​2020 Film Music and Sound Design Lab

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Los Angeles and Marin, CA — Sundance Institute and Skywalker Sound today announced the composers and directors selected for the Film Music and Sound Design Lab in collaboration with Skywalker Sound, reimagined and expressed digitally this year on Sundance Co//ab. The Lab provides Fellows with firsthand experience of the collaborative process with the goal of nurturing the development of music in film.

During the Lab, composers, directors and sound designers will experiment and explore new approaches to music and sound for fiction and nonfiction film projects. Workshops and creative exercises, guided by leading film composers, directors and sound designers acting as Creative Advisors, will mentor Fellows to explore sound and music’s crucial role in storytelling. The Music and Sound Design Lab will run from July 27-August 14, 2020 as a joint initiative of the Institute’s Film Music Program (part of the newly announced Interdisciplinary program), Feature Film Program and Documentary Film Program. The Lab follows the Institute’s inaugural Film Music in Animation Intensive, which took place earlier this month and whose Fellows are also named below.

“Reimagining the Lab online this year affords us the opportunity to involve a larger and inspiring group of Creative Advisors,” says Peter Golub, Director, Sundance Film Music Program. “Our impressive group of participants — composers, filmmakers and sound designers — will forge new relationships as they explore how music and sound can tell cinematic stories.”

Creative Advisors this year include: Michael Abels, Miguel Arteta, Steve Boeddeker, Kathryn Bostic, Kris Bowers, Miriam Cutler, Germaine Franco, Catherine Hardwicke, James Newton Howard, Pete Horner, So Yong Kim, Philip Klein, Heather McIntosh, Blake Neely, Thomas Newman, Doreen Ringer-Ross, Adam Smalley, Jacob Schulsinger and Madonna Wade-Reed. Skywalker Sound Effects Editors include Chris Frazier, Alyssa Nevarez and Dug Winningham.

“Working with the team at Sundance Institute and collaborating with the Lab Fellows is always a high point of
the year for us,” explains
Josh Lowden, General Manager of Skywalker Sound. “One of the goals of this Lab is to
foster new relationships between composers, directors, and sound designers. We hope that together we can
continue to break down barriers and push the boundaries of creative storytelling.”

Artists and projects selected for the 2019 Sundance Institute Music and Sound Design Lab are:


DeAndre Allen-Toole, from Detroit, Michigan, graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts in music composition in 2015 and then enrolled in their Music Composition for the Screen graduate program. He was chosen as a Game Audio Network Guild Scholar before earning his Master of Fine Arts degree in 2017. Upon moving to Los Angeles, DeAndre interned with Mac Quayle before being awarded a spot in the Television Academy Foundation’s summer internship program. DeAndre then served as a full-time assistant to Theodore Shapiro before returning to his freelance career. Recently, DeAndre has written music for composers Tyler Strickland, Jongnic Bontemps, and Michael Abels while also working on a handful of independent projects. He is a proud member of the Composers Diversity Collective and currently sits on the organization’s executive committee.

Cora (Yi-Huan) Chung is a composer and cellist from Taiwan. She started her classical music training at age four. As a cellist, she has performed with a number of professional orchestras in Asia, such as Kaohsiung Symphony Orchestra (KSO) and Asian Youth Orchestra (AYO). As a composer, her music has been performed and recorded at the Sound of Silent Film Festival in Chicago and 20th Century Fox Studios in 2019. She has received government scholarships for studying abroad from the Ministry of Education in Taiwan, and graduated from Columbia College in Chicago majoring in Music Composition for the Screen. She has been nominated for the 2020 Peer Raben Music Award at Soundtrack Cologne.

Jeff ‘Gitty’ Gitelman is a Grammy nominated, multi-platinum selling film score composer, producer, songwriter, performer, educator and graduate of Berklee School of Music. Born in Soviet era Moldavia, he currently resides in Los Angeles, CA. Gitty is lead vocalist and guitarist for his band, The Stepkids. He’s toured the world playing guitar for Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, H.E.R and Adele. Gitty’s recent writing/production credits include artists John Legend, J.Cole, H.E.R, Camila Cabello, Usher, Jeremih, Anderson Paak, Earth Wind & Fire, Mary J Blige, Frank Ocean, Mac Miller and many more. His film scores include the PBS documentary Forgiveness, and the Original Netflix movie Take the Ten. In 2015 he was inducted into his High School’s Alumni Hall of Fame. As an expression of his commitment to music education, in 2017 he founded Duality School of Music, dedicated to providing youth education and opportunity to developing musicians/composers in his hometown of New Haven, CT. Gitty currently serves as Board Advisor for the Grammy’s Los Angeles Chapter.

