and on television including: "Ghostbusters II", "The Crow", "The Hand that Rocks the Cradle", "The Ben Stiller Show" (TV), "The Basketball Diaries", "Congo", "Miss Congeniality", "Oz" (HBO), "ER" (TV), "Desperate Housewives" (TV), "Psych" (TV), "Bones" (TV), "Heroes (TV)", "Law & Order" (TV), and "The Secret Life of an American Teenager" (TV).

Mr. Hudson was kind enough to record a special message for those that participated in the 2011 GFC - CLICK HERE to watch.

Dick Smothers

Dick Smothers, of the legendary Smothers Brothers comedy team, is a comedy icon and former celebrity judge of the GFC. With their spectacular blend of comedic and musical talents, the Smothers Brothers have made a sweeping impact on a diverse generations of fans. Such lasting power is a testimonial to their brilliant humor, natural warmth, explosive showmanship and the pure joy they bring to audiences of all ages.

In addition to entertaining millions of adoring fans as one half of the Smothers Brothers, Dick has appeared in numerous films and television programs such as Martin Scorsese's "CASINO", "The Tonight Show", "Saturday Night Live", "The Martin Short Show", "Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist" and many more. We are truly honored to have him had the chance to work with him.

Mr. Smothers was kind enough to have sat down with us in 2007 for an extensive interview to share his thoughts on filmmaking. CLICK HERE to watch.

Audrey Landers

Audrey Landers is a multi-faceted individual, always ready to explore her many talents. She is an accomplished actor, singer, writer, composer, producer, and fashion designer. Her clothing line, which made its European debut in 2008, premiered in the U.S. to a sold out launch on ShopNBC in Fall '09. Landers STAR Collection is bringing glamour to women across the globe. "Every woman is a star and she deserves to shine." Her partner and co-designer is her mother, Ruth Landers.

Miss Landers recently played Veronica in "Burn Notice", USA Network's hit series, and Bettina in "Bachelor Party" for 20th Century Fox, Spring '09 release. She costars as Nadia in the upcoming Jackie Mason comedy feature, "In A Pickle."

Miss Landers' diverse talents have driven her career in many directions. Her successful family partnership with producer-manager-mother, Ruth Landers has churned out music videos, pilots, infomercials, and popular films and TV shows such as "Ghost Writer", "California Casanova", and "Club Fed".

Miss Landers is probably best known for her portrayal of Afton Cooper in the world hit television series, "Dallas," in which she co-starred for eight years. Audrey reprised her role as the sultry songstress in the "Dallas" reunion movie for TV.

Playing the role of Val in the motion picture, "A Chorus Line," was a challenge that Audrey met head on. Sir Richard Attenborough, the film's director, said, "Audrey wore out two dance coaches. You could have dropped a bomb next to her, yet she never broke her concentration. She is an extremely focused young woman and was the highlight of the movie."

"Music is my first love," says Audrey. At the age of twelve, she made her national television debut, performing a country song she wrote. That led to a recording contract in Nashville for Epic Records-and a year-long stint on the daytime drama, "The Secret Storm." Audrey spent her teen years working on the daytime drama, "Somerset." She also studied music at the Juilliard School in New York, while majoring in psychology at Columbia University. Then, Miss Landers moved to Los Angeles, and landed her role in "Dallas" - all before her 21st birthday!

Through the 1980's and 1990's, Miss Landers enjoyed a successful recording career and concert tours throughout Europe. She earned 10 gold singles, 4 gold albums, and 2 platinum albums, having composed most of her hits. She has recorded for Ariola, BMG, Polydor, EMI, and WEA. Her latest album, released in 2010, was a "top choice" on the Euro Regional Charts. Miss Landers has wowed audiences around the world. She has co-headlined in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

One of Audrey's most rewarding projects is her award-winning children's television series, "The Huggabug Club." "The show was created by my sister, my mother, and me, as a labor of love for all children." The musical, educational series was donated to PBS by Ruth Landers in 1996, and ran through 2001. Presently it can be seen daily on TBN. Audrey wrote 50 half-hour episodes, as well as the 250 original songs in the series. "It has been a fulfilling experience to write, produce, perform in, and even edit the series," says Audrey. "It is so rewarding to be able to reach out to children and teach them valuable life lessons through music! I never run out of inspiration. I try to look at the world through a child's eyes.

