Annual “Made in NY” Alumni Film Festival Brings Together PAs Past and Present

Graduates of the "Made in NY" PA Training Program gathered to share their work. Photo courtesy of Alyssa Longchamp.

February 4, 2014 - January 19 was a cold night in Brooklyn, but at the 7th Annual Alumni Film Festival of the “Made in NY” Production Assistant Training Program, graduates and guests were warmed with excitement at seeing the latest crop of graduate-submitted films. Organized by Brooklyn Workforce Innovations (BWI) and held at Littlefield on Degraw Street, this annual event is an opportunity for program graduates to showcase their creative endeavors and network with graduates of other cycles.

Nelson Quinones, a DGA Assistant Director and graduate of Cycle 5, was Master of Ceremonies for the evening. He welcomed the large crowd with an acknowledgement of the occasion: “One time per year we all get together. This is a special day for us.”

Nineteen projects were screened, ranging from short films to music videos, and genres ran the gamut from irreverent comedy to dramatic thriller. The top three audience-voted projects received prize packages which provide important encouragement to the emerging filmmakers.

First place went to Hypothetically Hope by Brandon McCaskill (Cycle 23), second place to The Fling by Jocelyn Jones (Cycle 19), and third place to Rockstar Nerds by Michael Keenan (Cycle 17).

In addition to prizes awarded to the top film projects, BWI staff members handed out special awards to graduates who have made an effort to give back to the program. Program Director Anna Novick presented the Spirit Award to Robert “Nasa” Maasin (Cycle 29); Thea Glassman, Media Associate, presented the Recruitment Award to Jelani “West” Jones (Cycle 23); Program Administrator Venus Anderson presented the Alumni Award to Dorothy Hall (Cycle 9); Training Coordinator Jason “Rowdy” Rody presented the Passing the Torch Award to Nikki Slack (Cycle 21); and Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment staffer David Moy presented the Thickest New York Accent Award to Diana “DK” Klein (Cycle 22).

When asked why it’s important to him to attend the event, recent graduate Igeoma Simon (Cycle 30) said, “It’s a celebration of my accomplishing and achieving a goal. New year, new family.” Jocelyn Jones (Cycle 19), who produced the second place winner The Fling saw the event as important to her own creativity. “I come every year,” she said. “It’s inspiration for the new year. I’ll start my next film.”

“As a ‘Made in NY’ grad, I personally feel it’s important to show support for the talent that comes out of the program,” explained Hugo Pazmino (Cycle 9). “A strong presence from ‘Made in NY’ Alumni is encouraging to the recent grads and other fellow colleagues to show that, although we may have moved on and started a career which is very demanding in terms of time and energy, we still support and respect the creative thought process and tremendous effort film festival participants exert. Ultimately, this festival is for the ‘Made in NY’ family, and I am proud to say I will always be a part of that.”

Quinones closed out the evening with a reminder of how the program has changed lives. “We’re coming in as PAs and leaving as so much more,” he said. “That’s what ‘Made in NY’ is about. I’m so proud. At the end of the day we’re doing what we love.” He then asked the audience to applaud if they loved their job. The room erupted with cheers.

To learn more about the “Made in NY” Production Assistant Training Program, click here.

- Jen Lenihan

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