Looking Down

Riley has to make a decision that will determine the course of her entire life. 

Looking Down screened at NFFTY 2016 in the Opening Night screening and received the Audience Award. 



Joe Staehly is a 23 year old director and DP who specializes in visual story telling. He’s been shooting silly videos with friends since he was 10 years old. Then, he made it his career. His work has appeared on MTV and he has worked for a variety of clients and artists including Maybelline, Draft Kings, Notre Dame, and G-Fuel. He loves conveying emotion through video, and working with original creative concepts. He wants every new project to be better than his last, so he continually pushes himself to always create new and interesting stories.

A Brief Interview with Joe:

Why did you decide to make this film?

I decided to make the film for my senior thesis at Drexel University. The concept of small choices creating large impacts through out life has always intrigued me and it was something I wanted to explore by making this film.

What was your favorite part about making it?

My favorite part of making Looking Down was all of the traveling I had to do in order to create Riley's adventure sequence. We went to some really awesome spots throughout Minnesota and Los Angeles that I otherwise never would have experienced.

What are you working on now?

I have a few commercials and music videos in the works right now that I'm really excited to get started on!

Find Joe & Looking Down online: 

Website: www.setinmotion.com

Grey Space

An insomniac enters an abstract void where he reconnects with his deceased wife.

Grey Space screened at NFFTY 2016 in the Art In Motion screening, and won the Art In Motion Audience Award at NFFTY 2016 as well.


Jordan Rosenbloom is a director, editor and producer from Ottawa, Canada. His films have screened at festivals worldwide, including the Cannes Film Festival, Hollyshorts, NFFTY, and WorldFest Houston. Jordan has consulted in script development for The Weinstein Company, Nine Stories Productions, and Amazon Studios, and edits and produces content for Def Jam/Universal Music.

A Brief Interview with Jordan:

Why did you decide to make this film?

I wanted to communicate ideas with very little dialogue, and I wanted to build an abstract space that mirrored my characters’ hopeless states of mind. I challenged myself to shoot on 16mm film, and I wanted to create a piece that was motivated by framing, music and mood. 

What was your favorite part about making it?

I really enjoyed conceptualizing the look of the piece, in attempting to marry its themes with its imagery. I loved editing the film as well, which really was a process of discovery and experimentation. I enjoyed working closely with my composer Katy Jarzebowski. 

What are you working on now?

I am currently in pre-production on my next film Waiting, while working as a script/story consultant for Amazon Studios and editing/producing content for Def Jam Recordings. 

Find Jordan & Grey Space online: 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/greyspacefilm/

Cuddle Up To Me

In Portland, Oregon, there is a shop for those that seek human touch and a warm embrace. Meet Samantha Hess, professional cuddler, and the people who frequent her shop. 

Cuddle Up To Me screened at NFFTY 2016 in the Northwest Is Best screening. 



Nach Dudsdeemaytha is an independent producer and project manager. He works out of his humble production office at This is a Spoon Studios in Vancouver, where he produces, directs, and edits narrative content, documentaries, and corporate videos. 




A Brief Interview with Nach:

Why did you decide to make this film?

On a routine bus ride to school one day, I picked up the local paper to read -- that day, the front-page feature was about a cuddling business in my hometown. It really caught my attention; I had never heard of any business like it, at least not in North America. I had so many questions I wanted to ask. I was in a documentary class at the time and was looking for a documentary subject for a film… that newspaper article could not have come at a better time!

Some preliminary research led me to Samantha Hess in Portland, who called herself the “pioneer” of the (relatively new) professional cuddling industry. My original idea for the short documentary was to focus on the subject of touch in general. I spent some time researching about the science behind platonic touch, and its psychological effects. I reached out to professors, researchers, and professionals in the field of touch to schedule interviews with them, Samantha being one of those people.

However, as time went on, I became more engrossed in Samantha’s life story, and how she decided to pursue cuddling as a professional career. Sam introduced me to some of her clients, each with their own unique story of how they came to meet Sam. With the help of my good friends Wes Chew & Kelcie Hudson, and our professors, we decided to take a short trip to Portland to capture Sam’s story, and their stories of her clients.

What are you working on now?

I recently finished production on a Storyhive-funded webseries called Inconceivable, directed by my business partner and NFFTY alumni, Joel McCarthy. It’s inspired by (hilariously) true events from Joel’s life that may or may not involve a baby. We are in post-production full-time; the series is slated to release this summer.

As of February 17th, I will also have finished a film I co-wrote and produced called Cypher, a story about the underground rap battle scene in 1997 LA. It was made in part of the Crazy 8s Film Competition in Vancouver, where chosen filmmakers get 8 days to shoot & edit their film.

Find Nach & Cuddle Up To Me online: 

Website: http://www.thisisaspoon.com/ 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thisisaspoon
Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/nach

Junk Mail

98-year-old Mary reminds us that people her age are sometimes forgotten, but still very much alive. Call your grandma.

