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Meet the judges

Today we reveal the luminaries joining this year’s Sony Future Filmmaker Awards judging panel. Alongside Jury Chair Justin Chadwick will be world-renowned Cinematographer Sir Roger A. Deakins CBE, ASC, BSC, President of TriStar Pictures Nicola Brown and Jeremy Barber, Partner in the Motion Picture Literary and Talent Departments at United Talent Agents. 

Speaking about the Awards, President of Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group Josh Greenstein says: ‘The Sony Future Filmmaker Awards is an exciting new initiative to help support fresh talent from around the world. Sony Pictures look forward to welcoming winning and shortlisted creators to the Studio lot here in Culver City, California, where through our carefully assembled workshop program led by our roster of experts, they’ll be able to gain a new understanding of the business to help them take the next steps in their filmmaking careers.’

With an impressive line-up of judges for the Awards’ inaugural edition, we take a closer look at each judge’s credentials, placing their influence and positive impact on the film industry in the spotlight.  

Seeing Sir Roger A. Deakins’ name on the jury is sure to pique the curiosity of anyone passionate about film. Working on some of the most celebrated films of our time, such as The Shawshank Redemption, The Big Lebowski and Skyfall (as well another 85+ titles), Deakins’ creative output is staggering and he is rightly regarded as the doyen of cinematography. Approaching every new project with ambitious scope and technical achievement, with each film Deakins invites us to be immersed into a whole visual world. 

He has received two Oscars, the first in 2017 for Blade Runner 2049, and the second for 1917 in 2019. His contribution to 1917 saw Deakins win an impressive 40 awards in total. Created to appear as one continuous take, the moving 1 hour and 59-minute film gives an unblinking look at the horrors of the First World War and is seen by many as one the greatest achievements of recent cinema.   

A man who has very much shaped how the films of the latter part of the 20th century have looked, creating visual art has been threaded throughout Deakins’ life. His mother was an actress and painter, encouraging Deakins to pick up a paintbrush from a young age. He went on to study graphic design at the Bath Academy of Art, where Deakins found his love for photography. He continues to take pictures with great success to this day and is represented by the eminent Peter Fetterman Gallery in Santa Monica, California. After graduating from the National Film School in the mid-1970s, Deakins worked as a cameraman on a number of documentary projects before embarking on feature-length films. He went from strength to strength, with his first major feature film Another Time, Another Place, being released in 1983.  

Joining Sir Roger A. Deakins on the 2023 jury is Nicola Brown, who became the President of TriStar Pictures in October, 2020. Having grown up within the vicinity of Culver City, Brown often recalls how enamoured she was with the Sony Pictures studio lot whenever she went past. Before she was 18 years-old she’d started her career in Hollywood, having childhood roles in Boyz n the Hood and Kids Incorporated. After graduating from Columbia Univesity and an internship at Miramax, Brown worked at Marc Platt Productions – the company behind LA LA Land, The Trial of Chicago 7 and many other blockbuster hits. After her success as the Executive Vice President at the film production company Good Universe, she went on to lead TriStar Picture two years ago.  

Often commenting in interviews how one of the most rewarding aspects of her job is supporting artists and putting the infrastructure in place for them to thrive, Brown has made her mark at TriStar by focusing on elevating culturally relevant films and putting fresh, director-driven content at the forefront of the process. The first Black woman to run a film label at a major studio, Brown has been instrumental to Last Vegas (2013), which stars Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Michael Douglas and Honey with Jessica Alba as the lead; she has also worked on the development of the Broadway musical phenomenon Wicked. Adding to her impressive credentials is her position on the Women in Film board.

Also on this year’s jury is Jeremy Barber, an agent to some of the most famous faces in the upper echelons of Hollywood. Working with Antony Hopkins, Ben Stiller and Jessica Alba, as well as Sigourney Weaver, David Tennant and Hugh Bonneville, it only takes a quick look down his client list to see many well-known and loved actors jump out. Having grown up in 1970s New York where Andy Warhol, Blondie and Greenwich Village were fierce creative forces, in interviews Barber recalls how he knew as a tennager he wanted to combine his profession with his love for writing and acting. Combining his enthusiasm and interest with childhood memories of his grandparent's house, where composer Leonard Bernstein and writer Norman Mailer would visit, Barber was exposed to the arts from a young age. 

He became an entertainment lawyer after graduating from Georgetown and went on to co-create the production and management company Catch 23 and Catch 23 UK. Barber has also turned his hand to being an executive producer, with One Hour Photo and King’s Ransom on his filmography. He was also Head of Production and Acquisitions at Artisan Entertainment, where he oversaw films such as Requiem for a Dream and The Blair Witch Project. Going from success to success, today he is a Partner at United Talent Agents. 

Building trust with his clients and believing in how they wish to channel their talent is one of the most important – and rewarding – parts of Barber’s job. Having dedicated a lot of his time to supporting the arts, Barber’s passion and commitment to advocating creative voices within the film industry makes him such a hugely valued member of the 2023 jury.