Congratulations to MFA Grad Alicia Woods (MFA '20), one of three national filmmakers selected for the prestigious Filmmaker First Fund! This is a huge win and we are so proud of her. The award comes with a $50k stipend, a year-long residency in the FF studio, mentorship and connections with professionals and resources.
At Temple, Woods was awarded a Future Faculty Fellowship and the Ben and Minnie Lazaroff Award for screenwriting (2019). Kudos to her!
In fact, Temple had three FMA grads involved as nominees for this award including Anisa Hosseinnezhad and Wendi Grantham, who each also received significant industry mentorship as part of the process.
We were lucky enough to get in touch with Woods to discuss her award.
Q: What was the application process like?
Filmmakers First Fund developed a cohort of nominees from a variety of colleges and universities throughout the country. We received an inspiring month of mentorship that included weekly meetups with creatives and industry insiders before they chose the final projects for funding.
Q: What will you be working on with the award from the First Film Fund?
My project is a narrative feature film called HORSESHOE FALLS. It is set in my hometown of Buffalo, NY during the early ’90s and incorporates aspects of magical realism.
Q: How do you plan to spend your time using the residency?
I’m working on packaging the project to prepare it for funding. That includes attaching a producer, developing a budget, and refining the script.
Q: How did Temple help prepare you for this moment (from earning grants and awards to the development and production of your film (budgeting, distribution, etc.)?
It is really important to have the time and space to develop your craft as an artist. I left a career in adult education to pursue my interests in narrative film, and the fellowship I received from Temple made that transition possible. Temple also provided the resources and instruction for me to develop my artistic voice and take creative risks- all of which helped me grow as a filmmaker. I started writing Horseshoe Falls in one of my first screenwriting classes, and it was really beneficial to have the support I did while I refined the script throughout my time in the MFA program.
Q: How does this new project fit into your mission as an artist?
Horseshoe Falls is a reimagining of the coming-of-age films that I was obsessed with as a youth. I wanted to create a project that infused this well known genre with themes that are often not depicted in media, but that resonated with me. The film, like a lot of my work, examines subjects related to complex racial and gender identity, the utilization of speculative fiction to decolonize narratives, and the multilayered histories of a landscape. It was an empowering film to write, and I’m excited to take it into development!
Keep an eye out for Woods and her burgeoning career!
(interview by Zach Vickers)