Sundance Institute has announced the participants for its weeklong Creative Film Producing Initiative at the Sundance Resort in Utah, July 27 – August 3,
including nine feature film and documentary projects for the Creative Producing Labs and more than 50 industry leaders for the Creative Producing Summit.
The Institute’s Creative Producing Initiative encompasses a year-round series of Labs, Fellowships, granting and events focusing on nurturing the next
generation of independent producers and renewing the community of veteran producers who sustain the vibrancy and vitality of independent film.
Feature Film Creative Producing Lab
(July 27 – July 31) identifies emerging producers and, under the guidance of Creative Advisors, allows them to develop their creative instincts and evolve
their communicating and problem-solving skills at all stages of their feature film project. This year’s Creative Advisors include producers
(“Sense and Sensibility”),
Lynette Howell Taylor
(The Place Beyond the Pines),
(“Me You and Everyone We Know”),
(“Beasts of the Southern Wild”),
Jay Van Hoy
) and director
(“28 Hotel Rooms”
The Documentary Film Creative Producing Lab
(July 27 – August 1) brings together documentarians with award-winning Advisors to focus on their current projects to explore the wide range of creative
approaches to distribution, outreach and impact strategies. This year’s Creative Advisors include producers
“Best of Enemies”),
(“3 1/2 Minutes,” “10 Bullets”),
The Creative Producing Summit
takes place immediately following the Labs, July 31 – August 3. More than 50 industry leaders will participate in a series of curated panels, case studies,
roundtables, and one-on-one meetings addressing critical issues producers face including financing, distribution, audience engagement, marketing and
sustainability. Panelists this year include
(Sony Pictures Classics),
Victoria S. Cook
Danielle Di Giacomo
(William Morris Endeavor), and
Jay Van Hoy
(Parts & Labor).
The Fellows and projects selected for the 2015 Feature Film Creative Producing Lab are:
“50 Miles From Boomtown”
Producing Fellow: Alex Scharfman
After years of saving for her hard-earned dream, the only woman working on the fracking fields of North Dakota can finally quit but unexpectedly finds
herself falling in love with the young man she’s training to take her place. (writer/director Flo Linus Baumann).
Alex Scharfman is a New York-based producer whose past feature credits include
“The Heart Machine”
“Lyle,” as well as the short film
“Superior,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015, and the WGA Award-nominated webseries
“F to 7th.” He is an executive at Parts & Labor Films where he worked on films including
“Keep The Lights On”
“Loitering with Intent.” He has also produced content for Vice, Google, the Ford Foundation, and AT&T. Alex received his BA from Cornell University, is a former MFA candidate
from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and received his MBA from NYU’s Stern School of Business.
Mark Silverman Honorees and Producing Fellows: Blake Pickens and Stephen Love Jr.
In sunny San Antonio, Texas, where nothing ever changes, a town is turned on its head when a delusional Texas housewife accidentally poisons her son’s
fiancée, learning that killing people is an efficient way to solve her problems. (Co-writer/director Catherine Grieve, co-writer Dylan Slocum)
Blake Pickens is from the south side of Oklahoma City, from a neighborhood known as the Flats. Despite the community’s rampant drug use and gang wars,
Blake found his way into storytelling with a writing position at National Lampoon. He later attended the Peter Stark Producing Program at USC where he and
his producing partner, Stephen Love Jr., formed their company BS Pictures. They are currently in pre-production on the Steven Caple Jr.’s film
and in development on
“The Friendship Nine”
with producer Nina Yang Bongiovi. Blake’s aspirations are to tell the stories that make people laugh, cry, and ultimately impact their lives.
Stephen Love Jr. grew up in the rural towns of Filbert and Bennettsville, South Carolina. During his time as a business major at Morehouse College, Love
founded the Morehouse Filmmakers’ Association, for which Spike Lee is the honorary advisor. He also received his MFA from USC’s Peter Stark Producing
Program and formed BS Pictures with fellow graduate Blake Pickens. Love’s primary career goal is to produce film and television that gives “a voice to the
voiceless” while challenging the confines of the business of filmmaking.
