Gianfranco Fernández-Ruiz Among Emerging Artists Selected for Creator+’s ‘Flip the Script’ Short Film Fund

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.

Gianfranco Fernández-RuizFernandez-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.

Jalmer Caceres Among 10 Filmmakers Selected for Indeed & Lena Waithe’s ‘Rising Voices’ Program

Jalmer Caceres is a rising voice, indeed

Indeed, Lena Waithe and her company Hillman Grad Productions have named the Salvadoran filmmaker/writer as one of its 10 filmmakers for the second edition of their Rising Voices program.

Jalmer CaceresCaceres is among a roster of filmmakers that includes Cara Lawson, Gbenga Komolafe, Georgia Fu, Justin Floyd, Leon Cheo, Shanrica Evans, Tara Motamedi, Travis Wood and Urvashi Pathania.

Indeed: Rising Voices was created to uncover, invest in and share stories created by BIPOC filmmakers across the U.S.

Executives from Hillman Grad Productions, Indeed and Ventureland selected participants’ screenplays from a pool of 900 submissions.

Each will be given a production budget of $100,000 to create a short film of less than 15 minutes in length, which will debut at the Tribeca Film Festival in June.

Their journey with Rising Voices will see them receive access to a crew through Hillman Grad and 271 Films, and a $10,000 writing and directing fee, as well as mentorship from Waithe and other filmmakers including Calmatic, Destin Daniel Cretton, Justin Chon, Melina Matsoukas and Rayka Zehtabchi.

Indeed has tripled the investment put into the first cycle of Rising Voices for the latest edition, bringing $3M to that program, as well as a new Production and Development Lab for filmmakers from Rising Voices 1 including Johnson Cheng, Stacy Pascal Gaspard and Gabriela Ortega.

“Indeed’s Rising Voices not only levels the playing field for BIPOC creators in Hollywood by creating opportunities for individuals to be seen, heard and represented, but also empowers the next generation of storytellers, providing access to funding, on-site skill, career development and mentorship,” said Waithe. “Our continued mission at Hillman Grad Productions is to ensure that program mentees are truly set up for success as they continue to grow within their individual careers.”

“Indeed’s mission is to help people get jobs. Season One of Rising Voices proved our belief that talent is universal but opportunity is not,” added Indeed CEO Chris Hyams. “With Season Two, we are thrilled to bring 10 brilliant new voices to the story of the power of jobs to change lives.”

The first season of Rising Voices resulted in the creation of more than 650 jobs, with finalists’ films debuting in June of last year.

Learn more about the program here.

Lin-Manuel Miranda to Receive Changemaker Award from Greenwich International Film Festival

Lin-Manuel Miranda is a changemaker… And, now he’ll have the award to prove it.

The 42-year-old Puerto Rican actor, singer-songwriter, playwright, and film director will receive the 2022 Changemaker Award from the Greenwich International Film Festival, according to festival organizer.

Lin-Manuel MirandaMiranda, the Pulitzer Prize winning creator of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musicals In the Heights and Hamilton and the soundtracks to Disney‘s Moana and Encanto, has been selected for the award for his work with the Miranda Family Fund, which supports causes like education, the arts and social justice, and has been particularly focused on rebuilding efforts in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in 2017.

In particular, GIFF is recognizing the work the fund has done in the last three years to provide more than 80 emerging artists with professional training, support in the business of the arts, access to casting directors, managers, and agents.

Miranda is also receiving the award for his work developing two full-time paid fellowship programs for BIPOC people in the arts world as a way of combating systemic barriers in the industry: a fellowship with acclaimed theater Woolly Mammoth for arts administrators which was announced in December 2020, and a Miranda fellows program at Telsey & Co. Casting Agency, the first class of which will be announced this winter.

The Changemaker Award honors artists who use film to forward social change.

Previous recipients include Eva Longoria Baston, Ashley Judd, Renée Zellweger, Christy Turlington Burns, Freida Pinto, Trudie Styler, Abigail Breslin, Harry Belafonte and Mia Farrow.

“I am especially honored to receive this award from GIFF, a non-profit that ‘bridges the worlds of art and philanthropy’—two areas I care about so deeply,” said Miranda in a statement. “I wouldn’t be where I am without the investment that arts educators have been putting into students for decades, often made possible only by the philanthropy of others. My family and I long ago made a commitment to continue that philanthropy, to open up more avenues for underrepresented artists, to diversify the field and allow far more people to be seen and heard. Thank you to GIFF for helping to continue to make that possible.”

