About Us

Our Mission

Big Picture Alliance’s mission is to empower Philadelphia youth to define their own narrative through filmmaking & digital media arts. We provide transformative learning experiences and a supportive pathway for youth to have their voices heard, develop as young professionals and reach their full potential. We aim to uplift & amplify marginalized voices and cultivate a new generation of storytellers who contribute towards a more inclusive, equitable and just society.

Our Story

Big Picture Alliance was founded in 1994 by Jared Martin (Actor/Director) & Jeffrey Seder (Entrepreneur) as a filmmaking apprenticeship program for underserved youth. In 2013, BPA partnered with the School District of Philadelphia to develop & implement a digital storytelling curriculum – resulting in ‘improved academic achievement and exemplary skill development’ (Rand Corp 2014). BPA then brought this programming to thousands of youth across Philadelphia through hundreds of school and community partnerships. Since 2016, BPA has developed a pathway of school, summer and workforce programs – supporting Philly youth from script-to-screen and from curiosity to careers. In 2020, BPA launched Big Picture Productions – an emmy-winning production company that creates content for clients and community partners staffed by BPA alumni. In 2023, BPA co-launched GroundFloor Studios in partnership with Chatterblast Media – community-centered production studio and workforce incubator that cultivates creative content and careers from the ground up. Since 1994, BPA has served over 10,000 youth and cultivated new generations of artists, leaders & media professionals.

In 2015, youth explored the impact of gentrification in west Philadelphia through “Stories from the Promise Zone”, a partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Philadelphia. In 2017, youth documented their journey using DNA to trace their African Ancestry in “We Are Sankofa”, winning Best Youth Film at BlackStar Film Fest. In 2018, BPA launched Via Lux Media, a youth-led media collective producing independent films and an annual youth film fest. In 2020, BPA created the CoVid Resiliency Project – an Emmy Award winning web-series created by and for Philly youth as a virtual space to share stories and information during the pandemic. In 2021, BPA launched Film & Media Futures – a workforce program that prepares young creatives for careers in film & media, and places them at paid industry apprenticeships. 

Since 1994, BPA has served over 9000 youth through 165 partnerships resulting in academic achievement, 106 scholarships, 255 internships, and 950 films, 80 of which are award­-winning. We’ve helped cultivate a generation of young artists and professionals who have gone on to pursue careers in the film & media.

The Staff

Aleks
Martray

Executive Director

Shahana
Jan

Program Manager

Nikki
Harmon

Teaching Artist

Joshua
Mallory

Teaching Artist

Bettina
Escauriza

Teaching Artist

Jasmin
Lynea

Teaching Artist

Bio Coming Soon!

Stan
Augustin

Communications Manager

Darien
Woodard

Communications Associate

Eli
LaBan

Production Supervisor

Gianna
Brown

Teaching Artist & Creative Producer

Bio Coming Soon!

Sam
Austin

Teaching Artist
Bio Coming Soon!

Vashmere
Valentine

Teaching Artist

Board of Directors

Teri
Yago-Ryan

Film & Media Executive /
Arts Education Administrator

Bio Coming soon!

Pascal
Marcelin

Educator / Filmmaker /
Technology Specialist

Bio Coming soon!

Kharisma
McIlwaine

TV Personality, Philly 360 /
BPA Alumni

Bio Coming soon!

Kris
Mendoza

Executive Producer and Founder, Maestro Filmworks

Bio Coming soon!

Lois
Moses

Filmmaker, TV Producer,
Entrepreneur

Bio Coming soon!

Ben
Barnett

Director, Philadelphia
Independent Film Festival

Bio Coming soon!

Youth Leaders

Via Lux Teen Media Collective – Founding Members

Naysa Jenkins

Cinematographer, Editor

Jose Quintana

Editor, Sound, Cinematographer

Darien Woodard

Director, Writer

Theo Wyss-Flamm

Cinematographer, Editor

Sam Austin

Director, Writer, Cinematographer

Jasmin Carter

Actress, Production Designer, Writer, Cinematographer

Michelle Wu

Cinematographer, Director, Editor

Cindy Pham

Actress, Writer, Editor

Industry Partners

BPA partners with local media companies, film festivals, cultural institutions, and universities provide an invaluable opportunity for our youth to explore career paths through field trips and paid apprenticeships. They offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the field of film & media and the opportunity to share their work with industry professionals who offer feedback, inspiration, and mentorship.

Our Funding Partners

Industry Partners

Aleks brings over 10 years of experience as a filmmaker and arts educator working with youth and communities in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Central America. He is the co-founder of Art of Solidarity (AoS), a media-based cultural exchange program that has produced over a dozen film collaborations between hundreds of Nicaraguan & North American artists.

