Million-Dollar Tribeca Film Festival Winner Reunites With His Artistic and Corporate Sponsors

A lively AT&T Shape conference discussion

The proof is in the pre-production.

Faraday Okoro, winner of this year’s inaugural Tribeca Film Festival “Untold Stories” pitch competition, through which he garnered a $1 million prize from presenting sponsor AT&T, flew directly from Lagos, Nigeria to Los Angeles to attend this weekend’s panel discussion on the Warner Bros. studio lot. In Nigeria, Okoro spent a week scouting locations and meeting with actors for his drama Nigerian Prince, which will premiere at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.

Joining him on stage Saturday afternoon at the Steven J. Ross Theater for an AT&T Shape conference panel titled “Finding the Million Dollar Film” were A&T chief brand officer Fiona Carter, Tribeca Film Institute executive director Amy Hobby and actor Jeffrey Wright, one of the judges of the “Untold Stories” pitch competition alongside Carter, Lee Daniels, Anthony Mackie and several others. The four runners-up that day each received a $10,000 grant from AT&T.

Helping Okoro select the right actors for his project, which will be shot in both the U.S. and Nigeria, is leading Hollywood casting director Avy Kaufman. Hobby, a veteran film producer, joked at one point that she has been turned down several times by Kaufman on her projects.

To Hobby’s stage-right was Wright, whose Panama hat and sonorous voice accentuated his embodiment of a wise creative muse. “Don’t be an ass,” he counseled Okoro and would-be filmmakers in the audience when discussing the all-important task of leadership on a film set. So many directors, he said, wrongly meld the auteur theory with authoritarianism.

Wright also noted that a million dollars can go a long way. That is about what was spent on one of his upcoming projects O.G., directed by documentary filmmaker Madeleine Sadler and shot largely at Indiana’s Pendleton Correctional Facility. In a recent interview, Wright described the six weeks he spent shooting at the prison as “the most powerful experience I’ve ever had on a film set.”

Chief brand officer Carter proved to be a wonderful moderator-slash-cheerleader. Recalling that the idea for the seven-figure “Untold Stories” competition first took shape in Las Vegas with Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Jane Rosenthal and Tribeca Enterprises CEO Andrew Essex, she confessed that “tequila may have been involved.”

Photo via: @EDSchmit2

Previously on Fishbowl:
Owen Wilson Breaks Up With Owen Wilson at 2017 Tribeca Film Festival
Kobe Bryant Lines Up Tribeca Film Festival Triple Double
Tribeca Film Festival Curates Some ‘California Dreaming’