It’s only been a few days since our new health crisis has put the world on ambiguous lockdown. And chances are, you’ve already had plenty of time to contemplate, in maniacal detail, every nook, notch and wallpaper bubble in your carefully COVID-sanitized domicile. And while we’re all bound to experience a little (or a lot!) of cabin fever over the next few weeks, there are still plenty of great ways to keep our minds edified, entertained engaged—not to mention our imaginations active, upbeat and inspired. To wit, this fantastic collection of Project Involve shorts, available to watch below or on Fi’s YouTube channel:
Project Involve being, of course, one of Film Independent’s longest running, impactful and just generally very cool Artist Development programs. Each year, Project Involve selects 30 new filmmakers—including producers, writers, directors, cinematographers, editors and execs—hailing from underrepresented backgrounds to take part in intensive filmmaker workshops and mentorship sessions, culminating in group collaboration to create between five-seven shorts.
And today, we’re thrilled to announce the 30 new Fellows selected to 2020 edition of Project Involve—the program’s 27th year. “We look forward to shining a light on their unique stories that are so needed. As always, we’re extremely grateful to all of our supporters who are an integral part of making change,” says Senior Project Involve Manager Francisco Velasquez.
Previous Project Involve Fellows include Film Independent Spirit Award Best Feature winner Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Linda Yvette Chávez, Marvin Lemus and Aaliyah Williams (Netflix’s Gentefied), Effie T. Brown (Dear White People), Jon M. Chu (In the Heights) and Justin Simien (Dear White People) and many more. Past shorts produced in the program include Liberty (2019 SXSW Narrative Short Jury Award; 2019 Special Prize for Best Short Film at the Berlin International Film Festival’ 2019 AFI Special Jury Prize) and Emergency (2018 Sundance Special Jury Award; 2018 SXSW Narrative Short Jury Award.)
Past PI Mentors include Ava DuVernay, Catherine Hardwicke, Alma Har’el, Barry Jenkins, Mako Kamitsuna, Spike Jonze, Christopher Nolan, Charles D. King, Christine Vachon, Forest Whitaker, Bradford Young, ASC and many more. Keep reading to meet this year’s Fellows…
Born in Venice, Italy, Vittoria Campaner completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Integrated Design at Parsons The New School in New York before pursuing an MFA in Cinematography at UCLA. She is currently based in Los Angeles and has worked internationally in France, Italy, the Caribbean, Scandinavia, China and Taiwan, and her work has screened at international film festivals and art galleries. Her background in design informs a multidisciplinary approach to her craft and, when she is not working as a cinematographer, Campaner writes and directs.
Becky Baihui Chen
Becky Baihui Chen is an LA-based cinematographer from Guangzhou, China. She received her MFA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. She shot a feature documentary in Europe, as well as numerous shorts with genres ranging from political drama to steampunk fantasy. One of the shorts, shot in Ecuador, Welcome Back, is nominated for the 2020 College Television Awards. She is also the first prize recipient of the 2019 Sun Cinematography Award, which is supported by the ASC.
Allen E. Ho
Allen E. Ho is a California-bred cinematographer and International Cinematographer’s Guild camera operator. He received his Bachelor in Film and Media Studies at UC Irvine and a MFA in Cinematography from the University of Texas, Austin. His recent work includes two seasons of Artificial, which was awarded a Primetime Emmy and Peabody Futures of Media Award in 2019. He was also selected as an American Society of Cinematographers Mentee and was paired with mentor and renowned cinematographer Larry Fong, ASC. He is primarily interested in visually and thought provoking stories, but doesn’t shy away from the escape, entertainment and magic that cinema can inspire.
Frances Kroon, a South African cinematographer, earned her MFA at the American Film Institute. Her work is influenced by her diverse upbringing: urban and rural South Africa, England and Honduras. Recent work includes Balloon (HollyShorts Grand-Prix winner; nominee for the student academy awards; the college Emmys; and the ASC heritage award) and Afrika is a Country (silver-screen winner at the YDA awards at Cannes Lions and best experimental film at the European Cinematography awards.) She finds inspiration in communicating the common, often flawed, human experience. Her visual approach embraces imperfection as vital in creating the underlying beauty within the image.
Andrew Truong is a first-generation Vietnamese-American director of photography currently residing in Los Angeles. He loves to spend as much time with directors as possible to extract what they envision and to develop a visual language collectively. Mind alignment is his top priority. Creative problem solving is his go to. With experience of analyzing light and immersing himself in over 30 countries, he is able to fabricate any mood to enhance a story. His travels are what allow him to continue to find inspiration and new angles for his craft.
