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Film Independent producers lab selection


Film Independent, the non-profit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards and Los Angeles Film Festival just wrapped its 10th annual Producers Lab earlier this week with 14 filmmakers and 9 projects participating. Sponsored by Technicolor and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the seven-week program took place in Los Angeles and was designed to help producers improve their craft, and move their current projects into production in a nurturing, yet challenging creative environment.
Film producers Ted Kroeber (American Gun, Splinter), Meg LeFauve (The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, The Baby Dance), and Ron Yerxa (The Switch, Little Children) were this year’s Lab Instructors and advised the selected filmmakers on the craft and business of producing. Lab advisors this year included: Effie T. Brown (Rocket Science), Cotty Chubb (Unthinkable), Scott Hamilton Kennedy (The Garden), In-Ah Lee (Yi Ye Taibel), Alix Madigan-Yorkin (Winter’s Bone), Michael Roiff (Waitress), Paula Schmit (Film Finances), and Robin Schorr (Peaceful Warrior).
Filmmakers were chosen based on the strength of their submitted script, business plan, and creative vision. The Producers Lab is provided free to accepted producers, and upon completion, they become Film Independent Fellows, receiving year-round support including access to Film Independent’s annual film educational offerings, on-staff Filmmaker Advisor, and the Los Angeles Film Festival.
Recent projects developed through the Lab include Suzi Yoonessi’s Dear Lemon Lima, which premiered at the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival; Morgan Stiff’s Mississippi Damned, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2009 Outfest Film Festival; Scott Prendergast’s Kabluey, which premiered at the 2007 Los Angeles Film Festival; Ted Kroeber’s American Gun, which was nominated for three Spirit Awards in 2007; So Yong Kim’s In Between Days, which was released by New Yorker Films in 2007; and Jessica Sanders’ After Innocence, which was short-listed for the 2006 Academy Awards.

The 2010 Producers Lab filmmakers and projects were:
1. Before You Say Goodbye – A popular high school cheerleader learns how to love when her former childhood friend, an ostracized “promise-ring” kid, falls ill.

Kevin Fitzmaurice Comer graduated from the University of Cincinnati with honors in electrical engineering. As a project manager for NASA, Comer designed, constructed and launched an experimental rocket. Upon moving to New York City, he embarked on his post-graduate studies in film at Brooklyn College. He founded Psychonaut Productions in 2002 in Los Angeles and produced the award-winning short film Parallel Passage, and was invited to participate in the inaugural Marché du Film Producer’s Network at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. A veteran of music video and commercial production, Comer has worked with some of the biggest commercial production houses such as RSA,, The Directors Bureau, Streetgang, Paranoid US, Cente Service, Day-O, Filmbug, Duroo, B2 Studios, Firefly, Humble, MTV, and Washington Square Films, amongst others. He has produced and line produced high caliber commercials, promos, music videos, and viral videos for clients such as BMW, Lexus, Hyundai, Honda, GM/Daewoo, Soft Bank (with Brad Pitt and Cameron Diaz), Shiseido, L’Oreal (with Eva Longoria), McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Disney (with Hillary Duff), Samsung, Zoosk and Google; music videos for U2, Green Day, Red Jump Suit Apparatus, The National, as well as F/X promos for The Riches, The Shield, Nip/Tuck and Sons of Anarchy. Comer is also the Head of Production at Evolution LA and oversees viral campaigns produced for studio films, including Bruno, I Love You Beth Cooper, Marley & Me, etc. Comer recently produced Tesla Popped my Cherry, a comedic short film by the McAllen brothers, currently in post-production. In 2009, he line-produced Sparks, a short film directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and written by Elmore Leonard, which premiered in competition at the Sundance Film Festival. In addition to Before You Say Goodbye, Comer has three features in development, and is currently in pre-production on a film based on John Patrick Shanley's celebrated play, Down and Out.

Lulu Brud moved to Los Angeles at the age of nineteen after realizing her degree in Theater from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill was not going to make a career happen and she needed real life experience. At the age of twenty, Brud launched a theater company, Little Bird Theater Company, which developed and produced the very popular and highly attended one-act festival called MIXTAPE. Her aim was to align herself with new writers and directors, creating a strong talent pool. In January of 2009, Brud bought the rights to an award winning play she starred in called F*cking Art. For the following year and a half, Brud worked closely with the writer, Bekah Brustetter, to develop a feature length version of the play that has now come to be known as Before You Say Goodbye. Brud has also starred in the horror film Cold Blood Canyon and had a small role in Gravedancers, along with many other shorts, independents and web-series. She is currently optioning new properties to develop more projects as she hopes to continue to act, produce, write, and direct for her entire life. She has studied extensively with Lesly Kahn, Marjorie Ballentine, Allen Barton at the Beverly Hills Playhouse, Judith Weston, Warner Loughlin and Nancy Banks. In 2011, Brud will star in the title roll of Tennessee Williams’ play "Baby Doll” on the Main Stage at the Elephant Theater.

