Starting in 2016, the West Virginia Filmmakers Festival divided the award for FILMmaker of the Year into two (2) separate honors: the Impact Award (example: the “2016 Impact Award”) and a FILMmaker of The Year Award (a lifetime achievement award which could be named or dedicated if so chosen).
The criteria for both awards are as follows:
1. DEFINITION – Individual whose most recent work or contributions – during the twelve (12) calendar months between festivals – has had an utmost impact on the West Virginia film industry, or simply upon the culture of film and media creation within the state.
2. ELIGIBILITY – Nominees can be from any discipline of filmmaking, so long as the proposed nominee has had an influential role in the contributions for which his/her nomination has been proposed during the 12-month eligibility period.
3. EXPLANATION OF WEST VIRGINIA CONNECTION – Nominees should have a deep connection to West Virginia. Preferably, their film(s) or associated work and/or contributions should be made in or for the benefit of West Virginia, and they should be a West Virginia native or resident.
4. ATTENDANCE – It’s not a requirement, but they should be able to attend the festival.
5. INELIGIBILITY – Active members of the Board of Directors for the WV FILMmakers Festival are excluded from nominations for the award during their terms of service, in order to prevent conflicts of interest. Employees of the West Virginia Film Office during the period of eligibility are also excluded from nomination consideration due to conflict of interest.
6. NUMBER OF ANNUAL NOMINATIONS – A minimum three (3) individuals may be nominated per year, up to a maximum of five (5) per year. Nominations may only be awarded to individuals, and not companies or any other joint entity.
7. NOTIFICATION – Nominees shall be informed and announced once selections have been made, prior to the festival.
8. REPEAT NOMINATIONS/WINS – Nominees or winners are eligible to be nominated again in a subsequent year, unless the individual removes his/her name from future consideration. Prior winners starting from 2016 and on are eligible for re-nomination in subsequent years. Five (5) wins or nominations without a win will automatically qualify an individual to become eligible for lifetime achievement consideration. [Prior “Filmmakers of the Year” from 2003-2015 are eligible for nomination in this category only if applicable to the DEFINITION of this category given above. (#1)]
9. NOMINATION & VOTING PROCEDURE – The WVFF Board of Directors shall arrive at the nominations in the following manner:
A. The Board shall solicit suggestions for nominations from active WV Film Industry Professionals, and members of the relevant Educational and Non-profit sectors for Film and Media throughout West Virginia (who shall otherwise be known as “Peers”).
B. Previous WV Filmmakers of the Year – whether still active in their fields or not – are also granted eligibility to suggest nominations to the Board.
From this list, the Board will discuss and oversee the selection of nominees for Filmmaker of the Year. Once nominations are determined:
A. Each nominee’s accomplishments during the eligibility period shall be summed up in 150 words or fewer…
B. And then voted upon through secret ballot by the WVFF Board of Directors no less than one month from the scheduled festival weekend.
(C). In the event of a tie, the Festival Director shall have the power to choose one over the other.
(D). Should any nominee present a conflict of interest for any Board Member(s), the Board Member may recuse him/herself from voting.
The West Virginia Filmmaker of the Year Award was given to the filmmaker whose most recent work or lifetime work has had the utmost impact on the West Virginia film industry. The WVFF Board of Directors oversees the Filmmaker of the Year selection. The Nomination Committee consists of previous WV Filmmakers of the Year, members of the WV Filmmakers Guild, Landmark Studio for the Arts Board, WVFF Board, and industry professionals from around the state to arrive at the broadest consensus possible.
1. DEFINITION – Individual whose lifetime or collective work has had either a lasting impact on the West Virginia film industry, or simply upon the culture of film and media creation within the state.
2. ELIGIBILITY – The recipient of this award can be from any discipline within the realm of film and media, including:
Above-the-Line Makers (writer, producer, or director either independent or associated full-time with production company)
Below-the-Line Practitioners (freelance crew or otherwise)
Educators (secondary or post-secondary)
Institutional Figures (state/city/regional film commission; archival work; relevant independent screening venues; relevant film festival and event personnel)
3. RELEVANCE – Nominees under consideration should have a deep connection to West Virginia, and they should be a West Virginia native or resident.
4. INDIVIDUALS VS. TEAMS – Nominations for Lifetime Achievement may include: nominations for individuals; joint nominations for no more than three (3) individuals whose contributions are best known as a team [a distinction which should prove quite rare, to be determined by the Board of Directors].
5. ATTENDANCE – While it’s preferable for the recipient to be present during the festival to receive the award, health or other factors may prevent this, therefore – it is not a requirement for the recipient to attend the award ceremony. A recipient may send a representative in his/her stead.
6. INELIGIBILITY – Active members of the Board of Directors for the WV FILMmakers Festival are excluded from nominations for the award during their terms of service, in order to prevent conflicts of interest. Current employees of the West Virginia Film Office are also excluded from nomination consideration due to conflict of interest.
7. PRIOR RECIPIENTS – Prior “Filmmakers of the Year” from 2003-2015 are ineligible for consideration in this category. Prior recipients of this award starting from 2016 and on are ineligible to receive this award twice.
8. SELECTION – The recipient of the award shall be chosen by the Festival Board of Directors no less than two (2) months before the festival dates, in the following manner:
A. The Board shall make as many nominations as they like and discuss the merits of individuals under consideration.
B. The Board shall narrow down the top three nominees (determined however they choose).
C. The Director of the festival shall have the honor of ranking the top three nominees.
D. The Director will then contact the top choice and inform him/her of the honor and make sure the recipient accepts it.
(E). In the event the Director’s choice does not accept the honor, the Director moves to the second choice, until the Lifetime Achievement Award has a recipient.
9. FREQUENCY – The Board of the WVFF reserves the right to not bestow this award every year.
2019 – Josh Stewart
2018 – Elaine McMillion Sheldon
2017 – Larry Dowling
2016 – Chip Hitchcock
2015 – Jacob Young
2014 – Lawrence Cumbo
2013 – John Nakashima
2012 – Bob Gates (Deceased)
2011 – Robert Tinnell
2010 – Mari-Lynn Evans
2009 – Russ Barbour
2008 – C. Shawn Bennett
2007 – Steve Gilliland
2006 – Gerry Milnes
2005 – B.J. Gudmundsson
2005 – WV Filmmaker Pinnacle Award – Morgan Spurlock
2004 – Raymond Schmitt (Deceased)
2003 – Daniel Boyd
2019 – Ben Berry