As the old guard of directors gets older, one may question what the future of filmmaking will look like. To answer that question, you need only look to the young talents of today. So many young filmmakers, screenwriters, and producers are rising through the ranks, sure to be the shapers for the next generation of cinema. Here are 10 promising young filmmakers/screenwriters/ producers in the world that you should keep on your radar, written by Mark McPherson.
Until recently, Mariama Diallo was only known as a director of short films (Sketch, Hair Wolf) and a handful of episodes for the experimental show Random Acts of Flyness. 2022, however, was the big premiere of her debut feature Master, a social horror that takes place at a college with issues of racism. The film premiered on Amazon Prime and starred Regina Hall and Zoe Renee. With Master having premiered just last March, she’s a fresh director with experience in both film and television that is bound for bigger projects.
Cooper Raiff got his first taste of acting by playing a 14-year-old character in the short drama Domum (2010). In addition to acting, Cooper also took an interest in writing and directing with his directorial debut in the drama Madeline & Cooper (2018). While that film was rather small and went under the radar, his next feature film, Shithouse (2020), became more notable as the tale of a lonely college student who finds love during a party. Cooper would play the lead as well as write, direct, and produce the film. Currently, he’s turning his attention to television by acting in I Would Have Kissed You but also writing and executive producing on Exciting Times. In terms of films, he’s focusing more on producing such off-beat dramas as Over/Under (2022) and Cha Cha Real Smooth (2022), which he also wrote, directed, and starred in. He’s a quad threat for helping so many of his projects that he’s worth watching for his next acting/directing/writing/producing feature.
Ariel Lavi has been making a name for himself worldwide as a producer that has worked with many famous actors and he’s not even 30. Having studied acting at the Lee Strasberg Film & Theater Institute and won the 48 hours film festival in NYC with the film “Salads For Soulmates”, he started as a producer of short films and soon expanded with crews all over the world. He has since produced several short films and music videos, taking place across the globe in the countries of the US, Mexico, Nigeria, Israel, Dubai, and Canada. He’s also been a writer on the short films Cycle of Poverty and Metanoia. Metanoia, in particular, was distributed to streaming platforms in China such as IQiyi, the Netflix Of China. The film was screened at the Hilltop Film Festival Of Diversity and Inclusion and is due for screenings at the Lift Off Filmmaker Film Festival in London and Pinewood Studios, the Hollywood studio behind the James Bond films. His success has led to him being interviewed in Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Washington, Atlanta, Miami, Beijing, Mexico, London, the Caribbean, Italy, and Dubai. He’s the owner of the production company Lavi Company, located in Miami, FL, and if you’re in New Orleans you might have seen his billboard. Lavi doesn’t just distribute to Florida but all over the world. He additionally studied screenwriting at the National Film and Television School and has worked with actors all over the world. His productions have earned him an invite to the international film festival Cinemadamare in Italy.
His upcoming production is The Corona Diary, a documentary in Dubai he’s producing and directing, marking his directorial debut. As a member of the Equity Actors Guild UK, Writers Guild Of Great Britain, Australian Writers Guild, Dramatist Guild of America in Broadway, and Producers Guild of Europe, he’s a triple-threat player to keep an eye out for considering his international influence. His other upcoming films include This Won’t End Well in Canada (writing/producing) and Dangerous Silence in Nigeria (writing/producing).
Sarnoski seemed to come out of nowhere in 2021 but made a huge impression with his direction and screenwriter debut with Pig. He wrote the screenplay alongside producer Vanessa Block from his time at Yale University. Pig boasted a strong performance by Nicolas Cage that showcased how Sarnoski could not only write such a strong role for the veteran actor but direct him with great dignity as well. Although his film wasn’t a major hit at the box office, it gained a lot of love from the Independent Spirit Awards and Critics Choice Awards. Due to such success, Sarnoski is well on his way to directing bigger projects, such as a Quiet Place spin-off he’s currently working on for Paramount.
Nia DaCosta grew up with dreams of becoming a writer or a poet. The film became more of her obsession when she stumbled onto Apocalypse Now. While attending the New York University Tisch School of the Arts, she met Martin Scorcese and was also hired as a TV production assistant. Nia specialized in making uncomfortable films about situations, having first directed her short film The Black Girl Dies Last in 2009 and making her feature directorial debut with 2018’s Little Woods, which starred Tessa Thompson. It’s worth noting that in both projects she also wrote the screenplay. She made a bigger writing/directing smash into horror with 2021’s Candyman remake. She is currently directing the Disney+ series The Marvels, based within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With such big projects on the horizon, it’s no wonder she was considered one of Variety’s Directors to Watch.
You may know Timothée Chalamet as the heartthrob of such films as 2019’s Little Women and 2021’s Dune. But did you know this young actor is also venturing into producing as well? His upcoming film Bones & All, based on the novel by Camille DeAngelis, is being directed by Luca Guadagnino but Chalamet is one of the co-producers. This will mark his first dive into the world of being a producer. He’s come quite a long way from having been a kid actor for his first few films of Men, Women & Children, and Interstellar. Keep an eye on him for future productions.
As another star of Dune, Zendaya has a bit more experience in producing for someone still in their 20s. After having a breakout role in Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), as well as future Spider-Man movies where she appeared as MJ, she has since gone on a slew of television and movie productions with some of them acting as producer. She starred in the minimal romantic drama Malcolm & Marie (2021) where she is also a producer. As for television, she’s currently all the talk of the downbeat drama series Euphoria, where she has also served as executive producer since season two. So far, Zendaya has been a producer on projects where she’s the lead and this move could very well lead to her becoming a screenwriter or director. It’ll be interesting to see how her career proceeds.
Lisa Hurwitz went to The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and found herself most infatuated with the format of the cafeteria. Though she wasn’t going for a degree in filmmaking, she was so intrigued by the cafeteria that she directed and produced the documentary The Automat (2021), centering around the 20th-century phenomenon of vending machine-style cafeterias. This is her directorial debut alongside documentary veteran Michael Levine as a writer. With such a fantastic debut, it’ll be fascinating to see what types of documentaries she may produce next.
Tayarisha Poe first directed the short film Honey and Trombones in 2012 as a personal reflection of Indiana. She seemed to disappear for some time but then broke onto the filmmaking scene where she made her feature directorial debut with Selah and the Spades (2020). The film proved to be an intriguing school-based drama of romance and cliques. She would also guest direct episodes of Dave, Two Sentence Horror Stories, and The Twilight Zone. Filmmaker Magazine was on point when they declared her one of the 25 New Faces in 2015 and she proved as much with her breakthrough into feature films and television as a director.
Those who grew up with the Disney Channel may know of Carlson Young as the lead role in the show As the Bell Rings (2007-2009). She broke into horror when she appeared in the independent horror film Premature (2014). In 2018, she would star, write, and direct the short horror film The Blazing World, based on the prose of author Margaret Cavendish. In 2021, The Blazing World would expand into a feature film that Young also wrote and directed, in addition to once more playing the role of Margaret Winter. Her direction has also spilled into music videos, having directed “Catch & Release” by Peel. She is currently writing middle-school fantasy-horror Femina Nox with a possibility that she’ll direct as well. Having become accustomed to horror, Young is someone to watch for in this genre.
Writer: Mark McPherson