Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad Productions has continued its partnership with the popular job site Indeed. The companies created the Rising Voices initiative, whose inaugural “season” began in February, to invest in BIPOC filmmakers and storytellers around the singular theme of work, and the idea that jobs can change us all.

For Rising Voices Season Two, the program is providing $100K to 10 individual filmmakers from underrepresented communities to create a short film pertaining to the central theme. Indeed is tripling their Season One investment, providing $3 million for the continuation of the initiative as well as the addition of a filmmaker residency program featuring three of the Rising Voices Season 1 participants. 

“We are thrilled to be bringing back the Rising Voices program with our partners at Indeed,” said Waithe and Hillman Grad President, Rishi Rajani in a joint statement. “This year’s brilliant films and filmmakers proved that there are so many stories out there to tell and so many artists ready to tell them. Creating these opportunities for underrepresented voices and kickstarting their careers is fundamental to our mission here at Hillman Grad. We are grateful to Indeed for their trust in us as we continue to grow this initiative. 100k per film. 10 films. Year 2 applications are open now!”

The creative call for filmmakers begins today with the final ten being selected by February 2022. The films created by participants will debut at the Tribeca Festival in 2022. Along with the opportunity to create their short films, the filmmakers will be awarded a $10,000 writing fee, will have access to a production line crew, and will be mentored by a variety of professionals including Lena Waithe.

This increased investment by Indeed will include two programs:

  • Rising Voices Season 2: Indeed and Hillman Grad Productions are reprising their creative call to filmmakers to share stories around the meaning of work and how connecting all people to opportunity leads to better lives. This creative call kicks off today, with 10 filmmakers being selected by early February 2022. Each filmmaker will be given a production budget of $100,000 each, for a total of $1 million, to create a short film (under 15 minutes). Their films will debut at the Tribeca Festival in 2022. In addition, the selected filmmakers will be mentored by a variety of filmmakers including Lena Waithe, will be awarded a $10,000 writing fee and will have access to a production line crew.
  • Production and Development Lab: Indeed and Hillman Grad have launched the Production and Development Lab (“The Lab”), a 12-month non-exclusive residency program featuring three of the Rising Voices 1 filmmakers: Chinese American filmmaker Johnson Cheng, Haitian filmmaker Stacy Pascal Gaspard and Dominican- born filmmaker Gabriela Ortega. Following Indeed’s incubator program, which operates to fund new product ideas internally, Hillman Grad will work with the filmmakers to develop ideas and create content for Indeed.  A $2 million production budget from Indeed has been allocated to The Lab, and Hillman Grad will provide production support. Each filmmaker is awarded $100,000 for their role as filmmaker in residence.

Rising Voices originally launched in February of 2021 and was highly successful with over 800 filmmakers applying for the opportunity to be a part of the program and more than 650 jobs created throughout the process. The finalists’ films debuted at a festival this past June.  Other achievements from the first season’s finalists include:

  • David Fortune is in development for a docu-series and a follow up to his Rising Voices short film Shoebox
  • Deondray and Quincy LeNear Gossfield’s Rising Voices film Flame won two awards: First Runner Up for Best Local Short Film and a win for Excellence in Cinematography at the Out Film Festival in Atlanta.
  • Boma Iluma’s Rising Voices film “Comfort” has been selected as a Young Guns 19 Finalist, and he is directing part of an upcoming feature The Seven Faces of Jane
  • Kantú Lentz’s Rising Voices film Coche Bomba was screened at the Austin Film Festival
  • Gabriela Ortega was accepted into the Sundance Art of Practice fellowship and is turning her Rising Voices film Huella into a feature film
  • Elisee Junior St. Preux’s film Aurinko in Adagio from Rising Voices was screened at the Urbanworld Film Festival
  • Shelly Yo’s Rising Voices film Soft Sounds of Peeling Fruit screened at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and the Seattle Asian American Film Festival.

Filmmakers interested in participating should  click here and submit their screenplays highlighting how jobs can change the world by January 4, 2022.