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HomeIndustry SectorFilmFilmmaker Cary Fukunaga Creates Production Grant to Support Underrepresented Voices

Filmmaker Cary Fukunaga Creates Production Grant to Support Underrepresented Voices


Cary Fukunaga
Cary Fukunaga (Photo: Dick Thomas Johnson)

Filmmaker Cary Joji Fukunaga, whose next film No Time To Die, the 25th James Bond movie, has been delayed until 2021, has teamed with alma mater NYU Tisch School of the Arts to create a production grant to support underrepresented voices and to promote BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color) stories in the film industry.

The $20,000 production grant will be awarded in the spring of 2021 to a student in NYU’s Graduate Film program to fund their thesis film—a vehicle that often helps graduating students launch their filmmaking careers—and it includes a mentorship component. As a requirement of the grant, they need to demonstrate financial need, and the recipient will participate as a mentor in the Cary Fukunaga Production Award Mentorship program, which selects all its participants from the NYU Tisch Future Artists program. Future Artists is a free arts education program for New York City high school students taught by Tisch’s renowned faculty and is designed for groups that are historically underrepresented in media.

Fukunaga wanted to ensure that aspiring filmmakers would have access to film sets, hands-on experience, and witness creatives with similar backgrounds and experiences on their way to achieving their goals, so the mentorship program was a crucial factor in creating the grant.

The Cary Fukunaga Production Award is open to students in NYU Tisch’s Graduate Film program who have a deep and abiding commitment to filmmaking featuring the stories and/or voices of Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC) and who would traditionally not have access to these resources. Candidates should also show an interest in mentorship for the younger generation of film students who themselves may not otherwise have access to opportunities in the film industry.

In a statement, Fukunaga said, “My hope for this award is that it empowers an emerging filmmaker who will help bridge the representation gap for BIPOC stories in the industry and turn them into a role model for kids who may not see an obvious path to the industry from where they are now. When I was younger I certainly didn’t see how someone like me could make it and if it weren’t for a few people who encouraged me, I don’t know if I would be here today. It’s critical for young people to see someone just ahead of them on the path to becoming a filmmaker. Just by example, it gives them the confidence to keep pursuing their dreams.

“Diversity in cinema is essential; we need to hear from storytellers whose diversity better reflects our society. As for audiences, we need to experience more stories told from different points of view, not only to broaden our perspectives but to engender empathy, something we are in dire need of right now. Creating opportunities, instilling confidence, and establishing links from one generation to the next is one way we can effect real change in the industry.”

NYU Tisch School of the Arts Dean Allyson Green added, “Cary is a visionary storyteller who brings a nuanced sensitivity and rare visual style to every project and with this grant, he has demonstrated his commitment to using that prestige and success to further inclusivity in Hollywood and beyond. We are grateful to Cary for his generosity in supporting the next generation of filmmakers.”

Fukunaga’s second year at NYU led to making the short film, Victoria Para Chino, which screened at the Sundance Film Festival and won a Student Academy Award in 2005. After that, Fukunaga’s features included Sin NombreJane Eyre, Beasts of No Nation, as well as directing the first season of HBO‘s True Detective, which won five Primetime Emmy nominations, also winning Fukunaga an Emmy for his direction. Fukunaga is also the first American to direct a James Bond film with next year’s No Time to Die.

The Cary Fukunaga Production Award will be granted based on a proposal for the student’s thesis project, including a director’s artistic statement of intent and a screenplay. The submissions will be judged by Fukunaga and a panel of NYU Graduate Film faculty and industry professionals.

Further information and updates about the Production Award will be available at Tisch.NYU.Edu.


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