Spotlight: Brookdale Television – JAG’s Own Wonder Woman

by Geoffrey Belinfante, External Relations Committee, Chair

Note:  This is usually a spotlight written by one of our JAG Members, however this article was written by Geoff Belinfante with input from Lauren Concar Sheehy.  Lauren is busy doing what Wonder Women do, but her story should be of interest to JAG members.

Lauren Concar Sheehy has been a JAG member for many years.  In fact, many moons ago, Lauren interned at Cablevision and has fond memories working with Dave Garb and the crew.  These days, she is a video production specialist at Brookdale Television with responsibility for the TV facilities at Brookdale Community College, along with Jennifer Yannibelli and Sergey Kornienko.  For well over two decades, the team has been producing, directing and editing television shows, providing real world experience to their students.

Brookdale Television (BTV) is a non-profit Educational Access Channel that can be viewed on Comcast Channel 21 and Verizon FIOS Channel 46 throughout central New Jersey, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. BTV’s mission is to present quality educational programs that inform and inspire viewers. While working at BTV is her full-time job, her passion for the last 22 years has been the Garden State Film Festival.  In fact, she is so busy preparing for this year’s festival that she has asked me to draft this article about her and the festival.  

In addition, Lauren is a filmmaker with a long, passionate history in the Television & Film industry. She has written, executive produced, directed & edited award-winning content for Bloomberg TV, SAG-AFTRA & other high-profile clients. Her latest feature, which she co-produced, Shelter in Solitude is out now on all platforms.

Sandwiched between her responsibilities at Brookdale, and her independent film making, this Wonder Woman and her team has worked tirelessly year after year to bring a first-class film festival to the Garden State, and this year will be no exception. 

From March 21-24, GSFF transforms Asbury Park and Cranford into a cinematic paradise, showcasing over 200 films from 14 countries in eight venues The festival is a celebration of diversity, creativity, and the art of storytelling, with a variety of films, both theatrical and documentary, engaging panels, live podcasts, and not-to-be-missed parties.  JAG members who have an interest in the production of films of all kinds will welcome a chance to meet and network with celebrities and professionals from all over the world right in our backyard. 

As usual, Lauren and her associates have assembled a diverse, informative and entertaining selection of feature films and documentaries. This year’s lineup boasts notable figures such as Matthew Modine, Carla Raij, Janice Kovach, Armand Assante, Lisa Eldelstein, Bridget Moynahan, Ed Begley Jr., and sports legends Louis Neglia and Joe Pyfer. The GSFF is a testament to New Jersey’s storied film history and as a hub for producers, directors, actors, investors, and industry talents.

One of the highlights of this year’s festival will be the screening of Don Q, a comedy crime thriller that features international star Armand Assante who will be on hand to discuss the film and answer questions from the audience. In addition, this year’s festival will feature screenings of a thriller called The Nanny; a comedy thriller called Don’t Tell Larry; and a documentary called Journey to the UFC about Joe Pyfer’s overcoming insurmountable odds to become a UFC fighter.

As with any good film festival there will be social events and lots of opportunities to network.  This year’s festival kicks off with a Meet the Filmmakers cocktail party on Thursday March 21st at the Asbury Hotel, and no good film festival would be complete without a red-carpet celebration… and the Garden State Film Festival is no exception.  On Friday March 22nd there will be a red-carpet premiere of the drama “The Martini Shot” starring Mathew Modine, John Cleese, Fiona Flascott, Derek Jacoby, and Stuart Townsend.

The festival culminates in an awards dinner on Sunday March 24th, with awards to the winning films, screenplay, and the best movie music. The festival also honors the Exceptional Woman of the Year which this year goes to New Jersey’s own Carla Raij, who worked with Steven Spielberg on the Fablemans and the Educator of the Year which goes to David Dilianni from Film Academy360.  Who knows, perhaps there are some future JAG members in the Student Television network that he represents.

Naturally, the festival includes feature films and documentaries shot right here in New Jersey, using our mountains, lakes, beaches, cities, farms and historic sites as background.  It’s always great to see locations you know on the big screen, or perhaps you or someone you know worked on these Jersey based productions.  There may even be some films that would be appropriate for exposure on our municipal channels.

Tickets for the Garden State Film Festival are available on-line at and are reasonably priced with a variety of options, so I would urge all JAG members to consider supporting Lauren’s efforts to bring a bit of glamour to the Garden State. Congratulations to JAG member, Lauren Concar, award winning filmmaker, community activist and a tireless champion for the arts in New Jersey and to all of her associates who help assemble this incredible weekend of entertainment.  It’s always great to see a fellow JAG member work outside their traditional venue to create something of value to the entire State.