Meet the Judges

Don Smith

Don Smith – Senior Designer

Since his graduation from California Institute of the Arts, Don has enjoyed a varied career producing visuals for the entertainment industry.

As a senior designer for Digital Productions and Whitney-Demos, Don helped
to create over 50 commercials for such clients as TRW, Rockwell, Mercedes
Benz and Samsung. Don also worked on a Mick Jagger music video and feature films such as Lorimar’s ‘The Last Starfighter’, MGM/UA’s ‘2010’ and Tri-Star’s ‘Labyrinth’. While at Digital Productions, the company received a Special Achievement Academy Award for its work in Special Effects and his work received numerous film festival awards and a Clio for Outstanding Commercial.

In his twenty-six year career, Don has been an animator, art director, fine artist, scenic designer and playwright. For the last sixteen years, he has also been a teacher of animation and multimedia at many Southern California colleges, before settling down as a full-time instructor and department Chair of Multimedia at Mt. San Jacinto College.


Byron Fry

Byron Fry – Composer

Byron Fry is a composer, arranger, orchestrator, producer, studio musician and educator in the L.A. music industry. His credits span work in every genre with numerous #1-hit and grammy-winning artists and multi-platinum producers, over 2 dozen hours of footage scored for film and TV, arranging and playing on innumerable records, as well as touring through dozens of countries.

Trained in composing & arranging by Dick Grove and Sammy Nestico, he continues to get commissions to compose for orchestras and large ensembles, and produces artists in every genre on an ongoing, free-lance basis. As an educator, Byron has taught hundreds at schools and colleges as faculty, as a clinician, and as a Contract Artist for the State of California.

Lisa Cabrera

Lisa Cabrera - Digifest Judge Lisa Cabrera is a life-long, award-winning artist and picture framer with twenty-eight years of experience. She graduated from Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, and was exposed to many types of art, styles, techniques, and instructors. She went to Cal State University Fullerton and received a B.F.A. in Art specializing in Illustration. While in college, Ms. Cabrera learned to customize picture frames, which has heavily influenced her work; lending her own style to her framing to accentuate her artwork. Ms. Cabrera maintained a small art gallery and studio in the Pomona Arts Colony from 2006 to 2014 and participated regularly in the Pomona Second Saturday Art Walks. She relocated to Lake Elsinore 2014 and continues to exhibit her artwork in venues, exhibitions, and art fairs. Up until recently, she worked with STUDIO 395, an arts non-profit in Lake Elsinore. She currently freelances her artwork and framing, and takes commissions and custom orders for both. Email: Website: Facebook: Lisa Cabrera Lake Elsinore Instagram: @framegal13


Pryde Pierce

Pryde Pierce – Filmmaker, actor, & videographer.

Pryde Pierce is an award-winning independent filmmaker, actor, and videographer. He has starred in productions of Shakespeare and worked with Fortune 500 companies, and celebrities. He has been awarded for his writing, directing, cinematography, acting, and editing; including winning a “Best Actor” award when his short film “Hemorrhage” screened at the Directors Guild of America in the 48 Film Festival. Most recently, he worked on the upcoming film Shriver starring Michael Shannon and Kate Hudson, and appeared (uncredited) in the Sundance film “Pleasure” by Ninja Thyberg. He taught Digital Filmmaking to underprivileged students for the non-profit organization LJR Arts Academy. He sits on the Board of Directors for the Full Circle Players theater company in Riverside, and is on the Advisory Board for the film program at San Bernardino Valley College.

Rachel Nee-Hall

Rachel Nee - Director & Producer   Emmy nominated Director and Producer, and member of the Directors Guild of America for nearly 20 years. Rachel has directed and produced countless television shows, including Dr. Phil, Entertainment Tonight, The New Ricki Lake Show, The Doctors, and Iyanla; Fix My Life for The Oprah Winfrey Network. In addition to directing, Rachel is a skilled cinematographer and editor. In 2016, Rachel produced, shot, and edited a full-length documentary on child trafficking in Nigeria, The Boy They Called Bizarre, an official selection of the Faith and Family International Film Festival. Before that, she produced and shot The award-winning documentary short The Final Cut, shot in Senegal on abolishing female genital cutting. Rachel also spent a decade in front of the camera as an Emmy nominated news anchor, reporter, and producer for CBS owned and operated news stations across the country.


