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Firelight Media is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing talented documentary filmmakers who tell stories about people, places, cultures and issues that are underrepresented in the mainstream media.

Producer's Lab

Firelight Media’s flagship program is the Producers’ Lab, a mentorship program for talented independent producers of color. Participating producers work with award-winning filmmaker, Stanley Nelson and a team of senior producers, writers, editors, new media, and fundraising specialists to complete their projects for a national broadcast. Loira Limbal spearheads this exciting project as Director. Firelight Media started the Producers’ Lab as a way to provide infrastructure support for diverse producers to help overcome some of the barriers to completing their film or video. Learn more about the Producer's Lab here


Firelight Media was founded in 2000 as an independent non-profit production company and has been best known for producing high-quality powerful productions for PBS and its dynamic educational outreach campaigns. However, in 2009, Firelight Media expanded its work to include developing and supporting the next generation of filmmakers. Due to this expansion, Firelight productions spearheaded by Stanley Nelson are now done under a new for-profit entity called Firelight Films.

Firelight Media: History

In 2000, Firelight Media was co-founded by director/producer Stanley Nelson, an Emmy-winning MacArthur "genius" Fellow, and Marcia Smith, an award-winning writer and visionary, who has worked extensively in philanthropy, government, arts and politics. During its first ten years, Firelight Media operated as a non-profit production company dedicated to developing social-issue films that aired nationally on PBS. Firelight won numerous awards and enjoyed great critical acclaim, with seven films in the documentary competition at the Sundance Film Festival in ten years, two of which won awards: The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords won the Freedom of Expression Award in 1999; The Murder of Emmett Till won the Special Jury Prize in 2003). Firelight’s films won every major industry award, including a du-Pont Columbia Silver Baton, a Peabody, the International Documentary Association, and numerous festival awards. In addition to a focus on excellence in filmmaking, Firelight has a long history and ongoing commitment to the development and implementation of targeted outreach efforts related to its films. Firelight developed outreach campaigns around a number of past titles, including The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords (1999), Running: The Campaign for City Council (2001), The Murder of Emmett Till (2003) and Beyond Brown: Pursuing the Promise (2004). Beyond Brown served as a centerpiece for reflection on the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education by such organizations as the NAACP, the National Baptist Convention, and the Children’s Defense Fund since airing nationally on PBS in May 2004. Firelight’s crowning achievement is the massive card and letter-writing campaign for The Murder of Emmett Till that contributed to the reopening of the murder investigation. In its announcement of this historic move, the U.S. Justice Department cited the presence of witnesses unearthed in the film as a major factor in their decision. In 2008, based on tremendous success, Firelight expanded. Firelight Media shifted its focus to provide technical education and professional support to emerging documentarians, and Firelight Films, a new entity dedicated solely to producing Stanley Nelson’s films, was launched.


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