Shoals Area Film Alliance

About Us: 

The goal of the Shoals Area Film Alliance (SAFA) is the encouragement and development of all creative arts in and around the Florence/Muscle Shoals area.  SAFA aims to help eliminate prejudice and discrimination through the cinematic experience and to bring awareness of people from all walks of life regardless of race, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation and to bring attention to the many opportunities that North Alabama offers to the film industry nationwide by hosting an annual film festival, establishing The Shoals as a cultural arts center. 

Board of Directors

Ben Tanner

Ben Tanner is a Florence, Alabama based musician and record producer.  Tanner is the co-founder of Single Lock Records along with John Paul White and is the touring keyboardist with the multi-Grammy Award winning band Alabama Shakes.  Ben also serves on the Board of Governors of the Recording Academy, Atlanta Chapter. Ben holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Rhodes College. 

Krista Manchester

Krista Manchester is the co-founder and executive director of Room in the Inn Shoals, a local non-profit that houses local homeless in the Shoals Area.  Her experience is in working with other non-profit groups to help effect positive change and growth in her community.  She was a finalist for Shoals Area Woman of the Year in 2016.  Krista holds a B.A. in Communications from Johns Hopkins University. 

Celeste Pillow

Celeste Pillow is a Florence, Alabama business owner and restaurateur.  Odette, her flagship store was opened in 2014 and has been listed as one of Alabama's top restaurants in publications such as Garden & Gun and Southern Living.  Celeste holds a B.A. in Art from the University of Montana. 

John Orman

John Orman has worked with film festivals and film conferences for over a decade, including the Nashville Screenwriters Conference, Nashville Film Festival, and the George Lindsey Film Festival.  Film and Television productions include Nashville Star, Gone Country, Can You Duet?, and Daltry Calhoun. John has a B.A. in Communications with an emphasis in Film and Digital Media Production from the University of North Alabama. 


Cynthia Burkhead


Cynthia Burkhead chairs the English Department at University of North Alabama, where she has also chaired the UNA’s George Lindsey Film Festival for ten years. She specializes in Film and Television Studies, and has published scholarly works on Dreams in American Television, Joss Whedon, The Sopranos, Bob Newhart, Grey’s Anatomy, Lost, and Carnivale.

Michael Curtis Johnson.jpg

Michael Curtis Johnson

Johnson's first feature film, HUNKY DORY won a special jury award at the 2016 Slamdance Film Festival, the Grand Jury Award at the Atlanta Film Festival & San Francisco Indie Fest and the Audience Award at the Nashville Film Festival, Naples Film Festival & American Film Festival - Wroclaw. His second feature SAVAGE YOUTH is in post-production and was selected for the Venice Film Festival's Biennale College Cinema program and was an award winner at US in Progress - Wroclaw. His next feature project THE CARETAKER is being developed by Visit Films' Pretty Ideas independent film incubator program and he plans to shoot it in the Shoals area in 2018. He is a graduate of the American Film Institute Conservatory and is currently an Assistant Professor in Film & Digital Media at the University of North Alabama.