Friday, September 07, 2012

DCShorts Film Festival forums advise artists on how to network to get money (get involved!)


Today (Friday, September 7), DCShorts Film Festival held some free workshops of general interest to “artists”, even beyond film, at the Landmark E Street Theater in Washington DC.

Steve Bizal from NYC-based Media Services talked about a wide variety of complicated tax incentives offered by about forty states, the most visible of which is probably Louisiana, but Michigan (especially Detroit), Texas, Virginia, Maryland, Minnesota and North Carolina (as well as obbioulsy New York and California) all have interesting setups.  States began to offer incentives after so much film production moved to Canada.  Filmmakers can buy insurance, in some cases, against legislatures taking away rebates, some of which are transferrable, and some of which require offices and corporate structures in those states.  Some states may be interested more in television series than movies, because television sometimes offers more revenue because of long periods of many episodes.

The link for Media is here

Their industry news blog is here.

Then Kim Patton, from the Foundation Center, talked about grant writing.  Generally, the NAEA tends to process funds through smaller local foundations.  Grant writing is a well-known technical discipline that follows precise formats and uses certain software.  But the artists needs to have a lot of social and professional connections to have a realistic chance of securing a grant.  A resume of professional achievements, including volunteering and interning (“paying your dues”), is desirable.  This means that the artists generally would need some focus or specificity in his or her areas of interest (or social causes), which is somewhat more problematical for me now personally than it used to be (as in the past, much of my own activity had been driven by external issues, like AIDS, the “don’t ask don’t tell”, and eldercare).  I’ll get more into this from an ethical level in future posts.

The link for Foundation Center is here

The second hour covered the hiring of actors, particularly through SAG/AFTRA, which does offer a variety of low-budget agreements.  With short films, under 35 minutes, deferral of compensation to most actors is often possible.

One point that came up in audience questions was the willingness of the director or artist to be flexible as to the appearance of the actor (actress) hired for a part.  This would be an issue for a few parts in the film projects that I envision.  

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