Florida Film Institute, Inc.    
  Newsletter April 2009  

A Message from Stephanie Martino-Rizzi

I’m thrilled to say that since its inception in 1992, the Florida Film Institute has mentored over 4,900 middle and high school students in Miami-Dade County, many of who have gone on to successful careers within the film business.

As the current season once again draws to a close and I look back at how busy we’ve been I can’t help but feel proud of the things we’ve been able to accomplish. Days, weeks, months, flew by in such a blur, that it actually feels as though we just started yesterday.

It’s been a really enormous feat creating and executing the multitude of programs we provide and it requires the dedicated participation of our very talented staff of instructors and coordinators, to whom I am eternally grateful.

Personally, I find so much satisfaction in what the Institute does that all those hours I put in just seem to melt away. When I see the viable accomplishments in terms of our inspired students, the terrific films they have been able to create, their joy and desire to enter filmmaking as a career, and yes, even the awards that have been won; it fills me with such a sense of triumph that words continue to fail me.

I want to send a special thanks to the wonderful organizations that provide us with the funding we need to operate, they are the real heart of our Institute, for with their help we are able to create an increased educational awareness in hundreds of students a year, many of whom would never get the kind of life altering experience that our programs bring to them.

And to you our supporters, I offer a continuing heartfelt thank you on behalf of everyone here at FFI and all those students who appreciate your warmhearted attention.

Ok, Time to get going on the “Summer Program” and gear up for next season, both will be here in the blink of an eye! Have a great summer everyone!

The Dade Community Foundation Becomes An FFI Benefactor

The Dade Community Foundation Becomes An FFI Benefactor

The Dade Community Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for the residents of Miami-Dade County, has awarded The Florida Film Institute a grant for its CINEMA program, and we are truly grateful for their wonderful support.

The Foundation supports local nonprofit organizations with grants and technical assistance. It makes grants in the program areas of education, health, human services, arts and culture, the environment, community and economic development. Their grant making also addresses the needs of the economically disadvantaged, abused and neglected children, immigrant and refugee populations, people with HIV/AIDS, homelessness, social justice, black affairs, care of animals, and heart disease.

We feel very honored to be included in the ongoing mission of this extraordinary organization.

School Accomplishments . . .

Each school in our program completed their own short movie. This year we believe they’ve exceeded all expectations and created a series of exceptional films. The following is a list and description of these films soon to be seen at film festivals around the country.

South West SHS - Teacher: Mr. Aguirre

This film relates the tale of Jonas, a teenager dying of Leukemia, and his two Best Friends, Violet and Sebastian, who decide to sneak him out of his bedroom for the best night of his life.

Booker T. Washington SHS - Teacher: Mr. Bloom

The storyline is a simple one; while the main character is making a Pineapple delivery, he witnesses a murder, he is seen by the killers, and is constantly on the run thereafter.

Carol City SHS - Teacher: Ms. Cunningham

In this hilarious and quirky short film the audience is introduced to bubbly cheerleader Amanda, football jock Michael, bad boy Ki-Lo, and rap star protégé Gutta. Different in character they have one thing in common, the need to pass the FCAT.

South Miami SHS - Teacher: Mr. Diaz

Russell, Jimmy, Shane, and the, oh so reluctant Kim, embark upon a journey to become rockstars. The problem is, they have no real talent!

North Miami Beach SHS - Teacher: Mrs. Miller

A mad science teacher's "Brain Juice" hypnotizes an entire school leaving only three unlikely "heroes" to find the cure and save the day.

Coral Reef SHS - Teacher: Mr. Ernsberger

An intriguing film about a troubled teen who finds his way back home.

Lights, Camera, Film Summer Camp

The City of Miami

Once again, thanks to the generous sponsorship of the City of Miami Mayor’s Heart of our Parks, we are able to offer our FREE SUMMER FILM CAMP to children aged 13 thru 18.

This program is taught by working film professionals and strives to teach everything a participant needs to know to make a film. It’s a hands-on, fun filled summer course that results in the creation of a unique short film made solely by the participants. LCF Summer Camp is a very popular program and enrollment is limited so be sure to make it to one of the two auditions.

