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2012 Sundance Institute Creative Prod Labs: “Bright As Day”, “Hellion”, “Joy of Living” and “Life Partners”

While not all films mentioned below are necessarily guaranteed future place among the Sundance Film Festival elite,  it’s certainly a step in the right direction for the filmmakers and more importantly the producers backing the future of independent film. Among the eleven project participants below selected for the annual Creative Producing Labs and Creative Producing Summit (July 30 – August 3) in the Feature Film category we find such names as future superstars in Summer Shelton (she worked with Ramin Bahrani) and receives the first ever Bingham Ray Creative Producing Fellow, Tory Lenosky (worked as an assistant to Jay Van Hoy and Lars Knudsen) and Lucas Joaquin (second unit producer for Beasts of the Southern Wild). Here is the full press release below.

The Feature Film Creative Producing Lab is a five-day Lab where narrative feature film producers work with an accomplished group of Creative Advisors to develop their creative instincts, communication and problem-solving skills in all stages of film production. This year’s Creative Advisors include producers Anne Carey (The American, Adventureland), Karin Chien (Circumstance, Exploding Girl), Lynette Howell (Terri, Blue Valentine) and Paul Mezey (Beasts of the Southern Wild, Sugar).

The Fellows and projects selected for the Feature Film Creative Producing Fellowship are:

Bright As Day
Mark Silverman Honorees & Producing Fellows: Lucas Joaquin & Tory Lenosky
Against the backdrop of the recent London riots, a disaffected teenager finds refuge from the adult world as she bonds with a run-down horse. (Writers/Directors: Eleanor Burke & Ron Eyal)

Tory Lenosky and Lucas Joaquin are New York-based producers who most recently worked together on Keep the Lights On with Lucas as Producer and Tory as Line Producer. Lucas served as the second unit Producer for Beasts of the Southern Wild and produced the acclaimed short film Last Address, which screened at the 2011 Venice Biennale and is now in the permanent collection at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Tory began her career as an assistant to Jay Van Hoy and Lars Knudsen at Parts and Labor and moved her way up the production ranks working on films such as Beginners, Here and Lovely Still.

Producing Fellow: Kelly Williams
In small-town Texas, when thirteen-year old Jacob’s delinquent behavior gets his brother taken away, he’ll go to extreme, destructive lengths to bring him home. (Writer/Director: Kat Candler)

Kelly Williams is an Austin-based producer and the Director of Programming at the Lone Star International Film Festival in Fort Worth, Texas. Kelly served as the Program Director of the Austin Film Festival for eight years where he programmed features and shorts, as well as overseeing the full scope of the festival’s programming. Kelly produced the short film Perils in Nude Modeling, which screened at over 100 festivals and was a Student Academy Award nominee and in 2011, he produced two feature films, Pictures of Superheroes and Cinema Six, as well as the short film Hellion, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

Joy of Living
Sheila C. Johnson Producing Fellow: Ashley Maynor
A lonely detective investigating a piano teacherʼs murder forges an unlikely friendship with one of the victim’s former students who has returned to the South to help solve the case. (Writer/Director: Paul Harrill)

Ashley Maynor is a Tennessee-based filmmaker and producer. She produced the ITVS co-production Quick Feet, Soft Hands, starring Greta Gerwig, and the forthcoming feature, Something, Anything, both written and directed by Paul Harrill. She frequently blogs at Self-Reliant Film (, a website that supports regional, DIY, and personal filmmaking. In June 2012, Maynor began work as a managing producer at Nest Features, a newly-launched company dedicated to producing films in the American South.

Life Partners
Steve Bing Producing Fellow: Jordana Mollick
A straight girl drunkenly promises her lesbian best friend she won’t get married until gay marriage is legal… a promise that gets awkward when her boyfriend proposes and her friend remains a slacker years away from even thinking about marriage. (Writers: Susanna Fogel & Joni Lefkowitz, Director: Susanna Fogel)

Jordana Mollick began her career in New York theater where she worked at the Endeavor Agency honing her skills in development. Jordana then went on to serve as the development executive for writers Brian Koppelman and David Levien (Rounders, Runaway Jury, Ocean’s 13). Upon moving to Los Angeles, she then formed her own management company Black Sheep Entertainment, which aims to develop a diverse slate of films and manage a carefully curated array of writers and directors. Under Black Sheep, Jordana created the annual Unscreened play series, which is where Life Partners was seeded. Life Partners was also a participant in the 2012 January Screenwriters Lab.

