Film Independent announced the producers selected for its 19th annual Producing Lab. This intensive program is designed to help creative, independent producers develop their skills and further their careers by introducing Fellows to film professionals who can advise them on both the craft and business of independent producing. Each Producing Lab Fellow will be paired with an experienced Creative Advisor with whom they’ll work to develop their project over the course of the program.
“At Film Independent we recognize the vital role creative producers play in independent film as well as the enormous challenges they face,” said Jennifer Kushner, Director of Artist Development at Film Independent. “Our Lab provides much needed support, through mentorship, community and education, to help empower the next generation of talented indie producers.”
This year’s mentors and guest speakers include: Rebecca Green (It Follows), Laura Kim (Participant Media), Amanda Marshall (Swiss Army Man), Dani Melia (The Farewell), Sheila Hanahan Taylor (Final Destination) and Tristen Tuckfield (30 West). This year’s Industry Advisors include Lauren Craniotes (Gersh), Greta Fuentes (MACRO), Lauren Mann (Swiss Army Man), Valerie Stadler (Big Swing Productions) and Solome Williams (Bron Studios).
The Sloan Producers Grant, a $30,000 grant to further develop a project that explores science and technology themes or characters in engaging and innovative ways, was awarded to Malpelo, produced by Camila Zavala.
“I am sincerely grateful to have the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s support,” said filmmaker and grant recipient Camila Zavala. “Malpelo addresses global issues such as illegal wildlife trade and poaching in an attempt to investigate the rapid decline of hammerhead sharks on Malpelo Island. Thanks to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation we will be able to portray this vital work with precision.”
In addition, Lebanese filmmaker Myriam Sassine is the recipient of a Global Media Makers Fellowship, an exchange program sponsored through a partnership between Film Independent and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, making her travel and participation in the Producing Lab possible.
Previous projects developed through the Producing Lab include Tayarisha Poe’s Selah and the Spades produced by Lauren McBride which premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2019 and was acquired by Amazon to be developed into an Amazon original series; Chloé Zhao’s Spirit Award nominated Songs My Brothers Taught Me, produced by Angela C. Lee and Mollye Asher; and Joseph Wladyka’s Spirit Award nominated Manos Sucias, produced by Elena Greenlee and Márcia Mayer.
Film Independent Artist Development programs promote unique independent voices by helping filmmakers create and advance new work through Project Involve; Filmmaker Labs (Directing, Documentary, Episodic, Producing and Screenwriting); Fast Track finance market and Fiscal Sponsorship, as well as through Grants and Awards that provide over one million dollars annually to visual storytellers.
The 2019 Producing Lab filmmakers and projects are:
Producer: Diego Najera
Logline: In 2006 Venezuela, a privileged 20-year-old recruits the maid’s strait-laced son to carry out a currency exchange scam that exploits the country’s poorest citizens but inadvertently ends up turning brother against brother.
Title: Costa Brava, Lebanon
Producer: Myriam Sassine
Logline: The Badri family lives in the Lebanese mountains away from the country’s pollution until the government decides to build a landfill right outside their house.
Title: Farewell Amor
Producer: Huriyyah Muhammad
Logline: After 17 years apart, Angolan immigrant Walter is joined in the U.S. by his wife and teen daughter. Now absolute strangers sharing a one bedroom Brooklyn apartment, they struggle to overcome the emotional distance between them, relying on the muscle memory of dance to rediscover one another.
Title: The Inspection
Producers: Chester Gordon and Valerie Steinberg
Logline: In the age of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” homeless youth Ellis French joins the Marine Corps in a last-ditch attempt to change his life but must conceal his attraction for his drill instructor in order to survive bootcamp.
Title: I Was a Simple Man
Producer: Sarah S. Kim
Logline: The ghosts of the past haunt the countryside in this tale of a Hawai‘i family facing the imminent death of their eldest.
Producer: Camila Zavala
Logline: Mia, a solitary freediver, is recruited by someone from her past to take the treacherous journey to Malpelo, a remote island in Colombia, in order to investigate the troubling disappearance of hammerhead sharks. To do so, she will have to reconcile with her past and navigate the dangerous waters of the Pacific Ocean, trapped on a boat with an all-male crew. They prove to be just as slippery as the predators she’s studying.