Back in the spring, The Grand Cinema was honored to partner with South Sound Together to provide our local, Pierce County-based filmmakers with a new funding opportunity.

Powered by South Sound Together, The Grand Cinema and Film In Tacoma announced the Film 253 Grants: a program that supports Pierce-County based film and media makers by investing in their creative vision, their contributions to the vibrancy and diversity of our community, and their ability to create job opportunities.

We received 50 applications from local artists, submitted in four different categories: seed funding for development, finishing funds for post-production, equipment funding, and the Rising Filmmaker Award. We had $14,000 to award, and our volunteer grant reviewers got to work.

A panel of film industry and communications professionals contributed their time and expertise, and deliberated over the Film 253 grant proposals.

The quality of the proposals was impressive, and the panel worked carefully to apply the grant guidelines and review criteria to each application. We asked our reviewers to consider the following in their ratings:

  • A successful applicant should be a filmmaker with a provable ability to successfully complete a project, and meaningfully connected to Pierce County.

  • The Film 253 Grants awardees will reflect Pierce County. They will be diverse in race, sex, age, orientation, gender identity, religion, veteran or marital status, national origin, ethnicity, culture, socio-economic class, and ability.

  • With these awards, we should reflect The Grand’s core values: we believe film is transformative — empowering patrons, students, and filmmakers to become engaged, compassionate citizens and artists; we champion equitable cinema experiences and films that represent diverse communities around the world; and we act courageously and openly with respect for the knowledge and experience of others.


Join the Film 253 Forum, connect and learn from Pierce County filmmakers on Wednesday, October 10, 4 PM at The Grand Cinema
These local filmmakers will share samples of their work, and their current successes and challenges. This is a great opportunity to make connections for future collaborations. Learn more here.

Without further delay, we're thrilled to announce our sixteen winners:

Film 253 Grants winners in Category 1: seed funding for project development

Studio Revolt: Anida Yeou Ali and Masahiro Sugano
PAPER GIRL, short film

A collaborative short film combining live action, animation and intricately cut paper characters exploring a romance between a paper girl and human man that unfolds across various landscapes and through historically important eras.

Studio Revolt serves as a collaborative media lab for performance artist Anida Yoeu Ali and filmmaker Masahiro Sugano. Sugano, a Sundance Film Festival alumni, is an award winning filmmaker whose accolades stretch from a Student Academy Award nomination in 1997 to the 2016 Documentary Award given by the National Asian American Journalists Association. Ali exhibits internationally, most notably with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum and the Palais de Tokyo.

Studio Revolt works wherever critical issues exist such as the marginalization of working mothers in Fukuoka, the deportations of Khmer Americans to Cambodia, the rise of Islamophobia in Washington DC or the urban gentrification in Tacoma. Their work, practice and research are rooted in the peripheries challenging both the art world and public discourse.

Kadazia Allen-Perry
FREE FALLOW, web series

Grizzle embarks on a journey to discover what purpose she should serve on the asteroid inhabited by her, her family, and friends. Along the way she learns that it's okay to now know what you want to do with your life as long as you enjoy what you're doing in that moment.

In a world exclusively designed by and for the white, the male, the able-bodied, and the straight… Kadazia Allen-Perry, a queer, disabled, Black woman, dared to make digital films. Her audacity goes one step further as she strives to explore the intersectionalities within Black identities that go beyond the blueprints laid out in mainstream representations of Blackness. Kadazia constructs stories based on the foundational elements of identity through digital film and tactile mediums. She intends to use the lens and other artistic tools as points of access for marginalized communities to command their own narratives and folklore.

Oh yeah, and she also heats up her canned peaches before she eats them. This woman is nothing if not out of the ordinary.

Jason Berg
ATONIA, short film

Ten years ago humanity mysteriously and collectively stopped dreaming. One person’s tragedy may hold the key to reigniting the world’s sleeping minds, but their secret could cost them everything.

Jason Berg is a Tacoma, Washington based videographer and filmmaker from Tennessee who has been shooting and producing content professionally since 2011.

Sylvester "Nick" Butler

Oroonoko is sent at the request of his corrupt Grandfather to fetch a magical twig from the Goddess of War. Oroonoko challenges the Goddess to a game of Soccer which he loses.

