Chicago natives Jonah Ocuto and Amaya Benbow are the recipients of local video production company Lightswitch Video’s inaugural film grant.
The Full STEM Ahead Filmmaker’s Initiative is a first-year initiative designed to not only encourage STEM education and careers in STEM but to also cultivate the filmmakers of tomorrow in the process.
Ocuto and Benbow were chosen to receive a $5,000 grant to produce a short-form documentary about the STEM program of their choice, Blue Tin Production. Blue Tin Production will receive a matching $5,000 donation, and the final documentary will receive a showing at a local theater alongside a Q&A with the documentarians.
“As filmmakers, we are fascinated with how Blue Tin is using their platform in the fashion industry to create sweeping change in the lives of thousands of Chicagoans, and want to shine a light on the reality behind the clothes we wear,” said Ocuto and Benbow. “Led by BIPOC women, Blue Tin embodies the ways in which STEM programs can empower citizens to create drastic change, against all odds. We are inspired by those who, despite all circumstances, persevere, believing in a community’s power to better the lives of others. Like Blue Tin says, “It takes a village.’”
Blue Tin Production is an apparel manufacturing workers co-operative run by immigrant, refugee, and working-class women of color. Founded by author and founder of political fashion publication JooJoo Azad, Hoda Katebi, Blue Tin has been featured in various news outlets, including VOGUE and WBEZ 91.5, Chicago’s NPR news station.
“For our inaugural year doing this grant, it was inspiring seeing all of the amazing applications we received and the ideas that were shared. It was difficult having to choose just one project in the end,” said Andrew Nuño, a video producer at Lightswitch Video who helped judge the submissions. “That being said, we couldn’t be more thrilled to be moving forward with Jonah and Amaya on their project and I’m excited to see what they end up creating.”
Ocuto and Benbow will receive free consultations with Lightswitch producers on best production practices and post-production support from Lightswitch’s world-class editing team. The grant is sponsored by ZEISS Industrial Quality Solutions.