2. Brute Force – The story of Apple Records’ notoriously irreverent recording artist, Stephen Friedland, aka Brute Force.

Andrew Fuller received a degree in Political Science from Colgate University in 2003, and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career the film business where he began working in feature development at Village Roadshow Pictures. Fuller went on to serve as entertainment adviser for The Bahamas Film Studio, where he liaised on deals such as Disney’s Pirates Of The Caribbean 2 & 3, in addition to consulting on localized tax incentives, soft money financing, and alternative insurance products serving as credit enhancing mechanisms both for single pictures and film slates budgeted up to $150 Million. In 2007, after heading up the creative division at a wireless start-up company, where he acquired numerous properties and produced short form, viral-driven animated and live action content, Fuller formed Razor Films ( Predicated upon the synthesis of classic Hollywood storytelling with the opportunities of a constantly changing industry and marketplace, the company focuses on making artistically appealing, yet commercially viable, independently financed feature films with breakout and award potential. Razor’s current slate of films in various stages of development and production include Brute Force, a music documentary, The Last Highway, a concert film and several novel adaptations.

3. Free Ride – Based on a true story, Free Ride is a captivating tale about a single mother and her two daughters trying to survive and make a life for themselves amidst the mother’s rise in the glamorous Florida drug trade in the late 1970’s.

Susan Dynner began her career at the age of fifteen as a band photographer when she started photographing bands such as The UK Subs, Minor Threat, Dead Kennedys, Black Flag as well as UB40, Psychedelic Furs, Squeeze and many more. Her photos have been published on album covers, in books, on t-shirts, and in magazines. After earning her degree at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dynner moved to Los Angeles, where she held various positions at Touchstone, Richard Donner Productions, and Wolfgang Petersen’s Radiant Productions. Later, she joined Charlie Sheen and Nick Cassavetes’ Ventura Films as VP of Creative Affairs, before leaving to join Steve Herzberg as a Producer and VP of Development/Production for Prairiefire Films, who had deals with Sony and AOL. In 2000, Dynner teamed up with producer Mark Mathis, and together they formed Stillwater Films. There, they produced the feature film Brick, which won the Special Jury Prize for Originality of Vision at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, and was released by Focus Features. Most recently, Dynner formed Aberration Films, and released Punk’s Not Dead, a documentary feature that she directed, produced and shot. The film, which premiered at the AFI SilverDocs Film Festival, has received much acclaim. Celebrated by critics from Variety to The Hollywood Reporter to the LA Times, it went on to screen at many more prestigious festivals, including Melbourne, Copenhagen, Buenos Aires, San Francisco, and AFI Dallas, before its theatrical run (32 US cities and worldwide distribution). Dynner just completed post-production on the feature documentary, Exxxit: Life After Porn (scheduled to be released in winter, 2010), and was recently hired to direct the narrative feature film, Blank Nation. Aberration Films currently has several other projects in various stages of development, including Free Ride, written and to be directed by Shana Sosin.

4. Half Truth – Two unlikely friends from the rural South – Donell, a black, teenaged outcast, and Johnny, a white, enigmatic runaway – form a tenuous bond as they escape their troubled pasts on a wild cross-country adventure.

Wade Gasque was chosen for Film Independent's 2009 Directors Lab and 2008 Screenwriters Lab with his feature screenplay, Half Truth. He’s a semifinalist for this year’s Nicholl Fellowship. In 2009, he was one of six finalists out of 2,000 entrants in the Netflix FIND Your Voice Competition. Film directing credits include the teaser trailer for Half Truth with SteakHaus Productions (Weather Girl, By Hook or By Crook) and the short film The Hardest Job in the Business with Marvin Acuna (The Great Buck Howard, Touched). Other directing credits include the 2006-7 season of City at Peace-LA, a non-profit that uses the performing arts to empower a diverse group of teens from across Los Angeles. As resident director for the stage musical, The Ohmies, he won Best Musical Play of 2006 by the Beverly Hills Outlook. He has directed The Ohmies at the Geffen Playhouse, The Skirball Cultural Center, and the Falcon Theatre, as well as a national tour in 2006. He was also co-director of The Ohmies Live on DVD produced by Herzog Cowen (Anchorman, HBO:First Look Series) in 2005. Gasque has directed numerous solo shows and short plays in Los Angeles and New York. He wrote/directed the full-length play, The Allegory of Golf, with a run at the Flatiron Playhouse in New York in 2002, and his short plays I Do Not Wish to See the Needle and The Sweater Issue won Buffalo's Maxim Mazumdar New Play Competition and the Cleveland New Works Festival, respectively. Before working as a stage and commercial actor for over 10 years, he received theatre scholarships to both Marymount Manhattan College and the College of Charleston and won the South Carolina Archibald Rutledge State Scholarship for Playwriting.

