Film Independent Unveils 2019 Producing Lab Fellows


Film Independent has announced the seven producers who been chosen for its 19th annual Producing Lab. The fellows will participate in a program set up to help develop their skills and further their careers by pairing them with film professionals who can advise on both the craft and business of independent producing.

Among the 2019 participants are include Camila Zavala, who also won the $30,000 Sloan Producers Grant to further develop her film, Malpelo, and Lebanese filmmaker Myriam Sassine, who is the recipient of the Global Media Makers Fellowship, an exchange program sponsored through a partnership between Film Independent, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational, and Cultural Affairs.

This year’s industry advisors include Lauren Craniotes (Gersh), Greta Fuentes (MACRO), Lauren Mann (Swiss Army Man), Valerie Stadler (Big Swing Productions) and Solome Williams (Bron Studios). In addition, mentors and guest speakers in the program include Rebecca Green (It Follows), Laura Kim (Participant Media), Amanda Marshall (Swiss Army Man), Dani Melia (The Farewell), Sheila Hanahan Taylor (Final Destination) and Tristen Tuckfield (30 West).

Previous projects developed through the Producing Lab include Tayarisha Poe’s Sundance film Selah and the Spades, produced by Lauren McBride and acquired by Amazon, as well as Chloé Zhao’s Spirit Award-nominated Songs My Brothers Taught Me, produced by Angela C. Lee and Mollye Asher.

Below is the list of Producing Lab participants and their projects:

Title: Bolichicos
Producer: Diego Najera
Logline: In 2006 Venezuela, a privileged 20-year-old recruits the maid’s strait-laced son to carry out a currency exchange scam that exploits the country’s poorest citizens but inadvertently ends up turning brother against brother.

Title: Costa Brava, Lebanon
Producer: Myriam Sassine
Logline: The Badri family lives in the Lebanese mountains away from the country’s pollution until the government decides to build a landfill right outside their house.

Title: Farewell Amor
Producer: Huriyyah Muhammad
Logline: After 17 years apart, Angolan immigrant Walter is joined in the U.S. by his wife and teen daughter. Now absolute strangers sharing a one bedroom Brooklyn apartment, they struggle to overcome the emotional distance between them, relying on the muscle memory of dance to rediscover one another.

Title: The Inspection
Producers: Chester Gordon and Valerie Steinberg
Logline: In the age of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” homeless youth Ellis French joins the Marine Corps in a last-ditch attempt to change his life but must conceal his attraction for his drill instructor in order to survive bootcamp.

Title: I Was a Simple Man
Producer: Sarah S. Kim
Logline: The ghosts of the past haunt the countryside in this tale of a Hawai‘i family facing the imminent death of their eldest.

Title: Malpelo
Producer: Camila Zavala
Logline: Mia, a solitary freediver, is recruited by someone from her past to take the treacherous journey to Malpelo, a remote island in Colombia, in order to investigate the troubling disappearance of hammerhead sharks. To do so, she will have to reconcile with her past and navigate the dangerous waters of the Pacific Ocean, trapped on a boat with an all-male crew. They prove to be just as slippery as the predators she’s studying.

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