Youth FX Filmmakers Win 3 Awards at 15 Minute Max Film Festival

Shout out to our Youth FX team who won three awards at this years 15 Minute Film Festival at the Madison Theater!

Congratulations to the winning filmmakers:

Best Film Jury Award: AT HOME dir. by Maya Suchak
Best Film Audience Award: JUST MY IMAGINATION dir. by Ackazemas Myers
Best Film Runner-Up: TONE SETTERS dir. by Imani Peterkin

Thank you everyone who came out and to the incredible team from The College of Saint Rose who put this festival together!


Youth FX Summer Concludes With A Week Of Production

The final week of YouthFX, popularly called “YouthFX for the love of it!” tends to be the most grueling of the summer. For week six this year we had a full schedule, five straight days of shooting. The two films that were in production this week were: Eliza (written by Williemae Fiddemon) about a teenage girl who sets off to find out why her best friend disappeared, and an untitled film (written & directed by Ejaniia Clayton & Camille Dobbs) about three young black women who find themselves victims of racial profiling after a end of summer night out.

Our first day of shooting in week six featured the biggest YouthFX shoot ever at Rocks nightclub in Albany. The shoot involved a crew of over 30 people including extras used to make the club feel packed for the scene. This shoot continued this summer’s trend of utilizing new crew positions such as Assistant Cinematographer, Assistant Director, Production Assistant and Grips. Another big shift this summer was the variety of locations we used on our shoots and this was no better showcased by week six’s shoots. This week featured seven separate locations all over Albany.

Overall the YouthFX Summer program continued it’s exponential growth and expansion this summer. We did more than we’ve ever done, on a bigger scale with the promise of increased quality all around. Without a doubt this was our most successful year and if that alone dosen’t make you excited to see what was produced this year, just stay tuned for our monthly winter production updates that will be starting in October.



Week three of Youth FX summer 2016 saw us in and out of the pre-production phase of 6 narrative short films that will be produced in the coming weeks. In particular, this week was focused heavily on teamwork. Each of the six narrative short film group's was assigned an Assistant Director (AD) to help organize and direct the production process. Core members of each group spent most of the week drafting and re-drafting scripts, meeting in larger groups and doing table reads. Another important part of the process was assigning crew to each film, based on the specific film. For example, the film “Eliza” is one of the more complex films dialogue wise, this forced that group too heavily consider using a full sound crew for their shoot. Another film we are working on this year is about Zombies that invade a high school. The obvious challenge for that group was locking down a makeup team and finding a school to film in.

While films were being produced, our music guru, Gaetano was working with a group of music-focused people on writing songs and finishing scratch tracks in preparation for the studio sessions happening week 4. 

Even as music was heating up our documentary projects this year was kicking off production. Doc topics range from people's biggest fears to their opinions on the state of women in video games. 

Overall this week served as a precursor to the real work with begins week four when full production begins. If all goes as planned this year of Youth FX is on pace to be the most productive in history.  

NeXt Doc Presenting Filmmakers

Still processing all the incredible knowledge and connections that were made at our NeXt Doc program at the Carey Institute for Global Good last weekend. We will be posting videos and profiles of the youth filmmakers who were part of our first next doc in the coming days and weeks.

Here is the first short video which features reflections about NeXt Doc from two of our presenting filmmakers Sam Pollard and Iva Radivojevic.

Next Doc 2016

We are excited to be just a few days away from NeXt Doc, our first ever national program for youth filmmakers.  A few years ago programming directors from Youth FX and the Carey Institute for Global Good got together and asked how they could work together to bring youth from diverse communities together to share stories, skills and gain inspiration from each other.  The idea incubated for nearly four years and this past fall we met with staff and directors from the Carey Institute and they agreed to underwrite the concept of bringing 15 youth documentary filmmakers together under the direction of Youth FX educators and NeXt Doc was launched!

NeXt Doc is a collaboration between Youth FX and the Carey Institute for Global Good that will bring together talented youth documentary filmmakers from across the country with award-winning documentarians to learn, share, build connections and take their skills and ideas to the next level!  We are proud and excited to announce the 13 youth filmmakers from across the country who have been selected to participate in this four day workshop May 12th-15th which will also feature public screenings of new films by presenting filmmakers Sam Pollard and Iva Radivojevic.  

