Making an independent film is an expensive proposition that can become even more costly for innovators interested in integrating transmedia storytelling into their projects. Increasingly, content creators are turning to crowdfunding services like Indiegogo and Kickstarter to produce their passion project on a budget that doesn’t require maxing out credit cards. This fall, thanks to a partnership with the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms initiative, the Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) will provide four to eight filmmakers exploring the new media space with $50,000 – $100,000 in grants per project, making the calculus a bit simpler. Applications are due on May 21st, with the final decisions made by September 30th.
TFI is looking for non-fiction projects that focus on issues relating to contemporary social justice and equality. According to Beth Janson, Executive Director of TFI, the ideal project would have a compelling story that focuses on creating a unique and engaging user experience. Janson explains that one of the key issues facing the industry is how to “look at the audience, and reach out and engage with them” in a self-sustaining manner.
More than merely creating an alternative source of funding for projects, the Tribeca New Media Fund aims to partner with the grant recipients throughout the process, leveraging the TFI brand to assist the project through its dissemination and launch. In turn, the grant recipients would share their experiences through an open-source platform for filmmakers and technologists to provide a peer support network and develop best practices. As Janson explains, the goal behind this initiative is about more than supporting the grant recipients:
Beyond being able to fund projects, we wanted the program to be a service to independent filmmakers and technologists to learn about best practices in the field…we’re looking to start those conversations and build those bridges to tap into the independent film community, and marry that with the technology world.
The Tribeca New Media Fund is intended for projects in the advanced development process and beyond. While foreign projects are eligible to apply, all proposals must be written in English, and all sample work must have English subtitles. Be sure to check the TFI website for answers to frequently asked questions and the official rules and regulations.
Looking for an example of the kind of project TFI is looking for? Check out the Emmy-nominated film Collapsus, which merges a documentary about the pending energy crisis merged with a peek into our near future through an interactive film set in the near future. If your project isn’t ready this year, don’t fret: JustFilms has committed to increase the fund’s initial $750,000 endowment by $1 million a year for five years, so you’ll have ample time to prepare for next year’s application.