Gringa screens in Florida, LA’s Mexican Consulate, and UCLAx

Gringa screenings 2019 mpi

MPI Original Short scores another win at UCLAx

MPI Original short film Gringa has enjoyed dozens of screenings around the country. In the past few weeks, we’ve proudly screened it at the Fort Myers Independent Film Festival on April 25th, the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles as part of the Immigrants Arts Series on April 25th, and the UCLAxFilmFest on May 4th. At the UCLAxFilmFest, director Claudia Murray won Best Director for her work on the short.

This adds to an impressive track record of wins, including a Hollyshorts Monthly Screening Series Audience Award, Best Short at the Fayetteville Film Festival, the Audience Award at the Broad Humor Film Festival, and many more.

Gringa follows a Cuban American woman and her eccentric grandfather as they track down a rare car part for their family back in Havana. We are thrilled to have been a part of these fantastic events, which engage diverse film audiences and other creators.

RECAP: MPI's Winter/Spring Screenwriting Workshops


MPI’s Virtual Screenwriting Workshops End on a High Note

Every great film starts with a great story. And that’s why MPI is committed to supporting screenwriters and documentary filmmakers find, develop, and craft great stories about freedom. This year, MPI is offering seven screenwriting workshops—and we just wrapped the first two.

“Writing the Calling Card Short Film” met weekly from January through April. Along the way, seven filmmakers wrote and revised short film scripts on subjects ranging from moving dramas about political refugees escaping tyrannical states, to comedic takes on online witch hunts, to marijuana legalization. Each participant presented their work twice to the larger group, using the notes received during the first workshop to revise toward their second presentation.

“Documentary Storytelling” likewise met weekly from January through April—with a brief hiatus in the middle so that participants could move their films forward. Some used the time to polish rough cuts; others used it to do field research or capture interviews and new footage. One participant even considered converting his doc into a narrative feature—a thought experiment that proved richly illuminating as he decides how best to frame and produce the story he wants to tell.

Led by MPI chief creative office Erin O’Connor and executive vice president Maurice Black, both workshops received rave reviews. Participants called the workshops “transformational,” “inspiring,” “collaborative,” and “challenging.” Additional comments:

This workshop is a wonderful opportunity for you to improve your story and also collaborate with immensely intelligent and experienced people.
To be able develop a project within a community willing to give you honest and forthcoming feedback is a dream for many writers who often have to navigate the limitless choices a story presents without input, affirmation, and objectivity from a group of others skilled in the craft.
The workshop is an excellent way to develop or improve one’s own writing discipline. Being part of a weekly scriptwriting group, that includes two major presentations of one’s own writing, really helps an individual writer hone their craft and better prepares them for future collaborations with writers, directors and producers.

Later this month, MPI will launch two additional workshops: Concept Development, led by Erin, and a second Calling Card workshop run by Maurice. Both will run throughout the summer.

RECAP: Filmmakers Thrive at MPI’s Directing Workshop

2019 directing workshop mpi

Inaugural Directing Workshop receives Rave Reviews from Participating Filmmakers

From April 25-28, the Moving Picture Institute produced its first directing workshop. We designed this invitation-only seminar as an exclusive opportunity for up-and-coming writer/directors in our network. In particular, we invited promising alumni of MPI programs and screenwriting workshops, as well as filmmakers who are already green-lit to direct MPI original projects in 2019. Two of those projects included forthcoming MPI Original shorts A Piece of Cake and The Perfect One.

Over the course of the seminar, seven writer/directors learned from working film and television directors about best practices and visual storytelling. Shorter sessions included masterclass conversations with student Oscar and Emmy-winning filmmakers, who are at breakout points in their careers.

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we were able to provide this opportunity at no cost to our filmmakers.

