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February 2022 Newsletter


It is unbelievable how we are already in mid February! The days are flying by and we are busier than ever. Our CINEMA participants have always been some of the best in Miami-Dade County! Even through almost 2 years of being in Covid times, the students are focused, determined and beyond imaginative with their ideas! Their gracious attitudes and positive outlook will be applauded for years to come. Like last year, this school year has been quite a whirlwind as we have adapted to new ways of living and learning. We are so proud of the budding filmmakers we are currently working with, and I am personally so very excited to share our incredible filmmaking updates/adventures with all of you!

The 2021-2022 school year will be coming to a close in just a few months from now. And unlike last year, our CINEMA sites have all remained with in-person instruction since September 2021. The completed film projects and those that are currently being produced are astonishing to say the least. This has been another stellar year for our award-winning programming and yet there is so much more to look forward to- including our upcoming 2022 summer film camp @ CGAC. And, of course, the annual CINEMA screening & awards show which will virtually take place at the end of May. From pre-production development to post-production editing the CINEMA students have greatly impressed my staff and I. In addition, the films from last year continue to be submitted and accepted into a plethora of local, national and international film festivals – and are doing amazing with ongoing recognition and accolades galore! We anticipate that the projects created from this school year to do just as well this time next year on the film fest circuit!

Enjoy the newsletter below… I gratefully and humbly thank you all for your continuous, loyal support to the FFI organization and the arts in your own communities!

2021 – 2022 After School CINEMA Program Update

The 3 CINEMA sites have remained the same for the 2nd semester: Alonzo and Tracy Mourning SHS, John A. Ferguson SHS and Miami Lakes Educational Center.

1st Semester
Students from the 3 CINEMA sites learned about new filmmaking apps used for all types of productions. These include: LumaFusion, FilmicPro, Shot Designer and Each site created mini projects aka Haiku videos. Upon completion of those films they transitioned to screenwriting for narrative films.

2nd Semester
Since classes resumed after the holiday break, all sites have been preparing for production on their narrative shorts which is taking place in late February/early March. The material for this component of CINEMA included intro to the camera, editing process, lighting, visual composition, brainstorming/creative concepts, acting and directing. After the post-production work (film, poster, trailer, behind the scenes) is done for the narratives, students will focus on MICRO film projects as they close out the CINEMA program for the school year.


All are welcome to join us online for our FREE premiere end of the year event. Please stay tuned for the YouTube/ZOOM links. We will be sending out an invite and will also post the info on our social media sites. This is always a fun celebration for our “fans” and our students as everyone sees the hard work that was completed this past school year. The projects are judged by a panel of industry pros and awards will be presented in the technical and creative categories.



Andres Vargas

Andres Vargas

Andres Vargas is a Colombian American professional actor, director and acting coach. He earned his BFA in Performing Arts in Colombia, and later he got his MFA in Acting for Film in New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. Andres began his teaching career at the Miami Dade College and Miami Dade County Public Schools. He taught English to a refugee and worked in various community programs in Miami area. He worked as stage teacher with undergrad students and later he taught acting for camera in Colombia and the USA. Two of his short films were officially selected for the Bogotá International Film Festival (2013) and Smartfilm Festival (2016). Andres has worked internationally with different TV productions including Sony Pictures Television, Telemundo and many others.

Lights, Camera… SUMMER FILM CAMP! JUNE 20th – JULY 29th, 2022!

EXCITING NEWS – This just in… MIAMI-DADE COUNTY STUDENTS who qualify will be able to earn college credits towards a degree with FFI’s Dual Enrollment component. These are transferable credits that can be applied to an AS and/or BAS degree in Film Production at the renowned School of Entertainment & Design Technology at Miami Dade College. Students who choose not to attend MDC-N/SEDT may transfer their credits to their school of choice.

School of Entertainment & Design Technology

FFI Film

FFI will be producing the 12th annual summer film camp, in partnership with The Coral Gables Art Cinema and MDC-N campus/SEDT program. Students will attend in-person- please note: there is no virtual option this year. FFI’s Summer Film Camp is a 6-week intense filmmaking program that will take place from June 20, 2022 – July 29, 2022 at the Coral Gables Art Cinema, located at 260 Aragon Avenue in Coral Gables. FFI will give up to 25 high school students ages 13 to 18 the opportunity to focus on essential and practical aspects of commercial motion picture production, including script preparation, cinematography, lighting, sound recording, directing, editing, acting and music. The program will feature instruction by South Florida Film Industry professionals.

Currently, the two films created last summer, GRANDPA’S GHOST and INTERNET, are both doing well on the film fest circuit.

FFI and the theater have created a safe environment for staff & students to attend in-person. The camp will meet on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 1pm. All CDC guidelines and protocols will be in place. All FFI staff have been fully vaccinated/boosted for Covid 19. At this time, face masks will not be optional. All staff/students will be required to wear them on site. In the event that a student (or family member) tests positive for the virus we will adhere to the CDC guidelines. However, there will be no online option to log into camp sessions if students need to quarantine at home.

There are scholarships available for high school students (ages 13-18) that qualify. Space is limited!

