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The Brownsville Initiative

Dear Filmmakers,


What does film and TV look like when we make a home for ourselves within it? When our voices are supported and heard, what kinds of stories do we dream up? For four weeks this summer, You, Kashif and The Brownsville Initiative participated in community-driven, collaboration-first, love-filled filmmaking. You did that! Through this work, you revealed to us the storytellers and visionaries within you. You showed us what is possible when we dream and create collectively.


When we collaborate on our dreams, it is possible to make stories about a Kenyan girl in Brooklyn who yearns to be known for her gifts and not just her name. Or about a young Brown couple who make lying to each other its own art form. Or a brother and sister from Brownsville who have nothing left but their legacy to keep a roof over their heads. You did that.


It is possible to share our visions, our ideas, our characters, our self-expression, our languages, our obstacles, our vulnerabilities, and our truths with a community of supportive artists and make very real films. 


It is possible to share meals, celebrate birthdays, sing, dance + vogue together, AND bring our whole authentic selves to visual storytelling. You did that too.


We hope these experiences open the door to life-long collaborations with your peers and life-long collaborations with us. Keep writing and finding new ways to work together. Hold onto the love and safety you found to express your stories. We’re invested in supporting your next steps; share them with us. We’re building a community, a home for filmmakers, that’s part of a bigger ecosystem of like-minded artists. You will always have a place in it. Thank you for trusting us. Let’s keep the spark going. Let’s keep the fire lit. 


In kindness + kinship,

Story Doula and the Kashif Team

The Brownsville Initiative

We believe everyone has a story to tell, especially you!

2023 TBI Gallery


About The Brownsville Initiative

The Brownsville Initiative is a 4-week, community-based filmmaking program for local residents in and around Brownsville, Brooklyn, who are interested in exploring visual storytelling. Over the 4-week period, we host 8 workshops plus a production day led by a team of professional writers and filmmakers with sessions structured around screenwriting, directing, camera work, production, and editing with the goal of participants completing a collaborative short film. At the end of the workshop sessions, we hold a celebratory screening for all participants, partners, facilitators and invited members of the community.

Founder Chanelle Elaine, along with founding partners Veronica Nickel and Kristie Lutz are the producers of First Match (NETFLIX), a movie filmed in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Before we brought our production to Brownsville, we connected with various organizations, had our production offices in the Greg Jackson Center, and employed local residents for the production of the film. Since 2016, first with the film production and now with Kashif Incubator, our objective is to honor the people of Brownsville for their creativity and tenacity and to uplift the community for its resilience in the face of redlining and inadequate resources.


The Brownsville Initiative is supported by



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