Photograph provided by Oakley Fugate
The Appalachian Media Institute is proud to share exciting news about one of our favorite filmmakers! Oakley Fugate, long-term AMI intern, Peer Trainer, Photographer & Filmmaker was recently selected as one of Open Society Foundations’ Youth Exchange Fellows!
The Youth Exchange Community Fellowship supports dynamic activists aged 18-25 who want to implement a project of their own design that advances human rights in their home communities. Through these fellowships, the Open Society Foundations (OSF) aims to provide young people at the early stage of their work with the support they need to develop great ideas that contribute to dismantle challenges in their communities and advance the values of an open society.
Over the next 18 months, Oakley is receiving a full-time stipend with benefits to produce a feature length documentary about the experiences of LGBT-Q youth growing up in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. He will also be working alongside Dustin Hall to create a safe space for LGBT-Q youth to convene, share resources, host film screenings and events.
To initiate his exciting new fellowship, OSF flew Oakley and Dustin to Detroit for an orientation with a group of fellows from across the country to share insights, experiences and expertise before they each endeavor on their new projects.
During the application process, Oakley submitted a film he produced during the Appalachian Media Institute’s 2016 Summer Documentary Institute, entitled Not a Daugther. Reflecting on this exciting new opportunity, Oakley shared:
After the film was made I thought it would go on a shelf and be forgotten about, but something happened. A week later I met a man on the street and he praised the film. Then I was invited to screen the film for educators at a conference in Denver, Colorado. I felt honored that people loved this film and that it made a positive impact on the lives of my community members. I felt that I had made a documentary that hit its mark and it gave me a desire to make more films focused deeply on the stories of people I care about.
I heard about the Open Society Foundations’ fellowship through AMI and applied after some convincing. It was a dream come true but I didn’t think it was possible for me to get it. It seemed too gigantic. I was told that it never hurts to try, so I tried. When I made it into the second round I thought, “at least I could say I made it that far”. Then they requested an interview and I was more nervous than I had ever been. After months of waiting and anxiety, I got picked.
I am so excited for this project. Not only will I get to make a film for 18 months, but I will get to work with my friends to open a safe space for LGBT-Q youth that will make an important change in my community. I’d love for any LGBT-Q+ identifying youth to get involved!