Film Independent has announced the filmmakers and projects selected for its 12th annual Directing Lab, an intensive program that helps directors develop new feature films and improve their craft. Among this year's Lab Mentors are Karen Moncreiff ("The Trials of Cate McCall," "The Dead Girl"), James Ponsoldt ("The Spectacular Now," "Smashed") and Angela Robinson ("True Blood," "The L Word").
In the Directing Lab filmmakers gain access to a wide variety of production resources, receive script feedback, are able to cast actors to workshop scenes, and collaborate with cinematographers. After completion of the program the accepted directors become Film Independent Fellows and receive year-round support.
Among the recent projects created through the Directing Lab are Sheldon Candis' "LUV", which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and Robbie Pickering's "Natural Selection," which has been nominated for Best First Feature at 2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards.
The 2013 Film Independent Directing Lab filmmakers and their projects are (synopses provided by Film Independent):
"A Death in the Andes" – In a desperate attempt to save his mother from a rare disease, Carlos, a fiery campesino from the Bolivian highlands, ventures to the city and attempts to abduct an American doctor. As they are caught up in a world of urban criminals and a violent local protest, he is forced to confront both his distrust of foreigners and his fear of death.
Nicholas Greene is a British filmmaker based in New York. His short film, “Salar,” made in Bolivia with the country's only film school, won the 2011 Austin Film Festival Jury Award and was shortlisted for the Oscars. He was selected for the Cine Qua Non screenwriters lab in Mexico and the Berlin Talent Campus in 2011. As a producer, he works with Jolyon Symonds, and has two projects in development with the BFI: Travels with My Aunt, based on the novel by Graham Greene, and The White Tiger, based on the Booker prize winning novel by Aravind Adiga. He previously worked for Paramount Pictures and holds an MFA in film from Columbia University. He works as an editor for non-profit documentary projects.
"Carolina Highway Killer" – A truck stop hustling party girl faces off against one very bad trucker.
Jacob Hatley is a writer/director whose first feature, Ainʼt in It for My Health: A Film About Levon Helm, premiered at SXSW and won the top music award at the Nashville Film Festival. He has directed several internationally screened short films, including “China,” which won the First Lookʼs Gold Medal atthe Directorʼs Guild of America. In addition, he has helmed music videos for artists such as Shawn Mullins, Levon Helm, Marty Stuart and Yonder Mountain String Band. He splits his time between North Carolina and Los Angeles.
"Folsom Street" – A lesbian couple, in early 1990s San Francisco, undergoes shock waves of changing perception and identity when one of them changes sex while their neighborhood is pillaged by the Dot Com boom.
Krisy Gosney is writer/director and native Californian. Her script Folsom Street (formerly Manhandle
"God Love Stu" – The incredible true story of Stu Rasmussen, who convinced his conservative hometown in Oregon to elect him as the first transgender mayor in history.
Aldo Velasco is a filmmaker and playwright born in Guadalajara, Mexico. His short films have screened at the Sundance, SXSW, and Los Angeles Film Festivals, among others. In 2009, he received a grant from ITVS (Independent Television Service) to write and direct the short film “Tent City” for the first season of the online Futurestates series. Aldo is also an editor of feature films. Recently, he edited Chittagong the epic Indian historical drama directed by Bedabrata Pain. He also edited Grace Leeʼs political mock documentary Janeane From Des Moines which recently premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Velascoʼs play The True History of Coca-Cola in Mexico has been produced in several theatres around the country, including the San Diego Repertory Theatre, the Empty Space in Seattle, and most recently the GALA Hispanic Theater in Washington, D.C.. His short film “INFITD” was selected by UCLA Professor Chon Noriega as one of the 100 Best Chicano Films of all time. Aldo has worked as a private investigator in Los Angeles. His investigation of the Mario Rocha case was featured in the film Marioʼs Story, which won the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2006.
