The Tryon International Film Festival was founded by the Polk County Film Initiative to further its mission to promote filmaking to our community. A major piece of this mission is focused on education which is why we’re very pleased to offer these panels and workshops presented by stellar industry professionals.

The art of Filmmaking is the process by which a film is made. From Development, Pre-Production, Production, Post-Production and Distribution, Filmmaking involves a number of complex and discrete stages including an initial story, idea, or commission, through screenwriting, casting, shooting, sound recording, editing, and screening the finished product before an audience in the hopes that it all may result in a film release and an exhibition. 

ALL education programs are free to the public thanks to our wonderful sponsors!

Space is limited so please pre-register with the form,  below – thank you!


Patti Price, Alison Marek, Stisa Talent Agency’s Lisa and Steve Lopez, Jashiel Valero, Francesca Calo and James Fulater

Date/Time To Be Announced

Sponsored by


BroPilot’s Matt Garkusha and Tony Winters, Cruz Crane, Julie Haneline + Family

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Sponsored by BroPilots


Honey Head Films’ Erika Edwards + Kristi Ray

Date/Time To Be Announced

Tryon International Film Festival judges Kristi Ray and Erika Edwards

Honey Head is an award-winning, boutique production company that specializes in creating authentic narrative and documentary films. Founded in 2016 by creative duo Erika Edwards and Kristi Ray to address the lack of female representation in cinema – in front of and behind the lens. As a social enterprise, their radically inclusive company culture has opened unconventional doors as they continue to build the region’s first female-led independent film studio. In a traditionally male-dominated industry, Honey Head’s notoriety comes from women holding key roles of cinematographer, director, writer, producer and editor.  Their work has inspired others and garnered unmatched support in the community. Collectively they have produced nearly 100 creative film projects over the past five years, including 13 narrative short films and 4 documentaries.  

Kristi Ray is an award-winning actress and producer. Classically trained in New York City, she received a full scholarship to The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute where she deeply honed her skills as a method actor. With multiple wins for Best Actress in a feature, as well as Outstanding Performer of the Year for her efforts in independent cinema, her work has been programmed and distributed on the international level. As co-founder of the female-led production company Honey Head Films, her passion for team building creates a unique capacity to recognize the strengths and goals of fellow collaborators. 

Erika Arlee is a multifaceted and self-taught filmmaker with a passion for character-driven stories. From the writing room to the editing suite, she is a visionary with a love for Southern narratives and exploring underrepresented communities on screen. A co-founder of Honey Head Films, Arlee continues to break boundaries in independent cinema as a writer, director, and cinematographer. Her debut feature film as writer and director is currently slated for production in eastern North Carolina this summer. 
Sponsored by Honey Head Films

Jamie Huss + Gregg Jamback

Date/Time To Be Announced


Gregg is a film and video professional. For more than 30 years his work has been seen on broadcast outlets, such as NatGeo, Animal Planet, ESPN, public television, and others. His clients have included corporations, such as IBM, Amex, Pitney Bowes, Deloitte & Touche, and many others. Institutional clients include numerous foundations, such as the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, the Winston-Salem Foundation, Save the Children, and non-profits. As a filmmaker Gregg has produced independent projects, including Discover Yourself with the Enneagram, The Little America’s Cup Challenge, Peelers, Busters, & Soft Shell Crabs (broadcast on UNC-TV), The Real Cost of Coal, and Greg Taylor Ghost. Awards include Best of the Fest at Down East Flick Fest, Judge’s Choice at Eastern North Carolina Film Festival, and Best Documentary at Rugged Phoenix Underground Film Festival.


Jamie has worked as a producing partner at Swiftwater Media on three independent productions: Discover Yourself with the Enneagram (2001), The Real Cost of Coal (2010), and Greg Taylor Ghost (2014). She has consulted on many others. With 11 years experience in a Fortune 500 corporate position involving communications, presentations, and training sessions (spanning all levels of employees and executives), she is comfortable with organizing materials for comprehension and meeting new people — skills critical to a film festival. With 30 years of experience as a partner or a sole-proprietor of healthcare-related practices, she is able to oversee every aspect of a project. She has honed interview skills used when dealing with confidential, traumatic, or emotional subjects. A longstanding commitment to social justice issues led her to devote four years to a local foundation where she focused her energies on donor development, re-branding, and creating marketing materials (producing three annual fundraising testimonial videos).


Date/Time To Be Announced

This workshop focuses on the reality of the business from all three stages of production: pre-production, production & post-production which includes shooting schedules, budgets, contracts, financials, actual shooting techniques, writing techniques and all aspects of any area of production for above the line and below the line crew questions.

Frank Calo

FRANK M CALO is an Independent Producer and Director whose film THE BELIEVER, starring Ryan Gosling and Billy Zane won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2001 Sundance Festival.  That film won all the festivals that year including The Berlin Film Festival.  It was shown nation wide and had a great box office run.

His film, HERE & THERE with Cyndi Lauper and David Thornton has won the BEST NY NARRATIVE IN WORLD COMPETITION 2009 at Robert DeNiro’s, Tribeca Film Festival in NYC and had it’s official News York premier played to wide audiences domestically and overseas.

