You are here: American University School of Communication News MFA Students Launch Show Featuring Student, Independent Films


MFA Students Launch Show Featuring Student, Independent Films

By  | 

A screenshot of the open to
Shorts in Focus was created and is hosted by Kayeen Thomas and Matthew Cipollone.

Sometimes an idea is so good that it comes together with no financial backing, just a lot of hard work. That is the story of Shorts in Focus, a collaboration between Matthew Cipollone and Kayeen Thomas, who met in the Film and Electronic Media MFA program at American University School of Communication (AU SOC).

Shorts in Focus is a live show that features short films made by student and independent filmmakers. The show runs every Monday at 8pm online at

Thomas was first invited on to one of the Listen Vision shows as a guest. “While there, I had the opportunity to observe the structure and operation of the station. I figured the skills I was acquiring in the MFA program would be ideal for starting my own show,” said Thomas. “Some planning and plotting, and a strong relationship with Matthew, through our classes, and Shorts in Focus was born.”

Cipollone and Thomas were able to get Shorts in Focus off the ground with no financial support, only investing in their skills and their belief in the project. They are currently in discussion with potential sponsors and contributors.

Through Shorts in Focus they are providing a space where students and independent filmmakers can go on a live show, in front of a live audience, screen their work, and have a discussion about it.

Moving forward, Cipollone says, “We really do believe that Shorts in Focus is the beginning of a movement.” Both founders realized early in their academic program that as film students, they would spend a majority of their time making short films that wouldn’t be viewed very heavily. But they saw the work they and their classmates were completing, and the “endgame is submitting to a few festivals and keeping your fingers crossed,” said Thomas. The partners wanted more. 

Growing their fan base and increasing viewership, along with financial help are the partners’ current focus.

Most of the work Shorts in Focus has screened has come from AU filmmakers, through leveraging the relationships with their classmates. But they have also featured work from Los Angeles and New Jersey. They accept submissions from any student or independent filmmaker that has a film they would like to share, as long as it is under 30 minutes. The partners say their ultimate goal is to build a national audience and feature filmmakers from around the world.


Episode 1.1: Featuring "Next One Up" by Matthew Cipollone

Episode 1.2: Featuring Ryan.J. Cudahy, Kasey Ball and Joey Cathey