Filmmaker Lab Spotlight: J Stevens and Olive Nwosu

Filmmaker Lab Spotlight: J Stevens and Olive Nwosu

Every year, 20 filmmakers from around the world are invited to participate in TIFF’s Filmmaker Lab, a renowned talent development programme where participants are invited to learn, grow, and hone their skills.

This year, TIFF’s first-ever Every Story Fellowships were offered to support participants from equity-deserving communities. Filmmaker Lab ran from September 7 to 11, and we caught up with J Stevens (TIFF Every Story Fellowship) and Olive Nwosu (TIFF Share Her Journey Fellowship in honour of Viola Desmond) to see what the experience was like.

How do you feel after Filmmaker Lab?

J: Coming out of the Filmmakers Lab, I feel incredibly inspired and supported to continue the process of making my first feature film.

Olive: I feel inspired and excited and hopeful and exhausted. It’s a heady mix of energy that I can’t wait to pour into my project.

What was the coolest thing you learned?

J: It’s not the coolest thing I learned… but the coolest aspect of the Lab was the talks we did with different directors at the Festival. It’s rare you get an opportunity to ask directors like Sally El Hosaini and Cristian Mungiu questions in an intimate setting that can directly help you with the film you’re developing.

Olive: To trust my process and vision, that it’s a long journey and first and foremost you have to be in a good relationship with yourself ― it’s where everything begins.

Every Story Fellows are supported by TIFF’s Every Story fund, which promotes diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in film. Help us support even more Every Story Fellows next year!

Nigeria/United Kingdom, TIFF Share Her Journey Fellowship in honour of Viola Desmond
Olive Nwosu

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Olive Nwosu is a 2020 BAFTA-Pigott Scholar, Alex Sichel Fellow at Columbia University School of the Arts, an African Promises director selected by the Institut Français, and a 2022 Sundance Screenwriting Fellow.

Nwosu has written and directed two award-winning short films: Troublemaker, awarded a 2020 NBR Student Award and now streaming on the Criterion Channel, and Egúngún (Masquerade), which screened at TIFF 2021 and Sundance 2022, and was nominated for Best British Short Film at the British Independent Film Awards.

Nwosu is currently developing two feature film projects with Film4 and the BBC. Her work is informed by the intersectional nature of her life across multiple continents and identities. Her mission is to tell urgent, cinematic, African-centred stories.

Canada, TIFF Every Story Fellowship
J Stevens

J Stevens (they/them) is a Calgary born filmmaker. With over a decade of experience behind the camera, Stevens’ mission is to continue bringing dynamic, personal and visually captivating 2SLGBTQ+ content to the forefront. Their work has been featured at festivals such as TIFF, InsideOut, and Hollyshorts.

Stevens is the co-creator, director, and cinematographer of the high-energy mockumentary series Slo Pitch (IFC/AMC+). They recently directed for the CSA & Peabody award-winning show Sort Of (CBC/HBOMax), and two episodes of Astrid & Lilly Save the World (Crave, CTV Sci-Fi and Syfy).