Through DC Shorts Mentors, we encourage independent filmmakers to develop the skills to create outstanding media projects. Taught by film professionals and peers, these interactive sessions are designed to build upon one another, developing the skills needed to better compete in the crowded field of filmmakers.

All workshops take place at the private Gibson Guitar showroom at 709 G Street NW, a block from the Gallery Place Metro station. Street and garage parking is limited — we recommend public transportation.

Mentors is presented in partnership with Arlington Independent Media, Women in Film and Video, and DC Shorts. Mentors is supported by the Gem Star Foundation.

These workshops are designed for filmmakers of all skill levels — from novices to seasoned professionals.


Film begins and ends with the story. Yet for many filmmakers, crafting a succinct tale is often the most difficult part of the process. During this session, filmmakers will learn techniques from local storytellers, then interact with area improv comedy performers to learn how on-the-fly changes can strengthen the final concept.

In the second half of the day, participants will hear tips and techniques from local screenwriters and work with sample scripts to learn how to translate a story into a fully-realized screenplay.

  • STEPHANIE GARIBALDI has enjoyed teaching storytelling and leading corporate story trainings for the past 8 years as SpeakeasyDC’s Educational Director, plus she’s performed stories, improv, & stand-up for even longer. Known as the hardest working story coach in the DC Metro area (and possibly the world,) Stephanie has personally coached over a thousand people in the art of storytelling.
  • GRED TINDALE honed his writing, performing and directing skills at the Washington Improv Theater in Washington DC. He has performed at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theaters in New York and Los Angeles, The Westside Comedy Theater in Los Angeles, The Second City in Chicago, The Sydney Comedy Fest in Sydney, Australia and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC among other venues.  Greg has written multiple feature length screenplays, television pilots and comedy shorts. 

 March 14: PRODUCTION (Camera, Lighting & Producing) 

Producing is much more than tracking expenses. Learn from professional producers with feature film, television, and commercial credits about what they really do to bring a story to life. From finding money, negotiating spaces and equipment, working with crew and talent, managing a film set — and keep the director true to his/her vision.

Visuals and sound are key to a quality film. Meet professional DPs, Gaffers, and Audio Engineers and learn creative techniques make your shots and audio spring to life.

The day ends with an in-depth, hands-on scene breakdown, where the mentors will setup, light, and mic a live scene while talking through the hows and whys at each step of the process.

  • MICHAEL PANFELD caught the filmmaking bug seven years ago and has since produced 18 short films, crewing in all positions. He has zeroed on sound mixing as his craft. Mike owns the only rental house in the District and one of the largest in the region: KvM Rentals, a proud sponsor of DC Shorts. He also teaches a series of filmmaking workshops focusing on the technical and scientific aspects of filmmaking.
  • After working as a commercial electrician and receiving his MFA in Film and Electronic Media from American University, ANDY KUESTER brought his diverse skill set to Boni Productions to serve as a full-time PM. In addition to handling logistics and production management on everything from a simple HD interview to a 5-camera 35mm shoot, Andy also maintains the rental inventory and serves as Gaffer and/or AC on field shoots.
  • For more than three decades, DENNIS BONI has shot Presidents and rock stars, ordinary people and extraordinary animals, filmed underwater and in the air, for feature films, commercials, network documentaries and corporate clients. He brought this ethos to the award-winning series, Journey to Planet Earth for PBS, as well as numerous other documentaries for Network Television, National Geographic, Discovery, the History Channel and TLC.
  • KURT UEBERSAX has been working in the Feature Film and Television industry for twenty years as a Producer, Production Manager, and Assistant Director. With humble beginnings as a technician, Kurt migrated into production management becoming selected as one of seven candidates for the highly competitive Director’s Guild of America Assistant Director/Producer training program in New York City.. He has numerous credits including the recent independent feature films ELF-MAN, IN THE LOOP, and CRAZY EIGHTS, and network TV shows AMERICA’S MOST WANTED, THE WIRE, and LAW & ORDER: SVU. He is currently Chief Operating Officer of Wiseacre Films and is a member of both the Directors Guild of America and the Producers Guild of America.

March 21: POST-PRODUCTION (Editing & VFX)

Watch and learn the intricacies of the art of editing from true masters. This workshop will focus on the creative aspects for editing, from how to select the best takes, when to make cuts, editing to music, and the best way to craft a story with the footage that is provided. Learn tips and tricks on how editors collaborate with the rest of the post team and how to efficiently work with Colorist, VFXs, Music, and Sound Designers.

No computers required. The presentation will be guided with video demos and slides to explain each of the concepts. Q&A to follow.

  • BECKY VARNI joined Cortina Productions in 2012 after 8 years in video production. She works hand in hand with the production team and the client to oversee large scale projects. Becky started editing on Final Cut Pro in 2002 and has since cut on most NLE platforms. In the years following, she has cut everything from single screen SD projects for broadcast to multiscreen projections and 4k interactive experiences.
  • NICK SPIROPOULOS has been with Cortina Productions for ten years. Involved in creative technical aspects of post production, he edits films and videos for single and multiple screens of various shapes and sizes. He seamlessly integrates stereoscopic 3D into stories. Nick is the primary color grader for Cortina Productions as well, and consults with others on color correction and sound design. He is proficient in Adobe After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Final Cut Pro as well as compositing (green/blue screen keying).


The film is finished: now what?! Hear about the fast-changing distribution channels and how to prepare for all possible avenues available to screen your project.

The effective marketing of your film is an essential part of the creative process, yet one often overlooked. Filmmakers of every skill level will gain a thorough understanding of how to create effective and targeted promotional print, guerrilla and social media campaigns — for little cost.

Most independent films find an audience through the film festival circuit. Learn why a planned festival strategy will save money in the long-run, and how to find, research and apply to festivals worldwide. The session concludes with a Q&A panel with local festival directors — ask any question and learn what really happens in the programming room.

  • KENDRA RUBINFELD founded and directs the Our City Film Festival and is Co-Principal of the boutique PR/Marketing firm, Kendra Rubinfeld PR. She has worked with filmmakers, film festivals and film producers alike to help bring their projects to the next level.
  • RON NEWCOMB has been a producer on eight short films along with two full-length feature films. He has been the director of two full-length feature films along with two short films.
  • JACKIE STEVEN, A native of Washington, D.C., Jackie has been involved in the area’s film and video community for over 25 years. She has been on staff at Arlington Independent Media (AIM) since 1986 and currently serves as the organization’s Director of Community Programs, and as Director of the Rosebud Film and Video Festival.
  • CHRISTIAN OH is the Executive Director of the DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival. Christian loves production of all types of projects. He has competed in many timed shorts competitions, winning the 72 Hour Film Shootout award for Best Director in 2012. His film background includes an education from the George Washington University Documentary Center, internships with Adobe at Cannes and Venice Film Festivals, and volunteering and helping with projects at many non-profits and creative organizations in the community. 
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