Stowe Story Labs Reveals 2024 Stowe Launch Advanced Development Fellows

EXCLUSIVE: Stowe Story Labs announced the 2024 Stowe Launch Fellows and selected projects, with the support of the National Endowment of the Arts.

The 2024 Fellows are Alexandra Hensley (Hearts and Minds), Arianna Ortiz (The Bastard Children of Javier Ortiz) Sebastien Tobler (Bodies of Water), Brandon Vedder (Miracle Man) and Keith Walker (Greenwood). Read more about them below.

More from Deadline

Each Launch participant receives up to one year of ongoing mentoring and program participation, with no fees or travel costs. The goal of the program is to get projects ready for market.

“Projects like Stowe Launch exemplify the creativity and care with which communities are telling their stories, creating connection, and responding to challenges and opportunities in their communities — all through the arts,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson. “So many aspects of our communities such as cultural vitality, health and wellbeing, infrastructure, and the economy are advanced and improved through investments in art and design, and the National Endowment for the Arts is committed to ensuring people across the country benefit.”

Each participant’s experience in the program is customized to fit the needs of the artist and the work and will include elements such as participation in Stowe’s Narrative Labs and/or Writers’ Retreats; script and skill development training; crafting a go-to-market strategy; pitching practices and workshops; developing ancillary materials such as lookbooks, budgets, schedules and one-pagers; shooting proof-of-concept short films; film market experience; and/or on-going mentorship from mentors currently working at a high-level in film and television.

By the end of the Fellowship, participants will have a well-developed script, a refined ability to present their project in many contexts to advance the work, and a viable, actionable plan to move the project forward.

RELATED: PEAK Reveals Inaugural Writers Fellowship Class

Since 2021, 12 artists have advanced their careers and projects through Stowe Launch. Fellows have attached producers and other partners to their projects, secured representation or writing contracts, shot proof of concept short films, gained media exposure, attended top industry meetings and markets, and obtained other writing or directing opportunities.

Here are details about the 2024 Stowe Launch Fellows and their projects:

Hearts and Minds by Alexandra Hensley
While on deployment in Afghanistan a female Marine, with a need to prove herself, finds her dreams of combat thwarted when she is tasked with starting a school for local Afghan children.

Marine Corps Veteran Alexandra Hensley is a recent graduate of USC’s Peter Stark Producing Program. While at USC Alexandra was awarded the Stark Special Production Grant to write and direct the short film In the Gray which centered a born-again Christian mother of five who decides to have an abortion.

 In the Gray has screened at multiple film festivals, including the Beverly Hills Film Festival, Vail Film Festival, and the Catalina Film Festival. Alexandra’s creative focus are stories that center women in their infinite complexities while examining how women hold power in a patriarchal world. With her first feature Hearts and Minds, Alexandra tells a war story from the female perspective, she hopes to create a space to have a more nuanced and open conversation about the far-reaching impact of the United States’ industrial war complex.

The Bastard Children of Javier Ortiz by Arianna Ortiz
A happily married Mexican-American family man is overjoyed to find the long-lost siblings he’s always wanted. Desperate to bond with them, he soon discovers he comes from a band of ruthless Texas bandits and that he might not make it home for dinner… or make it out alive.

Arianna Ortiz is a Peruvian-American actor, writer and arts advocate. Born in San Antonio, Texas, she studied theater at CALARTS. Her extensive work in television includes recurring roles on OWN’s All Rise, NBC’s This Is Us and more. She was one of the stars of Edson Oda’s acclaimed sci-fi drama Nine Days (2020 Sundance Film Festival) and Last Days of the Lab, which premiered at the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival and screened at TIFF 2023.

She produced and starred in The Wound, a hit short film at festivals that boasts an engaged international audience online. Her dark thriller, Mama, Don’t, was selected for the 2022-23 cohort of NYWIFT’s The Writer’s Lab, funded by Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman. The Bastard Children of Javier Ortiz (Stowe Launch 2024) is second in her Texas trilogy centering women and people of color in stories that range from the harrowing to the darkly comic.

Bodies of Water by Sebastien Tobler
Set in the fictional Mediterranean island of San Vicari, once a tuna fishing center of Europe, Joaquin Zamorra, an aging fisherman, discovers a new catch reviving the local economy and entangles him in the dark inner workings of capitalism, testing the depths of human compassion.

Sebastien is a Filipino-Swiss writer-director who draws from his mixed-race background and upbringing in seven countries to shape his storytelling. From Switzerland to the US, his diverse experiences form the essence of his artistic vision. His feature scripts gained recognition in various competitions, and now, with his debut feature film, This Time, Sebastien continues to evolve as an artist. Each project reflects his heartfelt dedication, infusing nostalgia into the human experience. Currently, he’s developing a coming-of-age feature set in 90s Bangkok and a social satire/drama about the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean. Grateful for his journey, Sebastien embraces new horizons as he continues to grow creatively.

Miracle Man by Brandon Vedder
Former child evangelist, the Miracle Child, mysteriously returns as an adult to the bombastic revival movement he helped create, secretly intent on destroying it.

Brandon Vedder is an award-winning filmmaker. As a documentarian, Brandon has worked with talent ranging from Oscar Nominated Actor Don Cheadle to legendary rock band Pearl Jam. His critically acclaimed body of work has premiered at A-list film festivals and distributed theatrically and digitally throughout the world. Brandon is an alumnus of SFFILM residency program and has taught master classes for The Northwest Film Forum, been an advisor for a Sundance COLLAB and guest lectured for various colleges including Stanford. His work has been the recipient of grants from organizations like The Redford Center, The Rogovy Foundation, Fork Films, and The Fledgling Fund. Brandon was recently named Stowe Story Lab’s Diverse Voices Fellow for his 1hr drama limited series Miracle Man.

Greenwood by Keith Walker
After coming home from war, a Black man reunites with his family and reopens his pool hall in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1918, only to be challenged by a rival developer who is hell-bent on forcing him out.

Keith Walker is a two-time Cancer Survivor, Director, and Screenwriter whose work focuses on dark comedies that explore racial identity, toxic masculinity, and the heroic journey. In 2021, his web series Betas won Best Web Series at the Ocktober Film Festival and successfully ran at the DC Black Film Festival, Black Web Fest, and Twister Alley. In 2022, his animated short film Herman and Mr. Pointdexter won Best Animation for Black Web Fest. That same year, Keith was featured in several videos for the Emmy-winning Documentary Web series The Skin Deep. Currently, Keith is working on an animated short film exploring Mary Shelley’s life.

Best of Deadline

Sign up for Deadline's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.