Ryan Koo

Named one of Filmmaker Magazine's 25 New Faces in 2008, Ryan Koo co-wrote, directed, shot, and edited the Webby Award-winning web series "The West Side".

His first feature script, "Man-child", has been supported by IFP, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and the Tribeca Film Institute. He is also the founder of, which won Total Film's Best Creative Blog award in 2011.

Thanks in large part to NoFilmSchool, he was able to raise a record setting $125,000 on Kickstarter to fund Man-child's forthcoming production.

Mitch Aunger

Mitch "planetMitch" Aunger is the creator and mastermind behind  - which covers every aspect of the HDSLR cameras. A lover of photography since his early days, he graduated to selling stock photos to make a little bit of spare cash. It wasn't much, but it allowed him to upgrade to better cameras as well as computers, and it wasn't taking money away from feeding his family.

He loves the stories that the still image can tell. A few years ago, he read a story written by Arnold Kim called “I Quit My Job” - Arn is the owner of . He started macrumors in 2000 as a hobby, and by 2008 he was making more money with the site than he was on his day job, so he quit. The surprise to the story is that he was a doctor making more than six figures! Right then and there, planetMitch dreamed about doing the same thing.

September 2008 rolled around, and Canon announced this new version of the incredible 5D — the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. It was the first Canon DSLR to shoot full HD video and the earth moved! (It really was a huge deal in the photography world.) planetMitch knew if there was ever a chance to ride a wave of something he was really passionate about, this was it — and the blog at was born. It is now one of the most popular HDSLR blogs on the planet, and he is making a full-time living from blogging. He couldn't be happier!

Christian J Schwier

With over 10 years professional experience and a film & writing degree from Emerson College, Christian is the owner of one of Tampa Bay's leading video production companies: Litewave Media ( He has written, produced, directed, and even acted in a number of award-winning independent films. This year Christian completed his first full length feature film: Jules Dongu Saves the World (April 2012), an anime/action/comedy, which he directed and starred in. It will be making rounds at the festival circuit this year.

Christian's production company has filmed a number of reality TV shows (including Bridezillas, Extreme Couponing, and a stint in the Cayman Islands and Bahamas this past year for a certain pawn shop series.) When he's not diving headlong into a storm covering the disastrous Florida hurricanes for the Associated Press, or shooting sporting events like the 2009 Superbowl in Tampa, Christian enjoys writing original music and concocting new ideas for scripts. His latest project The Skyship Chronicles, is a Steampunk Action/Adventure film that takes place in the early 1900's. He's currently in pre-production now and will be filming by Summer 2012.

Alan J. Bailey

Alan is the CEO, CFO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Media International Inc. based in Century City, California, which is a new media entertainment company with three operating divisions: Dynamic Media Network, the producer and distributor of high definition original TV content; Dynamic Media Music, the producer and distributor of original music content ; and Dynamic Media Pictures, an independent motion picture and television production, finance and global distribution enterprise.

Previously, Alan was a Senior Financial Executive with Paramount Pictures for 35 years, including being its Senior Vice President and Treasurer. In this capacity, he was responsible for Paramount's global cash management and control.

In his film festival career, Alan is the Founder and Executive Producer of the Movieville International Film Festival. He is also the Executive Producer of lower budget/high quality motion pictures, digital and television content and serves as the CFO of Mass Hysteria Entertainment, a new mini-studio based in Los Angeles and headed by award winning producer, Daniel Grodnik.

