Film Independent, the non-profit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards, Los Angeles Film Festival and Film Independent at LACMA, is pleased to announce the six directors selected for its 15th annual Directing Lab. The Lab is an intensive eight week program designed to support emerging independent film directors in prep on their feature films. As part of the Lab the directors also attend Film Independent’s Directors Close-Up series that offers a unique opportunity to hear directly from the best independent directors and their collaborators, as they explore specific aspects of their craft.

Film Independent also awarded the inaugural Ammon Foundation Fellowship for a Female Director to Philiane Phang who was accepted into the Lab with her project The Space BetweenThe Fellowship includes a $10,000 unrestricted cash grant. Film Independent Fellowships provide much needed financial support for filmmakers to use in development and production. Fellowship recipients must be selected to participate in a current Film Independent Lab to be considered to receive a Fellowship.

Directors Daniel Barnz, Catherine Hardwicke and James Ponsoldt are the 2015 Directing Lab Creative Advisors. Other industry advisors include leading directing teacher, Joan Scheckel, and casting director, Heidi Levitt. The primary focus of the Lab is on working with actors in the rehearsal process.  Under the guidance of the Creative Advisors, Directing Fellows select short scenes from their scripts to workshop and shoot. Film Independent provides Fellows with digital camera and lighting packages and small stipends to shoot their scenes, and offers access to experienced casting directors, cinematographers, and editors with whom to collaborate and consult. The process creates an opportunity to see the work through from pre- to post-production, and culminates in a group screening for the Advisors, Film Independent Staff and Fellows.

“This year’s Directing Lab Fellows embody diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision, the pillars of our mission at Film Independent. We are looking forward to nurturing these exceptional artists through the Lab and helping these vital stories become realized as extraordinary independent films,” said Jennifer Kushner, Director of Artist Development at Film Independent.

The Directing Lab is provided free to invited filmmakers, and upon completion they become Film Independent Fellows, receiving year-round support, including eligibility for grants and awards, access to Film Independent’s annual film education offerings and a pass to the Los Angeles Film Festival. Past Directing Lab Fellows include Ana Lily Amirpour who went on to direct the Spirit Award Nominated A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Sheldon Candis with LUV (2012 Sundance Film Festival), Cherien Dabis with Amreeka (2009 Sundance Film Festival, FIPRESCI Award Winner at 2009 Cannes Film Festival), and Robbie Pickering with Natural Selection (2012 Spirit Award Nominee for Best First Feature, Winner SXSW Grand Jury Prize, Audience Award). Past Film Independent Fellows and their projects can be found in The Time Warner Foundation funded Film Independent Talent Guide at

The Directing Lab is supported by lead funder The Time Warner Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Ammon Foundation.

The Directing Lab is one of Film Independent’s Artist Development Programs, which include a Documentary Lab in the spring, a Screenwriting Lab running late summer, and a Producing Lab running in the fall. For more information on any of the Labs or the projects that have been developed in them, please contact Angela Lee, Artist Development Manager, at 310.432.1262.  Additional information and an application form can be found at

The 2015 Directing Lab participants and their projects are:

Dara Ju: Anthony Onah – writer, director
A young Nigerian-American financier struggles with love, family, and a prescription drug dependency as his ambitions steer him down a criminal path.

Ghosts In The Graveyard: Kevin Parker Flynn – co-writer, director
Ghosts in the Graveyard is a coming-of-age film set in small town America told through the rotating first person point of view of seven 12/13-year-olds on a single night.

Nancy: Christina Choe – writer, director
A psychological drama about Nancy, a serial imposter who lives at home with her abusive, elderly mother. Desperate for love, she creates a fake blog and catfishes a lover, but her hoaxes cause epic and tragic consequences.

Norway: Sylvia Sether – writer, director, producer
A troubled young woman returns to Norway to say goodbye to her dying father, and in the process, finds deliverance through love and letting go.

The Space Between: Philiane Phang – writer, director
On her journey to becoming a professional bodybuilder, a woman is forced to confront her tragic past with her father when she unexpectedly falls in love.

The Time Capsule: Erwann Marshall – co-writer, director
In the near future, a jaded politician fresh off an electoral loss escapes with his controlling wife to the French beach home where he spent summers as a teen. Their vacation is disrupted by the appearance of his first love, who has just returned from a 20-year space voyage and hasn't aged a day.

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, 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