September 2016 Newsletter


Hi Everyone!

Let me start by stating I am so grateful for all of you! There have been some substantial changes within FFI and my staff and I appreciate your support throughout a fairly smooth transition in our programming changes and staff additions. With that being said I hope all of you had an amazing and fun Summer! Fall is closely upon us and, once again, we are in high gear with new schools and engaged students within our award winning CINEMA program!

The past few months have been extremely busy for our organization. Our annual CINEMA screenings/awards event took place on June 18th at The Coral Gables Art Cinema. It was a huge success and all of the students, lead teachers and many family/friends enjoyed seeing the projects on the big screen. It truly was a special day for everyone involved in this year’s productions. And speaking of that, as noted above we added some new elements to the program this past year which includes: the production and making of an experimental film as well as a TV Commercial Spot. You can see the complete list of CINEMA winners below.

In addition to our in-school and after-school programs we produced yet another successful summer film camp program in 2016 (and the project that was created as a result is terrific)! The screening for the cast and crew is scheduled for Saturday, September 24th @ 10am. This is free and open to the public so please join us if you are able to do so!

I am extremely proud of everything we have accomplished so far this year, and now we are entering into yet another exciting phase of production with our ongoing after school film program which takes places in three separate Miami-Dade County sites. Please read all about it in this newsletter!

Please stay tuned for our weekly updates and news in the coming months! Thanks so much!


And The Winners Are!

Best Experimental Film – WHAT ARE YOUR DESIRES? (BTWHS)
Best Narrative Film – THE CANDIDATE (MBSHS)
Best Lead Female Actor- CATHERINE VERBUD (MBSHS)
Best Lead Male Actor – HAROLD TARANTO (BTWHS)


  • 1st Place – WISH (MLEC)
  • 2nd Place – THE CANDIDATE (MBSHS)
  • 3rd Place – ROOM 1208 (YMPA)

Summer Film Camp Post Program Update / Wrap Up

“The Production” Joel is a little stern when bad stuff happens. For example, his last film tanked and he has the studio behind him for his next Big one. But no matter the challenge, he is very ambitious on making a successful film.

Join the cast and crew for the premiere of this project on Saturday, September 24th from 10-11am @ The Coral Gables Art Cinema, located at 260 Aragon Avenue in Coral Gables. This event is FREE and open to the public. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to Meagan via email:

 2016 – 2017 After School Film Program Update

The three sites that have been chosen for this year’s after school program are as follows:

  • Young Men’s Preparatory Academy
  • Miami Lakes Educational Center
  • Miami Beach Senior High School

*Currently all of the sites/new students are learning about how produce and create a Silent Film Project. In a couple of months the projects will be filmed and edited before moving on to the 2nd and 3rd phase of the production schedule (writing/producing/directing a narrative film & developing and filming a TV Commercial Spot).

“The Production” Joel is a little stern when bad stuff happens. For example, his last film tanked and he has the studio behind him for his next Big one. But no matter the challenge, he is very ambitious on making a successful film.

Join the cast and crew for the premiere of this project on Saturday, September 24th from 10-11am @ The Coral Gables Art Cinema, located at 260 Aragon Avenue in Coral Gables. This event is FREE and open to the public. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to Meagan via email:


Louis De Priest, Assistant Site Coordinator
Mr. De Priest is the TV Production Instructor at Miami Lakes Education Center. After graduating with a B.A. in Mass Communications from FSU, Louis started his career in TV at a PBS station in Jacksonville, Florida. Louis has shot, edited and directed most forms of videos and film. From Coca Cola, Burger King, Winn Dixie and Ford commercials to Feature and Short films. In the early 80’s he worked on “Miami Vice” and started teaching in 1986. He has taught all levels of TV production from University, Adult Education to High School. In the 90’s Louis earned his M.S. in Vocational Education. All the while continuing to run a small video production company, “Hired Gun Films”. Every year his classes continue to win awards for their outstanding work. In 2016 one of his student won a National Award for the best PSA in the country. Mr. De Priest has supported the work of FFI since the beginning and hopes to continue after his retirement.

Alexandra M. Sanchez, Assistant Site Coordinator
Ms. Sanchez, received her Bachelors of Science in Journalism from the University of Florida in 2014 specializing in Photo and Video Journalism. I worked throughout my college years at various newspapers including the St. Augustine Record, the Gainesville Sun and the Miami Herald as a photo and video journalist. After I graduated I biked across the country in support of Affordable Housing and with that I found my true calling was in film and video storytelling. After finishing my trip I moved to Miami and began working at a documentary production (rakontur) company as an editor. With that I threw myself into the filmmaking creative process. I am an avid cyclist, rock climber, yogi and live music enthusiast. I’m very active in the local music scene in Miami with an organization called SoFar Sounds and the yoga community in Miami Beach. I thrive off of creating community and exploring different facets of Miami, learning from and teaching others that every aspect of our lives can be interpreted through art. I believe everyone has a story to tell and I am excited to be part of the Florida Film Institute’s team!

Former FFI Student

TJ was a part of the FFI film program produced at The Miami Children’s Museum back in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Since graduating from college a few years ago, TJ has been assisting in producing & writing in Los Angeles. He loves these two creative positions because both deal intensely with story and character and that’s what he is most passionate about. While looking for the next exciting (and paid!) gigs, TJ keeps busy by writing scripts and outlines (they tend toward the thriller genre). About a year ago TJ did a 5 month internship at Plan B Entertainment, Brad Pitt’s production company. They’ve done World War Z, 12 Years a Slave, and Selma (among others). TJ was there to see them option the rights to a graphic novel, go through editing on Selma, do pre-production on Lost City of Z and countless other projects. It was an incredible experience for TJ as he was given the opportunities to meet some amazing creators (David Fincher and Andrew Dominik stand out as highlights)! While at that last job, TJ read and wrote coverage on many scripts and it really inspired him to gravitate towards the assistant/producing arena. TJ recently told us that “FFI has had a huge impact on my young career in the biz and it is why I am where I am today. My fantastic experiences at the Miami Children’s Museum and the work that you’ve done to encourage filmmaking across middle and high schools students in South Miami is to be applauded. Every experience and opportunity I’ve been given wouldn’t have been possible without the foundations you gave me 8+ years ago at the Children’s Museum. Thanks Stephanie and everyone at FFI for helping me make my dreams into reality!”

Film Festival News

MATCH.KOM (MBSHS) and UNDERGROUND ARTIST (JFSHS) are “Official Selections” in the Depth Of Field International Film Festival competition!

The Miami Short Film Festival recently informed us that our film THE CANDIDATE (produced last year @ MBSHS) has been selected to screen during their festival which takes place November 14-19, 2016.

COUNTDOWN, our summer film camp project from last year was accepted into the Flamingo Film Fest! This is a local film fest that had two screenings at FAU in late April.

MATCH.KOM, produced last year at Miami Beach Senior High School was given an award of recognition from the Best Shorts Competition in La Jolla, California!

Thank you for your continued support!

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. 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.

The Children’s Trust
Miami Dade College
Miami-Dade County
Florida Division of Cultural Affairs
Coral Gables Art Cinema
Miami-Dade County Public Schools


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 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, is 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), Garnet Productions, Coral Gables Art Cinema, VideoLab Solutions, and Miami-Dade County Public Schools.