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  • Working With The Best

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Film Institute

2015 Sunscreen Film Festival Workshops

Our workshops and panels give you insider tips from industry professionals on how to grow your entertainment career: Ace that audition, sell and market your project, or develop your storytelling talents as a writer or director. Make sure not to miss our annual Pitch Fest! Pitch your original story and receive feedback on your big idea from our panel of industry insiders.  

All these events are held in the conference room at American Stage Theatre Company163 3rd St. N., St. Petersburg. 

You MUST have a Day Pass or VIP Pass to attend that day's workshops or panels. Click here to purchase. 

Here's the schedule by each day.


Friday, May 1

10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

WORKSHOP: Finding the Character’s Voice – This interactive acting workshop focuses on helping actors find the distinct traits of their characters and convey those effectively on screen.

Speakers: Jason Matthew Smith (Star Trek: Into Darkness, TV’s “Longmire”), Natalie Burn (The Expendables 3) and Jason London (Dazed and Confused, TV’s “Scandal” and “Major Crimes”).


1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

PANEL: Hey, world, I’ve got a movie! – An in-depth look at how to strategically and economically use social media and other means to market your movie. 

Speakers: Joanna Fang, manager of exhibitor relations at Lionsgate, and Antony Francis, founder of Head of Lettuce Media, a leading media companies in Florida and well-known as a social media guru. 


3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.

PANEL: Latino Cinema and Business -- In the United States alone, Latinos are the leading demographic for film viewers. Latin American films continue to captivate international audiences, and Latin filmmakers have won Oscars for Best Picture two years in a row! This panel offers a wide representation of the Latin film market, ranging from filmmakers to the businesspeople making the magic possible.

Moderator: Karla Gonzalez, entertainment attorney

Speakers: Raúl Marchand Sánchez, director, Broche de Oro (Puerto Rico)Omar L. Villarroel, director, Norte Estrecho (Bolivia); Verónica Ortiz-Calderón, director, Y Ya No Te Gustas (Puerto Rico); Sergio Alberto Sibrian, director, El Tigre y El Venado (El Salvador).


Saturday, May 2 

10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

WORKSHOP: Auditions That Work  – Gray Studios presents “How To Get Cast On Big Shows.” The acting methods and  live/video audition techniques shared here have proven to make actors stand out. Current and former students include Ariel Winter (TV's "Modern Family"), Tyler Posey (TV's "Teen Wolf"), Hayley McFarland (The Conjuring and TV's "Sons of Anarchy"), and Brant Daugherty (TV's "Pretty Little Liars").   

Moderator: Brad Kidwell, Gray Studios

Speakers: Curt Mega (TV’s “Glee”) and Matthew Moy (TV’s “2 Broke Girls”).


12:30 p.m. – 2 p.m. 

PANEL: Filmmakers On The High Seas – Enjoy a rare opportunity to ask industry heavyweights both specific questions about their particular fields and also about industry trends.

Speakers: Raúl Marchand Sánchez (director, Broche de Oro), Omar L. Villarroel (director, Norte Estrecho), Michael Baumgarten (director, The Martial Arts Kid), Mark Romeo (executive producer, The Man Who Saved the World), Christian Bruun (producer, The F Word), Lorraine Ziff (producer, Six Gun Savior), Natalie Burn (actor, The Expendables 3), and Jason London (actor, Dazed and Confused, TV’s “Scandal” and “Major Crimes”).


2:30 p.m – 4 p.m. 

WORKSHOP: Kicking Ass and Taking Names – Jason Matthew Smith and our other speakers have kicked a lot of onscreen tail! Actors who have been there and punched that share tips, tricks and advice for acting in action and adventure movies and TV shows. You’d better attend, or they might find you!

Speakers: Jason Matthew Smith (Star Trek: Into Darkness, TV’s “Longmire”), Natalie Burn (The Expendables 3), Jason London (Dazed and Confused, TV’s “Scandal” and “Major Crimes”), kickboxing champ Don “The Dragon” Wilson (The Martial Arts Kid, Batman Forever, the Bloodfist series) and Matthew Ziff (The Martial Arts Kid).           


4:30 p.m – 5:30 p.m.  

