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Black Public Media Selects Fellows for its Third 360 Incubator

Ten producing teams have been selected by Black Public Media (BPM) for its innovative 360 Incubator+, a program designed to identify and pipeline quality black content. The third round of the competition is its largest-ever class. Eight broadcast and web teams are vying for up to $150,000 in funding to help produce the pilots or funding reels of their broadcast or digital projects; for the first time, two virtual reality teams are competing in the talent development program, reflecting BPM’s new mission to introduce black filmmakers and creatives to the storytelling potential of virtual reality and other emerging technologies. 

Black Public Media is the nation’s only nonprofit dedicated solely to funding and developing media content about the black experience. 

The 360 Incubator+ offers a holistic, comprehensive approach to honing the skills of experienced producers and filmmakers—and their projects. After completing a bootcamp in the historic Hudson Valley, New York, earlier this month, the winning 10 projects are currently attending intensive Incubator Workshops in New York City. Workshop topics include grant-writing, budgeting, reel creating, licenses, community engagement, distribution and virtual reality. 

Following the workshops which run through January 25, producers will return to their home bases to work on their proposals, sample reels and pitches under the guidance of their mentors in preparation for BPM’s pitchBLACK competition in New York City. Incubator mentors include Kimson Albert, Joe Brewster, Rachel Falcon, Sonia Gonzalez-Martinez, Sabrina Schmidt Gordon, Chris Hastings, Byron Hurt, Michael Premo, Yoruba Richen and Michèle Stephenson.

On April 11, the dynamic pitchBLACK forum will put Fellows center stage in front of a diverse audience of funders, distributors and industry leaders. The Fellows will battle to nab top honors and be one of up to three projects to be awarded ​a licensing agreement, ranging from $50,000 to $150,000. The two virtual reality teams will compete to win funding for community engagement campaigns for their films. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on Friday, April 12. 

The seven projects chosen by a panel of industry experts include:

 The 3,000 Project, a broadcast program by Keith McQuirter and LaNora Williams-ClarkIn Wisconsin, one of the most incarcerated states in the nation, are 3,000 imprisoned men and women trapped in the judicial system between two changing parole laws, tripling their prison sentences. The changes create an inferno of activism and debate from the high offices of state government to the streets of Milwaukee, as the state grapples with solutions to curb its alarming rates of mass incarceration.

Changing State, a broadcast program by Leola Calzolai-Stewart and Kiley KraskouskasAt the height of the Cold War and civil rights movement, the first African-American ambassadors walked a tightrope: promoting the democratic promise of America abroad while living as second-class citizens at home.

The Chicago Franchise, a broadcast series by Randall DottinAfter the city of Chicago tore down its high-rise public housing towers in 2011, the murder rate continued to climb. This was no accident. The Chicago Franchise explores the complicated relationship between gun violence, poverty and residential segregation.

Commuted, a broadcast program by Nailah JeffersonCommuted tells the story of Danielle Metz—a 50-year-old African-American woman whose triple life sentence (in New Orleans’ biggest RICO drug case of the early ’90s) was commuted by President Obama in August 2016. Now back home in New Orleans after 23 years behind bars, Metz is trying to find her footing in the free world and reconcile her present with her past regrets.A Good Man, a web short by Michael FequiereThis film documents Michael’s search for the elusive father he never knew and his process of coming to terms with the truth of his origins. This quest ultimately has Michael interviewing his immediate family including his mother, who sacrificed everything so her children could have a future. This family portrait shows that even in a fatherless household, there can be strong family ties that support the younger generation.

Greenwood Avenue, a virtual reality project by Ayana Baraka Greenwood Avenue is a groundbreaking, emotional exploration into the lives of African-Americans living in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921, during the era of Black Wall Street, the second rise of the KKK, and the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921, as told through the eyes of an elderly, black protagonist named Agnes Bess.

Heroes of Color, a web series by David Heredia Heroes of Color celebrates the courage, perseverance and intellect of lesser-known people of color. The diverse group of heroes in the series includes black, Native American, Latino and Asian people. The objective of the series is to create a more inclusive curriculum in school grades K–12 and inspire pride in the nation’s youth.

Listen to My Heartbeat, a broadcast program by Nyjia JulyWashington, D.C., is the political epicenter, but residents beyond Capitol Hill have long battled for a voice. As the city gentrifies, black residents are pushed out, along with their voice: Go-Go Music. Much like the black residents, Go-Go has been evicted. Listen to My Heartbeat examines the gentrification of Washington, D.C., through the lens of the city’s folkloric music. The film examines a changing city, the people displaced and the future of the music that gave them a voice.

A Love Supreme: Black, Queer and Christian in the South, a broadcast program by Katina ParkerA Love Supreme: Black, Queer and Christian in The South is a long-overdue heart-to-heart between black LGBTQ people, their families and the black church. The film follows eight families struggling to reconcile the religious bigotry they learned from the pulpit with the immense love they have for their lesbian, gay, bi, queer and trans loved ones. A Love Supreme will be accompanied by an impact campaign that networks resources, trainings and retreats for welcoming black churches.

POV, a virtual reality project by Alton Glass and Donovan DeBoerThe year is 2025. In response to rising levels of police brutality and mass incarceration, the federal government tests the world’s first Drone Law Enforcement Program in Los Angeles. Armed with artificial intelligence and artillery, one police drone stalks the lead character, accessing his GPS locations and social media profiles. POV explores how the combination of AI, big data and algorithms can be deadly.

Past 360 Incubator+ winners include POPS by Garland McLaurin, which premiered on ITVS’ Indie Lens StorycastMy Africa Is by Nosarieme Garrick, which premiered on BPM’s signature public television series AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange in 2017; So Young So Pretty So White by Chanelle Aponte Pearson, which has received funding from ITVS; and Read Awakening by Dominique Taylor, which premiered in July as a PBS Digital Studio’s Facebook Watch digital miniseries. 

Based in Harlem, BPM has been presenting diverse stories about black people on public television since 1979. With the growth of digital platforms, the organization has presented its own web series (Black Folk Don’t) and helped train filmmakers and producers on new and emerging media. The group also helps to fund films—including the Oscar-nominated I Am Not Your NegroThe Murder of Emmett Till and Daughters of the Dust.

In April, the organization held its inaugural Black Media Story Summit, an effort to identify stories about the most pressing issues facing the black community and to work with seasoned creatives, funders, distributors and others to bring these stories to viewers. The 360 Incubator+ is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, MacArthur Foundation, the NEA, the New York State Council on the Arts and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

For more information on BPM, visit or follow the organization on Twitter (@BLKPublicMedia), or on Facebook or Instagram (@blackpublicmedia).

About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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