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

MIAMI – As we celebrate Arts and Humanities month, South Florida Caribbean News spotlights Filmmaker Elijah Wells, founder of iGen Film Festival.

SFLCN: What is your backstory?

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

Elijah Wells

Elijah Wells: I’m a 21-year-old Africa America male born in 1997, from Overtown Miami. FL, who has a passion for creating films that have taken me on a journey that I dreamed about as a kid, it has given me the ability to work alongside some of the greats people 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 his first camera. With camera in my hand, I would follow my mother Martha who also is my “mom manager,” to local community events to take photos and soon found myself taking acting classes with Kids on Camera.

Things change fast at the age of 11, when 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.

In November, 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 to again intern on a new mini TV series called “Miss Misunderstood” starring Jo Marie Payton, written and directed by Steven Drayton Sr., who recommended to my parents that they put me behind the camera. They agreed, and 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 project. My goal is to create great films people would like and a more significant film festival that the world would appreciate!

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

Wells: I was so amazed by the American Black Film Festival that I wanted to start a youth film festival in my community in 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 here 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.

SFLCN: How can the industry be improved?

Wells: 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.

SFLCN: How does the iGen Film Festival help make these changes?

Wells: 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. Seeks to promote 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.

SFLCN: What’s harder, getting started or being able to keep going?

Wells: Starting was easy because of my passion for the film life! I have to say to be able to keeping it going has been hardest. Because as a person I have to grow to make sure that iGen Film Festival grows as well. I have the love and passion for writing film and produce, 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 inspire 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!

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

Wells: 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 confidence to keep working pass felling creatively sapped. I stay fresh by reading, writing, filming and going to the movies.

Elijah Wells, Founder of iGen Film Festival 

Founder of iGen Film Festival and Elijah Wells Films, Elijah Wells is an actor, writer, promoter, trailblazer and film director who at an early age demonstrated interest and talent in music, dance, and photography.  Elijah was born in 1997, and his gift surfaced quickly at age 9 when his father bought him his first camera. With camera in hand, Elijah followed his mother Martha who also plays a role as his “mom manager,” to local community events to take photos and soon found himself taking acting classes with Kids on Camera.

At the age of 11, Elijah participated in a three-week workshop called CineLab. The intensive training session was run by Reggie Scott, President of Peppershaker Inc. Elijah, the youngest student in the workshop, demonstrated an incredible talent that was unmatched.

In the summer of 2011, Elijah joined Panzou Project, Inc. & Miami World Cinema Center. In November, he was awarded “The Clint Eastwood Award” for best acting and directing. The award affirmed Elijah’s gift as a writer and film director and heightened his motivation to pursue his passion and talent.

The same year, local film director Steve Drayton Sr. heard about Elijah and asked him 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 Elijah’s knowledge while working on the film set and called on Elijah to again intern on a new mini TV series called “Miss Misunderstood” starring Jo Marie Payton, written and directed by Steven Drayton Sr., who recommended to Elijah’s parents that they put him behind the camera. They agreed, and in 2012 Elijah began to write his first short film “The Gift.”

When Elijah heard there was a call for entries for the American Black Film Festival “2012 Short Film Competition,” Elijah, then 14 years old, got busy finishing “The Gift.”  He had found his true gift in directing and cinematography. Elijah entered the “2012 American Black Film Festival Community Showcase” and his short film “The Gift” was one of the winners.

Elijah Wells Career Highlights

2013 – Elijah showcased his film “Welcome to Miami” at the American Black Film Festival community showcase and won.
2014 – Elijah won Best of Show for the Art Basel Play To Win Foundation Through My Lens program.
2015 – Elijah was a finalist in the White House Student Film Festival
2016- Elijah was the behind the scene videographer for REVOLT Breakfast Club
2016-2017- Elijah was the behind the scene videographer for the REVOLT Film Festival.
2017- Elijah was the camera operator for a reality show called “Love Power” with Ceelo Green
2017- Elijah is writing his first book titled “Elijah Wells the Trailblazer.
2017-Elijah was honored by Legacy as one of South Florida’s 40 Under 40 Black Leaders of Today and Tomorrow
2017 – Elijah was horned the David Fincher Young Innovator Award at the 12th Annual Holiday Gala by The Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce is the latest accomplishment the young film director has won.
2018- Elijah Directed Romeo Miller music video “Shoulder.”

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