Sundance Institute’s FilmTwo Initiative: Fostering Sustainability, Creativity in Storytelling

Two-Day Workshop Supported by Universal Filmed Entertainment Group Launches Year-Round Support for Fellows

Los Angeles, CA — The fourth annual FilmTwo Initiative launches today in LA to support the career sustainability of thirteen artists developing their second features. FilmTwo encompasses two days of focused programming, including a writing workshop (led by Joan Tewkesbury), industry mentoring sessions, and one-on-one story meetings, kicking off a year of tailored creative and tactical support as part of the Institute’s continuum of support for artists at key inflection points in their careers. The FilmTwo Initiative is supported by Universal Filmed Entertainment Group.

“We created the FilmTwo Initiative to directly address the specific challenges that filmmakers face in developing sustainable and dynamic careers” said Michelle Satter, Founding Director, Feature Film Program (FFP) and Shira Rockowitz, Associate Director, FFP. “Over the past four years, FilmTwo has responsively evolved to develop storytelling across formats and platforms — ensuring that artists can cultivate their skills and visions in a rapidly-changing industry.”

Over the past four years, FilmTwo has supported the directors Marielle Heller, Steven Caple, Jr., Andrew Ahn, Sian Heder, Nia DaCosta, Jonas Carpignano, Anna Rose Holmer, Crystal Moselle and Lulu Wang.

Creative Advisors for the story sessions include Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12), Gyula Gazdag (A Hungarian Fairytale), Liz Hannah (The Post), Phil Hay (Destroyer), James Ponsoldt (The End of the Tour), Angela Robinson (Professor Marston & the Wonder Women), Ry Russo-Young (Before I Fall), Dana Stevens (Love of the Game), Joan Tewkesbury (Nashville) and Rose Troche (The Safety of Objects).

Industry Advisors include representatives from the feature film space as well as executives working across other storytelling formats and platforms. They include Kat Candler (showrunner, Queen Sugar), Poppy Hanks (Senior Vice President, Development and Production, MACRO), Charlotte Koh (Head of Digital Media and Unscripted, Hello Sunshine), Emerlynn Lampitoc (Director, Global Talent Development & Inclusion, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group), Marshall Lewy (Chief Creative Officer, Wondery), DanTram Nguyen (Senior Vice President, Production, Fox Searchlight), Rishi Rajani (Vice President, Production and Development, Hillman Grad Productions), Andrea Sperling (Producer / Principal, Topple Productions) and Priya Swaminathan (Co-Head, Higher Ground Productions).

The FilmTwo Initiative is supported by Universal Filmed Entertainment Group.

The 2019 FilmTwo Fellows are:

Elizabeth Chomko is an award-winning American filmmaker, actor and playwright. Her debut feature What They Had, starring Hilary Swank, Michael Shannon, Robert Forster and Blythe Danner, premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and had its international premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. It has been distributed worldwide and has been nominated for and won multiple awards. Originally from Chicago, Elizabeth is an alum of the Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab and in 2015 she won an Academy Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting. She was named one of Variety’s ’10 Screenwriters to Watch’ and was nominated for The Humanitas Prize for Best Drama Feature for What They Had. Her plays have been produced at The Blank Theatre’s Living Room Series, Inkwell Theatre’s LAB and at the Kennedy Center’s New Plays Festival; she has appeared as an actor in films and television and has performed in theatres across the US and in London. She is also a visual artist and musician.

Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre is a French actress, producer, and director living between Paris and the United States. After graduating with her Masters of History from La Sorbonne, she moved to New York to study acting. Stepping behind the camera, her first two short films played at major festivals from Tribeca to Tenerife and Bordeaux. Laure developed the latter short, “Rabbit,” which was selected for Sundance in 2015, into her debut feature The Mustang, which was released by Focus in March 2019. The first draft of the feature screenplay won the NHK award. She is currently directing the pilot and two additional episodes of Hulu’s new anthology series The Act, written by Michelle Dean & Nick Antosca, which is based on the true story explored in the HBO documentary Mommy Dead and Dearest.