GIFF, an all-female led non-profit organization that aims to use film to support social justice and philanthropic efforts, also announced that, instead of hosting a traditional week-long film festival, this year they will produce “GIFF: Uninterrupted,” a year-long programming format that will allow filmmakers to screen projects around other festival runs, premiere dates and press tours. GIFF will host an exclusive digital streaming platform for circumstances in which in-person events aren’t possible, and will continue to offer its best social impact film award, which includes a $10,000 cash prize. The award will be announced via virtual ceremony on April 27, 2022.

Miranda will be honored at the 2022 Changemaker Gala, which will be held May 25. Jenna Bush-Hager will emcee the event, which will take place at L’Escale in Greenwich, Conn.

Linda Yvette Chávez Signs Multi-Year Overall Deal with 20th Century Fox Television

Linda Yvette Chávez has a new deal…

The award-winning Latina screenwriter/producer and Gentefied co-creator has signed a multi-year overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television.

Linda Yvette ChávezChavez is expected to create her own dramas and comedies across all platforms, as well as supervise other writers’ projects.

“Just take one look at the creators Karey Burke, Carolyn Cassidy and how their teams are uplifting at 20th Television and you’ll quickly see a studio investing in a brighter future for representation in media,” Chávez said in a statement. “I’m thrilled that I get to be a part of this family and add this bold Xicana voice to 20th’s legendary canon of television. We’re about to make some bomb-ass shows together and showcase the gorgeous array of stories that exist in our BIPOC communities. With them as my champions I know there’s nothing we can’t achieve. Hollywood’s not ready!”

Chávez is co-creator, co-showrunner, director, and executive producer of Netflix’s Gentefied, a series that follows the lives of a multigenerational Mexican American family from East Los Angeles. Season 2 of the Peabody Award-nominated dramedy premiered on November 10. Both seasons are currently available to stream via Netflix.

“Linda is a tour de force writer with a spectacular voice and her series Gentefied is as hilarious as it is powerful, said Karey Burke, President, 20th Television. “She’s incredibly versatile and she shares our passion for fearless, inclusive storytelling—and on top of all that, she happens to be a fantastic person. Carolyn and I made it our mission to get her to this studio and we’re pinching ourselves she said yes.”

While producing Gentefied, Chávez adapted Erika L. Sanchez’s New York Times Best Selling novel, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter into a feature film for Anonymous. She also penned Eva Longoria’s directorial debut Flamin’ Hot, a film by Content and MACRO, about the life of Richard Montanez, the creator of Hot Cheetos.

Up next for Chávez, she’ll make her directorial debut with her feature film Fieras.

Lin-Manuel Miranda Among 300 BIPOC Artists to Sign Open Letter Demanding Change from the “White American Theater”

Lin-Manuel Mirandais addressing the “White American Theater.”

As protests and rallies against racial injustice and the killing of black lives continue throughout the world, the 40-year-old Puerto Rican composer, lyricist, singer, rapper, actor, producer, and playwright is bringing the theater world into the spotlight, to address systemic racism against black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC).

Lin-Manuel Miranda 

An open letter addressed to “White American Theater” and demanding change was published earlier this week. 

The letter was filled with ugly truths that those who’ve worked in the theater industry have experienced for decades. 

Among the 300 BIPOCs who signed the letter were Miranda,Viola DavisSandra OhUzo AdubaSterling K. BrownCynthia ErivoYahya Abdul-Mateen IIDanai GuriraAndre HollandConrad RicamoraTanya SarachoAnika Noni RoseJessica HagedornLeslie Odom Jr.,Katori Halland others.

The letter bluntly calls out the industry: “We see you. We have always seen you. We have watched you pretend not to see us.”

“We have watched you exploit us, shame us, diminish us, and exclude us. We see you. We have always seen you. And now you will see us.”

It continues to drag theater’s history of tokenism, white privilege, patriarchy, blatant racism, bias and hypocrisy: “We have watched you amplify our voices when we are heralded by the press, but refuse to defend our aesthetic when we are not, allowing our livelihoods to be destroyed by a monolithic and racist culture.”

“Join us in demanding change for BIPOC theater artists at http://weseeyouWAT.com. #WeSeeYou #TomorrowTherellBeMoreOfUs,” Miranda tweeted, sharing the letter and a petition with everyone.

The open letter comes as the protests following the killing of George Floyd and other black lives continue around the globe. It also comes when there seems to be a reckoning in all industries when it comes to racial inequality.