Jeff Salyer Headshot 2015.jpg

MARIKA ADAIR has always enjoyed watching and talking about movies, so when she found out she could do so in college, she had to go to the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is the Programming Director for the Visions Film Festival & Conference, UNCW’s undergraduate-run event, this year and hopes that she can continue to work in this industry after she graduates in the spring. On top of her busy film-oriented life, she also enjoys bullet journaling, being outdoors and spending time with friends and family.


MARIA AKAY served as the Director and Narrative Feature Film Curator for the NYC Independent Film Festival for three years. She worked on the publicity team for the NYC theatrical release of Canadian documentary REVOLUTION and as the production coordinator for the docu-series BEYOND MOSCOW. Maria’s speaking engagements include sitting as a panelist at the 2018 Nasty Women Unite Festival. She is a fierce advocate for the minority narrative, giving a voice to the female, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ communities.



ANDREW BLACK is a lecturer in mass media at Valdosta State University and also serves as the Program Director for the South Georgia Film Festival.  His specialties are in media production and media law.


JASON BROWN teaches producing and media economics at Valdosta State University and is the South Georgia Film Festival director. Graduate of Hollins University and UNC-Greensboro film programs, Jason produced the short film MIRACLE BOY, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival, and is completing a documentary about John Sayles’ film MATEWAN.



MARK BROWN is director of communications for Knoxville’s FMB Advertising. He has extensive experience in public relations, marketing, journalism and higher education, having served Carson-Newman University in those and related capacities for more than two decades. He holds degrees in journalism, English and theology and has taught as an adjunct professor in those disciplines for several years. 



KRISTEN DYE  is a producer, actress, and director based out of Knoxville, Tennessee. She has worked on countless television shows, films, and commercials.  Kristen has helped produce television shows for various networks, including A&E, Oxygen, Investigation Discovery, the DIY Network, Great American Country, and INSP.  She also produced and directed the award winning documentary feature film "Television Pioneer: The Story of Ross K. Bagwell, Sr."


JEROD RA'DEL HOLLYFIELD is a filmmaker and professor. His short, “Goodfriends”, screened at several festivals and was endorsed by disability organizations. He also created The Assisted Stories Project, a webseries featuring Southern senior citizens. His book, Framing Empire: Adaptations of Victorian Literature in Hollywood will be released in November.


JOEL KNAIN is a director, editor, producer and writer located in Mobile, Alabama.  His path to film began in the early 90’s creating shorts and documentary films.  He developed a passion for film that didn’t hit its stride until working on a national commercial just after Hurricane Katrina which devastated much of the Gulf Coast.  He has worked in the various stages of production since then in a variety of productions including live sports, commercials, reality shows and cinematic films.  In 2016, he founded the Azalea Film Festival to help filmmakers achieve their goals while providing proceeds from the festival to help children and their families who are affected by the struggles with autism.  Mr. Knain is the president of Southcoast Productions and resides in Mobile, Alabama with his wife Yuliya and son, Phillip.


SAMANTHA KOLESNICK is an award-winning writer and filmmaker living in Pennsylvania. She writes, directs and produces at her company, Above the Line Artistry. Samantha is one of the co-founders and directors of the Women in Horror Film Festival, a festival showcasing women creatives in genre filmmaking. 


MYLES MATSUNO Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, Matsuno has had the opportunity to lead efforts in Technical Directing for The Academy Awards, ABC’s hit television show Dancing with the Stars, NBA Finals, Country Music Awards, American Music Awards, and most of ABC’s primetime programming. Since 2010, Matsuno has competed and won several awards throughout film festivals around the country. His most recent works include directing an online pilot for a Lifetime series called called “Fall into Me”. A music video for an off-Broadway production titled “Slingin’ the Slang”. A short film titled “Ella”, which was apart of the prestigious Los Angeles Shorts Fest 12’, Big Bear International Film Fest 13’, Palm Spring Short Film Festival 2012. He is currently working several feature films that are in progress titled “Christmas in July”, “His/Hers”, and a short documentary based on the Japanese Internment Camps.

LARRY RICHMAN covered over 200 festivals as a journalist before becoming a festival director. Most recently, he ran the Palm Beach International Film Festival for five years. He helped launch and is now entering his third year as Artistic Director of the Boynton Beach Short Film Festival. He is a creative consultant to film festivals nationwide.


DR. JEFF SALYER is the Director of Media and Marketing at Lee University in Cleveland, TN, where he is also an Assistant Professor of Communication. He teaches courses in production and film history. Jeff has produced numerous short films that have screened in the L.A. Shorts, L.A. Indie, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville Film Festivals, winning several awards, including Best Tennessee Short and the Audience Award at the 2016 Knoxville Film Festival. Jeff just completed production on the feature film, Christmas in July.


TODD TURPIN is an Associate Director of University Relations at Carson-Newman University, the marketing division of the university. Todd is also Owner/VP for Sales & Marketing for Logistics Productions LLC, a documentary film/photo company specializing in large-scale transitions of equipment throughout the USA. He is also owner/operator of Social Media Spire providing digital design and social media services. In addition, Todd’s company FamVid provides video services for weddings, anniversaries, births, birthdays, etc. Todd holds a degree in Graphic Design from Carson-Newman and spent 6 years in the US Air Force and was deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.


HUNTER WEST is a filmmaker from Jonesboro, Arkansas. He has directed several award-winning shorts and commercials. His debut feature film "Ridge Runners" premiered at the 2016 Knoxville Film Festival and was chosen Audience Favorite. It was acquired by Indican Pictures and distributed by Lionsgate this past year. He is married to his wife Debbie and has two children, Ellie and Jude.