What the Oscars 2014 nominated shorts say about the U.S.

What the Oscars 2014 nominated shorts say about the U.S.

Last week I enjoyed the live action Oscars 2014 nominated shorts program at The IFC Center. There was a British film, a French film, a Spanish film, a Danish Film and a Finnish film. At first I wondered if I had bought a ticket to the foreign language shorts program. But no, there is no foreign language shorts program. Apparently there were no American short films that were good enough for the Academy in 2013. What do all of the homelands of these nominated films have in common? The governments of these countries  recognize and support film as an art form, not just a business. Most American filmmakers have to think about marketing, selling and recouping as much as the actual film they are making. And these aspects can limit creativity. Perhaps if our government supported us , our esteemed institution would also recognize us. Maybe the Academy should consider a foreign language category for live action short. In case you are wondering, my favorite film of the program was Avant Que De Tout Perdre....
A Grant does SO MUCH MORE than Financing Your Film

A Grant does SO MUCH MORE than Financing Your Film

Often times, there is a very noticeable trend with successful documentary films: they all get the same big grants. A combination of ITVS, Just Films, MacArthur Foundation, Cinereach, Fledgling, Chicken and Egg, and others. Not only are these films funded, but they are seen – at top tier film festivals, on television and sometimes in theaters. How does this happen?You need a great story, and a great pitch. None of these films would be successful if they weren’t telling an interesting or important story. The pitch for your film has to be ultimately engaging and well written, otherwise you don’t have a chance. You have to be able to be very clear about your story, your audience, and your goals. No one buys if it isn’t already sold. Once you get one of these large grants, it’s easier to get others because your project is now a known quantity. If Just Films is has enough confidence in you to fork over a large sum, it will probably instill confidence in other organizations. You also become part of the larger conversation about independent film. Your project is talked about, and you float to the top easier. Getting grants is challenging, but getting that first big grant is the hardest part. One door opens another which opens another. Consider that many of these large granting entities are very well connected and also be funding festivals and programming. For instance, both Cinereach and Ford Foundation support Sundance. “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” which was produced by Cinereach premiered at Sundance. “My Peristroika” also premiered there, and received funds from Just Films which...