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Women in Film, Los Angeles has announced the roster for its inaugural Emerging Producers Program.
The one-year course — open to women and nonbinary individuals who are early in their producing careers — offers master classes, mentorship, insight into the fundamentals of creative and physical production, the various tracks producers can take, and how to start an independent business. The group was selected by a jury of industry professionals, including veteran producers for the program that was most possible in part thanks to a grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, and eMinutes.
Program mentors include Warner Bros.’ Jenn Asaro, producer Chelsea Barnard (Booksmart), Nickelodeon and Awesomeness’ Yolanda Cochran, producer Linda Goldstein Knowlton (We Are the Radical Monarchs), Warner Bros.’ Niija Kuykendall, producer Monica Levinson (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm), producer Lyn Sisson-Talbert (Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey) and Catchlight Studios’ Jeanette Volturno.
Says WIF Director of Programs Maikiko James: “As we continue to make strides for gender parity in our industry, it’s critical to support underrepresented producers. This cohort represents extraordinary talent that we are committed to supporting in sustainable careers.”
The Emerging Producers Program participants are:
Apoorva Charan, who started her career at FremantleMedia Singapore as a digital producer, received her MFA in film from Columbia University. She’s produced more than 20 short films including Lonely Blue Night, which won the Audience Award at AFI Fest 2020, was an official selection at the Atlanta Film Festival, was a finalist for the HBO APA Visionaries award and is available to stream on HBO Max.
Lydia “Sue-Ellen” Chitunya, who hails from Zimbabwe, was selected as a Georgia State University “40 Under 40” honoree. She graduated from the UCLA Professional Producing Program and was inducted into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for her success as a short film producer.
Luz Agudelo Gipson, a Colombian native, attended Columbia College Chicago, where she received a BA in film and video. Her résumé includes several award-winning short films and commercials, notably the Obama for America 2008 presidential campaign, which received the Titanium and Integrated Lions Grand Prix award at Cannes.
Vanessa Haroutunian, who uses the pronouns they/she, identifies as a queer producer, artist and curator. Haroutunian received a BA in film and electronic arts from Bard College. Haroutunian recently produced the short film Flourish directed by Heather María Ács, which won Best LGBTQ Short at the Big Apple Film Festival, and has screened at various festivals including Oscar-qualifying HollyShorts, OutFest Fusion, NewFest, London Shorts and at BAM’s Programmers Notebook series.
Takara Joseph was born in the Virgin Islands and raised in Atlanta. She is a 2020 Film Independent Project Involve fellow and a Daytime Emmy-nominated producer and director of the 13-time Daytime Emmy-nominated series Giants, which premiered on Issa Rae’s YouTube channel.
Quan Lateef-Hill is a producer, filmmaker and creator developing and producing multiplatform content in television, film, digital, podcast, live event and experimental production. Throughout a 20-year career, Lateef-Hill’s award-winning body of work has included scripted and unscripted content and experiences with such companies as Viacom/BET/Vh1, Quibi, New York Times, Discovery, NBC, PBS, Bravo TV, Issa Rae Presents, Refinery29, Doc Society, Tool of America and others.
Sophie Luo is a producer and filmmaker. Her recent work includes campaigns and videos for TED’s Climate Countdown global initiative, Nike’s SNKRS app, a viral Desus and Mero collaboration with Timberland, and a collaboration with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Justice Democrats. Her short doc, Closing Annisa, follows acclaimed chef Anita Lo as she shutters her restaurant Annisa after 17 years. It screened at Athena Film Festival, Seattle Asian American Film Festival, Omaha Film Festival and Anchorage International Film Festival.
Alexandra Perez is a producer and production manager who has worked on content spanning television, film, digital and commercial platforms. She began her production career as a coordinator at Entertainment One before making her way to Blumhouse as manager of production for TV. She transitioned to freelance production on the Blumhouse/Hulu anthology series Into the Dark, where she served as production supervisor across two seasons.
Juliana Schatz Preston is a Colombian-American documentary film producer and director. Her directorial debut, Los Comandos, was shortlisted for the 2019 Academy Awards and was a nominee for the 2018 International Documentary Award. Her short film, Waiting for Terah, premiered at the Double Exposure Film Festival and was supported by ITVS, Frontline, Firelight Media, Type Investigations, and the Fund for Investigative Journalism.
More about the program can be found here.
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