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UFO (Untitled Filmmaker Org) Announces Spring 2024 Short Film Lab Cohort

(Pictured from top left) Emily May Jampel, Arielle Knight, Samuel Wright Smith, Tahiel Jimenez Medina, Brydie O’Connor, Bren Wyona, and Kevin Xian Ming Yu

UFO (Untitled Filmmaker Org) announced today the three filmmakers who have been selected for the latest edition of its Short Film Lab. At the Lab, which begins this month, Emily May Jampel, Arielle Knight, and Samuel Wright Smith will develop new scripted, documentary, and animated nonfiction projects, respectively. As announced in a press release, filmmakers Tahiel Jimenez Medina, Brydie O’Connor, Bren Wyona, and Kevin Xian Ming Yu from the inaugural cohort will continue in the program through December to develop new projects across nonfiction and scripted approaches, as part of the Lab’s staggered enrollment model. 

From the press release:

The UFO Short Film Lab is an 18-month program designed to help early-career directors advance and refine their voice and craft, while receiving project financial support, mentorship, and professional development to produce two original short film projects in a collaborative community. 

Each filmmaker will be provided with $10,000 in unrestricted funding for each of their UFO short film projects. In total, UFO will distribute $70,000 to support short film productions between June and December 2024. Beyond direct financial support, UFO secures in-kind production/consultation services on behalf of participating filmmakers. Key partners include impact strategy experts from Peace is Loud, world-class lens manufacturer Zeiss, and Away Team’s industry-leading color science and grading specialists.

Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) also provides core support as host of the Lab’s weekly in-person workshops, editing workspace, and community screenings. Guest mentors lined up to advise filmmakers in upcoming workshop sessions include acclaimed filmmakers Bing Liu (Minding The Gap) and Ekwa Msangi (Farewell Amor). 

Speaking to this cycle’s competitive selection process, UFO co-directors, Martha Gregory, Arno Mokros, and Sean Weiner said: “We were once again humbled by the robust response to the call for Short Film Lab applications. Emily, Arielle, and Sam’s timely proposed projects resonated with our team and selection committee, and we’re proud to be shepherding their films from development through post over the coming months. Beyond our enthusiasm for their work, we’re equally thrilled for Emily, Arielle, and Sam to meet one another and build deep, collaborative relationships with their other fellow fellows, Tahiel, Brydie, Bren, and Kevin.”

Find the list of the selected filmmakers below, including bios, project loglines, and social media.

Spring 2024 UFO Short Film Lab


Emily May Jampel is a director from Oʻahu based in NYC. Her films have played festivals around the world including Palm Springs, Aspen ShortsFest, Outfest, and Champs-Élysées. She was one of the 2023 recipients of NewFest’s New Voices Filmmaker Grant and her short film LUCKY FISH became a viral hit after premiering on NOWNESS Asia. Prior to directing, Emily worked as a Development Executive at the production company The Department of Motion Pictures.

Project: Half Moon is a narrative film about a friendship between two women living through pivotal moments of transition in their lives and romantic relationships as they enter their 30s.

Instagram: @emilymayjampel


Arielle Knight is a New York & Oaxaca-based filmmaker and creative producer. Mining the absurd, the mythological and the mundane, the work of her life and practice seeks to center and recover the multiplicity of Black experiences and the narrative possibilities therein. Through her own filmmaking practice and in collaboration with like-minded creators, Arielle aims to inundate the world with the dreams, visions, and beauty of diverse perspectives on screen. She is currently developing her first feature project.

Project: The Boys and The Bees is a nonfiction film chronicling one year in the life of the Ray Family as they pursue their dream of freedom: buying a honey farm in rural Georgia while teaching their young sons everything they need to know about the big blue planet they call home.

Instagram: @a_c_knight


Samuel Wright Smith is a Cincinnati-born multimedia artist based in Manhattan. Their experimental animation work has examined topics of rebirth, addiction and unity. Smith is also a working cinematographer. Sam is interested in projects guided by the heart. His animation work is primarily out-of-the-box 2D physical media techniques. Samuel’s upcoming project, EMBODIED, encourages terminally ill individuals to reflect on their experience with a human body. Sam enjoys mushroom foraging, analog photography and halal cart falafel.

Project: Embodied is an animated experimental nonfiction film sharing personal stories of terminally ill people throughout their dying process. 

Instagram: @samwsmith33

About UFO

Guided by a culture of care, UFO gives time, space, and money to filmmakers at under-resourced career stages. Through filmmaker support programs that emphasize in-person, inclusive community-building, UFO creates opportunities for filmmakers from wide-ranging, intersectional backgrounds to develop and produce uncompromising, boundary-pushing films. In coalition with partner organizations, UFO helps build a more equitable, sustainable, and interdependent film ecosystem.

UFO is a filmmaker support nonprofit made possible through the generous support of government, corporate, foundation, and individual giving. For more information or to get involved, please visit untitledfilmmaker.org or email team@untitledfilmmaker.org

(Pictured from top left) Emily May Jampel, Arielle Knight, Samuel Wright Smith, Tahiel Jimenez Medina, Brydie O’Connor, Bren Wyona, and Kevin Xian Ming Yu


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