For more info on the screenings click here: LINK

Check out our NeXt Doc youth filmmaker page to learn more:

Special thank you to our NeXt Doc sponsors: Skidmore College MDocs Program, WMHT, Film Albany and The Sanctuary for Independent Media.

Youth FX Filmmaker Maya Suchak Interviewed at 2016 Big Sky Documentary FF

AudTV interviews filmmaker Maya Suchak following the premiere of film “Life is Grand” a Youth FX short doumentary she co-directed with Freddie Boehrer that screening at the 2016 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula, Montana.  BSDFF is the largest documentary only film festival in the west, and features over 120 films at its week long festival. 

Audience Awards is a community of 50,000 strong that defines the word synergy that seeks to connect independent filmmakers with curators, festivals and content platforms to expand and widen distribution of great films from across the world.  To find out more visit their site:

Youth FX Premieres New 2016 Films to Over 300 People

We want to send out a HUGE THANK YOU to all our friends, family and community supporters who came out over the past couple weeks for the screenings of our new 2016 Youth FX films!

We had over 300 people over two screenings at Spectrum 8 Movie Theatres and the response was so overwhelmingly positive, and inspires us as we continue the work of empowering and supporting young people in Albany to create dynamic, socially conscious films that are having an impact in our city!

THANK YOU to everyone who came out to support and witness the world premiere of our new Youth FX films last night!!!


This years films were so next level and to finally see them on the big screen after all the weeks and months of hard work, with a sold out crowd of nearly 200 people was an incredibly inspiring experience for our entire crew!

Youth FX is about creating community and that is what happened at Spectrum Theater as we laughed and cried together as we all watched these powerful films. From the cinematography, acting, stories, sound design, locations, music, and the topics of our films we are VERY PROUD of the work we put out at this years premiere screenings.

Special thanks to the Spectrum 8 Movie Theatres for helping to manage the huge crowd & also to Kite's Nest for coming through with a huge crew of young people from Hudson, NY.

Keep spreading the word, supporting, following, and keep an eye out for more Youth FX are some helpful links:

Visit our website to learn more about Youth FX, watch our films and keep up with the latest news:

Youth FX Set To Premiere New Films

Albany’s award winning Youth FX teen filmmaking program will host the premiere of their 2014 short films at 6:30pm on Thursday March 24th at Spectrum 8 Theater.  The screening will feature world premieres of 12 brand new short films created by teens from the city of Albany during their 2015 six-week summer program

This year’s slate of Youth FX films take a deep look at issues of race, juvenile justice, bullying, modern day communication, hopes and dreams of refugee youth living in Albany.  The bulk of the films were produced as part of the 2015 Youth FX summer program where 38 young people ages 14-22 explored the technical and creative aspects of filmmaking and digital media.  Youth FX will also debut its first full length album at the event, which features 10 tracks of original music that was produced during the program.  

Films premiering will include five new narrative shorts including Guilt Trip, a one take tale of two cousins who face a dilemma after committing a crime to help their grandfather, Shot, a provocative look at racial profiling of black youth, Manhunt, a dark glimpse at the consequences of bullying, A Moment Ago, a clever time-travel comedy, Brothers, a dramatic unraveling of family secrets and the first ever Youth FX animated short.  New documentaries explore juvenile justice through the lens of the local Marquis Dixon case (Marquis), a raw and honest look at bullying (Finding Strength), and stories of refugee youth (Sara & Say Blu).  


One Youth FX film screening at the premiere, Make It Float, will be getting additional exposure next month at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival (TFF).  A collaboration between Youth FX filmmaker Aden Suchak and Albany High School fashion designer Taofeek Abijako, the documentary was one of 5 films, out of 250 submissions nationwide, selected to screen at the festival as part of The America I Am, a new TFF youth program in partnership with The Statue of Liberty National Monument.   

Make It Float, is a cinematic profile of Abijako, a 17 year-old immigrant from Nigeria, who shares his dream of becoming a fashion while telling the story of his family’s journey to Albany.  As one of the finalists, Suchak was awarded a $1000 production budget and will be paired up with award-winning documentary filmmaker Yoruba Richen (The New Black, Out in the Night), to re-imagine and refine the film for it’s red-carpet premiere on April 21st at Tribeca Film Festival.  The winning film will be awarded a $10,000 prize package which includes a $5000 college scholarship and $5000 in film gear.


