Destroy All Mentorships Preps the Future of Horror
It seems like there are so few good news stories out there at this particular point in time, and for obvious reasons. But if you look hard enough, there are people out there trying to make the world a little brighter in any way that they know how.
My dear friend, mentor, and collaborator, writer/director/producer Adam Egypt Mortimer (Daniel Isn’t Real, Archenemy, Some Kind of Hate) is one of them. Adam has helped me in supportive, immensely meaningful ways when no one else would or could (in my career as Izzy Lee), and I’ll always be grateful for that. A few years back, we spoke about his frustration at the lack of support women filmmakers face within the industry, something I feel acutely.
The Destroy All Mentorships program Adam has created and partnered with producer Jordan Crucchiola on aims to help selected filmmakers in the early stages of their careers with practical advice, mainly focusing on topics like pitching.
They’ve brought in industry executives and respected, high-level creatives to meet and speak with their mentees. Additionally, there are other aspects of the industry covered within the group that people don’t discuss much, such as dealing with the pratfalls unique to creatives in film, and how to navigate the anxiety that comes with those fun times.
Adam invited me to join one of the group’s sessions, and I couldn’t turn down the chance to meet my sisters. And what a mentorship collective! I wish there were more like it, that more men in filmmaking and other fields would use the power and privilege they have to help others in more vulnerable positions. That’s true change; not just talking about the thing, taking action and doing the thing. NOT making a highly-touted contest with the most likes or votes or popularity; simply finding people you believe in and helping them, full stop.
I discovered that this program is as much a support group as it is for making one’s way through the choppy waters of this insane industry, and that sets it apart from anything else I’ve heard of; simply put, I haven’t seen anything else like this of its kind.
But let’s introduce you to the mentees! Not only can you read about them below, but you can also watch some of their shorts and contribute to those with crowdfunding projects if you like. They’re an impressive group for sure, and I hope that they all find the success that they deserve.
Here’s your future of horror.
A.K. Espada is a horror and urban fantasy writer/director with a background in production design and puppet-making. Films include horror short Laundry Night, Jury Prize winner at Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, will released on Blumhouse’s Crypt TV; and In Silence, for which she was nominated for Best Director at SoHo International Film Fest. Her feature screenplay “A DEEP SLEEP AND A DARK DREAM” was a Quarterfinalist in the Nicholl Fellowships. Her current project I Could Just Die, and That Would Be All Right is a winner of The Future of Film is Female Grant.
“This mentorship has changed my life already. And the little community us mentees have built is so comforting and encouraging.” — A.K. Espada
Alison-Eve Hammersley was one of five directors chosen by Lena Waithe for AT&T's 2019 Hello Lab Mentorship Program. There she directed her short film, Fragile.com, which premiered at Screamfest Horror Film Festival in 2020 and has subsequently been released on Gunpowder & Sky's Alter. She received her BA in film production from Emerson College and MFA in directing from AFI. Her thesis film, You'll Only Have Each Other, received a number of awards during its festival run and has been released on ShortsTV as well as Alter. She is currently developing a horror/sci-fi series with Amazon Japan.
B.J. Colangelo is an award-winning horror film critic turned filmmaker from the Midwest. Her debut feature film Powerbomb is available from Indican Pictures as well as her segment in Deathcember from Scream Factory and Epic Pictures. B.J.'s short films Margaret and Labrys have both screened internationally. B.J. is also the 2020 winner of Chattanooga Film Festival's Screenplay pitch competition. B.J. co-hosts the podcast “This Ends at Prom” with her wife, Harmony, looking at teen girl genre films from the cis and trans femme lens. Twitter: @bjcolangelo
“It's been incredible to learn from each other, because we all come from such different lived experiences both identifiably and professionally. I love knowing that my punk rock, DIY, shoe-string budget tips are treated with the same value as tips learned on a project with a studio budget. The projects we're all workshopping are an extension of who we are as creators, and a legitimate sense of "sisterhood" has come out of this because what's more intimate than getting to know someone through their art?” — B.J. Colangelo
Jess Carson is a Los Angeles-based Black Writer/Director from Little Rock, Arkansas. Her work spans genres and her focus is on well-rounded, character-driven narratives that resonate with audiences of all demographics as well as those that put society under a lens via undertones of societal commentary. Jess is a writer on the CW's The Flash where she was the first Black woman to write an episode of the hit series. She is developing an original limited series, Dead Red, with Echo Lake Entertainment producing. She was included on the Tracking Board's 2019 Young and Hungry List. She is repped by Kegan Schell & Chris Davis at Echo Lake Entertainment.