Junk Mail screened at NFFTY 2016 in the Friday Night Shorts screening. 


Nffty Q&A.jpg

Charles Frank is a director, editor, and co-founder of Voyager Creative. He makes films that are empathetic, humanistic and heart filled. His two proudest pieces of work, Junk Mail and My Baby You’ll Be, have reached over 10 million people online, and have been featured in The Atlantic, Huffington Post, and Upworthy, among others. In 2016, he was honored at the SHOOT New Directors Showcase, and has directed for brands such as Miller Lite, Hasbro, and Future of Storytelling. He has also edited documentaries for Dick's Sporting Goods and The New York Times Op-Docs. Through all of his work, he strives to connect audiences to the subjects on screen, but also to one another. 

A Brief Interview with Charles:

Why did you decide to make this film?

I was working on a day-in-the-life doc shoot about a girl from Afghanistan studying at Lafayette College. As part of it, we followed her with a group of friends down the road to this nondescript building. To our surprised, we opened the door to a large group of elderly woman cheering and warmly greeting the familiar faces of their Lafeyette College volunteers. We only spent a couple hours there, but it was by far the most memorable part of the shoot. We decided one day we’d come back and spend some more time there… so we did!

What was your favorite part about making it?

Most documentary subjects are intimidated by the cameras and strangers interrupting their everyday life. But at the senior center, and particularly with the main subject, Mary, we were so happily welcomed in. It seemed as if everyone was incredibly confident in who they were, and had no reservations about sharing and being open on camera.

What are you working on now?

I just finished up working on my first feature documentary serving as an editor – it should be coming out within the next couple of months! Other than that, I’m pitching on a few different documentary series, and slowly chipping away at a longer term doc story about these two brothers I grew up with… I’m not yet sure where it will take me, but that’s the fun part!

Find Charles & Junk Mail online: 

Website: www.voyagercreative.com
Facebook: facebook.com/voyagercreative
Instagram: @voyagercreative -- instagram.com/voyagercreative

How We Are Now

Peter, a retired actor, lives with his partner of sixty years, Douglas. As Douglas approaches his eighty-third birthday, they offer an intimate view into how old age affects their live: from getting our of best in the morning to how they think about the future. 

How We Are Now screened at NFFTY 2016 in the Come As You Are screening. 


Born in Milan and raised in London, Andrea is an ambitious and versatile filmmaker, with a particular interest in the absurd, the grotesque and the darkly comic.

After graduating with a BA in Theatre & Performance from the University of Warwick, he was accepted on an MA course at The London Film School. During his time at the school, Andrea wrote and directed several shorts, both fiction and documentary, which have since been shown in major film festivals around the world. 

Home Education is his graduation project. He is currently working on the feature version of the script.

A Brief Interview with Andrea:

Why did you decide to make this film?

As someone who has always been afraid of physical decline, old age is a phase in life that fascinates me. In old age, the future becomes increasingly uncertain and we can’t make the same long-term plans we do when we’re younger because the majority of our life is behind us.

I felt that this philosophical aspect of old age is very rarely, if ever, tackled in documentary and yet it’s such an essential part of our lives to confront and explore. If you come to terms with it earlier then I think that you can see the value in being elderly. 

The film explores the subject closely and our contributors were incredibly willing to show us very intimate details in their life that a lot of people in their position might have been frightened or embarrassed to reveal. In their humour and profound reflection, they demonstrated that though physical decline and lifestyle changes are a large part of growing old, we can face them with great positivity by looking ahead and adapting to our situation.

What was your favorite part about making it?

Peter and Douglas, our subjects. Their humour, honesty, affection and the love they had for each other were quite overwhelming and we became close friends during and after shooting the documentary. They became like a second set of grandparents. Sadly Douglas passed away last year but we were given the very moving task of designing the booklet for his funeral, which was a very emotional experience.

What are you working on now?

I am now writing the feature script for my latest short film 'Home Education', a darkly-comic psychological thriller set in the English countryside. I am also preparing to hopefully shoot a documentary in Afghanistan later next year, following two girls and how since the fall of the Taliban regime they have been able to receive an education and are now in university.

Find Andrea & How We Are Now online: 

Website: http://andreaniada.com/
How We Are Now Website: http://www.howwearenowfilm.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/howwearenow
Twitter: @HowWeAreNowFilm -- https://twitter.com/HowWeAreNowFilm



Film of the Week

Desperate measures are taken to escape a violent world concealed within an isolated cottage. 

Ellie screened at NFFTY 2016 in the Edge of Your Seat category. 


Morgana McKenzie is an award-winning filmmaker, creating her own short films and working as a cinematographer and colorist for other filmmakers. Morgana’s films have screened internationally at over 100 festivals and won over 30 awards. Morgana’s latest short film “Ellie” screened at over 25 festivals and won 14 awards including the Gerturde Löwengren Award for Best Fiction film from TIFF Next Wave Jump Cuts. Morgana was awarded Best Director Under 25 at the 2015 Ottawa Independent Video Awards, and Best Emerging Female Filmmaker award at NFFTY 2014 in Seattle.

