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Film & Video – Faculty Bios

“The production teachers are so knowledgeable and passionate about what they taught.” – 2022 Cherub

All the faculty are amazing” – 2022 Cherub

“[The instructors] took me to a whole new level of knowledge – 2022 Cherub

Samina Akbari – Film & Video Division Director

Samina Akbari is a filmmaker and film educator based in NYC who joined NHSI as the Director of the Film Institute in 2023. She has spent the last decade writing, directing and producing short and feature films, and her short film The Visitors premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was screened at film festivals around the world. She has received numerous honors for her producing work, including from the Dubai Film Connection, the Spike Lee Production Fund and the National Board of Review, and she was an IFP Narrative Lab Fellow as producer of the film Karaoke Girl which premiered in competition at the Rotterdam Film Festival. Samina is currently in development on her feature film Anees, winner of the SFFILM Rainin Grant for Screenwriting. She received a BHA in Fine Arts and Social History from Carnegie Mellon University, and an MFA in Film from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Andrew Long – Film & Video Associate Division Director

Andrew Long is a New York-based writer/director known for ‘Nigerian Prince’, which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival 2018 (co-writer). His short film ‘Clearing House’ premiered at Atlanta Film Festival 2022 and was executive produced by Paul Dano (There will be blood, Batman, Prisoners). Andy has been the recipient of many screenwriting awards such as Tribeca All Access 2019 ‘The Inspection’ (co-writer, uncredited) and the NYU Kings screen writing award 2022 for Clearing House. Born in Washington DC, he attended Howard University where he received his Bachelor’s, and is also a graduate of the New York University MFA film program.  He enjoys horseback riding and camping in his free time. 

Ella Harmon – Director of Production

Ella Harmon is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and educator with background in fashion and music videos. Having worked as a Director, Cinematographer, Editor, Colorist, Producer, and Production Coordinator, Ella has a 360 understanding of the production process. Ella’s work has been featured in Rolling Stone Magazine, Latina Magazine, and Movie Maker Magazine and has been screened at festivals worldwide. Ella has an MFA in Documentary Media from Northwestern University with a Certificate in Critical Theory. In 2023, Ella taught Production, Expanded Documentary Film, and Color Correction at NHSI. This year, Ella is excited to return as the Director of Production

Jose Embil Jr – Residence Hall Director

Jose Embil Jr is delighted to join the Film Institute team as the residence hall director and thrilled to work with the Cherubs in achieving their goals. Jose is from Three Rivers, Michigan and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Higher Education Student Affairs from Western Michigan University. He has experience as a leadership camp coordinator, dialogue facilitator, HR rep, and advocate for a sexual aggression hotline. His greatest passion is in finding ways he can cultivate student inclusion and belonging. Even though his background is not in film, he does enjoy the classics, like “A Cinderella Story” starring Hilary Duff. In his downtime, you can find Jose sitting by Lake Michigan, crocheting while listening to the waves.

Robin Woitesek – Assistant to the Directors

Robin Woitesek is a recent graduate from Lake Forest College with a Bachelor of Arts as a double-major in Sociology & Anthropology and Film & Television Studies. As a lifelong lover of film and television Robin has a passion for not only analyzing film, but inspiring others to both create and appreciate the art in the visual medium. This has led Robin to pursue her lifelong passion academically in which she conducted a year-long senior capstone project entitled, “Evil, Skanky, and Kinda Gay”: Queer Theory, Feminist Television Criticism, & “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” where she analyzed the cult television show through applying feminist television criticism and queer theory to examine the romantic relationships that Buffy Summers has with vampires Angel and Spike. Robin began working with NHSI as a Residential and Faculty Assistant in 2023 and is excited to be coming back again this summer as the Assistant to the Institute Director and Residence Hall Director with the Film and Video Division.

Kate Compton – Acting on Camera Faculty

Kate Compton is an Actor, Comedian, Teaching Artist, and Storyteller who is currently based in Chicago and LA. She is also an Adjunct Professor who teaches Acting at Harper College. Kate holds an MFA in Acting from Northwestern University and a BFA in Theatre from Michigan State University. She is also a graduate of the Conservatory Program at The Second City Hollywood. (So sometimes she’s funny). Kate has worked in national commercials, film, television, and in the sketch/improv community in Los Angeles for the last two decades. She is also a member of the creative collective, Tuesday Night Films, a group that creates, produces, and films digital sketches and short films. As an educator, she strives to show her students how to experience the world through exploration, experimentation, and play while helping them explore who they are and all of the possibilities that inhabit the human condition. Kate is thrilled to be joining NHSI for the first time this summer!

Juli del Prete – Directing Faculty

Juli Del Prete is a writer, filmmaker, and photographer. She is the co-creator, -writer, and -star of The Right Swipe, an intersectional feminist romantic comedy web series (OTV | Open Television). Most recently, she co-produced the short films Whole + Six Feet Apart by Isaac Gómez and Monty Cole and wrapped post-production for her directorial debut short film, Caroline. She was the assistant director for the world premiere of Tracy Letts’s Linda Vista (Broadway, Steppenwolf, Mark Taper Forum). Juli’s writing has been recognized by the Luminarts Cultural Foundation, Austin Film Festival, and O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. In her free time, you can find her sipping a giant Dunkin’ iced coffee while walking her lab/pit mix, Buffy.

