Turning the Lens on Students: Avid Sponsors Film Festivals for the Next Generation of Filmmakers

Film festivals are an important forum to showcase the work of aspiring filmmakers. They can also launch careers. As the provider of industry-standard professional video and sound editing tools, Avid figures prominently in the creation process, giving filmmakers of all kinds the creative wings to bring their visions to life.

With the 2018 film festival season already well underway, we take a look back at some of the student film festivals Avid supported over the past year to help inspire the next generation of cinematic talent. Winners were awarded free Avid Media Composer and Avid Pro Tools subscriptions.


Columbia University Film Festival

Held in New York City and Los Angeles last spring, the Columbia University Film Festival celebrated 30 years this year. Presented by Columbia University School of the Arts Film Program, the festival has grown to include several days of screenings, panels and events in both cities.

Jon Branden was the fortunate recipient of the Richard Haber Award for Comedy for his film You and Me and Her and Them, which tells the story of a young man trying to find love and romance on Halloween in New York City. Using Media Composer to give voice to the story was one of his earliest and easiest decisions. “I’ve used Avid for a long time,” he says. “It’s the easiest way to work – straightforward and logical. Its bins and organization make it very easy. And when we couldn’t get something to work over the weekend with a critical deadline looming, customer service was right there. That dependability is crucial.”


The Redstones

The Redstones, named in honor of sponsor Sumner Redstone, recognized feature film projects written and directed by graduate and undergraduate students from the Boston University Department of Film and Television. Over the years, Redstone winners and finalists have gone on to become some of America’s most successful directors, screenwriters and producers.

Instincts - Derin Kiyak

Writer-director Derin Kiyak could be one to join those illustrious ranks. For his Instincts short film, which landed in the festival’s top three, Media Composer gave him the advanced editing and remote working capabilities needed for the project, especially since the film’s editor was 3,000 miles away in Los Angeles. “The ability to collaborate and see cuts and changes in real time was a huge benefit – it’s the only editing software that allows that kind of workflow.” For sound, Kiyak and his team turned to Pro Tools. “I love the way Avid works with sound,” he added. “It’s extremely user friendly and allowed us to experiment with industrial sounds that were critical to the narrative.”

Instincts - Derin Kiyak

First Look Film Festival

The School of Cinematic Arts at USC (University of Southern California) has long been known for nurturing film talent. Its First Look Film Festival showcases top student-produced films and screens them for the Hollywood film community, including agents, producers, managers, studio executives, film festival programmers, as well as alumni and faculty. It’s not surprising that this year 47 films were entered across a range of categories.

When Pigs Fly - Jan Bezouska

For sound designer Jan Bezouska, his ethereal short When Pigs Fly required extremely nuanced sound to be closely integrated with the film’s imaginary characters and animated characters. “I needed real, natural not computer-generated sounds reflecting the ears of children,” explained Bezouska. “I wanted it to feel pleasant, not aggressive. Pro Tools allowed me to create those warm, soft sounds.”

Chris Witt, a longtime Avid user and editor of The Suitcase, which screened at the festival, likens using Avid to “driving a nice big Cadillac.” Faced with a brief two-week window to edit the ambitious short based on the real-life events of 9/11, Witt took full advantage of “tools engineered and designed with the tactile film editing philosophy in mind” to realize his vision. “The way Media Composer caters to the editor allows you to think creatively and do the storytelling – the technical just disappears into the background,” he says.

The Suitcase - Chris Witt

Independent Film Festival

Avid teamed with MPC (Massachusetts Production Coalition) at IFF (Independent Film Festival) Boston, which brings standout films and filmmakers to Boston every year. Talent was out in force and included co-writers/directors Shaun Downey and Christopher Masih who brought Sleeping Together to the screen.  The 15-minute short follows two former lovers who discover they can communicate through a shared dream space.

For Masih, who was also the film’s music director, Media Composer’s advanced capabilities like the trim tool were essential to the editing process, “to stitch together various shots to give perception of one long shot.” Much like Media Composer’s built-in ability to zero in on different parts of the editing timeline, Pro Tools’ cohesive design allowed the soundtrack, which included lots of auditory ambience and tones, to be built alongside the sounds effects and foley, which streamlined the process.


Fine Cuts

New York-based The New School holds two annual student awards shows. Held last May, Fine Cuts 2017 featured film and video works produced by students taking graduate, undergraduate, and certificate classes in the School of Media Studies as well as New School alumni.

Climb the Walls - Samah Abaza

For winner Samah Abaza it was an opportunity to bring Climb the Wall, her inspirational short documentary about rock climbing in New York City, to audiences.  The more observational, non-scripted nature of the film presented its own challenges for Abaza, who spent countless hours collecting footage at a small bouldering gym under the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn.

Climb the Walls - Samah Abaza

“This film was really made entirely in production and post,” she says. “I spent seven months collecting footage, and having confidence that your system won’t crash or lose footage is a huge relief. Media Composer manages your progress and its professional features, including easy connection to back-up storage, are essential with editing-heavy projects like this one.”

As Avid continues to support these film festivals (and many others like them), we’re excited to see more impressive work from the next generation of aspiring filmmakers.

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Girls Make Beats — Paving the Way for Young Women in the Music Industry

In honor of International Women’s Month, we sat down with two extraordinary women making a difference in the lives of young girls.

Tiffany Miranda and Whitney Taber run a non-profit organization called Girls Make Beats that teaches girls between the ages of 8-17 about the music industry and how to secure a career through training, internships and certification programs.

Tiffany Miranda, founder of Girls Make Beats, started early in the music industry as a recording artist. She was featured on shows like American Idol and the X-Factor but wanting more creative control over her projects, soon found a career in the world of music production and audio engineering. Before long she caught the attention of industry hip hop heavy hitters such as DJ Khaled, Rick Ross, Lil Uzi Vert and more.

