BALTIMORE, April 25, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Aspiring visual artists in Baltimore will have access to the expertise and connections of top filmmakers and executives through a new program launching at Johns Hopkins University.
The Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund in Film and Media Studies will create an incubator for budding filmmakers from Johns Hopkins and the Baltimore area, helping them to turn good ideas into viable projects. The fund aims to empower new Baltimore voices by connecting them with veteran artists, executives and entrepreneurs who can offer expert advice and invaluable networking to jumpstart work that will ultimately be developed and produced in Baltimore.
The fund has been launched through a $1 million grant from the Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation. Zaentz, who died in 2014, was a three-time Academy Award-winning producer whose work included One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, and The English Patient.
The incubator's inaugural class, chosen from more than 75 proposals, includes 18 projects from prospective filmmakers and visual artists. At a feature screenplay lab last week, an intense, four-day bootcamp in Baltimore, seven participants worked one-on-one with established artists to further develop their screenplays. Those artists included Zachary Sklar, Oscar nominee, JFK; Jeremy Pikser, Oscar nominee, Bulworth; Darnell Martin, Directors Guild of America nominee and Independent Spirit Award nominee, I Like It Like That; Martín Salinas, writer of the Oscar-nominated Gaby and the internationally-acclaimed Nicotina; and Diane Houslin, award-winning producer and Sundance Institute Fellow.
One film idea developed during the lab is a piece about the aftermath of police brutality set in a post-Freddie Gray Baltimore.
"We're trying to break down the industry's barriers so more people have access to the network of experts to bring their projects to life," said Roberto Busó-García, director of the fund and director of the university's Master of Arts in Film and Media program. "We're giving people with great stories, great ideas and great potential the resources they need."
An important requirement of the incubator is that all supported projects must be produced in Baltimore City, a factor the Zaentz foundation hopes will lead to the creation of sustainable jobs in the city. Anyone who lives in the Baltimore area can apply for support — including Johns Hopkins faculty, staff and students. Participants in the first screenplay lab were Evan Balkan, Harrison Demchick, Danielle Naassana, Matt Porterfield, Kat Lewis, Na Yung "Ellie" Park and Zack Schlosberg.
The 13 initial incubator participants who didn't participate in the feature screenplay lab will get one-on-one mentoring with established professionals. Everyone in the inaugural class will be eligible to apply for grants through the fund to help finance their projects.
"We seek to support artists who embody the uncompromising creativity of Mr. Zaentz through projects that will advance the art and craft of audiovisual media," says Busó-García. "Baltimore has countless stories that need to be told, and we aim to provide the groundwork to help its citizens use their voices to do so."
The gift establishing the incubator counts toward Rising to the Challenge: The Campaign for Johns Hopkins, an effort to raise $5 billion, primarily to support students, research and discovery, and interdisciplinary solutions to some of humanity's most important problems. The campaign, supporting both the university and Johns Hopkins Medicine, began in January 2010, was publicly launched in May 2013, and is targeted for completion in June 2018. So far, the campaign has raised $3.84 billion.
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SOURCE Johns Hopkins University