Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad Prods. and Indeed Partner to Debut 10 BIPOC Filmmakers at Tribeca Film Fest (EXCLUSIVE)

Angelique Jackson
·3-min read

Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad Productions and Indeed have teamed up to spotlight 10 Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) filmmaker teams, debuting each of their films at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.

Under the companies’ “Rising Voices” partnership, the filmmakers have been awarded a $100,000 production budget and crew (via Hillman Grad and 271 Films) to produce a 15-minute short film.

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“Whenever I talk to up and coming filmmakers they always tell me finding money is the biggest hurdle they face. That’s why I’m so grateful to Indeed: Rising Voices, for helping us give ten filmmakers both money to make their films and mentorship while they do it,” Waithe, Hillman Grad’s CEO, said in a statement announcing the selections.

“This is a great opportunity for these filmmakers, but it’s also a great opportunity for us,” Waithe continued. “We get a first look at tomorrow’s storytellers and we can’t wait to introduce them to the world.”

The Hillman Grad and Indeed partnership was announced in February, as the companies launched the “Rising Voices” initiative to award a total of $1 million in funding to the next generation of BIPOC storytellers and demonstrate “how the power of jobs change our world.” Executives from Hillman Grad Productions, Indeed, Ventureland and PRETTYBIRD filmmakers and program mentors Calmatic, Paul Hunter and Melina Matsoukas selected the 10 winning screenplays from over 850 applications.

The 10 selected filmmaker teams are:

Johnson Cheng
David Fortune
Stacy Pascal Gaspard
Deondray & Quincy LeNear Gossfield
Kantú Lentz
Boma Iluma
Gabriela Ortega
Dre Ryan
Elisee Junior St. Preux
Shelly Yo

In addition to the $100,000 production budget and dedicated line production crew, each filmmaker has been awarded a $10,000 writing fee and access to an additional $25,000 COVID budget to ensure the safety of the cast and crew. Indeed will offer at least one winning filmmaker an additional $75,000 budget to create new work for the company as a non-exclusive filmmaker-in-residence.

“We congratulate these talented filmmakers and look forward to seeing how they bring new voices to the story of the meaning of work,” Indeed CEO Chris Hyams said. “Collaborating with Lena Waithe and Hillman Grad Prods. to bring ‘Rising Voices’ to life creates a meaningful impact on these filmmakers, the actors and crews they hire, and the people who watch their films. At Indeed, we know that talent is universal, but opportunity is not. I am thrilled for these rising filmmakers to have their work premier at the renowned Tribeca Film Festival.”

Indeed Group VP LaFawn Davis said that the partnership “brings instant credibility to the Rising Voices Initiative,” adding, “We hope to get the community of BIPOC filmmakers excited about what we’re offering and how these amazing storytellers bring the impact of jobs to life.”

The Tribeca Festival announced Monday that it will return as an in-person event for 2021, with a 12-day outdoor celebration of movies and media. Tribeca organizers said the festival will work with the New York State Department of Health to ensure all public gatherings comply with COVID-19 safety protocols. Events will take place from June 9-20, with screenings and talks held across New York’s five boroughs.

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