Chasah West and Charliese West with Gut Feeling (Narrative Short)
Chasah West and Charliese West with Gut Feeling (Narrative Short)


The New Orleans Film Society (NOFS) announced six teams of Louisiana-based filmmakers to participate in the 2023 Emerging Voices Directors Lab. The Emerging Voices (EV) Directors Lab was created in 2014 and founded on the principle that to create a more diverse storytelling landscape, filmmakers of color in Louisiana need greater access to gatekeepers. The program offers an opportunity for underrepresented filmmakers—geographically, racially, and ethnically—to broaden their networks nationally and gain invaluable feedback on their own projects in development. Read more about the program here:

This year’s EV Directors Lab will shift its focus to more creative workshops for scripts in development to hone the fellows’ artistic voices and directing skills. The 2023 EV Directors Lab fellows are Ashlyn Guidry (New Orleans, LA), Chasah & Charliese West (Lafayette, LA), Da’Jana Florent (New Orleans, LA), Lemar Arceneaux (New Orleans, LA), Luke Harris (New Orleans, LA), and Owen H. Dunne (New Orleans, LA). This newly-announced cohort is smaller in size than previous years, to provide a more personal and in-depth experience for the fellows.

NOFS will award EV Directors Lab fellows $2,000 each toward their projects and the opportunity to travel to the 2023 Atlanta Film Festival with travel, lodging, and passes covered; as well as attend the New Orleans Film Festival (NOFF) in November. At both festivals, the EV Directors Lab fellows will have the opportunity to connect with each other and industry professionals in one-on-one meetings and curated small group sessions.

Maren Scott, coordinator of NOFS Filmmaker Labs and Alumni Services said: “As we reimagine our lab structure and impact, we are thrilled to have this year’s sessions curated and facilitated by Zandashé Brown (EV’15) and Angela Tucker (NOFF 2018 South Pitch). Two powerhouse filmmakers and program alumni who have achieved great success in the region. We hope to continue to welcome back alumni as mentors and collaborators in our efforts to further develop a more robust Southern film ecosystem.”

This year’s EV advisors include Pamela Torno (ITVS), Zaire Love (SLICE), Zac Manuel (EV’16), Abe Felix (EV’18), Lauren Domino (NOFF 2018 South Pitch), Dwayne LaBlanc (CIVIC), and Raven Jackson (NOFF 2018 South Pitch).

Emerging Voices is made possible with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Ford Foundation, and Perspective Fund.

Emerging Voices Directors Lab 2023 Fellows and Projects

Ashlyn Guidry with Pussy Poppers (Narrative Short)

Ashlyn Guidry is a film production graduate student at the University of New Orleans. She loves directing, writing, and producing films along with consuming anything and everything related to film. She is currently working to create a feature script. Her films focus on the idiosyncrasies of race, culture, sex, economy, and life while straying away from the usual narratives of trauma, learned helplessness, and ego. She wants to explore comedy and drama with an emphasis on the ironies of life with a dash of fun and exploration of different taboo topics such as sex.

Project Logline: Mia seeks her first orgasm as she can give pleasure but not receive it, leading to misadventures, sex, and self-discovery.

Chasah West and Charliese West with Gut Feeling (Narrative Short)

Sisters Chasah West and Charliese West are a creative duo. They’re of Louisiana Creole heritage but grew up in South Africa, Zambia, and various states in the USA. In 2022 they co-directed their first short film, Heritage. The script was a Phoenix Film Festival finalist pick before being filmed in the Fall. They love writing action, sci-fi, fantasy, and dramedy stories. Their scripts have been placed in a handful of film festivals and screenwriting contests, including the Austin Film Festival (2nd Rounder 2021), the New Orleans Film Festival Louisiana Screenplay (Top 5 2019), and the Louisiana International Film Festival Screenplay Competition (Finalist 2019).

Project Logline: A woman’s life is turned upside down when a watermelon seed takes root in her stomach.

Da’Jana Florent with NEW Orleans Made (Narrative Short)

Da’Jana Florent is an award-winning native New Orleans filmmaker. She made her directing debut with the short film “Like a Ship Without a Sail” in collaboration with the House of Young, an acclaimed digital media production company founded by native New Orleanian and fellow Emerging Voices Lab alumni Ejaaz Mason. The film won the grand prize in the 2019 Louisiana Film Prize Junior competition. Da’Jana’s work aims to combine her passion for music and lyrical storytelling with a fresh take on what it truly means to be from New Orleans.

Project Logline: A young female rapper sees all the senseless violence and uses what she knows best to fix it.

Lemar Arceneaux with Untitled (Documentary Feature)

Lemar Arceneaux is an artist both born and based in the greatest city on earth, New Orleans, LA. His work is motivated by the opportunity to capture rare moments of genuine human expression. In life, we each have a unique upbringing, but regardless of our backgrounds, circumstances or experiences we share similar emotions. It’s these emotions that allow an image to say what words cannot. Lemar’s ultimate goal is to grant the observer an opportunity to empathetically connect with the subject.

Project Logline: NOLA Rastaman eludes police and lives freely in the Jamaican hills for over a decade until deciding to face his charges.

Luke Harris with Stuffed (Narrative Feature)

Luke Harris is a New Orleans native and a graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He created his own production company, Lucky Luke Productions. He wrote and edited “The First Day of Being Black”, a Jury Award winner at the DGA; and co-wrote and co-produced a show that’s a finalist at the Television College Emmy. He was a finalist at the NOFF 2022 South Pitch, and his short film “Tambou” won the #CreateLouisiana Grant and premiered at the 26th New Orleans French Film Festival. He was selected to be the director of NOVAC’s 2023 documentary cohort.

Project Logline: After weight loss surgery, a woman must navigate new challenges to avoid reverting to her previous weight.

Owen H. Dunne with The Journey (Narrative Short)

OHD is a multi-disciplinary artist that strives to explore the in-between moments in life.

Project Logline: A black father comes to terms with his sons coming out.

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