Sundance Institute’s 2017 Creative Producing Program: Lab Fellows, Summit Participants Convene in Utah

Los Angeles, CA — Sundance Institute’s Creative Producing Program will convene in the mountains of Utah July 31 – August 6, including 11 feature film and documentary filmmakers participating in the weeklong Creative Producing Labs and more than 90 independent filmmakers and industry leaders gathering for the three-day Creative Producing Summit.

The Institute’s Creative Producing Program champions the current and next generation of producers, supporting creative vision and best practices from development through distribution in an evolving ecosystem. Across both scripted and nonfiction storytelling from the US and globally, the program provides an unparalleled array of support systems including immersive Labs, the annual Summit, year-round mentorship, granting, financing education and matchmaking, distribution education and opportunities, and network and community building. Additionally, the Program advances entrepreneurial and forward-thinking solutions in financing and distribution for individual producers and the field at large.

The Institute’s annual Producers Awards, supported by Amazon Studios, also contribute to this goal, and recognize a Fiction and a Nonfiction Producer at the Sundance Film Festival Producers Lunch.

“We have long recognized the crucial role independent producers play in finding, shaping and advocating for original voices in filmmaking,” said Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute. “Our Creative Producing Program strives to build the field of independent film and the independent producing community, with a special focus on forward-thinking and sustainable approaches.”

Creative Advisors for the feature film portion of the Lab include producers Julie Lynn (Albert Nobbs), Paul Mezey (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Heather Rae (Frozen River), Mary Jane Skalski (Win Win), Lynette Howell Taylor (Captain Fantastic), Jay Van Hoy (The Witch) and director Matt Ross (Captain Fantastic). Creative Advisors for documentary include producers Daniel Chalfen (Silenced), Scott Macaulay (Casting JonBenet), Andrea Meditch (Man On Wire) and Danielle Renfrew Behrens (Montage of Heck).

Immediately following the Labs, the Creative Producing Summit (August 4-6) brings together industry luminaries, including financiers, distribution executives, packaging agents and sales representatives, for a program of curated conversations, working roundtables, and one-on-one meetings. Critical issues to be discussed at the Summit include audience engagement, distribution, financing, marketing and producer sustainability. Guests this year include Michael Barker (Sony Pictures Classics), Jon Bardin (Discovery Channel), Jason Berman (Mandalay), Maida Brankman (Genuine Article Pictures), Josh Braun (Submarine), Ian Bricke (Netflix), Effie Brown (producer, Dear White People), Dan Cogan (Impact Partners), Liesl Copland (WME), Rose Catherine Pinkney (BET Networks), Steven Farneth (Cinetic), Anna Godas (Dogwoof), Matthew Greenfield (Fox Searchlight), Cassie Hamar (Bert Marcus), Ali Herting (A24), Kevin Iwashina (Preferred Content), Caroline Kaplan (Cinereach), Charles King ( MACRO), Jessica Lacy (ICM), Linda Lichter (Lichter, Grossman, Nichols & Adler), Wendy Llinas (PBS), David Magdael (David Magdael and Associates), Peter Muzzonigro (Operam), Lisa Nishimura (Netflix), Maren Olson (CAA), Tim Pastore (National Geographic Channels), Jeff Deutchman (Neon), Julie Rapaport (Amazon Studios), Lourenço Sant’Anna (RT Features), Peter Saraf (Big Beach), Mikey Schwartz-Wright (UTA), Courtney Sexton (CNN Films), Merrill Sterritt (Cinereach), Molly Thompson (A&E Indie Films), Jamal Watson (Overbrook Entertainment), Elise Pearlstein (Participant) and Alexander Zahn (Sony Pictures Worldwide).

The Fellows and projects selected for the 2017 Feature Film Creative Producing Lab are:

Doha – The Rising Sun
Producing Fellow: Julia Thompson

Disheartened from her deportation from Europe, a young migrant worker is forced to return home to Western Sahara where she sees no other way to make a living than to join her brother’s hash business. (Writer-director: Eimi Imanishi)

Julia Thompson is a New York-based writer and producer whose short films have earned international acclaim premiering at festivals such as TIFF, Clermont-Ferrand and The Atlanta Film Festival. In 2016, she co-produced Eimi Imanishi’s ”Battalion To My Beat” (2016), which won the Canal+ Award for Best International Short at Clermont-Ferrand in 2017. In 2016, Julia graduated from Columbia University’s Film Program, where she won the Michael Hausman Award for Excellence in Producing. Currently Julia works in story development for National Geographic Television.