Mr. Calo has worked with Robert DeNiro (Godsend) Demi Moore, Mike Myers Shelly Winters, Marlon Brando and many more.  His film THE COOKOUT with Queen Latifah also had a great box office run distributed by Lions Gate Films.

He also worked for two years with The Motion Picture Bond Company under Robert Bordiga, as a Producer working on films throughout the tri-state areas.

He was one of the few and only directors who studied privately under Mr. Elia Kazan.

Sponsored by RED Cameras


Date/Time To Be Announced

Sponsored by Tryon Little Theater



Date/Time To Be Announced

Tryon International Film Festival Best Full Length and Short Animation performance category judge Francesca Calo

Calo is a bicoastal actor, MoCap performer, and voice actress who spent her childhood on film and television sets with her parents. She began acting at the age of seven, and has since enthusiastically followed her passion. She studied and performed with theaters such as the moscow Art Theatre Company, New York Stage and Film, as well as with acclaimed international director, Adolf Shapiro. In the voice over realm, she has worked on a myriad of animated series, anime, films, and video games. She can be heard as Salene Crow in Wasteland 3: The Battle of Steeltown, Cheng Chen in the popular mobile game, Seven Knights 2, Stella Loussier in Gundam Seed: Destiny, Pokemon, and more.

Sponsored by Flat Rock Playhouse


Date and Time To Be Announced

This workshop covers everything from elevating your screenplay to the best it can be to the finance and production side of seeing your story come to life!

Kevin Bernhardt

KEVIN BERNHARDT has had over 30 very different screenplays – result in produced films. They range from commercial action – to critically and spiritually-acclaimed. In the past 4 years, he has had four films shoot as a writer, with budgets up to $30 million – and casts including Michael Caine, Orlando Bloom, Michael Shannon, Alex Pettyfer, Patti LuPone, Christopher Plummer and Ben Foster.

In addition to those, Bernhardt’s work has resulted in films with Academy Award winners and nominees  – including Donald Sutherland, John Lithgow, Nick Nolte, Djimon Hounsou, Sylvester Stallone and Dennis Hopper. Other prestigious notables include Kevin Bacon, Patrick Swayze, Chris Rock, Roy Scheider, Michael Biehn, Charlie Sheen, Dolph Lundgren, Peter Weller, Jennifer Beals, Tom Berenger, Daryl Hannah, Amy Smart, Matthew Goode, Til Schweiger and Wesley Snipes.

While building a career as a writer Bernhardt supported himself as an actor, with multi year contract/lead roles on GENERAL HOSPITAL and DYNASTY, followed by numerous leads in films such as Clive Barker’s HELLRAISER. Most recently, he returned with a supporting role opposite Michael Caine and Ben Foster in MEDIEVAL, which will be released theatrically in the U.S. in 2021. But screenwriting remains the passion.

STEVEN ESTEB – An award winning filmmaker that has worked as a Hollywood screenwriter and directed features, commercials, music videos, documentaries and was also a professor at Loyola University New Orleans teaching film and screenwriting. Founder of the Louisiana Screenwriters Bootcamp.  His film, HATE CRIME, received numerous awards at film festivals all over the world. He’s also known for the cult film, BALLER BLOCKIN’, a rap film for Universal starring Lil Wayne, hit #1 on the Billboard charts in DVD and video sales eventually going quadruple platinum. Steve’s been repped by top agencies as a screenwriter and worked as a script fixer, and screenwriting coach. He lived and worked at an AIDS hospice for two years while making the feature length documentary, LIVING WITH…A FILM ABOUT LOVE AND AIDS. It premiered at the Santa Barbara Film Festival and traveled the world, contributing to the opening of new AIDS Hospices, his proudest accomplishment.


Date/Time To Be Announced

 In between watching exciting, groundbreaking TRIFF films, why not make one yourself?

Have you always wanted to make a movie, but don’t have the time or money to invest in years of film school?

Have you made videos before but don’t feel satisfied with the result?

Do you wonder how you can create a short film or video that tells a story and takes your audience on an unforgettable journey?

The TRIFF Fast Filmmaking Workshop provides you with the basics of storytelling, cinematic grammar, and shooting strategies so you can craft short films that are memorable and emotional.

All you need is a smartphone with a camera, an editing app, plus a burning desire to share your dreams and perspective with an audience.

Help promote TRIFF and support other filmmakers by shooting key moments from the festival weekend. Finished films may be selected for uploading to the TIFF site! 


ALISON MAREK (MFA, New York University) is an award-winning writer and director who’s combined words and images professionally since she was in her late teens. Her short films have played in festivals around the world and aired on cable TV. Her writing and directing have won grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Showtime Networks, Inc., been nominated for a Los Angeles Emmy Award, and received a Gold Aurora, Bronze Telly, and other awards and nominations. She’s produced shorts, features, and TV. She also built and ran the video department at an online magazine, where she shot and edited thousands of videos. Her graphic novels “Desert Streams” and “Sparrow” were published by Piranha Press, an offshoot of DC Comics.


Date/Time To Be Announced

Sponsored by Spartan Photo



Date/Time To Be Announced


Please pre-register for the classes you plan to attend – thanks, it’s a big help!