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2020 Fine Cut Judge Bios

Tim Cruz

Tim Cruz 

Tim Cruz is a Filipino American director producer. His feature film credits include “Secrets at the Lake” (Murder in the Suburbs) and “Starting Up Love.” Tim has directed dozens of music videos and promos that have premiered on MTV, VH1 and Fuse. Some notable artists he has worked with include Andra Day, Sabi, Jason Derulo, Bruno Mars, Bon Jovi, 50 Cent and Lady Gaga. His commercials and branded content have garnered numerous awards accumulating millions of views. Some notable campaigns include Apple Music, J Date/Christian Mingle, Google and Mattel. Tim was a fellow of the Producer’s Guild of America Diversity Program in 2016 and an alumnus of NYU’s Future Filmmakers Workshop.  He invests his free time mentoring up and coming filmmakers from FilAm Creative and from underrepresented communities. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dan Evans

Dan Evans 

Dan Evans III is a failed rocket scientist. After studying astrophysics at UC Berkeley, he went on to break his mother’s heart by deciding to pursue his truest love: television.    

His current path started with helping to build the fledgling WB Network. Addicted to the world of the television executive, Evans has gone on to work for most of the major players in TV, including Warner Bros., Disney, Nickelodeon, Fox, The Hub and Lifetime. He has served as a governor for the TV Academy for five terms, sitting on many of the standing committees and chairing the Diversity Committee. He found his dream job as vice president of current programming of DC Entertainment. Working with WBTV and talents like Greg Berlanti and Bruno Heller, he is on pace to help create 1000 hours of quality comic-book based television. His only career fear is dying while lecturing a writer about how many Robins have worked for Batman. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pete Hammond

Pete Hammond 

Pete Hammond is currently the chief film critic for Deadline Hollywood. For the past nine years he has also been awards editor and columnist for Deadline where he covers the Oscar and Emmy Seasons. He came to Deadline from the Los Angeles Times where he covered the awards seasons for The Envelope and L.A. Times.com. He is widely considered to be one of the preeminent awards season analysts for film and television. 

During his career, he has also served as film critic or MovieLine, Boxoffice Magazine, Backstage, Hollywood.com and Maxim, as well as for Leonard Maltin’s annual Movie Guide for two decades.  

In addition to writing, Pete is also the host of the extremely popular year-round KCET Cinema Series and UCLA Extension’s Sneak Preview Winter Session, where he screens a selection of films prior to their theatrical release and interviews the filmmakers. Additionally, he hosts KCET’s weekly television series, “Must See Movies,” where he introduces films with insightful commentary. He was recently featured on the CNN series, “The Movies,” produced by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman.  

He has held producing positions at Entertainment Tonight, Extra,  Access Hollywood, The Arsenio Hall Show, The Martin Short Show and AMC Network. 

Hammond is also the recipient of five Emmy nominations for his television writing and is the winner of the 1996 & 2013 Publicists Guild of America’s Press Award and is only the second journalist in the organization’s 50-year history to receive the award twice. 

 

 

 

Monica Lago-Kaytis

Monica Lago-Kaytis 

Producer Monica Lago-Kaytis recently wrapped production on the Netflix feature “The Christmas Chronicles” with Chris Columbus and starring Kurt Russell. This project marks the first feature of her newly created production company, Frogbot Films, formed with her partner, veteran animator and director Clay Kaytis. Frogbot Films is actively developing existing and original properties for live-action and animation production. Born in Hollywood and raised in Los Angeles, Monica Lago-Kaytisg graduated from Cal State Los Angeles with a degree in international business marketing. Lago-Kaytis joined Walt Disney Animation Studios for the film “Pocahontas” in 1994 and went on to work in various production roles on traditional, CG and stereoscopic animated films including “Hercules,” “Meet the Robinsons” and “The Princess and the Frog.” She served as associate producer on “Wreck-It Ralph” and “Zootopia.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yolonda Ross