Cathy Stevenson

Born and raised in New York City sparked Cathy’s life-long passion for theater. After traveling extensively she moved to Southern California where she produced art shows, fashion shows and taught improv to teens and adults. She was the director of the Summer Camp plays at JDS for four years and then moved to Mexico, where she has a successful podcast about life, travels, theater, art and Baja California living.



John Larsen
John Larsen - Producer/Director & Creative Director

With over than 30 years of professional experience, John has been a Producer/Director and Creative Director/Designer for several award winning film, video and multi-media presentations for many corporate clients such as IBM, Intel, Xerox, Motorola, Toyota, Acura, Mazda, BMW, Bell Atlantic/Verizon, and Coors Brewing Company.
Heading up his own production consortium, HEADSWEST MEDIA DESIGN, John has also designed and directed film segments for several audience interactive attractions for both Universal Studios in Hollywood and Florida as well directing and designing extraordinary shows presented at Sea World, Florida, and at Disney’s EPCOT Center.
In 2012, John was a founding member and executive director of STUDIO 395, a non-profit arts collective based out of Lake Elsinore, California. STUDIO 395 was dedicated to creating public art projects to employ and support local artists.
Currently, in “active retirement”, John is a board member of the BLUES AGAINST HUNGER SOCIETY producing live shows and promotional/social media video segments in Baja California.

Photographer Jamie Kimble

Jamie Kimble

The artist behind the lens. Her love of photography stems back to her childhood having a natural obsession with photographing her pets, family and friends in their natural environment. Today, her passion continues to thrive as she explores nature and natural light with her two young daughters in search of finding the perfect location for her clients. Jamie utilizes minimal posing and editing techniques to ensure your quality time together is fun while capturing those raw candid moments.


Scott C. Sickles

Scott C. Sickles – Biracial Korean American writer SCOTT C. SICKLES (he/him) is an LGBTQ/neurodivergent/biracial Korean American writer. His plays have been performed in New York City, across the United States, and internationally in Canada, Australia, the UK, Hungary, Singapore, Indonesia, and Lebanon. The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis’s world premiere of Nonsense and Beauty garnered an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award and was an ATCA’s Steinberg Award finalist. Other full-lengths: Marianas Trench (O’Neill Finalist; 2020 Portland Stage Little Festival of the Unexpected, 2020 Road Theatre Company Summer Playwrights Festival), Pangea (O’Neill Semifinalist), The Known Universe (Mixed Asian Media Festival), Composure (Lambda Literary Award Finalist, Next Stage Press), Intellectuals (Smith & Kraus’s New Playwrights: Best Plays of 2007), Hairdresser on Fire (Next Stage Press), and Perfecting the Kiss (Capital Fringe). Published Short Plays include Beautiful Noises (Smith & Kraus), murmurs (Samuel French), Turtles and Bulldogs (Applause), Badger and Frame (Applause) and a Hungarian translation of The Other Half, and the anthologies, Demon Bitch Goddess and Playing on the Periphery: Monologues and Scenes for and About Queer Kids (both on Amazon). Sickles has received five consecutive Writers Guild of America Awards for the daytime drama General Hospital, and nine Emmy nominations. Member, Dramatists Guild, New Play Exchange.

David Schreiber

David Schreiber - MFA in Film/TV David Schreiber earned his Bachelor’s in Linguistic Philosophy from The University of California – Los Angeles, where he graduated summa cum laude. Upon being graduated, David entered New York University’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts and earned an MFA in Film/TV. David spent a number of years running motion picture story departments for several A-list filmmakers, including Mel Brooks and Spike Lee, an NYU classmate. While not developing screenplays into movies, David worked in the lighting and camera departments of numerous independent features, had several of his own screenplays produced– and eventually found a home teaching digital filmmaking to college students. After spending a number of years teaching various aspects of filmmaking, from screenwriting to directing to producing, David created and managed the film program of an arts college. While not working on his own material, David sees his calling as helping the next generation of movie-makers hone their skills and realize their cinematic dreams.