Producing Fellow: Drew Houpt
A restless teenager becomes obsessed with a mysterious Colombian woman who exploits his desire and lures him into her plot for revenge. (Writer/director
Mary Angélica Molina)
Drew Houpt is an independent producer based in Brooklyn. For over ten years he was the head of operations at Mike Zoss Productions, Joel and Ethan Coen’s
Tribeca-based production company. During that time he worked on the Academy Award-winning
“No Country For Old Men”
and the Academy Award-nominated
“A Serious Man”
“True Grit.” He served as Associate Producer on the Coens’ Grand Prix-winning
“Inside Llewyn Davis”
and Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Academy Award-winning film
“Birdman: or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance.” This past year he co-produced Maris Curran’s directorial-debut
“Five Nights in Maine”
“Every Day,’ a short documentary for ESPN’s 30 for 30 Shorts series that had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015. He has also produced music videos for
the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang and an experimental documentary,
“When A Priest Marries A Witch,” by Suzanne Bocanegra.
“Rita Mahtoubian Is Not A Terrorist”
Producing Fellow: Deanna Barillari
When Iranian-born Rita Mahtoubian sets out to change her life from ordinary to extraordinary, she accidentally captures the attention of a homeland
security agent in this satirical comedy about romance, terrorism and trying to be a better person. (Co-writers/directors Roja Gashtili & Julia Lerman)
Upon graduating NYU Tisch, Deanna Barillari co-founded a non-profit theater company producing Off-Off-Broadway plays, including the NYC premiere of Leslye
(2008), which funded in-school arts initiatives in the NYC Public School system. She then went on to work in TV on NBC’s
“Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior”
(Ellen DeGeneres; 2014) and in Drama Development at Universal Television. Recently, she collaborated with AFI DWW Fellows Roja Gashtili and Julia Lerman,
producing their web-series K(ID) starring Caterina Scorsone (“Grey’s Anatomy”) and their short
“Rita Mahtoubian Is Not A Terrorist”
starring Patrick Fugit (“Almost Famous”) which made its World Premiere at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival. She also produces for the LA based Ovation Award-winning IAMA Theatre Company.
“The Space Between”
Producing Fellow: Angela C. Lee
A female body builder devotes her life to turning ‘pro’ when she unexpectedly falls in love, forcing her to confront her fractured past with her dying
father. (Writer/director Philiane Phang)
Angela C. Lee is a Los Angeles based independent producer. She produced
“Songs My Brothers Taught Me,” which premiered in competition at the Sundance Film Festival and recently screened in the Directors’ Fortnight program at the Cannes Film Festival.
Angela is also the Artist Development Manager at Film Independent, where she oversees the selection process and curriculum for the Filmmaker Labs program,
including Screenwriting, Directing, Producing, and Documentary Labs, the Fast Track Finance Market and the Fox Writers Intensive, managed in conjunction
with Fox Audience Strategy. Previously, Angela served as Director of Creative Affairs at New York based Vox3 Films. Prior to her career in film, Angela was
an Associate at Goldman Sachs. A native Chicagoan, Angela graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in Economics and is on the Board of
Directors for the University of Chicago National Arts Alumni Network.
The Fellows and projects selected for the 2015 Documentary Film Creative Producing Lab are:
Co-Directors/Producers: Jessica Dimmock & Christopher LaMarca
reveals the raw emotional and physical experience of being a middle aged to senior transgender woman coming out for the first time in the Pacific
Northwest. The film follows three intersecting stories of individuals who have lived their whole lives as men and decided this burdensome secret is one
they can no longer keep.
Jessica Dimmock is the recipient of the 2013 World Press Photo Multimedia Contest as the director and cinematographer of the online feature,
“Too Young to Wed.” In 2010, Dimmock won Kodak’s Best Cinematography Award at the Hamptons International Film Festival for
“Without.” The film premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, received an Independent Spirit Award, and was nominated for a Gotham Independent Film Award.
