Free Spirit Media 2018 cohort film to premiere at DePaul

On the set of "Fuzzy Legs"

On the set of “Fuzzy Legs”

“What makes ‘Fuzzy Legs’
so special is that
it’s told from a
girl’s perspective”

Amber Eswani

(Chicago — 7 November 2018) Fuzzy Legs — a short film written and directed by Amber Eswani and produced by Free Spirit Media’s 2018 film cohort — will premiere Saturday November 17 at DePaul University.

The film tells the story of a “timid young brown girl” whose attempt to go unnoticed at the start of middle school is foiled by her hairy legs. It culminates FSM’s 2018 Industry Pathways Cohort Training Program.

Run in partnership with DePaul’s School of Cinematic Arts, the program offers 12 weeks of film production training and professional development.



This year’s cohort started in February 2018 with a writing intensive led by Gary Novak, screenwriter and Director of DePaul’s School of Cinematic Arts. Five cohort members pitched story ideas, and a panel of local film industry professionals selected Fuzzy Legs, a short film written and directed by Amber Eswani as the film the cohort would produce as a final project.

“What makes Fuzzy Legs so special is that it’s told from a Pakistani-American girl’s perspective” says Eswani.

Eswani attended a film and media program in college, but she decided to apply for Cohort to get hands-on film production experience. When she is not writing, she works in the Locations Department of the Showtime series The Chi, which recently wrapped its second season.

Eswani hopes that Fuzzy Legs, along with her growing production resume, will help her reach her goals of being a television staff writer, a showrunner, and owner of her own production company.

“The Cohort Program is the most amazing thing that could’ve happened. It’s all for free and it’s all for helping us to get to where we want to be and I appreciate that so much.”

Hollywood still has room to grow
A recent University of California – Los Angeles study indicates that Hollywood still has room to grow when it comes to diversity. The study examined the top 200 movies in 2016 and 1,251 broadcast, cable and digital TV shows from the 2015-2016 season.

Rachel Montpeller, a writer for Women In Hollywood, summarized the study.

“While minorities comprised about 40 percent of the U.S. population in 2016, they represented just 13.9 percent of film leads, 12.6 of film directors, and eight percent of film writers. The behind-the-scenes gap in TV was also massive: people of color accounted for 7.1 percent of creators on broadcast scripted shows, 7.3 of creators on cable scripted shows, and 15.7 percent of creators on digital scripted shows. Overall, minorities were outnumbered 2 to 1 as leads on broadcast and cable series.”

Free Spirit makes a difference
In its 18th year, Free Spirit Media (FSM) aims to address this disparity and continues to create opportunities for creative youth and young adults in Chicago, primarily from communities of color, to gain the training, information and access necessary to work and thrive in careers in film, TV and media.

Every fall, since 2012, Free Spirit Media Industry Pathways has launched a yearlong creative workforce development programming with The Chicago Track, a professional development and networking series.

The Chicago Track not only provides information and opportunities to connect for Chicago’s young aspiring filmmakers, it also serves as a recruitment tool for FSM’s Industry Pathways Cohort Training Program.

“Fuzzy Legs” premiere
DePaul University | 247 South State Street, Lower Level Room 105
To RSVP, click here.


About Free Spirit Media
Free Spirit Media transforms media and society by providing opportunities for emerging creators, primarily from communities of color, to produce and distribute original content and to pursue artistic, personal and professional aspirations. Since 2001, the organization has provided teens and young adults in communities of color on Chicago’s West and South sides with a comprehensive foundation in media literacy and hands-on media production experience. Free Spirit Media runs IN-SCHOOL arts education, AFTER SCHOOL and summer digital media programs, and advanced CREATIVE WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT programs. For more information, visit

Send your film updates to Reel Chicago Editor Dan Patton,