Summer Film Instructors 2017

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.”

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.

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.

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. 

Lukas Behnken


Lukas Behnken is the founder and creative producer of Sterling Light Productions. Mr. Behnken recently produced the documentary titled ‘MULLY’  on the life and achievement of African native Dr. Charles Mully and his organization the Mully Children’s Family. This project has its theatrical release on October 3rd with a social action campaign  currently running and being launched worldwide on November 17, 2017.


A founding member of The Sherry Theater – Center for the Arts in the North Hollywood Arts District.  This is a not for profit organization dedicated to the empowerment of artists across all genres.


A professional working actor since 1998, Mr. Behnken, He has worked on numerous Network Television shows, Studio films and Independent films.


Mr. Behnken thrives on turning ideas into reality, and has received both praise and recognition for his ability to solve unexpected and believed to be insurmountable challenges in all phases of production. He is a valued and recognized member of the Los Angeles and international creative community.

Marcos Efron


Director Marcos Efron was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and raised in Houston, Texas. Following a short career in finance, Marcos came to Los Angeles and cut his teeth on commercials (Nike, Sony, etc.) and award-winning music videos for artists such as Jewel and The Fates. His films have played at festivals around the world, including the Sundance Film Festival. Efron co-wrote and directed the feature film AND SOON THE DARKNESS with Amber Heard and Karl Urban for Studiocanal. Other work includes the adaptation of the young adult novel THE DECLARATION for Laurence Mark Prods/Sony Pictures (which Efron will direct), and the adaptation of the historical memoirs TRIALS OF THE EARTH for producers Kerry Hamilton and Morgan Freeman. Efron’s next film is currently being packaged with talent and will shoot in New York in the winter.

Qasim Basir


Qasim Basir is an award-winning filmmaker, speaker and activist. His first film was NAACP Image Award Nominated MOOZ-LUM, which stars Nia Long, Evan Ross & Danny Glover. The coming-of-age tale about a Muslim boy going to college around the September 11 attacks was released theatrically in 2011 and has received much critical acclaim, with nominations from the NAACP Image Awards and the Black Reel Awards. The film also gained international momentum, opening in over 25 countries. Additionally, government, educational and social organizations in the US and abroad have used the film and Qasim’s voice for many different programs. Some of them include the US Embassy, US Consulate General, the UN, FBI, US State Department and Colleges and Universities all over the Country.


Most recently, Qasim just finished the festival circuit with his new film, DESTINED, starring Cory Hardrict, Jesse Metcalfe, Jason Dohring, Hill Harper, Zulay Henao and La La Anthony. Premiering at LA Film Festival, the film has since won 9 awards, including Best Director at the 2016 American Black Film Festival. DESTINED will be released this fall.


Qasim is currently in Post Production with his newest film, A BOY, A GIRL, A DREAM, starring Omari Hardwick and Meagan Good, about a Man and Woman who fall in love on the historic 2016 election night.