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FilmFest judges’ symposium offers opportunity to meet top film talent

Nov. 2, 2005

Abilene Christian University's FilmFest will provide a chance for anyone interested to meet and interact with top media and film industry professionals. The FilmFest Judges’ Symposium will be Saturday, Nov. 5 at 10 a.m. in Room 115 of the Mabee Business Building. 

FilmFest 2005: Milestones will premiere at the Paramount Theatre, Friday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. Twelve top professionals in the entertainment and media industries, including eight ACU alumni, will judge the films. The judges include a Pulitzer Prize winner, a story artist for Pixar Animation studios, and a production designer, in addition to music, technology and media professionals.

Tickets for the premiere and the symposium are $3 for each event and are available in the McGlothlin Campus Center ticket windows.  Mail-in order forms are also available at  For more information, contact Doug Darby at 325-674-2981 or at

Judges for FilmFest 2005:  Milestones:

  • Stephen Bailey ('92) – Bailey serves as the worship minister at Lake Cities Church of Christ in Trophy Club.  Previously, he spent eight years at Reel FX – Creative Studios where he helped produce special effects and 3-D animation for television and film.  His credits include dozens of national and international commercials, television shows and feature films, including Spy Kids 2.  
  • Randy Brewer ('93) – Brewer is producer and founder of Revolution Pictures in Nashville, Tenn.  Revolution represents some of the top talent in the creative industry, including directors who specialize in TV spots, corporate imaging, music videos, TV programming, animation and special effects.  Revolution’s directors and producers have won more than 18 Telly Awards; 14 Emmy Award nominations and five Emmy Awards; two Billboard Magazine Awards; seven Dove Award nominations and one Dove Award; a BDA Award; and MTV’s Indie Music Video of the Year.
  • Nelson Coates ('84) – Coates is a production designer for stage and screen.  He has a long-standing association with filmmaker Gary Fleder, with whom he worked on the films Don’t Say a Word, Imposter, Kiss the Girls, Things To Do in Denver When You're Dead (Cannes Film Festival, 1995) and Runaway Jury.  Additional film credits include David Koepp's Stir of Echoes, Richard LaGravanese's Living Out Loud (featured in a special exhibition on film design during the 1998 Bienalé de Firenzé in Milan), CB4, Murder at 1600, Three of Hearts, Blank Check, Universal Soldier, Disturbing Behavior, and the designs for the directorial debuts of four noted actors -- Kevin Spacey, Angelica Huston, Bill Paxton and Denzel Washington. Coates received an Emmy nomination for miniseries production design and several Forum Awards.
  • Rob Gibbs – Gibbs is a story artist for Pixar Animation Studios.  He began work in the story department during the making of Pixar's Golden Globe winning film Toy Story 2.  In addition, Gibbs was involved with the critically acclaimed Finding Nemo and Monsters, Inc., as well as the upcoming feature Cars.  Prior to his work at Pixar, Gibbs worked for Disney Feature Animation on a variety of films, including Pocahontas, Dinosaur and Atlantis.
  • Kurt Heinecke – Heinecke is a composer and arranger with Big Idea, Inc. and is best known for his scoring, writing, arranging, performing and recording of the music for the award-winning VeggieTales video series.  The VeggieTales series has become the most successful children’s brand in the Christian market, selling more than 40 million videos, 5 million CDs and garnering Heinecke six Dove Awards. 
  • Les Hunter ('86) – Hunter is a freelance visual effects producer and a veteran of computer animation and special effects.  He has worked on several films such as The Rundown, and most recently, Serenity for Universal Pictures and director Joss Whedon.  Prior to freelancing in Los Angeles, Hunter worked for 11 years in the Bay area with Pacific Data Images, now known as PDI/Dreamworks.  Hunter has worked with directors Steven Spielberg and Robert Redford on projects such as Minority Report, A.I., and The Legend of Baggar Vance.  Before working in film, Hunter produced effects for commercials and broadcast television, including the Emmy-winning Monday Night Football crashing helmets graphics package.
  • David Leeson ('78) – Leeson has been a senior staff photographer with the Dallas Morning News since 1984. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 2004 for his breaking news photography during the Iraq war and was a Pulitzer finalist in 1986, 1990 and 1995.  In addition to still photography, Leeson has an acclaimed documentary film, Dust to Dust, about the war in Iraq and has recently been developing ways for newspaper, TV and Web technologies to converge in the newsroom. His assignments have included coverage of the FDN "Freedom Fighters" in their war against the former Marxist Sandinista government in Nicaragua, El Salvador presidential elections, civil unrest in Panama and Peru, Colombian drug wars, and two months spent in 1985 covering the apartheid in South Africa.  Leeson received the Robert F. Kennedy Award for distinguished reporting on the lives of the disadvantaged. 
  • Vonn Miller – Miller is an account executive for higher education with Apple Computers, Inc.  He provides demonstrations of a range of Apple technology, hardware and software.  Miller is based in the Dallas area and covers a number of institutions of higher learning.  
  • Martin Perry ('83) – Perry is production manager and director of corporate production at Phillips Productions, Inc. in Dallas.  His credits include the TV series "Texas Country Reporter" and ACU's award-winning campaign films.  Perry has also earned Telly awards and the Worldfest Houston International award, as well as Emmys. 
  • Brandon Scott Thomas ('92) – Thomas is producer and singer for ZOE Worship and a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.  He has performed numerous recordings for Nashville record labels on Dove and Grammy Award-nominated recordings.  Thomas serves as worship leader at the Otter Creek Church and leads a ministry of the arts for more than 100 gifted people. 
  • Rob Thomas – Thomas is a producer and founder of Ignitor Media Group.  The company's signature series, Ignitor Videos, are teaching resources that declare Biblical truth.  The clips last anywhere from one to five minutes and are designed for multiple settings from large church or conference gatherings to intimate small group discussions.  Ignitor Videos, Volume 2 was nominated for Outreach Magazine's Best Electronic Media Resources 2004.  The first volume of the series was nominated in 2003. 


If you are a member of the media who would like more information about this release, please contact Wendy Kilmer, director of public relations.

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