NYWIFT Blog

How To Become a Certified Women Business Enterprise

NYWIFT Member Jean Criss, a certified member of the Metro NY Regional Chapter of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the nation’s largest third-party certifier of businesses owned and operated by women, shares membership, certification, and conference details with the NYWIFT member community. 

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Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Natalie Cash

It is always a treat to be reminded of the expertise and talent of NYWIFT members, especially new members. The diverse range of interests and the storytelling that supports these interests is inspiring. Join us in welcoming new member Natalie Cash, Executive Video Producer at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)! WCS works to conserve the world’s largest wild places in 14 priority regions, home to more than 50% of the world’s biodiversity. WCS also runs four zoos and an aquarium in NYC, educating four million visitors each year about the importance of conservation. Natalie produces short-form programming about WCS projects for multiple platforms to advance conservation and understanding of our natural world, to advocate for stronger policy, and to raise funds in support of this work.

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Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Stephanie Okun

Please join us in welcoming new NYWIFT member Stephanie Okun! Stephanie is a screenwriter/director and recent grad from Wesleyan University. She is currently working on a feature film that she started at Wesleyan called At Sea, as well as throwing herself into Production Assistant and other entry-level jobs. She is excited to be a part of NYWIFT and get more entrenched in the world of film and television. Previously, Stephanie was a NYWIFT intern – and even wrote a few of the pieces in this series! Now, we’ve turned the microphone on her to learn about her writing, her theatrical roots, and her dreams for the future.

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BRCvr Immersive Technology in Film and Television

In February 2023, Jean Criss participated in a VR/AR webinar discussing new levels of storytelling and engagement that transform the in-person experience for virtual audiences. Best known for their BRCvr virtual Burning Man experience, which delivers a stunning virtual rendition of the playa, Big Rock Creative (BRC) bridges the worlds of in-person gatherings with virtual and remote participants. Jean followed up with Co-Founders Athena Demos and Doug Jacobson in an interview about their vision for XR creation in real-time, an exploration of storytelling with all facets of production, creation, ideation, and distribution or original VR and AR content, knowledge about live events and next gen technology, and their award-winning success.

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WIFT Around the World: Postcard from Realscreen Summit

Realscreen Summit (RSS or Realscreen, for short) is an annual global market and conference dedicated to the business of unscripted and non-fiction entertainment in film and television. Three and a half days are filled with high-level keynotes, topical industry panels, networking events, pitch competitions, awards, and programming briefs from top buyers. This year’s summit ran from January 23 - 26, held at the JW Marriott in Austin, and featured 1,350 delegates from North America and some global territories such as South Korea, India, UK, and France, among others. Panayiota Pagoulatos offers a recap, as well as an exclusive conversation with Sunita Uchil, Chief Business Officer, International Co-Productions of Zee Plus.

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Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Kayla Sun

Let’s give a warm NYWIFT welcome to Kayla Sun! Kayla is a LA-based trilingual Asian filmmaker. She earned her B.A. degree for Studio Art and Economics at Vanderbilt University and subsequently worked in the art world before diving into the film world. She earned her M.F.A. for Film and Television Production at University of Southern California, as a Jeffrey Jones Scholar in writing, and is a recipient of the 2020 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Production Grant for her film The Code of Family (2022). The film also received a NYWIFT Award for Excellence in Short Narrative Directing at last year’s UrbanWorld Film Festival. Kayla spoke to us about her inspirations, love of learning, and why people of all ages should be encouraged to embrace technology.

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Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Kate Shine

Welcome to NYWIFT, Kate Shine! Kate is a Boston-born actor, writer and comedian currently living in Queens. Kate and her writing partner Molly Kiernan wrote a pilot, Let's Sick Together, based on their experiences living with epilepsy and eating disorders. It's funny, they swear! It was even selected as a finalist at the Big Apple Film Festival, Austin Film Fest, & the Filmmatic Comedy Screenplay Awards! Kate can be seen in commercials for M&M's, Tempur-Pedic, WETV and is a house performer at The Magnet Theater. Kate talked to us about approaching serious topics through humor, her journey as an artist, and her hopes for the future of disability representation in media.

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Netflix boards Black Public Media’s PitchBLACK pitching forum and Awards honoring Yoruba Richen

Black Public Media (BPM) will hold its sixth PitchBLACK Forum — the largest pitch competition for Black, independent filmmakers and creative technologists in the United States — on April 25 and 26. Winners of up to $150,000 in project funding for new documentary filmmaking and immersive media projects will be announced at the PitchBLACK Awards on April 27, honoring award-winning filmmaker and educator Yoruba Richen and emceed by Baltimore-based comedian Sir Alex. PitchBLACK and the PitchBLACK Awards will take place at The Green Space in Manhattan.

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Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Eunice Levis

Welcome to NYWIFT, Eunice Levis! Writer and director Eunice Levis is a first-generation Dominican American from the Bronx, New York. Eunice's work focuses on genre-bending stories that combine her love of horror, sci-fi, thriller, and fantasy, often through a diasporic lens. She seeks to disrupt and challenge dominant narratives around technology, race, gender, history, and diaspora identity by altering the stories we tell about them. Eunice spoke to us about her early inspirations, her latest work, and how genre stories offer a unique opportunity to challenge the status quo.