Australian/German director Louisa Weichmann combines her love for fast-paced action thrillers with supernatural horror, to create work that focuses on showcasing a distinctly colorful style and kinetic energy. Her short films have received Australian Cinematography Society awards and screened at several international genre festivals both in the U.S and Europe including Leeds, Beyond Fest, and Flickers Rhode Island. Instagram: @consistently_unhinged
Nace DeSanders is a semi-nomadic screenwriter, director, and producer originally from New York, USA, and currently based out of Cape Town, South Africa. She has written, directed, and produced four short films that have won awards on the film festival circuit. Nace is currently in pre-production for a debut feature film titled Hello Sickness.
Watch The Wounded and the Watcher (use password: twtw)
Shoshana Rosenbaum was named D.C. Filmmaker of the Month in May 2021. Her latest film, Night Waking, currently on the festival circuit, was named Best Sci-Fi Film at the Sick Chick Flicks Film Festival. Her award-winning short films The Goblin Baby and Hide and Seek have screened at festivals around the U.S. and internationally.
“Adam and Jordan have been incredibly generous with their time, resources and connections, and have made us feel from the beginning that they are in our corners. Each week they invite to the group directors, producers and execs who hear us pitch and give us constructive feedback, answer our questions, and share their wisdom and experience. Every week I come away amazed that so many people in the industry have so freely given of their time and expertise. Every week I also feel more bonded to the women in my cohort and impressed by their work.” — Shoshana Rosenbaum
Ursula Ellis is an LA-based writer/director from Appalachia and alumna of the Northwestern BA & Columbia University MFA film programs. Her short film Ava In The End premiered at the Fantasia International Film Festival in 2019 and was released on Shudder & Omeleto. Her award-winning MFA thesis, Crick In The Holler, received an Alfred P. Sloan Production Grant. She's just wrapped post on a new horror short filmed in West Virginia.
Fatale Collective is a group of female filmmakers who have a passion for scary movies — and aren't waiting for permission to do it. Founded in 2019, Fatale was designed to create a repeatable platform to launch fresh, underrepresented talent in genre film, and establish a brand that's iconic as fuck. The Spice Girls of horror? Yeah, that's them. Fatale's debut micro-anthology, Bleed, was selected to screen at some of the world's biggest genre film festivals including Fantastic Fest, Fright Fest Glasgow, Brooklyn Horror, Overlook, and more; Bleed won awards and was covered by Fangoria, Dread Central, and Rue Morgue. They are currently in development on a feature-length anthology.
Fatale's current roster includes Natasha Halevi, Megan Rosati, Lola Blanc, Danin Jacquay, Monica Suriyage, Janina Gavankar, and Francesca Maldonado. They’re a busy group! Individually: Tasha is set to direct her first feature in November (that Francesca is production designing); Megan's rewriting a feature for Hulu; Danin has shot iconic photos of Lil Nas X in addition to music videos, including one for Pussy Riot; Lola directed a music video for Lucien Grieves, the founder of the Satanic Temple and has a self-directed video for her new song “Here Come the Wolves" coming out soon; Francesca also directs cool music videos; and Janina's working on a feature with her co-writer, Russo Schelling, in addition to acting in high-profile TV and film (The Way Back, True Blood, The Morning Show).
“One of the most valuable things I learned was just how to talk about my ideas out loud to people, since I haven't yet had the experience of pitching my movies a hundred times in meetings. Adam and Jordan facilitated a safe environment to not only practice saying my pitch out loud but refine it, figure out what worked and what didn't, and grow more confident in my own story as I saw how people reacted. It was incredibly eye-opening to have this supportive space to observe how different producers or executives would respond differently to our pitches, often giving totally different feedback, and ultimately that was a testament to the importance of being authentically yourself and telling the stories you believe in, because the right people will get it, and everyone else is someone cool you got to meet. That's something I know Adam and Jordan believe in, and it's a philosophy I share, and after this experience I feel like I am far more equipped to live as a filmmaker in the wild!”
— Lola Blanc
Listen to Lola Blanc’s new single, “Here Come the Wolves”
“The best part about this mentorship is that it helped me feel more confident in my own brand of weird and gave me the tools and guidance I needed to communicate that weirdness. I always had this fear that I was “doing it wrong” and after this, I feel a lot more confident about my ideas for film how I express my ideas for film.” — Natasha Halevi, Fatale Collective
“My personal favorite moment was when an executive, a really nice guy, looked at all of us on zoom — women and women of color directors — and apologized for not doing better as an industry in general representing directors like us. So thanks to Adam & Jordan, I got to see a white male executive apologize. Not something I learned, but gratifying nonetheless.” — Megan Rosati, Fatale Collective
There you have it; a very positive impact made on several filmmakers made by those who were fed up with the status quo and decided to do something about it. I hope that Adam and Jordan don't stop here, and that others will take their lead. I also hope that you, dear reader, will support these filmmakers and others who have perspectives not often seen in mainstream cinema. We are all richer when we are allowed to see different stories and experiences, which in turn leads to empathy and a kinder world.