“It’s a dream for me to have this opportunity,” said Suchak, “to work with someone like Youruba and to have this film be seen at Tribeca is huge break for me and incredible exposure for Taofeek’s fashion and design.”  Suchak, a Free School and Albany Graduate, is currently pursuing journalism and documentary studies at UAlbany, while Abijako hopes to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology or Pratt College after he graduated from Albany High School this June.  

It has been a busy and exciting year for Youth FX since premiering their last batch of films at the Spectrum in March 2015.  Films from the program have screened at more than 30 festivals across the country taking top honors at LA Film Festival, Harlem International Film Fest, Rockland Youth Film Fest, Ballston Spa International Film Fest, winning best documentary and audience award locally at St. Rose’s 15 Minute Max Film Festival.   This past fall many students from the program were also invited to work on the set of As You Are, the locally produced indie feature written and directed by by Albany bred filmmaker Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, which went on to will Special Jury Prize at this years Sundance Film Festival.  

Youth FX director Bhawin Suchak credits the youth who have grown alongside with the program as one of the keys to success.  “We have three incredible young leaders, Darian Henry, Rashid Howell and Majestic Tillman who are founding youth members of the program and are now helping to run the program,” says Suchak, “they help to create an environment full of peer to peer learning and foster a culture of high expectations.”

“I am particularly interested in filmmaking as a tool for transformation and as a vehicle for social change,” says Henry, who is now in development on her first feature documentary.  “To me Youth FX is a rare example of a place where we’re trusted to have a vision, are provided the tools and guidance and given the freedom to create.”

Tillman who has been a lead actor in many of the award-winning Youth FX films, wrote and directed his first film this past summer.  “Writing and directing my first film after being solely an actor for so long, was a test of my leadership skills,” he added, “it was also an eye-opening experience that showed me how much talent we have developed within the program.”

Suchak, who has taught at The Free School for 16 years, emphasizes that Youth FX is about trust and creating a community of artists who aren’t afraid to take risks and tell their stories.  “These kids are deep, they think critically, and they aren’t afraid to speak their truth.”  He adds, “The films you’ll see on the screen are a direct reflection of their lives and experiences and the unique way they see the world around, we’re about providing the space for them to bring those stories to life.”

Youth FX has has seen incredible success and growth over its eight years in existence, which led to their recent transition from a program of Grand Street Community Arts, into a full-fledged independent organization.  In addition to the six-week summer program, Youth FX now offers year round programming at Albany High School, and Albany Public Library.   The partnership with the high school has flourished, in part due to collaborations with Youth FX teaching artists Noelle Gentile and Gaetano Vaccaro, both of whom work at the high school.

This May Youth FX will also launch a new 4-Day residential program for emerging documentary filmmakers called NeXt Doc.  In partnership with the Carey Institute for Global Good in Rensselarville, who will provide food and logging, and workshop facilities for all participants at their 100 acre campus, NeXt Doc will bring 15 youth filmmakers together with award-winning filmmakers from New York City for an intensive that aims to take their skills to the next level.  Selected filmmakers will have the opportunity chance to work with acclaimed oscar-nominated director Sam Pollard (4 Little Girls, When The Levees Broke, Eyes On The Prize), Iva Radivojevic (Evaporating Borders) and Tom Jennings (producer of PBS’ Frontline Series).  

Howell, who is a junior at St. Rose studying New Media and Communication, says the growth has been staggering, but is also a reflection of how necessary Youth FX is.  “I feel that what Youth FX accomplishes is showing young people that they are so many different ways to express yourself and to be outspoken, and then to teach them how to make their voice heard through film and media.”

There will be a Q & A with Youth FX filmmakers after the screening and tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students.  All proceeds raised from the screening will support the 2016 Youth FX summer program.  More information about the program and our screening can be found on the Youth FX website (  Many Youth FX films from years past can be viewed online on our Youth FX Vimeo (

AS YOU ARE Wins Special Jury Prize At Sundance

As You Are, the teen drama shot in Albany, set roughly in Albany and made by Albany Free School graduates, won a special jury award in the U.S. dramatic category at the Sundance Film Festival.

The film, which tells the tale of three teenagers who struggle, bond and explore self and sexuality in the early 1990s, was directed by Miles Joris-Peyrafitte and co-written by Joris-Peyrafitte and Madison Harrison. Both studied at the Free School with program director Bhawin Suchak in a filmmaking program that would become Youth FX the following summer.   Bhawin was on hand for all the excitement of 6 sold our screenings, rave reviews and the huge awards night celebration. 

