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Our professionals make the difference …


Our core group of professional filmmakers bring with them talents and experiences from all areas of filmmaking and teaching.  From pre-production to the actual shoot to post-production, our team of experts all have teaching backgrounds to go along with their skills as professional filmmakers. As a result, students not only benefit from the experience of assisting professionals in their work, but also from having an expert eye assist them in crafting their own stories into an independent film of their own.

Barbara Castellana Stasiak

Barbara has spent over four decades as an educator, teaching courses in writing,  literature, and media studies at the high school and college level. She is also an experienced choral singer and director, actor, and dancer. In 2000, she fulfilled her lifelong dream to develop an interdisciplinary arts curriculum for gifted young people when she became one of the founding faculty members at Morris County’s Academy for Visual & Performing Arts. In her thirteen years at AVPA, Barbara taught screenwriting, film production, editing, sound scoring, and graphic and set design, as well as directed musical theatre productions for high school students seeking careers in digital media, filmmaking, theatre, and dance. In collaboration with guest teaching artists funded by the NJ State Council on the Arts, her student teams annually produced short feature films and fine arts animations, as well as over fifty shorter independent films, many of which won recognition at county and state festivals. Retired from full-time teaching since 2013, Barbara continues her involvement in mentoring arts educators and students pursuing arts careers.

Pamela Owens
Cinematography and Lighting

Pam received her B.A. in History from NYU and used photography as a medium that allowed her to document the present through her own eyes. She then attended the School of Visual Arts where she achieved her Master's Degree in the Fine Arts. Pam has since studied with renowned photojournalists Eugene Richards and Bruce Davidson as well as the artist's Diane Michaels, Sarah Charlesworth and Nan Goldin. Pam was awarded a Dodge Foundation Grant to print and develop a body of work which culminated with a solo exhibition at the Women's Studio in New York State.

Mike Cotler
Editing and Sound

Mike is a 25-year veteran of the broadcast television industry — as staff editor and technical director for WNYW Channel 5, at WWOR My9 News, NBC, and ESPN, and for corporations such as Prudential Insurance, American Express, and AT&T.   He is currently Owner and Senior Editor at MountainHouse Productions. Mike holds a Master of Arts degree in Cinema Studies from New York University and is an Apple Certified Pro Editor.  His recent film, “Bartleby 2013,” won a Director’s Citation from the Black Maria Film Festival.  Mike is also a licensed Special Ed teacher, and has taught college courses as an adjunct at Seton Hall University.

Gerard Amsellem
Directing and Film Analysis

In addition to being an award winning film director and painter, Gerard has over 15 years experience as a high school teacher, and is the highly regarded creator and leader of La Cinémathèque, a very successful film club that screens films, explores the origins of modern film, discovers influential filmmakers, and discusses the styles and philosophical messages of the films presented as part of each series. Gerard was born in Morocco and lived the first 25 years of his life in Paris, where he studied painting at the University of Paris and earned his Masters Degree in French Literature and Art History. In 1982 Gerard moved to the U.S. and continued to paint and develop his interest in film. His most recent film “Bartleby 2013,” received a Director’s Citation from the Black Maria Film Festival and was an official selection of several other festivals.

Mark Menditto
Cinematography and Lighting

Mark Menditto is a freelance photographer and cinematographer and also currently an instructor at NJ Film School. His still photography work has been on exhibition at Soho Photo Gallery (New York), Visions Gallery and the Swerdlow Gallery (New Jersey), and as stock photography through PhotoShelter, iStockphoto and the Auroraphoto stock agencies. Mark's work has appeared in Bark Magazine and ASMP Bulletin.


His cinematographic work (IMDB) includes Bartleby 2013, Facade, Test Subject, Undercover, and The Water's Edge. Mark is a member of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) and one of their Best of 2009 photographers.


Stephen Girardi
Jazz Guitar and
Music for Film

With over 30 years of teaching experience, Steve has guided students to be accepted into some of the finest colleges and universities in the country. NYU, University of Miami, Eastman College, Berklee College of Music, Peabody Conservatory and the College of New Jersey have all graduated Girardi students. Qualified in the areas of theory, composition and advanced improvisation, Steve has the unique distinction of being an authorized Sandole method instructor. Dennis Sandole was the distinguished teacher of such jazz luminaries as John Coltrane, Pat Martino, and James Moody. The Maestro gave this honor to Steve after years of extensive study. A highly regarded jazz guitarist and composer, Steve regularly performs in venues around the NYC area. He is currently a music faculty member at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Education: Authorized Sandole Method Instructor .Berklee College of Music, Boston, and Mannes College, NYC

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