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October 2008 Newsletter


Since its inception in 1992, the Florida Film Institute has mentored over 4,675 middle and high school students from Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. In the past 16 years, FFI student films have received 31 awards in filmmaking. The student films have been screened at 5 national, 7 regional, and 17 local student film festivals and on HBO Kid Flicks.

That’s a record any organization can be proud of; I know I am. I also know that it takes hard work and money to maintain an organization that can continue to achieve the lofty goals that I set for us each year. So far we’ve been successful with both.

We were hoping to expand our capabilities this year by adding computers, editing resources, and creating more programs, but unfortunately we’ll have to wait a bit. This year, we like most other non-profit organizations around the country have been plagued with the same economic problem. Grants, the staple of our existence, have been cut or eliminated due to our harsh financial times.

However, we are still here and I’m glad to report, HEALTHY. We have received support from a variety of sources, and continue to receive it. We are expanding our “CINEMA” in school program; our professional workshops are on-going, and our festival participations are continuing as scheduled. We are able once again to positively influence the film education of students and professional throughout the region.

As we begin our new season, it is our fervent hope that the economic challenges facing our country and our neighbors is short lived so we can continue and strengthen our job of bettering the human condition through education.

The Children’s Trust Supports FFI With A New Contribution

The Florida Film Institute is proud to announce that we have been selected by the Children’s Trust to receive one of their educational grants. This honor and faith in our ability to positively impact the lives of students in Miami-Dade County will allow us to extend our reach from 4 school programs to 6 school programs this year.

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 by making strategic investments in their future.

The Children’s Trust encourages creative approaches to coordinating, integrating and funding services across and within the areas of health, safety, development and to promote increased parental and community involvement on behalf of all our children and The Children’s Trust stresses outcome measurements for all approved grants.

We are very grateful and wish to acknowledge our appreciation.

FFI Instructors Strike Gold at 48-Hour Film Project

Alyn Darnay and Tavares Beverly both won multiple awards with their films at this year’s 48 Hour Film Project. The 48 Hour Film Project is a wild and sleepless weekend in which competing teams make a movie (write, shoot, edit and score it) in just 48 hours.

On a Friday night in September, the teams (this year there were 45 teams) got a character, a prop, a line of dialogue and a genre, all to be included in their movie. 48 hours later on Sunday, the movies were turned in completed.

Tavares Beverly’s “Beverly Boy Productions” team turned in a film called “Hearing Hunny.” It took home awards for audience favorite group C, best use of prop, and best visual FX.

Alyn Darnay’s “Team Chaos” turned in a film called “The Art of Roadkill” and won awards for best director, screenplay, editing, and musical score. It has also become and official selection of the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival and The Florida Media Market Film Festival and will be screened at both venues this month.

We are very proud of our instructors and this just makes us appreciate them more. Our sincerest congratulations to you both.

Gateway to World Media Conference

October 23, 26, 2008
FMM Award

Stephanie Martino-Rizzi To Be Given Lifetime Achievement Award

At last our fearless leader is being recognized for her many contributions to strengthen the film industry in South Florida and further the film education of our children. This Lifetime Achievement Award, to be present at and by the Florida Media Market this month, has been awarded by a unanimous decision of the board of directors for the organization.

In a phone interview, Maritza Guimet, director of the Media Market, stated the board felt Stephanie had become both an Icon and a leading Mentor in the South Florida Community. They feel, and rightfully so, that she has done all of this without ever asking anything in return, out of love for film and people and not for gain.

“Her work within our community has been far reaching and has always had a positive impact,” Ms Guimet said. “Be it the summer film programs, the Miami Children’s Museum Films School, the “Cinema” High School Programs, her work with the Miami Film Festival, the Ad Fed, or the numerous community outreach programs that FFI creates, Stephanie has always been totally devoted to creating and supporting film students and film professionals.”

When asked how she felt about the award, Stephanie said, ” Well, I’m honored of course, but are you sure they’ve got the right person? I’m just doing what seems right to me.”

Well Stephanie, they did get it right. You deserve every bit of this honor. Enjoy it and congratulations from the staff and friends of the Florida Film Industry.

Meet Our New Instructors & Staff

This year we are lucky to be adding some very talented teachers to our roster. They are each unique in their approach to teaching filmmaking and are each remarkable communicators.

Alyssa Weiss

Alyssa a professional playwright and producer for Giggle Girl Productions. She received a Master’s Degree in Science for television production from Boston University in 2008 and a Bachelor of Art’s as an English/ Creative Writing major focusing in dramatic writing in 2006.

Her documentary “Kids with Crohn’s” is used by various foundations and doctors to help children who have Crohn’s Disease. She was a finalist for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival for her play “Waiting for the Boys” and has worked with WGBH on the hit children’s show “Fetch!” with Ruff Ruffman.

A native of Miami, Fl. Alyssa is proud to be back home and with the Florida Film Institute.

Arturo Sande

After serving time in the military, Arturo Sande earned a B.A. in Mass Communications and quickly immersed himself in the broadcasting world. A producer and writer, Arturo has worked with landmark-industry networks such as Mundos, Univision, VH-1 and Telemundo.

His credits include “VH-1 Behind the Music”, “Despierta América”, and “Decisiones” among others. He has worked in TV Commercials for McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Sears, and General Motors.

In 2007 Arturo was selected to participate in the “Creative Summit with Nickelodeon”, a workshop designed to train new talent in the art of creative writing and transforming ideas and concepts into production. A graduate of the New York Film Academy, he is currently developing several film and TV scripts.

Claudia Santos

Claudia’s experience ranges from in front of the camera to behind the scenes. She has honed her craft by producing, directing and hosting academic and commercial videos in Brazil and in the United States.

As an independent filmmaker, she produced and hosted the Brazilian segments for the Latin American series “Successful Women in Latin America”. In the United States she continued her independent film work.

At Cornell University, she produced videos for the International Student Programming Board, and she hosted and produced student videos such as “Latinos at Cornell”. Claudia also worked at The Discovery Channel, Time-Warner (Pegasys), and Univision as well as various production houses.

Currently she is finishing a graduate degree in Intercultural/International Education at Florida International University. Her production work includes documentary subjects that transform our multicultural community. Through film, she wants to create a dialogue for our universal shared experiences.


We want to hear from you! Please check out FFI’s Facebook Page and stay updated with what is new and upcoming with our award winning film programs. But also, while you are there we encourage you to start posting some of your own thoughts and ideas about filmmaking- perhaps, what is your favorite film and why? or what programs you would like FFI to consider producing in the future? It would be great to get a dialogue going between our FB page and our many fans!

Watch FFI on “You Tube”

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 some have won awards at film festivals across the country.

You’ll find us at:
See you there!


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.

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