Sultana Isham is an award-winning film composer, violinist, writer and scholar based in New Orleans, LA. In addition to being a member of the contemporary string ensemble, Les Cenelles, Sultana is an educator and published scholar on the Black presence in art music through interdisciplinary theory with a psychoanalysis of music, lineage, and memory. An alumna of Syracuse University and Red Bull Music Academy, Sultana merges minimalist pedagogy with the electronic in her scores. Her film composer credits range from avant-garde, horror, fantasy, and archival. She was a researcher and the composer for the documentary All Skinfolk Ain’t Kinfolk about the historic mayoral race between two Black women in New Orleans directed by Emmy-nominated Angela Tucker, which premiered on PBS. Her upcoming film scores include Sacred directed by Luisa Dantas and The Neutral Ground, her feature film debut on the removal of confederate monuments, directed by CJ Hunt.

An eclectic composer and multi-instrumentalist, Ariel Marx has had her film scores premiered at Sundance, TIFF, SXSW, Tribeca, Woodstock, Criterion Channel, as well as Amazon, Netflix, and HBO. Ariel is releasing her new album Luthier this coming summer with Node Records, and is currently scoring an upcoming Netflix series, as well as Lindsay Gossling’s Thirteen Minutes and Paul Shoulberg’s So Cold The River. She recently completed the score for the limited series for Amazon — Ted Bundy: Falling For A Killer, SXSW’s Shiva Baby (directed by Emma Seligman); Matthew Balzer’s The Catch; Ross Marks’ Walking With Herb; and co-composed the score for Edward James Olmos’ The Devil Has A Name. She also wrote the score for The Tale, (directed by Jennifer Fox); the Independent Spirit Award nominated To Dust (directed by Shawn Snyde), which won the Best New Narrative Director and Narrative Audience Awards at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival; Galt Niederhoffer’s 10 Things We Should Do Before We Break Up; and Sarah Pirozek’s #LIKE.

At 16, Aaron Parks attended the Manhattan School of Music and two years later became the pianist in Terence Blanchard’s band. He won numerous competitions and appeared on Blue Note recordings, including the GRAMMY-winning A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina), before making his own debut with 2008’s Invisible Cinema. Parks toured the world several times over in the collective band, James Farm with saxophonist Joshua Redman, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Eric Harland. In 2011, Nonesuch Records released their self-titled debut to widespread acclaim. The San Jose Mercury News named his “Alive in Japan” release as their 2013 Top Jazz Album of the year. He has released two albums on ECM including a solo piano recording and a trio record featuring Billy Hart and Ben Street. Parks also appears on Wynton Marsalis’ “Higher Ground Hurricane Relief Benefit Concert” for victims of Hurricane Katrina, soundtracks for Darnell Martin’s acclaimed Their Eyes Were Watching God as well as Spike Lee’s Inside Man, She Hate Me, and When the Levees Broke. He continues to tour as the leader of the Aaron Parks Trio, his quartet Little Big, as a solo pianist, and as a member of Terri Lyne Carrington’s Social Science.

Directors/Filmmakers & Projects:

Lyle Mitchell Corbine, Jr. | Wild Indian (US): Two Anishinaabe men are inextricably bound together after covering up the savage murder of a schoolmate. After years of separation following wildly divergent paths, they must finally confront how their traumatic secret has irrevocably shaped their lives.

Lyle Mitchell Corbine, Jr. is a filmmaker. His short film, Shinaab, played at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and 2017 AFI Fest. The follow-up, Shinaab, Part II, premiered internationally at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival and in the US at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. He was supported at the 2017 Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab and 2018 Sundance Institute Directors Lab.

Julian Higgins | God’s Country (US): When a grieving college professor confronts two hunters she catches trespassing on her property, she’s drawn into an escalating battle of wills with catastrophic consequences.

Julian Higgins is a Los Angeles-based director, producer, and writer. His first feature, God’s Country, a neo-Western thriller starring Thandie Newton, is currently in production. Julian’s short films have screened at over a hundred festivals around the globe and won dozens of prizes. A New Hampshire native, Julian holds a BFA in Film from Emerson College and an MFA in Directing from the American Film Institute. He currently teaches directing at both institutions.

Jasmin Mara López | Silent Beauty (US): Silent Beauty is an autobiographical exploration of my family’s history with child sexual abuse and a culture of silence.

Jasmin Mara López is a journalist, audio producer and filmmaker. Born in the U.S. with familial roots in México, her childhood was affected by issues experienced on both sides of the U.S.-México border. This instilled in her a strong passion for immigrant rights, youth empowerment, and social change. Jasmin has found home in New Orleans, where she spoils her brilliant nephews and way too many animals.