Keith Hanz

Keith began teaching at Mt. San Jacinto College in 1998 in Photography, Art, and Digital Media. As AssociateKeith Hanz – Photography Judge Professor, Director, and Department Chair of MSJC Photography since 2004 and 2006 respectively, he transitioned the program from traditional to the digital paradigm. While teaching at MSJC, Keith designed and built the state-of-the-art Pixel River studio. In that purpose-built space he is able to create his photographs and paintings, and is now ready to share that space with other professionals. Keith established the Pixel River Group (PRG), which is a constructive critique community of practice devoted to photographers honing their craft. Keith earned a BFA and MFA from the University of Illinois, has worked as a Professional studio & assignment photographer and painter since the early 1980’s, and has been active in training photography faculty through out the state of California. He has recently completed his second master’s degree (MET) in educational technology at Boise State University.

Gina Tuttle

Gina Tuttle’s credits include theatre, independent film, and guest star roles on television. She is also one of America’s top voice-over artists, and has been the voice of over 400 commercials- she was the ‘voice of the Oscars’ four times, working with Ellen Degeneres, Steve Martin, Don La Fontaine, and Hugh Jackman. Gina won an Emmy for the 2009 telecast. She graduated from Maile image, modeling, and acting school and has studied with Larry Moss and Wynn Handman.

Some of her other works include, The New Leave it to Beaver, Stereotypically Me, Unseen Debate, and voiceover work for companies such as Disney, Marvel, and Forbes.



Mario Ortiz Cinematographer

Mario Ortiz is a multiple Emmy award winning director of photography with over 20 years of commercial, corporate and motion picture production experience. He has a passion for camera movement that is evident in the body of his work. As a certified Steadicam/Glidecam operator and Jib owner operator, Mario has much to offer his clients.




Andrew Farago Author

Curator of San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum, the only museum of its kind in the western United States, with nearly two decades’ experience in museum operations, including curatorial duties, collections management, gallery preparation and maintenance, administration, public programming, and education. . He has written several books on pop culture, cartoons, and animation, including Batman: The Definitive History of The Dark Knight, The Looney Tunes Treasury, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History. He is recognized as an authority in the subject of comic art, and knowledgeable in a variety of disciplines throughout the field. He lives in Berkeley, California with his wife, cartoonist Shaenon K. Garrity, and his son, Robin.


A cartoonist and writer best known for the webcomics Narbonic and Skin Horse and the graphic novel The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor. She has over a decade of experience working with comic books that have earned awards and critical acclaim. Shaenon has advised companies on comic publishing, and spearheaded their entry into the field. Her next graphic novel, Steam, will be out from Simon & Schuster in 2023. She lives in Berkeley with a cat, a man and a boy.

James CrowleyJames Crowley

A fifteen year television animation veteran. James has worked on productions for Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney, Fox, and Netflix.  He has worked as a designer, animator, and storyboard Artist on various television shows, video games, and teaches painting classes from time to time.  James was born and raised in Southern California, loves tacos, baseball and most of all, his son.  🙂

John Williams

John Williams is a multiple Emmy winning Content Creator whose career spans nearly forty years generating media for companies across the United States. He is currently a producer at CBS8 in San Diego, and lives in Escondido with his wife Lisa and their two dogs Jethro and Amanda. His interests include photography, barbecue, HiFi, motorcycles, and travel.



Hannah Warner

As the owner and director of Temecula Music Teacher, LLC, Hannah Warren Music TeacherHannah takes on the role of creating programs, mentoring, creating music curriculum, supporting teachers, and aiding them in coming up with educational goals and tools for each student. She is a highly experienced performing pianist and teacher with 20+ years of experience performing and working with beginners to college preparatory music students and has many more years of experience accompanying and composing music. Hannah has a Bachelors of Music, Piano Performance degree from Wheaton College Conservatory of Music where she studied under Daniel Paul Horn. At Wheaton Hannah received intense classical training, studied theory, music history and composition. In addition to piano, she has taught music theory classes, theater, vocal coaching, band and choir, and is a highly motivated and energetic mentor to both students and teachers. She has been operating a music business in Temecula since 2001. As a transplant from Minnesota years ago, she has now adopted the fact that she loves being a California girl. Hannah and her wife Anna have four boys who are the joys of their lives. Kaden is 17, Elijah is 17 and Gabriel and Jonas are 14.



And More Judges to Come!!