Paul Downs Colaizzo‘s first play Really Really (Helen Hayes Award) played a sold-out, twice-extended run Off-Broadway at MCC. His second play Pride in the Falls of Autrey Mill premiered at The Signature Theatre in DC. Paul’s first feature film and directorial debut, Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019 Sundance Film Festival, U.S. Dramatic, Audience Award Winner), will be in theaters later this year

Rhys Ernst is a filmmaker and artist. He was a producer and director on Amazon’s Transparent and created the title sequence for the series. He was nominated for a 2015 Emmy Award for directing and producing the webseries Transparent: This Is Me, which won a Special Recognition GLAAD Award. In 2016 he teamed up with Focus Features to create the online series, We’ve Been Around. In addition to the 2014 Whitney Biennial, Ernst has shown work at Sundance, Oberhausen, and The Hammer Museum; he has won awards at Outfest, Chicago International Film Festival and the LA Transgender Film Festival; and he was a Point Scholar, a Project Involve Fellow, and was awarded with the 2015 Point Foundation Horizon Award and the ACLU Liberty Award for his work on transgender representation in the media. His first feature film, Adam, produced by James Schamus and Howard Gertler, premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

Carlos Lopez Estrada’s debut film, Blindspotting, premiered opening night at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and subsequently sold to Lionsgate for a theatrical release. The film was produced by Keith Calder and Jessica Wu at Snoot Entertainment and stars Daveed Diggs. Carlos was selected for Variety’s ‘10 Directors to Watch for 2018’ List and was recently nominated by the DGA for Outstanding Directorial Achievement of a First-Time Feature Film Director for 2018. On the TV side, Carlos recently wrapped an episode of FX’s Legion and has an original piece in development at UCP. Carlos is also a prolific music video/commercial director and a founding partner of the multi-disciplined production studio, Little Ugly. He’s won a Latin Grammy for an animated video he directed for artists Jesse & Joy, which established him as the youngest director to win a Latin Grammy to date. He’s worked with artists like Billie Eilish, Father John Misty, Thundercat, Flying Lotus, Carly Rae Jepsen, Capital Cities, Clipping and Passion Pit.

Atsuko Hirayanagi was born in Nagano and raised in Chiba, Japan. She is a graduate of NYU Tisch School of The Arts Asia with an MFA in Film Production. Her thesis short film, “Oh Lucy!” received the 1st Prize Wasserman Award and won more than 30 awards around the globe, including prizes at the Cannes, Sundance and Toronto film festivals. The feature-length screenplay of Oh Lucy! was a recipient of the Sundance Institute / NHK Award in 2016. The feature was Hirayanagi’s debut film, and after premiering at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival in the Critics’ Week section, went on to receive numerous awards at film festivals worldwide. The film was also nominated in the Best First Feature and Best Female Lead categories at the 33rd Independent Spirit Awards in 2018. Hirayanagi was named as one of ‘20 Rising Female Filmmakers You Need to Know’ by IndieWire.

Shirlyn Wong is a Chinese-American filmmaker from Queens, New York. She received her M.F.A. from New York University Tisch Asia in Film and Television Production and a B.A. in Computer Science from Brown University. Her short film, “Love’s Routine,” was the 2013 Jameson First Shot winner and starred three-time Oscar-nominated actor Willem Dafoe. Her other short films, “Baomu” and “The Mobile Stripper,” have had official selections and won awards at international festivals such as Palm Springs, Indie Memphis, BendFilm, and Seattle Shorts to name a few.

Lisa Kron is a writer and performer who wrote the book and lyrics for the musical Fun Home, with music by composer Jeanine Tesori, which won five 2015 Tony awards including Best Book, Score, numerous Off-Broadway awards, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Lisa’s other plays include In The Wake, Well, and the Obie Award winning 2.5 Minute Ride. As an actor, she received a Tony award nomination for her performance in Well and a Lortel Award as Best Supporting Actress for her turn in the Foundry Theater’s acclaimed production of Good Person of Szechuan. She is the recipient of Guggenheim, Sundance and MacDowell fellowships, a Doris Duke Performing Artists Award, a Cal Arts/Alpert Award, a Helen Merrill Award, the Kleban Prize for libretto writing, and grants from the Creative Capital and NYFA. She is also a founding member of the OBIE- and Bessie-Award-winning collaborative theater company The Five Lesbian Brothers.