Morgana's film "GIFTS" screened at NFFTY 2014, and was awarded NFFTY's first Best Emerging Female Filmmaker award, and a scholarship to The Prodigy Camp. Her narrative music video "We All Go the Same" screened at NFFTY 2015.

Morgana shooting test footage for an upcoming film. 

Morgana shooting test footage for an upcoming film. 

A Brief Interview with Morgana:

Why did you decide to make this film?

After receiving a scholarship from NFFTY in 2014 to attend The Prodigy Camp, I wrote Ellie as my camp film. Camp was an awesome experience, but ultimately shooting Ellie ended up being too complex to complete within the camp’s three hour shooting window. That incomplete 2014 version of Ellie was a learning experience, and I put the project on hold. Nearly a year later I was able to revisit the idea of making Ellie again, but back in Canada. I funded through Kickstarter and raised more than my target, worked with a professional casting director to hire union actors, and found a great location in Quebec to rent. The fact that I had to put the film on hold for a year ended up working to my advantage. With Ellie I wanted to create something in the style of a classic suspense film, where violence happens off camera and information isn’t immediately clear. Putting the film on hold allowed me time to stay true to these goals, and develop Ellie the way I saw best.

What was your favorite part about making it?

The most memorable moments for me came from the shoot days. Ellie was shot over one week in a cabin, with crew and actors staying on location. This made for a very intimate working environment where everyone became close quick. It made for better shoots, but it also gave me lasting friendships that I didn’t anticipate making. I was able to fly out my friend and fellow filmmaker Max Retik to work on lighting. We met at NFFTY and became friends, but being able to work together during that week was really wonderful. With Max and the rest of the cast and crew, the shoot became very relaxed and smooth, and one of the best I’ve had so far.

What are you working on now?

I am in the final stages of post production on a music video for the song “Atlas World” by London group Liu Bei. It is a narrative music video that follows a young child through a beautifully nightmarish journey, as the song itself is a contrast of beauty, wonder, and darkness. To achieve the look I wanted, I managed to get permits to shoot in some unique local heritage sites including caves, ruins, and bogs. But that meant long and challenging shoots, in tight spaces or outdoors in the rain, often in thigh-high water for hours at a time. The upside is I have some really interesting visuals that I’m excited to share when the music video is released in a month or two!

Find Morgana Online: 

Website: http://morganamckenzie.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/morganafilms/
Instagram: @MorganaFilms -- https://www.instagram.com/morganafilms/
Twitter: @MorganaFilms -- https://twitter.com/MorganaFilms


Bird In Cage

An intense visual experience; a dance phrase repeats three times in a skylit room with variations on shot composition, film editing, and frame rate.

Bird in Cage screened at NFFTY 2016 in the Experimental Visions category. It also played at the American Dance Festival, 40 North Dance Film Festival, and the Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema.

Bird in Cage | Dance from Martin Barshai on Vimeo.

About the Director:


After college (NYU) and a year in hell-hole Los Angeles, Martin Barshai moved to Long Beach. He makes videos of things that inspire him like great stories or skilled dancers. He once did a low-paid freelance video for Vogue Magazine. He thought making that video would bring him a lot more work than it has. His film BIRD IN CAGE has screened all over the USA: Seattle, Durham, New York City, Boulder, and San Diego. A shoestring budget 5 Episode web series called NARANJA was also crafted over the course of his first year in L.A. He likes showing the final episode to his friends. Martin’s DIY work ethic and ability to convince old college friends to make movies with him is a guarantee he will one day direct multi-million dollar projects. For now, he is focused on developing a style unlike anything that’s come before it. Toodaloo!

A brief interview with Martin:

Why did you decide to make this film?

There was an enormous urgency to escape New York City while I was living there. It’s an interesting city that sucks you in and tries to keep you there and sometimes you feel like you just want to break out. So the idea I was trying to express was this longing for freedom– from the monotonous repetition of living in NYC, the high stress and fast pace. I wanted to make a video that had more edits per second than anything I’ve seen before. I also love Phil Glass.

What was your favorite part about making it?

The editing process. It was supposed to be a slow paced video cut to “Music for Airports” by Brian Eno. Leslie, the dancer, actually choreographed the piece to that song. In the editing room (which was just my old college desk in my apartment), I realized that I could take that choreography and make it something completely different because it had such slow and methodical movement.

What are you working on now?

I’ve co-written and directed what I hope will be a viral video framed as a product unpacking Vlog titled “Snapchat Spectacles Winter Haul 2016 — Oops I broke them! ;)” If you’ve seen it, I guess it worked. If not, then it exists among the realm of the majority– wandering in the abyss of obscurity.

Find Martin Online:

Website: www.martinbarshai.com

Instagram: @mbarshai


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