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AFFMedia Production Lab

Increasing Representation in Media

AFFMedia Production Lab seeks to increase representation of historically-ignored voices and faces in the media by training local historically-ignored youth to serve as the crew, producers and editors of films/TV pilots, and have them mentored by industry professionals, thus giving our lab fellows the skills, experience, and connections to get industry jobs, thereby increasing the number of historically-ignored production professionals in the media.  

Astoria, NY  January 20, 2023...  Astoria Film Festival in Queens NY is thrilled to announce that we have received funding from the NY City Council’s Cultural Development Fund (CDF) for FY 2023, which will allow us to begin a media education program, focused on providing workforce development training in media production for local historically-ignored youth. #NYCulture


10 trainees will be selected to be part of our inaugural cohort, which begins this March. The trainees come to us from community partners CUNY LEADS (the disability employment office for all CUNYs), Global Kids at Bryant High School, High School of Art & Design (HSAD), LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC), and Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens (VBGCQ)

The Astoria Film Festival (AFF) Media Production Program seeks to provide historically-ignored youth throughout NYC with the skills, experience, and connections needed for the participants to perform industry jobs in Production Assistance, with an introduction to jobs in Post-Production: Marketing, and Post-Production: Editing/VFX.  


The AFFMedia Production Lab will teach historically-ignored youth ages 15-25 pre-production, production and post-production skills, as well as “soft skills”, including workplace communication and behavior, career networking, employer expectations, and coping with challenging work situations. 


Through partnerships with studios, production companies, editors groups, film/tv marketing organizations, and various film/media professionals, the AFF Media Production Lab will create opportunities to increase the number of historically-ignored people throughout the entire media ecosystem, and increase diverse and authentic representation both on screen and behind the camera, ideally leading to systemic change.


We are very grateful for our partners:


MBS Group and Kaufman Astoria Studios (many thanks to Irene Phan and Pete Romano) ​are very generously will be providing our students with access to the MBS Illumination Training Program - a weekend at Kaufman Astoria Studios, learning lighting and grip from the experts themselves, as well as a studio tour, and studio space for some of our shoots.  


Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens (many thanks to Andy Rodriguez and Costa Constantinides) will be providing space for filming as well as letting AFF use its computer lab to carry out the editing portion of the program. 


Daniel Scarpati of Passing Planes Productions LLC, who also wrote "Gofers: On The Front Lines of Film and Television", will be teaching about camera operation and giving instruction and tips on how to be a professional production assistant.


Ruth Fernandez LLC , IATSE Local 798 HMU and Groomer, will hold a class on makeup artistry, hair design, and grooming, for film and tv. 

Zoraya Lee-Hamlin of RayZo LLC, an entertainment marketing company, will offer a Master Class about marketing films and tv shows. 

Dauna Williams JD, AB Brown/JD Harvard, is an IP Lawyer who teaches Tech Law at Thurgood Marshall Law School and who has worked in entertainment law, tech law, and ip law for the past 30 years.  She will be providing our students with an overview of legal rights in creating film/tv/digital productions.

Astoria Film Festival Instructors for this program include: 

Founding Director Nina Fiore EdM and Lead Astoria Film Festival

Film Educators Makeba L Ross, Bryce Medley, and Kelly Villares.

We are grateful to our amazing partners and to the NY City Council and The Queens Arts Fund, administered by New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) in partnership with the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) for the funding and support needed to make this program a reality.

2023 Projects: 

Grove Street Beauty Hair and MakeUp Vlog

One of the projects the Lab Fellows will work on in Spring 2023 is creating a few episodes of a new vlog by NYC-born Latina IATSE Local 798 HMU (hair and makeup artist) Ruth Fernandez, who works in the film/tv industry and is starting her own makeup line.  The vlog will feature her giving tips, interviewing clients, and talking about her career.

Disability is Diversity!

In Fall 2022, our Founding Director Nina Fiore was selected to be part of the RespectAbility Disabled Children's Content Creators Lab, sponsored by Netflix, with partners 9 Story Media and SONY TV KIDS. A disabled creator and mom of a disabled child, Nina was inspired by this experience to do whatever she could to increase #disabilityrepresentation in the media, both in front of and behind the camera, and came up with the idea to recruit disabled youth who are interested in media careers to be part of a production lab where they're given the skills, experiences, and connections to begin media careers.  Disability is Diversity highlights the disabled members of the production lab who are working towards careers in the media as well as the disabled creators who are mentoring them.

The resulting projects will be featured at the AFFYouth Festival in Kaufman Astoria Studios’ Zukor Theater on June 10, 2023. 

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