WORKSHOP: Pitch Fest– Writers, here’s your opportunity to pitch your idea to movers and shakers in the industry! There will be a sign-up sheet (first come, first served) to claim one minute to pitch to our panel and receive two minutes of feedback. Do you have what it takes to be the next big thing? We’ll find out!

Speakers: Christian Bruun (producer, The F Word), Lorraine Ziff (producer, Six Gun Savior), Michael Baumgarten (director, The Martial Arts Kid),Natalie Burn (The Expendables 3), and Jason London (Dazed and Confused, TV’s “Scandal” and “Major Crimes”).


Sunday, May 3 

10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

WORKSHOP: Scene Work for Actors – Scene work is at the core of any professional acting training. Come and join these accomplished actors as they work with audience members on selected script sides.

Speakers: Jason Matthew Smith (Star Trek: Into Darkness, TV’s “Longmire”), Natalie Burn (The Expendables 3), Curt Mega (TV's "Glee"), Matthew Moy (TV's "2 Broke Girls"), Lorraine Ziff (Six Gun Savior), Matthew Ziff (The Martial Arts Kid), Natalie Burn (The Expendables 3), and Jason London (Dazed and Confused, TV’s “Scandal” and “Major Crimes”). 


1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. 

PANEL: Distribution – If you don’t get your films into the market, you won’t last long as a producer. Our panelists tackle the difficult subject of film distribution from the viewpoints of both independent filmmakers and the studio. If you’d like to make your second feature film, you can’t afford to miss this panel.   

Speakers: Joanna Fang, manager of exhibitor relations at Lionsgate; entertainment attorney Scott Goldberg; and Dwight Cenac, chief operating officer of Indyoh


3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

PANEL: Ask the Lawyers – Learn all the legal fundamentals needed for your project. Our panel will discuss ownership rights, clearing, production/financing/distributions deals, insurance and more. The information covered is worth thousands of dollars, so bring a notebook and get ready to write fast!

Speakers: Entertainment attorneys Karla Gonzalez, Linda Friedman Ramirez and Scott Goldberg.



Film Institute Year Round Classes

Sunscreen’s Film Institute offers college-level classes designed to provide unique educational opportunities. Instructors are established college educators and working professionals in the film industry. Additionally, guest instructors with a high level of talent and name recognition are part of the program.

Tuition and fees can be paid online below We also accept checks for tuition and fees made out to the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Film Society mailed to or paid in person at Indie Studios. For more information, call 727-259-8417 or e-mail us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Classes last eight weeks. The next session will start at the beginning of March. Please scroll down to learn about our instructors.

Instructor Bios


Buddy Winsett


Winsett has 35 years of experience in television, music, movies, and satellite communications. He has been the director of production and engineering for national television networks, and has won national awards, including a Presidential commission. Owner and founder of Chameleon FilmWorks, as well as Indie Studios, Winsett has been an integral part of the Florida film industry. A passionate teacher, he strives to pass on a lifetime of knowledge to upcoming filmmakers, and he continues to support and outfit the Florida independent-film movement with top-flight service, gear, and studio facilities.




Tyler Martinolich


An MFA graduate from the Savannah College of Art & Design, Martinolich has more than 12 years of producing experience, handling projects with budgets ranging from $200,000 to $5 million. He has worked as a production manager or line producer on commercials for clients such as Coke, Publix, the Florida Lottery, PBS, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Government. He also has produced or worked as a production manager on feature films such as “The Glass Window” (2011) and “Sunlight Jr.” (2013), starring Matt Dillon and Naomi Watts.


Martinolich is also an avid writer. He received the Hollins Book Award for excellence in creative writing and was named a Florida writing scholar, which paid a full undergraduate scholarship. He also has received substantial artistic and academic fellowships through the Savannah College of Art & Design.




Tony Armer


Armer is the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Film Commissioner, and an award-winning filmmaker who has worked in the television and film industry since 1997. His experience includes Hollywood features, documentaries, independent features, television films, and music videos. His projects include the 2014 documentary “Running with Demons.” He is the co-founder and executive director of the Sunscreen Film Festival in St. Petersburg, Fla., one of only 23 film festivals nationwide to be sponsored in 2013-2014 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


Armer studied communications at the University of Toledo and graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in business management from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla. He is finishing an MFA in motion pictures and television from Academy of Art University, San Francisco. He also is an adjunct professor at the Art Institute of Tampa and the University of Tampa.