Give Up the Ghost
Producing Fellows: Allison Rose Carter & Jon Read

A small time thief falls for a woman whose past threatens to destroy them both. (Director: Tarik Karam, co-writers Tarik Karam, Peter Bognanni)

Allison Rose Carter has run the production of over 20 feature films. She got her start by living in Eyad Zahra’s basement while making The Taqwacores, which had its premiere in the inaugural NEXT category at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Since then, Allison has worked with dozens of talented new voices as well as established artists such as Andrea Arnold, Oren Moverman, Josephine Decker and Demetri Martin. She works all over the world, but resides in Brooklyn, NY.

Jon Read is a freelance producer out of Brooklyn, NY. Noted work includes Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, Oren Moverman’s The Dinner, and Demetri Martin’s Dean. Upcoming work includes Josephine Decker’s Madeleine, Madeleine, and Dustin Guy Defa’s Person to Person, which recently premiered at Sundance 2017 followed by Closing Night at New Directors New Films. Jon also produced Jackson Kroopf’s short film “bobbyanna,” which played the 2017 Clermont-Ferrand film festival.

Miss Juneteenth
Producing Fellow: Neil Creque Williams
A former beauty queen turned hardworking single mom, prepares her rebellious teenage daughter for the Miss Juneteenth pageant, hoping to keep her from repeating the same mistakes in life that she did. (Writer-director: Channing Godfrey Peoples)

Neil Creque Williams has produced original content for 20th Century Fox, USC Athletics, and Duke University. He began his career in documentary filmmaking with projects that played at Full Frame Film Festival and screened on the Documentary Channel. He produced the narrative short, “Red” (directed by Channing Godfrey Peoples), which received a DGA Student Jury Award. As a writer/director, Neil’s shorts have played international film festivals and been featured in Time, Inc publications. Originally from North Carolina, Neil received his BA from Duke University and his MFA in Film Production from USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Omni Loop Blues
Producing Fellow and Mark Silverman Honoree: Ben Cohen
For years, Zoya Lowe has been traveling back in time and reliving the final week of her life without variation—until one day, something unexpected happens, and she seizes the chance to do everything she always wanted. (Writer-director: Bernardo Britto)

Ben Cohen graduated from Brown University in 2011 with honors in Literary Arts. He produced “Master Muscles,” “Yearbook,” and “Glove,” short films that premiered at Sundance and played festivals around the world. He produced Jacqueline (Argentine), a feature that premiered at Sundance in 2016 in the NEXT category.

Selah and The Spades
Producing Fellow: Lauren McBride
Once upon a time, a girl named Selah started Pontomic High School’s most merciless gang: The Spades. Exploring the pleasures and dangers of exerting power, Selah is both charming and callus when deciding who to keep close and who to cut loose. (Writer-director: Tayarisha Poe)

Lauren McBride is an independent film producer based in New York City. Born and raised in Atlanta, GA, she studied Film Studies and Economics at Swarthmore College. She is currently a Program Manager at Google, and is passionate about working closely with filmmakers to realize their vision.

The Fellows and projects selected for the 2017 Documentary Film Creative Producing Lab are:

Bisbee ‘17
Producing Fellow: Bennett Elliott
Local residents of an eccentric old Arizona mining town stage scenes from its darkest day: the forced deportation of 1200 striking miners exactly 100 years ago.

Bennett Elliott is an Emmy Award-winning producer based in New York. She is a 2016 Sundance Institute Creative Producing Intensive Fellow. Bennett is the co-producer of Robert Greene’s award-winning Sundance Institute-supported documentary Kate Plays Christine (2016), which has screened at many festivals, including the Berlin International Film Festival, the True/False Film Fest, and BAMcinemaFest. Bennett has coordinated television series for Sundance Channel, MTV, Bravo, and the Food Network. Bennett was previously Head of Production at Mustache, a Brooklyn-based creative agency. She is co-founder and Producer with the production collective House of Nod.

Producing Fellow: Lauren Domino
In the shadows of their famous fathers, three young men fight to build upon their familial legacies while navigating the pitfalls of rap culture.

Lauren Domino is a producer and writer based in her hometown New Orleans, La. She produced the short film Alone (directed by Garrett Bradley) which won the Short Film Jury Award: Non Fiction at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and is currently screening on the New York Times Op Docs website. Her work as a producer also includes Black Folk Don’t (PBS), Like (Field of Vision, SXSW), The Older Fish (Time Inc., Killer Films), Intersection (Frameline, ABFF), and American Rhapsody (Aubin Pictures). With a passion for increasing the profiles of women and people of color in film, Domino has worked with The New Orleans Film Society to launch Emerging Voices, a mentoring initiative for people of color.

