January is National Mentoring Month, a month dedicated to promoting and encouraging youth mentoring across the country. We know that when mentors connect to young people, both are changed for the better. In fact, more than one in three students at risk of not graduating from high school grow up without an adult mentor in their life.
As part of its Mentorship Program, AT&T Hello Lab, a slate of original entertainment created by, for and with Millennial and Gen Z audiences, recently debuted 5 short films on DIRECTV NOW. The program is a new initiative that brings together entertainment industry leaders with aspiring filmmakers from diverse backgrounds as they create a piece of work that supports their creative vision.
Each short celebrates young adults and provides the filmmakers with a place to share their unique perspective and authentic voice.
- The Lost by Neil Paik; mentored by Rick Famuyiwa – The events surrounding a highly publicized protest altercation are played out from three differing points of view.
- Yoshua by Matthew Castellanos; mentored by Nina Yang Bongiovi – A group of outcast teens must flee their hometown of South Central to protect their big blue alien friend from a ban against its kind.
- Last Two Lovers at the End of the World by Nefertite Nguvu; mentored by Common – A future-set, New Year’s Eve wild night’s journey that follows two young lovers as they try to outsmart the end of the world.
- Candid by Gabrielle Shephard; mentored by Octavia Spencer – Faced with the memory of her late mother, an aspiring street photographer takes a surreal journey through the city as she reconciles her future and the relationship with her father.
- Tooth & Nail by Sara Shaw; mentored by Desiree Akhavan – After their youngest child is diagnosed with terminal cancer, an estranged family reunites and struggles to overcome their dysfunction.
During the year-long creative process, the filmmakers were fully supported by AT&T, Fullscreen and a group of industry advisors who counseled them on pitching their work, managing budgets and directing character-driven narratives.
More on the filmmakers:
Gabrielle Shepard: Graduated as an MFA Film and Television Producing Fellow in the Conservatory of Motion Pictures at Chapman University. She has produced films that have been programmed in the Austin Film Festival, Pan African Film Festival and Cannes Short Film Corner. Gabrielle now pursues fresh and dynamic projects to bring to life as a writer, director and producer. She currently works in the Motion Picture Lit department at William Morris Endeavor.
Matthew Castellanos: A Mexican-American filmmaker from South Central, Los Angeles. He intends for his stories to start new discussions and shed some light on humanity. For the past two years, he's produced and directed twelve digital television shows on artist Tyler, the creator's network GOLF MEDIA. This August, Matthew's first linear television show NUTS + BOLTS premieres on the network VICELAND, which he's serving as both executive producer and director.
Neil M. Paik: A filmmaker and artist from Los Angeles. After graduating from the film school at UCLA, where he was editor of the Daily Bruin, he filmed a documentary on the ground in the Middle East analyzing diverse perspectives in the conflict zone. His short fiction films have garnered several awards while playing at festivals nationwide. Over the last three years, he has worked in development and production at Warner Bros., Color Force, and WME and as a director’s assistant.
Nefertite Nguvu: A graduate of New York’s School of Visual Arts, where she obtained a B.F.A in Film. Her thesis project at SVA won the award for outstanding screenplay. Nefertite is an award-winning writer/director and producer whose work includes, several narrative and documentary shorts, a host of web based programming, and a feature film entitled “In The Morning” which is currently available worldwide via Video on Demand.
Sara Shaw: A director and editor. While attending NYU's graduate film program at the Tisch School of the Arts, her film Ballarat Ghost Town won the Grand Prize and Audience Award at the Fusion Film Festival. She has edited a number of feature films, including Desiree Akhavan's Appropriate Behavior (Sundance '14), Adam Leon's Tramps (Toronto '16), Theresa Rebeck's Trouble (SIFF '17), and Desiree Akhavan's forthcoming The Miseducation of Cameron Post.
KEYWORDS: Media & Communications, Diversity & Inclusion, AT&T, Hello Labs, National Mentoring Month, millennial, Gen Z, Octavia Spencer, Common, DIRECTV, filmmakers, Fullscreen