He has worked with Scribe Video Center & PhillyCam as facilitator and producer of community-based documentaries and workshops in Philadelphia. He holds an MA in Community Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art and his work had screened at film festivals, museums and on television.

In 2016, Martray became the Executive Director of Big Picture Alliance (BPA) where he previously served as Teaching Artist and Program Manager for 4 years - developing curriculum, working with hundreds of youth and leading 5 award-winning projects.

Shahana is a director, editor, producer, and teaching artist in Philadelphia. She studied Film & Television Production in South Africa and has produced several music videos and short films.

She served as International Production Manager & Editorial Supervisor for the television show Coke Studio where she organized productions in 7 different countries. She handled Production and Development for the emmy-nominated PBS show Live from the Artists Den, including episodes featuring John Legend, OneRepublic, and Lady Antebellum.

She was the founder & director of a community arts center in Islamabad Pakistan and brings over 6 years of program development, management and teaching experience to Big Picture Alliance.

Nikki Harmon is a filmmaker, author, and educator. She has written, produced, directed, and crewed in various technical positions on several documentaries, short narratives, educational and industrial films,music videos and feature-length films.

Through Banyan Productions, she worked on three seasons of TLC’s Wedding Story” as a researcher, associate producer, and producer. Recently, she spent two years as the Program Manager for Scribe Video Center, a nationally recognized community media center in West Philadelphia.

She has published two novels, When I Was Your Girlfriend and Neither Here Nor There. Throughout her career, however, Nikki has maintained her commitment to teaching and has taught video production for various community organizations and as an adjunct at two local universities.

Joshua has been a film producer, animator, photographer, and teaching artist for over 6 years, working with Taller Puertorriqueno, Congresso, Play Arts Philadelphia. He has been a Teaching Artist with Big Picture Alliance for 5 years, and leads our YouthBuild & OIC Workforce Academy workforce readiness classes.

Bettina Escauriza is a Paraguayan-American
filmmaker, writer, artist, and musician living in Philadelphia. Her work deals with a range of topics including Indigenous issues, immigrant experience, environmental justice, philosophy, and feminism.
Bettina is currently working on a documentary film, Medicine from the Earth, about the medicinal plant culture in Paraguay that is rooted in Indigenous ancestral knowledge.

She is currently a 2018 Sundance Institute Knight Fellow. She has worked with YesPhilly, The Penn Museum,and Big Picture Alliance coordinating and teaching educational programs. She teaches the Delphi Summer Teen Media Program and islead mentor for Via Lux Teen Media.

Stanley Augustin (He/Him) serves as the Communications Manager for Big Picture Alliance. Previously, he was the Digital Media Manager at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, working across the organization’s programs to support efforts and initiatives through effective communication’s strategies. A graduate of Howard University, Stanley Augustin comes to Big Picture Alliance with a rich past of developing effective digital strategy and producing digital content across mediums. In his spare time he loves to ride his bike and take naps.

Darien Woodard (They/Them) is a queer filmmaker native to Philadelphia and continuing to grow their creative accomplishments within the community they grew up in. As a filmmaker Darien is dedicated to telling stories of underrepresented communities and highlighting them as is and not having to focus on the traumas that come with being a minority within the world but just the experience of life. Through community building Darien was able to co-found a Ten01 Media Collective which helps to support local artists within Philadelphia. Post high school graduation Darien participated in the Arts2Work apprenticeship before joining Media Futures in 2021. Following the year-long filmmaking extensive Darien joined the Big Picture Alliance staff as the assistant communications and event coordinator assisting in the distribution of BPA original film content. Through this role Darien hopes to connect younger underrepresented filmmakers with the opportunities to share their stories outside of their respective networks.

Eli (He/Him) is an Emmy Award-winning video director, editor and animator specializing in short documentaries, social media videos and motion graphics. He grew up just outside the city in Cheltenham, and he has lived and worked across the world in places including Nicaragua, Rwanda and Cuba. He is a recipient of Princeton in Africa and Fulbright fellowships, and his clients have included organizations and businesses like NBC10 Philadelphia, Abington Hospital- Jefferson Health and Gardens for Health International. He has taught video production, animation, and professional development with Big Picture Alliance since 2017, and loves to support BPA’s mission of cultivating a home-grown youth-led creative community in Philly.

Vashmere Valentine is a multi-award-winning American film director and screenwriter credited for
creating content for unspoken minority groups in both film and television. One of his most notable
works in the entertainment industry is the multi-award-winning fantasy short film The Wish and The
Wisp, which currently holds 88 awards, 54
nominations, and over 175 official selections from film festivals worldwide.