Ruth Du is a director and producer, originally from Portland, Oregon. She received a BFA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Du produced indie feature The Archer, which premiered at SXSW in 2017. Her directorial credits include digital series Seeking and TV movie Your Baby Is Mine. Most recently, Du was the Executive Director of the AT&T Mentorship Program, working closely with Lena Waithe and Rishi Rajani to produce five short films. She currently resides in Los Angeles.
Cris Gris’ films have screened internationally in prestigious festivals, including La Semaine de la Critique, Festival de Cannes. She’s known for moving between acting, writing and directing. She landed her first leading role in the feature independent drama Fish Bones (2018). Gris’ music videos have been nominated by MTV Latin America for Video of the Year category. Her short San Miguel (2018) received the Spike Lee Film Production Fund, the HFPA Fellows Fund, and was named a 2019 NBR student grant winner. Her latest short Pia & Mike (2019) premiered at FICM. She is currently developing her first feature film.
Andrew Reid was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. He graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts in 2018. His thesis ASIA A won the Jury Award at the 2018 DGA Student Awards, was a semi-finalist at the 45th Student Academy Awards and has screened at HollyShorts, CAA, Paramount Pictures and over 40 other festivals. ASIA A is being developed into a feature and is a recipient of the 2019 Tribeca Film Institute Sloan Filmmaker Fund. Recently, he finished the short Road to Zion, which is being developed into a series and was featured at IFP Week 2019.
Diante Singley was raised in Los Angeles and graduated from Stanford University in 2014. He has worked as an assistant cameraman, a production assistant for Animal Planet and most recently as the personal assistant for directors Eli Roth and Michael Dougherty. As a filmmaker, Singley has written and directed a variety of documentary shorts and short films that have tackled race, sexuality, economic status and identity. He has won numerous awards including Best New Filmmaker at the San Francisco Black Film Festival, as well as an audience award for his short Downpour Summer at the HollyShorts film festival.
Andrew Vasquez is a writer and director from Los Angeles. He is co-founder of the Latinx production company BRACERO, where he has collaborated with Black Lives Matter and CicLAvia, among others. His work has premiered with Remezcla and NPR Music alt.Latino. His project, Camisa Al Revés, was an official selection of the LA Film Festival. His play, Ciudadano Desaparecido, was commissioned and presented by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association for the program Latino Americans: 500 Years of U.S. History. He received his MFA from the School of Cinematic Arts (USC).
Born in small town Massachusetts, Amber Bansak was raised on cinema, books, music and cat whispering. She studied creative writing and video editing at Hampshire College and has an extensive assistant editing resume. She got her first scripted editing credit on Transparent. Recent editing credits include Daybreak and EastSiders, both episodic series for Netflix. In 2019, she cut her first independent feature. Bansak is passionate about telling character driven stories centered in the queer community and shifting focus in general from a straight, white, cis male view to a truly diverse perspective.
Nailah Robinson is an East Coast-bred filmmaker with a passion for intersectional storytelling. As an editor, Robinson has worked on shorts, music videos and documentaries. She has an MA in Filmmaking from The London Film School, where she specialized as a writer-director and editor. Currently, Robinson is wrapping post on three shorts. Her fervor for stories has led her all over the world because she believes experience and interpersonal interaction are the foundation for all great stories. When not in her freelance filmmaking hole, you’ll find her binging movies, shows, books and plays with her dog Sir Kingsley Shacklebolt.
Marco Rosas—a Chicano raised in the Chicagoland area and graduate of Columbia College Chicago—kicked off his career working at a local post-production house and editing an independent feature film by director Tim Kasher. Now based in Los Angeles, he continues to collaborate with top post-production houses and independent productions as a freelance editor. His diverse reel consists of music video for Jessie Reyez and Quitapenas, 360° VR video by Discovery Channel, commercials for UBER, Beats by Dr. Dre and Toyota, just to name a few. Big-name brands aside, independent Latinx stories of diaspora are a passion of his.
Katelyn Wright is an editor residing in Los Angeles. Wright discovered editing in high school when she would make videos to entertain her friends. She went on to get her Bachelor’s in Media Communications from Full Sail University. Wright has now worked as an assistant editor for companies like Rebl HQ and Attn as well as for independent films Fox Hunt Drive and James The Second. Wright has cut a number of short films. Her most recent short, Eva, won Film Freeway’s top short prize. Wright is now a part of the post-team for Jame Wan’s upcoming horror film Malignant.
Bowei Yue graduated from AFI in 2018. Over the past four years, he has worked closely with award-winning directors and edited many films and commercials. His feature, To Us, From Us, was released in China in 2018 and has over 23 million views online. His short, Balloon, was screened at film festivals all over the world, including AFI FEST, New Orleans Film Festival, Hawaii International Film Festival, Palm Springs Shortfest and was a finalist of 2019 Student Academy Awards.
