The Best Student Success Stories of 2019

Film Connection grad David Presto

Film Connection grad David Presto won an Emmy!


In 2019, David Presto, graduate of Film Connection for Film Production & Editing, won his first Emmy Award for his work on the FX miniseries Fosse/Verdon. Prior to enrolling in RRFC, David had been on the periphery of the industry for years, trying to find his “in.” Thanks to his own persistence and the connections he made during his externship, David has gone on to work on literally dozens of productions in film and television.

“If you want to make it, you have to be the one that is willing to go that extra mile to get to where you want to go….You have to always work at your craft consistently, and you consistently have to network with people. That’s the most important thing I could tell anyone, any student that wants to make it in this business, to do that. Never give up on your dream.”

Read our interview with David Presto.

Arronn Lepperman with cast of Into the Haunt

Film Connection grad Arronn Lepperman Shot Feature Film in 16 Days!


After years of thinking about enrolling in our Film Production & Editing program, Arronn Lepperman finally took the plunge. The result? Arronn got the real world filmmaking knowledge he needed to write, direct, and produce his own feature film, Into the Haunt, which was shot in just 16 days!

Arronn is deeply appreciative of the help Film Connection mentors Daniel Lir and Bayou Bennett provided him along the way, helping him stay on-course and on-budget:

“It was amazing to go about this process with them in my back pocket, and any issues I ran into I would call them about and they would help me out….Without them to let me know that that’s not a good route to take….We probably wouldn’t even have been able to make the film. So that was just a huge blessing….

I mean, what else do you need, really, than that kind of mentorship? It was pretty phenomenal.”


Learn more about how Arronn shot his feature film in 16 days!

Film Connection graduate Tyler McGraw

Film Connection grad Tyler McGraw got hired on Showtime’s Homeland!


Tyler McGraw enrolled in Film Connection for Film Production & Editing after he’d spent years nearly getting a foothold in the industry. After a fateful pitch meeting at a Hollywood studio, Tyler was set on course to find us, get working in the industry, and ultimately get hired on Homeland.

“I’ve done a lot. I’ve probably done close to 20 Lifetime movies. I’ve done a handful of commercials, a small handful of music videos, and a couple TV series. I worked on the first season of Love/Sick, which was produced by Awesomeness TV and I think they went for a second season. And now, yeah, Homeland is added to the resume!”

Film Connection grads Noah Cook and Jacob Sizemore

Film Connection grads Jacob Sizemore, Noah Cook & Caitlin Cooke Won Film Awards!


This trio of Film Connection for Film Production & Editing graduates have not stopped for a moment when it comes to making their own indie films. In 2019 Jacob Sizemore, Noah Cook, and Caitlin Cooke (Skymore Productions) won numerous film festival awards for “Porcelains” directed by Jacob Sizemore. The short thriller nabbed Official Selection status in five festivals, and won “Best Film” at the Central Arts of Bedford Festival, and “Best Thriller” at the Fort Worth Indie Showcase (more). Their most recent film “Worms” won the Audience Choice Award at the PressPlay Festival. Jacob Sizemore values the education he was able to receive while in Film Connection (RRFC):

“Joining this program has basically gotten me very, very comfortable with working with a large group of people, with getting familiar with the delicacy of shooting a scene….Basically the Film Connection opened a ‘crapton’ of doors for me and I’m infinitely better than what I was. I’m not saying I was pitiful or anything, but compared to what I was, I am immensely more well-educated in the filmmaking process. It’s been extremely, extremely helpful.” Learn more about Noah Cook’s Film Connection experience.

Director/filmmaker Katz Carter with actor Ashley Eddy

Film Connection graduate Katz Carter Shot, Wrapped, and Premiered Suspense Thriller “#FullMethod”!


In 2019 Film Connection for Film Production & Editing graduate Katz Carter met one of his personal heros, Spike Lee, founded his own production company (Katz Carter Productions), and premiered his own film “#FullMethod” using the smarts and savvy he’d developed as an extern with Film Connection mentors Bayou Bennett and Daniel Lir of Dream Team Directors, along with those he’s grown by being entrepreneurial in his approach.

“It has been a long journey but on the 19th (of November, the day of the premiere) all the hard work has paid off with my 1st passion project. With my mentors Daniel & Bayou, the Dream Team directors, I was able to organize and polish my film to be seen in theaters….

Even now, after graduating, they still answer my phone calls, answer my texts, help me out, and give me advice on a lot of things on the production side. So that’s really wonderful to have.”


See how you can learn filmmaking in months, not years, with Film Connection, a program area of RRFC.

Film Connection graduate Isabella Jones

Film Connection graduate Isabella Jones edited Full-Length International Film & Got Hired by Mentors!


