Engage, Educate and Empower

Big Picture Alliance’s mission is to engage, educate and empower Philadelphia youth through filmmaking and digital media arts. We provide transformative learning experiences that promote self-expression, collaboration, and achievement. We are committed to providing a safe and supportive outlet for youth to have their voices heard, develop as young professionals and reach their full potential. We believe that when youth tap into their natural creativity and feel heard, they become inspired to author the script for their own future.

Our History

20+ Year History

Big Picture Alliance (BPA) was founded in 1994 by Jeffrey Seder & Jared Martin (TV Actor & Director) as an apprenticeship program where youth collaboratively produced films about issues impacting their lives under the mentorship of professional filmmakers. The goal was to use filmmaking to teach communication, critical thinking and team building skills that would help youth build self-esteem and develop as young professionals. Over the course of its first 10 years, launched after school and summer programs across Philadelphia with dozens of schools, community groups, health agencies, and cultural institutions – including the Delphi Teen Media Program with the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

In 2008, under the direction of new Executive Director Teri Yago Ryan, BPA co-developed a project-based digital storytelling curriculum through which students created original films from script to screen in alignment with common core and ELA standards. In 2014, data from a 2-year partnership with the School District of Philadelphia showed that our after-school curriculum resulted in youth accruing 1-2 grade improvements in English Language Arts, scoring higher on spring benchmarks, improved attendance, as well as exemplary life and vocational skill development (Rand Corp. Report – Gates Foundation, Aug 2014). BPA subsequently partnered with the Mayor’s Office of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Health Management Corporation, and dozens of new schools across Philadelphia to bring this project-based media arts programming model to hundreds of youth ages 10-21.

From 2016 to the present, under the direction of Aleks Martray, BPA has expanded its efforts to become a pathway for Philadelphia youth to enter the field of film & media, launching new Digital Media Workforce Readiness Programs at OIC Workforce Academy and YouthBuild Charter. In 2018, BPA launched the Via Lux Teen Media Collective, a youth-led initiative that allows alumni to continue collaborative filmmaking, organize screenings & broadcasts, and play a leadership role in the organization.

Throughout our 20+ year history, Big Picture Alliance has served over 6,500 youth, through 95 school & community partnerships resulting in improved academic achievement, scholarships, internships, employment, and over 750 films, 55 of which are award-winning. In collaboration with our partners, we have helped cultivate a generation of young artists and professionals, many of whom have gone on to pursue careers in the film, media and television.

Staff & Teaching Artists

Aleks Martray
Executive Director
Shahana Jan
Teaching Artist & Program Associate
Bettina Escauriza
Teaching Artist & Lead Mentor for the Teen Media Collective
Joshua Mallory
Teaching Artist & Technical Coordinator
Desi Burnette
Teaching Artist
Tony Chennault
Teaching Artist

Board of Directors

Teri Yago-Ryan

Film & Media Executive / Arts Education Administrator

Pascal Marcelin

Educator / Filmmaker / Technology Specialist

Kharisma McIlwaine

TV Personality, Philly 360 / BPA Alumni

Melissa A. Rowe

Educator/College & Career Specialist / BPA Alumni

Sean McKoy

Filmmaker, TV Producer, Entrepreneur

Ben Barnett

Director, Philadelphia Independent Film Festival

Youth Leaders

Via Lux Teen Media Collective - Founding Members

Jordany Uceta

Cinematographer, Editor

Jose Quintana

Editor, Sound, Cinematographert

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

Opportunities For Our Youth!

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, Rec Philly, Sun Studio, Greater Philadelphia Film Office, Rough Cut Film Fest, BlackStar Film Fest, and WHYY.

Funding Partners


4732 Stenton Avenue,
Philadelphia PA 19144