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The Trick or Treat Film Fest

meet our killer judging panel!

Chris McKay

Chris McKay, an award-winning American filmmaker, boasts an impressive array of talents as a sought after director, producer, editor, and animator. Renowned for his creative prowess, he has left an indelible mark with his work, including directing and editing three seasons of the iconic series Robot Chicken and two seasons of Moral Orel. McKay’s feature directorial debut with The Lego Batman Movie, captivated audiences with his innovative storytelling and animation skills. His directorial repertoire also includes the enthralling The Tomorrow War. Notably, his latest project is thrilling audiences once again, an action-packed comedy horror film titled Renfield, featuring a stellar cast that includes the likes of Nic Cage, Awkwafina, and Nicholas Hoult.

Tom Luse is a highly accomplished, award-winning film producer known for his extensive work in both television and cinema. He is most recognized as producer of the acclaimed AMC series, The Walking Dead.

He embarked on his entertainment journey in 1982 with Who’s Killing the Cities, the starting point of a prolific career encompassing over 30 films and TV series.

Luse’s filmography boasts notable works like Blue River, Remember the Titans, Drumline, One Tree Hill, Jeepers Creepers, and its sequel Jeepers Creepers 2. His influence extends to television with contributions to series such as Everwood, Past Life, and The Client.

He won the prestigious AFI Award for Television Program of the Year with The Walking Dead, establishing him as an industry standout. His unwavering passion for storytelling and commitment to excellence have firmly established him as a respected figure in the production world!

Tom Luse

Gabino Iglesias, a multi-talented writer, journalist, professor, and literary critic, is the celebrated author behind the critically acclaimed and award-winning novels Zero Saints and Coyote Songs.

Iglesias’ compelling nonfiction has appeared in esteemed publications, including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Electric Literature, LitReactor, NPR, Publishers Weekly, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Criminal Element, Mystery Tribune, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Notably, he was honored with the prestigious 2022 Bram Stoker Award for his exceptional work, The Devil Takes You Home. Iglesias has served as a juror for esteemed literary awards, including the Shirley Jackson Awards twice and the Millions Tournament of Books. He is also an esteemed member of esteemed literary organizations, including the Horror Writers Association, the Mystery Writers of America, and the National Book Critics Circle.

Gabino Iglesias

Michael Burnett

Meet Michael Burnett, a two-time Emmy-nominated makeup artist with over three decades of experience in film, TV, and the hauntingly creative haunt industries.

He’s collaborated with Oscar-winning makeup artists like Rick Baker, Greg Cannom, and Michael Westmore and his impressive filmography includes projects such as Universal Soldier, Star Trek Enterprise, Little Monsters, Cocoon, The Wire, Friday the 13th TV Series, The Blob, Rockula, Lost Highway, Harry and the Hendersons, Swamp Thing, Single White Female, The Ben Stiller Show, and Nine Inch Nails’ music video for Happiness in Slavery.

Michael’s standout achievement includes 17 years at Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights, where he designed spine-chilling Icons like The Story Teller and reinvented Jack. He later served as the Director of Design & Development at FrightNight Studios, leaving an indelible mark in motion pictures, TV, and theme parks like Busch Gardens, Universal Studios, and Disney!

Jessica Fox-Thigpen honed her casting expertise in the mid-1980s with Mick Dowd Casting in Los Angeles. There, she excelled in selecting actors for high-profile campaigns and contributed to casting Orion Pictures’ Hoosiers alongside Gene Hackman. Managing accounts for Toyota, 7-Up, Bud Light, AT&T, Cheerios, Maybelline, Ford, and more, she showcased exceptional skills.

In 2015, Jessica founded Fox Casting in Atlanta, quickly becoming the go-to hub for principal talent. Recent projects include TV series like To Catch a Killer, Your Worst Nightmare, Swamp Murders, and Dead Silent for Investigation Discovery, and the feature Twisted Tenant by MarVista Entertainment.

Jessica is an active Casting Society of America member and champions actors and client dedication, ensuring a perfect fit for every project!

Jessica Fox

Jayson Warner Smith

Jayson Warner Smith is a versatile American actor and esteemed acting coach renowned for his compelling portrayals in both TV and film. Audiences remember him for his role as Gavin in the gripping television series The Walking Dead, his portrayal of Wendall Jelks in Sundance TV’s Rectify, and his captivating performance as Dean in the CW’s hit show The Vampire Diaries.

His filmography includes notable appearances in projects such as the 2011 remake of Footloose, the Tom Cruise-led American Made, Anchorman II, 99 Homes, Mississippi Grind, 42 with the late Chadwick Boseman, Sleepy Hollow, The Devil to Pay, Deep Blue Sea, The Birth of a Nation, Christine, and the thrilling Mena.

With his dynamic range and dedication to his craft, Jayson Warner Smith continues to captivate audiences while significantly contributing to the world of acting and entertainment!

Shaughnessy Hare

Shaughnessy Hare, a seasoned sound designer and re-recording mixer with an impressive two-decade career in film and television, boasts two Primetime Emmy nominations. In 2020, he was recognized for Outstanding Sound Editing for HBO’s Westworld, and in 2017, he received a nomination for Starz’s Black Sails. His sonic expertise has left a mark on both small and large screens, with notable projects including Jumanji, Lost in Space, Friday Night Lights, The Dukes of Hazzard, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Jack Ryan, The Rundown, Dreamcatcher, The Orville, Beerfest, Curious George, Me, You and Everyone We Know, About a Boy, Hancock, Battleship, Bad Teacher, Booksmart, 42, Ali, and Jane the Virgin.

With an impressive body of work and a deep passion for his craft, Shaughnessy Hare continues to contribute his exceptional talents to the world of entertainment.

Onye Eme-Akwari

Onye Eme-Akwari, a multi-talented Nigerian-born artist, began his musical journey at age 4, mastering piano and drums while drawing inspiration from church choir performances. His passion for music took him across the globe, touring with musical ensembles throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia.

Onye’s acting career boasts appearances in commercials, guest star, and recurring roles on CBS, FOX, USA, Netflix, HBO, BET, and more. He has also played pivotal leading and supporting roles in films by notable creators like Spike Lee, Warner Brothers, and TVOne. His credits include Dead Ringers, New Amsterdam, Outer Banks, Black Adam, Son of the South, Will Trent, Random Acts of Flyness, The Walking Dead, East New York, Echoes, Bob Hearts Abishola, Dead of Night, and Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings.

Beyond his impressive acting achievements, Onye holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Music and Entertainment Business. He further solidified his academic prowess with a Master’s in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. When he’s not mesmerizing audiences with his performances, you can find him teaching and coaching actors in his home base of Atlanta.

Donald Flynn

Donald Flynn, a seasoned professional, has witnessed the full spectrum of horrific experiences during his illustrious career as a Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) trooper and evidence custodian. With over two decades of law enforcement service, he has been a firsthand witness to life’s harsh realities and the darker aspects of the human condition.

As a FHP trooper, Donald has confronted the challenges of maintaining safety on our highways, dealing with accidents, emergencies, tragedies, and death gaining a deep understanding of life’s stark realities. As an evidence custodian, he has played a pivotal role in upholding justice by preserving critical evidence in criminal investigations.

In the demanding realm of law enforcement, he stands as a beacon of strength, knowledge, and experience. His journey serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by those dedicated to safeguarding society from life’s real horrors.