Brainiacs (Working Title)
Producing Fellow: Diane Becker
Meet the brightest young minds on the planet as they participate in the world’s most prestigious high school science competition, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). These passionate innovators are creating cutting-edge solutions to confront the world’s most pressing environmental threats –found right in their own backyards – while navigating the doubts and insecurities that mark adolescence.

Diane Becker is a producer based in Los Angeles and a graduate of the American Film Institute. She began her career in documentary filmmaking as a line producer and has worked with the award-winning Passion Pictures and Motto Pictures on films including Sergio, Manhunt (2013 Emmy Award Winner), and Homegrown: The Counter Terror Dilemma, for HBO. She and producer Melanie Miller founded Fishbowl Films in 2009 and are in post-production on Shaz Bennett’s debut film Alaska is Drag. In 2016, she and producer John Battsek premiered the Sundance Film Festival award-winning, WE ARE X, about Japan’s biggest rock band in history. Diane most recently co-produced the Netflix series about Hollywood and World War II, Five Came Back, executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Scott Rudin.

Midnight Family
Producing Fellow: Kellen Quinn
In Mexico City, 16-year-old Juan Ochoa struggles to legitimize his family’s unlicensed ambulance business, as corrupt police in the neighborhood begin to target this cutthroat industry.

Kellen Quinn is a Minneapolis-based producer and Head of Video at Aeon Magazine. His produced Brimstone & Glory (2017) premiered at True/False, won best documentary at SFFILM Festival, and was selected at Hot Docs, Sheffield and others, and was acquired by Oscilloscope. In 2016 he was among six producers selected for the inaugural Impact Partners’ Documentary Producers Fellowship.

The Three Lives of David Wong
Producing Fellow: Leslie Norville
After being wrongfully convicted of murder, an undocumented Chinese restaurant worker fights for two decades to win his freedom against a system rigged against him.

Leslie Norville is a Brooklyn-based producer from Toronto, Canada. Her films have screened at numerous film festivals and on television around the world. Norville has collaborated with Nelson George on projects such as Finding the Funk, an official selection at the 2013 SXSW and Hot Docs Film Festivals; Disdain the Mundane, an ESPN 30 for 30 short; and Ballerina’s Tale, which was released theatrically in the U.S. in 2015. Prior to her work with Nelson George, she worked with Lee Hirsch on his award-winning documentary Bully (Independent Lens, 2014) and on Jane Wells’ and JK Wasson’s Tricked. Norville is also the recipient of a Tribeca Documentary Fund and a Funding Exchange grants.

The Sundance Institute Creative Producing Program is supported by Amazon Studios, Cinereach, the National Endowment for the Arts, Arcus Foundation, and SAGindie.

The Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program is made possible by founding support from Open Society Foundations. Generous additional support is provided by Skoll Foundation; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; The Charles Engelhard Foundation; Robert Rauschenberg Foundation; Arcus Foundation; The Rockefeller Foundation; The Kendeda Fund; CNN Films; Discovery Channel; National Geographic; Genuine Article Pictures; Bertha Foundation; Cinereach; Time Warner Foundation; John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Anonymous; Compton Foundation; SundanceNow; Joan and Lewis Platt Foundation; Code Blue Foundation; Candescent Films; EarthSense Foundation; PBS; WNET New York Public Media; Adobe; the J.A. & H.G. Woodruff, Jr. Charitable Trust; Nommontu Foundation; and the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney Foundation.

The Sundance Institute Feature Film Program is supported by the Annenberg Foundation; Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; YouTube; RT Features; Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation; Time Warner Foundation; Amazon Studios; NBCUniversal; Hollywood Foreign Press Association; National Endowment for the Arts; NHK Enterprises, Inc.; the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; SAGindie; The Ray and Dagmar Dolby Family Fund; Grazka Taylor; Philip Fung – A3 Foundation; The Ammon Foundation; Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; Directors Guild of America; Writers Guild of America, West; Rosalie Swedlin and Robert Cort; the Nommontu Foundation, and the Deborah Reinisch and Michael Theodore Fund.

Sundance Institute
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and new media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences to artists in igniting new ideas, discovering original voices, and building a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Boyhood, Swiss Army Man, Manchester By the Sea, Brooklyn, Little Miss Sunshine, Life, Animated, Sonita, 20 Feet From Stardom, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Sin Nombre, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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