Toye Adegboro hails from Chicago, where he developed a love for film and television informed by the city’s robust comedy scene. He attended Brown University, studying Literary Arts and American Studies, with a focus on the narratives of immigrant communities. During this time, he co-headed publicity for the Ivy Film Festival and volunteered for the Stockholm International Film Festival. He’s since worked in the Scripted Television department of WME, servicing award-winning clients with credits on The People v. O.J. Simpson, The Handmaid’s Tale, Silicon Valley, Treme, Bojack Horseman, Insecure and Narcos, and is currently a coordinator at Broadway Video.
Jennifer Gottesfeld designs and implements social impact strategies for scripted narratives and documentaries at Participant Media. She has spent her career working to effect systemic change through government, non-profits, media and the private sector. Her experience spans designing the national Ebola survivor response in Sierra Leone with Partners In Health; developing strategic alignment within the corporate social responsibility department at Goldman Sachs; creating Global Health Corps’ leadership development framework; and producing advocacy and campaigning tutorials for the Resistance School. Gottesfeld received a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a Bachelor’s in Anthropology from UCLA.
Greta Hagen-Richardson is the Lead Features Programmer at the New Orleans Film Festival, working toward equity in representation and elevating the contributions of exciting, fresh voices. Hagen-Richardson has contributed to many organizations, including the Chicago International Film Festival, True/False Film Fest and Citizen Jane Film Festival. She responds strongly to American cinema that comments on changing dynamics in gender, race and class—particularly in horror, as well as films that consider how people from various socioeconomic strata interact with one another in high-pressure situations. Hagen-Richardson is originally from Chicago and received her education in the Midwest.
Brian Grigsby is a Pittsburgh Pennsylvania-raised, Los Angeles-based producer who advocates for unique stories told in captivating ways. Being the second youngest of seven and the son of a preacher has given him a unique perspective on the world around him. He’s produced a variety of projects for the NFL, NBA, HBO, NBC and agencies across Los Angeles. He’s currently screening his short film, Russ and Dru, at film festivals across the United States and internationally. This fall, his team plans to complete development on Cuffing Season and Black Tax as part of his latest venture, Nelson Studios.
Takara Joseph, born in the Virgin Islands, bred in Atlanta, is a Daytime Emmy nominated producer of the 13-time nominated series, Giants. Her sophomore series, Unapologetically Black, is a dramedy chronicling a black woman’s experience in a white corporate world. She has also produced the shorts, other, Closure and Junebug. She recently signed on to produce her first feature film, On Time, based on the award-winning short by the same name. Her company, Silhouette Productions, is focused on telling impactful stories that explore the human experience and drive conversation.
Tabatha Laanui is an LA-based producer from Oahu, Hawaii. After graduating from the School of Film & Television at Loyola Marymount University, she started her career working on music documentaries for television. Some of her credits include Death Row Chronicles for BET, Untold Stories of Hip Hop for WeTV and The Ride for MTV. Laanui recently completed a documentary short about the life of Portos Bakery, founder Rosa Porto. The film garnered early support from local festivals and will be widely released in the coming year. Laanui is currently completing her first TV pilot while working on commercial projects.
Lauren López de Victoria
Lauren López de Victoria is a graduate of Columbia University’s MFA Creative Producing program. Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Prior to Columbia, López de Victoria worked in Finance. López de Victoria has interned at Jigsaw Productions and Circle of Confusion. Currently, she works at United Talent Agency as an Agent Trainee. López de Victoria was a 2019 finalist for a SFFILM Rainin grant as a producer for Amal, recipient of a Katharina Otto-Bernstein production grant and the 2019 PGA Debra Hill grant recipient.
Sabrina Stoll is an award-winning creative producer based in Los Angeles. She received the Women In Film Producing Fellowship for the short drama-thriller Just A Drill (2018). She also wrote and produced the short horror-comedy Mondays for Fox Digital that premiered at the Cannes International Series Festival (2018). Stoll won the Google VR 180 Fellowship (2018) as well as an Emmy Award for Interactivity (2017) and a Clio Award for Music (2016). She also developed and produced a Women Empowerment Campaign with the Geena Davis Institute, Google and Ford that won a Purpose Award for Social Good (2017).
Brandon Tarver was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama. He was introduced to producing content his freshmen year at Alabama A&M University, where he received his BA in Communications. He then pursued and obtained his MFA in Film and TV Producing from Chapman University in Orange, CA. While there, he produced several shorts that were official selections in the Pan African Film Festival and the Calcutta International Cult Film Festival. He now resides in Los Angeles, where he is near wrap in production on a feature film and in development for an episodic series.
