Film Independent, the non-profit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards and Los Angeles Film Festival, is pleased to announce the producers selected for its 14th annual Producing Lab. The 2014 Producing Lab is supported by lead funder Time Warner Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts. The four-week intensive program is designed to help filmmakers develop skills as creative independent producers. Producers participate with a feature length narrative project that they are in the process of producing. Through the lab, Fellows develop a strategy and action plan to bring their current projects to fruition. The lab also helps to further the careers of the Producing Fellows by introducing them to film professionals who can advise them on both the craft and business of independent producing. 

This year’s advisors and guest speakers include Ram Bergman, Lisa Bruce, Karin Chien, Eric d’Arbeloff, Lindsay Doran, Cathy Schulman, and Leslie Urdang.

Film Independent also awarded the 8th annual Sloan Producing Grant to producer Summer Shelton with the feature film project The Buried Life by Joan Schimke and Averie Storck. Shelton received a $30,000 production grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The grant was awarded on October 25, 2014 at the Film Independent Forum, presented by Indiewire. For the past eight years Film Independent and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation have joined forces to increase the public understanding of science and technology and to challenge stereotypes of scientists, engineers and mathematicians through compelling artist-driven films made by new, independent voices. Past recipients of Film Independent’s Alfred P. Sloan Grants include the Spirit Award nominated Valley of Saints, as well as two films currently in post-production, The Man Who Knew Infinity which stars Jeremy Irons and Dev Patel, and Basmati Blues, starring Donald Sutherland and Brie Larson.

“Creative independent producers are the unsung heroes of independent film. We are thrilled and honored to be able to nurture and support this exceptional group of filmmakers as they shepherd these bold, artful and risk-taking stories to the screen,” said Jennifer Kushner, Director of Artist Development. “We are grateful for our continued partnership with The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which enabled us to recognize the tremendous talent and dedication of producer Summer Shelton and her project, The Buried Life.”

“We are delighted to partner with Film Independent in supporting The Buried Life by Joan Schimke and Averie Storck as this year’s selection for the coveted Sloan Producing Grant,” said Doron Weber, Vice President of Programs at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “Four of the seven award-winning films from this program have been produced, with Basmati Blues and The Man Who Knew Infinity set for 2015 release. With the Sloan-supported The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything among this year’s early Awards contenders, science films are increasingly popular with audiences around the country and these exciting filmmakers are at the forefront of innovative storytelling.”

Filmmakers were chosen based on the strength of their submitted script, business plan, and creative vision. The Producing 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 and the Los Angeles Film Festival.

Recent projects developed through the Producing Lab include Joseph Wladyka’s Manos Sucias produced by Elena Greenlee and Márcia Nunes, which received the Best New Narrative Director Award at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival; Maryam Keshavarz’s Spirit Award nominated Circumstance, which was released theatrically in 2011 after premiering at the Sundance Film Festival; Aurora Guerrero’s Spirit Award nominated Mosquita y Mari, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival; Musa Syeed and Nicholas Bruckman’s Spirit Award nominated Valley of Saints, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival; Jenny Deller and Kristin Fairweather’s Future Weather, which premiered at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival; Suzi Yoonessi’s Dear Lemon Lima, which premiered at the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival; and Tina Mabry and Morgan Stiff’s Mississippi Dammed, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2009 Outfest Film Festival.

The 2014 Producing Lab filmmakers and projects are:

37: Mollye Asher - producer
Based on a true story set in 1964, Kew Gardens, Queens, 37 delves into the lives of three families who witness the murder of Kitty Genovese and do not intervene.

The Buried Life: Summer Shelton - producer
A kleptomaniac archaeologist embarks on the dig of her career, but when her dysfunctional family follows her to the excavation, she discovers her biggest challenge is facing what's above ground.

Commerce: Steven Berger - producer
In this psychological drama/thriller, a spiraling compulsion threatens to alienate a Los Angeles businessman, Ken, from his family, and leads to a chance meeting with a young gambler, Pete, who could save or destroy him, in the City of Commerce.

Dara Ju (“Better”): Justin Begnaud - producer
The son of a Nigerian ambassador grows up privileged, attends private schools, Harvard, and is recruited by a high-profile, competitive Wall Street institution. All seems picturesque until a pill addiction, an insider trading scandal and his father's infidelity all catch up to him and shatter his American dream.

Lord of Vinyl: Dennis Bartok - producer, Joanna Colbert - producer
The Lord Of Vinyl follows the bittersweet life and comic despair of a lonely 40-something Angeleno named Lennie Weisman, who is completely obsessed with jazz, and hides from the disappointment of the world inside the beauty of the music. Lennie unexpectedly finds himself exploring the possibility of new love with an unhappily married post office worker, and at the same time attempting a reconciliation with his estranged 11-year old daughter.

Operator: Felipe Dieppa - producer
Joe, a programmer and obsessive self-quantifier, risks losing his marriage when he models the personality for a digital voice on his wife, Emily.

Shale: Traci Carlson - producer
Sheila has been put down and controlled for the entirety of her 50-year marriage to John, a shale pit owner in the forests of Oregon. One night, she leaves John without a word. Having no skills to navigate the real world, Sheila becomes desperate and imposes on her granddaughter for food and shelter as she struggles to find work and overcome her past. Eventually, Sheila must return to John’s bleak shale pit to confront him and her greatest fears.

Slash: Brock Williams - producer
A teen’s online, erotic fan fiction leads him to discover truths about his own sexuality when his newfound notoriety forces him out into the real world. A world he may not be ready to enter.

About Film Independent
Film Independent is a 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 professional, or a film lover.

Film Independent produces the Spirit Awards, the annual celebration honoring artist-driven films and recognizing the finest achievements of American independent filmmakers. Film Independent also produces the Los Angeles Film Festival, showcasing the best of American and international cinema and the Film Independent at LACMA Film Series, a year-round, weekly program that offers unique cinematic experiences for the Los Angeles creative community and the general public.

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’s Artist Development program offers free Labs for selected writers, directors, producers and documentary filmmakers and presents year-round networking opportunities. Project Involve is Film Independent’s signature program dedicated to fostering the careers of talented filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry.  For more information or to become a member, visit

About The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
The New York based Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, founded in 1934, makes grants in science, technology, and economic performance. Sloan's program in Public Understanding of Science and Technology, directed by Doron Weber, supports books, radio, film, television, theater and new media to reach a wide, non-specialized audience.

Sloan's Film Program encourages filmmakers to create more realistic and compelling stories about science and technology and to challenge existing stereotypes about scientists and engineers in the popular imagination.  Over the past 15 years, Sloan has partnered with some of the top film schools in the country - including AFI, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, NYU, UCLA and USC - and established annual awards in screenwriting and film production, along with an annual best-of-the-best Student Grand Jury Prize administered by the Tribeca Film Institute. The Foundation also supports screenplay development programs at Sundance, Tribeca, the Hamptons International Film Festival, and Film Independent's Producing Lab and Fast Track program and has developed such film projects as Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, Rob Meyer's A Birder's Guide to Everything, Musa Syeed's Valley of Saints, and Andrew Bujalski's Computer Chess

The Foundation also has an active theater program and commissions over a dozen science plays each year from the Ensemble Studio Theater and Manhattan Theatre Club as well as supporting select productions across the country. Recent grants have supported Nick Payne’s Constellations, Nell Benjamin's The Explorer's Club, Sharr White's The Other Place, Lucas Hnath's Isaac's Eye, and Anna Ziegler's Photograph 51.

For more information about the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, please visit