ABOVE: Lena Waithe
On Thursday, November 7, 2019, the AT&T Filmmaker Mentorship Program in conjunction with Lena Waithe and her producing partner, Rishi Rajani, rolled out the red carpet to celebrate a new crop of talented filmmakers, writers and directors, the third graduating class of this elite program.
The event premiered five short films written and directed by 10 of the program’s mentees at Hollywood’s NeueHouse. “Spilt Milk,” starring Dascha Polanco and Manny Sandoval, directed by Cierra Glaude and written by Mechi Parada. “Postmarked,” starring Jaylin Fletcher and Quei Tann, directed by Malakai and written by Angela Wong Carbone. “Adeline The Great,” starring Dylan Chloe Dash, Rileigh McDonald, directed by Jessica Mendez and written by Jasmine Johnson. “Fragile.com” starring Ruby Wolf and Carly Stewart, directed by Alison-Eve Hammersley and written by Brittany Menjivar. And last, but certainly not least, “1:30” starring Fareeha Khan, directed by Vishnu Vallabhaneni and written by Malik Aziz.
Under Waithe’s creative direction and production, the collection of work presented for the 2019 mentees followed the theme of “growing pains.” The program launched with a three-week screenplay competition where over 2,300 scripts were submitted. The top 5 were chosen and developed into production. The top five are amazing and each of the final short films has an enticing story and left the premiere audience wanting more. The mentees spent three months creating under Lena’s direct guidance and each captured their stories with such diverse vision and empathy that every member of the audience could relate to at least one of the stories being told.
The AT&T Filmmakers Mentorship Program was founded in 2017 and aims to discover, develop, inspire and empower emerging filmmakers from underrepresented communities. Since its inception, this program has produced and launched 15 films from 20 mentees and has had seven celebrity mentors; including Common, Octavia Spencer, Cary Fukanaga, Desiree Akhavan, Taika Waititi and Rick Famuyiwa. The AT&T Filmmaker Mentorship Program has also provided over 1,000 hours of mentorship and has created over 750 jobs for new filmmakers.
This is the first year that the program was also a part of a docu-series called, “The New Creative Class With Lena Waithe,” which followed the entire mentor/mentee process from start to finish. The docu-series is available on YouTube and allows anyone that is interested in the creative process a bird’s eye view of what it takes to make a film.
All five of these short films debuted on the AT&T Hello Lab YouTube channel, on Friday, November 8, 2019; and will also debut on DirecTV and AT&T TV Now on Tuesday, December 10. In addition, these 5 shorts will be running in select theaters in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
To learn more and to watch the films, visit www.att-hellolab.com/the-mentorship-program-year-three/