Mary Ann Anane
Mary Ann Anane was born in Ghana, raised in New Jersey. She is a graduate of Northwestern University where she studied playwriting and screenwriting. After graduating, Anane worked in theatre development at New York Theatre Workshop, an off-Broadway company, before moving to LA to work in film development at Endeavor Content. She was also the producer’s assistant on The Farewell and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. In 2018, Anane was selected as a finalist for MACRO’s Episodic Lab for her pilot lady jane. She writes scripts and short stories in her free time.
Agam Darshi is an award-winning actress and writer, born in England and raised in Canada. She is currently residing in Los Angeles. Darshi holds a BFA in Visual Arts and Theatre from the University of Calgary and has been a professional actress and filmmaker for over 16 years, working internationally and garnering numerous awards. She is currently developing her feature script, Indians in Cowtown, and recently starred in Deepa Mehta’s upcoming film Funny Boy.
Jeanette Lim is a writer with roots in Singapore and Las Vegas, though she feels it important to clarify that she was never “crazy rich” or a casino resident. Rather, she spent much of her youth involved in theater as a technician, where her love for writing and performance first blossomed. Lim graduated from Stanford University and UCLA’s Professional Program in Television Writing, where she developed an original pilot, Neon Sisters—recently named a semifinalist in WeScreenplay’s Diverse Voices Competition. She has worked on productions including Deadwood and Penny Dreadful and is currently a writer’s PA at American Dad!
Jesenia Ruiz is a half-Mexican writer specializing in female-driven TV about complicated families and marginalized communities. Growing up a mixed-race tomboy raised by a poor single mother in the Midwest, Ruiz knows what it’s like to be caught between cultures—masculine and feminine, privilege and oppression –and wrestles with ideas of gender, diaspora and identity in her work. Currently a Writers’ Assistant on Queen of the South, Ruiz was a story editor on Good Witch. She has written three Lifetime Network thrillers. Ruiz is a graduate of USC’s MFA in Screenwriting Program and two NHMC Writers’ fellowships.
Karan Sunil is an Indian-American writer, director and back-to-back TSA random check recipient. He is currently developing a pilot as an Open Television Fellow in partnership with Pop Culture Collaborative and was a writer for Paul Feig and Sameer Gardezi’s Break the Room initiative. He has also worked on Doom Patrol (DC/HBO MAX) and The Red Line (CBS) as a writers’ PA, and wrote and directed an award-winning web series, Code-Switched. He is a graduate of DePaul University with a BA in Digital Cinema Production/Television Writing.
Gauri Adelkar is an Indian writer/director based in LA. She received her MFA in Screenwriting & Directing from Columbia University, where she was the 2018 recipient of the Breaking Barriers Award for Female Directors. Adelkar’s film The Little Goddess was shortlisted for the 2019 BAFTA student film awards and won the Breaking Boundaries Prize at the Academy Qualifying Rhode Island International Film Festival. Her work has screened globally at venues such as the Hamptons International Film Festival, Athens International Video & Film Festival, New York Women in Film & Television Immigrant Series, amongst others.
Also announced is the continued support of the program through donor-named fellowships. The Easterseals Disability Services Fellowship is presented to a Project Involve filmmaker who identifies as a person with a disability. This year’s Easterseals Disability Services Fellow is Andrew Reid. The Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television Fellowship (LMU SFTV) is presented to one of the school’s alumni. This year’s LMU SFTV Fellow is Tabatha Laanui.
The donor-named fellowships for the 2020 Project Involve program to be awarded at a later date are: Amazon Studios Film Fellowship, which will be presented to a visionary filmmaker; the Participant Fellowship; and the 9th annual Sony Pictures Entertainment Fellowship. Each Fellowship provides essential program support to Project Involve and includes a $10,000 unrestricted cash grant for a selected filmmaker participating in the program.
Additionally, for the second year, the Panavision Fellowship will provide an outstanding cinematographer in the program with a camera rental package valued at $60,000 for use on a future project produced in the US. This year’s Panavision Fellow is Allen E. Ho.
Project Involve is made possible by Principal Sponsors the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, EFILM | Deluxe, The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television, National Endowment for the Arts and Panavision. The program is also supported by Amazon Studios, Cast & Crew, Easterseals Disability Services, Formosa Group, Los Angeles County Department of Arts & Culture, Participant, SAGindie, Sony Pictures Entertainment and The Camera Division. Additional support provided by Endcrawl and Final Draft.
Film Independent Artist Development promotes unique independent voices by helping filmmakers create and advance new work.