Summer Film Instructors 2018

Abbie Alvarez

Abbie Alvarez is an accomplished creative makeup artist with experience in all aspects of media makeup, fashion, video and print. Her training and education, along with her affable personality, provides her clients with a dependable, detail-oriented, and multi-faceted professional who adds to the success of the creative team on any project. She works within the production budget and schedule, regardless of the nature, scope or location. Abigail’s diverse background and experience complement her artistic talent. She has the innate ability to bring out the natural beauty of her subject, no matter the gender, ethnicity or character portrayal. 

Assata Richards

Assata is the founding director of the Sankofa Research Institute (SRI), which is a nonprofit with a mission to “create knowledge to build community”. To accomplish its mission, SRI employs Community-Based Participatory Research to work collaboratively with academic researchers, community organizations and funders to generate empirical evidence to inform social change. Some of SRI’s current and past project partners include Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, Southeast Houston Transformation Alliance of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Dance Source Houston, Project Row Houses, St. Anne Catholic Church, and CHRISTUS Health Foundation. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston and went on to earn a master’s and doctoral degree from Pennsylvania State University. She has extensive training in quantitative and qualitative research methods and analyses. After serving on the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh, she returned to Houston, Texas, to work with Project Row Houses (PRH), a nationally and internationally recognized public arts organization that utilizes art as a transformative mechanism for revitalizing economically-depressed urban communities. Also, she is an adjunct professor at the University of Houston and teaches courses in the sociology department and the arts leadership program. Mayor Sylvester Turner appointed Assata to chair his Housing Transition Committee in 2016. Lastly, she is the Vice Chair of the Emancipation Economic Development Council, which is community-led effort with the a mission to “Inspire Hope and Contribute to the Revitalization and Preservation of the Third Ward.”

Assia Lakhlif

Raised in New York, Moroccan born filmmaker Assia Lakhlif is a writer and director with a background in Fine Arts. Her award-winning films have been presented at Cannes, ArteEast, Dubai Film Festival, Harlem International Film Festival, and the International Bushwick Film Festival. Her photos and gallery-based video work has been featured at MoMa, LACMA, Art Dubai, The London Festival, Mahatat Collective Egypt, India Art Fair and the Maraya Art Center in Sharjah. Lakhlif received her BFA in Fine Arts from The Cooper Union, and her MFA in Film and Video from CalArts. She is currently a film professor teaching film theory and production courses in New York City.

Brian Favors

Brian Favors is the co-founder of Breaking The Cycle Consulting Services where he specializes in preparing educators and parents to utilize culturally responsive teaching methods to increase academic achievement in at risk student populations. He is also the co-founder and director of Sankofa Community Empowerment, Inc., a non-profit organization that services urban communities through culturally responsive educational programs in New York and Philadelphia. Mr. Favors taught social studies and special education at Bushwick Community Alternative High School for over a decade and served as an adjunct instructor at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York.

He was a contributing author to both Internalized Oppression: The Psychology of Marginalized Groups (Springer Publishing Company, 2014) and The Birth of a Nation and the Making of a Movement (Simon and Shuster, 2016). He was also featured in the National Geographic documentary film Rise Up: The Legacy of Nat Turner. Mr. Favors is the co-founder and program director of the Nate Parker Foundation, which merges film, educational programming and philanthropy to combat the crisis facing African and African American communities.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of California, Davis, a M.Ed. from Penn State University and a M.S.Ed from Queens College. He has been working with youth to cultivate academic success and community leadership since 1995.

Cary Anderson

Cary Anderson is an LA acting coach and former manager with over twenty years in the business. He has worked with many notable actors and musicians (Nate Parker, Jesse Plemons, Chad Michael Murray, Kat Graham, Bella Thorne, Curtis Jackson, Fergie, and to name a few). He has had the pleasure to work with Nate Parker since the beginning of his career.

