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2022 Grants Challenge

Finishing Funds for Young Women Filmmakers

WIF will select 15 women and gender expansive filmmakers aged 24 and under to receive $1,000 grants to complete their short films. WIF will host a showcase to screen the finished films and introduce this class of emerging talent and their work to WIF’s network of influential industry leaders who have the power to hire them and/or greenlight projects. The completed films will serve as calling cards for the creators, and a stepping stone to producing a feature or additional work.

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What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Access to Creative Industry Employment (sponsored by Snap Foundation)

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

County of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

While the number of people from underrepresented groups working in Hollywood has increased in recent years, the research is clear: women of color—Black and Latina women in particular—remain significantly underrepresented both behind and in front of the camera. Awareness of this issue is high, yet action is low - we’ve yet to see sustainable, incremental change that moves the needle for women. Through this program, our mission is to strategically uplift 15 promising creators with the goal of ending the long-established pattern in the next generation. Added to the uphill battle women and gender expansive students face in getting hired within a competitive industry, they struggle amidst a student loan crisis and rising inflation. They need all the help they can get to finance and complete their creative projects. One of the most challenging obstacles facing women and nonbinary filmmakers is access to capital, even for seasoned creators and especially for young creators just starting out.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

WIF will create and manage a granting fund that provides $1000 grants to 15 women and gender expansive filmmakers aged 24 and under to complete their short films. Applications will be open to all WIF student members based in Los Angeles County. In an effort to eliminate gatekeeping and expand outreach to the next generation, in 2021 we created this free level of membership to any full time undergraduate and graduate students working toward a degree in media arts. We now boast 3,412 members at this level from a broad range of backgrounds and abilities. WIF will run an open call application process, reviewing all submissions and selecting, with the help of an industry jury, 15 projects to be awarded the $1,000 grants. Selected creators will have the option to put the funding toward their short film’s production budget, film festival submission fees, or towards their cost of living. Months after selection of the projects, once the filmmakers have had time to complete production, WIF will host a showcase event and invite influential members of the industry to experience the finished films and meet the creators. WIF will curate this list of decision-makers who attend to support the intended outcome of getting the filmmakers connected to those in the industry with the power to greenlight projects and make hiring decisions.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

WIF is a fifty-year-old organization with deep ties to the diverse communities of Los Angeles. Our ultimate goal is an entertainment industry that reflects the population in front of and behind the camera. This program will invest in the next generation of female and nonbinary Angeleno film and TV makers, uplifting promising creators at pivotal moments in their creative careers. With short films under their belts and networks identified for them, the young creators supported through this program will be on a path towards advancement - either by submitting the films for festival consideration or finding opportunities from within the community included at the showcase. If we are successful, Los Angeles will boast the nation’s largest and most diverse young screen industry workforce. More young women and gender expansive people, in particular people of color, will produce work that will reverberate as diverse experiences are represented on screen.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

While this program is new and designed specifically to support young creators, WIF has a rich history of providing finishing funds to women-led projects, as well as producing showcase events to introduce emerging talent to the wider industry. Since its inception in 1985, the WIF Film Finishing Fund has awarded over two million dollars in cash and in-kind services to 280 films from all over the globe. Our goal is for young women and nonbinary people to access what they need to produce projects and advance their careers in entertainment. To track progress against this goal, we will measure metrics such as: audience size at the showcase event number of artists granted whose projects move across the finish line festival acceptances for the films key connections made between the participants and industry leaders at the showcase. As we do for all WIF core program participants, we will track the ways in which their careers and projects advance coming out of the program.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 215

Indirect Impact: 2,000