Sponsor Lesley Steele’s involvement in the UnionDocs Collaborative Studio.
It has been quite the honor to be accepted into UnionDoc’s 10 month collaborative documentary fellowship at this time in my life. I am fundraising in order to gain enough financial support to cover the costs of the program’s tuition. I never thought I’d come across an opportunity as unique as this, where I can truly make a difference in the world through strengthening my methodologies as a storyteller and visual creator of the moving image.
I am in need of support to make this learning experience possible as I am unable to provide the means independently to cover the tuition and if I could, I wholeheartedly would. While there are many fundraisers and campaigns out there, and many in need; I truly am one of the starving filmmakers having sacrificed relentlessly to be in this moment right now. Your support is tax-deductible and any donations via this platform can be written off.
Participation in this program would not only enrich my life and devotion as a filmmaker, but more importantly I believe the stories which I intend to tell, will significantly impact and shape the ways in which we understand each other as humans in a world that is constantly shifting and in need of humanity. I’ve always believed stories are what makes the difference in the world. They enhance our perspectives and understanding of a subject or idea and often elevate our perceptions. I believe the world direly needs stories that will resonate and stick to the human consciousness and serve as a moral compass through this medium we call documentary film.
My goal is to hone my skills, perspective, understanding and execution of documentary storytelling through the UnionDocs Collab program with the hopes of one day being able to contribute to the greater good of society through a medium in which I love. Your support and donations directly expense the tuition of the program.
Lesley is a dedicated visual storyteller with a background in video & film production and digital design. Originally a New York City native from The Bronx, Lesley obtained a BFA in Design Technology from Parsons The New School for Design and Masters in Directing from The School of Visual Arts.
She writes, directs and produces various forms of video for emerging platforms. Heavily inspired by Avant Garde filmmaking and experimental filmmakers, Lesley explores combining mediums and creating new meaning through exploration of form. A devoted vintage camera collector, Lesley shoots 16mm, Super8mm and other analog and digital formats.
Currently a Shooter/Editor at Genius, Lesley creates daily music news videos for the Genius site and social platforms. Previously she worked as a Digital Designer at MTV & Nickelodeon, Buzzfeed and HBO.
includes archival found footage
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Black Panthers were considered a “threat” by the FBI because they offered free breakfast to children. The results were immediately obvious…the children became more productive in school as they no longer were fighting hunger pains and the systematic reminder of poverty inside the classroom. The government was afraid of black children being exposed to an education and having the means to obtain a proper education. Which all came down to having the most important meal of the day. 🍳💪🏾✨
includes archival found footage
Winter | Cuba | 2018
Summer | NYC | 2017
The UnionDocs Collaborative Studio (CoLAB) is a 10 month program for a select group of media artists from the US and abroad. Based in one of NYC’s most exciting neighborhoods, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, CoLAB offers a platform for exploring contemporary approaches to the documentary arts and a process for developing an innovative collaborative project. The program consists of weekly production meetings, seminars, screenings and other public programs, along with regular masterclasses and critiques with visiting artists.
In a recent article in The New York Times, film scholar Scott MacDonald, remarked, “UnionDocs has a healthy sense that the older definitions of what constitutes ‘experimental’ cinema and what constitutes ‘documentary’ are up for grabs.” Similarly, the UnionDocs Collaborative Studio represents a new and alternative fellowship model, offering residency and visa support for six participants coming from abroad and an equal number of spots for local, non-resident participants. It is designed to be affordable and, although participants are asked to make CoLAB their primary creative focus, the schedule does accommodate full-time or freelance work. Rather than applying with a project proposal or rough cut, all participants are selected on the basis of previous work and enter the program at square one, open to discovery and fresh connections.
UnionDocs is not simply the host for this activity, it takes an active role producing the collection of short documentary works that comprise the collaborative project. The theme or focus for the year is chosen by the Artistic Director, and resources and research to support this direction are gathered. The CoLAB Director leads the group through an incremental process where new ideas and new partnerships form; each participant finding their own avenues of creative contribution. Regular readings and assignments for seminars stimulate creativity, open discussion and debate, and offer a common set of references for the group. Master classes with visiting artists provide encouragement, inspiration and exposure to a diverse set of conceptual perspectives and practical methods. As projects reach their final edit, unique plans for exhibition and distribution are formulated.
The Brooklyn Rail summed it up with the title of their feature article: “UnionDocs Brings Auteurs Together”. For some, participation in the program may lead to further study. For others, it may lead to independent projects or strengthened careers within the industry. For all, it is an unparalleled immersion in the expansive field of documentary art.
Learn more about the UnionDocs Collaborative Studio here