Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organisation that produces the Spirit Awards, has selected 30 filmmakers for Project Involve 2021. Project Involve is a free nine-month program for writers, directors, producers, editors, cinematographers, animators, programmers and entertainment executives from diverse backgrounds.
During the program, participants meet one-on-one with film industry mentors, create short films, and attend master workshops taught by top film professionals and industry networking events.
Now in its 28th year, Project Involve fosters the careers of talented filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry. Alumni include Lulu Wang (The Farewell); Linda Yvette Chávez, Marvin Lemus and Aaliyah Williams (Gentefied); Effie T. Brown (Dear White People); Jon M. Chu (In the Heights) and Justin Simien (Dear White People).
“Having triumphantly navigated this past year, the Project Involve team is prepared, very pleased and extremely excited to welcome the 2021 Project Involve Fellows into the Film Independent family” said Francisco Velasquez, associate director, Project Involve.
Film Independent also announced continued support of the program through donor-named fellowships. The Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television Fellowship (LMU SFTV) is presented to one of the school’s alumni. This year’s LMU SFTV Fellow is Emily Auday. The LAIKA Animation Fellowship provides a production grant to produce a stop-motion animated short film in Project Involve. This year’s LAIKA Animation Fellow is Yoo Lee.
The donor-named fellowships for the 2021 Project Involve program to be awarded at a later date are: the Participant Fellowship and the 10th annual Sony Pictures Entertainment Fellowship. Each Fellowship provides essential program support to Project Involve and includes a $10,000 unrestricted cash grant for a selected filmmaker participating in the program. In addition, for the third year, the Panavision Fellowship will provide an outstanding cinematographer in the program with a camera rental package valued at $60,000 for use on a future project produced in the US.
Past shorts produced in the program include Black Boy Joy (NAACP Image Awards nominee, 2020 American Black Film Festival HBO Short Film Finalist, currently airing on HBO), Lonely Blue Night (2020 AFI Fest Short Film Audience Award, currently airing on HBO), Liberty (2019 SXSW Narrative Short Film Jury Award, 2019 Special Prize of the Generation 14plus International Jury for the Best Short Film at the Berlin International Film Festival, 2019 AFI Special Jury Prize – Live Action) and Emergency (2018 Sundance Special Jury Award, 2018 SXSW Narrative Short Film Jury Award).
Past Project Involve Mentors include Janicza Bravo (Lemon, Zola); Ava DuVernay (Selma, When They See Us); Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight); Alma Har’el (Honey Boy) Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk, Moonlight); Mako Kamitsuna (Pariah, Mudbound); Spike Jonze (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich); Charles D. King (Fences, Mudbound); Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Memento); Veena Sud (The Killing); Christine Vachon (Carol, Boys Don’t Cry); Forest Whitaker (Arrival, The Last King of Scotland) and Bradford Young, ASC (A Most Violent Year, Selma).
This year’s Project Involve Fellows by track are:
B. Rubén Mendoza
Ino Yang Popper
José Andrés Solórzano
Robin Takao D’Oench
Tian Jiao Zi “Selinda” Zhou
Van B. Nguyen
Film Independent’s Project Involve is made possible by Lead Sponsor WarnerMedia 150 and Principal Sponsors Company3, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, LAIKA, Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television and Panavision. The program is also supported by Formosa Group, Los Angeles County Department of Arts & Culture, Participant, SAGindie and Sony Pictures Entertainment. Additional support provided by Endcrawl.
Film Independent Artist Development programs promote unique, independent voices by helping filmmakers create and advance new work through Project Involve; Filmmaker Labs (Directing, Documentary, Episodic, Producing and Screenwriting); Fast Track finance market and Fiscal Sponsorship, as well as through Grants and Awards, which provide over one million dollars annually to visual storytellers.