Want to learn more about the Next Level Grant Program? Check out our FAQ’s for additional information.
Apply for the Next Level Grant Program Principal Photography phase December 1st – January 31st.
The Next Level Grant Program provides support and funding for local directors and producers to take their projects to the next level. View our application and read through our frequently asked questions. If you can’t find the answers you’re looking for, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 2019 – Four projects were selected to receive the Round 1 Next Level Grant. Read more about the local filmmakers and projects below.
Alex Woods was born in Bellevue, WA and grew up playing music. In college he studied theater and now he makes movies. He likes character-driven drama, whether it’s in a good movie, or a high-stakes NBA game.
Shawn was born and raised in Utah. He studied theatre at UVU where he first met Alex. He’s a videographer during the day and works on his personal theatre and film projects in the evenings.
About Shawn and Alex’s project: The Wreath is a strange surreal tale about Genji, the main character (played by Morgan Gunter) who feels trapped in what he sees as a dead-end monotonous job. He cannot understand why others in his workplace do not share his desperate yearning to escape the soul-draining ennui. Each day, Steve, a colleague (Tyler Harris), who says he loves his assignment, looks forward to the break at noon, and seems oblivious to the man’s dire words. Genji dreads the entrenched ennui of his daily shift – the hours between noon and 5 p.m. are frozen in an excruciating repetition that apparently only he senses. But then he meats Ayla (Haeleigh Royall) who may know a way out.
Angela and Conor come from very different backgrounds. As an immigrant from Bolivia, Angela has thrived in the United States as dance educator. In 2014, Angela received the “Art Educator of the Year Award.” She eventually fell in love with Screendance and has since focused her career on putting dance on screen.
Conor has spent his entire adult life working in the film industry as an independent writer/director, and has been lucky enough to shoot films all over the world. Conor has directed two feature films.
About Angela and Conor’s project: Manusa is a Screendance celebration of humanity, showing how far we’ve come and where we might be going. It is a journey through time that will immortalize the diverse people and landscapes of Utah, preserving the range of cultures and choreographies forever onto the screen.
Connor Rickman enjoys riding his bicycle, wearing hats, over-dressing for every occasion, eating all types of food, and traveling. He believes luxury is a state of mind and is fascinated by the mathematical concept of diminishing returns. His favorite thing to do is to make people laugh. Connor is a co-owner of Overcranked Pictures, a production services company that is part of the “Film Shop” Co-Op at Redman Movies along with Parking Garage Pictures, Owl Eyed Productions, CameraJack and Strawberry Sound.
About Connor’s project: The Whole Lot – After their father’s death, two estranged siblings meet to decide the fate of his estate, which includes an impressive collection of classic cars.
Rylee is an aspiring filmmaker from Utah. She is a co-founder of a filmmaking collective named Nighttimer Productions, a group of mostly women and LGBTQ Folk interested in creating narrative film. For 6 years they’ve been making films as an attempt to learn and grow. Rylee has been using her time to hone in on her craft and figure out what kind of stories she wants to tell. Rylee has learned that it’s better to not wear every hat and trust talented people and that getting people excited and passionate is the most important thing she can do.
About Rylee’s project: Casey is the story of David and Keith, two men taking their long-distance relationship to the next level when David moves in to Keith’s home. The house feels cold and surprisingly unwelcome to David, evidenced not only by new tension between the two but also by strange occurrences suggesting the presence of a third man in the relationship: Casey, the partner who went missing five years before. As the specter of Casey seems to grow stronger, the strength of David and Keith’s bond is tested to the near breaking point.
May 2019 – Four projects were selected to receive the Round 2 Next Level Grant. Read more about the local filmmakers and projects below.
Arthur Veenema is a Utah-based director and screenwriter. He specializes in science-fiction and magical-realism narratives, and he is known for producing a series of short films examining the personal impacts of new technology. Arthur graduated from the University of Utah in 2015 with an Honors BFA in Film & Media Arts. He currently lives in Salt Lake City, UT working in the local film industry.
About Arthur’s project: The Atomic Spawn is set in 1952 on a nuclear testing site in the west desert. We meet John Nguyen, a scientist who finds an irradiated egg out on a survey. During a fallout accident, John is sent into an underground bunker where the egg hatches into a baby monster. Now John is trying to hide the creature’s presence from his cruel boss, Director Pierce, while also dealing with the monster growing larger and more dangerous while he’s stuck with it in the fallout shelter. This film is a throwback to those fun drive-in sci-fi films about a boy bringing home his new pet with an apocalyptic diesel-punk vibe.
Dana Ware is a Latina filmmaker and media artist based in Salt Lake City. Dana grew up on the east side of Los Angeles and holds an undergraduate degree from UCLA. She is currently pursuing two masters degrees from the University of Utah in film and electronic arts and engineering. Dana’s current focus is film and virtual reality experiences. Her work has been recognized by Google, the Los Angeles Times, as well as several other national and international organizations.
About Dana’s project: First Night is a virtual reality project that provides the opportunity to enter an abandoned house and view the life a disenfranchised Latina teenager on her first night squatting. The user is able to rewrite their memories as they interact with their environment.
Morgan Pitcher is a 24-year-old visual artist, musician, and filmmaker from Park City, UT. He is a devout fan of cinema and all things animation. In middle school, Morgan was known for his YouTube success making dance videos to 2008 Britney Spears songs. Morgan just wrapped up his third year as an after-school student mentor in the Salt Lake City School District, but you may recognize him from any number of the silly customer service jobs he’s worked across the valley. Morgan’s dream is to one day earn the directorial drag nickname, “The Silver Queen.”
About Morgan’s project: “Show Me Your Teeth” is a call-to-action drag dance video with design inspired by dystopian science fiction and information age technology. It examines corporate narcissism, neuromarketing, artificial intelligence, and technological dependence.
Sohrab is an Iranian born filmmaker living in Salt Lake City. Sohrab has a film degree from Full Sail University and began professionally making films at age 20 in 2005. His first film was made at age 14 and when Sohrab was 21, his student film, ‘The Beautiful Wind’ won The New York International Film Festival’s Audience Choice Award. Since then, Sohrab has won 18+ awards and owns a small production company. Sohrab produces many projects including films and commercials.
About Sohrab’s project: Green Flake is about a southern slave who treks thousands of miles to become a Western hero.
“The Next Level Grant Program is our way of giving a small boost to emerging filmmakers. We strongly believe in developing careers for our Utah filmmakers here at home.”
– Virginia Pearce, Director, Utah Film Commission