June 24 to July 22, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

Auditions for a spot in the camp will be held June 22 and 23 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

FFI welcomes 3 New Instructors to its Roster

The Florida Film Institute’s instructors are comprised of local and national film industry professionals, who teach classes for us in high schools and at our special workshops. This combination has proven to be the best way for us to reach students and adults who have a desire to learn about all aspects of the film industry. However, finding talented and inspiring Instructors is not the easiest task in the World. So it is with great delight that we welcome the following 3 gifted new Instructors into our ranks:

Meagan Lewis

Meagan has been actively involved in the entertainment business for over twelve years. Meagan came to South Florida from Los Angeles where she garnered casting and pre/post production experience while working on numerous TV shows and short films.. She has co-produced short film and music video contests and has coordinated many entertainment networking events. Meagan's most recent job was at a Miami based talent agency where she loved being a film/tv agent for actors.

Osmin 'Oz' Camero

Osmin is a graduate of both Full Sail's Recording Engineering program and the Los Angeles Film School. His experience however, is not limited only to production sound, he has worked on several films in the postproduction department handling dialog editing, ADR, Foley, Sound editing, and Re-recording mixing.

Ora Karat

Ms. Karat has a Master of Arts Degree from the California Institute of the Arts (CAL Arts) and a BFA from the University of California (UCLA). She is an expert in multi media production with extensive experience in program and film production in the USA and Europe. As a creative artist, she has worked for such TV programs as “Inside Edition”, American Journal, BBC, the Spielberg Foundation and several other organizations.

One Student’s Success Story

Aaron Davidson

Aaron Davidson was a student enrolled in the Miami Children’s Museum Film School, which The Florida Film Institute ran for 12 consecutive years. He was one of several exceptional students that joined that program. He has since moved on to do great things in film and has won numerous awards across the country. We asked Aaron about the experience he had with the program.

"My middle school didn't have a filmmaking program, which is why the Florida Film Institute was so great.  That's really where I got my start in learning about filmmaking.  The first class I took was in 2003, and I liked it so much I took the class for 2 more years.  I have been making films and getting into film festivals ever since".

Aaron has made us proud and we look forward to following his continuing career and the wonderful things that lay ahead for him. Congratulations Aaron.

Aaron’s most notable awards/screenings  are:

Mini Festival, Jewish Museum (2009)

San Diego International Children's Film Festival  (2008)

2nd Place, Documentary, Fort Lauderdale Film Festival (2008) 

1st Place, Music Video, Fort Lauderdale Film Festival (2007)

FFI Instructor’s Films To Be Screened

Alyn Darnay

Alyn Darnay, Scriptwriting and Directing instructor with the Institute has been making independent films in Florida for the past 16 years through his company Chaos Films. This past year he ventured into the short form several times with very successful results. His “The Art of Roadkill” won best director; screenplay, editing, and musical score at the 2008 Miami 48 Hour Film Festival and has been screened at several film festivals including The Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. He just completed the second film in this trilogy called “Smooth Operator”. Both films have become Official Selections of the Delray Beach Film Festival and will be screened on May 24 at the Crest Theatre in Delray Beach. Getting two films into the same film festival is a major achievement and we want to congratulate Alyn on his accomplishments. We’ll be there to watch.

Watch FFI on “You Tube”


We’ve finally succumbed to the lure of Internet video broadcasting. You can now view the wonderful films made by our students online anytime you want. As a matter of fact we encourage it. The films are actually an ongoing anthology of the attitudes of the young people who make them, acting as a mirror of their environment, concerns and problems. Every film is compelling in its own way and most have won awards at film festivals across the country.

You’ll find us at: www.youtube.com/flfilm
See you there!

Join FFI on “Facebook”


Yes, that’s right, we’re also finally on the popular social network “Facebook”. We have put up our own page. It’s currently being filled with interesting content by our staff, instructors, students, and from contributors throughout the film community. In the coming months you’ll find videos, production pictures, blogs, and program information.

Click [ HERE ] to join us!

Sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, The Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. And With the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners, The Children ‘s Trust, The City of Miami, The Dade Community Foundation, Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, The Florida Media Market, The Florida Governor’s Office of Film & Entertainment, BankAtlantic Foundation and Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
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