The NAACP presents the 2023 "Thriving Together" Cinematic Shorts Competition, taking place during the 114th NAACP Convention in Boston, MA from July 26 - August 1st, 2023. This exciting competition will provide six filmmakers/activists the opportunity to tell their stories of social justice.
- Must be between the ages of 18-29 by June 30.
- Must submit one creative sample (short film, commercial or photography) that demonstrates your skill set as a filmmaker.
- Must submit a written statement between 250-300 words answering one of the essay questions below.
- Must provide your own transportation to and from Boston, MA for the competition. (Local hotel accommodations will be provided for selected filmmakers/activists based on double occupancy).
NAACP Empowerment Programs, Inc. shall be the exclusive owner, including without limitation, owner of all intellectual property rights, in all films, including all footage shot or edited as part of the competition or with equipment furnished as part of the competition.
Paired in teams of two, the filmmakers will receive equipment and work under the guidance of a professional mentor to produce a 5-7 minute short film. The short films can be narrative, documentary, or avant-garde; and will explore one of the following topics:
- Racism, anti-Semitism, white nationalism, and the rise in hate crimes in the United States.
- The regressive laws in some states are eroding hard-fought rights such as reproductive freedoms, voting rights, and education access.
- Discriminatory policies at the local, state, and federal levels continue to widen the health and wealth gap.
At the conclusion of the 114th Convention, participating filmmakers will present their finished short films and attendees will vote for their favorite film. The winning filmmakers will be awarded prizes that include professional camera equipment, screenplay software, tablets and much more.
ALL the filmmakers in this year's cohort will receive an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles to attend the 55th NAACP Image Awards, where they will walk the red carpet, and attend informational meetings with industry executives.
A short film by Amy Tiong and Payton Mack
To vote for this film, text SHORT 1 to 20707.
A short film by Alana I. Smith and Clarke Phillips
To vote for this film, text SHORT 2 to 20707.
A short film by Tyla Barnes & Jeffery Jackson
To vote for this film, text SHORT 3 to 20707.
Tyla Barnes is a multi-hyphenate artist hailing from the heart of the South. She has always been captivated by the power of storytelling and its ability to inspire change and unite people. Her mission as a storyteller is clear: to shed light on the rich and diverse experiences of the Black community through the magic of filmmaking. From shooting videos at her alma mater, Hampton University, to writing and directing content for Beats By Dre, to now being a part of the NAACP Cinematic shorts competition, one thing remains true, her unwavering commitment to authentic storytelling. Together, she wants to continue exploring new worlds, breaking boundaries, and celebrating the beauty of diversity through the magic of cinema.
Jeffery “J-Squared” Jackson
Jeffery "J-Squared" Jackson is a native of the eastside of Atlanta, Georgia. Jeffery is the founder and owner of J-Squared Productions, where they conceptualize, produce, execute high-quality productions, photoshoots, music videos, and films.
Jeffery's educational journey, as a collegiate athlete, took him to four universities, completing his matriculation with an Associate of Arts from Andrew College, a Bachelor of Arts from Georgia State University, and a certificate of completion from his Korean studies abroad.
While in college, Jeffery pursued positions in the film industry full-time, and in 2016 started working with LVRN/Interscope with an artist by the name of Spacejam Bo. This collaboration quickly catapulted him to dream bigger and accomplish more than he had ever imagined. In 2021, Jeffery received his first three RIAA-certified plaques for his contribution to two highly successful records, Vedo "You Got It" (RIAA certified platinum), and BRS Kash "Throat Baby" (RIAA certified platinum).
Payton Mack is a filmmaker from Houston, TX with her B.A. in Film & TV from Howard University and second year MFA Film Production candidate at the University of Southern California. From a very young age, she has always appreciated capturing the beauty in the small things and has developed her skills before she knew she was interested in storytelling. Simultaneously, she always found a pleasant escape in diving into her favorite films and tv shows. But as time went on, she noticed something was missing from a majority of these shows and movies. By attending Howard University, she was able to meet a plethora of other intellectual, funny, and kind Black students in a space designed to uplift them. At that moment she understood what the media during her upbringing lacked, proper diverse black representation. With the lack of diverse representation and her love for filmmaking she is creating a wider range of black stories beyond the narrow point of view they were during her upbringing. Taking what she learns every step of the way, she enters the industry as a Director and Cinematographer to provide growing Black kids with the constant sense of self within the media she wishes she had growing up.
Clarke Phillips received her BFA in Filmmaking from the North Carolina School of the Arts with a concentration in film directing. While attending UNCSA, Clarke directed four narrative short films, Condoned Fears, You Know His Name, Suga Brown, and one documentary In Her Absence. Now based in both North Carolina and Atlanta, Clarke is currently working in partnership with Chromatic Black to finish post-production on her latest film Sweet Pea. Clarke's work is often inspired by past and present events involving minority groups in America. As her career grows, she will continue to highlight underrepresented communities as she believes it's essential for BIPOC to see themselves positively portrayed in the media.
Alana I. Smith
Alana I. Smith, a Sacramento native, is a rising senior Television and Film major, Business Administration minor at Howard University. Since her freshman year, Alana has written, directed, and produced five short films: Wake Up (2020), Forgotten (2021), Too Fresh 4 School (2021), Nineteen (2022), and Something Sweet (2023). Wake Up is an award-winning short film and has garnered Alana recognition as the National Black Movie Association's 2021 Reel HBCU Challenge winner and "Filmmaker of the Year." In addition, she is a recipient of the Black Artistry Seed Grant and Da Cypher Youth Creative Fund. On April 21, 2023, Alana executive produced and curated the first ever Student Film Festival on the yard at Howard University. Recently, she launched her production company, AIS Productions, and served as Director of Photography on a senior thesis film and docuseries titled Championship Culture for the Howard University Women's Basketball team. Currently, she is interning at Amazon Studios in partnership with Howard Entertainment, participating in the Academy Gold Rising program and developing an upcoming film.
Amy B. Tiong
Amy B. Tiong is a graduate of NYU Tisch. Inspired by her immigrant parents, she tenaciously pursued her education, becoming a Gates Millennium Scholar and Tisch Dean's Scholar. Take Care Zora, the most recent piece she co-directed as the Finish the Script Competition winner, was made in partnership with Dolby and Ghetto Film School. She was selected for Bustle's New Filmmaker series. Her Bustle piece BitterSweet received press from NBC News and Elite Daily. PictureStart commissioned Amy's most recent documentary, highlighting the MMIW (Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women) movement. Her current feature script, When You're Ready To Go, is in the top 3% of scripts on Coverfly and is an immigration horror story. She believes in showing solidarity on-screen and using film as a medium of generational healing. She currently coordinates for Vice in their News and Branded departments while co-leading the POC Group. Her mission in film is to inspire equality and empathy. Outside of film, she enjoys boxing, reading, dancing, baking, writing poetry, and giving back to her community.