Dominic Ottersbach is a co-founder of Steakhaus Productions, an award-winning film production company dedicated to bringing bold, new visions to movie audiences everywhere. Dominic and co-founder Steak House have more than 20 combined years of experience in production management, line-producing and producing, with a specialty in physical production, and taking projects from paper to festival. Recent projects include Sunset Strip The Movie (in production), Secret Lives of Dorks for Steven J. Wolfe, and Chain Letter, The Hustle and Night Tales for Deon Taylor and Jamie Foxx (No Brainer Films). Previous production experience includes coordinating on The Matrix Reloaded/Revolutions and several Nickelodeon, Sony and WB cartoon series. Steakhaus Productions produced the indie favorite By Hook or By Crook, a Sundance premiere and five-time best feature winner. Their films have long enjoyed success on the festival circuit, including Los Angeles Film Festival, Tribeca, Outfest and four films at Sundance. Their popular documentary about passionate Dolly Parton fans, For the Love of Dolly, broadcasts on MTV’s Logo. Most recently, their indie romantic comedy, Weather Girl, premiered at Slamdance 2009 and sold to Screen Media, Regent and Lifetime. Their current film 6 Month Rule is in post-production and they are developing several other projects including: The Summer We Drowned, Half Truth, Dish and Skirt, which were invited to participate in the FIND labs, Fast Track and the Sundance Independent Producers Conference.

5. Hey, Hey Johnny! – When Will Kennedy finds a dead body outside his bedroom window, the search for the anonymous boy’s identity forces him to become a new man. As mystery unfurls, Will discovers what it means to be alive, what it means to be in love, and what it means to lose both.

Nicholas Citton is a writer/director/producer currently based in Los Angeles. He recently completed his studies at Columbia University’s Graduate Film Program. While in school, he co-created the comedy series, This Space for Rent, which was developed with the National Screen Institute of Canada and the Canadian Broadcasting Company. The show aired on CBC Television, and was nominated for numerous awards. This past year, Citton’s feature, That Burning Feeling, was selected for The Canadian Film Centre’s Comedy Lab and developed alongside Just for Laughs Canada. The project is currently in pre-production with Resonance Films. Nicolas has several television and film projects presently in development, including Lust for Life, another comedy series with CBC Television.

Jason James is an award-winning producer/director based in Vancouver, BC. He got his start as an associate producer on the TV drama Da Vinci’s Inquest, and went on to co-create his own comedy TV series for the CBC, This Space For Rent. Most recently, James produced Carl Bessai’s feature film Repeaters, which premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. Last year, he produced two critically acclaimed features with director Carl Bessai: Cole and Fathers & Sons . He also produced Unnatural & Accidental, which premiered at the MoMA in New York, played the 2006 Toronto and Vancouver International Film Festivals, and was released theatrically by Odeon Films in January 2007. James has several television and film projects presently in development, including Lust for Life, another comedy series with CBC Television, and That Burning Feeling, a feature with frequent collaborator, Nicolas Citton.

6. Poppies and Olives – Three women’s journeys collide in the Arab-Israeli port city of Jaffa. Layla investigates her Palestinian roots; Tali finds meaning in her art; and Ronit contemplates deserting the army.

Keren Michael’s first feature film, Ha’Meshotet (The Wanderer), premiered at the Directors Fortnight at Cannes in May 2010 and was nominated for Cannes’ prestigious Caméra d'Or. Michael began her film career as an assistant director and has worked extensively with the Israeli production company Movie Plus as well as with directors Amos Gitai and Joseph Cedar. In 2008, Michael co-founded The Mouth Agape, an Israeli independent film production company. Michael graduated from The Camera Obscura Film School in Tel Aviv.

Deb Shoval has received grant funding from The Sparkplug Foundation, The Fund for Wild Nature, The Fund for New Technologies and The Leeway Foundation for her work as a playwright/theater director. Shoval received a second Leeway grant to research and write her first feature screenplay, Poppies and Olives, which was chosen as an Emerging Narrative Script for the IFP Market. Shoval is currently completing her thesis work for an MFA in Film Directing at Columbia University, where she received a Columbia Women in Film (CWIF) Fellowship in 2009-2010. She was recently named one of the “Heeb Hundred,” Heeb Magazine’s “hundred people you need to know about.”

7. Saigon/24 – Life in contemporary Saigon as seen through the eyes of a group of young people living in Saigon/24, a dilapidated eastern block style apartment building with an unpredictable charm.

