LA2050 Grants Challenge applications are open now through June 28th, 2024.
2023 Grants Challenge

Black Filmmakers + Global Training = Amplified Voices

To develop CBSGC's MFA for Black filmmakers, we request Year 2 start-up funds to facilitate acquiring the necessary license from the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE), to pay legal and consulting fees, and to fund a P/T salary to complete the BPPE application (up to 600-page document). BPPE licensure is required to open and before we apply for accreditation, taking up to 2 years. We will apply for WASC accreditation upon opening in Fall 2025, so our first 3-year Master of Fine Arts graduating class may have accredited diplomas.


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

Access to Creative Industry Employment (sponsored by the Snap Foundation)

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

South LA

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?

This MFA program in filmmaking targets Black creatives desiring to pursue careers in the cinematic arts, where Black directors and producers are woefully underrepresented. Research published by USC's Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative, headed by Dr. Stacy L. Smith, establishes that of the 1,000 top grossing films released from 2007 to 2016, only 5.1% of the directors were Black-27 Black directors out of a group of 1,114. Smith also concludes that Black women directors "have been nearly invisible in the director's chair." These data indicate that no meaningful change has occurred regarding Black representation behind the camera. A few strides have been made, particularly with the multiple award-winning projects of Ryan Coogler, Barry Jenkins, and Ava DuVernay, but developing strong talent pipelines is crucial. Uniquely preparing Black industry leaders with globally focused curriculum in our transnational media environment builds representation behind and in front of the camera.

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

The scarcity of Black storytellers and leaders in the cinematic arts hurts everyone, from practitioners to viewers. Representation matters for our present and future; research shows the best way to amplify Black voices is having Black professionals in decision-making positions. CBSGC's MFA program prepares filmmakers for leadership roles, examining screen industries as art and business. CBSGC's distinctive pillars are experiential learning and global focus: YEAR 1: MFA Foundations-Black Experience & History, Producing (with industry mentorships), Masterclass Workshops, Sundance Film Festival YEAR 2: Experiences in filmmaking and festivals around the world-France: Cannes Film Festival (European cinema May-July); Korea: Busan Int'l Film Festival (East Asian cinema September-December); India: Bollywood & Indian Art Cinema (Jan. term); South Africa & Nigeria: FESPACO Festival & Market (African Cinema February-May) YEAR 3: Hollywood & the Business of the Business-LA internships, final MFA project (including the option of making a feature film). Students take Production Workshop every semester to build skills and experiment with techniques/aesthetics learned from filmmakers around the globe. At the world's most prestigious film festivals, students will experience diverse film cultures, examine how films and other screen content are pitched and marketed to funders and distributors, and have unprecedented opportunity to network with and learn from other filmmakers.

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

Short-term: To open Fall 2025, CBSGC must begin the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) application (up to 600 pages - institution dependent) in Fall 2023 and its 2-year process for a CA license to operate. We must raise funds for the application, a p/t position to write and monitor it, and toward 2024-2025 goals: facility lease, equipment, furnishings, and salaries. Long-term: CGSGC will be the first standalone graduate film school to prepare Black filmmakers, uniquely resourced by their cultures and traditions. The curriculum includes global experiences in filmmaking (see #7). We aim to bring new perspectives and build a more equitable and inclusive landscape within the film industry. Locally, success includes engaging in the Leimert Park community. Joined with the Vision Theater's renovation and other planned developments, CBSGC will bring it new life, youth, and economic development.

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

Defining success for October 2023-2024: Success will be defined by achieving the BPPE license to operate, funds to employ a p/t to oversee the licensing process, plus, conducting fundraising activities raising the budgeted amount for that year, $250,000, to prepare for upcoming expenses. These achievements will determine if the school opens Fall 2025 (succeed) or if it will be delayed (a postponement, not a failure). Preparing for success: Funding for the BPPE application and for initial funding/hiring the administrator of the process must be obtained before December 1 at the latest to begin the process, allowing it to conclude in a timely manner for the school to open. The remaining salary must be raised by February 2024. Fundraising activities will be spaced to ensure the financial goals for the year succeed. Evaluating the 2023-2024 plan is straightforward. Are funds raised adequate for BPPE and a p/t employee, with additional funds raised to meet the year's budget?

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

Direct Impact: 125

Indirect Impact: 30,000