Press Release: Free Spirit Media introduces the 2018 Industry Pathways Cohort


By FSM Communications


CHICAGO - Feb 20, 2018  Thirteen members of Free Spirit Media’s Industry Pathways Cohort today began a 12-week intensive training program to prepare for work in the film, media and TV industries with an orientation at Stage 18 Chicago. The Cohort will receive 140 hours of training in pre-production, film production, post-production and professional development with educational and production support from DePaul University’s Cinematic Arts Program, IATSE 476, Stage 18 and various other industry partnerships. The program culminates in the production of a professional short film written, directed and produced by the Cohort members and Free Spirit Media. Last year’s crew produced "Drive Slow," which premiered at the New York Television Film Festival.

Though the media industry has seen some positive changes in recent years in terms of inclusion, a new report (University of California, Los Angeles Institute for Research on Labor and Employment) shows that over the past five years, areas where women and people of color saw sustained progress were rare, and the numbers of minority film directors saw virtually no change. The Cohort training program is one of Free Spirit Media’s interventions in the industry.

Free Spirit Media’s Executive Director Jeff McCarter shares, “Free Spirit Media is thinking both about immediate opportunities, and also playing a long game to truly transform the creative economy by representing the diverse lives and experiences in our society.  Opening doors and providing a context for original content creation and production allows people to feel connected to each other and have a chance to experience empathy and perspective."

The 2018 Industry Pathways Cohort members are: Alex Brooks (23),  Bianca Brown (25), Joy Duson (21), Alexis Esparza (21), Amber Eswani (22), Pascal Fernandes (24), Sarah Gray (25), Joseph Harris (23), Moesha Jones (21), Angellic Ross (24), Angelica Sanchez (25), Latifah Williams (25) and Elizabeth Tawose (24).


“I knew I wanted to expand my media skills beyond just writing, so I joined the Cohort so that I could get hands on experience with film production and the Chicago media industry. I’m especially glad that I can learn about media and film in a way that is contextualized around people of color, since the industry has always been so stacked against us,” says Fernandes.

The second annual Cohort is made possible by the generous support of the Allstate Insurance Co, Bank of America, Chicago Community Trust, Dr. Scholl Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation and Steans Family Foundation.


Media Contacts: Chelsea Corbin and Caroline Olsen