Netflix Introduces Emerging Filmmaker Initiative (EXCLUSIVE)

Netflix has launched a new pipeline program aimed at launching “the next wave of marquee filmmakers” working in high-concept genres.

The Emerging Filmmaker Initiative (EFI) gives three filmmakers the opportunity to develop, fund, produce and distribute their short films on Netflix, focusing on stories in the sci-fi, action, horror and thriller genres.

The initiative is inspired by the rising star Stefon Bristol’s orbit, who first teamed up with the streamer on “See You Yesterday”. The magnificent time travel narrative received an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay, and Bristol has set its second project with Netflix, “Gordon Hemingway & The Realm of Cthulhu.” Like “See You Yesterday,” Bristol will direct the upcoming film, produced by Spike Lee.

“Stefan’s short film opened many doors, but for many future filmmakers it takes a year just to get the first picture. We want to change that, ”wrote Ian Bricke, VP of independent film at Netflix, in a blog post describing the program.

Through the initiative, Bricke explains, the selected filmmakers will “gain invaluable access to the film studio’s ecosystem early in their careers” and receive hands-on experience in development, casting, production, scoring, editing and more. The filmmakers will also be paired with experienced director mentors; Ron Howard and Barry Sonnenfeld offered their guidance to this year’s filmmakers.

EFI’s first class of filmmakers are Hebru Brantley (“Erax”), Ashley Eakin (“Forgive Us Our Trespasses”) and Marielle Woods (“Heart Shot”), whose short film will be launched globally on Netflix on February 17.

Brantley’s short film “Erax” takes place during an overnight stay, when Aunt Opal and her niece Nina accidentally release the mythical and dangerous Erax creatures, who must be returned to the history book from which they fled.

Although the interdisciplinary visual artist is originally from the south side of Chicago, Brantley currently lives in Los Angeles. He has exhibited his art around the world, appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Forbes ”and on CNN, and has collaborated with brands such as Nike, Hublot and Adidas. Brantley expands to create content by customizing its flagship character “FLYBOY” through its media company, Angry Hero. He also develops several original projects, including “Hype” with Peter Chernin on Netflix, “Kankakee” with Seth Rogen on Lionsgate, and several TV projects created on HBO and HBO Max.

Eakin is a writing instructor with a physical disability whose short “Forgive us our transgressions” takes place in Germany in 1939, a disabled peasant boy persecuted by Nazi soldiers after Hitler adopted Action T4, a program to kill people with disabilities.

Eakin is currently developing a half-hour TV show featuring 20th Century for FX, inspired by her SXSW Special Jury Recognition award-winning short film “Single” (developed as part of the AFI Directing Workshop for Women and which has played over 40 festivals) . In 2021, Eakin also directed TV episodes for Apple and Disney Plus, co-wrote with her husband Shawn Lovering a feature for Wayfarer Studios and will collaborate on the development of a Netflix thriller.

Woods is the award-winning, queer filmmaker behind “Heart Shot,” which centers on high school students, Nikki and Samantha, who are in love and planning their future – until Nikki’s violent past returns to threaten everything she cares about. Woods is described as a filmmaker who “thrives in the high-tension world of action storytelling.” Woods is an HBOAccess Fellow and has been recognized as a member of the Universal Director’s Initiative and the AFI Directing Workshop for Women. She has directed episodes for seasons 4 and 5 of “Cobra Kai” from Netflix and Sony Pictures Television.

(photo: Ashley Eakin, Hebru Brantley and Marielle Woods)

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