Indie Memphis Black Filmmaker Residency for Screenwriting

Photo of Barry Jenkins: David Bornfriend

Photo of Barry Jenkins: David Bornfriend


Indie Memphis is excited to announce the return of the Indie Memphis Black Filmmaker Residency for Screenwriting, supported by the Remembering George Riley Fund. The 2019 Resident will be selected by Academy Award-winning screenwriter/director, Barry Jenkins and will receive two months housing in Memphis, a $7,500 unrestricted cash grant, professional support, and roundtrip travel accommodations. Their screenplay must be for a feature-length film to be produced in Memphis.

The purpose of this residency is to provide opportunity for under-represented artists in filmmaking to develop bold storytelling to ultimately be filmed in the Memphis-area. Indie Memphis  is looking to support one narrative feature film project and priority will be given to the story deemed most original, daring, intelligent, emotionally resonant, and realistic to produce. Last year’s Resident was filmmaker Alexander Huggins for his project MASON DIXON.

Applicants must describe why they believe their film should be produced in Memphis, TN. The setting of the story may or may not be Memphis and the residency will offer an opportunity for initial location scouting and inspiration from the geography and environment.

The residency is provided during the two month timeframe of September 16th to November 16th 2019. No exceptions will be made to the timeline. The residency will include artist participation in events during the Indie Memphis Film Festival the first week of November.

Applications must be submitted by 11:59pm CST on March 31, 2019.


  • Housing in Midtown Memphis at a residence located near the Indie Memphis office

  • $7,500 of unrestricted cash to assist for time off work, food, or directly towards the project

  • Travel accommodations to and from Memphis, TN.

  • Periodically meeting with advisors and filmmakers experienced with shooting in Memphis.

  • Visits to cultural institutions such as Stax Museum and the National Civil Rights Museum.

  • Location and production advice from the Memphis & Shelby County Film/TV Commission.

Rules & Eligibility:

  • Applicants must be at least 18 years of age.

  • Applications are open to any filmmaker/screenwriter that is a United States citizen of African descent.

  • Applicant may be either an emerging or established screenwriter. The applicant must show how this residency will be unique and beneficial to the development of their project and career.

  • Must be a resident from outside the Greater Memphis Metro area; an objective of this program is to bring new film productions to Memphis. We encourage all Memphis-based filmmakers to apply for our IndieGrant program HERE.

  • Resident is expected to focus on writing their feature film screenplay and developing their project during the two month period.

  • Must submit a treatment of the story in development (20 pages maximum). A treatment is a detailed summary of the entire film.

  • Must submit the first 5–6 pages of the screenplay

  • If selected, screenwriter must provide their own computer and script writing software.

  • Filmmaker must agree to stipulation that a majority of the movie will be filmed in the Greater Memphis area, if produced.

  • Only one submission per applicant will be accepted.

  • Only one filmmaker will be accepted into the residency, but projects with multiple writers are eligible.

  • Adaptations are eligible, but the applicant must show legal permission of the right to adapt.

Finalist Selections:

Eight semi-finalists will be chosen by an Indie Memphis selection committee. Each semi-finalist will have a skype interview with Indie Memphis staff, narrowing down the selection to four finalists. The treatments and work sample of the four finalists will be read by Barry Jenkins. Mr. Jenkins will then select the winner of the 2019 Residency.

All eight semi-finalists will be given a VIP pass to attend the 2019 Black Creators Forum and the Indie Memphis Film Festival.


Alex Huggins

2018 Indie Memphis Black Residency Finalists:  Alex Huggins (winner), Ama Quao, Amanda Layne Miller, Natalie Frazier, Jeri Hilt, and Jon-Carlos Evans

2018 Indie Memphis Black Residency Finalists: Alex Huggins (winner), Ama Quao, Amanda Layne Miller, Natalie Frazier, Jeri Hilt, and Jon-Carlos Evans

Bio: Alex Huggins is a filmmaker and screenwriter from Salt Lake City, Utah. After a stint studying Architecture at Parsons School of Design in New York, and a brief period back home working in production through the Utah Film Commission, he returned to New York to act as an apprentice to Josh and Benny Safdie at their burgeoning studio Elara Pictures. Growing up in an immigrant household –raised by his Haitian mother and the youngest of three – Alex recalls watching films from an early age, utilizing them to bridge the contrasting realities impressed upon him by his Caribbean influenced homelife and the American West. In his work, Alex exercises these contrasting realities via subversive themes in an effort to cast reconfigured historical context on a contemporary landscape. Alex is currently working on his next film – a short entitled “Pennies” following a group of vampires in Harlem – while also writing collaboratively on multiple projects.

Project - Mason Dixon: The film tells the story of Vanessa Pierre, a 20-year-old Haitian American, who becomes entangled in a convoluted historical mystery following the return of her estranged father to her mother’s home.


  • Jon-Carlos Evans, The Lost Gods of Memphis

  • Natalie Frazier, Mr. Interlocutor

  • Jeri Hilt, Five Million Marielles

  • Amanda Layne Miller, Black Cherry

  • Ama Quao, 1999


Click HERE for a list of the 2018 finalists and judges.