Alex Rotella

As a veteran stage and screen actor Alex has appeared in over one hundred - fifty productions including the CBS mini-series "Jackie O" HBO's "The Sopranos" NBC's "Law & Order SVU" and the feature films "SWAT", "THE PROFIT" and DUE DILIGENCE" . He received a "Best Actor" Nomination from the National Broadway Theatre Awards for his portrayal of "Billy Flynn" in the Broadway Musical "CHICAGO" during its North American Tour. He has also appeared in over 20 national and regional commercials.

Alex founded the Sarasota-based VisionStream Films, LLC in 2004 and serves as Executive Producer/Director for that company. VisionStream has conceived and produced over thirty national and regional films.

Kathryn Laughlin

Kathy Laughlin is a member of The Casting Society Of America and the founding President of Performers Studio Workshop. Kathy has served as a NY/LA - Casting Director for national, international, regional and local commercials, feature length films, made for cable movies, and professional theater.

Kathy has been teaching acting for over 25 years, is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and has appeared as an actress on Broadway.

Her film and television credits include: "Palmetto", "Great Expectations" (1998), "All my Children", "Boy Meets World", "The Nanny", "One Tree Hill", "Family Matters", "Step by Step" and many more.

Kristen Lindberg

Kristen Lindberg's dream from an early age was to be an Academy Award Winning Set Decorator, or at least a successful one at that! Having been born and raised in Sarasota, Kristen couldn't have been any further away from her dreams in Hollywood. Her journey started in 2003 when she broke into the entertainment industry via an email to then CSI: Miami Production Designer, Carlos Barbosa. Kristen was determined to graduate from film school with a breakout job in the industry; little did she know her determination and hard work would soon pay off. In the years before Facebook and Linked-In, one email to designer Carlos Barbosa changed her life forever. Having never met her, seen her work or reviewed a resume, Carlos hired Kristen to work in his Art Department on the feature film, Coach Carter staring Samuel L. Jackson.

Kristen's career has been the textbook example of "breaking in from the bottom". After working with her mentor Carlos Barbosa, Kristen went on to work with industry greats like Academy Award Nominated Set Decorator, Nancy Nye, Legendary Director, Tony Scott, Academy Award Winner, Jeff Bridges and many more. She has since dedicated her career to "paying it forward" and giving back the gift Carlos Barbosa gave to her 9 years ago.

Jeanne Corcoran

Jeanne D. Corcoran became the Director of the Sarasota County Film &Entertainment Office (SCFEO), a division of the Economic Development Corporation, in Spring 2007.  She has created a full-service film commission of industry standards expected by Hollywood and the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) of which organization she's been a member for 10 years.  She is a member of Film Florida, serving on the Trade Shows, Legislative, and Strategic Futures committees and the Indie Film Subcommittee. 

Her proactive marketing has already brought major Location Managers from Hollywood to Sarasota County to scout, and she has traveled on trade missions outside of Florida including visits to studio executives and producers in Hollywood to promote Sarasota County.  Corcoran has successfully implemented many new programs including the SCFEO's awarding-winning Web 2.0 site and a multi-jurisdictional permitting system throughout the county. 

In the nine years prior to joining the EDC, Corcoran was the production manager and a film commissioner for the State of Nevada Film Office. There, she facilitated more than 4,000 productions ranging from blockbusters like Ocean's Eleven to low-budget independent short films, television and other media projects. Prior to her decade as a film commissioner, Corcoran was an award-winning film and television writer, producer, and creative director in both Florida and on the West Coast.

She has created, written and sold screenplays, hundreds of television scripts, live theater and other projects, and been on both sides of the camera as technical and as talent.  Corcoran has garnered International New York Festivals awards, national Silver Tellys, EMAs, and Addys.  In 2007, she was named one of the "People to Watch" by Biz 941 Magazine.

Del Jacobs

Del Jacobs is an author, documentary filmmaker, and professor of Film and Media Studies at the State College of Florida.  He developed and oversees the college offerings in the Motion Picture A.A. and Digital Media A.A.S. degree areas.  His upcoming book entitled "Interrogating the Image" will be published by University Press next year.


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