Here’s what our filmmakers had to say:

If I could go back in time, I would never have gone to film school. I would rather have invested my time learning from working industry professionals curated by MPI.
After going to film school and having dozens of professors where maybe one or two provided superior value, MPI gave us access to people are all providing superior value. This is a much better use of time, is far more hands-on, and doesn’t sink a student hundreds of thousands into debt.
This was a phenomenal workshop. I believe I walked out of it a better director. It forced me to confront new ideas I hadn’t considered, let me explore the perhaps unconscious themes in my own work, and gave me the chance to experiment. I am thankful to the supporters who made this tremendous opportunity possible for myself and the other fellows.
I’ve been fortunate to attend a number of MPI workshops and this was absolutely one of my favorites. Incredibly helpful. Thank you!

Sign up for the Collaboration Filmmakers Challenge!



Our friends at the Collaboration Filmmakers Challenge are entering the 8th year of their two-week short film competition in LA. Several filmmakers in the MPI network have participated in the past, thanks to the amazing prizes and networking opportunities. We are proud to sponsor the screening on June 7th.  

Participants who sign up to make a film must also give help to at least one other filmmaker, as well as receive help from another filmmaker in the competition.

If you don’t want to make your own film, you can sign up as a Collaborator and help others make their movies -- this is a great option for actors, for example. Check out this video for more information about CFC and its filmmakers.

Sign up on the CFC website—the cost is $40 for Filmmakers and $25 for Collaborators.

The best films, as chosen by CFC’s celebrity jury, will be shown to a full house at the prestigious Harmony Gold Theater. You'll have the chance to have your film seen by Two and a Half Men co-creator Lee Aronsohn and Iron Man producer Peter Billingsley. More judges will be announced soon.

They’ll also award over $12,000 in cash prizes, camera gear from RED and Moondog Labs, production software from Final Draft and Red Giant, and a chance to win a $10,000 grant towards your next film.

Here are the dates for this year's competition:

  • May 14—CFC Kickoff Party

  • May 15-29—Competition Period

  • June 7—Short Film Premiere (proudly sponsored by the Moving Picture Institute)

Legally Speaking: Texting Suicide

Can an online troll be held accountable for another’s demise?

JUST RELEASED: Constitutional law professor Barry McDonald and We the Internet TV’s Lou Perez hash out yet another free-speech question in a newly released episode of WTI TV’s “Legally Speaking” series.

A Massachusetts woman encouraged her boyfriend to commit suicide. Is she guilty of manslaughter, or was she within her First Amendment rights? If she's guilty, how should we punish online trolls who try to goad people into suicide? These are the questions raised in the latest episode of “Legally Speaking,” We the Internet TV’s series on the finer (and weirder) points of the First Amendment.

Watch the video here, and be sure to post your own questions about free speech in the comment section!

RECAP: MPI’s Business of Film April Session

business of film

filmmakers from across the country participate in virtual session on leveraging festivals

Last month, filmmakers and producers in our Business of Film program heard from Daniel Sol, the festival director and lead programmer of LA’s prestigious Hollyshorts Film Festival. Our filmmakers learned how to make the most of their calling card shorts and festival runs. To get a sense of the conversation and practical advice, watch Film Courage’s excellent playlist of interviews with Daniel.

Many MPI filmmakers have participated in the HollyShorts Film Festival, as well as the HollyShorts Monthly Screening Series at the TCL 6 Chinese Theatres. For example, MPI original short GRINGAwon the Monthly Series Audience Award in December. The MPI-supported documentary INCARCERATING USscreened in 2017. A few years prior, MPI filmmaker and Business of Film program participant Cyrus Saidi screened his MPI-supported sci-fi short L1TTL3 BR0TH3R.

This is "Legally Speaking"


We the Internet TV's head writer Lou Perez is at it again...with a brand new series, “Legally Speaking,” in which he joins forces with Pepperdine University School of Law professor Barry McDonald to bring viewers up-to-speed on all things First Amendment.  

Lou launched the series in early March and has since shared six episodes.