To learn more about As You Are go to:

Watch this short behind the scenes video produced by Youth FX:

IT'S NATURAL Selected To Screen At POW FEST in Portland, OR

It's Natural has been selected to screen at the 2016 Portland Women's Film Festival (aka POW Fest)!  This award-winning short documentary, directed by Wylia McLeod and Darian Henry, explores the many styles of hair that Black women have to choose from, and spreads a positive message about being yourself and being empowered.  It's Natural has screened at 6 festivals including Reel Sisters Film Festival in Harlem, 15 Minute Max Film Festival and Rockland Youth Film Festival where it won best documentary.  Congratulations to the filmmakers and the Youth FX crew that helped produce this powerful film!

Youth FX Crew Works On Local Indie Film

(l to r) Madison Harrison (writer) and Miles Joris-Peyrafitte (writer/director) former students of Bhawin Suchak's film program at The Free School which would become the Youth FX program.

(l to r) Madison Harrison (writer) and Miles Joris-Peyrafitte (writer/director) former students of Bhawin Suchak's film program at The Free School which would become the Youth FX program.

Exciting week for some of our Youth FX crew who for the past week have been on the set of As You Are, a indie feature film directed by Miles Joris-Peyrafitte and co-written by Madison Harrison. Both of them made some of their first movies when they were in junior high as part of a film program taught by YFX program director Bhawin Suchak at The Free School.

As You Are is an exploration of youth identity before and after a tragic incident involving three friends. Set in Albany, NY in the early 1990's, the film stars some major up and coming actors: Owen Campbell (BOARDWALK EMPIRE), Amandla Stenberg (HUNGER GAMES, MR. ROBINSON) and Charlie Heaton (of the forthcoming Netflix series STRANGER THINGS and 2016 Luc Besson film SHUT IN) and Mary Stuart Masterson (from “The Postman,” “Benny & Joon”)

(from l to r) The lead actors in As You Are: Charlie Heaton, Owen Campbell & Amandla Stenberg

(from l to r) The lead actors in As You Are: Charlie Heaton, Owen Campbell & Amandla Stenberg

Two of our Youth FX crew, Darian Henry and Michael Mejia, have been hired to work on set as production assistants, and others are shooting behind the scenes video, taking photos, assisting with wardrobe and playing some key extras in the film. One of our actors, Majestic Tillman, will also have a small role in the film.

The film has been on location at Albany High School, the former Bishop Maginn High School, Red Hook and at an incredible quarry. There has been an incredible amount of learning going on, and we're so hyped to be on a set of this scale and working with some incredibly talented people from the cinematography team to the style and wardrobe team.

Youth FX Wins Best Youth Narrative Short at 2015 Harlem Intl. Film Festival

The cast and crew of Falling just absolutely won the crowd over last night at the opening ceremonies of the 10th Annual Harlem International Film Festival at the Mist Harlem!

Our Youth FX film was part of an incredible night of three LGBTQ themed films including the powerful Kenyan feature Stories Of Lives.

Falling impressed the soldout crowd of over 200 people and then Maya, Imani, MIkayala and Ciara impressed them even more during the Q & A with their thoughtful insights about the film and why they chose to tell this story. So proud of this group of incredible young women!


UPDATE:  Falling was awarded the prize for Best Youth Short of 2015 Harlem International Film Festival!

FALLING Wins Best Narrative Short at LA Film Fest

Our Youth FX film FALLING won Best Narrative in the 2015 Los Angeles Film FestivalFuture Filmmaker Showcase!

What an honor to not only be selected as one of 25 films our of 375 submissions, but then to WIN best film in competition against the best youth produced films in country! We are so proud of the filmmakers Maya Suchak (Co-Director, Cinematographer, Editor), Imani Peterkin (Co-Director), Mikayla Appleberry (Lead Actor) & Ciara Rivas (Lead Actor) and our entire Youth FX Crew cause we are all in this together!

These amazing young women and Program Director Bhawin Suchak, GSCA Exec. Director Paul Rivers Bailey are having an incredible time at ‪LA Film Fest‬ meeting some filmmaking and acting icons and making connections. Shout out to Questlove, Zendaya, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Kyla Pratt, dream hampton, Sanaa Lathan, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller for taking the time to talk to and inspire our young filmmakers and actors! Thank you to Film Independent for all the support and encouragement. WOW What a day!!!