A film clapper and reel laying on a table.

USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative expands with new Snap Inc. partnership to benefit women of color filmmakers

For student filmmakers, the career horizon just became a bit brighter. Today, the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and Snap Inc. announced a new partnership to provide funding and mentorship to a student filmmaker. The Snap Originals Annenberg Inclusion Award expands on the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative’s Accelerator program previously announced in February, bringing together two unique organizations and their industry-leading expertise on behalf of aspiring young women of color directors. 

In partnership with Snap, the Initiative will launch an award that consists of $25,000 to fund a senior thesis film. The winning filmmaker will also be mentored by a panel of advisors from Snap throughout their senior year and will be able to shadow filmmakers on the set of a Snap Original production. Finally, the student will have the opportunity to pitch a short-form unscripted mobile series for the student to direct at the end of the program period. The program’s goal is to provide the winning director with an array of resources to jumpstart their career, focusing on mobile content as a building block to other forms of storytelling. 

This new program is designed to combat the historical inequities faced by women of color in film — less than 2% of all top-grossing films from 2007 to 2021 had a woman of color director, according to research by the Initiative. The program will directly work to address the gap by providing resources to a talented woman of color entering her senior year in film school. Applications for the program will open in July, and the awardee will be announced prior to the 2022-23 school year. 

“The Snap Originals Annenberg Inclusion Award is a platform to launch a next-generation filmmaker by providing a suite of resources: financial, relational, and informational,” said Dr. Stacy L. Smith, Founder of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. “Short-form mobile content is a powerful outlet for creative storytelling. Working closely with Snap will expose the winning director to knowledge and techniques that can support their creative interests both in the short and long-term.”

“The next wave of filmmakers has the opportunity to change the world in new ways through mobile-first storytelling, marrying their incredible passion for truth and authenticity with innovative cinematic perspectives and technology,” said Anjuli Millan, Snap’s Head of Original Content. “Through Snap’s partnership with the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, we couldn’t be more excited to find an inspiring student at the start of their journey and support their unique voice, talent, and vision for the future of filmmaking.”

The Snap Originals Annenberg Inclusion Award builds on the Initiative’s original Accelerator award, which focuses on supporting women of color working toward a career in visual effects-driven feature films. That award also includes financial support and the opportunity to meet with film industry experts in an advisory capacity.

To learn more about the Snap Originals Annenberg Inclusion Award and AI2 Accelerator Programs and apply for the program, visit http://annenberg.usc.edu/aii.