Shawn Snyder grew up in suburban South Florida. After receiving a BA in Religion from Harvard, he spent most of his twenties on the road as a singer/songwriter. The last eight years have seen a return to Shawn’s long-standing passion for filmmaking, and in 2015, he completed studies at NYU’s Graduate Film Program. In 2016, Shawn was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. His shorts, “Festus” and “Lulu,” have played in festivals around the world. To Dust, his first feature, co-written by Jason Begue (and starring Matthew Broderick and Geza Rohrig), was supported by the Sloan Foundation, IFP, the Tribeca Film Institute, the Sundance Institute and the NYU Production Lab. It premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, where it won the Narrative Audience Award and where Shawn won Best New Director. To Dust was acquired by Good Deed Entertainment and is currently in theaters.

Jason Begue was born in Los Angeles to Colombian and Argentinian immigrants. His passion for filmmaking began at an early age when he won the 1999 CineVegas Youth in Film competition. In 2010, he graduated from The School of Visual Art’s Directing Program in New York. His thesis, “Contrition,” won VisionFest’s 2010 Most Promising Filmmaker Award. Jason co-wrote the screenplay To Dust with frequent collaborator Shawn Snyder and co-produced the film alongside Emily Mortimer, Alessandro Nivola and Ron Perlman. Jason is currently continuing his studies at NYU’s Graduate Film Program.

Amber Tamblyn is an author, actress and director. She’s been nominated for an Emmy, Golden Globe and Independent Spirit Award for her work in television and film. She is the author of three books of poetry including the best seller, Dark Sparkler and the author of the critically acclaimed novel, Any Man which follows the lives of a group of men who are attacked by a female serial rapist. In 2019 her first non-fiction collection, Era of Ignition: Coming of Age During a Time of Rage and Revolution will be released in March. Tamblyn co-wrote and directed the feature film, Paint it Black, based on the novel by Janet Fitch, starring Alia Shawkat, Janet McTeer and Alfred Molina. Tamblyn reviews books of poetry by women for Bust Magazine, is poet in residence at Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls and is a contributing writer for The New York Times. She lives in New York.

Ed Dougherty is a writer/producer/director and graduate of UC Berkeley and the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He most recently co-wrote/co-produced the film Paint It Black with co-writer/director Amber Tamblyn. The drama, based on a book by Janet Fitch (White Oleander), starred Alia Shawkat, Janet McTeer and Alfred Molina and received rave reviews from The New York Times, The Guardian, Variety and many more. His horror script The Withering Fields is being produced by Roland Emmerich. His thriller/mystery Faceless is currently in post-production. Past writing credits include supernatural thriller The Nanny for Epic/Chiller TV, sci-fi horror Merciless for Gold Circle Films, drama Scrapper with Michael Beach and Aidan Gillen, sci-fi psychedelic thriller Synethesia for director Rose McGowan and many more. A member of the PGA, he has produced seven features and produced/directed over 75 digital series, commercials and music videos. He frequently directs videos for Merge Records and other indie labels. He is originally from Long Island.

Kirsten Tan is a New York-based Singaporean filmmaker whose debut feature Pop Aye premiered as the Opening Night film of the World Cinema Dramatic competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. The film went on to receive a Special Jury Prize at Sundance, the VPRO Big Screen Award at Rotterdam and the Best International Film Award at Zurich Film Festival. To date, it has screened at over 50 film festivals including BFI London, Melbourne, Munich, Busan and was released by Kino Lorber. Pop Aye was invited to represent Singapore in the Foreign Film Category at the Oscars. Prior to completing Pop Aye, Tan made a series of short films. Her shorts “10 Minutes Later”, “Fonzi”, “Sink”, “Cold Noodles” and “Dahdi” have collectively received over ten international awards. A Cinereach Film Fellow, Tan earned her MFA at NYU Graduate Film School where she received the Tisch School of the Arts Fellowship.

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 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 Sorry to Bother You, Eighth Grade, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, RBG, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Top of the Lake, Winter’s Bone, Dear White People, Brooklyn, Little Miss Sunshine, 20 Feet From Stardom, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, I’m Poppy, America to Me, Leimert Park, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

About Universal Filmed Entertainment Group

Universal Filmed Entertainment Group (UFEG) produces, acquires, markets and distributes filmed entertainment worldwide in various media formats for theatrical, home entertainment, television and other distribution platforms. The global division includes Universal Pictures, Focus Features, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, DreamWorks Animation Film and Television. UFEG is part of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, world-renowned theme parks and a suite of leading Internet-based businesses. NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.

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