Money, Passion, and Inspiration

Money, Passion, and Inspiration

Forgive me if this blog entry becomes a directionless collage of words and images; it is the tail end of the semester and I was up until 2am the previous night completing a film theory essay on the challenges of film adaptation. In addition, I have a grant proposal to write over the weekend along with script coverage for a feature screenplay, a treatment for a public domain concept, and a paper and presentation on A24, an indie production and distribution company that is disrupting Hollywood and the entire film market.

When we (MFA creative producers) are not in meetings or on film sets assembling teams, we’re writing, writing, and writing. Writing for producers includes script coverage, the analysis and grading of a script in the form of a written report. It also includes treatments, which are essentially the prose version of screenplay. And it includes film proposals, which are pretty much compilations of all of the above (a film synopsis, logline, treatment, team bios, mood board, budget, production timeline, marketing strategy, etc.).

I’m going to mention money because it’s important. It’s important because as a creative producer you need to find it. It’s important because you need it in order to have a sustainable creative life. Luckily, there are various ways to get funding. As a filmmaker, you can apply for grants. Grants are wonderful because you don’t have to pay them back. Additional soft monies include tax credits, incentives, subsidies, rebates, etc. from the local government. Another form of funding is independent financing, which includes private equity, film funds, and pre-sales. Okay, great. So, now I know that all of these various avenues toward funding exist. How do I get to the other side of the road? This is where inspiration comes in.

When you ask for money, whether you are writing a grant proposal or pitching to a potential investor, your passion for the project has to be conveyed. Why are you passionate about this story? Why does this story need to be told? Why are you and the people on your creative team the ones to tell it? Emotional engagement with the story and collaborative process is everything, and with passion comes inspiration. How do the characters and story inspire you? How do the people on your team inspire you? When it comes to raising funds, these questions need to be answered. Those answers need to be conveyed in your two-minute elevator pitch, whether you are conveying your concept to a potential investor, an agent, or your mother. Those answers will be embedded in your project statement.

The grant proposal that I will be writing this weekend is for the Weisman Award. The award of $2,000 is given each year to fifteen advanced undergraduate and graduate students at Columbia College to help them complete media based projects in development. There is an exhibition held each year at the Arcade Gallery displaying the works of previous award winners. I’ve posted some photos of the artwork on display from this year’s exhibition. It’s noticeable (and worth noting) that behind every work of art, the passion of the artist emanates and the stories conveyed are inspiring and unique.

Placard for the 2017 Weisman Award Exhibition

Photographs by Liliana Alfaro, 2017 Weisman Award Recipient

Film, Driftless, by Abdullah Azizi, 2017 Weisman Award Recipient

Film, El Regreso de Ernesto Pagán, by Hernán Olivera, 2017 Weisman Award Recipient

One Sheet For Each Day, Artwork by Danielle Owensby, 2017 Weisman Award Recipient

Photographs by Nydia Blas, Blane Bussey, and Sarah Hiatt, 2017 Weisman Award Recipients