Reel Works And Jigsaw Productions Partner For Hands-On Training And Mentorship For Young Filmmakers

Reel Works/Jigsaw Productions
(L-R) Aissatou Bah, Natalie Evans and A.B. Wilson Jigsaw

Reel Works has announced a first-time partnership with their MediaMKRS workforce development program and documentary film/TV production company Jigsaw Productions, helmed by Academy Award®-winning documentarian Alex Gibney. 

“I am thrilled to be working together with Reel Works on this vital mentorship program,” said Gibney. “This inaugural cohort of budding filmmakers bring such unique perspectives to the table, and in welcoming them and their creativity to the team, we hope our talent can help fine tune their skills to create pathways to long term career success.”

The Brooklyn-based organization matches teens with professional filmmaker-mentors, and the “Career Accelerator Program” is a new initiative aimed to provide young adults interested in exploring film and television development and production with mentorship, career awareness, and hands-on experience. Reel Works’ MediaMKRS program, started in partnership with the New York City Mayor’s Office for Media and Entertainment (MOME) and the City University of New York (CUNY), trains and credentials young filmmakers in an effort to diversify the media landscape and create equitable solutions to barriers to entry into the entertainment industry. 

The program will offer six selected participants 1:1 work experience with industry professionals at Jigsaw Productions who will be paired with mentees based on a mutual career path of interest and expertise. During the four month program, mentee participants will have an opportunity to identify a specific project to develop that will enhance their skills in the industry, and will be introduced to a network of staff members and key professionals in the documentary film industry at Jigsaw Productions who will help further support their goals and objectives.

“We are excited to kickstart this partnership with Alex Gibney and Jigsaw Productions to help further support our students’ professional aspirations within the filmmaking space,” said Reel Works Co-Founder and Executive Director John Williams. “Our MediaMKRS program provides students with learning opportunities beyond the traditional classroom environment, and we are confident that this individualized, hands-on training alongside industry-leading documentarians will prove to be invaluable to their early career development.” 

Mentees will be recruited for two cohorts for the 2021-2022 school year. Candidates had their choice to pursue one of three tracks within different departments at Jigsaw Productions for the Fall 2021 cycle: Development, Producing, or Graphics and Animation. The below three participants were selected for the first cohort of the academic year which began on October 26th and will run through March of 2022:

Aissatou Bah (she/her) — Development Aissatou is a graduate of Hunter College of the City University of New York with a longtime admiration for Jigsaw Productions. She is bringing her love for documentaries to the Development track to learn more about what goes into the initial stages in the filmmaking process. 

Natalie Evans (she/her) — Producing Natalie is a Hofstra University graduate working on the Producing track to build on her passion for storytelling and experience in freelance production. 

A.B. Wilson (she/her) — Graphics and Animation A.B. is an alumni of The Made in New York Animation Project. As a 3D artist, she was placed on the Graphics and Animation track to put her experience to work and expand her existing skill sets. 

In order to create a workforce as diverse as the communities they serve, Reel Works will have a focus on recruiting BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), those who identify as LGBTQIA+, women and non-binary people, people living with disabilities, and others with lived experience being part of marginalized communities. The Career Accelerator Program will aim to prepare participants for employment within the industry within the first six months of program completion.

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