The latest episode, “Kitten Crushing Videos (yes, it's a thing),” follows the story of a California man who posts online videos of a woman crushing kittens with her heels. Illegal, right? No! Watch the video to understand why!

Subscribe to the WTI TV channel and click the bell to turn on notifications from them, so you don't miss any of their new videos.

We the Internet TV Launches #FunnyHateTour

WTI TV ’s head writer Lou Perez onstage

WTI TV’s head writer Lou Perez onstage

The Funny Thing About Hate Speech with Lou Perez Brings Comedy to Serious Debate

Last Thursday, We the Internet TV’s head writer Lou Perez kicked off the 2019 campus tour, The Funny Thing About Hate Speech, to a full house at SubCulture in NYC.

After some back and forth banter with the audience, Lou premiered the latest WTI TV mini-documentary, 5 Reasons Why We Need Hate Speech. Then former ACLU president Nadine Strossen and free-speech activist Zach Wood, both of whom are featured in the mini-doc, joined Lou onstage to discuss their first-hand experience of being censored.

This show was the first of five stops -- Lou plans to bring the tour to Denver, Portland, Berkeley, and Raleigh this fall. He promises new panelists for each show, along with fresh jokes and loud outfits. As always, he welcomes hecklers with open arms.

If you haven’t watched the mini-doc yet, what are you waiting for? Check it out here and be sure to visit WTI TV’s website for updates on tour dates and locations.

MPI Filmmaker Toby Fell-Holden Becomes Vimeo Staff Pick

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Join us in congratulating Toby

Earlier this month, MPI-supported filmmaker Toby Fell-Holden was honored to learn that his short film Balcony had become a Vimeo Staff Pick. Way to go Toby! You can watch it here.

Toby is a critically-acclaimed writer/director. To learn more about his career and his advice for filmmakers, check out MPI’s 2018 Spotlight on him.

MPI at the 2019 WGFestival

2019 WGFest MPI panel

MPI Hosts Panel to Discuss Film Financing

In March, MPI participated in the annual Writers Guild Festival, a weekend-long event run by the nonprofit Writers Guild Foundation in partnership with the Academy Education and Nicholl Fellowship Programs. The festival invites acclaimed television and film writers to share their advice and experiences.

2019 marked MPI’s second year participating in the festival. Last year, MPI’s vice president of talent development Lana Link moderated an MPI masterclass panel with Craig Borten, an Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Dallas Buyers Club, about writing films for social impact.

This year, MPI’s panel took a practical approach to the screenwriting business with a  panel titled Indie-IY: Finding Financing for Your Film.

Sev Ohanian and Aneesh Chaganty, the filmmaking duo behind the hit film Searching, shared the compelling story of how they took that film from a short concept to a $75 million+ box-office success. Alex Saks, the principal at Page Fifty-Four Pictures who is known for her work on prestigious indies such as The Florida Project, talked about what she looks for as a producer and outlined numerous avenues to financing a film. Lana moderated as the panel addressed common questions from MPI filmmakers.

Here’s what some MPI screenwriters, whom MPI sponsored to attend, had to say:

Loved this weekend. So grateful to MPI for making it possible. I am inspired to push forward as a writer in a new way due to this weekend.
Thank you, MPI, both for affording me this unique opportunity, and also for your panel on film financing — easily the most daunting aspect of filmmaking from a writer’s perspective, and an irreplaceable session for WGFest!
Where else will you hear an industry veteran respond to a young filmmaker’s problem with, ‘Oh, that’s an easy solve! Here is exactly what you should do …’ That is what happened in a Q&A session at WGFest this past weekend. WGFest is an invaluable experience both personally and professionally.

MPI’s News Channel WTI TV Is Hitting the Road

2019 WTI TV Campus Tour Logo

The Funny Thing About Hate Speech Tour Launching This Month

On Thursday, April 25, come one, come all—it's going down! We the Internet TV will be launching its 2019 Campus Tour with the premiere screening of 5 Reasons Why We Need Hate Speech, a mini-documentary featuring WTI TV's Lou Perez.

