2022-23 Level Up FIlmmaker fellows

The Level Up: Community Filmmaker Collective, an initiative of the Black Film Festival of New Orleans, is a new filmmaker development program designed to offer community, instruction, and production to the next generation of New Orleans filmmakers. Level Up is designed to build community and skill among filmmakers and those aspiring towards careers in film. The 5 month program will include set visits to independent film sets, bi-weekly dialogue with industry professionals, and short film productions.
Tyler Daniels
With footprints spanning across the south, I have written scripts and tinkered with cameras since Bissonet Elementary. Making many amateur home movies throughout middle and high school lead me to pursuing a Film Degree at the University of Southern Mississippi. After a quarter century of experimenting with visual mediums, I’m exited to further grow as an artist and individual.
Claude Hill
Claude Hill, III, is a Louisiana native and resident of the River Parishes. In Spring 2022, he graduated from Tulane University with a Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience and Digital Media Production. While his initial goal was to become a neuropharmaceutical scientist, Claude’s focus now is entirely on his passion for filmmaking. In May of 2022, Claude debuted his first short film, “Rules Are Rules”, a narrative about a young man consumed by the rage and dismay surrounding his recent job termination. Claude admires and appreciates the power that filmmaking has to transcend the screen and to inform the world around, and thus, change it too. He aims to create stories that represent the underrepresented in beautifully unique ways and that challenge and bring light to the oppressive systems and behaviors of the world. Claude is currently working in the film industry and working on his own projects that will soon be available on a screen near you!
Alexis Simms
Alexis Simms is a Black young adult from New Orleans, Louisiana. She currently works in the Film Industry as a Production Assistant. On her time off, she’s a script-writer building Afro-Surrealist projects she hopes to see on screen. At her very core, she wants to tell stories. The power of film connects everyone, and that magic drives Alexis forward in all her creative endeavors.
Krishna Nathwani
Digital marketing native with over 15 years of experience working in the UK, Canada and the US. Working in the account manager/project manager role for brands to create digital marketing initiatives in an array of tactics to include website redesign & builds, content marketing, paid media, email marketing and social media marketing. A recent graduate of Loyola’s MBA program in Business Administration with a marketing specialization, my interest in video production has come from my work and my passion for watching documentaries. My ultimate dream would be to make my own documentary, but would like to pivot my career into video production – transferring my project management skills into this arena.
Xel Simone
Xel Simone is an emerging director, actor, griot, and creator. Their creative pursuit is to continue the tradition of black storytelling through film and television, as well as by whatever other means touches their spirit. xel has contributed to a number of films in the New Orleans community as an actor, editor, and artistic director, and is now directing and producing their debut television project with KrooKed KoKoa Studios, a black and queer artist collective based in Los Angeles, CA.
April Davenport
April Davenport currently serves as the law clerk in Orleans Parish Civil District Court. As a lawyer, April represented artists and creatives in various areas of Intellectual Property including applying for copyrights and trademarks, drafting and reviewing licensing agreements, and litigating contract disputes. In addition to practicing law, she also worked at CNN as an associate producer. As a hobby, April has always enjoyed creating stories through video, and looks forward to tapping into her creative side.
Patrice Hall
My name is Patrice Hall and I am a photographer born and raised in Miami, FL. As a kid, I grew up loving the arts (acting, modeling, painting, dancing, photography, filmmaking, etc.). My true passions fell toward cinematography as I grew fonder and fonder of the craft in my early adulthood. As a photographer I would capture video clips and create stories out of nothing. As a thriving creative, I am a determined and self motivated individual seeking initiatives that will enable me to gain sufficient experience that will allow for me to capture/produce phenomenal films. I believe that I have the flexibility to be guided, yet also have the freedom to create with no boundaries. With this, my drive and efforts will develop my skills toward being a cinematographer… and one day a filmmaker.

2023 Eyes on the Prize Scholars

The Eyes on the Prize project grant recipients are New Orleans based creatives identified for their committed pursuit of their own independent projects. BFFNO is helping to make their projects a reality by providing financial assistance, in kind resources and the talents of the academy members of the Level Up collective. 

Cierra Johnson
Cierra is a filmmaker and storyteller born, bred, and based in New Orleans. She has a BA in English with a minor in Digital Filmmaking from Loyola University New Orleans. Developing a love for storytelling at a young age, she has written stories primarily in speculative fiction genres for a young adult audience. Through filmmaking, she hopes to explore stories that often go untold through perspectives that often go unheard. Her debut film, “Looking at the Edges”, a short documentary about New Orleans East, was an official selection of the Crescent City Film and Arts Festival and the Black Film Festival of New Orleans.
LaKesha Glover
LaKesha Glover is an Stage, film and television actor. She was last seen in The St.Louis Black Repertory Theater’s production of ‘Dontrell Who Kissed the Sea’. Other theatre credits include Dontrell Who Kissed The Sea with The Nebraska Repertory. Seven guitars with the Saint Louis Black repertory theater, String from Mojo and String with The No Dream Deferred, Small Craft Warning with the Tennessee Williams Theater company, and House of Bernarda Alba with In Good Company, to name just a few. Film/TV credits include The Adulterer, Regret, Disney’s show Saturday’s, Leverage: the redemption, Secrets of Sulphur Springs and Killing It.. She’s currently working on her own series “Rosebud”. She also is a Board Member with The Tennessee Williams Theater company. www.Lakeshaglover.com
Whitney Nero

Whitney Nero is a New Orleans-based writer