Six Filmmakers Selected for the 2022 Film Independent Producing Lab

Press Contact: Seanna Hore, Ginsberg/Libby

Gladys Santos, Ginsberg/Libby


Film Independent Announces Imaginar Producers Residency
to Award $150,000 in Grants

$30,000 Alfred P. Sloan Producers Grant Awarded to Shao Min Chew Chia

LOS ANGELES (October 28, 2022) — Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards, announced today the producers selected for its annual Producing Lab, now in its twenty-second year. 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.

For over 21 years, Film Independent’s Producing Lab has developed films such as Elegance Bratton’s The Inspection produced by Chester Algernal Gordon, which recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and New York Film Festival and will be released by A24 on November 18; Saim Sadiq’s 2022 Cannes Un Certain Regard Winner Joyland, produced by Apoorva Charan; and Chloé Zhao’s Spirit Award-nominated debut Songs My Brothers Taught Me, produced by Angela C. Lee and Mollye Asher. In addition, the Producing Lab has supported some of the film industry’s most exciting independent talent, including Lizzie Shapiro (Shiva Baby), Lena Vurma (Adventures of a Mathematician) and Avril Speaks (Jinn).

This year’s creative advisors and guest speakers include Carly Hugo, Sarah Kim, Amy Lo, Amanda Marshall, Lena Vurma, Mollye Asher, Liz Cardenas, Dr. Nicole Friedman, Christine Hsu, Lauren Mann, Diego Najera, Ross Putman, Lizzie Shapiro, Anita Surendran, Sheila Hanahan Taylor and Elliott Whitton.

Furthering their commitment to support independent creative producers, Film Independent is also thrilled to announce the launch of the Imaginar Producers Residency for Latinx Producers, made possible by The Walt Disney Company, Searchlight Pictures and in collaboration with the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP). Over the course of nine months, three selected Fellows will each receive a $50,000 cash grant, mentorship, professional and financial coaching, project development support and more to build traction for their projects. They also will be able to collaborate with Disney and Searchlight executives to gain a better understanding of how to package and set up projects for studios and independent endeavors. Applications for the Imaginar Producers Residency will open November 1.

“Film Independent is deeply committed to championing creative producers,” said Angela C. Lee, Director of Artist Development. “And this innovative new partnership with The Walt Disney Company and Searchlight Pictures tackles the need for a pipeline of diverse studio producers. We couldn’t be more thrilled to further our support to producers with the launch of this Fellowship, as we welcome the talented and intrepid cohort of producers in this year’s Film Independent Producing Lab.”

“The Walt Disney Company is committed to embracing stories and storytellers who reflect the rich diversity of our world. Alongside Searchlight Pictures, we are thrilled to collaborate on this meaningful initiative with Film Independent and in collaboration with NALIP in support of expanding the Hispanic and Latinx producing community,” said Christine Cadena, VP, Diversity Equity & Inclusion. “We look forward to the launch of the program and engaging deeply with the Fellows as we reimagine a more inclusive tomorrow, together.”

“We are incredibly proud to be combining the resources and experience of these organizations together to form the Imaginar Producers Residency for Latinx Producers,” adds Matthew Greenfield, Searchlight President and Film Independent Board Member, and David Greenbaum, Searchlight President. “Producers are a key driver in bringing new, exciting and diverse stories to audiences worldwide, and this program will identify emerging talent and give them the tools they need to succeed.”

Film Independent is excited to award this year’s Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Producers Grant to Shao Min Chew Chia, who will receive $30,000 to further develop her project The Plutonians through the Producing Lab. Awarded to outstanding producers whose screenplays integrate science or technology themes and characters into dramatic stories, the Sloan Producers Grant is part of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s nationwide film program to advance public understanding of science and technology.

“I’m very grateful to the Sloan Foundation for honoring me with this grant and for the work that they do in bringing stories about science to the screen,” said Shao Min Chew Chia. “The impact that scientific progress has on the arc of human history is indelible and profound, and how we face scientific discoveries and wield new technologies will determine what the future holds. Starting with The Plutonians, our brazen comedy about the cost of ambition and the value of curiosity, I hope to do my part in telling science stories and I can’t wait to be in the audience watching many others. Thank you Film Independent and Sloan Foundation!”

