Industry Expert Leads Masterclass on Working in Television

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Last week, MPI hosted Dan Levinson, founder and president of Moxie Pictures, for an exclusive Masterclass in New York City on television production. 

Moxie is a production company working across television, documentary, feature film, and branded content. The company's past credits include Netflix’s Wormwood, HBO’s The University of Sing Sing, FYI’s Arranged, and Animal Planet’s Ice Cold Gold

Dan spoke informally to MPI filmmakers on how to craft stories for optimal impact, the best opportunities to pursue in the current television landscape, and the power of unique stories within the documentary market.

Dan also took time to speak one-on-one with each filmmaker to learn about their own entertainment background and current projects—offering individualized advice.

Interested in getting the opportunity to learn from leading industry experts like Dan? Apply here to join our network of talented filmmakers and receive invitations to attend similar events.

MPI Filmmaker at the Toronto International Film Festival

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MPI filmmaker Francisco Bello wrote and edited the highly-anticipated documentary Desert One, which will premiere this month at the well-regarded Toronto International Film Festival. The film features rare, never-before-seen archival footage surrounding the rescue mission to free hostages in Tehran, Iran.

Bello is the filmmaker behind the MPI-supported Dreaming Against the World. The documentary short tells the story of Mu Xin, an artist who was imprisoned during China’s bloody Cultural Revolution. While in captivity, he risked his life to write and paint—work that in turn helped him survive. 

Bello earned Oscar and Emmy nominations for Salim Baba, a short doc about the life of a cinephile in India who makes his living screening discarded film reels to locals. 

Watch the trailer to Dreaming Against the World below and view the short in its entirety here.

‘Miss Virginia’ Trailer Released on ETonline

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The trailer for the upcoming MPI Original film Miss Virginia enjoyed an exclusive premiere on ETonline. The site is a top 10 entertainment news property, receiving 20 million unique visitors per month, with associated digital platforms that reach over 70 million US users monthly. Read the story here.

Watch the trailer below and share it with your friends! Miss Virginia will be released in select theaters and on demand October 18. 

Back to School with MPI

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With students around the country heading back to school, MPI is ramping up its outreach to school teachers and homeschool instructors to promote its educational offerings. 

To date, MPI has reached over 308,860 students with its free classroom resources.

The animated series FI$H: How an Economy Grows, designed for high school students, brings economic ideas to life. The show’s ten episodes tell the story of how three people on an island gradually develop an advanced economy, breaking down key economic concepts such as capital and risk, comparative advantage, and money. Accompanying the series are entertaining, standards-based lecture videos featuring Duquesne University economics professor Antony Davies, PhD. There are also  lesson plans, homework assignments, and activity worksheets. With FI$H MPI makes learning economics fun! 

MPI’s short film 2081 is a star-studded adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron." Devised for use in English, history, and social studies classes, the film is set in a dystopian future where everyone is "equal every which way.” In this stifling world, a Handicapper General goes to enormous lengths to punish individualism. The film stars Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name), James Cosmo (Braveheart), and Julie Hagerty (Airplane!).

 2081 is a springboard for critical thinking around themes such as freedom, resistance, equality, and the role of government. To support teachers and homeschooling parents, MPI created free lesson plans, classroom materials, and lecture videos featuring Dr. Sarah Skwire.

Are you looking for fun, memorable ways to teach about economics, equality, and tyranny? Sign up at the links above to gain access to this exclusive content! 


‘USA Today’ Lists 'Miss Virginia' as Fall Must-See

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The upcoming MPI Original feature film Miss Virginia has made USA Today’s “fall’s most must-see movie” list. The film is in good company, ranking among major studio films starring actors such as Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman, and Brad Pitt. 

Based on a true story, Miss Virginia stars Emmy winner Uzo Aduba as a struggling single mother who is losing her fifteen-year-old son to the rough streets of Washington, DC. Unwilling to see him drop out and deal drugs, she places him in a private school. But when she can’t afford tuition, she launches a movement to change the system that is destroying him and thousands like him.

The MPI film will be distributed by leading independent film distributor Vertical Entertainment. And will be available in select theaters and on video on demand October 18th. 

Learn more about the film here, and mark your calendars! 


Comedy Residency Provides Unmatched Writers Room Experience

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Last month six participants took part in MPI’s immersive four-day Comedy Residency led by We the Internet TV’s head writer Lou Perez. 

Participants were drawn to the Residency’s unique format, which gave many their first introduction to working in a writers’ room. 

“I’ve done a lot of comedy writing and workshopping in informal settings, but I have always wanted to know what a real writers’ room is like, and whether I had the talent to be part of one,” said Joseph Kast. “I love WTI’s videos, so an opportunity to collaborate with their staff writers and my highly accomplished residency peers was too good to pass up.”

Throughout the week these comedians worked collaboratively to pitch, write, and revise sketches in keeping with WTI’s “equal opportunity offender” brand of non-partisan satire. With writers coming from across the political spectrum, residents took away a better understanding of how to authentically tackle hot-button issues from all angles and write for diverse viewpoints.

“I was really curious about how you could actually create funny things together if you don't all necessarily hold the same views,” said Elvira Ibragimova. “I realized it was helping the comedy to have so many views in the room.”