But with so few women engineers in the business, she became inspired and in 2011 Tiffany created Girls Make Beats in Miami, Fl.

This year, Whitney Taber, Studio Manager for Recordplant Studio in Hollywood, CA, joined Tiffany to open up the LA Chapter of Girls Make Beats. Whitney has been working her way up the ladder in the music industry since she started as an Executive Assistant to a Creative Director for one of the world’s most vibrant pop stars. Shortly after she started working at Recordplant, where she’s been working with clients ever since.

Whitney spoke about the interview process that the girls go through to get in the program:

“During the interview process, Tiffany and I ask the girls: Why do you feel there are not many girls in this industry? Almost all of the girls answer that the world doesn’t believe that girls are capable to do these jobs and are never given the opportunities that boys are. While holding back tears I ask the girls: Do you think we should change this? And with so much excitement in their eyes they all say YES!”

Q: Can you tell us more about Girls Make Beats as an organization? How did the idea come about? What inspired you to start this program?

TM: I was inspired to start Girls Make Beats because of the personal challenges I faced as a woman in the music industry. There were instances where I felt I was treated unfairly simply due to the fact that I am a woman. It was rare for people to see me behind a mixing console and running Pro Tools efficiently. Prior to even taking that seat, during internships, I was stuck doing paper work while my male counterparts had opportunities to sit in on recording sessions. I knew there was a need for change! I then became inspired to encourage young women to explore and excel in these fields.

With Girls Make Beats, we have been fortunate to create many unique opportunities for girls in music technology fields. We have partnered with industry titans like iHeartRadio, Record Plant Recording Studio and Paramount Pictures to expose our girls to various audio careers.

Q: Can you describe a typical class/session with the girls?

WT: A typical day in class with our GMB girls starts by having the girls help us set up their workstations, so they know the importance of taking care of the equipment along with knowing how to properly set up for any DJ gigs they may have in the future.  Roll call in class is not like the typical school setting. We have the girls hit their personal DJ drops. I personally love asking them about their day. My daily question to each of them is “what did you learn today?” We then dive into our lesson for the week by teaching by example.

Our three week after school program is broken into 3 parts. The first week we teach DJing. By week two, the girls start learning different mixing techniques along with music production training. In week three we start exploring audio engineering and learning concepts in audio recording and mixing.


 Q: How long have you been a Pro Tools user and how has the technology evolved for you over the years and your art?

TM:  I have been an Avid Pro Tools user for over 15 years. My first rig was Pro Tools 6 with a Digi 001. I have seen technology evolve so much since then. From playlisting, to offline bouncing, technology has definitely evolved into making the process more user efficient. I was really excited about the recent addition of Pro Tools cloud collaboration, as there is a growing need for creatives to collaborate worldwide.


Q: How do you think Pro Tools helps enable the girls you are teaching?

TM: Pro Tools is creating an exceptional opportunity for the young girls in our program! I personally recall taking the bus to a local bookstore just to gain knowledge on Pro Tools by reading an instructional book that I could not afford to purchase at that time. I was working hard towards saving money to purchase my own copy of Pro Tools, so being able to supply the young girls in our program with accessibility to professional tools to help them excel in the music industry is truly mind blowing. We believe this will better equip the girls in our program to excel in their journey as future audio engineers and music producers.

WT: I feel that teaching our girls Pro Tools will enable them to become better engineers since it is the leading software used by most engineers and in professional recording studios. Providing the girls with as much knowledge as we can, will sharpen their skills and ultimately raise their confidence levels when working in a male dominated environment.

Q: Do you think organizations like yours that empower young girls are important for this industry?

TM: It is extremely important for girls to know that there are organizations that empower them to become future leaders of the music industry because music ultimately affects Culture. It is embedded in the way we speak, the clothes we wear and how we express ourselves. We want girls to be encouraged to know that they are a part of that conversation in culture at large and organizations like ours care about creating those opportunities for them.

WT: I think that organizations like Girls Make Beats are so very important, because they help shine light on the fact that women have been under represented in these fields for so very long. Exposing young girls to as many strong, educated women in career fields that they may have ever thought to explore is extremely important to me.


Q: How do you view today’s landscape in terms of opportunities for women starting out in audio? Do you have any advice for young women looking to find their way?

TM: There is still a long way to go in evening out the playing field for women in the music technology fields. However, in light of recent events, there has been a surge of cultural awareness of the importance and empowerment of women. It is quite an exciting time to see our culture embrace women and encourage their successes in previously male dominated fields.

My advice to women looking to find their way, is to equip themselves with as much as knowledge and skills as possible because at the end of the day that is what ultimately helped me persevere through my challenges.

WT: I feel like it is such an amazing time to be a woman. The industry is seeing how necessary women are and is finally recognizing the crucial role women have played in the music creation. I am so excited to be part of this generation of women who are loud, proud and no longer scared to do what we want! My advice to the next generation of women is don’t be afraid to ask for what you want and then add Tax! 🙂

Q: How would you like to see Girls Make Beats expand?

TM: Our goal is to make Girls Make Beats a worldwide movement. We want girls all over the world to know that their input in music, which ultimately affects culture, matters! We want to empower girls worldwide to be music industry leaders and we want to change that Grammy statistic!

WT: I would love to see Girls Make Beats expand to more cities where we can help educate as many girls as possible and empower them to become the next and greatest generation of women in music.

A personal goal of mine is to for Girls Make Beats to become a global movement, so we can have GMB Africa, GMB Australia, GMB Japan, and GMB to Infinity And Beyond.

Make your mark with Pro Tools

Create music or sound for film/TV and connect with a premier network of artists, producers, and mixers around the world.