Richard Vague Production Fund

The 2018 Richard Vague Film Production Fund Recipients

  • Jean Pesce

    Jean Pesce

    Cuttlefish, Narrative Feature, Grad Film, $100,000
    Jean Pesce worked in film production in New York City before receiving her MFA in Writing and Directing from NYU. Her screenplay, "Cuttlefish" was a Finalist in the Austin Film Festival as well as an official selection for the Black List Screenwriter's Lab. Her thesis film, "So You Like the Neighborhood," premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, was Shortlisted for a BAFTA, and was a recipient of the National Board of Review student grant program. Jean currently lives in Los Angeles with her rescue dog, a Brussels Griffon named Henry.

  • Juan Zuleta

    Juan Zuleta

    Frontera, Narrative Feature, Undergraduate Film & TV, $50,000
    Colombian-born Director-Producer Juan Felipe is based in New York and travels around the US, to direct / produce short films, music videos, and narrative commercials for global corporations. As part of his work with Vayner Productions (of Gary Vaynerchuk), he has created content for Shell, Miracle Whip, Clean & Clear, Listerine, GE, Johnny Walker, Samsung, Dentyne, Stella Artois, Budweiser and more. Juan Felipe also co-founded First Threshold, creating video campaigns for startups, making passion projects come to life, and developing both short and feature film scripts (like Frontera).

  • Caitlin Stickels

    Caitlin Stickels

    Dean's Award Recipient

    A Night at Switch 'N Play, Documentary, Undergraduate Film & TV, $35,000
    Born in the sandhills of West Texas, Caitlin enjoys adding a fashionably rustic flare to their work. As a non-binary artist, Caitlin strives to depict original characters and stories that represent the myriad forms of love and relationships between queer people. They currently live in Brooklyn with their cat, Benny.


Lydia Chammas Hey, Cowboy – Narrative Feature: Luke, a wannabe cowboy, is stuck in NYC taking care of his wayward old man. As tensions rise between them and financial burdens increase, Luke's pull to be out West becomes impossible to ignore.

Mamadou Dia Nafi’s Father – Narrative Feature: In Northern Senegal, a local imam fights against a fundamentalist group led by his older brother. The love story between the brothers’ two children make things harder to deal with.

Mauricio Osaki – The Paths of My Father – Narrative Feature: When 11-year Vy’s grandma is hospitalized, she is forced to join her absent father–a truck driver–on a journey around Vietnam. Vy wants to escape to her hometown and reconnect with her roots, while the father sees it as a chance to give her away.

Jean Pesce Cuttlefish – Narrative Feature: A broke, bumbling dog-groomer realizes her beautiful, mysterious neighbor is involved in a money laundering scheme. When they wind up on the run, together this odd-couple must try to survive and forge an unlikely friendship along the way.


Jacob Bittens – Toll Booth – Narrative Feature: A depressed toll booth operator has her life turned upside down when she meets a mysterious stranger on her last day of work.

Robert Lemieux – The Woods – Narrative Feature: While vacationing at an isolated cabin retreat, a divorced couple struggles to save their families from an unknown fate after an inexplicable evil lures their children into the woods.

Caitlin Stickels – A Night at Switch ‘n Play – Documentary Feature: This film profiles the award winning Brooklyn performance collective Switch n' Play, a group that redefines gender performance by blurring the line between drag and burlesque to create a subversive, reflective, and strikingly queer show.

Juan Zuleta – Frontera – Narrative Feature: Two siblings isolated in the furthest reaches of rural Colombia find themselves trapped between the very real threat of guerrilla warfare and the nightmarish possibilities of their imagination.

What is the Richard Vague Production Fund?

The Richard Vague Production Fund in conjunction with the Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film & Television at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts supports annual awards of up to $100,000 given to alumni and/or current Graduate Thesis Students* to direct their first feature film.

*For the purposes of this award, we consider "Grad Thesis Students" to be anyone who has completed their first two years of course work by May 2018 and is working on their Thesis film. You must be in good standing with the university (matriculated). If you are currently on a leave of absence, you are not eligible.

The 2018 Richard Vague Production Fund will be awarded in Dec 2018. Alumni who graduated between January 2013 and May 2018 are eligible, as well as Grad Thesis Students*. If you want to be the first to hear RVPF news, join our email list: sign up here.

Dean Allyson Green, Mary Beth Dickerson, Ginny Mohler, Carlos Miller, Quester Hannah and Richard Vague.
Dean Allyson Green, Mary Beth Dickerson, Ginny Mohler, Carlos Miller, Quester Hannah and Richard Vague.

Who is Richard Vague?

Richard Vague is currently one of the managing partners of Gabriel Investments, an early stage venture capital fund, and the Chairman of The Governor’s Woods Foundation, a non-profit philanthropic organization. He is also the author of The Next Economic Disaster, a book with a new economic theory for predicting and preventing financial crises. Previously, he was co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Energy Plus, an electricity and natural gas supply company operating in states throughout the U.S. that was sold to NRG Energy in 2011. Vague was also co-founder and CEO of two credit card companies – First USA, which grew to be the largest Visa issuer in the industry and which was sold to Bank One in 1997, and Juniper Financial, the fastest growing credit card issuer in the industry during his tenure, which was sold to Barclays PLC in 2004.

Vague currently serves on the Penn Medicine Board and is on a number of corporate boards including Heartland Payment Systems of Princeton, New Jersey and the Franklin Square Energy and Power Fund. He is president of FringeArts Philadelphia and chairman of the University of Pennsylvania Press.  He is also on the boards of the Franklin Institute, the Museum of the American Revolution, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Visit Philadelphia. Vague is also editor of the blog and email newsletter service and of the website

If you have questions about the RVPF award, please contact