We the Internet TV has become the go-to safe space for satire—74 million views and counting! This nationwide tour will bring WTI TV’s special brand of humor to the university free-speech debate through interviews with First Amendment experts, activists, and journalists. Decide for yourself whether hate speech has a place in society.

There will be live stand-up comedy and conversations with the scholars and thinkers who appear in the mini-doc...oh, and did we mention free drinks, free giveaways, and plenty of FREE SPEECH?!

(But please, no air horns. Lou really hates air horns.)

View the event page and purchase your ticket today!

MPI’s News Channel We the Internet TV has been Webby-Honored Again!


WTI TV Recognized in the 23rd Annual Webby Awards

We the Internet TV’s Stop Making Me Defend Donald Trump video has been selected as an official honoree in the Best Film & Video – Variety category this year. This recognition ranks We the Internet TV in the top 20% of the 13,000 entries submitted this year from all 50 U.S. states and 70 countries—a huge accomplishment. Furthermore, this is the fourth consecutive year that We the Internet TV has been recognized at the Webbys.

The Webby Awards, known as the “Oscars of the Internet,” are the Internet’s most respected symbol of success. As a Webby honoree, We The Internet TV proves yet again that we are setting the global standard for excellence in online media.

We the Internet TV remains the official safe space for satire. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for new videos every week!

See "Regulation" in Phoenix This Week


Two screenings you won’t want to miss

MPI’s original short film Regulation screens again this week in Phoenix as an official selection in the International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival. Festival-goers can catch screenings on Friday, April 12th, and Saturday, April 13th.

Written and directed by MPI filmmaker Ryan Patch, the film depicts a near future wherein a young social worker named Mia (Sunita Mani, GLOW) travels through a small town community administering behavior-modifying patches that guarantee happiness for the wearers. She must decide what to do when ten-year-old Kaleigh (Audrey Bennett, Broadway’s Frozen) refuses to accept the “happy patch.”


MPI-hiring-Dir. of Comm & Marketing

MPI is looking to hire a director of communications and marketing. This is a fantastic position with lots of opportunity for innovation, entrepreneurship, growth, and creative problem-solving. Plus it’s the movies! Learn more here — and if that description looks like you, please apply. 

In the Spotlight: MPI Filmmaker and Director Rob Montz

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Rob Montz Dubbed “Star Turn” for His Online Video Geniusness

Last week, Quillette, an online magazine dedicated to providing a platform for free thought, published an article on MPI filmmaker and director Rob Montz. They praise Rob as a serious documentarian who has the uncanny ability to produce high-end, intellectually sophisticated, and entertaining online videos.

Rob, who is best known for his fast-paced and hard-hitting short documentaries, produced and directed We the Internet TV’s campus free-speech trilogy Silence U. Silence U: Part 2 was awarded the 2018 Reason Video Prize and was covered in The New York Times and the College Fix.

His latest We the Internet TV mini-doc, Is Instagram Destroying Teenage Girls? A Montz Micro-Dose, examines how social media may be contributing to rising rates of depression amongst teenage girls.

You can watch Rob’s WTI mini-docs and more at the Moving Picture Institute's comedy news channel We the Internet TVand read the full Quillette article here.

MPI-supported Doc Screening at NYPAP


BATTLE FOR BROOKLYN Heading Back to...Brooklyn

The MPI-supported documentary Battle for Brooklyn will screen on Monday, April 15 at the Alamo Drafthouse from 6:00pm - 8:30pm as part of the New York Preservation Film Festival. A panel discussion following the screening will feature Norman Oder, author of the blog Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Report; Katia Kelly, whose blog Pardon Me For Asking chronicles development issues in Brooklyn; and one of the filmmakers. Tickets are on sale now.