Nick Butler is a husband and father of four who spends his days supporting learning technologies, and evenings creating animation. In 2003 Nick began his filmmaking journey creating storyboards for the reality shows Race to the Altar and Biggest Loser. After freelancing in Los Angeles, Nick moved to Tacoma, WA where he joined Pacific Lutheran University as Digital Media Developer. In 2011 he was recognized for his innovative use of distributed production techniques to produce print, video, and web assets for curriculum related activities. In 2009 Nick began honing his storytelling ability by competing in the Grand Cinema’s 72 Hour Film Festival where over the years he has won “Best Use of Prop” The Flashlight Princess, “Honorable Mention” for Shoulda Woulda, Coulda, and “Best Film” for The King’s Cake about a young warrior who challenges the Goddess of War. Nick’s goal is to create a thriving animation community by providing education and opportunities.

Dru Holley

Exploring the Northwest past, present, and future of the 9th and 10th all Black Cavalry Regiments of the United States Army, AKA The Buffalo Soldiers.

Dru Holley is a director and producer from Denver, Colorado, and a recent transplant to Tacoma, Washington. As an African American film producer, Dru is attuned to the direction of Black film/video production and its future; he’s invested in learning just about every part of creating entertaining and informative media. So far, in his eleven year career, Dru has completed more than 200 productions. His most recent work includes short films and promotional web content, and his goal is to focus on documentary and feature filmmaking. Dru is a graduate of the Art Institute of Colorado where he specialized in video broadcasting.

Bunthoeun Real
SALISHAN, short film

A young man trying to provide for his single mother and sister gets busted in a drug exchange. After serving time, he finishes college and tries his luck finding a job in a corporate world which proves to be more difficult than anticipated.

Born in a refugee camp and raised in Tacoma, Washington, Bunthoeun Real is a filmmaker of Cambodian descent. A graduate from the University of Washington, and an avid learner, Bunthoeun is eager to hone his craft while creating deep personal stories. his goal is to expand the number of Asian Americans in film and find creative and meaningful ways to tell their stories. He enjoys reading novels, making music, video games, and snowboarding. He loves science fiction and martial arts movies.

Derek Schneider

A man, unlucky in love, is set up on a dinner party blind date by a friend. However, the eggs aren't the only thing deviled at this party.

Derek Schneider is a born and raised Tacoma native. While he has always had a love for movies and was active in creative endeavors, it wasn't until attending Bates Technical College for a Broadcasting/Audio/Video Production degree that he fell in love with the filmmaking process. Since then, he has competed in a few 72-hour film festivals with a group of his friends, recently winning the "Best of 19+" and "Best of Fest" in the Gig Harbor 72 Hour Film Competition.

Jamika Scott
DEAR MAMA, short film

Faced with racism in healthcare, rising mortality rates for Black mothers and infants, and an increasingly unstable country, an aspiring mother examines Black motherhood.

Jamika Scott is an advocate, activist, and writer. Her passion for creative writing has been burning since childhood, and thanks to a filmmaking program in college, she has been creating short films ever since. As a co-founder of the Tacoma Action Collective, she works toward building an equitable city as a community organizer, and often incorporates her love of film into her social justice work.

Film 253 Grant Winners in Category 2: Finishing Funds

Amber Celletti

The Village of Middlevale is a feature-length mockumentary that revolves around a group of outcasts that give up their modern lives to found a medieval village in the woods of Western Washington. Witch burnings, rivalries, and hilarity ensue as we follow the group of incompetents over the course of a year.

Amber Celletti is the co-founder of Finley Mimbles, a film production company in Tacoma, WA. She is a director, writer, producer, editor, and cinematographer who loves making comedies and fantasies. A major example of her work is The Village of Middlevale, a feature-length mockumentary about a group of outcasts who give up their modern lives to found a medieval village in the woods.

Melinda Raebyne

There is greater power when diverse communities of people unite as one voice to fight to save our sacred and fragile environment from the fossil fuel industry as the citizens of Tacoma, Washington did in 2016. This is their story; showing what is possible when the common people unify to fight for environmental justice.

