For Filmmakers

Films are created for audiences to experience, and audiences in turn are essential to a filmmaker’s career. With help from Eugene Hernandez, Deputy Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, we explored the relationship of three filmmakers to their audiences.

They discuss finding and interacting with audiences, including the use of social media; and working with outreach partners, making personal appearances, and making themselves part of the distribution campaign. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Flavio Alves is a Brazilian who was granted political asylum in the United States in 1998. Shortly thereafter he attended Columbia University, where he earned a degree in Political Science. In 2007, Flavio returned to school to study film production at New York University. Since then, he has directed and produced more than 20 films, including the award winning short films, The Secret Friend (2010), and Tom in America (2014), which was named Best Short Film by the National Board of Review. His first feature film, The Garden Left Behind, is Fiscally Sponsored by NYFA and will premiere in the fall of 2018. It is the first film to be funded substantially though sales of donated items on eBay.


Yance Ford is director of Strong Island, winner of the Special Jury Award for Storytelling at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. He graduated from Hamilton College in 2004, and studied film in the Production Workshop at Third World Newsreel. He is a Sundance Institute Documentary Program Fellow, a MacDowell Colony/Fledgling Fund fellow, a Creative Capital Grantee, and he has been featured in Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. Yance is a former Series Producer of POV, the PBS documentary series. Strong Island was nominated for an Academy Award in 2018. It is Ford’s first film.


Eliza Hittman grew up in Flatbush, Brooklyn. She received a BA in theater and drama from Indiana University in 2001 and an MFA from the School of Film/Video at California Institute of the Arts in 2010. Her short film Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight (2011) premiered at Sundance. Her first feature, It Felt Like Love (2014) was nominated as Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director at the Gotham Awards, and for the John Cassavetes Award at the Indie Spirit Awards. Her second film, Beach Rats, won the Directing Award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2018. Eliza teaches film at Pratt Institute.


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Image: Todd Chandler (Fellow in Video/Film ’12), Floor Tide at Empire Drive-In, 2010