Dash Shaw | Cryptozoo (US): As cryptozookeepers struggle to capture a Baku (a legendary dream-eating hybrid creature) they begin to wonder if they should display these rare beasts in the confines of a cryptozoo, or if these mythical creatures should remain hidden and unknown.

Dash Shaw is a Richmond, Virginia-based cartoonist and animator. He’s the cartoonist of many graphic novels, such as Doctors, Bottomless Belly Button, and Clue: Candlestick. He wrote and directed the animated feature-length film My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea which premiered in the 2016 NYFF main slate. He’s also done animation for documentaries and television, such as for the second season of 13 Reasons Why.

Jane M. Wagner | Break the Game (US): Alone in her studio apartment, Narcissa Wright live streams every minute of her quest to be the world’s fastest Legend of Zelda player. But when her isolated digital existence begins to crack, Narcissa must decide her fate: will she embrace love and adventure in the real world, or will she be seduced again by the glow of the computer screen?

Jane Wagner is a documentary filmmaker and television producer based in Brooklyn, New York. She was a supervising producer on the long-running Travel Channel series Mysteries at the Museum, a director / producer for National Geographic Wild, and an associate producer on the Emmy-award winning series Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. Break the Game is her feature directorial debut.

Jamila Wignot | Ailey (US): An immersive portrait of a visionary artist who found salvation through dance. An outsider who, when confronted by a world that refused to embrace him, determined to build one that would.

Jamila Wignot is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose body of work includes the New York Times series, The Weekly; Emmy-nominated Makers: Women in Business; The African-Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, which won a Peabody, Emmy, Dupont and NAACP award; Town Hall, a feature-length co-production with ITVS about the Tea Party movement; and for the PBS American Experience series, the Peabody Award-winning Triangle Fire and the Emmy-nominated Walt Whitman.

Earlier this month, the Institute launched a new Intensive, Music for Animated Shorts. Four composers were paired with animated shorts filmmakers, chosen in collaboration with Mike Plante, who runs the Sundance Shorts Program.

Creative Advisors were Christophe Beck, Germaine Franco, Phil Lord, Julia Pott and Arturo Rodriguez.


Tangelene Bolton recently composed music for Disney Animation Studio’s Just a Thought and wrote additional music for the Netflix series Brainchild. She composed and conducted world premieres of her music at the Wiltern with the Hollywood Chamber Orchestra.

Connor Cook is a composer/instrumentalist who grew up playing bluegrass and Irish music and has a MFA from Columbia College in Chicago. She has written music for various projects including feature films, commercials, TV shows and short films.

Tim Fain is a concert violinist and composer who has toured internationally with Philip Glass in duo recitals, has performed at the Vatican and for His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, and has been featured in films such as Black Swan, 12 Years a Slave and Moonlight.

Kevin Smithers was born in Mexico City and studied at Berklee in Boston and the London Center of Contemporary Music. His work has been featured on HBO, Comedy Central, MTV, Bravo, Discovery and CNN.


Tempe Hale is a Los Angeles based filmmaker, visual artist and creative director. In addition to her own films, she has worked with composer Laura Karpman on various multi-media and operatic productions.

Alex Lopez is a Los Angeles based animator whose work prioritizes goofery, spoofery, and themes of compassionate philosophy.

Kate Renshaw-Lewis makes use of hand-drawn techniques with themes that explore how separate beings’ realities differ and affect one another.

Jamie Wolfe uses hand drawn lines and bold pallets which collide to build offbeat, high energy worlds. She teaches at CalArts.

The Sundance Institute Film Music Program is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, BMI, Robert Chinn Foundation, The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, Film Music Foundation, and ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers).

Sundance Institute

As a champion and curator of independent stories for the stage and screen, Sundance Institute provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, film composing, and digital media to create and thrive. Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, 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. Sundance Co//ab, a digital community platform, brings artists together to learn from each other and Sundance Advisors and connect in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discover original voices, and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, On The Record, Boys State, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Fruitvale Station, City So Real, Top of the Lake, Between the World & Me, Wild Goose Dreams and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

About Skywalker Sound

Skywalker Sound, a division of Lucasfilm Ltd, is one of the largest, most versatile full-service audio post-production companies in the industry. Skywalker Sound offers comprehensive post-production services and utilizes the talents of Academy Award®-winning sound professionals working on sound design, editorial, Foley and re-recording mixes as a team. This provides filmmakers the most efficient model available for the audio post-production process. More information is available at www.skysound.com.

Lucasfilm Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. Skywalker Sound, the Skywalker Sound logo, STAR WARS and related properties are trademarks in the United States and/or in other countries of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. © 2018 Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd. or Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved.

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