Arts and Humanities Spotlight on Filmmaker Elijah Wells and the iGen Film Festival

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Elijah Wells

The TV and Film industry is becoming diverse in ethnicities but also in ages. 21-year-old Elijah Wells, being a film producer himself, has taken charge and has created a film festival for the youth called the iGen Film Festival. We had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Wells on how he got his start and the young people focused film festival.

What is your backstory?

I’m a 21-year-old African American born in Overtown Miami. FL, who has a passion for creating films that have taken me on a journey that I dreamed about as a kid. I have had the opportunity to work alongside some of the top influencers in the film industry. It all started at an early age. I was interested in photography, and at age 9 my father bought me my first camera. With a camera in my hand, I would follow my mother, who also is my “mom manager,” to local community events to take photos. I soon found myself taking acting classes with Kids on Camera. Things change fast, at the age of 11 I participated in a three-week workshop called CineLab. The intensive training session was run by Reggie Scott, President of PepperShaker Inc. I was the youngest student in the workshop, and I demonstrated an incredible talent that was unmatched.

In the summer of 2011, I joined Panzou Project, Inc. & Miami World Cinema Center. That November, I was awarded “The Clint Eastwood Award” for best acting and directing. The award affirmed me the gift as a writer and film director and heightened my motivation to pursue my passion and talent. The same year, local film director Steve Drayton Sr. heard about me and asked me to intern on his film “White Boys.”  Steve Drayton is the brother of William Jonathan Drayton, Jr, best known by his stage name Flavor Flav, an American rapper and television personality.

Mr. Drayton was impressed with my knowledge while working on the film set and called on me again to intern on a new mini TV series called “Miss Misunderstood” starring Jo Marie Payton, written and directed by Steven Drayton Sr.

In 2012, I began to write my first short film “The Gift.” When I heard there was a call for entries for the American Black Film Festival “2012 Short Film Competition. I then got busy writing and finishing “The Gift.”  I knew that I  had found my true gift in directing and cinematography. I entered the “2012 American Black Film Festival Community Showcase” and my short film “The Gift” was one of the winners. Moving forward I have worked on other projects with directors and done my own projects. My goal is to create great films people would like and a more significant film festival that the world would appreciate!

Why did you launch the iGen Film Festival three years ago?

I was so amazed by the American Black Film Festival that I wanted to start a youth film festival in my community- Historic Overtown. When I did my research, I noticed there were not many youth films festival around the world, so I decided to create a platform in South Florida.

I felt that it was my duty since I have learned first hand from so many in the film and entertainment industry.

How can the industry be improved?
The industry can be improved with technology and by giving the younger emerging filmmaker the opportunities to tell new stories, especially young minorities. It’s slowly happening now with diversity in movies, tv, etc.. However, we have a long way to go. There are so many stories that the world needs to see.

How does the iGen Film Festival help make these changes?

The iGen Film Festival is helping to make significant changes by providing young emerging filmmakers the platform and blueprint to create their stories, plus learn about the film industry on a creative and business side. The mission of the iGen Film Festival is to provide a platform for emerging filmmakers ages 16-25, around the world to reach the broadest possible audience and to generate international dialogue through cinema. The festival looks to celebrate and inspire filmmakers to develop their technical and creative skills. This year’s festival will include engaging and thought-provoking films, expert speakers and audience interaction. Emerging filmmakers will now have the opportunity to screen their films on the big screen in front of an audience.

What’s harder: Getting started or being able to keep going?

Starting was easy because of my passion for the film life! I have to say to be able to keep it going has been the hardest. Because as a person I have to grow to make sure that the iGen Film Festival grows as well. I have the love and passion for writing film and producing, but I also have to look at this as a business. I understand the business aspect, which is one of the goals to help keep the festival growing and becoming a great film festival for youth who aspire to become part of the film industry. This is a full production and the ability to keep it going requires having something new and fresh each year!

When inspiration is waning when you feel creatively sapped, what do you do? How do you stay fresh?

My inspiration comes from other film directors in the industry, and other people that I admire. I look back at their stories and see how they got started and the things they did to make it where they are today. It gives me the confidence to keep working past the rough times.  I stay fresh by reading, writing, filming and going to the movies.

The iGen Film Festival (formerly the Elijah Wells Youth Indie Film Festival) will take place October 19-21, 2018in Historic Overtown at the Historic Black Archives Lyric Theatre 819 NW 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33136. The mission of the iGen Film Festival is to provide a platform for emerging filmmakers ages 16-25, around the world to reach the broadest possible audience and to generate international dialogue through cinema. The festival looks to celebrate and inspire filmmakers to develop their technical and creative skills.


The iGen Film Festival Ambassador’s for this year is Romeo Miller and JoMarie Payton. The festival is excited to have to participate for the third year teaching a session in Film Producing, Wills Felin, Marco Mall, Antwan Smith, Fentz Louis, and Joe Latimn, just to name a few. There will be an intimate conversation with Nigerian-American Actor Sope Aluko(Black Panther) as well at the festival.


The iGen Film Festival looks to promote a new generation of emerging film filmmakers who are enriching the artistic landscape of film. This year’s festival line up will include engaging and thought-provoking films, expert speakers and audience interaction.


The iGen Film Festival is helping to make significant changes by providing young emerging filmmakers the first steps to create their stories and understanding the film industry on a creative and business side. The mission of the iGen Film Festival is to provide a platform for emerging filmmakers ages 16-25, around the world to reach the broadest possible audience and to generate international dialogue through cinema. The festival looks to celebrate and inspire filmmakers to develop their technical and creative skills. The festival promotes a new generation of emerging film filmmakers. This year’s festival will include engaging and thought-provoking films, expert speakers and audience interaction. inspire filmmakers will now have the opportunity to screen their films on the big screen in front of an audience.


Visit: www.iGenfilmfestival.com for more information. Follow on Social media @igenfilmfestival

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