A feature-length documentary by Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley, Battle for Brooklyn looks at how New York state abused eminent domain law to demolish Brooklyn homes and businesses, paving the way for a commercial development centered on a basketball arena. Following one resident’s lengthy fight to defy his eviction order and keep control of his apartment, the film drew praise from numerous reviewers: The LA Times called it “a deft look at a reluctant crusader and how financial sway and political override can so effectively trump the power of the average citizen."

Battle for Brooklyn won Best Documentary & Best Film at the 2011 Brooklyn Film Festival, and was one of fifteen films shortlisted for an Academy Award in the Documentary Feature category for the 2012 Oscars. Although it did not make the five final nominees, even being shortlisted was huge recognition for the filmmakers and MPI.

In the Spotlight: MPI-supported Directors Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley



all the rage—connecting emotions to health

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders states that around 80 percent of adults will experience lower back pain at some point in their lifetimes. Another prominent survey finds that half of adults experience lower back pain each year, and that around 30 million Americans suffer from it at any one time. A leading contributor to reduced productivity at work, back pain accounts for an estimated 264 million lost work days each year, while treating it costs Americans around $50 billion annually in health care costs. And yet traditional medicine has often found it difficult to treat lower back pain because, in many instances, it is unclear what is causing it.

The 2016 documentary All the Rage, directed by Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley (who previously directed the MPI-supported, Oscar-shortlisted documentary Battle for Brooklyn), examines the work of the late Dr. John Sarno (1923-2017), former professor of rehabilitation medicine at the New York University School of Medicine, whose unorthodox approach connects lower back pain to emotional rather than structural causes. Although Sarno’s theories frequently put him at odds with the mainstream medical establishment, his bestselling books have gained a large following, with thousands crediting him with their recovery from debilitating pain. Through interviews with Sarno, prominent patients, and other experts, the film asks viewers to take a more holistic view of healthcare and consider the role of emotional and mental states in fostering healing.

One of the film’s directors has first-hand experience of Dr. Sarno’s approach. When Michael Galinsky was immobilized by excruciating back pain, Sarno treated him and helped him recover, inspiring Galinsky’s 12-year effort from 2004 to 2016 to translate Sarno’s work to the screen. Other interviewees in the documentary, whom Sarno also helped, include “shock jock” Howard Stern, Seinfeld co-creator Larry David, and reporter John Stossel.

All the Rage is now available to stream on Amazon Video and iTunes.

"Regulation" Screens in Hollywood and Phoenix This Week


Don’t miss your chance to catch the latest MPI Original short!

MPI’s original short film Regulation will screen at festivals in Hollywood and Phoenix this week. On Thursday, April 4th, it will screen at the famous TCL Chinese Theatre as part of the Beverly Hills Film Festival, and on Friday, April 5th, it will screen at the International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival in Phoenix. Check out our Events page for additional details.

Written and directed by MPI filmmaker Ryan Patch, the film depicts a near future wherein a young social worker named Mia (Sunita Mani, GLOW) travels through a small town community administering behavior-modifying patches that guarantee happiness for the wearers. She must decide what to do when ten-year-old Kaleigh (Audrey Bennett, Broadway’s Frozen) refuses to accept the “happy patch.”

MPI Film Voted Top Documentary

How Jack Became Black Awarded Prize for Important Documentary

We’re happy to announce that MPI-supported documentary How Jack Became Black was awarded Best Documentary: Important Documentary About a Socially Relevant Topic at Film Threat’s inaugural Award This! Awards. Founded in 1985, Film Threat is a prominent independent film news and reviews outlet; a champion of rising independent filmmakers, Film Threat launched its Award This! awards to recognize outstanding work in independent film.

This documentary, written and directed by MPI filmmaker Eli Steele, examines what it is like to be multiracial in an America dominated by identity politics. The film is available to rent or purchase via iN Demand (check your cable provider's listings), iTunes, and Amazon Video.