March 15, 2023

When film awards season rolls around each year, there are always an impressive number of NYU alumni among the nominees. Past winners and trailblazers include three-time Oscar winner Oliver Stone (TSOA ’71) known for Scarface and Wall Street; director/cinematographer Rachel Morrison (TSOA ’00), the first woman to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography and to have lensed a Marvel superhero movie; and the renowned Martin Scorsese (WSC ’64, STEINHARDT ’68, HON ’92), whose legacy will be honored with the creation of NYU’s upcoming Martin Scorsese Institute of Global Cinematic Arts. As the 2023 season comes to a close (see: NYU Alumni 2023 Academy Award Honorees; NYU Alumni 2023 Golden Globe Honorees; and NYU Tisch Alumni Affiliations at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival), check out some recent NYU alumni filmmakers following in the footsteps of these Violet visionaries. 

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Please note this is not an exhaustive list and only includes a small number of the many talented NYU alumni filmmakers.

Alejandra Parody (TSOA ’15) and Elizabeth Phillipson-Weiner (STEINHARDT ’15, ’21)  

Composer and producer Elizabeth Phillipson-Weiner founded the independent film production company Teddy Tracker Entertainment, which focuses “on fostering diversity of thought, culture, race, sexual orientation, and ability in the entertainment industry both in front of and behind the camera.” Filmmaker and Tisch alum Alejandra Parody soon joined her team, and together they composed the score for and directed the 2020 short Gets Good Light about a couple targeted by immigration enforcement. The Film received positive reviews and was nominated for Best Narrative Short at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Elegance Bratton (TSOA ’19)

Elegance Bratton’s foray into filmmaking may seem unconventional—it was one of three jobs personally recommended to him after taking the Marine Corps placement exam. Following his time in the Marines, Bratton followed his creative interest and produced his first documentary, Pier Kids, focusing on the young homeless LGBTQ+ community that he was once a part of. While studying Film and Television at Tisch, Bratton wrote his first draft of The Inspection, which is loosely based on his time in boot camp and relationship with his mother. The film won Bratton several awards including Best First Feature at the Independent Spirit Awards.

Katie Schiller (LS ’17, TSOA ’18)

Brooklyn-based double alum Katie Schiller is best known for producing the 2020 feature film Shiva Baby. Written and directed by Emma Seligman (LS, TSOA ’17) and starring Rachel Sennott (TSOA ’18), the comedy is an amalgamation of recent NYU alumni talent. Shiva Baby follows main character Danielle as she attempts to navigate family, neighbors, and romantic partners (both past and current) while attending a shiva. In 2022, it won the Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award. Most recently, Schiller served as a co-producer on Jonah Feingold’s narrative feature debut, Dating in New York.

Rongfei Guo (GSAS ’15)

Stuck in lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, Rongfei Guo found inspiration in isolation. Her film Girl With a Thermal Gun, a musical about a romance between a deliveryman and the woman who takes his temperature at the grocery store, explores the fantasies we create to get through life’s toughest challenges. The film was featured and won Best Narrative Short at the Tribeca Film Festival. Since then, Gu wrote and directed her first musical feature-length film, Dear Red. The film, about a woman searching not only for her long-missing mother but also for herself, was selected for the 2021 Festival De Cannes.

Shaka King (TSOA ’13)

While earning his graduate degree in Film and Television at Tisch, Shaka King studied under Spike Lee (TSOA ’82, HON ’98) and created his thesis and debut feature film Newlyweeds. Following its success at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, King wrote, directed, and produced his second and most highly acclaimed feature film, Judas and the Black Messiah. The biographical crime drama portraying the betrayal of Fred Hampton by an FBI informant swept the awards season, including winning two Oscars, Best Movie at the BET Awards, and Outstanding Motion Picture at the Black Reel Awards.