Film Independent, the non-profit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards and LA Film Festival, announced the producers selected for its 16th annual Producing Lab. The four-week intensive program is designed to help filmmakers develop skills as creative independent producers. Producers participate with a feature length narrative fiction project that they are in the process of producing. Through the Lab, Fellows develop a strategy and action plan to bring their current projects to fruition. The Lab also helps to further the careers of the Producing Fellows by introducing them to film professionals who can advise them on both the craft and business of independent producing.
This year’s Creative Advisors and guest speakers include: Karin Chien (Circumstance), Heather Rae (Tallulah) and Daniel Wagner (Miles Ahead). Guest speakers include Charles Howard, Tri-Star Pictures President Hannah Minghella CAA Agents Maren Olson and Tristen Tuckfield, and Jason Berman (The Birth of a Nation, Mediterranea).
On October 21, 2016 at the annual Film Independent Forum, Film Independent awarded the 10th annual Sloan Producers Grant to the feature film project Afronauts written and to be directed by Frances Bodomo and produced by Vincho Nchogu and Ryan Zacarias. Film Independent awarded Afronauts a $30,000 production grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. In addition, Film Independent awarded the 2nd annual Sloan Distribution Grant to the film Operator written and directed by Logan Kibens. Operator was supported with Sloan funding through the Film Independent Producing Lab and Fast Track Finance Market and premiered this year at SXSW. The film stars Martin Starr and Mae Whitman and will be released digitally by The Orchard on November 8, 2016. The $50,000 distribution grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is intended to maximize the audience outreach for the film.
For the past ten years Film Independent and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation have joined forces to increase the public understanding of science and technology and to challenge stereotypes of scientists, engineers and mathematicians through compelling artist-driven films made by new, independent voices. Past recipients of Film Independent’s Alfred P. Sloan Grants include the Spirit Award nominated Valley of Saints; The Man Who Knew Infinity starring Jeremy Irons and Dev Patel, which premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival; and Michael Almereyda’s Experimenter, starring Peter Sarsgaard and Winona Ryder, which received Film Independent’s inaugural Alfred P. Sloan Distribution Grant.
“We are delighted to continue our successful partnership with Film Independent in honoring Francis Bodomo’s Afronauts, a wildly original film about the 1960s Zambian Space Academy that offers a quirky, developing world counter-narrative to Hidden Figures, an upcoming motion picture based on the Sloan-supported book about African-American female mathematicians involved in the Apollo moon landing” said Doron Weber, Vice President of Programs at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “And we are very pleased to continue our support of Logan Kibens’ finely-observed, digital-age, romantic comedy Operator with a Distribution Grant.”
“We are thrilled to welcome this dynamic group of producers to the Lab. These seven projects exhibit uniquely personal and global perspectives. We look forward to shepherding them forward,” said Jennifer Kushner, Director Artist Development at Film Independent.
Filmmakers were chosen based on the strength of their submitted script, business plan and creative vision. The Producing Lab is provided free to accepted producers and upon completion, the producers become Film Independent Fellows, receiving year-round support, including access to Film Independent’s annual film educational offerings and the LA Film Festival.
Recent projects developed through the Producing Lab include Chloé Zhao’s Spirit Award Nominated Songs My Brothers Taught Me produced by Angela C. Lee and Mollye Asher; Clay Liford’s Slash produced by Brock Williams which premiered at the 2016 South by Southwest Film Festival; Joseph Wladyka’s Spirit Award nominated Manos Sucias produced by Elena Greenlee and Márcia Nunes and Sian Heder’s Tallulah produced by David Newsom, which premiered at Sundance this year and is currently streaming on Netflix.
The 2016 Producing Lab filmmakers and projects are:
Producers: Vincho Nchogu and Ryan Zacarias
Logline: In the early 1960s—just after Zambian Independence, and at the height of “moon fever”—a disgraced schoolteacher, Edward Makuka Nkoloso, took a few teenagers out into the desert to set up an unofficial astronaut-training program.
Producer: Peter Maestrey
Logline: When Yuma, a naïve paraplegic comic book artist chooses to animate in the adult comic book world, she discovers a new purpose in life and embarks on a romance with a mysterious wheelchair taxi driver.
Producer: Jon Coplon
Logline: With the help of a rag-tag group of boys, 11-year old Phoenix sets out on a dangerous mission to save her Detroit neighborhood from arsonists and to prove herself to her father.
Producer: Christina Radburn
Logline: A lonely woman who has lost all faith in God, becomes obsessed with her aqua-aerobics instructor after seeing the face of Jesus on his swimming shorts.
Title: Girl With Child
Producer: Luz Agudelo Gipson
Logline: A lonely teenage girl in Ecuador travels with her toddler to visit her ill, troubled mother and searches for a new home and family to belong to along the way.
Title: The Burning Season
Producer: Kate Sharp
Writer/Producer: Jenny Halper
Logline: A primatologist brings her teenage daughter to a remote region of Madagascar, where her determination to save endangered lemurs puts their relationship — and safety — at risk.
Title: The Wall at the End of the Road
Producer: Caroline Oliveira
Logline: A young man is forced to come to terms with his estranged father during a mysterious outbreak that puts his rural town into quarantine.