Darren Moorman

Darren Moorman is the Founding Partner of Reserve Entertainment and he has worked alongside various industry leaders including MGM, Lionsgate, and Paramount Pictures producing over a dozen films such as SENSATION OF SIGHT, THE FIFTH PATIENT and UNCONDITIONAL. Darren recently produced an adaptation of the NYT’s best selling book, SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME with Paramount Pictures, starring Renée Zellweger, Greg Kinnear, Djimon Hounsou and Jon Voight. He is currently in pre-production on Season 2 of his TV Series that he Created and Executive Produced called POP CULTURE QUEST with Mark Hamill, and also in pre-production on a Feature Film called CASA HOGAR, and in post-production on two feature films, RUN THE RACE and INDIVISIBLE. Darren lives in Pasadena, CA with his wife Krista and two boys Eli and Zion.

Dwight Wilson II

Writer, director, and producer Dwight Wilson II is native of Oklahoma City, OK, by way of Atlanta, GA, where he attended Georgia State University as a film major. He later began his film career by establishing his own production company Innervision Filmworks, Inc.

Dwight later relocated to Auckland, New Zealand transitioning into acting. He appeared in films such as, Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America (Sony, ABC) and Bridge to Terabithia (Disney). In 2007, Dwight shot his first short-film THE RETURN, a suspense- thriller that follows an adolescent girl and her father, a widowed molecular biologist, who after experimenting with DNA reanimates his wife who has been dead for over a year. The film was shot in Auckland, Dwight was supported by a respectful production crew, colleagues of the great filmmaker Peter Jackson. He would make history as the first African-American to write, produce and direct a film in New Zealand. His most recent success came as the Behind-The-Scenes documentary director for Nate Parker’s record breaking Sundance hit, The Birth of a Nation. Dwight captured the enigmatic experience of Nate Parker’s journey from the humble start to the epic finish. His other projects, he has written, produced and directed a short-film titled Thirst; he also produced along side Korstiaan Vandiver to achieve an award-winning short-film LU, starring Nate Parker.

Dwight now resides in Los Angeles, today he focuses on projects that embody faith-based and impactful stories. He desires to give back to the those who lack hope & vision, specifically the youth and impoverished communities, by if nothing else, affording others great opportunities that were not available to him.

Ebro Darden

Ebro Darden has been on the radio since the early 1990s. After his first stint at a station in Northern California, where he was raised, he worked his way to Hot 97, a popular New York-based radio station that’s dedicated to hip-hop. Over the last decade, Darden carved his niche with his unabashed opinions and personal insight into the world of hip-hop. While he presented legends on-air, he kept his ear to the ground for the next big names. As the music director and, later, program director of Hot 97, he became well-versed in the dynamics of the industry, where labels, MCs, DJs and clubs come together to make artists. In addition to his current on-air role at Hot 97, Darden is now one of three anchor DJs on Beats 1, an Internet radio service from Apple Music.

Kay Madsen

Kay Madsen is a cinematographer who works on commercials, music videos, documentary, experimental, and feature films. He has shot national and international campaigns for clients such as Google, Microsoft, BMW, Levi’s, the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, and promos for Universal Music, Sony Music, Virgin Music, American Express, and Keds. His work has been featured in the Berlin Film Festival, Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco, Urbanworld in NY, Outfest, LA Film Fest, White Cube Gallery in London, Kaikai Kiki Gallery in Tokyo, and Blum & Poe in Los Angeles, among others. Kay’s work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Variety, Indiewire, Rolling Stone, and American Cinematographer Magazine. 

