About Manhattan Film Institute


MFI Mission Statement

Manhattan Film Institute is a boutique conservatory with a world-class faculty. MFI is a film school and so much more. We will nurture aspirations while enriching careers for both budding and established artists. We are a film school that provides passionate, individualized instruction to inspire all filmmakers in a supportive, challenging and safe environment.

Whether acting, writing, or directing, all students will work side-by-side with industry professionals. The faculty is as distinguished for their accomplishments as they are for their dedication to teaching. Each shares the belief that by giving back, they can help nurture future generations of storytellers.

Professionals can come hone their skills with intensive retreats, seminars and on-going classes. Younger and less experienced artists can come to develop, shoot, write and act in original films that will help them take the next step. For high school directors wanting to elevate their application portfolios to get into good film colleges, or for actors who want high quality reels to get the attention of talent and casting agents, MFI can be their safe laboratory, fostering creativity while providing expert guidance.

With a commitment to keeping a low student-teacher ratio, MFI students will have the kind of attention, time and quality of teaching that will take them to the next level in their careers. MFI’s goal is to insure that each and every student has a transformational experience while studying with us.

All students will be admitted based on talent, but also on their ability and willingness to work with others. We make it clear that when you choose MFI, you are making a commitment to working with actors, directors, and writers of all ages, races, and religions. We especially believe that by allowing younger actors and directors to work with older, we can make more powerful choices as filmmakers, telling stories with characters that are not “uniform” but diverse.

A Message from MFI founder Tony Spiridakis

When Lisa Gillooly, Shannon Goldman, Bob Krakower, Wendy Makkena, and our other faculty first discussed and researched filmmaking summer programs for our own children, we discovered that a serious gap existed between a factory experience and a true artist’s conservatory feeling. With our first successful summer under our collective belts (and we will miss Jeff McCracken moving into the future, wishing him all the best on his film projects), we are renewing our promise that anyone who teaches with us will not only be inspired educators, but will have worked at a high level in the industry.

And, the most important message I can give anyone who is considering coming to work with us, is to let you know that you can trust our integrity, and intent to give artists everything we can to make work that they can be proud of. I could tell you more about myself, myself. But one of my dearest friends and colleagues did it for me. And I can’t imagine saying it better than Bob. Here is a letter Bob Krakower wrote to his acting students:

Dear Gang –

My good friend Tony Spiridakis has started a summertime boutique film
conservatory on the North Fork of Long Island called The Manhattan Film
Institute (http://www.manhattanfilminstitute.com).

Now, in the name of full disclosure, let me tell you: It ain’t cheap. But it
is also priceless. The tuition includes room and board as well as class and
your own reel by the time you leave the North Fork. Everything you need to
know is on the website. Examples of the kind of films you’ll be making are
there for you to see as well.

In closing, let me tell you this about Tony. There are very few people who
bring as much passion, intelligence, experience, and hilarity (you know how
I like the fun!) to teaching and film-making. For as long as I’ve known him,
Tony’s talked about wanting to build “an artistic firehouse.” A kind of
firehouse where all you did all day long was get ready to put on a show.
It’s never mattered to him if it was a tv show, a movie show, or a freaking
musical, he loves the energy and collaboration of the creative process. That
process always needs a home. And now, at this stage of his career, he has
decided to build his own fire house. A conservatory type fire house.

And he is blessed with tremendous friends. Amazing, talented, experienced
friends who will do anything for him. Larry Moss is in residence. Chazz
Palminteri will be there. Tony Goldwyn will be dropping by this summer. Joe
Pantoliano will be dropping by, too. And knowing Mr. Spiridakis, I can tell
you that other folks will undoubtedly be walking through his door.

You will walk out of his firehouse with a film you’ve made yourself,
mentored and guided by him and his terrific faculty. The amazing thing about
Tony is his incredible ability to teach people how to create something out
of nothing. And not just any something, but a something you’ll be proud of.

All the best –
– krakower

My goal is to live up to this vote of love, and confidence. I promise to deliver a boutique conservatory experience in all our summer workshops, and to create a retreat-like environment for all our programs. – Tony

And from MFI founder Lisa Gillooly…

Lisa Gillooly

Lisa seamlessly incorporated her previous exciting professions into the creation and development of the Manhattan Film Institute. As a senior legislative aide to a New Jersey State Senator, Lisa has worked as an advocate for children and the arts. Lisa possesses a unique skill set that applies well to the mission of MFI.

Lisa has a career in sales and management spanning 20 years, holding a real estate license with Corcoran.

Having raised four children in the Metropolitan area and spending summers on the North Fork of Long Island, Lisa identified the limited opportunities for serious artists to study and develop their craft. The idea of creating a boutique conservatory for both professional and talented student artists in Manhattan, with strong summer programs on the North Fork, is the culmination of years of planning. – Lisa