Skip to main content

Elevating Their Voice in Film

Non-binary filmmaker and SCU Assistant Professor Nico Opper receives a career-shaping award for outstanding documentarians.
March 8, 2023
By By Nicole Calande
A person in glasses and a vest looking at the camera.

Non-binary filmmaker and SCU Assistant Professor Nico Opper receives a career-shaping award for outstanding documentarians.

Assistant Professor Nico Opper was announced as one of 2023’s Chicken & Egg Award recipients, which recognized eight groundbreaking women and non-binary documentary filmmakers from around the world in the advanced stages of their careers.

The award offers a $75,000 grant and tailored, year-long mentorship from some of the best minds in the field—including several program alumni and former Sundance head Tabitha Jackson. In November, the cohort will travel to the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), where Opper and the other awardees will pitch their current film projects to industry leaders.

Getting this opportunity is especially exciting for Opper because of its focus on marginalized filmmakers who, despite years of experience and success, often struggle to build sustainable careers because they aren’t usually afforded the same opportunities offered to men in their field. Having this support can actually get marginalized filmmakers the connections they need to take their careers to the next level—and it goes a long way toward diversifying the industry as a whole.

“This Chicken & Egg Award fills this gaping hole because, as indie filmmakers, you never stop needing mentorship. I’ve been making films for over a decade and have several features under my belt, but I know I can always benefit from the wisdom of others.”

This belief in the power of two-way mentorship has been a constant in Opper’s career both on-set and at SCU. This openness to both offering and receiving mentorship is something that Opper fosters in their classroom, where students have often exposed them to “new ways of seeing.”

“Mentorship never really begins or ends,” they explain. “It’s about being generous of spirit, offering safe spaces to experiment and be bold, and in the best cases it’s reciprocal. I delight in learning from my students, and I benefit from the perspective they offer me.”

While in the Chicken & Egg Program, Opper is looking forward to taking more creative risks in their storytelling, developing a multi-year business strategy, and honing pitches and materials for upcoming meetings with streamers. Their grant will also help fund one of several film projects they have in development.

“This award is an opportunity to hold myself accountable to my biggest goals, the ones that can so often seem out of reach. It’s fueling me to get to work telling stories that can make a real impact—stories for social change,” says Opper.