Film Independent Selects Five Projects and Five Filmmakers for Annual Producing Lab

Press Contact: Seanna Hore, Ginsberg/Libby


$30,000 in Grants Awarded by Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

LOS ANGELES (October 22, 2021) — Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards, announced today the filmmakers and projects selected for the organization’s annual Producing Lab. A total of five filmmakers and five projects will be supported.

Now in its 21st year, the Producing Lab recognizes the importance of creative independent producers to the field and offers a dedicated space to help 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. The 2021 Producing Lab is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Additional support comes from the National Endowment for the Arts.

“We are thrilled to support this year’s talented cohort of Producers who are championing global stories that speak to the universal human experiences of ambition, redemption and connection.” said Angela C. Lee, Associate Director of Artist Development. “This year’s projects span from the US to Bangladesh, Trinidad to Europe and we are excited to help further empower our producing fellows to bring to life these beautiful stories that can and will entertain a worldwide audience.”

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 Cecilia Otero with her project, Upstreamers.

“I’m really honored to have been awarded the Sloan Grant,” said Cecilia Otero, recipient of the 2021 Sloan Producing Grant. “As a female producer from Latin America, it’s been really exciting to feel I can step into a field that’s been so dominated by men and tell this story of struggle that is so close to our hearts. Upstreamers explores the limits of art, passion and tennis through our protagonist’s obsession with success. Having the support of the Sloan Foundation and Film Independent brings us one step closer to realizing this story onscreen. As an independent and international filmmaker, these kinds of initiatives are fundamental in making our work possible.”

This year’s mentors and guest speakers include: Mollye Asher, Jason Michael Berman, Karin Chien, Dr. Nicole Friedman, Marissa Frobes, Sheila Hanahan Taylor, Mel Jones, Sarah Kim, Lauren Mann, Amanda Marshall, Paul Mezey, Diego Najera, Julia Nelson, Shrihari Sathe, Lizzie Shapiro, Lena Vurma, Diana Williams and Rebecca Wyzan.

The 2021 Producing Lab Fellows and their projects are:

Mama D’Lo
Producer: Robert Maylor
Logline: Deep in the Trinidadian jungle, a river is being choked to death by developers, and an old curse must be released in order to stop them.

Moving Bangladesh
Producer: Arifur Rahman
Logline: Sick of being stuck in traffic – and in life – a struggling middle-class Bangladeshi entrepreneur creates a motorcycle-based ridesharing app that may change transport in developing cities, such as Dhaka, forever but must first overcome his family’s skepticism and a hostile political environment.

Producer: Cecilia Otero
Logline: When 30-year-old professional tennis player Alex gets threatened with losing his scholarship at his academy, his once promising career faces a sudden end. In his despair and obsession with succeeding in the sport he loves, he turns to what he sees as his last option to turn his fate around: doping.

Wild Animal
Producer: Lysette Urus
Logline: A young, transient MMA fighter is forced to choose between court-ordered Equine Therapy and the familiar path of self-destruction, after a traumatic brain injury threatens her promising career.

Producer: Meaghan “Wilbs” Wilbur
Logline: Eva thinks her cousin Georgia’s views on motherhood are regressive. Georgia thinks Eva’s feminism is playing with fire. Their grandmother’s remote mountain village in Greece thinks they’re both ripe for the picking.
Producers and projects supported through the Producing Lab include Oscar winner Mollye Asher, with Chloé Zhao’s debut Songs My Brothers Taught Me; Lauren McBride, producer of Selah and the Spades, which was acquired by Amazon and is now being adapted into an original series; and Huriyyah Muhammad, producer of 2020 Sundance winner Farewell Amor.

For more information on any of the Labs or the projects that have been developed in them, please contact Lisa Hasko, Director of Artist Development, at Additional information and an application form can be found at


Film Independent is the nonprofit arts organization that champions creative independence in visual storytelling and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision. Film Independent helps filmmakers make their movies, builds an audience for their projects and works to diversify the film industry. Film Independent’s Board of Directors, filmmakers, staff and constituents is comprised of an inclusive community of individuals across ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race and sexual orientation. Anyone passionate about film can become a Member, whether you are a filmmaker, industry professional or a film lover.

In addition to producing the Spirit Awards, Film Independent produces Film Independent Presents, a year-round screening series for its members that offers unique cinematic experiences for the Los Angeles creative community and the general public.

Through annual screenings and events, Film Independent provides access to a network of like-minded artists who are driving creativity in the film industry. Film Independent’s Artist Development program offers free labs for selected writers, directors, producers and documentary filmmakers and presents year-round networking opportunities. Project Involve is Film Independent’s signature program dedicated to fostering the careers of talented filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry.

For more information or to become a Member, visit


The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a New York based, philanthropic, not-for-profit institution that makes grants in three areas: research in science, technology, and economics; quality and diversity of scientific institutions; and public engagement with science. Sloan’s program in Public Understanding of Science and Technology, directed by Doron Weber, supports books, radio, film, television, theater and new media to reach a wide, non-specialized audience and to bridge the two cultures of science and the humanities.

Sloan’s Film Program encourages filmmakers to create more realistic and compelling stories about science and technology and to challenge existing stereotypes about scientists and engineers in the popular imagination. Over the past two decades, Sloan has partnered with top film schools in the country – including AFI, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, NYU, UCLA, and USC plus six public film schools – and established annual awards in screenwriting and film production, along with an annual best-of-the-best Student Grand Jury Prize. The Foundation also supports screenplay development programs with the Sundance Institute, Tribeca Film Institute, SFFILM, the Black List, the Athena Film Festival, the North Fork TV Festival, and Film Independent’s Producing Lab and Fast Track programs, and has helped develop over 25 feature films including: Michael Almereyda’s Tesla, Lydia Dean Pilcher and Ginny Mohler’s Radium Girls, Thor Klein’s Adventures of a Mathematician, Jessica Oreck’s  One Man Dies a Million Times, Michael Tyburski’s The Sound of Silence, Shawn Snyder’s To Dust, Logan Kibens and Sharon Greene’s Operator, Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game and Matthew Brown’s The Man Who Knew Infinity. The Foundation has supported feature documentaries such as Father of the Cyborgs, Picture a Scientist, Coded Bias, In Silico, Oliver Sacks: His Own Life, The Bit Player, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, Particle Fever and Jacque Perrin’s Oceans. The Foundation’s book program includes support for Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures, which became the highest-grossing Oscar-nominated film of 2017, and a social and cultural milestone.

For more information about the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, please visit or follow the Foundation at @SloanPublic on Twitter and Facebook.