The Fellows

In 2020, Blackmagic Collective set out to create a feature film initiative to bring new voices into the studio system. The program was designed to elevate and polish undiscovered and underrepresented women storytellers, poised for the next stage in feature directing.

Blackmagic Collective’s Next Level: Feature Directors is a second year initiative whose main goal is to take fellows who completed the Future Directors of Studio Features (FDSF) Initiative and continue to bolster their careers. The overarching goal is to get them hired to direct their first studio-level features. 

The nine Fellows completed the 2021 FDSF year-long program that educated and prepared them for collaborating with executives and other key players to work within the studio system and with established production companies. It provided career and craft enhancement opportunities, and gave them an introduction to contacts at most of the major studios and several production companies in LA.

Alexandra Velasco
Cate Carson
Ebony Blanding
Kylie Eaton
Natalie Simpkins
Olia Oparina
Robyn Paris
Susan Dynner
Tiffany Frances
“Being in the FDSF initiative encourages me to connect and meet with people I would have never otherwise reached out to on my own. We have an opportunity to build valuable relationships and learn from the expertise of champions who are committed to gender parity. And most valuable of all is the community we are building as fellows who support each other in a way that I haven’t seen with other programs. This is what we’ve been needing all along – it’s like a fast track through traditional gatekeeping for talented people who deserve to be seen.” – Cate Carson, Director/Producer


“The FDSF Initiative is unlike any other because we get the opportunity to curate our own experience – there is not another program like this that I’m aware of. We have met with such a variety of executives, producers, etc. who have been willing to open and share their experiences and knowledge with the talented directors in the initiative. The women are all so diverse in their scope of work that instead of competing with one another, we have become a tight-knit community who lift each other up and respect each other’s work. I can see us all working together and supporting each other for years to come.” – Susan Dynner, Director/Producer


“The FDSF Initiative mobilizes a collective of diverse female directors who are making incredibly sharp and thoughtful works in a way that I had not experienced prior. The opportunities we have to speak with senior film and TV executives is invaluable because we’re gaining credible advice and feedback from people we admire professionally. I’m proud to be among such a supportive group of women filmmakers with distinct voices who are actively working to direct Studio Features – it’s encouraging to have such a range of insight from women I now feel deeply connected to and supportive of.” – Ebony Blanding, Writer/Director

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