Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Melissa Morales

By Mara Keen

Welcome to NYWIFT, Melissa Morales!

New York based filmmaker Melissa Morales is a first-generation Puerto Rican Latina alum from CUNY Brooklyn College with a BA in Film Production, holding a magna cum laude GPA.

Melissa is an aspiring writer, director, producer, production designer, and multimedia content creator. She has written, directed, and produced four short films in 2022, with her thesis Bigger winning a NYWIFT Emerging Female Filmmaker Award at Brooklyn College and a NYIFA Best Student Director Award, both in 2023!

Melissa tells us about receiving the NYWIFT Emerging Female Filmmaker Award, her role as a writer, director, and producer, and more!


NYWIFT Member Melissa Morales


Describe yourself. Give us your elevator pitch!

Hi, my name is Melissa Morales, I’m a first-gen Puerto Rican Latina alum from CUNY Brooklyn College with a BA in Film Production. I’m a Brooklyn-based multifaceted filmmaker, with an emphasis on being a writer, director, producer, and production designer. I’ve also worn many different hats on film sets being a 1st AD, producer, actress, production designer, set dresser, script supervisor, and production assistant. 

I enjoy creating different types of content, considering myself to be a multimedia content creator with works including short narrative films, poetry, mixed media, photography, and more. I love to tell stories that center underrepresented voices and communities in the entertainment industry, often writing drama-centered scripts with sociological and psychological themes of identity, struggle, and/or the dismantling of gender stereotypes. 


Melissa Morales at the Brooklyn College 41st Annual Film Festival with the NYWIFT Emerging Female Filmmaker Award Certificate


Congratulations on receiving the NYWIFT Emerging Female Filmmaker Award at the Brooklyn College 41st Annual Film Festival in May! What have you enjoyed the most so far being part of NYWIFT?

Thank you very much! I love the inclusivity and diversity of NYWIFT with its support for women offering grants, training programs, scholarships, and awards. It’s a great community to be a part of that uplifts women in the industry and highlights NYWIFT members’ successes. 


Behind the scenes of Bigger


I see you are a writer, director, and a producer! Which role do you enjoy doing the most? 

I do not believe I enjoy any one role more than the other. I genuinely love the entire filmmaking process, from the creation and imagination of writing a story to pre-production; making a lookbook, casting, planning the logistics and producing, to production of the film; being on set and directing a cast, to postproduction; editing all the pieces together and making the story come to life cohesively; to what comes after through promoting, marketing, festivals and distribution. 


Some of the cast & crew of Bigger


Can you tell us a bit about your award-winning thesis film, Bigger


Bigger is a coming-of-age drama film that explores various themes as Elena, a young Latina teen, struggles with body image, living in a conservative Latinx household, and attempts to find her own voice and follow her dreams of being a writer amidst it all.

The film delves into anxiety, depression, fatphobia, family, culture clash, self-image, and identity with poetic voiceovers taken directly from poems I wrote in high school, added with experimental elements such as hallucinatory dream sequences. I poured my heart into this film as it is based on some personal experiences of mine and it was a bittersweet journey to bring it to life.


Bigger film poster by Filipino artist André Manguba


As of today, what are some of your career highlights? 

Some of my career highlights include writing, directing, and producing four short films all in one year, 2022. Two of the films I’m most proud of are Perfect, an experimental horror & thriller drama film about the consequences from the obsession of perfection which is currently being submitted to festivals, and my thesis film Bigger, which was my most ambitious project thus far, working with my largest cast and crew and being selected for various awards and recognitions at festivals, such as the Official Winner of NYIFA’s Best Student Director for June 2023.


Bigger‘s current list of awards & recognitions


I’ve also interned with multiple companies and organizations within the past few years including the HollyShorts Film Festival, Young Hollywood, Alta Global Media, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard which has helped me along my path of being a multimedia content creator and branding myself “Melissamcreates;” this originated in the summer of 2022 when I decided to create a separate Instagram account for all of my media-based content to promote and market myself my senior year at Brooklyn College and for my upcoming career, which has now expanded to more social media platforms.



What’s next for you? Are there any upcoming projects that you’re excited about?

I am currently working on some scripts that I plan to further develop later this year or early next year in 2024. I am also looking for opportunities to connect and collaborate with more NYC based filmmakers and creatives on different projects. 


Connect with Melissa Morales on Instagram @MelissaMCreates!


Mara Keen

Mara Keen Mara Keen is a composer, music editor, pianist, orchestrator, producer, and piano teacher. You can hear her music featured in Netflix’s Princess Power. In 2019, she earned a B.M. from George Mason University in Classical Composition. In 2022, she earned a M.M. from SUNY Purchase in Studio Composition where she was selected as a SUNY Thayer Fellowship Winner. She is an active member of The Society of Composers and Lyricists, The Alliance for Women Film Composers, and Maestra. In 2023, she was selected to participate in the MUSE/Maestra Music Assistant Experience. That same year, she was asked to be a guest lecturer at SUNY Purchase, interned with the Institute for Composer Diversity, and interned with New York Women in Film and Television (NYWIFT).

View all posts by Mara Keen

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