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.

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

The 2022 Producing Lab is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Additional support comes from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The 2022 Producing Lab projects and filmmakers are:

Producer: Lexi Tannenholtz
Logline: Anna’s on a mission to find her dead friend’s cat while her life (and body) falls apart in the process. Will finding Booger save her from her immeasurable grief?

Producer: Robert Colom
Logline: A Haitian demolition worker is faced with the realities of redevelopment as he is tasked with dismantling his rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.

Out of Water
Producer: Aya Hamdan 
Logline: A coming-of-age about the childhood, teendom and adulthood of a young woman growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to an American mother and Syrian-born Muslim father. When Layla’s grandpa arrives from Syria, her relationships with her family members and her identities, including her sexuality, are tested.

The Plutonians
Producer: Shao Min Chew Chia 
Logline: When the official definition of the word “planet” puts Pluto under threat of expulsion, ninth planet expert Alvin Gibbs swoops into a sleepy international astronomy conference to save it. Bullying his peers with increasingly desperate ploys, Alvin fails to win this debate but rediscovers why Pluto matters to him in the first place.

Tiny Birds with Broken Brains
Producer: Sabrina Stoll
Logline: A coming-of-age drama, set-in small-town Ontario in the 80s and 90s, that centers around an immigrant South Asian family, and the complicated relationship between Shabnam, the traditional, traumatized mother, and her youngest daughter, Amanjeet.

Producer: Pin-Chun Liu 
Logline: When her mother disappears with the family bankroll in Las Vegas, eleven-year-old Adeline Tang hires a devious street magician to bring her mother home before her father finds out.


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 a dozen leading film schools and established annual awards in screenwriting and film production. The Foundation also supports screenplay development programs with the Sundance Institute, SFFILM, Film Independent, The Black List, the Athena Film Festival and the North Fork TV Festival. The Plutonians previously received support from the Foundation through the $100k Feature Film Award at NYU and the Commissioning Grant at the Sundance Institute. The Sloan Film Program has supported over 750 film projects and has helped develop over 30 feature films, including Tesla, Radium Girls, Adventures of a Mathematician, One Man Dies a Million Times, The Sound of Silence, To Dust, Operator, The Imitation Game, and The Man Who Knew Infinity. The Foundation has supported feature documentaries such as Werner Herzog’s Theater of Thought, David France’s How to Survive a Pandemic, Picture a Scientist, Coded Bias, In Silico, Oliver Sacks: His Own Life, The Bit Player, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, Particle Fever and Jacques Perrin’s Oceans. It has also given early award recognition to stand out films such as Don’t Look Up, After Yang, Linoleum, Son of Monarchs, Ammonite, The Aeronauts, Searching, The Martian, First Man and Hidden Figures.

The Foundation’s book program includes early support for Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, the best-selling book that became the highest grossing Oscar-nominated film of 2017, and Kai Bird & Martin Sherwin’s Pulitzer Prize-winning American Prometheus, adapted for the screen and directed by Christopher Nolan currently scheduled for release in July 2023.

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


For over 40 years, Film Independent has helped filmmakers get their projects made and seen. The nonprofit organization’s core mission is to champion creative independence in visual storytelling and support a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision.

In addition to producing the Film Independent Spirit Awards, the organization supports creative professionals with Artist Development programs, grants and labs. Signature mentorship program Project Involve fosters the careers of talented filmmakers from underrepresented communities. Weekly Education events and workshops equip filmmakers of all ages and experience levels with tools and resources. Global Media Makers, a cultural exchange program produced in partnership with the U.S. Department of State, provides career-building opportunities for international film professionals. And year-round screening series Film Independent Presents delivers monthly, unique cinematic experiences to Members in Los Angeles and beyond.

For more information or to become a Member, visit