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21st Century Fox and AFI FEST host event to honor female directors

Fox Filmmakers Lab and Director Valerie Weiss Recognized

Director Valerie Weiss

21st Century Fox and the American Film Institute (AFI), in partnership to help advance opportunities for female directors, hosted a networking breakfast on November 12. The event was held during AFI FEST, the American Film Institute’s annual celebration of cinema in Hollywood, which took place November 8-15. Titled “Breaking the Frame: A Conversation About Craft and Career,” the event drew more than 150 guests to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. 

MyKhanh Shelton, SVP 21CF Global Inclusion welcomed the female directors and recognized the Fox Filmmakers Lab and Fox Directors Lab participants, with special acknowledgment to Filmmaker Lab alumna Valerie Weiss — also an alumna of the AFI Directing Workshop for Women — who was selected to have her short “The True Maze” (based on the book and Fox film franchise “The Maze Runner”) developed. Weiss worked closely with Fox creative, production and marketing executives; as well as Fox VFX Lab to create concept art/virtual world and shoot a state-of-the-art pre-vis.

“Valerie is definitely a director to watch. Everyone at the studio who worked with her thought she was a remarkable talent,” said Dana Belcastro, EVP, Twentieth Century Fox Film. 

In addition to “The True Maze” project under consideration at Fox, Weiss was booked to direct an upcoming episode on Fox’s “The Resident” (Episode 213, shooting November 29 – December 10 and airing February 2019). Award-winning filmmaker and scientist Weiss has also directed three feature films and an American Girl Special for Amazon Studios. Her work spans the genres of action, thriller, drama, sci-fi and comedy, including features “A Light Beneath Their Feet” and “The Archer.” She holds a Ph.D. in X-ray Crystallography from Harvard University; is an alumna of the AFI Directing Workshop for Women; and a participant in the WeForShe Direct Her Program. Weiss is represented by Gersh, John Bauman Management and Wendy Kirk of Ziffren Brittenham LLP. 

The Fox and AFI FEST panel discussion also featured filmmakers Laura Steinel, Shaz Bennett and Katrelle Kindred, all of whom showcased their films at the festival and spoke about their different paths into directing and varying access points to working with Fox. Steinel recently sold the speculative screenplay “Women in Business” to the company; and Bennett is an alumna of the Fox Filmmakers Lab and the Fox Directors Lab, through which her short film was funded, as well as the AFI Directing Workshop for Women. Kindred, on the other hand, was awarded the 21CF Global Inclusion Award for Best Short Film at Blackstar International Film Festival for her short “War Paint,” which Kindred made as part of the AFI Directing Workshop for Women. The three directors also shared their experiences developing, screenwriting, directing and marketing their films; as well as advice for collaborating with DPs, producers and composers, working with actors, obtaining funding and managing rapid-pace production schedules.

About Erik Anderson

Erik thanks his mother for his love of all things Oscar, having watched the Academy Awards together since he was in the single digits; making lists, rankings and predictions throughout the show. This led him down the path to obsessing about awards. Much later, he found himself at GoldDerby, led by Tom O’Neill and then migrated over to Oscarwatch (now AwardsDaily), headed up by Sasha Stone before breaking off to create AwardsWatch. He is a member of the International Cinephile Society, GALECA (The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics), the International Press Academy and is the founder/owner of AwardsWatch.

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