2019 FILMFEST JUDGES
Screenwriter, The PlayCrafters Group
James Breckenridge has worked in the entertainment industry for over 30 years. In 1995, his years of professional training and experience culminated in the founding of The PlayCrafters Group. As its Director, he specializes in helping writers from all over the country develop producible scripts for motion pictures, television and theatre. His work focuses on helping writers target the essential elements of their stories to achieve results that specifically serve their original vision. He has been rated in the Top Ten of Script Consultants from around the country and recommended as the Best of the Best Buys in Creative Screenwriting Magazine’s review of leading script consultants.
In addition to private classes, coachings and consultations, Mr. Breckenridge has been a featured speaker at The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference, The Algonquin Film Festival, The Bucks Fever FilmFest and has presented seminars at the SCREENWRITING EXPO in Los Angeles, California where he was named “Star Speaker.” Mr. Breckenridge has served on the Theatrical Motion Pictures Nominating Committee for the Screen Actors Guild Awards and as a Judge for the Freestyle Repertory Theater in New York City, Juror for The Philadelphia Film Festival’s Feature Film Competition, Juror for the American Independents category for the Philadelphia Film Festival/Cinefest as well as the Bucks Fever FilmFest.
Trained for the professional theatre, Mr. Breckenridge received his Master of Fine Arts degree from Temple University in Philadelphia. Over the years, he has performed professionally on radio, television, film and on stage. His work has taken him to Europe twice, once touring Germany and Italy, and a second time, appearing at The Edinburgh Festival in Scotland and in London. He currently maintains active memberships with both The Actors’ Equity Association and the SAG-AFTRA Union.
Manager Of Government Affairs, Comcast
Under Duchess Of Humilitation, Order Of The Dissident Peanut Gallery
Janet has been with Comcast for more years that she can count, owing to the limits imposed by having just ten fingers. She has been with the community and government affairs department for seven years. In this capacity, Janet has facilitated Comcast Cares Day projects, overseen the system’s United Way campaign, and organized food drives, toy drives, and blood drives. She is deftly avoided by her co-workers, due to the fact that she constantly pesters them for their money, their time, and their blood. Janet also serves as a local producer for Comcast Newsmakers, a five-minute news segment that airs on CNN Headline News at :24 and :54 minutes past the hour for Comcast subscribers.
Janet’s involvement with the Bucks Fever FilmFest dates back to 2006, when Comcast first partnered with the festival to offer winners the opportunity to be featured On Demand. To date, Bucks Fever Film Fest films have been viewed more than 17,500 times. Janet co-chaired the FilmFest for two years and continues to serve as an enthusiastic, albeit noisy and somewhat disruptive, committee member.
As the founding member of the Order of the Dissident Peanut Gallery, Janet’s areas of expertise include pointing and laughing, snarky comments, and sarcastic emails. She enjoys photos of people in weird outfits who don’t seem to know any better, signs with typographical errors, and videos featuring people falling down. If your film incorporates all of these elements, you are virtually guaranteed a spot in the festival.**
**Please note: Janet Steiner’s preferences do not necessarily reflect the preferences of the other judges and are subject to change at a moment’s notice. Additionally, Janet Steiner is unable to guarantee anyone a spot in the festival, no matter how important she might think she is.
Lauren has been with the County Theater for over six years. Along with overseeing membership for the County Theater, she oversees membership for Renew Theaters’ three other historic art house movie theaters: the Ambler Theater, Hiway Theater, and Princeton Garden Theatre. The combined membership department serves over 18,000 members. She holds a B.A. in Theatre Arts with a focus on Acting and Directing from DeSales University. Lauren has previously worked both in administration as well as costume construction and wardrobe for the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. She has also had some firsthand experience as part of an independent film crew.
This is Lauren’s first year with the FilmFest and very honored to be included among the judges.
Director of development, County Theater, Doylestown, PA
Jim has been with the County Theater since 1995, when he was hired to manage the theater’s capital campaign to buy the theater and undergo its first major renovation in over 50 years. After the campaign, Jim remained with the County Theater where he is responsible for raising the theater’s unearned income. The theater’s membership has grown from 700 to over 4,200 members since those early days.
With the success of the County Theater, Jim has been able to “ride the wave” and assist in the birth of the Ambler Theater, Ambler PA, the Hiway Theater in Jenkintown, PA and most recently the Princeton Garden Theatre in Princeton, NJ. All of the theaters (managed by Renew Theaters, Inc.) maintain a full schedule of films, lectures, discussion groups, filmmaker appearances and other special events throughout the year specific to each community. Jim has been called upon by theater owners nation-wide to offer advice for community leaders who want to save their “home town theaters.”
One of Jim’s favorite local events is the Bucks Fever FilmFest, now in its 20th year. From the beginning, education and the promotion of the art of filmmaking for filmmakers and audiences has been one of Jim’s passions.
Jim chaired the FilmFest committee for several years and continues to be an active member, most notably as the master of ceremonies at each year’s screenings, keeping the evening moving for the audience. He can be seen sharing supportive words with the younger film students and making sure that they are connected with other members of the film community in attendance.
Jim is honored to be one of this year’s judges, having programmed from over 700 film submissions since the short film competition began in 2001.
Phillip studied Film & Media Arts at Temple University where his short film, WORDS OF ATONEMENT, won Best Undergraduate Film during his freshmen year. His Senior Thesis film, THE ROAD TO JERICHO, won the Audience Award for its premiere at The National Film Festival for Talented Youth in Seattle, Washington. The pitch for his first feature film, THE HONEYMOON PHASE, was a top five finalist in 2017’s Project Greenlight and Shudder TV REEL FEAR HORROR CONTEST. As a result, Phillip was chosen to be a fellow in the 2017 Shudder Labs, hosted by AMC Networks. THE HONEYMOON PHASE completed principle photography in February 2018 and is currently in Post Production. Phillip’s professional goal is to tell meaningful stories that challenge society’s beliefs and capture the human condition. His mission is to make you feel an emotional connection to the rest of the audience, because whether your life is like a drama, comedy, or horror film, you are never alone.
When he’s not working at his day job as a digital producer for a video marketing agency, he produces his own film projects and runs an independent film funding platform at thefilmfund.co. His award-winning film, “Son of Blackbeard,” is currently on the festival circuit and will be released online soon. He enjoys dark comedies and fish tacos. Read more about him at his website, thomasverdi.com.