Meet the five incredibly talented Milwaukee filmmakers chosen for our 2021-2023 Focus Finder cohort.


Mikey (pronounced my-key) Murry, also known as Mikey Cody Apollo, is a Black queer writer, filmmaker, educator, and cat mama from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Most of their work explores themes such as race, gender, sex, and religion. Mikey is the author of the self-published collection of poetry titled Black Girls, Silence, and Other Things Made of Gold, which has been used in classrooms, workshops, and book clubs across the United States. Mikey currently works for UBUNTU Research & Evaluation, a team of unapologetic Black women, femmes, and non-binary folks committed to disrupting systemic oppression through strategic evaluation, facilitation, and education. In her role as the Managing Strategist, Mikey assists her team in navigating difficult conversations, creating anti-racist curriculum, and disrupting white supremacy. 

Recently, Mikey has graduated from spoken word artist to filmmaker, using their love of storytelling to capture a wider audience. Taking cues from Barry Jenkins, Issa Rae, Donald Glover, and Terence Nance, Mikey hopes to create works that reflect the colorful, beautiful, and complicated parts of the human experience. As a fan of both horror and drama, two of Mikey's favorite films are Moonlight (2016) and Carrie (1976). When Mikey grows up, she wants to be the first Black woman to receive the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.


Marquise Mays is an award-winning emerging filmmaker and media scholar based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Experienced in an array of media and arts practices—from cinematic storytelling to exhibition curation—Marquise brings imagination, technical expertise, and cultural awareness to entertainment productions, journalistic undertakings or media-rich events and civic engagements. 
He holds a M.A from the University of Southern California (USC) and a B.A from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison). As an independent filmmaker and film studies scholar, both Marquise's films and research are careful renderings of individual life. He presents a range of access points for participation in dialogues, theoretical deliberations, and creative enterprises related to the projections of Black life on screen.  
Whether it be a sweeping study of one woman’s blindness and insight (Blindspot, Director, 2020); or surveying the intimate history of Latasha Harlins, an often-overlooked figure in the L.A. riots depicted in the Student Academy Award Winning Film, The Dope Years (Associate Producer, 2019); or interrogating the unrequited love between Black kids and the city of Milwaukee (The Heartland, Director, 2021), Marquise seeks to capture the humanity of individual subjects with precision and integrity. Indeed, Marquise’s films and multimedia work evince a sympathetic depth and clarity of voice. 


Cole Kirkendall is a visual artist living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is a graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he studied film and video production. He has mostly worked with stop motion animation in recent years.