Melissa Haizlip is an award-winning filmmaker born in Boston and raised in the US Virgin Islands, Connecticut and New York. Prior to her fellowship with NBPC she participated in the 2015 NALIP ARC Diverse Women In Media Residency. She is a Chaz and Roger Ebert Producing Fellow, and an alumnus of Film Independent’s Project: Involve, Firelight Media Documentary Lab, and the PGA Diversity Workshop. Melissa attended Yale University.
She produced You’re Dead to Me (2013) directed by Wu Tsang, about a grieving Chicana mother coming to terms with the loss of her transgender child on Día de los Muertos. The film won Best Short at the 2014 Imagen Awards, Reel Sisters of the Diaspora, Everybody’s Beautiful (Geneva), LesGaiCine Madrid, and Reel Rasquache Art & Film Festival (Los Angeles). It has screened at over 50 festivals and museums, including the PBS Online Film Festival, the British Museum, Outfest, Frameline38, Palm Springs International ShortFest, San Diego Latino Film Festival, MIX New York, Mexico, and Brasil, Can[Be]Gay (Tenerife, Spain), LA ShortsFest, HollyShorts, and the NYWIFT Women Calling the Shots program at Hamptons International Film Festival.
In 2009, Melissa founded Shoes In The Bed Productions, an independent film production company producing cinematic works of non-fiction with an emphasis on diverse new voices and filmmakers of color. The company’s first feature-length documentary, Mr. SOUL! Ellis Haizlip and the Birth of Black Power TV screened a work-in-progress at IFP’s Spotlight on Documentaries during Independent Film Week, and at the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award. Melissa’s two-channel art films have been funded and exhibited by the Hammer Museum’s Los Angeles Biennial, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the Clifton Benevento Gallery in SoHo, NY. Melissa received the 2015 Media Projects Production Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the 2015 Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund Grant from the International Documentary Association for Mr. SOUL! She has also received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Black Programming Consortium, Firelight Media, ITVS and support from IFP and Latino Public Broadcasting.
Melissa is currently in production on Mr. SOUL! and the sci-fi feature A Day in the Life of Bliss directed by Wu Tsang. Of her NBPC residency, she says:
I am beyond grateful to Leslie Fields-Cruz and the team at NBPC, who came in as the first funder of my documentary, Mr. SOUL! Having just relocated from the west coast back home to New York, it’s great to be inspired and working out of their Harlem office. My journey so far as their Artist in Residence is undoubtedly the most profoundly meaningful, helpful and unforgettable residency/industry experience I’ve had to date — a price beyond rubies.