Gianfranco Fernández-Ruiz is flipping the script…
Creator+, a next-generation content studio and distribution platform for digital-first storytellers and creators, has unveiled their inaugural class of emerging filmmakers for its ‘Flip the Script’ Short Film Fund, with the AfroLatinX writer/director among those selected.
Fernandez-Ruiz’s project, entitled Jerome, centers on the title character, who struggles with feelings of inadequacy when the annual Fathers and Sons event forces him to confront the absence of his own father; and he deals with it the only way he knows how—basketball.
Creator+ is a studio and distribution platform, whose goal is to empower the next generation of diverse creators to make impactful films and expand their careers.
To that end, Creator+ is creating opportunities for these historically excluded storytellers, while embracing projects that explore the full dimension of the BIPOC experience.
Spearheaded by Forbes 30 Under 30 award-winning activist and Head of Diversity & Impact Development and Production Ben O’Keefe, the program will champion, fully fund, market and distribute six short films from emerging BIPOC creators, writers, directors and producers annually.
Each of the chosen filmmakers will be working alongside an advisory council of world-class creatives, producers, showrunners and industry change agents fighting for increased diversity and inclusion in Hollywood.
Mentors include The Kennedy/Marshall Company with producing legend Frank Marshall and his Head of Production Development, Ashley Jay Sandberg; 6x NBA All-Star, investor, entrepreneur and co-founder of Mortal Media, Blake Griffin; Emmy-nominated actor MJ Rodriguez; Kyle Bowser, SVP, NAACP Hollywood Bureau; Producer & Director Lulu Wang; Actor & Activist Kendrick Sampson; Writer, producer & showrunner Elle Johnson; and TikTok executive Kudzi Chikumbu.
“Hollywood’s pipeline problem is a myth—and you only have to look as far as the talented BIPOC creatives who make up the first class of Flip the Script to see that,” said Ben O’Keefe, Head of Diversity & Impact Development and Production, Creator+. “Last year, only 3 out of every 10 major films were directed by people of color. That is a result of a history of systemic exclusion and it will take Hollywood’s leaders continuing to invest in solving these problems to seed a more equitable and inclusive industry. Creator+ will not only fund breakout short films, but also a BIPOC filmmaker from our shorts program will have the opportunity to make a feature length film with Creator+ every year.”
In addition to providing the budget, the company is actively supporting development, production and distribution. Advisors will award one filmmaker the life-changing opportunity to develop a feature film with Creator+. Moreover, Staff Me Up is enlisted as a partner to help rewrite the rules of hiring, as part of their Coded for Inclusion initiative.
Projects are currently in various stages of production with two already completed and several others beginning production May 2022 in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Pakistan. Creator+ will distribute the shorts at film festivals across the globe before premiering the shorts on its forthcoming platform or exploring additional distribution opportunities where applicable.
The inaugural class of emerging filmmakers include:
- Gianfranco Fernández-Ruiz (he/him), (Writer/ Director) (Los Angeles, CA) Logline: JEROME (mid-teens) struggles with feelings of inadequacy when the annual Fathers and Sons event forces him to confront the absence of his own father; and he deals with it the only way he knows how—basketball.
- Lynelle White (she/her), Writer/Director (Los Angeles, CA) Logline: HATCHBACK – Due to job losses in early 2020 caused by the pandemic, an African-American family of four is living out of their hatchback car until the next pay day arrives. The family dreams of just one night in a motel. But each passing day living unhoused and on the streets brings new disappointments, pushing that dream further and further out of reach.
- Imran Siddiquee (they/them), Filmmaker & Writer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) Logline: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN US – An undocumented Bangladeshi immigrant starts to fall for a roommate she’s yet to meet — forming a connection that will test the limits of her romantic imagination.
- Ari Groobman (he/him/they), Writer/Director/Producer (Los Angeles, CA) Logline: ESSENTIALLY AMY – Amy is a young Chinese American girl working at her local grocery store during the height of the pandemic. Amy must confront growing racism towards Asian Americans, while at home, she must mitigate her mother’s expectations and personal bias towards Black Americans. After a brutal assault, Amy and her family must reevaluate their perceptions, and Amy must come to terms with who she really is and what she really wants.
- Mahnoor Euceph (she/her), Writer & Director (Los Angeles, CA) – Project will be filmed in Pakistan Logline: EID MUBARAK – A privileged six-year-old Pakistani girl embarks on a mission to save her beloved pet lamb from being eaten on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, only to learn the meaning of sacrifice.
- Vivian Johnson (she/her), Producer (Los Angeles, CA) Logline: BIENVENIDOS A LOS ANGELES – Inspired by true events, the film tells the timely story of Imani, a Tanzanian single-mother living in Los Angeles. When she offers to help a perfect stranger reunite with her son, Imani learns this simple act of kindness threatens to jeopardize her own path to citizenship.