Elizabeth Ai was born in Nashville, grew up in Chicago and currently resides in Los Angeles. She studied at the University of Southern California and went on to work for New Line Cinema, Merv Griffin Entertainment, and the William Morris Agency, then founded an art-based non-profit group for LAUSD inner-city youth called Reaching to Embrace Arts. Since then, she has been writing and producing short films, music videos, reality web content, documentaries and narrative features. Dirty Hands: The Art & Crimes of David Choe, a documentary she produced, won the 2008 SDAFF Grand Jury and SFIAFF Special Jury Prize. In 2009 she worked with Stephane Gauger to produce a period feature film on French painter Paul Gauguin. A master thesis film she produced, Crown Prince of Heaven, premiered at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival and is a 2010 Weisman Award recipient. Elizabeth is a 2010 Film Independent Project:Involve and Producer’s Lab fellow and just finished Producing a hip-hop dance narrative feature in Vietnam on local street teens called Saigon/24 with writer/director Stephane Gauger.

8. Stem – A brilliant stem cell researcher goes to visit her sick mother in Scotland and discovers that it is not just cells that sometimes need to go back in order to go forward.

Matthew Medlin hails from rural Northern California, and moved from San Francisco to New York City in 2002 where he worked his way up the production ranks in the commercial and independent film scene. He has produced a myriad of creative projects, ranging from commercials and music videos to new media campaigns, to feature and short narrative films. In 2005, Medlin was the cofounder of a Brooklyn-based filmmaking collective entitled Radius 5 Films, and produced his first feature in 2006. Working closely with artist Doug Aitken in 2007 and 2008, he helped produce Sleepwalkers, a massive public art piece that was projected onto the exterior of the MoMA in New York City, and Migration which debuted at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh and showed at Sundance in 2009. After moving to Los Angeles in 2008, Medlin dived directly into independent films first with Obselidia, and more recently Losing Control (currently in post production). Additionally, he had a hand in the film Night Catches Us, which was in competition at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, and has several projects slated to begin production in the coming year.

Chris Byrne has worked in the American film industry for fifteen years as an actor, stuntman, military tech advisor, camera assistant/operator, director and producer in both independent and studio features. This followed a twelve-year stint in Special Forces in both British and US armies. Byrne’s broad range of onset experience gives him an invaluable, practical understanding of what is needed to make a successful film. He has worked closely with some of the greatest directors of our times – his credits (as an actor) include James Cameron’s Titanic, Costas Gavras’ Mad City, and John McTiernan’s Basic (for which he also provided military tech advice). His credits as a camera assistant include Luke Wilson’s Wendell Baker Story and Jeb Stuart’s Blood Done Sign Thy Name. Additionally, he has directed and produced his own award-winning WW2 short film The Table.

9. Valley of Saints – In beautiful, war-ravaged Kashmir, a poor boatman and a young scientist team up to save a forgotten casualty: the environment.

Nicholas Bruckman is a New York-based film and media producer and graduate of the New Media department at SUNY Purchase His thesis film on Kashmir earned him the Statewide University Chancellor’s Award. His directorial debut, La Americana, won 7 awards at over 30 international film festivals and was broadcast on various networks in the U.S., Europe and Asia. As part of the film’s outreach campaign, Bruckman spoke at leading institutions and universities on immigrant rights and immigration reform. Additional producer credits include Bronx Princess (POV 2009) and The New Recruits (PBS 2010). In addition to independent film, Bruckman produces corporate media projects around the world for Fortune 500 and nonprofit clients, in countries including Bolivia, Venezuela, Israel, Kuwait, the UK and India. He is an alumnus of the IFP Rough Cut Labs and Independent Film Week, and his work has been funded by numerous foundations including NYSCA, Cinereach, and The Fledgling Fund. Bruckman was recently named a 2010 Film Fellow by the New York Foundation for the Arts.

Film Independent is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts organization that champions independent film and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation, and uniqueness of vision. Film Independent helps filmmakers make their movies, builds an audience for their projects, and works to diversify the film industry. Film Independent’s Board of Directors, filmmakers, staff, and constituents, is comprised of an inclusive community of individuals across ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation. Anyone passionate about film can become a member, whether you are a filmmaker, industry leader, or a film lover.

With over 250 annual screenings and events, Film Independent provides access to a network of like-minded artists who are driving creativity in the film industry. Film Independent offers free Filmmaker Labs for selected writers, directors, and producers; provides cut-rate services for filmmakers; and presents year-round networking opportunities. Film Independent’s mentorship and job placement program, Project:Involve, pairs emerging culturally diverse filmmakers with film industry professionals.

Film Independent produces the Los Angeles Film Festival, celebrating the best of American and international cinema and the Spirit Awards, a celebration honoring films and filmmakers that embody independence and dare to challenge the status quo.

For more information or to become a member, visit

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