Yolonda Ross 

Yolonda Ross (actress/writer/director/producer) is a two-time Film Independent Spirit Award nominee and Gotham Award winner for her feature film debut as a leading actress in HBO’s “Stranger Inside” and John Sayles’ “Go for Sisters.” Ross, a native of Omaha, Nebraska is recognized from her wide range of work including the Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez film “Lila & Eve,” Angela Bassett’s “Whitney,” and Denzel Washington's “Antwone Fisher.” In television, she's worked on “24,” “Law and Order” and Pulitzer Prize winner David Mamet's “The Unit.” Mamet wrote the part for her himself. The two teamed up again on HBO's “Phil Spector.” Ross has recurred as “Claudia” on “How to Get Away with Murder,” portrayed the memorable Ms. Green in the Baz Luhrmann/Netflix series, “The Get Down” and played a documentary filmmaker in HBO's “Treme,” which inspired her to step behind the camera for her directorial debut, “Breaking Night,” which aired on VH1 Classics. Ross is also a member of New York's famed Labyrinth Theater Company. Her upcoming projects include “Bull” opposite Rob Morgan and season three of the critically-acclaimed Lena Waithe Showtime drama, “The Chi,” where Yolonda is cast regular Jada Washington. She will be making her feature film directorial debut with her romantic drama, “Scenes from Our Marriage,” which was chosen for Film Independent’s 2018 Fast Track Lab and the Cannes Marche’ du Film Producers workshop. 

 

 

 

 

Michael Schneider

Michael Schneider 

Michael Schneider has been covering the business of television for more than 25 years — most of that time at Variety, where he's currently a senior editor. He also hosts "Screengrab," a weekly segment about the TV industry, for Los Angeles public radio station KCRW. He was previously Executive Editor at IndieWire; the Chief Content Officer for TV Guide Magazine; and TV Editor at Variety and Daily Variety. Mike regularly moderates industry and TV show panels at events including Comic-Con, PaleyFest, HRTS, NATPE and others, and once won a staring contest with Jon Hamm on the Dolby Theatre stage. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Renee Tajima-Peña | Claudia Rocha

Renee Tajima-Peña 

Renee Tajima-Peña is an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker whose work focuses on communities of color, immigration, gender and social justice. She is series producer of “Asian Americans,” the first ever docuseries on Asian American history. Her previous films include “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” “My America … Or Honk if You Love Buddha,” “Labor Women,” “Skate Manzanar,” The New Americans” and “No Más Bebés.” She recently launched the Building History 3.0 project, an interactive exploration of Japanese American WWII history through Minecraft. Her films have screened at the Cannes, SXSW, Sundance, and Toronto international film festivals and at the Whitney Biennial. She has been awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship, U.S.A Broad Fellowship and the Alpert Award in the Arts for Film/Video. She is professor of Asian American studies and holds an endowed chair in Japanese American studies at UCLA. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Josh Welsh

Josh Welsh 

As President of Film Independent, Josh Welsh oversees all programs and operations, spanning education and artist development, film exhibition events and the Film Independent Spirit Awards — the organization’s largest fundraiser. Since he became president in 2012, the nonprofit has grown significantly, including a more than 100% increase in membership and an expanded commitment to international programs. Over the last five years, Film Independent has deepened strategic partnerships with studios, NGOs and governments to increase international reach, most notably by partnering with the U.S. State Department on Global Media Makers. Prior to becoming president, Welsh was responsible for the overall design, strategic planning, implementation and growth of Film Independent’s artist development programs for over a decade. He has a Ph.D. in philosophy from Johns Hopkins University. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wendy Willis

Wendy Willis 

Wendy Willis, a seasoned creative producer, serves as the head of development for Six Point Harness.  She has worked as a creative producer in both features and television for over a decade, selling both comedies and dramas to FX, Comedy Central, CBS, HBO, Sundance, Fox, Adult Swim, TBS, Cartoon Network and Sony. Prior to joining Six Point Harness, Willis served as a development executive at Mosaic where she oversaw a slate of projects under a first-look deal at HBO while also spearheading the company’s first theater project with Crescendo Productions.  

Previously, Willis worked for Lorne Michaels at “Saturday Night Live” and at Mopo Productions, where she was a producer on the Oscar-winning short documentary, “Twin Towers.” She enjoys crappy TV sometimes, strong coffee and obsesses over what hair products might finally tame her crazy, curly mane. 

 

 

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