EXCLUSIVE: The inclusive Bentonville Film Festival (BFF) was the perfect stage to launch Gemstone Studios’ inaugural Rising Storytellers Search, a competition seeking underrepresented female-led narratives. The competition was unveiled today during the fest which continues through August 16.
Gemstone, a boutique production unit of Sony Pictures Television, is teaming with Ideas United and Geena Davis’ BFF for Rising Storytellers. The competition invites aspiring storytellers to submit pitch videos of up to six minutes in length to compete for the chance to win a development deal with Gemstone Studios. The winner will also receive other prizes from Sony Electronics’ Imaging Division and other goodies.
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“As Sony Pictures Television’s indie production label, Gemstone Studios places an enormous value on undeniable storytelling representative of the diverse slate of creators that exist today,” said Marie Jacobson, EVP of Gemstone Studios. “Our Rising Storytellers Search is mining for the very voices audiences crave right now. We want to celebrate female-led stories and invest in breaking new talent at a time we need them most.”
“BFF serves as a platform for underrepresented storytellers and to have Sony Pictures make this announcement during our festival proves that our mission is being heard and supported,” said said BFF President of Programming Wendy Guerrero. “We are honored to have Sony Pictures join us and grateful that they are recognizing storytellers who are changing the narrative.”
The deadline to submit video submission is September 21. Four finalists will each be assigned a mentor from both Sony Pictures Television and Ideas United. They will be given resources required to elevate their pitch to a panel of judges. The esteemed panel of judges include Executive Producer Sonay Hoffman (For Life), writer/director/BFF Jury winner Diane Paragas (Sony Pictures’ Stage 6 Films’ Yellow Rose) and Executive Producer/Showrunner Esta Spalding (On Becoming a God in Central Florida).
In January, Deadline exclusively reported that Ray Ricord has joined Gemstone Studios as SVP of Development. The Sony TV label works with emerging and established writers and producers and focuses on non-traditional production models. The first project from Gemstone is Chris Kelly’s Salvation Road which Ricord co-developed with the Gemstone team at his prior home, Critical Content.
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