Spirit Awards Give Out $75,000 in Filmmaker Grants

Directors Shaka King and Jason Osder, as well as producers Toby Halbrooks and James M. Johnston, took home a $25,000 grant from Film Independent

Last Updated: July 10, 2014 @ 7:24 PM

Shaka King, Jason Osder, Toby Halbrooks and James M. Johnston were awarded with a total of $75,000 in Spirit Awards Filmmaker Grants during Film Independent’s annual Spirit Awards Nominees Brunch at BOA Steakhouse in West Hollywood on Saturday afternoon.

While winners of more than a dozen Spirit Awards will be revealed at the show on March 1, Film Independent uses its nominees brunch to announce the winners and hand out checks for its three sponsored filmmaker grants. The grants for the up-and-coming filmmakers each came with a $25,000 prize, and were presented by Spirit Awards Honorary Chairperson Angela Bassett, as well as actors Emily Mortimer and Alessandro Nivola.

See photosIndependent Spirit Awards 2014: The Nominees

The Someone to Watch Award, given to King, “recognizes a filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition,” according to Film Independent.

King won for “Newlyweeds,” an inner-city drama/comedy hybrid (pictured above) about a couple whose relationship is tested by their fondness for marijuana. Other finalists were Aaron Douglas Johnston for “My Sister’s Quinceañera” and Madeleine Olnek for “The Foxy MerkinsThe Stella Artois Truer Than Fiction Award was presented to Osder, an emerging documentary director, for his film “Let the Fire Burn,” which chronicles a deadly 1985 standoff between Philadelphia police and the radical group MOVE.

Other finalists included Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez for “Manakamana” and Kalyanee Mam for “A River Changes Course.”

The Piaget Producers Award , presented by Bassett, was given to emerging producers Toby Halbrooks and James M. Johnston, who “despite highly limited resources, demonstrates the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality independent films.”

Halbrooks is a Dallas-based producer and former member of the rock band the Polyphonic Spree, whose films include “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” and “Upstream Color.” Johnston also produced “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” as well as “Pit Stop” and “St. Nick.”

Other finalists for the Producers Award were Jacob Jaffke, Andrea Roa and Frederick Thornton.

“Supporting emerging filmmakers is a cornerstone of our organization’s mission,” Film Independent president Josh Welsh said. “These grants help ensure that their independent creativity can shine on. Congratulations to all the finalists and recipients.”


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