There is a new fellowship for Black artists looking to launch their filmmaking careers, courtesy of Film Independent.
The Amplifier Fellowship awards each Fellow a $30,000 unrestricted cash grant as well as a year’s worth of professional and financial coaching and mentorship with an executive from Netflix, which has come on board as the founding sponsor.
Amplifier’s six inaugural Fellows, who began the program in March, hear monthly from guest speakers on the craft and business of the film industry. They also have regular one-on-one meetings with a number of key advisors: biweekly with each Fellow’s own professional business coach from The Renee Freedman Co., quarterly with their own Netflix industry advisor and several sessions throughout with financial and business consultant Jill James.
“The six inaugural Fellows transcend form, medium and genre but all share immense artistry, a wholly original voice and desire to create change through their work,” Film Independent associate director of artist development Angela C. Lee said in a statement. “We are thrilled to support this incredibly talented group of storytellers.”
Read about the 2021 Amplifier Fellows and their projects below.
Elegance Bratton, Writer/Director
Elegance began making films as a U.S. Marine after a decade spent homeless. Today, he holds a BS from Columbia University (2014) and MFA from NYU Tisch Graduate Film (2019). He wrote and will direct the feature, The Inspection, which is being produced by Gamechanger and A24. The film was selected as a part Film Independent Producing Lab and Fast Track (2019). He is the creator and executive producer of the Viceland television series My House. Pier Kids, his feature documentary debut, has played at 50 film festivals worldwide, won many awards, and will be a part of POV 2021 series. Elegance is the 2021 recipient of the Film Independent Truer Than Fiction Spirit Award.
Walk for Me
Logline: Walk for Me is a reverse coming out narrative about Hanna, a black trans woman who after becoming a legendary voguer in the ballroom scene realizes that she is actually not a woman or even really a man and must come out and risk losing her chosen house family.
Contessa Gayles, Director
Contessa is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist and Emmy-nominated producer. She tells stories about identity, movement and social change, with a focus on race and gender.
Life + Life
Logline: An incarcerated musician struggles for healing and peace as he comes of age in this documentary-musical odyssey composed behind bars.
Haley Elizabeth Anderson, Director
Haley Elizabeth Anderson is a filmmaker, writer and photo-based visual artist from Houston, Texas. She recently graduated from New York University’s Graduate Film Program as a Dean’s Fellow. Her work often explores coming-of-age experiences, race, and the ever-growing class divide often in a documentary/narrative hybrid aesthetic.
Logline: Homeless and wandering the streets of New Orleans, 18-year-old Trey searches for his older brother Marcus, a graffiti writer, and leaves on a train-hopping journey across America to find him. Coyote Boys is a contemporary odyssey through fringe communities, centered on rootless youth experiencing loss and loneliness—trying to find alternative ways of surviving 21st century America.
Huriyyah Muhammad, Producer/Director
Huriyyah is the producer of the critically acclaimed feature film Farewell Amor which premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival in U.S. Dramatic Competition and was released in 2020 by IFC Films. She is also an award-winning writer, director and producer whose projects have been invited to the Sundance Film Festival, AFI FEST, Tribeca Film Institute, Austin Film Festival, London Film Festival, New Voices in Black Cinema, American Black Film Festival and many others. She is also recipient of the 2020 Sundance Institute Creative Producing Award for Farewell Amor.
Logline: A biographical drama set in 1968 of comedian Lincoln Perry aka Stepin Fetchit, former Hollywood millionaire, now aging, bankrupt and “canceled” by the civil rights movement. Lincoln struggles to reclaim his legacy and reconcile his place in the changing racial landscape of America by landing a starring role opposite Flip Wilson in the TV hit that would years later become known as Sanford and Son.
Mamoudou N’Diaye, Writer
Mamoudou N’Diaye is a Brooklyn-based Mauritanian-American comedian, TV and film writer, filmmaker, activist/creative consultant for issues of racial justice, climate justice and mental health as well as a DJ and a former seventh-grade teacher.
Logline: When invoice after invoice goes unanswered putting everyone in various financial binds, a group of four freelancing friends decide to take matters into their own hands; plan a heist, get their money by any means possible, and don’t get killed. Along the way, they stumble onto a union-busting billionaire’s nefarious plans for not only them but all of Brooklyn, forcing them to come together with whatever cobbled together skills they have and make a stand; perhaps their final.
Mel Jones, Producer/Director
Mel Jones is a multi-talented producer, director and writer. Her credits include Justin Simien’s Dear White People and Gerard McMurray’s Burning Sands. Jones made her directorial debut at Sundance with “Leimert Park,” a MACRO/Homegrown digital series and is currently expanding into TV and film directing and she directed a pilot for BET and Issa Rae’s company Color Creative.
Logline: A modern romance about two relationships, but only one couple. Damien (29) and Sam (27) broke up 11 months ago but have agreed to go on a second “first” date. Cutting between their two relationships – the one we hope for in the present, and the one that failed in the past.