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The country’s largest non-profit community media center is right here in Manhattan


  • MNN staffers. First Row: Leon Taylor, Barbara Niveyro, Victoria Bert, Frances Bruey. Second Row: Cory Brice, Richard Swanson, Greg Sutton. Photo: Meredith Kurz

  • The MNN control room. Photo: Meredith Kurz

“Let’s put on a show!”

Did you know you can learn to create a movie or television show, including production, lighting, and software, in Manhattan? Did you know you can borrow state-of-the-art equipment to film your own work out in the field?

Manhattan Neighborhood Network, MNN, is the country’s largest non-profit community media center. MNN courses cover all aspects of production and post-production. The software covered includes Adobe Premiere Suite, Photoshop and iMovie. There are specialty classes geared toward younger residents on the Upper East Side, and older residents on the Upper West Side. All of this is available to residents for no cost or a very small fee.

Touring the facility on West 59th Street with managing director Greg Sutton, I watched the prep work for “Max and Natalie, Live!” Co-hosted by Max Reinhardsen & Natalie Rich, the show has aired on MNN for two years. Access to MNN allows creatives folks like Max and Natalie to produce on a modest budget. When you produce work at MNN, its first airing must be on one of their public channels. You are then free to place the content where you like. Max and Natalie use YouTube, and their show has been covered by Time Out New York, among others.

Classes, Classes and More Classes

Tiffany Blount, manager of media education, develops the course curriculum. “Technology changes minute-by-minute and Tiffany has to be learning, and then creating for each new step,” said Sutton. “There is no longer any ‘pass, fail’ in our classes. If you need further work, we’ll train you until you understand how something works. We want you to succeed,” explained Sutton.

Basic Studio Production is a hands-on course where you learn the process of creating a television production — how to work with crew members, how to operate studio and control room equipment. There are also certification classes for video editing using iMovie or Adobe Premiere CC, field production with an iPad Mini, a portable HD camera, or the powerful Canon C100 Digital Cine. Advanced classes include motion graphics using Adobe Premiere CC, Directing for the Studio, The Art of Editing using Adobe Premiere CC, and Documentary Storytelling Intensive.

The Older Adult Media Education course is “designed for users who are not fluent in the language of new technology,” according to the MNN website. The Youth Media Center on East 104th Street offers courses in the technical, creative and social aspects of production. There are fundamental skills courses for creating a story, camera and equipment use, and video editing.

Pick Your Channel

MNN shows are aired on seven public-access cable channels — Community, Lifestyle, Spirit, Culture (multi-lingual arts-oriented programming), HD Community (high definition), MNN-FSTV (free speech) and their latest innovation, the first of its kind, was “created as a way to showcase a growing collection of short stories from a variety of organizations that need your help,” explains the NYXT website. They’ve partnered with over 90 community organizations to give locals a chance to get a feel for what it’s like to work with the groups. Girls Who Code, Autism Speaks, and Big Brothers Big Sisters are examples of non-profits highlighted on NYXT.

In house productions like “Run Don’t Walk,” a series about free local sports and exercise in Manhattan and “Finding Silence,” which showcases quiet spots throughout our island, are available on the channel as well.

To sign up for classes, or for more information, go to

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