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December 2006 Newsletter


Hello Everyone! Are you all geared up for the Holidays? I certainly hope so, because this is the perfect time to celebrate all the wonderful things that have come to us this year.

For me, this has been a year of challenge and change filled with the overwhelming joy of the Institute’s definitive year of continuous successes. What I mean by that is that it seems as if everything we did this past year, worked well. And most times, better than we could ever have expected.

For example:

Our office building was sold mid-year and we were told we would have to move. As you can imagine, I dreaded the idea of packing up everything, searching for new space, and then moving into it. But as luck would have it, I found the perfect office space in a small beautifully designed Art Deco Building, inhabited by the nicest group of people you could every want to meet. I’m so happy. It’s so much nicer. Stop by and visit. The address is – 640 NE 124 Street, North Miami, FL. 33161

Then, it seemed like every film our students turned out this year was winning a major award at some film festival somewhere. I’m pretty sure we’ve won more awards this year than in any other year in our history. And the quality of our student’s films has risen to compete with or exceed any other student-produced film in the country. That to me is the real success of the past year

In addition, we are becoming better known for the wonderful programs that we create thanks to our PR firm The Conroy Martinez Group. There have been newspaper articles and radio coverage about us and I’ve even done an interview on Television. I certainly hope I did well. It’s going to run on Miami-Dade Cable Tap from December 18th thru 24th. Try to catch it and send me your opinion.

Well, that’s it for this year. Now we’re looking to 2007. We intend to rush into next year with even more enthusiasm and spirit than ever before. With a collection of bright new ideas and strong programs in the works, we expect even better results than we had this past year.

Lastly, I want to personally wish each and every one of you the very best Holiday Season ever, and thank you all for helping to make this year The Florida Film Institute’s finest to date.

The Newest Addition to the FFI Family

It is with great joy that we announce the latest Meagan & Arthur Production, (Drum Roll Here) . . .

Jordyn Coral Lewis
Born: Oct 5 2006
Time: 9:27am
Weight: 8lbs 3oz

Meagan is one of our great instructors. She helps the students “Cast” their films properly, which is why they work so well and win acting awards. Mother and Baby Girl are doing well, Father is full of pride, and the Institute can’t wait for it’s newest student to enroll.

FFI Student Film Named “BEST FLORIDA FILM”

Here’s our top success story of the year. Why? Because it doesn’t get any better. Last month, amid all the awards and accolades that the Miami Northwestern HS film “A New Love” had already won, the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival presented it with it’s top award in the student short film category and declared it the Best Florida Film of the year.

Jabari Payne, the talented young director of the film, was on hand at the festival to except the prize and say a few words about the production.

The film, which deals with an inter-city love theme, was shot on location at Miami Northwestern HS, and was crewed by the entire film program class. Student Marcus Issac who shares in the award later superbly edited the Film with great sensitivity.

FFI’s Newest Film Program Sponsor

The Florida Film Institute would like to welcome a new sponsor, the Florida Marlins Community Foundation ‘Cornerstones for Kids’, for their donation to help build a brighter future through education, the arts and baseball. We thank them for their generous Grant.

FFI Student Film Included In Festival Winner’s Reel

During the 11th Annual “Do It Your Damn Self!!” (DIYDS) National Youth Video and Film Festival held in Cambridge, MA, November 17-18th, 2006; our student Film ‘SAFE’ from Coral Reef HS was selected for inclusion in the winner’s reel.

Director Jonathan Juarez, then a senior and now a film student at Brown University, attended the screening at The Brattle Theater to accept the honor on behalf of his alma mater.

SAFE has screened at many film festival this year and we are very proud to have played a small part in its creation.

“From whence they came”, a musing from Alyn Darnay

There’s a famous line in a movie, it’s delivered in a whisper, from a disembodied voice to the story’s protagonist; the voice says, “If you build it, he will come.” And so the story sets off in search of the meaning to that beautifully intoned phrase.

My story isn’t so romantic, but there’s a lot of soul in it, maybe a little love, certainly an ocean of creative juice. It’s has all the elements of a good narrative, more actually, since it concerns many narratives. It has to do with people, creative people. The type of Creative People who strive to reach a goal that is as high as the highest mountain peak, as deep as the deepest ocean, as complex as the human heart itself.

This tale begins at Cineworks Digital Studios, Miami’s premier film laboratory and state of the art post-production facility. (Thanks Guys, for the use of the hall). For it is here that your faithful narrator’s scriptwriting workshop was held. In a room designed for the projection and correction of creative endeavors, a group of people met to learn some theory and its practical application…from me.

The Institute put out a call about the workshop, in the hopes that it would attract bright professionals and once again be the successful program everyone wants it to be. “If you hold it, they will come.” Happily, I can honestly report that it was just that, successful.

But, how was I to know, to anticipate, the unique quality, the blend of magic, the “Quan” of the People who arrived to participate. One came each night from the far off land known as Orlando. Another from high atop the buildings she was designing, yet another put down the newspaper she worked on to pick up another method of expression, a member of the Legal profession dropped his briefs, even a film director and editor team showed up on set.

And, so the business of teaching and learning was undertaken. For nights it continued, with the best of written/spoken story telling being exposed in gulps and grabs until…the Actors showed up. And they brought Life with them. No longer was the word on paper, but now it had a face and a body and a voice and a multi-faceted personality. The words, the stories, were Breathing. They had been given form. They now existed in our world.

And then, as quickly as it started, it was over. And then I mourned its passing thinking, “they would never come again!” And then, a script came…”can you take a look at this, I worked on what you suggested.” And another, and another. And they had taken some of my suggestions, only they had gone much, much further, they had found their own voice, their own life within the words. And I, well, I became a very happy fellow.

So next March, once again “We will hold it.” Hopefully, they will come.

Oh, and Have A Great Holiday Season – Alyn Darnay

Record Turn-Out for FFI’s Film Program

The Florida Film Institute in conjunction with The Miami Children’s Museum has been working together for the past 11 years to present a Film Program free to students from elementary through high school. The Program’s sessions kicked off in October with a one-day audition.

The response was overwhelming. 105 children showed up to fill the 50 spots available. There were so many talented children in the crowd that choosing the winners became a Herculean Task. However, Cecilia Slesnick, public programs manager at the museum, and her staff, rose to the occasion and lifted the eligible student number to 70 who were then selected for the program.

Each program session presents an in-depth look at one of the following topics: script writing, location shooting, cinematography, acting on screen, lighting, directing, editing, sound, wardrobe, makeup and marketing. In addition to the aesthetic and technical basics of the discipline, the workshops address the business environment of the motion picture industry in order to realistically prepare the students for a career in the field. At the conclusion of the workshop series, the students will work as a team to produce a five to ten minute short film.


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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