2017 Meet Our Judges

Tally Shorts Film Festival gives out two judged awards every year. The Tally Shorts Favorite Award is given to the best overall film in the festival. The Florida Favorite Award is given to the best film originating from Florida. Each winner receives wonderful prizes.

We’d like to give a big thank you to our distinguished panel of judges who had the unenviable task of picking the lone winners from an extremely high quality grouping of films.

Mike Armstrong

Dr. Malcolm (Mike) Armstrong is a Professor in the Division of Communications and Humanities at Tallahassee Community College. He earned a Ph.D. in Mass Communication from Florida State University, and a Master of Arts and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Communication from California State University, Chico. He currently teaches communication and film courses at TCC. Dr. Armstrong has also served as a post-production coordinator for several Hollywood produced films, as well as being a script consultant for several independently produced film and television production companies.


Neil Butler

Tallahassee native Neil Butler lives in Los Angeles where he works as a development executive in film and television. Having apprenticed under producer Lucas Foster on several Hollywood movies including Man On Fire and Mr. & Mrs. Smith, he spent the last two decades working alongside writers, directors and producers, helping them to ready their concepts and scripts for production. A 1995 graduate of the Film School at Florida State University, Neil has written several screenplays. It wasn’t until he teamed up with childhood friend Jason Chimonides, however, that he made the leap back into the realm of hands-on filmmaking with a coming-of-age comedy entitled My Psychedelic Summer. They followed that with the production of Lewis & Klarq, a music-driven feature about a man who returns to his hometown to attend the intervention of an estranged friend. Lewis & Klarq recently had its world premiere at the Cyprus International Film Festival where it won the Golden Aphrodite Award for Best Score in a First Feature.


Russ Franklin

Franklin is the author of the novel, Cosmic Hotel.  He has degrees in math, physics, and literature, and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow and a Truman Capote Fellow in Fiction at Stanford University, as well as a Kingsbury Fellow at Florida State University. His work has appeared in Oxford American, Alaska Quarterly Review, Greensboro Review and other publications.  He currently teaches writing at Florida State University in Tallahassee.


Bettye Grable

Bettye is the president of the Florida A&M University Faculty Senate and an Associate Professor in the FAMU School of Journalism & Graphic Communication. During her 20-year career as a media practitioner, Grable has been a journal writer for the Florida House of Representatives, promotions director for WSRZ radio in Sarasota, FL, television host for the public affairs television show FAMU Today, and the director of public information at Manatee Community College. She is one of the Founding Editorial Board Members of the Journal for Case Studies in Strategic Communication at the University of Southern California.


Stefano Gramitto

Gramitto is a sound director, composer, editor, cinematographer, director and producer. He was Sound Professor at The Film School Gian Maria Volonte, Roma Italia from 2012 to 2015. His filmography includes:

La logica delle cose (2013) (sound recordist)
Solo me stesso Carlo Carrà ( 2012) (Short) (sound/sound mixer)
Shared Memories (2011) (Documentary short) (sound mixer)
La valle della luna (2010) (Documentary) (supervising sound editor)
I paesaggi li amavo di più- Morandi (2010) (Short) (sound editor/sound mixer/sound recordist)
La Reina del Pueblo (2010) (Documentary) (sound/sound mixer)
Maria Lai: Ansia d’infinito (2009) (Documentary) (sound/sound mixer/supervising sound editor)
Sa promissa (2009) (Short) (sound editor/sound mixer)


Frank Gunderson

Frank is an Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at Florida State University. He is a former music director of KAOS radio in Olympia WA, where he was involved with the NW independent music scene. It was here that he worked with “outsider” musician Travis Roberts, work recently culminating in a film co-directed with Bret Woods, The Human Skab (2012). He has conducted extensive fieldwork in East Africa, and has produced the CD, Tanzania: Farmer Composers of North West Tanzania (1997, Multicultural Media). His recent book We Never Sleep We Dream of Farming: Sukuma Labor Songs from Western Tanzania (Brill Academic Press, 2010) was the 2009-2011 winner of the Kwabena Nketia Book Award for best monograph on African music.


Christopher Hayes

Chris Hayes is a poet whose works have appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, The Gettysburg Review, The Apalachee Review, and several other national literary magazines. He has won the Erskine J. Prize for Poetry from Smartish Pace and the Oboh Poetry Prize from Boxcar Review. He holds a Ph.D. from Florida State University and currently teaches there as a professor in the College of Business.


