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2019 Grants Challenge

On the Road: LA

On the Road: LA allows Angelenos to discover LA through the lens of underrepresented people (immigrants, people of color, women, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ). Film Independent will award five grants to filmmakers to create short films about the intersections of identity and culture in LA. Films will explore an LA neighborhood— titled by an intersection—and screen at our inclusion summit with a panel discussion, helping to further dialogue between Angelenos and communities under attack.


Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.

In 1981, Gregory Nava and a small band of directors, writers and producers began gathering regularly to share creative ideas and discuss ways to increase resources for independent filmmakers. These passionate meetings stirred a desire to create a nonprofit member-driven organization and soon IFP/West emerged from these meetings with the mission to cultivate the careers of independent filmmakers, build larger audiences for independent film and champion diversity in the entertainment industry. In time, the organization developed a myriad of programs to nurture filmmaker talents and showcase their work, including Artist Development and Education programs, along with envisioning the Spirit Awards, which honors the highest achievements in independent filmmaking. IFP/West eventually become Film Independent — a more accurate banner for the spectrum of services and programs the organization had expanded to include.

Today over 35 years later, Film Independent remains true to its original roots — an organization created by filmmakers and for filmmakers. Film Independent is the true story of artists with an independent spirit and vision who sought to create change within one of Los Angeles’ oldest and traditionally non-inclusive industries. Now, as one of the prominent leading film organizations in the world, we remain committed to our humble beginnings, guided by our mission and goals.

Which of the CREATE metrics will your submission impact?​​

Employment in the creative industries

Minority- and women-owned firms

Measures of cultural and global economic influence (“soft power”)

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?​

County of Los Angeles

How will your project make LA the best place to CREATE?

This grant will support the creation of five short films made by filmmakers whose backgrounds are underrepresented in the film industry, including immigrants, people of color, women, people with disabilities and LGBTQ filmmakers. Film Independent (Fi) will empower these Angeleno filmmakers to create short films and tell the stories that highlight their neighborhood, community, background and story.

As acclaimed director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu said, “Cinema is universal, beyond flags and borders and passports.” Filmmakers have the capacity to foster understanding, to create empathy and to help sustain a pluralist society. In our current political climate, LA—and its most prominent artistic industry—should be the leading voice to ensure that stories told in film more accurately represent authentic voices of marginalized communities.

Fi is a recognized leader in identifying and supporting independent visual storytellers. Notably, we have a network of over 1,600 Fellows who are alumni of Fi’s Artist Development programs. These programs nurture independent voices by helping filmmakers create and advance new work. In 2018, 83% of our Fellows were underrepresented.

On the Road: LA awards five $10,000 cash grants to Angeleno filmmakers who will each create a narrative or documentary short film that focuses on their neighborhood. We will select filmmakers who are Fellows of our programs, ensuring they represent each corner of LA county. The completed films will be titled by a physical road intersection from that neighborhood (such as Wilshire/Vermont) and will explore identity and intangible or abstract intersectionality.

The resulting films will screen together in October 2019 during Fi’s inclusion summit, a community weekend dedicated to advancing inclusion. The screening will feature a panel discussion, thus furthering the dialogue so Angelenos can connect and discuss issues around representation. Further highlighting these films, we will screen each short prior to screenings at Fi Presents in spring 2020. Fi Presents, our year-round screening series, draws over 17,000 Angelenos annually at venues throughout LA.


June 2019: Award filmmaker grants.

Late June-July 2019: Production and filming, ongoing support for filmmakers.

August-September 2019: Post-production. Market the screening to our over 1 million followers and subscribers.

October 4-6, 2019: Premiere at Inclusion Summit with panel and reception.

November 2019-April 2020: Profile filmmakers on Fi’s blog.

May-June 2020: Play films before Fi Presents screenings. Create a YouTube playlist featuring the five films.

On the Road provides the space for underrepresented Angelenos to create stories that capture the broad of stories of our county and thus sharing their stories with the broader community and inspiring others to create content that reflects the diversity of LA. This activation directly invites members of the community to create the signature art form of LA.

In what stage of innovation is this project?​

Pilot project (testing a new idea on a small scale to prove feasibility)

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

Film Independent is wholly committed to this activation and will measure success using a variety of quantitative and qualitative benchmarks. Quantitative measures include a number of people who attend the event at the inclusion summit, number of people who view the films on the YouTube playlist and number of people who engage in the conversation on social media. We aim to have participating filmmakers who reflect the broad demographics of Los Angeles across race, gender, ability, sexuality, immigration status and socio-economic status, and tell these stories in an impactful and enlightening manner. We will collect these stats to meet program benchmarks. Additionally, qualitative measures include collecting the sentiments of engagement on social media, the points of view, stories and quality of completed films. We will survey the inclusion summit attendees to ask demographic questions, as well as open ended questions about whether they are inspired to participate in future community discussions, whether they feel like they learned about other neighborhoods and cultures and how eager they are to visit neighborhoods across the county.