Kast added that the Residency was a great opportunity to work with “a channel that is trying to transcend the polarized culture wars ravaging the arts now. WTI expects unique, original twists on political humor.”

Are you an aspiring satirist looking for real world writers room experience? Watch here for updates on our next Comedy Residency or pitch your idea directly to WTI at info@wetheinternet.tv


MPI Intern Gives Closing Speech for Academy Gold Program

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This summer MPI placed two interns, Nicole Serrato and Sara VanDivier, in the prestigious Academy Gold program. As the program drew to an end, Nicole was picked out of dozens of young filmmakers to give the closing ceremony speech before an audience that included the newly-elected Academy president, Academy members, and even celebrities such as Mira Sorvino.

These interns were able to participate in Academy Gold thanks to our partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Throughout the summer they attended special educational panels with Academy members, screenings, and high-level networking events. 

MPI placed Sara with Avalon Entertainment and Bron Studios this summer, experiences that, she said, “opened me up to opportunities and facets of the industry I never even knew existed.” 

MPI’s summer intern summit “was instrumental in helping me prepare and gain the most out of my internship with the Academy Gold and Millennium Films,” Nicole says. “The professionals and MPI alumni that spoke at the summit gave me the knowledge and insight I needed to stand out.”

Nicole and Sara both have bright futures in the film industry. This fall Sara will begin a marketing internship with NBCUniversal’s Campus U program. Nicole will head into her final year at The City College of New York and start pre-production for her senior thesis film.

The Moving Picture Institute's Hollywood Career Launch Program accepts applications on a rolling basis. Apply today!


MPI-Supported Filmmaker Accepts Tenure-Track Position at Leading University

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MPI-supported filmmaker Laura Waters Hinson has been hired as an Assistant Professor in the School of Communications’ Center for Media and Social Impact at American University in Washington, DC. This tenure-track position is an impressive accomplishment and a testament to her powerful storytelling abilities. 

Laura first came to us through an MPI production grant to support her 2014 documentary Dog Days, which centers on American entrepreneurship, immigration, and the power of persistence. She then developed and helmed the MPI-supported film Mama Rwanda, which follows two mothers who are using entrepreneurship to overcome extreme poverty. A strong documentarian, Laura’s films have been broadcast on PBS and reached audiences in Congress and the United Nations. 

As a dedicated filmmaker looking to continually evolve her craft, Laura recently turned to writing dynamic, character-driven narratives. With this move to narrative film, Laura knew she needed a smart, compelling short film to showcase her talent. So in 2017 she joined MPI’s Short Film screenwriting workshop to write the script that became the MPI Original film Moving Violation. This mock-horror film shines a light on the growing surveillance state through the story of a jilted bride who goes ballistic on a speed camera that won’t stop ticketing her. Starring Milana Vayntrub (This Is Us, Silicon Valley), Moving Violation has had an impressive showing at film festivals across the country, nabbing awards for “Best Narrative Short” and “Best Comedy.” 

“I credit MPI with much of my success as a filmmaker,” said Laura. “I have never experienced such dedicated and principled support of freedom-based filmmaking in my entire career.”

Laura is a talented and sensitive teacher -- we know that first hand, as she led MPI’s 2018 Documentary Storytelling writing workshop. American University is lucky to have her. Congratulations, Laura!  


MPI Intern Accepted into Highly Competitive NBC Page Program

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MPI’s Hollywood Career Launch Program enables young filmmakers to break into the entertainment industry, placing interns with partner production companies such as NBCUniversal, Lionsgate Entertainment, and Magnolia Pictures. The program positions interns for future success in the industry, with many going to paid positions at their host companies or other prestigious internship programs. 

One such success is 2018 alum Matthew Hanisch, who was recently accepted to the NBC Page program in Los Angeles. Previously, Matthew interned with Bron Studios through MPI and was awarded an advanced internship at Karga Seven Pictures.

Highly selective, the Page program is known as “Hollywood’s ultimate bootcamp” and the “golden ticket that opens every door.” Past pages include former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, Regis Philbin, and Aubrey Plaza. In this year-long appointment, Pages rotate through assignments, gaining hands-on skills in NBC’s content, business, and consumer divisions.

MPI caught up with Matthew to discuss how MPI’s internship program prepared him for his exciting new adventure:

How did MPI support your early career as a filmmaker? 

MPI helped me acquire some of the first paid internships on my resume. I could not have continued to expand my network or my experiences without its support. 

What skills did you gain from MPI that have helped in your career?

It was actually the skills I learned from MPI that I used to acquire my semester-length internship at NBCUniversal (NBCU), which ultimately helped secure my spot as a Page.

When I first applied for the NBCU fall internship I was rejected. However, the skills I learned from MPI helped me navigate that rejection. I knew to politely respond, thanking the manager for his time and to continue to express interest and update him on my experience over the following months. When I applied again for the spring semester, the hiring manager remarked upon my earlier professional demeanor and hired me.

I was grateful that MPI had helped prepare me so adequately for this experience. 

What are your long-term career goals? 

I’m not exactly sure what I want to do at this point in my career, but I know I want to do it at a place like NBCU with the support of people like those at MPI. 

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Do you want to jumpstart your film career? Read more about the Hollywood Career Launch Program here

(The views expressed in this interview are my own and do not express the views or opinions of NBCUniversal or its affiliates.)