Greta Díaz Moreau – Directing Faculty

Greta Díaz Moreau is a Spanish screenwriter/director and visual artist based in New York, known for her film and scenographic portrait work. As a director, she shows an evident passion for expressionist narratives, female perceptions of shame and desire in castrating environments, and exhilarating humor that punches you in the gut. During the pandemic in 2020, Greta started exploring the world of scenographic portraiture, leading the narrative for the exhibition “La Muda,” a project that spanned two years and was finally presented on February 27, 2021, at the Lo Pati Art Center. She is currently finishing her Directing MFA at Columbia University in New York, where she received the Sarah Jones Grant Award for her next project, ‘Loquita por ti,’ which will be filmed next fall in her hometown, Simancas, Spain.

Ian Kelly – Production Faculty

Ian Kelly is an award-winning documentary filmmaker who uses animation as means to enliven stories of personal and historical memory. Ian’s films have played at numerous film festivals across the country, including the Chicago International Film Festival, Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, and Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. Ian has edited films about dinosaurs for the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, and films on Oprah for the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Ian was the Assistant Editor on the short film, The Neighbors’ Window, winner of the 2020 Academy Award for Best Live Action Short. Ian has an MFA in Documentary Media from Northwestern University.

Fiona Obertinca – Screenwriting Faculty

Fiona Obertinca is a Swedish/Albanian screenwriter and director with fourteen independent narrative and documentary short films under her belt, some of which have premiered at film festivals in Sweden, UK and U.S. Her very first short film Shpëtimi, which depicts her family’s refuge from the war in Kosovo won the Bronze prize at the popular Pixel Short Film Festival in 2012. Prior to graduating from the prestigious American Film Institute Conservatory as a Directing Fellow, Fiona worked in development in Hollywood on shows such as MAX’s Made For Love and BBC’s Ridley Road. Growing up as a refugee in Sweden as the daughter of a single mother of four, she saw first-hand how incredibly unjust the world can be to society’s most marginalized people. She hopes to tell stories for and about complicated, resilient women who must overcome the odds to find empowerment and self-actualization (laughs and tears guaranteed.)

Nathan Shelton – Acting on Camera Faculty

Nathan Shelton (SAG/AFTRA, AEA) is an award-winning actor, writer, director, & SFX makeup artist based in Chicago, IL. Nathan has worked regularly as a stage, screen, & voice actor for over thirty years, and can be seen in feature films such as Above Ground (featured on Showtime), Broken Faith, Aging Predators, and MEAD (starring Robert Picardo & Patton Oswalt). On the small screen, he’s been seen in the internationally acclaimed web series, Shadow Bound, the ATAS Award-winning web series, EPILOGUE, multiple national commercials/industrials, as well as hosting the 4th season of the Mid America EMMY Award-winning television program, Show-Me Chefs. Aside from performing, Nathan’s Special Effects work can be seen in films such as the Academy Award-nominated, Winters Bone (starring Jennifer Lawrence), Above Ground, MEAD, PMS Cop & The Sky Has Fallen. With his production company, ARCANE, he has produced numerous stage, screen, & audio productions (including the IAWTV-nominated, SHADOW BOUND, and the horror anthology audio-drama series, The Frightmare Theatre Podcast). Nathan loves working with passionate and driven young artists and has worked with NHSI since 2014, teaching evening masterclass workshops in special effects makeup design/application. This year, he is thrilled to join the other outstanding artists in the NHSI faculty, teaching Acting for the Camera!

Katla Solnes – Screenwriting Faculty

Katla Sólnes is a wry and aesthetically driven writer-director represented by True North Talent with a diversified background in filmmaking. Preceding her master’s, she spent five years as a full-time editor and scriptwriter at a competitive ad agency in Iceland. She just finished her last semester at Columbia’s illustrious MFA film program and recently won Columbia’s Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Screenwriting Competition with her feature, which is currently in development with funding from the Icelandic Film Fund, titled ‘Eruption’. She’s currently in post-production of her thesis short ‘Embla’ a feminist fable fully supported by The Indian Paintbrush Fund. Her recent shorts, ‘Make a Wish, Benóný!’ starring A24’s Lamb’s Björn Hlynur won awards at RIFF and DC Fest and is currently on its festival circuit and the even more recent film, a textured environmental film about the rising sea levels, ‘Whim Rules the Child, Weather the Field’ starring Edda Björgvins and Jörundur Ragnarsson (fully funded by The Icelandic Film Fund) has just entered its festival circuit and is set to premiere at the Academy-qualifying SSFF festival in Tokyo.

Lulu Tian – Production Faculty

Luyao (Lulu) Tian is a filmmaker originally from Boston and currently based in Chicago. She’s interested in longitudinal projects about people’s “everyday” lives, and how memory manifests in mundane moments. Lulu completed her MFA in Documentary Media at Northwestern University in 2024. Her short thesis film explores how memory creates a new sense of time and space for her family as they experience loss and reconnection across China and America. Currently, Lulu is working with various Chicago AAPI communities, doing videography for a dance performance series, and collecting oral histories for an independent project. Lulu also holds a Bachelor of Science from MIT in neuroscience and computer science and is interested in how scientific and artistic thinking overlap and inform each other.

Jiaxin Wei – Production Faculty

Jiaxin Wei is a documentary filmmaker and educator originally from China. Her work mainly concentrates on family stories, personal memories, and voices of marginalized individuals seeking to be heard. Drawing from her experiences learning multiple languages and dialects, her art practice bridges cultural intersections and promotes diverse encounters. In addition, she gained professional experience in teaching, freelance cinematography, and editing. She gained her MFA degree in Documentary Media program at Northwestern University. Her work has been played in Film Diary NYC, CineYouth Film Festival, the Prague Film Award, and other independent film festivals. In her free time, she loves taking photos, dancing, and spending time with her dog Cuddle.


Film & Video Division  –  Application Information and Deadlines  –  Tuition and Fees  –  Scholarships and Financial Aid

FAQ’s – Typical Day  –  Sample Film Work  –  Photo Gallery