Fellows selected for Third Annual Native American Feature Film Writers Lab

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Sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal, The Walt Disney Studios, California Community Foundation, Topple, Cherokee Nation Film Office, and Sony Pictures Entertainment

News Release

LA Skins Fest

The LA Skins Fest, a Native American film festival, in partnership with Comcast NBCUniversal, The Walt Disney Studios, Topple, Cherokee Nation Film Office and Sony Pictures Entertainment announced today they have selected 7 fellows for the 3rd Annual Native American Feature Film Writers Lab, a talent development program that aims to boost the careers of Native American writers.

Now entering its third year, the Native American Feature Film Writers Lab is an annual program for talented and aspiring screenwriters. Over the course of 10 weeks, chosen fellows develop a new screenplay, meet with partner industry organizations and receive feedback on their scripts from industry professionals.

“As the call for diverse voices increases, the Barcid Foundation seeks to develop and bolster our communities best and brightest,” Ian Skorodin, Barcid Foundation Chief Executive Officer noted. “Our aim is to provide unique, groundbreaking and forward-thinking programs, such as the Feature Film Writers Lab, to make this a reality.”

The Native American Feature Film Writers Lab received numerous applicants from several tribes throughout North America. The chosen fellows will take part in a ten-week curriculum curated by seasoned writing executives. The lab will consist of daily workshops, seminars and one-on-one mentoring to help each writer develop and complete a screenplay in ten weeks and hone skills to prepare the participants for studio writing opportunities. At the end of the program, each participant will have completed an original screenplay and will take creative meetings with our corporate partners.

The Native American Feature Film Writers Lab was created to expand the number of Native Americans working behind the camera to increase fair and accurate portrayals of Native Americans in film. According to the Writers Guild of America’s 2020 Inclusion Report, “of more than 2,000 screenwriters employed in 2019, only 27% were women and just 20% were people of color…Native/Indigenous screenwriters having almost no representation at all.”

“Our mission at Topple is lifting up marginalized voices and using the power of storytelling to ignite an intersectional revolution. It is our honor to partner with the LA Skins Fest and have the chance to work with these talented writers to bring their voices to the table.” Stated artist and activist Joey Soloway.

2020 Native American Feature Writers Lab graphic
2020 Native American Feature Writers Lab graphic(Image: courtesy LA Skins Fest)

The 7 fellows of the 2020 Native American Feature Film Writers Lab are:

Morningstar Angeline (Chippewa Cree/Blackfeet)

MorningStar Angeline began acting in theatre as a child and continued studying acting and writing throughout college. Behind the camera, she has worked in camera, casting, and locations departments and has received awards from the American Indian Film Festival, Institute of American Indian Arts, New Mexico Film, and TV Hall of Fame. She is a 2018 Sundance Indigenous Lab Fellow for her directorial and writing debut, Yá’át’ééh Abiní. Most recently Morningstar assisted director Zack Snyder on Army of the Dead and is a 2020 Vision Maker Media Shorts Fellow for her co-written script Innocence.

Chris Jenkins (Cherokee)

Chris Jenkins is a former educator and bartender from Evergreen, Colorado. His writing has appeared in Eclectica, Burnt Pine Magazine, Word Riot, and Inland. He has edited numerous magazines including Word Riot. He has also written two academic books, published in several academic journals, and written for several newspapers. He has a Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University, a master’s from the University of Oklahoma, and a Bachelor’s in English from Northeastern State University. He has now shifted his focus from academia to creative works and aspires to write and direct.

Randi LeClair (Pawnee Nation)

Randi LeClair graduated from Oklahoma State University with a BA in English and a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Oklahoma. She received two Sundance Institute fellowships in 2010 and 2015, one for screenwriting and the other for film production. Her short film, Rariihuuru, aka The Letter, about Pawnee baseball player Moses YellowHorse, premiered at the Native Crossroads Film Festival and Symposium at the University of Oklahoma in 2017. In addition, her short film, Bridge, premiered at the Tulsa American Film Festival. More recently, her short script, The Circle of Chawce, placed in numerous screenplay competitions, including, WeScreenplay Shorts, Screencraft Shorts, and Simply Indie Film Fest.

Cara Jade Myers (Kiowa/Wichita)

Cara Jade Myers is a Native American writer living in Los Angeles, CA. In 2019 she was a fellow in the 4th Annual Native American TV Writers Lab where she developed a TV pilot from pitch to 3rd draft. That same year, she was a semi-finalist in the ABC/Disney writers’ program. In early 2020 Cara was among 12 selected as part of A3 Artists Agency’s program The Colony. She has created multiple shorts, TV pilots, and guest blogs. Her novel is currently in the editing phase. Cara’s favorite things to write are strong-female driven casts, especially in the realm of paranormal or sci-fi.

Scott Pewenofkit (Kiowa)

Writer/Director Scott Pewenofkit is a member of the Kiowa tribe of Oklahoma. In 2015 he graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in Film. In 2018 he earned his M.A. in Media Studies from The New School, after which he made three very personal short films touching on themes of memory and culture. His work so far has played at festivals around the U.S. Scott currently lives in San Antonio, TX with his two young sons, where he teaches video production at a local art school.

Cole Randall (Muskogee Creek)

Cole discovered a love for writing after watching the performance of a one-act play he wrote in high school. He followed his passion to Emerson College where he recently graduated with honors, earning a BFA in Comedic Arts. While attending Emerson, he had the wonderful opportunity to write a feature script, a pilot, a spec script, a web series, another one-act, and he even co-wrote a sketch for Emerson alumnus Norman Lear. In 2018 he was hired to be the co-head writer of Emerson’s first multi-camera sitcom, “707: A Sitcom.”

Matthew Rochester (Eastern Band of Cherokee)

Matthew Rochester, born and raised in the Smokies, he grew up playing in the forest, using his vivid imagination to escape a rough family life. Matthew obtained a Bachelor’s in Film & Creative Writing. While obtaining his degree, he temporarily studied film in the Czech Republic, where he discovered his love for screenplays. Eventually he would move out west and obtain his Masters in Screenwriting from Chapman University. Today, Matthew writes stories that fearlessly approach sensitive topics. With a strange but insightful humor, he strives to turn life’s imperfections into valuable lessons.

For more information, visit laskinsfest.com

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