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Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Amanda DiMartino

Let’s give a warm welcome to new NYWIFT member Amanda DiMartino! Amanda is a director, producer, and editor committed to audience engagement. Some of her career highlights include collaborations with brands such as Harper’s Bazaar, Peloton, NBCUniversal, SYFY, Complex, KIDZ BOP, The Berlin Film Festival, Standard and Poor’s, and The Hollywood Reporter. Altogether, the 500-plus videos she has worked on have garnered more than one billion clicks and views while generating more than $1 million in revenue. She spoke to us about working with Bad Bunny and Usher, and why exploration is key to success!

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Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Vanessa Meyer

Welcome to NYWIFT, Vanessa Meyer! Meyer is a filmmaker, programmer, and educator based in Brooklyn, NY. In addition to having earned a Ph.D. in Communications with a specialization in personal storytelling, she has worked at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, Kiss Off Entertainment, Reel Love Film Festival and most recently, Women in Film and Television Vancouver (WIFTV). As an artist, she is interested in exploring the complexities of feelings, a theme that has repeatedly appeared in her work. Meyer spoke to us about championing unique voices as a programmer, moving to NYC, and finding light in the darkness.

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Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Mohana Rajakumar

Welcome to NYWIFT, Mohana Rajakumar! Mohana is a South Asian American scholar, novelist, screenwriter, and stand-up comic whose work regularly explores feminist themes. Some of her most notable literary accomplishments include winning the She Writes New Novelist Award in 2011 for her coming-of-age novel An Unlikely Goddess and the Best Indie Book Award for Romance in 2013 for Love Comes Later. She co-wrote and appeared in the short film Me Against the World, directed by Kali Bailey, which appeared in NYWIFT’s “Women in Film Night” at the 2022 Montauk Film Festival. Mohana has resided in Qatar since 2005. She spoke to us about working across various art forms, her writing process, and the special honor that comes with writing a banned book!

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My First Ever Sundance Experience!

"My first time covering the Sundance Film Festival in-person was everything I expected it to be. Fun, intense, inspirational, exhausting, and such an honor. Overall, the experience lived up to indeed be the experience of a lifetime. A journalist’s dream, especially mine." Tammy Reese shares her favorite star-studded moments from her trip to Park City for Sundance 2023!

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NYWIFT at Sundance: In Conversation with Jess Jacobs

In director Tracy Droz Tragos feature documentary Plan C, a hidden grassroots organization doggedly fights to expand access to abortion pills across the United States, keeping hope alive during a global pandemic and the fall of Roe v. Wade. With abortion restrictions and bans going into effect, Francine Coeytaux and her team of providers established Plan C — a grassroots organization dedicated to expanding access to medication abortion. NYWIFT member Jess Jacobs, the film’s executive producer, has a career-long history of activism – including work with the Plan C organization before the movie was even made! She spoke to us about Plan C’s Sundance premiere, her passion for reproductive justice, and the power of community.

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Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Arielle Duran

Let’s welcome new member Arielle Duran to NYWIFT! Having been raised in Ridgewood, Queens, Arielle Duran is a proud New Yorker and versatile storyteller of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent. Since graduating from the University of South Florida's Zimmerman School, where she studied broadcasting and production, Arielle’s theatrical talents have been showcased in notable television shows such as The Calling and American Rust, among other projects. In addition to acting, Arielle is currently pursuing screenwriting as a graduate student at the Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema. Arielle spoke to us about her New York roots, storytelling, and honing her craft.

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NYWIFT at Sundance: In Conversation with Katharina Otto-Bernstein

Since premiering and winning the Jury Prize in the 2022 Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival (the first to do so from the Indian subcontinent), Joyland has moved audiences worldwide with its human portrayal of the limits of love in the face of patriarchy. The film follows the youngest son in a traditional Pakistani family as he takes a job as a backup dancer in a Bollywood-style burlesque, and quickly becomes infatuated with the strong-willed trans woman who runs the show. The film is both a loving portrait of the people of Lahore, Pakistan, and a painful depiction of how rigid traditional gender roles and repressed sexuality can have a ripple effect that harms the whole community. NYWIFT member Katharina Otto-Bernstein, who produced Joyland, spoke to us about discovering new artists through mentorship, political pushback on Joyland, and how Malala Yousafzai helped the film finally reach Pakistani audiences.

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NYWIFT at Sundance: In Conversation with Liz Sargent

In the 2023 Sundance Film Festival short film Take Me Home, a cognitively disabled woman and her estranged sister must learn to communicate in order to move forward after their mother’s death. It captures of a moment of terror experienced by so many siblings of those with disabilities, when they are suddenly responsible for making a plan for a loved one who cannot live on their own, potentially upending both their lives as they also work through their grief. For writer and director NYWIFT member Liz Sargent, the story hits close to home. And she cast her own mother and younger sister to play versions of themselves. Sargent spoke to us about finding support in her identity as a sibling guardian, beautiful moments working on set with her family, and her joyous Sundance experience.

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NYWIFT at Sundance: In Conversation with Valda Witt

Many children – and more than a few adults – dream of long-distance space exploration. But what about the real human toll of that kind of journey? The new documentary The Longest Goodbye, which debuted at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, takes a poignant look at the fundamentals of day-to-day reality in space: the isolation, confinement, and lack of privacy and social contact. Executive producer Valda Witt spoke to us about the project, her childhood dreams of space travel, favorite moments making the film, and getting to know scientists and astronauts in a deeply personal way.

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