"New Mexican Rain" – Itʼs 1983 and 11-year-old Rain wants sex. With her parents just divorced, sheʼs about to understand what that really means.
Amber Sealey is a Los Angeles based filmmaker and performer who was born in England and raised in Santa Fe. Her second feature as writer, director and actor, How to Cheat (Winner Best Performance Award LAFF 2011, Winner Best Narrative Film & best Acting BendFilm 2011) was called “amazing..laugh-out-loud
"Straight Edge" – Vick, a lonely and sickly sixteen-year-old, changes forever when he falls into the rebellious, tumultuous, and sometimes violent world of straight edge punk culture.
Daniel Casey is a writer/director and native of Detroit, Michigan. He made his indie debut in 2007 with a shoe-string budgeted feature titled The Death of Michael Smith. That film, which premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival and received a special jury award, continued on to play festivals across the states and internationally. In 2009, one of Caseyʼs follow-up screenplays, Jimmy Six, made the Hollywood Blacklist, and was purchased by Whitewater Films. Since that time, Casey has been making his living via screenwriting work for various studios and production companies, including 20th Century Fox, Imagine Entertainment, and Universal. Casey is also remained active in directing where possible, premiering narrative shorts ʻWonderboyʼ and ʻCargoʼ at the Cinequest and Slamdance film festivals in 2011. Presently, Casey is eagerly anticipating a return to feature directing, having recently completed the screenplay for Straight Edge, a project he hopes to shoot in late 2013. Additionally, Casey received an MFA in film directing from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, a BFA in digital cinema from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, and is an alumni of the Sundance Screenwriting and Directing Labs. In 2007 Casey was alsoawarded a Tom Yoda Scholarship, and in 2008 was the recipient of an Annenberg Foundation Grant.
"Sunday Billy Sunday" – In an unholy collision of religious fervor and psycho-pathology, Father Billy Acosta, desperate to talk to God, sets out to kill 99 teen campers in East Texas, hoping to spark Divine Intervention.
Morna Ciraki is a film director and producer. She began her directing career in music videos. Music video work includes “One of These Days” for Japanese pop star Seiko Matsuda, featuring Quincy Jones and shot by Academy Award winnerJanusz Kaminski. She has also produced dozens of music videos. Ciraki has worked as a producer and production executive for former Universal Studios President and producer Thom Mount (Natural Born Killers, Bull Durham, among many). She has developed screenplays for directors Stephen Frears and Oliver Stone, and produced a feature film Have Dreams, Will Travel, starring AnnaSophia Robb, Val Kilmer and Heather Graham. Ciraki served as the London based production executive for Reliant Pictures on Stephen Frearsʼs Cheri, starring Michele Pfeiffer and Kathy Bates. Born in Zagreb Croatia, Ciraki has the distinction of obtaining two law degrees on two continents (one from the University of Zagreb in Croatia and one from Pepperdine University), and serving as part of a criminal defense team at the International War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague. Last year, Ciraki wrote and directed a short film “Grace Paine: The Bombay Beach Incident.” She has co-written with Mark Wheaton (Friday the 13th, The Messengers) Euro-centric political thriller Panthers. Morna is working on her feature debut, a teen horror/thriller Sunday Billy Sunday, written by Wheaton, adapted from his Amazon bestseller. Ciraki lives in Los Angeles.
"Untitled Amazon Project" – When armed loggers threaten to evict their family from their rural home in the Amazon, two brothers smuggle rare lumber in hopes of selling it on the black market for money to save their land.
Alex Moratto is a Brazilian-American filmmaker. He is a graduate of the UNC School of the Arts, School of Filmmaking where he was a Kenan Scholar and studied film directing under Peter Bogdanovich. His thesis film “The Other Side” won the 2010 Jury Award from the Directorʼs Guild of America for Latino filmmaker. Moratto attended Werner Herzogʼs 2010 Rogue Film School Seminar and was the recipient of the 2012 North Carolina Arts Council Artist Fellowship for Screenwriting.