Untitled Amazon Project
Bingham Ray Producing Fellow: Summer Shelton
When a lumber conglomerate evicts their family, two brothers attempt to smuggle exotic lumber in hopes of selling it on the black market for money to buy their family new land, but what begins as a hopeful act turns into a journey more dangerous than they imagined. (Writer/Director: Alex Moratto)

Summer Shelton is a freelance producer born and raised in North Carolina who often works with critically acclaimed director Ramin Bahrani, having been the Associate Producer of his upcoming feature At Any Price (2012) starring Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron, Goodbye Solo (2008), an official selection of the Venice Film Festival that won the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize for Best Film, and Co-Producer of his short Plastic Bag (2009). She is the Co-Producer of Scott Coffey’s upcoming feature Adult World (2012) and has worked as a production manager and coordinator on various independent films.

The Documentary Film Creative Producing Lab is a five-day Lab where Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and Fund grantees are invited to work intensively with award-winning Creative Advisors to hone the craft of producing documentaries. The Lab includes workshops on financing, production and creative distribution for documentary films. This year’s Creative Advisors include Bonni Cohen (Producer, The Island President), Jess Search (CEO, BritDoc Foundation), publicist Nancy Willen (Acme PR) and sales agent Josh Braun (Submarine Entertainment).

The Fellows and projects selected for the Documentary Film Creative Producing Lab are:

Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield
Producing Fellows: Anthony Arnove and Brenda Coughlin
Reporting from the battlefields of the war on terror, journalist Jeremy Scahill investigates the wars waged by and against an empire, and constructs a global picture of asymmetric warfare today.

Anthony Arnove and Brenda Coughlin are co-founders of the non-profit media company Civic Bakery. They co-created and produced The People Speak with Howard Zinn, Chris Moore, Josh Brolin and Matt Damon, the documentary film companion to Howard Zinn’s bestselling book A People’s History of the United States.

Solarize This (working title)
Producing Fellow: Shalini Kantayya
In a city where oil spills, air quality red-alerts, and poverty are commonplace, Solarize This asks the hard questions of how a clean energy economy may actually be built, from the perspective of three unemployed American workers seeking to retool at a solar jobs training program in Richmond, California.

Brooklyn-based filmmaker and eco-activist Shalini Kantayya finished in the top 10 out of 12,000 filmmakers on Fox’s ON THE LOT, a show by Steven Spielberg in search of Hollywood’s next great director. Her work has screened at over forty festivals internationally.  Shalini received an MFA in Film Direction from the City College of New York, and a BA in Media Studies and International Human Rights from Hampshire College.

These Birds Walk
Producing Fellows: Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq
A portrait of contemporary Pakistan is created through the eyes of a runaway boy and an ambulance driver who call a dying humanitarian and his struggling organization home.

Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq’s articles and photographs have been published widely in National Geographic. The New York Times, Time Magazine and Democracy Now! These Birds Walk is their feature documentary debut.

The New Black
Producing Fellow: Yoruba Richen
The New Black is a documentary that uncovers the complicated and often combative histories of the African-American and LGBT civil-rights movements.

Yoruba Richen is a Harlem-born, Brooklyn-based documentary filmmaker. She has directed and produced films in the U.S. and abroad including Africa, South America and Southeast Asia. Her award–winning documentary Promised Land received a Diverse Voices Co-Production fund award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and premiered on the PBS program POV in July 2010.

Untitled Gay Retiree Project
Producing Fellow: PJ Raval
Three LGBTQ seniors navigate the adventures, challenges and surprises of life and love in their golden years.

Named one of Out Magazine’s “Out 100 2010” and Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 new faces of independent film 2006,” PJ Raval is an award winning filmmaker whose credits include TRINIDAD (Showtime, LOGO), The CHRISTEENE video collection (SXSW), and his current in progress documentary about LGBT seniors and retirees.

Who is Dayani Cristal?
Producing Fellow: Lucas Ochoa
The story of the quest to identify an anonymous body found in the Arizona desert whose only identifying feature is a tattoo reading ‘Dayani Cristal.’

UK-based producer Lucas Ochoa is Head of Film at Pulse. His first production at Pulse Films was 2010’s No Distance Left To Run which was theatrically released internationally and went on to be nominated for a Grammy. His first documentary feature, Shut Up And Play the Hits, premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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