As a student of the Film Connection for Film Production & Editing program Isabella Jones said yes to the many opportunities offered to her by mentors Daniel Lir and Bayou Bennett of Dream Team Directors. When they asked if she’d like to edit interviews for their web series, she said yes. When she was invited to serve as Assistant Editor on Dream Team’s full length feature Tombstone Pillow, she said yes again. And guess what she said when an even bigger opportunity was presented?

In our July interview with Isabella, she gave us the lowdown on how she landed the role of Editor on Tombstone Pillow:

“[The editor’s] style and what they wanted and whatnot…wasn’t meshing together…so they gave me the opportunity to do an opening scene for the film…I did a rough draft…They really liked it, and they had me do another…and they really liked it. So, very luckily for me they actually ended up having me be the main editor….It was my first time ever doing something on that scale. I was learning along the way…I opened my eyes one day and we were done with the film….It was just kind of a whirlwind….It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. I am still thankful that it happened so young. [That] I can build my portfolio at such a young age, is just really awesome.”

Want to find out how Isabella got working as an editor in a matter of months? Read our interview with her here.

Ananth Agastya and cast members of “The Fallen”

Film Connection grad Ananth Agastya Completed Wartime Short Film, crewed by Grads and Students!


Despite the fact that Ananth Agastya has a demanding career in the tech sector, he’s extremely committed to filmmaking. In fact, he schedules his shoots on off days and during vacation time, and spends weekends and a great many weeknights editing, writing, and producing various film projects. In 2019, Anath had the satisfaction of seeing his wartime short film “The Fallen” completed thanks, in part, to the connections Ananth was able to build with fellow Film Connection (RRFC) students and graduates. The finished project is downright breathtaking to behold.

“Noah Cook and Jacob Sizemore, were both my camera guys. My 1st AC’s were Caitlin Cooke and David Aguirre. And my first AD was Shaun Robertson. They’re all graduates of Film Connection.”

So what’s Anath’s advice for making the most of the program?

“Create good working relationships through your Film Connection mentor. It could be either with the other students coming in from Film Connection or the crew that your mentor’s already got. That’s the way you network. You work for them, they work for you. It goes both ways. When they need something, you try to be there. When you need something, they’ll pull their weight for you.”

Learn more about how Ananth made his award-winning short “The Fallen.”

Film Connection student Nate Crockett and Geno DiMaria on Hindsight which screened at Cannes Short Film Corner (Cannes Court Métrage)

Nate Crockett Got Hired on Crew of The Righteous Gemstones on HBO!


This past summer, Film Connection for Film Production & Editing graduate Nate Crockett wrote in with some great news:

“I’m part of the crew on HBO’s new show called “The Righteous Gemstones,” which is Danny McBride’s new show….I finally got my foot in the door for what I’ve always wanted to do, which is be on a feature or TV show that’s narrative-based and with people that I’ve looked up to pretty much my whole life. John Goodman’s on the show. Being able to stand right next to him and help him with things, like get him water or food, just small things, but being able to do that is really surreal, and the fact that I’m getting paid for it is even more surreal, because I would definitely do this for free if I had to.”

Learn more about Nate’s in-industry training with RRFC.

Anthony Marks and Gabe Gottstein on the Doucheaholics set

Recording Connection grad Gabe Gottstein with actor Anthony Marks on Doucheaholics set

Film Connection student Gabe Gottstein Assistant Directed Pro Shoots, Worked 49ers Commercial!


Gabe Gottstein enrolled in Film Connection for Film Production & Editing having made the promise to himself that he’d get the filmmaking knowhow he needed to get his passion project realized. From the moment Gabe connected with his mentor, Sean McCarthy of Guerilla Wanderers, he felt it was “just meant to be.”

Even though Gabe still had a full time job, he spent as much time as he could learning the many facets of production. Having earned his mentor’s trust, Gabe Assistant Directed numerous projects including a short film trailer for Cinequest, a couple of independent films, and an episode of Guerilla Wanderers’ comedic web-series “Doucheaholics.”

Working on a commercial shoot for the 49ers was a special highlight for Gabe:

“We did the San Francisco 49ers [featuring] Richard Sherman and a couple other 49ers…I key PA’d it. It was really cool working inside the locker room, meeting all the 49ers, working in a very professional environment.”

So what’s Gabe’s advice to people who want to learn film?

“My advice is, if you’re not already in Film Connection, sign up and get into Film Connection. But you don’t have to quit your life…Put in the work, read the course material, submit the quizzes, use your own voice, speak like you would speak, write like you would write. You do you, and that will come across….

Film Connection teaches me what I need to know, how to go about it, how to communicate, and then I go to set, and boom! And if I hadn’t done it that way, there’s no way I’d be where I am right now. There’s no way I’d be AD-ing. Not a chance.”


Find out more about Gabe’s many Film Connection experiences.

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