36-Hour Challenge Judges

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With up to $1,500 of cash prizes being awarded to the best teams, the judging process is of great importance, as are the industry professionals serving on the jury. 

Films can receive up to 10 stars in each of these categories:

Originality / Creativity ● Direction ● Writing ● Cinematography ● Performances
Production Value ● Pacing ● Structure ● Sound / Music ● Elements ● Timing 6 minutes

The 36-Hour Challenge Judges are: 

Taylor Kelsaw

Taylor Kelsaw

Taylor Kelsaw started his career in advertising as an intern for J. Walter Thompson Worldwide, one of the world’s oldest advertising agencies. Due to his impressive starting position, he was able to extend his expertise through webs of marketing professionals and eventually made a name for himself as a TV personality, business professional, and acting coach. Alongside his focus on advertising, Kelsaw studied acting in Los Angeles which provoked the development of his talent agency and led his occupation as an acting teacher in Okemos. In the past, he has worked on feature films such as I Robot, The Matrix Trilogy, and Spider-Man and television shows such as Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, and The Ellen Degeneres Show. He now holds the spot as the co-host of Show Biz Weekly on the Michigan Business Network.       

Deb Lake

Deb Lake

Deb Lake is the Executive Director of the Traverse City Film Festival (TCFF) and the two year-round art house theaters owned and operated by the festival, the State Theatre and Bijou by the Bay, founded and run by Oscar winning filmmaker Michael Moore. A Princeton University graduate with a history in the Grand Traverse region, her background in management, project coordination, communications and web design came in handy when she volunteered in the earliest days of the first TCFF. She has served on the leadership committee of the Art House Convergence, a national coalition of nonprofit movie theaters, and she is actively involved in downtown community efforts, serving on the Traverse City Arts Commission, Art Selection Panel, the DDA Parking Committee, and as chair of the Rotary Good Works Committee.
  

Jenell Leonard

Jenell Leonard

Jenell Leonard, although not a Michigan native, has proved her intense devotion to the well-being of the state for the past 12 years. In 2006, Leonard started her concentration in state government when she became involved with the House of Representatives. Since then she has regulated an array of House campaigns, worked alongside four State Representatives, and served as a vital component in a House leadership election. She is largely responsible for pushing towards the approval of several policies put in place by the Snyder Administration; some of these include the drawings for another bridge to Canada and bettering Autism insurance. Jenell, now the freshly appointed Director of the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office, actively works towards preserving Michigan’s film incentive program while preaching the importance of the Michigan Film Office altogether.  

Liz Nolan is an experienced actress and model from the Michigan area. She graduated from Western Michigan University and is well-intertwined with the local film industry. This past year, Nolan was nominated for an Eclipse Award for Best Actor in the film Two For The Show.  She has graced the screen in several films focused in Grand Rapids; some of which have screened in the Grand Rapids Film Festival in past years.  

Liz Nolan

Liz Nolan

Roy Wallace

Roy Wallace

Roy Wallace has had a love for music since the young age of four. He played in several symphonies throughout his youth in Grand Rapids and continued on to study the art in college.  After graduating with a major in Recording Technology, Wallace worked with various companies to provide sound design for independent films, TV commercials, and various public events.  In 2010, he was credited for unique sound mixing in the film The Genesis Code (filmed in Grand Rapids). This local artist ended up purchasing the company he had spent 10 years working for, River City Studios, from the original owners in 2012. Since then, he has worked on the improvement and expansion of the company and strives to promote creative collaboration within the music business.