SEATTLE – To honor the legacy of beloved filmmaker Lynn Shelton, Seattle’s Northwest Film Forum, alongside Duplass Brothers Productions, is launching the Lynn Shelton “Of a Certain Age” grant. The $25,000 unrestricted cash grant will be awarded each year to a US-based woman or nonbinary filmmaker, age 39 or older, who has yet to direct a narrative feature.
Shelton often spoke of feeling inspired after seeing filmmaker Claire Denis speak at Northwest Film Forum and learning that Denis did not make her first feature until age 40. Shelton went on to make her own first feature film (We Go Way Back) at the age of 39. In the years since, she built a prolific canon of feature and television work and made an indelible mark on the landscape of American cinema.
“This grant seeks to reinforce that great filmmakers can emerge at any age, and to elevate the voices of a segment of the filmmaking community who have precious few resources dedicated to supporting them yet plenty of stories to tell,” explains Megan Griffiths, Shelton’s longtime friend and collaborator, who is working in her capacity as a member of the board of Northwest Film Forum to help establish the grant. “Lynn was 39 when I met her on her first feature, and I watched her grow as an artist and become more certain in her path with every passing year. She wore her ‘late bloomer’ status as a badge of honor, and we know she would be thrilled that this grant exists in her name.”
The grant fund was spearheaded by Duplass Brothers Productions, which includes Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass, and Mel Eslyn, and has since been bolstered by many others, including Washington-based production company COLOR, Tracy Rector, Eliza Flug, Marc Maron, Joshua Leonard & Alison Pill, Michaela Watkins & Fred Kramer, CB Shamah, Chris & Philip Wohlstetter, and Jennessa & Robert West. It will be stewarded by Northwest Film Forum, one of Shelton’s favorite nonprofit organizations and a community film center that supported her in her early years and throughout her career.
“In an industry where women, nonbinary, and trans individuals have historically had less success and visibility, hearing Lynn Shelton’s story of coming into film at an older age has been extremely inspiring,” says Vivian Hua, executive director of Northwest Film Forum. “The scope of this grant will ensure a positive impact on the lives of future recipients for years to come.”
Mel Eslyn, president of Duplass Brothers Productions, adds, “There was an appreciation and an immediacy to the way Lynn approached her film and TV career, which she openly credited to her ‘late start.’ Now finding myself approaching the same age Lynn got started, I find it comical to think we call 39 a ‘late start.’ But the reality is there is just not enough representation of women over ‘a certain age’ in media, in front of, but even more so, behind the camera. We hope that this grant can be a meaningful step toward helping to change that.”
Nominations for the Lynn Shelton “Of a Certain Age” Grant are being sought from a national advisory committee made up of film programmers, filmmakers, and arts leaders, demonstrating expertise on the current filmmaking landscape and knowledge of emerging filmmakers from around the country. Some of these names are: Beth Barrett (Seattle International Film Festival), Emily Best (Seed & Spark), Effie Brown (Gamechanger Films), Kat Candler (filmmaker), Amy Dotson (Northwest Film Center), Miranda July (filmmaker), Mynette Louie (producer), Leah Meyerhoff (Film Fatales), Lucy Mukerjee (Tribeca Film Festival), Janet Pierson (SXSW Film Festival), Mike Plante (Sundance Film Festival), Rishi Rajani (Hillman Grad), and Tracy Rector (filmmaker/activist), among others. An award selection committee will determine the recipient of the grant. Northwest Film Forum will award the inaugural grant in 2020.
Shelton emerged from her hometown of Seattle to become a major force in American independent cinema and a prolific television director. She was a vibrant, kind, creative human being. Her work drew acclaim for its compassion, humor, unique voice and wonderful performances. Shelton directed eight features including Humpday (2009), Your Sister’s Sister (2011), Outside In (2018), and last year’s Sword of Trust. Shelton also worked in television, directing memorable episodes of acclaimed series, including “Mad Men,” “GLOW,” “The Mindy Project,” and “Little Fires Everywhere.”
For those looking to give in her honor, donations to the Shelton/Seal Family Fund for the Northwest School for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Children, or Seattle’s Northwest Film Forum are encouraged.
Founded in Seattle in 1995 as an independent film and arts nonprofit, Northwest Film Forum incites public dialogue and creative action through collective cinematic experiences. Each year the Forum presents hundreds of films, festivals, community events, multidisciplinary performances, and public discussions. As a comprehensive visual media organization, the Forum offers educational workshops and artist services for film and media makers at all stages of their development. More at nwfilmforum.org.
Under their banner Duplass Brothers Productions (DBP), award-winning filmmakers Mark and Jay Duplass and Mel Eslyn create original projects for film, television, and digital media. In television, DBP was previously in an overall deal with HBO, which yielded the hit series “Room 104” (currently in its fourth season) and “Togetherness,” both of which Mark and Jay created, directed, and executive produced. HBO licensed DBP’s animated series “Animals,” which ran for three seasons. DBP is also active in the docuseries television space, best known for producing Netflix’s “Wild Wild Country,” winner of the Emmy Award for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series in 2018. DBP also produced “Evil Genius” for Netflix and “On Tour with Asberger’s Are Us” for HBO, and they will release a new docuseries on HBO and Hulu in 2020. DBP’s recent feature film productions include The One I Love, Tangerine, the Creep franchise, Paddleton, and Horse Girl. Both brothers have also been prolific in front of the camera. Mark is a series regular on the Golden Globe-nominated Apple series “The Morning Show,” and Jay starred in all four seasons of Amazon’s award-winning series “Transparent,” as well as the series finale movie.
Courtesy of the NW Film Forum