Jackie Stone

Jackie Stone is an award-winning director, writer, producer and a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and a 2013-2014 Project Involve Directing fellow. Stone has a penchant for visual storytelling, delivering poetic and precise work that seeks to merge art and social justice. Never fearful of boundary pushing and provocative content, her award winning films have been shown at numerous film festivals and broadcast on HBO Networks. Most recently her short film, Burning Angel Dust has won numerous awards including the BET Best Short Award at Bronzelens Film Festival, The Best Short Award at The Gary International Black Film Festival, Best Short at The Big Muddy Film Festival, Best Director at the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival, and Best Director at Diversity in Cannes for her short, Intercept. She made festival history at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival for having two films nominated for the Best HBO Short Film Award. She has received multiple grants including grants from the Jerome Foundation, New York Council of the Arts, and the Panavision New Filmmaker’s Grant. She recently launched a digital network, Enchant TV, to create dynamic and women centric digital content.

Keanan Nelson

Keanan Nelson has worked in multiple facets of media and video production including newsroom, documentary, commercial and network productions. A 1997 graduate of Trident Technical College, Nelson earned his degree in Radio Television Broadcasting; shortly after completing his education, he went on to hold several jobs in the local television industry specializing in affiliate news broadcasting and documentary style production. His role in this environment included editor and photojournalist. Through a constant display of dedication, professionalism and leadership, Nelson was promoted to Chief Photographer at the ABC affiliate WCIV in Charleston, SC where he was the Director of the Photojournalism department for over 5 years. Nelson left his post at WCIV in 2006 to pursue and achieve independent Director of Photography success. Over the course of his career, Nelson has acquired a vast range of video production clientele on a national level. He has worked on a variety of award-winning projects adding a Telly and an Emmy to his repertoire. As technology has shifted and Nelson seen the needs of audio implementation, Nelson has seamlessly transitioned with the demands of the digital world; you can now find him working primarily with audio content for national media outlets including CBS, HGTV, DIY Network among others covering anything from the Presidential Inauguration, documentaries for the Museum of Natural History to natural disasters. Nelson is a true professional who feels fortunate to work in a field where he interacts with a diverse population and a complexity of subject content from day-to-day and project-to-project. He is grateful to contribute to stories being shared all over the world.

Nelson is the father to 3 sons, whom he is enthusiastically raising with his wife, to be kind, upstanding citizens of the world.

Tracy Byrd

I am Tracy “Twinkie” Byrd.

I am a Businesswoman. I love this term because it is an alliance of power and purpose.

I’m a Hollywood Casting Director, Producer and Owner of In The Twink of an Eye Productions. I find talent, and guide it, finding the Best Global Storytellers to create visual art. But my purpose is more than this. I also influence perception around the world with a passion to empower, encourage and uplift others.

I have collaborated with major studios including Fox Searchlight, Sony/Screen Gems, Lifetime TV, BET, CodeBlack/LionsGate and I.M. Global. Directors and Producers such as Ryan Coogler (Creed), Mara Brock Akil (Being Mary Jane) and Debra Martin Chase (Sparkle).

I am proud to have helped discover new talents like Michael B Jordan, Parker Sawyers, Tika Sumpter, Omari Hardwick and Gina Rodriguez and collaborated on fine films and TV series like Being Mary Jane, Southside with You, Fruitvale Station, Notorious and Stomp The Yard.

In my purpose, I have created and shifted perception and awareness on specific topics in our country and around the world. From the Black Lives Matter movement of films like Fruitvale Station & the upcoming short, The Counter: 1960, which I wrote and directed, the teen sex trafficking film Fig and the historic first date of Michelle Robinson & Barack Obama in Southside With You, I have helped raise consciousness in a troubled world which desperately needs it.

As a woman, I use my natural abilities to assist others and share my journey with those who can benefit from it. I have helped students, women’s organizations, teachers and administrators who do the important work of guiding tomorrow’s leaders. I’ve mentored Teen Girls in Foster care and counseled mentees through the difficulties of our nation’s educational process.

Hollywood is a male-dominated business but that is a numerical perception. True domination is getting the job done with style and authority. In this regard, I lead by using all of my skills, inspiration and personality to complete the task before me. Whether that is working on a high-profile film or helping a lost youth to find herself, the marriage of purpose and power helps me succeed each day.