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Hollywood executives and aspiring filmmakers alike gathered at James and Kathryn Murdoch’s private Beverly Hills residence to celebrate the industry figures ushering in a new generation of voices.
The honorees for the Ghetto Film School’s Thursday night gala included playwright Sarah Jones, Universal chairman Jeff Shell and Black Bicycle Entertainment chief Erika Olde. Though the evening’s three honorees each had their own personal connections to the film-focused nonprofit, they all shared what makes their involvement worth it: nurturing the filmmakers of the future.
“Whatever we do is for them,” Olde told The Hollywood Reporter. “I’m doing something that will benefit everyone that comes after me as well, hopefully making differences and changes that will sustain through to their time in the industry.”
The Ghetto Film School, founded by Joe Hall in 2000, seeks to provide aspiring filmmakers with the resources and opportunities to hone their crafts, including thesis funds and lessons from the likes of J.J. Abrams, Barry Jenkins and Spike Lee.
Olde received recognition for her collaboration with GFS, which includes providing grants for the nonprofit’s alumni to complete their thesis films abroad. On Thursday night, the Black Bicycle exec announced that this year’s GFS-selected filmmakers will have the chance to finish their projects in South Korea.
“Being able to help people along and help them achieve what they want to…to me that’s the honor — being part of their vision and go along with them on that journey,” Olde said.
Shell shared that though Universal as a company has pushed for more diversity in all levels of the business, he noticed that it was difficult to find filmmakers of different backgrounds without a properly established pipeline. He said that it was necessary to reach out and explore different programs and schools that champion diversity to meet that need, GFS being one of them.
“(Their mission) is completely in the fabric of what we do,” he told THR. “This organization is making real change in the movie business and that’s having an affect all around the world.”
Jones, who said she shares New York-based origins with GFS, said that the school’s commitment to uplifting young filmmakers from traditionally marginalized communities gives her hope for the future of the industry.
Giving these aspiring filmmakers the tools and opportunities to express themselves and share stories that best represent them, Jones said, can answer the question: “What kind of world do we want to live in?”
“I think in the times we’re all experiencing, that question feels more urgent than ever,” Jones told THR. “I do think that talented filmmakers who are paying attention to the voices at the margins, those are some of the ways we’re going to course correct as a culture. It’s not just our politics, it’s our culture.”
Rashida Jones, NBCUniversal’s Ron Meyer, Peter Cramer, Colleen Camp and Carmen Cuba were among those in attendance at the Murdoch-hosted event.
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