About Us

Our Mission

Big Picture Alliance’s mission is to engage, educate and empower Philadelphia youth 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.

Our Story

Big Picture Alliance was founded in 1994 by Jeffrey Seder & Jared Martin (TV Actor/Director) as an apprenticeship program where youth produced films about issues impacting their lives under the mentorship of professional filmmakers. In 2013, BPA partnered with the School District of Philadelphia to develop and implement a digital storytelling curriculum in alignment with Common Core educational standards – resulting in improved grades, test scores, attendance, and exemplary skill development (Rand Corp Report – Aug 2014). BPA then brought this programming to hundreds of youth across Philadelphia through dozens of school and organizational partnerships.
In 2015, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Philadelphia, BPA youth explored the theme of gentrification through “Stories from the Promise Zone” which screened at City Hall. In 2017, BPA youth documented their journey using DNA to trace their African Ancestry in “We Are Sankofa”, winning Best Youth Film at Black Star Film Festival. In 2018, BPA launched a Digital Media Workforce Program and the Teen Media Collective, providing youth ages 15-21 new pathways into the field of film & media.

Since 1996, BPA has served over 7000 youth through 100 partnerships resulting in academic achievement, scholarships, internships, employment, and 800 films, 60 of which are award-winning. We’ve helped cultivated a generation of young artists and professionals, many of whom have gone on to pursue careers in the film & media.

The Staff

Aleks
Martray

Executive Director

Shahana
Jan

Program Manager

Nikki
Harmon

Production Manager

Joshua
Mallory

Teaching Artist

Bettina
Escauriza

Teaching Artist

Anexis
Morales

Teaching Artist

Stan
Augustin

Communications Manager

Darien
Woodard

Communications Associate

Eli
LaBan

Technical Director

Brittany
McCarthy

Development Manager

Tyreece
Powell

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!

Melissa A.
Rowe

Educator/College & Career
Specialist / BPA Alumni

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

Jordany Uceta

Cinematographer, Editor

Jose Quintana

Editor, Sound, Cinematographer

Aaliyah Fisher

Director, Writer

Theo Wyss-Flamm

Cinematographer, Editor

Amanda Smith

Director, Writer

Jasmin Carter

Actress, Production Designer, Writer, Cinematographer

Michelle Wu

Cinematographer, Director, Editor

Cindy Pham

Actress, Writer, Editor

Industry Partners

Our relationships with local media studios, film festivals, theaters, museums, and industry professionals provide an invaluable opportunity for our youth to explore career paths and showcase their work to the broader public through screenings, broadcasts, and field trips. Students get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the world of television & film production and pitch their films to industry professionals who offer feedback, encouragement, and inspiration. These industry partners include: PhillyCam, Scribe Video Center, MyNewPhilly, Comcast, NBC 10, RecPhilly, Philadelphia Film Society, Greater Philadelphia Film Office, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Rough Cut Film Fest, BlackStar Film Fest, and more.

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.

Anexis Morales is a Puerto Rican photographer, documentalist, and filmmaker, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is passionate about outdoor lifestyle, culture, travel, and wildlife conservation. For years, he has dedicated his work to documenting the culture and nature of the Caribbean, Central America, and the United States. Anexis seeks to capture visual stories to connect and inspire people. He aims to open a conversation about cultural and environmental conservation, outdoor sports, and wildlife.

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.

Brittany McCarthy (She/Her) is a New Jersey native who moved to Philadelphia after spending ten year in New York City. Brittany is a development specialist who focuses on fundraising for nonprofits. She specializes in donor relations, philanthropy, capital campaigns, budget/ project management, and fundraising strategies. The past eight years, Brittany has been consistent with fundraising for nonprofits who focus on the youth. Growing up she was a triple threat and loved the art of theater and digital entertainment. While living in New York City, Brittany was a phenomenal red carpet reporter for various media outlets. Her love for media stems all the way back to when she was child editing videos, to when she started her own radio show on the campus of Lincoln University, to graduating and having a career in media. Brittany has finally found her calling to be an advocate to help finance non profit organizations like BPA.

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.