MFC Staff


Executive Director
Manon Banta, a teaching artist with a MFA from The American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, shifted her storytelling skills to documentary filmmaking – directing, producing and editing the short documentary, “Probable Odds,” filmed during the 2003 Breeder’s Cup at Santa Anita Race Track. She’s worked as an Interviewer for the AFI Film Festival’s red carpet premieres, Field Producer for the Associated Press Television at the Sundance Film Festival, production coordinator/ line producer for numerous independent films as well as occasionally appearing in front of the camera. She began teaching with The Mary Pickford Institute in 2008 and currently designs and teaches curriculum that combines the VAPA and CTE Standards for Media with real world, hands-on experience.



Project Coordinator
Andi, has been affiliated with the Mary Pickford Library and Timeline Films since 1996 as a producer/writer/editor/graphic artist. She has been a part of the Mary Pickford Institute since its inception, as a project manager and teacher. Andi has an extensive background in the performing arts and has traveled extensively in Central America and Europe and created and published Expedition, The Magazine of the Americas.In addition to her production work, she choreographs and teaches dance at community colleges and professional dance studios.



Hugh, is a Los Angeles native. Educated in the Santa Monica public schools and at USC, Mr. Neely is a documentary filmmaker, professional musician and theater director. In addition to his work at the Mary Pickford Institute, he has produced silent film soundtracks for Milestone Films and Turner Classic Movies (TCM), and directed documentary films on film history.



MFC Instructor

Catalina freelances as a cinematographer and has shot an array of narrative films, music videos, documentaries, commercials and experimental art films. Catalina shares her passion by mentoring students in filmmaking.  She has taught at Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts through USC, New York Film Academy at Universal Studios, Live Arts Group, and the Mary Pickford Institute for Film Education.  Catalina, along with two other filmmaker friends directed and facilitated ECO-MAYA a documentary workshop in August of 2010 to a Tseltal Mayan indigenous community in Chiapas in which students expressed their voice in form of a creative short documentary about important issues in their community.  This past year and a half she has been teaching photography to indigenous Mayans in San Cristobal de las Casas, at Chiapas Photography Project:

Catalina had the opportunity to live and grow up in different parts of Mexico and the United States, and is bi-cultural and bilingual. She was born in the colorful Mexican city of Guadalajara where she realized  that she could develop an eye for photography as a means of expressing her inner being.  She spent her free time experimenting with an SLR 35mm camera and an old Fisher Price toy camcorder.  Catalina’s passion for creating images led her to study Cinematography at the USC School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles, and at FAMU, Film and Television School of The Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, Czech Republic. and plans to use here skills to continue her work as she travels the world.


Jean Balest


Jean is an American film and video director. Ms. Balest has shot documentary footage and music videos with numerous bands including House of Light, Dante vs. Zombies, Spindrift, Strawberry Alarm Clock, The Seeds, and Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins). She has also directed and edited a number of short films including “The Races,” “Come Down Little Clown,” & “I Killed Harry Hartman.” Currently attending the  University of Southern California, School of Cinematic Arts, Jean’s work is a blend of Surrealism, New Wave & Pop Art. It glitters with silver screen send ups and an overall cinematic technique. She has an appreciation for analog formats and embraces emergent digital technology and often combines film with digital video within a single work.
Jean is an instructor with the Mobile Film Classroom and Event Coordinator at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. She works under the Director of Programming at the cinema school to bring contemporary and classic films to the school and community.

Contact Us

239-1/2 S. Hoover Street
Los Angeles, CA 90004
Phone: 424.704.1632
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The Mobile Film Classroom is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to helping all students have their voices heard, build their self-confidence and skills, empowering them to become producers, not merely consumers of media.