Dimmock contributed two short films to Doctors Without Borders’ Emmy-nominated campaign, “Starved for Attention.” Her first photojournalism project, “The
Ninth Floor” was published as a monograph. Most recently, she worked as photographer and videographer for Emmy-nominated HBO series,
“The Weight of the Nation.” She is represented by VII agency.
Christopher Lamarca is an award-winning photographer and filmmaker and based in Portland, Oregon. LaMarca has recently entered post-production on his first
feature length film,
“Boone.” In 2012, it was chosen as one of eight films for Film Independent’s Documentary Film lab. LaMarca’s monograph, “Forest Defenders: The Confrontational
” was published by PowerHouse Books in 2008. He was chosen to participate in the International Center of Photography’s triennial exhibition (2007), New
York Photo festival (2009) and Lishui photo festival in China (2010). He reported on environmental and energy issues for magazines such as Rolling Stone,
GQ, Fortune, and Newsweek.
“The Island and the Whales” (working title)
Directore/Producer: Mike Day
The pilot whale hunters of the Faroe Islands believe that hunting is vital to their way of life, but when a local professor makes a grim discovery about
the effects of marine pollution, and the seabirds populations collapse, environmental changes threaten to change the community and their way of life
Mike Day is a Scottish director and producer. Formerly a lawyer in London and the Middle East he founded Intrepid Cinema in 2009 before heading out into
the North Atlantic to make his previous film. His debut documentary
“The Guga Hunters of Ness”
broadcast on the BBC in 2011 and screened at festivals internationally to critical acclaim. It was while at sea in the Atlantic that he met a group of
Faroese sailors, leading to his next film. Mike was listed as one of ’10 Filmmakers to Watch’ by Filmmaker Magazine, he was one of EDN’s ’12 for the Future
2012’, and is supported by the Scottish Documentary Institute’s Docscene programme. Intrepid Cinema also has two other feature documentaries in
“The Road From Hainan”
Director/Producer: Nanfu Wang
State surveillance. Harassment. Imprisonment. Human rights activist Ye Haiyan, AKA Sparrow, knew she faced these risks when she went to Hainan Province to
seek justice for six elementary school girls who were sexually abused by their principal. But the scale and intensity of the government’s reaction
surprised even the most seasoned activists across China.
“The Road From Hainan”
follows Sparrow as she was chased from town to town by local governments, national secret police, and even her own neighbors.
Nanfu Wang is a documentary filmmaker based in New York. Originally from a remote village in China, Wang overcame poverty and lack of access to formal
secondary education and went on to earn graduate degrees in communications and documentary film from universities in China and the United States. Her work
often features the stories of marginalized or mistreated people, from Chinese blood donors stricken with HIV after being issued used needles by the
government to the left-behind children of migrant laborers. During the production of her first full-length documentary, Wang lived on the streets of Miami
with a homeless former drug dealer who relied on the kindness of strangers for his survival. Wang’s short films have been distributed on many platforms and
translated into several languages, and she continues to seek out and tell the stories of people who have been ignored by their societies.
“Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four”
Director/Producer: Deborah Esquenazi
“Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four”
excavates the nightmarish persecution of Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh, and Anna Vasquez — four Latina lesbians wrongfully convicted
of allegedly gang-raping two little girls in San Antonio, Texas. The film also unravels the sinister interplay of mythology, homophobia and prosecutorial
fervor which led to this modern day witch hunt during the ‘Satanic Sexual Abuse Panic’ of the late-80’s and early-90’s in the United States.
Deborah S. Esquenazi is an Austin, Texas-based documentary film and radio producer, instructor, and journalist. Her in-progress documentary feature,
“Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four,” has received international attention for its investigation into this controversial criminal case, and has been mentioned in Forbes Magazine, New York
Times, Texas Observer, Vice Magazine, among others. Her film and radio documentaries have been funded by Chicken & Egg Pictures, Paul Robeson Fund for
Independent Media, Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program | John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Initiative, Humanities Texas, Astraea Global
Arts Fund, and many others.