Before finding out that I’d been accepted into the Sundance Ignite Fellowship program, I was at a bit of a crossroads in my filmmaking career.
I’d just graduated with a film degree from Northwestern University and my first foray into the work world wasn’t exactly what I’d expected. Transitional periods can be lonely. I missed directing my own content, and I desperately missed being surrounded by other filmmakers.
To say that Sundance was a dream come true would be a vast understatement.
On the first day of arriving in Park City, we were given keys to the nicest living spaces I’ve ever been in. That night, we met our mentors, we were welcomed into the “Sundance Family,” and told to reach out with whatever needs we may have. Filmmakers go their entire careers hoping for a chance to have their films recognized by Sundance Institute and to become a part of the Sundance family.
At the end of the meeting we’d also been given a free year’s subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud by Project 1324, which for me was a huge deal. As every post-grads know, one of the biggest losses you take after leaving campus is losing access to the resources that your school previously afforded you. Thanks to Adobe I now have the tools I need to create my work.
During the Sundance Film Festival, I got to bond with the other folks in the fellowship. It was cool getting the chance to pick their brains about everything from post-grad opportunities, good festivals, to which films to go to while at Sundance. Since the Festival we have been sending working drafts of scripts and shorts back and forth for feedback. It’s beautiful being surrounded by such a talented group whose tastes I trust to bounce ideas off of.
My two mentors are Effie Brown and Jason Berman who have both been super inspiring to talk to. It’s invaluable having people who are a part of the industry you’re trying to break into helping you on your journey (reading scripts, giving pitching advice, and overall being tremendously encouraging). Being at Sundance and talking to my mentors has empowered me to take ownership of the things I create. I think a lot of times women (especially women of color) are told that we must be overly humble about accomplishments. I’m learning now to be okay with being proud of my work and promoting it publicly.
Making my short film Pangaea was not a traditional film school experience. My team and I road-tripped 15 hours from Chicago to New Orleans to shoot the film. It was a beautiful experience working with my crew and the talented actors from the area. Since Sundance, Pangaea has been accepted into festivals around the world, and it premiered on PBS during primetime television! It’s been incredible seeing how well received the film has been and I look forward to seeing where else it will take me.
I’m currently finishing up writing my first feature film,
and I’m also planning to go into pre-production for another short film. I think
it’s so important in this current political climate to own my voice and use the
resources that I am given to aid in the liberation of marginalized peoples. I
feel blessed to have been given these opportunities from Sundance Ignite/Adobe
1324 and plan on making some incredible work this year. It’s time to shake some