Creator+ has announced their inaugural class of emerging filmmakers for its ‘Flip the Script’ Short Film Fund. Led by Head of Diversity & Impact Development and Production Ben O’Keefe (who also appears in the Netflix docu White Hot: The Rise and Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch), the program will champion, fully fund, market and distribute six short films from emerging BIPOC creators, writers, directors and producers annually.
Each of these filmmakers will be working alongside an advisory council of world-class creatives, producers, showrunners and industry change agents fighting for increased diversity and inclusion in Hollywood. Mentors include The Kennedy/Marshall Company with producing legend Frank Marshall and his Head of Production Development, Ashley Jay Sandberg; 6x NBA All-Star, investor, entrepreneur and co-founder of Mortal Media, Blake Griffin; Emmy-nominated actor Mj Rodriguez; Kyle Bowser, SVP, NAACP Hollywood Bureau; Producer & Director Lulu Wang; Actor & Activist Kendrick Sampson; Writer, Producer & Showrunner Elle Johnson; and TikTok executive Kudzi Chikumbu.
“Hollywood’s pipeline problem is a myth—and you only have to look as far as the talented BIPOC creatives who make up the first class of Flip the Script to see that,” said O’Keefe. “Last year, only 3 out of every 10 major films were directed by people of color. That is a result of a history of systemic exclusion and it will take Hollywood’s leaders continuing to invest in solving these problems to seed a more equitable and inclusive industry. Creator+ will not only fund breakout short films, but also a BIPOC filmmaker from our shorts program will have the opportunity to make a feature length film with Creator+ every year.”
Creator+ is an innovative studio and distribution platform, whose goal is to empower the next generation of diverse creators to make impactful films and expand their careers. The platform is creating opportunities for these historically excluded storytellers, while embracing projects that explore the full dimension of the BIPOC experience.With hundreds applying from across the country, Creator+ is determined to bring meaningful change, sustained action and investment to address the systemic bias and inequality that exists in Hollywood.
In addition to providing the budget, the company is actively supporting development, production and distribution. Advisors will award one filmmaker the life-changing opportunity to develop a feature film with Creator+. To add to that, Staff Me Up is enlisted as a partner to help rewrite the rules of hiring, as part of their Coded for Inclusion initiative.
Projects are currently in various stages of production with two already completed and several others beginning production May 2022 in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Pakistan. Creator+ will distribute the shorts at film festivals across the globe before premiering the shorts on its forthcoming platform or exploring additional distribution opportunities where applicable.
The inaugural class of emerging filmmakers include:
- Gianfranco Fernández-Ruiz (he/him), (Writer/ Director) (Los Angeles, CA)
- Logline: JEROME (mid-teens) struggles with feelings of inadequacy when the annual Fathers and Sons event forces him to confront the absence of his own father; and he deals with it the only way he knows how—basketball.
- Lynelle White (she/her), Writer/Director (Los Angeles, CA)
- Logline: HATCHBACK – Due to job losses in early 2020 caused by the pandemic, an African-American family of four is living out of their hatchback car until the next pay day arrives. The family dreams of just one night in a motel. But each passing day living unhoused and on the streets brings new disappointments, pushing that dream further and further out of reach.
- Imran Siddiquee (they/them), Filmmaker & Writer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
- Logline: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN US – An undocumented Bangladeshi immigrant starts to fall for a roommate she’s yet to meet — forming a connection that will test the limits of her romantic imagination.
- Ari Groobman (he/him/they), Writer/Director/Producer (Los Angeles, CA)
- Logline: ESSENTIALLY AMY – Amy is a young Chinese American girl working at her local grocery store during the height of the pandemic. Amy must confront growing racism towards Asian Americans, while at home, she must mitigate her mother’s expectations and personal bias towards Black Americans. After a brutal assault, Amy and her family must reevaluate their perceptions, and Amy must come to terms with who she really is and what she really wants.
- Mahnoor Euceph (she/her), Writer & Director (Los Angeles, CA) – Project will be filmed in Pakistan
- Logline: EID MUBARAK – A privileged six-year-old Pakistani girl embarks on a mission to save her beloved pet lamb from being eaten on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, only to learn the meaning of sacrifice.
- Vivian Johnson (she/her), Producer (Los Angeles, CA)
- Logline: BIENVENIDOS A LOS ANGELES – Inspired by true events, the film tells the timely story of Imani, a Tanzanian single-mother living in Los Angeles. When she offers to help a perfect stranger reunite with her son, Imani learns this simple act of kindness threatens to jeopardize her own path to citizenship.
The Creator+ Diversity and Impact Advisory Board selected projects with a purpose — those that seek to tell unique and underrepresented stories and prioritize diverse crews’ involvement in their production; and champion intersectionality by prioritizing creators across multiple identities within the BIPOC community, including gender, sexuality, socio-economic class, age, ability, etc. Eligible creators and filmmakers had to submit a script of their short film incorporating the theme “The Power of Community,” accompanied by a budget and schedule, resume & portfolio and a short introductory video about why they deserve this opportunity.