“We infused passion for filmmaking with our expertise in business development.”
With the creation of Avenida Productions, we infused passion for filmmaking with our expertise in business development. We aim to give a platform and voice to independent filmmakers of color, women, the LGBTQ community, and all those who are overlooked and underappreciated by a vast majority of studios. Unlike most production companies, Avenida aims to empower independent filmmakers by creating a path for them to master and manifest their own destiny. This is all part of an even bigger plan to leave the world better than we found it; one film, script, or project at a time.
Fanny Véliz Grande
Fanny Grande (Former Fanny Veliz) is a Venezuelan-American award-winning filmmaker, actor, and director with more than 20 years of experience in the entertainment business. Grande, who was born in the US, grew up in Venezuela performing from a very young age. A three-time Imagen Award nominee, she has received several recognitions for her work both in front and behind the camera. She was one of 8 fellows selected by Geena Davis for her See it, Be it fellowship. 6 years ago, she co-founded Avenida Productions with her husband Nelson Grande. Avenida is a production firm that specializes in empowering independent media content creators with a focus in diversity. In March of 2022, Avenida launched a crowdfunding platform for creatives and it opened a production facility in the heart of Los Angeles. Grande also served as a vice chair of Nosotros the oldest Latino Non-Profit in the entertainment business and it was founded by Ricardo Montalban. She was recently a member of the Sandford LBAN business accelerator. Her feature documentary My DACA Life which was produced under the Avenida umbrella will be released in 2022.
As a native Angeleno, Nelson Grande is no stranger to the gravitational pull of the entertainment industry. Growing up in Highland Park where a typical Saturday included witnessing Tarantino shoot Reservoir Dogs or Gregory Nava shoot Mi Familia, one could argue that Grande’s rise from actor to entrepreneur and Co-Founder of Avenida Productions was written in the stars. At the age of 19, Grande recognized he had a talent for sales that catapulted him to be the brand ambassador for multiple luxury businesses. However, it wasn’t until Grande was 21 that he would take a leap of faith and pursue a career as an actor and never looked back.
Years later, Grande has been in national and regional commercials and has done guest spots on several TV shows including the critically acclaimed HBO show Eastbound and Down. Although he continues to thrive as an actor, he felt the familiar strain many actors of color experience in Hollywood. He found that the majority of the roles he was offered were rife with stereotypes and thick accents, a problem that many Latino actors face. He refused to let this deter or distract him from pursuing his career. However, it was the birth of his daughter that served as the spark that ignited his need for a change. He no longer wanted to depend on Casting Directors or Producers to give him opportunities. He wanted to create opportunities both for himself and other actors of color. The opportunity to create this impact on a local, national and global level came when he and Fanny Véliz founded Avenida Productions in 2016.
Head of Production
Miguel Angel Durán is an award-winning writer/director whose work spans documentaries, films, and branded content. A native of the Los Angeles area, Miguel has made it his mission to tell stories focusing on the Latino experience in the US. At the age of 23, he directed his first feature-length documentary, Unrest, where over 1,000 attendees were present at the premiere screening. He then directed The Valley in The Struggle, a thirty-minute documentary sharing the UFW’s fight for farmworker justice in the late 1960s, narrated by acclaimed actor Jacob Vargas. In 2020, he released Immigrant Voices of America, an eight-episode documentary series that won the Jury Award for Best Episodic Documentary from the 2020 Bentonville Film Festival. Currently, his short film, Separation, is playing in several film festivals. Regardless of genre or form, Miguel strives to create compelling stories that impact the viewer.
Laurie has over 20 years professional experience as a writer and content creator. She has written 100 produced film, video and audio scripts for education, entertainment and marketing projects, and earned accolades as both a screenwriter and short film director. Clients served by her scriptwriting include numerous city, state and federal agencies, such as the City of Los Angeles (L.A. Metro, LADWP, LAWA,) the State of California Health Department and the U.S. Army.
Tired of waiting for permission to do what she always dreamed of–direct her own feature film–Laura Somers raised funds on Seed & Spark and went back to her hometown of Houston, TX to make her feature directorial debut, RICH KIDS. After winning 16 festival awards, she struck a deal with Premiere Entertainment for worldwide sales. Her domestic distributor, ITN, licensed the film to Netflix, where it premiered in February 2020–almost unheard of these days for a no-budget drama with unknown actors.
Laura is a determined, compassionate, and vibrant director whose strengths lie within her solid storytelling skills, powerful imagery, and ability to inspire earnest performances from actors. Her work is primarily youth and character-driven, social-issue films inspired by her life growing up in the South. She is particularly strong with young talent.
She is a fellow with Film Independent’s Project: Involve, and was featured in SHOOT Magazine’s New Directors showcase. She also has mentored screenwriters through various programs of the Writer’s Guild of America East since 2012.
She began her career directing theater in the small black box venues in New York City and Austin before moving to directing short films and sketch comedy in Los Angeles. Her work has been highlighted in New York Magazine, Remezcla, Vanity Fair, American Theater Magazine, The W Hotels, UCLA Medical Center, and more. For eight years, she worked as a reality television editor, which has helped sharpen her storytelling skills and make quick decisions on set. She has directed two feature films.
She is a member of the Alliance of Women Directors and Film Fatales. She holds a BFA in Theater Directing from NYU’s TISCH School of the Arts and is a graduate of UCLA’s Professional Screenwriting Program. She grew up in Houston, TX, and currently lives in Los Angeles, CA, with her husband and son.