Stage 32 Short Film Contest Winner Signs With Oscar-Winning Sales Company Ouat Media

Stage 32 Short Film Contest Winner Signs With Oscar-Winning Sales Company Ouat Media

Stage 32 Short Film Contest Winner Signs With Oscar-Winning Sales Company Ouat Media

Lisa Cole
Lisa Cole
3 months ago

It has been a whirlwind since winning the Stage 32 Short Film Contest with the project I wrote and directed, BIENVENIDOS A LOS ANGELES. We’ve been lucky enough to have connected with major industry players and have taken significant steps forward to become a contender for Best Live Action Short Film in the 96th Academy Awards. Most recently, we have signed with Ouat Media, the renowned Toronto-based short film sales company known for three Oscar winners and 12 nominees.

This film is very close to my heart and draws inspiration from a true story of immigration. Filmed at LAX International Airport, the story follows Imani, a Nigerian single mother pursuing her green card dream as a Physician’s Assistant in Los Angeles. Imani's life takes a dramatic turn when she faces termination due to the Muslim ban, leading her to a heartfelt encounter with Elizabeth, an undocumented woman on a journey to reunite with her young son.

The genesis of the film involves real-life events involving my friend and former babysitter and tells the story of the night she attempted to reunite with her son at LAX. We aimed to create a film that serves as an agent for change and humanizes complex immigration issues.

Stage 32 Short Film Contest Winner Signs With OscarWinning Sales Company Ouat Media

The road to production took a great deal of time and would not have been possible without a team of kind-hearted creatives! Many of our cast and crew members were drawn to this film because of the immigration story. My producers and I are proud of the fact we comprise a primarily female team that is 56% BIPOC. To raise funds for the film, we held a very successful Seed & Spark campaign where we more than doubled our target amount. We were also awarded a filmmaker fund of $25K and received great media recognition. As a result of this fund, our producer, Ben O'Keefe, was able to negotiate a contract with Ouat Media.

Filming at LAX was a dream come true. Everyone told me not to even try as it's nearly impossible, but I couldn’t take no for an answer. I scouted every other possible airport location within a two-hour radius, but in the end, I knew it had to be LAX. It took me five months to finesse, but we made it happen! The team at LAX was wonderful to work with and I’m now friends with the Supervisor of the Southwest Airlines terminal! We were the first film to shoot there since Covid and we pulled it off in December 2021 in the middle of Covid, construction, and the insane Christmas travel season!

The journey of BIENVENIDOS A LOS ANGELES has been incredibly rewarding. In addition to the Stage 32 Short Film Contest, this project won the 2023 Diversity in Cannes Short Film Showcase, sponsored by Viola Davis’s company, JuVee Productions, and has screened at over 50 global film festivals, including three Oscar-qualifying festivals, and has a total of 19 other festival and contest wins.

Stage 32 Short Film Contest Winner Signs With OscarWinning Sales Company Ouat Media

Currently, I have three feature narrative films in development and have had the privilege in the past of collaborating with esteemed producers such as Jean-Marc Vallee, Laura Dern, Laura Bickford, and Nathan Ross. The journey from the Stage 32 win and Holly Shorts screening to the Academy Awards has been an incredible experience. Academy member voting begins next week (December 14), and my team and I are so excited to see how far our film can go!

I want to express my gratitude to the amazing team behind BIENVENIDOS A LOS ANGELES. Producers Vivian Johnson, Cindy Lu, Ben O’Keefe, Lolia Etomi, and Jolene Mendes, along with Executive Producers Lagralane, Adam Wescott, McKenna Marshall, Nick Phillips, and Selena Leoni, have been instrumental in bringing this story to life.

To my fellow filmmakers, I want to offer words of encouragement. Your stories matter, and the world is waiting to hear them. Keep rewriting your work, pushing boundaries, breaking barriers, and sharing the beauty of the human experience through your lens. Here's to more stories that resonate, more dreams that come true, and more films that make a difference!

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About the Author

Lisa Cole

Lisa Cole

Screenwriter, Producer, Director

Lisa Cole is a dynamic Writer, Director, and Producer passionate about creating films that drive social change. Her recent short, "BIENVENIDOS A LOS ANGELES," filmed at LAX Airport and based on a true immigration story, is Shortlisted as Best Live Action Short Film for the 96th Academy Awards, and w...

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