I started making films when I was fourteen and soon after realized that filmmaking was the career I was destined to follow. Growing up as an Arab-American Muslim in Georgia’s public school systems, I had a steep hill to climb, and one of the only ways to earn respect, was to shine. I tried to do just that.
I made my first feature film in high school. I know this might sound kind of nerdy, but it was a Star Wars fanfilm. Using my friends as cast and crew, as well a cheap blue sheet, we learned how to use proper video editing software, 3d-modeling programs, animation modules, and compositing suites. I was hooked.
Looking to apply to film schools around the nation, I submitted the Star Wars: Rise of the Black Sun movie trailer to the Savannah College of Art and Design for scholarship consideration, and was awarded the Francis McLarkin Scholarship, the most prestigious artistic portfolio scholarship offered in the amount of $35,000 spread over four years.
While attending film school at SCAD, I networked with some of the school’s best talent. Honing our craft and skills, our first large comedy project, Monkeys on My Back, directed by Mike Brubaker, was honored with the Best in Show Award at the SCAD Student Showcase.
As my senior year approached, I sat down to write a short student film that, most of all, included something of substance. After a month and a half of working things out, the first Arab in America screenplay emerged. With tons of help from the people below and a bunch of others, we are where we are today.
Thomas Verrette made his first feature film when he was 18. The film, Distant Walls, earned him an Artistic Portfolio Scholarship to the Savannah College of Art and Design where he studied Film and Television. There, he earned two awards for Best Cinematography and Best Original Score. Upon graduation, Verrette wrote, co-produced, and directed the independent feature film I Am the Bluebird, which is currently in post-production. I Am the Bluebird stars Justice Leak, a young actor who can be seen in the recent Denzel Washington film, The Great Debaters.
Born in New Jersey, Verrette was raised in Alpharetta, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. As a freshman in high school, he taught himself how to read and write music, and began scoring scenes from other films. His first film was a 45-minute World War II film that he shot and directed with his friends, specifically because he wanted to write an original score.
Since then, Verrette has worked on several major commercial and film productions, including Georgia Lottery and ARMY commercials as well as the next Steven Spielberg film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Colin Ferri hails from a small sea-side town in the great state of Rhode Island. Discovering a love for film at a young age and working in a historic theatre throughout high school, he learned to appreciate film in all its forms. Continuing in that tradition, Colin earned an BFA in Film Production from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
He’s written and produced films spanning from over-the-top slapstick comedy to dramatic narratives. He hopes to continue writing and producing for mass audiences with a style of smart, but satirical exploration of the human condition. Colin’s past producing credits include All That Racquet, Second Sentence, A Battle of Wits, the Savannah favorite Whatever You Do, and Aim Down, a film that he also co-wrote.
Colin Ferri co-wrote the Arab in America short and feature screenplay as well as produced the Arab in America short film. At the Savannah College of Art and Design, he was nominated in the Best Screenplay category.
Michael graduated from the Savannah School of Art and Design (SCAD) in May of 2006 with a degree in film and television. During his time at SCAD, Michael was an active participant (film crew member, set manager, investor) in the production of several short films, including Monkeys on My Back which premiered at the 2006 Savannah Film Festival. After graduation, Michael became a contributing member of the production company Five on Fifty Films. Last year, Five on Fifty Films traveled to the Cannes International Film Festival with their short, comedic film, Arab in America!. Five on Fifty Films was also featured in the local South Magazine in March of 2007.
While still active in the film production arena, Michael has also utilized his production and management experience in the world of Real Estate Development. As Project Manager for the Grikitis Group, Michael is responsible for timely management of property and real estate (commercial and residential) growth initiatives. He works to ensure critical project deadlines are met, established budgets are adhere to, productivity is well-paced, developers and contractors are evaluated and selected based upon quality criteria, and contracts are upheld.
dir. of photography
Tim’s love for filmmaking stems from a extensive background in art. At an age when most kids were learning to “color inside the lines”, Tim was sketching realistic depictions of dinosaurs and spot-on replicas of Disney characters such as Sebastian, the precocious animated crab made famous by The Little Mermaid. On multiple occasions, meanwhile, fellow classmates would commission him to render their favorite Ninja Turtle or comic book hero — requests he happily carried out.
While sketching was something he enjoyed doing in his spare time, however, Tim was well-aware the renaissance age had passed — and that an invitation from the Queen to paint the Royal Ballroom was not a likely scenario. That’s when Mr. Baker, his high school art teacher, introduced him to the digital world, which jump-started a number of short movie ventures with friends.
Tim won awards in festivals both for his artwork and his film work in high school. He and his friends’ short movie DADS even beat out 2008 American Idol winner David Cook in the 2002 Blue Springs South High School talent show (Or, more accurately, it would have beaten out Cook had the future heartthrob not graduated the year before). Tim’s successes helped him earn an artistic scholarship to The Savannah College of Art and Design.
Before graduating in 2006 with a degree in Film and Television, Tim helped assemble some of his most talented and create classmates to assist in various filmmaking endeavors. Tim worked as the director of photography on Arab! in America!, one of his final senior projects at school.