Magnus Hines

Magnus Hines is a sixth-generation Floridian. At a very young age his father instilled a great love of cinema, exposing him to classic films, with an emphasis on horror/science fiction. Growing up in the Tampa area, Magnus was a film critic for local newspapers while in still high school and continued to write for several years for the FSView while studying at Florida State University. He graduated from Florida State with a degree in Creative Writing and later a Juris Doctorate in Law. He served as Venues Director and was on the programming committee for the Tallahassee Film Festival. He works for the Department of Economic Opportunity as the Deputy Director for Reemployment Services. His favorite directors include: Jean-Pierre Melville, Werner Herzog and Bernardo Bertolucci.


Lee Kitchen

Dramatist Guild Member, Lee Kitchen is  the author of more than a seven full-length plays, two one act plays and  a dozen ten-minute plays. One of his plays, Scabs, was accepted at the  Last Frontier Theatre Playwriting Contest and was produced as a short  film. It was also a short play finalist at the Humana Festival. His play, JoJo Mama and the Voodoo Queen was selected by Michael Warren Powell as his Panelist Favorite at an earlier Last Frontier Playwriting Contest. It also was runner-up at a Dallas Theatre Playwriting Competition. A screen play adaptation of JoJo Mama and Voodoo Queen made the first cut at the Sundance Film Festival. Lee Kitchen’s stories, poetry, essays and illustrations have appeared in newspapers,  international journals and literary magazines. Last year China Fortune  Press, in Beijing, China published his book, You the Brand. He has  acted in College and Community Theatre and has extensive experience  in commercial production during his career at J. Walter Thompson  Advertising in New York and Chicago.


Phillip Middleton

Middleton is a writer/director whose filmography includes:

Writer/Director of The Noose, a short film starring Leon Cain, about a guy who tries to talk himself out of suicide. Winner Audience Favorite Award, Tally Shorts Film Festival.Winner Audience Favorite Award, Wollongong Film Festival. (2015/16)

Writer/Director of The Evil Inside, an episode on the Horror Haiku (US) YouTube channel about a guy who fights to stop his evil alter ego from taking over his life. (2013)

Writer/Director of The Ghost, a short film about a young woman who believes the ghost that’s haunting her home is trying to convince her to kill herself. Screened in competition at ShriekFest (US). (2010)

Writer of The Disappearing, a supernatural thriller. Selected for the Springboard Talent Escalator development program with Screen Australia. (2009)


John Reynolds

John R. Reynolds is Professor and Chair of Sociology at Florida State University. His areas of expertise include the sociology of education, aging and the life course, and mental health. Reynolds’ recent research aims to identify the teacher practices that narrow educational gaps and asks whether neoliberal accountability policies undermine teachers’ ability to put those practices into effect.


Dave Schmeling

Dave Schmeling is a songwriter, actor, playwright, and producer. He appears in forty-five films and a television network series. He has been a media advisor to the White House, a congressional expert witness and a media consultant to eleven state and federal agencies.  He received five national and international film awards and authored more than forty screen and stage plays, professional articles, papers and presentations. He was a creator of the Florida International Volunteer Corps and founder of the Caribbean Community Foundation. He holds BA and MA degrees from Michigan State University and a PhD from Florida State University.


Emanuele Secci

Emanuele Secci is Televison/Mass Communication Professional in Residence at Xavier University (New Orleans). Since 2007 he has worked for CBS on programs such as 48 Hours, CBS Evening News,  The Early Show, CBS This Morning, Sunday Morning and 60 Minutes. From 2014 to the present he worked for ABC  on 20/20, Nightline and Good Morning America. He has also worked for Al Jazerra America and Eurovison Americas. In 2013 Secci won the Gracie Award from the Alliance for Women in Media. In 2010 he was nominated for the Genesis Award from the Human Society of the United States.


Michael Trammell

Michael Trammell is currently the editor-in-chief of the Apalachee Review and formerly hosted/coordinated the Anhinga Press/Apalachee Review Reading Series at the 621 Gallery in Tallahassee. His work has been published in New Letters, the G.W. Review, The Chattahoochee Review, Pleiades, Sundog: The Southeast Review, Poet Lore, Gulf Stream Magazine, the Lullwater Review, The Nebraska Review, the Orange Coast Review, Permafrost and other journals. YellowJacket Press in 2008 published his chapbook Our Keen Blue House. He’s a Senior Lecturer in Business Communication at Florida State University’s College of Business. In the summers he and his wife, the writer Mary Jane Ryals, teach writing, literature, and business courses for F.S.U.’s Valencia, Spain and London, England programs.

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