After almost ten years of acting in other people’s films, Melinda Raebyne decided to make her own, sharing the voices of those who are suffering from social injustices. Melinda's short film "Asylum" won Best Narrative Short at the 2018 Cinema On The Bayou Film Festival, and she received the Right Now Today Humanitarian Award for her work on the film. Currently, Melinda is working on two projects: “Stories of Us” is a collection of stories from people who make up the landscape of America, showing how we are connected to one another through like experiences. “For Sale”, is an exhibit that invites viewers into the life of a person who is a victim of human trafficking. Melinda served as the Event Director with the Seattle Latino Film Festival in 2013 and 2014. And has been a Filmmaker Mentor with the Tacoma Film Camp at The Grand Cinema for two years.

RESIDENTS, short film

In this 90-second non-fiction short film, the residents of South Tacoma express their genuine life and culture while living in an area unknown, ignored, or criticized by most.

Jonathan Salmon is a filmmaker who works with many artists, musicians, and other creatives throughout the world to create compelling narratives through branded content, commercial, music videos, and films. Over the past few years, Jonathan has organically developed his career as a filmmaker and director by constantly learning the craft through books, hands-on experience, and collaboration with others in his field. Following this unique path has landed Jonathan a music video premiere on National Public Radio for Sango and Xavier Omar. As Jonathan continues to climb in his career, he’s made it his mission to always tell human, relatable stories through any of his work – no matter the context.



A painter who evolved into an animator, Terese combines stop-motion, live action, and painting to create unpredictable animations that transform ordinary objects into fields of movement, mystery and whimsy. Recently, she created a rear projection installation on 38th Street and is presently developing a Public Art/Public Engagement media piece for the Tacoma Mall Area.


Silong is a multimedia artist, entrepreneur, and social justice advocate from Tacoma, Wa. He is the founder of Red Scarf Revolution, the digital marketing manager at Orphans Africa, serves on the Commission of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs for the City of Tacoma, and on the Arts & Heritage Advisory Council of Metro Parks Tacoma.


Untalan has written and directed many shorts and features and produced several successful films, including “Koa ‘Ohana”, which screened at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. and “I Hate Halloween”, which recently snagged the Audience Choice Award at the 2018 Midsummer Scream Convention. Other writing and directing credits include the German language film “Frauenprobleme (A Woman’s Problem)”, the stage play Sure Shot, and “Broken Hula”, which was the recipient of the prestigious Grace Abernathy Award for Achievement in Screenwriting. Her most recent film, “The Rabbit Thief”, will premiere at the Tacoma Film Festival this fall.



Claire Gostin is a filmmaker from Gig Harbor, Washington. She currently lives in Los Angeles, California where she is a junior at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, majoring in Film and Television Production and minoring in Screenwriting.

Her artistic career began in the performing arts; specifically theater and dance. She later developed a love of photography and short story writing, all of which continue to influence her work today. Claire enjoys every aspect of filmmaking, but focuses largely on writing, directing, and cinematography. Her work has been featured in multiple film festivals, including the All American High School Film Festival and the USC Feminist Media Festival.

Claire is passionate about bringing diversity to the industry, both behind and in front of the camera. She frequently tells stories that feature underrepresented voices.


​Long Tran is an award-winning filmmaker with a background in documentary work. His social justice oriented films have screened in every major city in the United States and recently had screenings in the United Kingdom.

Long has worked on television shows and major movies that have filmed in the Pacific Northwest. Currently, Long is producing several independent short films and web-based projects; editing a film he directed called "Jap" which is an avant-garde, fictional reexamination of Executive Order 9066; and preparing for his feature, directorial debut on an unnamed film that takes place after a hypothetical nuclear conflict. Long is currently a student at the University of Washington Tacoma, and is the president of the UWT film club.

Film 253 Grant Recipients 2018

The Film 253 winners, starting top left:

Melinda Raebyne, Amber Celletti, Jonathan Salmon, Long Tran, Claire Gostin, Therese Cuff, Nick Butler, Derek Schneider, Kadazia Allen-Perry, Coral Untalan, Masahiro Sugano & Anida Yeou Ali, Jamika Scott, Dru Holley, Silong Chhun, Jason Berg, and Bunthoeun Real.