Tom Hammond


Hammond has more than 20 years of experience writing, editing, and polishing feature-length screenplays. He is a produced screenwriter who graduated from UCLA with a bachelor's degree in English literature and from Columbia College Hollywood with a bachelor's degree in film, cinema and video studies. He also has a master's degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute. He teaches at the University of Tampa and Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla.




Curtis Graham


Graham is an Academy Award-winning director and cinematographer. His work has appeared in many national publications such as Town & Country, Esquire, Print, and Communication Arts.


Graham began his career in advertising, where he served as a director or camera operator on commercials. He went on to attend the American Film Institute, where he received the Mary Pickford Award Scholarship. His master's thesis film, “The Blue Men” (1990), starring Estelle Parsons, received several awards, including the Focus Award for cinematography.


In addition to his advertising work, Graham has worked as a cinematographer or director on narrative and feature pieces such as “The Glass Window” (2011), “Prime of Your Life” (2010), “Misconceptions” (2008) and the PBS documentary “John & Mable Ringling.”


He is an adjunct professor at the University of Tampa, and he continues to direct and shoot films and commercials under his production company, Greyhouse Films.


Want more? Here are some of our past workshops:

  • Acting workshops taught by Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring, Watchmen), Ethan Suplee (The Wolf of Wall Street), Bill Cobbs (Night at the Museum), Alexa Vega (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For), Ayanna Berkshire (TV's "Grimm" and "Parenthood"), and Solomon Trimble (Twilight).
  • Develop a Character and Deliver It with Confidence: Presented by John Jackson, casting director of the Oscar-nominated movie The Descendants. 
  • Acting for Kids and Teens: Lauran Iron (TV's "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" and "GCB") shares her experiences breaking into the industry.
  • Creating a Killer Movie Comic: Presented by Leo Partible, author and producer; contributor to the book Who Needs a Superhero? Finding Virtue, Vice, and What's Holy in the Comics. Partible also shares how to tell a visual story through storyboards.
  • Screenwriting Story Origins: Rules of the Game: Screenwriter David Paterson (Bridge to Terabithia) discusses adapting a script from another source, as well as optioning material.
  • Master Screenwriting Workshop by Dean Batali (producer and writer, TV's "That 70's Show," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"). 
  • Indie Film Producing Workshop by Sean Covel and Chris "Doc" Wyatt (both of Napoleon Dynamite).
  • The Business of Blockbusters: Producer Ralph Winter (X-Men, X-Men 2, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Fantastic Four, Planet of the Apes) reveals the challenges, frustrations, and successes of producing movies in the range of $100 million and higher.
  • Build a Real Career in Entertainment: Tips from Phil Cooke, author, filmmaker and media consultant for both industry newcomers and longtime veterans.
  • Creating a Soundtrack and Acquiring Music: Presented by Michael Tolcher, composer and musician (Last Sunset, TV's "One Tree Hill").
  • The Power of Distribution: Finding the Right Audience with producer Ralph Winter (X-Men, X-Men 2, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Fantastic Four, Planet of the Apes) and Phil Cooke, author, filmmaker and media consultant.
  • Faith and Film Panel: Producer and director Steve Taylor (The Second Chance) and others explore the impact filmmakers’ faith has on the way they operate on set and within the industry.
  • How to Get a Sales Agent & Sell Your Film: An in-depth look into the business side of independent film sales.
  • Building Your Audience & Making Money: Digital distribution platforms and screens, branding and new media marketing offer film producers and distributors additional paths to building audience and making money.
  • How to Make a Film for Under $10K and Get Distribution: Producer Robert Enriquez (The Grind, John Leguizamo's "Freak") takes you behind the curtain and shares how to make a sellable film for little capital.
  • Social Media, Publicity and Branding: Presented by Antony Francis and Amber Osbourne of Head of Lettuce Media.
  • How to Get a Hollywood Talent Agent: Presented by veteran talent agent Michael Greenwald, who has worked with Ben Affleck, Adrien Brody, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Scarlett Johansson.