The fee for the 2022 Summer Film Camp is $725 plus a $50 reg. fee – total of $775. Even though prices are skyrocketing around us, FFI is keeping the camp fee at the same rate as prior years. AND – at no additional cost FFI will be providing high end filmmaking software to each student that can be downloaded – and they will have permanent access to these online tools even after the camp program is over.

Interested students need to fill out a required registration form and then a phone interview will be set up with the parent and/or student.

For more info and to register online please click the buttons below:

FFI Summer Film Camp Registration FFI Summer Film Program


Here are some of the recent updates we have received about our student’s narrative films – these include the Summer Film Camp projects as well as our Afterschool Program short film projects.

For further info please click the button below to look at our CINEMA awards history:

FFI CINEMA History2021 – 2022
Summer Film Camp

Official Entry: 2021 New York Flash Film Festival

2020 – 2021
Summer Film Camp

Official Entry: 2020 Miami Short Film Festival
Winner: 2020 The Quarantini Monthly Film Festival
Winner: 2020 Hollywood’s Monthly Film Festival
Official Entry: 2021 Fantastic Festival of Los Angeles
Official Entry: 2021 Toronto Independent Film Festival of Cift
Official Entry: 2021 Phoenix Shorts
Official Entry: 2021 San Francisco Indie Short Festival
Official Entry: 2021 Arthouse Festival of Beverly Hills
Official Entry: 2021 Florida Shorts
Official Entry: 2021 Vancouver Independent Film Festival (Finalist)
Official Entry: 2021 Rotterdam Independent Film Festival (Finalist)
Official Entry: 2021 Paris International Short Festival (Finalist)

Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Sr. High School

Winner: 2021 Hollywood Golden Age Film Festival
Official Entry: 2021 Stockholm Short Festival (Semi-Finalist)Winner: 2021 Sydney Indie Short Festival
Official Entry: 2021 Dallas Movie Awards Festival (Semi-Finalist)
Official Entry: 2021 Toronto Independent Film Festival of Cift (Semi-Finalist)
Official Entry: 2021 Tokyo Shorts (Semi-Finalist)
Official Entry: 2021 Niagara Falls International Short Festival (Semi-Finalist)
Winner: 2022 LA Independent Film Channel Festival
Winner: 2022 Phoenix Shorts, Ontario
Winner: 2021: Sydney Indie Short Festival
Official Entry: 2022 Sicily Art Cinema Festival (Semi-Finalist)
Official Entry: 2022 Dubai Independent Film Festival (Finalist)
Official Entry: 2022 Toronto Film and Script Awards
Official Entry: 2022 Intl Cosmopolitan Film Festival of Tokyo (Semi-Finalist)
Official Entry: 2022 Paris International Short Festival (Finalist)
Official Entry: 2022 Vienna Indie Short Film Festival (Semi-Finalist)

John Ferguson Sr. High School

Winner: 2021 Dallas Movie Awards Festival (Semi-Finalist)
Winner: 2021 Tokyo Shorts (Semi-Finalist)


Savannah Toney

Savannah Toney

“Growing up I’ve always been creative but, in middle school I had a strong interest in cameras and editing. When I attended Miami Lakes Educational Center at 14 years old, I knew that I wanted to pursue film and television. At the time, I had no knowledge of how different film and television were compared to each other. That’s why I’m so grateful for the Florida Film Institute who helped me figure out that film was the path meant for me. FFI provided such a fun, educational, and safe environment for my friends and I to really explore our passions after school. When I think about how much I looked forward to FFI after school, it made me realize that FFI was like family. The staff members saw more for me than I saw for myself in terms of the different crew positions on set. Being able to switch from different crew roles on set is the kind of flexibility FFI provides to help you figure out which position you would like to pursue. That’s why I recommend this program to students in high school that have an interest in film.

I currently attend my dream school, The University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. As of right now, my favorite role on set is Director of Photography but I’m really interested in Writing and Directing. This past semester I finished my first directorial debut at USC which I worked really hard on and am extremely proud of how it turned out!”

Help the Helpers Miami-Dade Gift

FFI Helpers

With appreciation from Allegany Franciscan Ministries, The Children’s Trust, The Coral Gables Community Foundation, The Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation, Health Foundation of South Florida, The Jorge M. Pérez Family Foundation, The Key Biscayne Community Foundation, The Miami Foundation, and United Way Miami, the FFI organization received a monetary award that was allocated to the “staff for our extraordinary work during the pandemic and throughout each year!” Here is a screenshot pic we took at our recent staff production meeting to say THANK YOU for recognizing us 🙂 !  Please see below, list of sponsors that made this gift possible for many non-profit organizations in the Miami area.

Helpers / Sponsors


Follow FFI on our INSTAGRAM + FACEBOOK pages to check out some awesome behind the scenes production pics:

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FFI is always seeking financial and in-kind support. In the event that you would like to donate dollars (or maybe just some sense!) please click HERE or contact the FFI office directly and speak with Stephanie.


Sponsored By

Sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, 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, a dedicated source of revenue established by voter referendum to improve the lives of children and families in Miami-Dade County, Miami Dade College North Campus, School of Entertainment & Design Technology (SEDT), Coral Gables Art Cinema and Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

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