Tribeca Film Institute Sloan Filmmaker Fund: Third Time's a Charm?

TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund.jpg

We recently submitted our grant application for the Tribeca Film Institute Sloan Filmmaker Fund. We really appreciate this fund because it offers grants to narrative feature films with themes in science, technology and mathematics. In other words, we feel CENTS is a good match for the TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund, and we hope the feeling is mutual.

This isn't the first time we've applied for this grant. Shortly after finishing an early draft of the screenplay, I submitted CENTS for a development grant from TFI Sloan. Since I waited until the deadline to write the application, that application was a bit rushed, so I didn't expect to get the grant. I was, however, pleasantly surprised to hear from TFI that CENTS was the type of project that they like to support, so I should come back to them after I made significant progress.

In early 2012, I rewrote the screenplay, striving to write the best screenplay I had ever written. The result was placing as a semifinalist in the Academy Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting. This was a major accomplishment for me personally and also great recognition for the project. 

Additionally, at that time I had also asked Ella Sitkin to join me in producing CENTS. Ella put together a series of budgets, and we worked together to reach a budget that we thought we could raise and we thought would be just enough to make the movie. Together, we reached out to Corey Weintraub to join us as DP and Reuben Finkelstein to come onboard as editor.

Ella's grant writing capabilities proved particularly helpful as we drafted our 2012 TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund application over the course of several weeks. With the Nicholl Fellowship semifinalist placement, a budget top sheet, key crew members, and the beginnings of our outreach and audience development plans - plus my own commitment to invest $30,000 of my own money into the film - we thought we had made significant progress.

To our encouragement, TFI reached out to us repeatedly during their decision-making process regarding our ongoing progress. At the time, we were finishing our business plan to launch our LLC, but hadn't secured additional financing beyond my own money. When the March decision came around, we ultimately didn't get the grant again, but were strongly encouraged to reapply - after we made more significant progress. 

So, what have we done since March 2013? In short, we have:

  • established our LLC
  • shot and posted our teaser (over 3,550 views to date)
  • launched our website, mailing list, Facebook and Twitter accounts to build our audience
  • established contact with thought leaders and organizations focused on girls in STEM and relational aggression as part of our outreach efforts
  • found additional investors
  • held gatherings to talk about CENTS to raise awareness for the project and discover additional potential investors
  • met one-on-one and had phone conversations with several key influencers and potential investors
  • prepared our Kickstarter campaign (coming this December!) 
  • been invited to the second round of the 2014 Sundance Institute Screenwriting Lab selection process

As TFI evaluates our grant application, we plan to complete a successful Kickstarter campaign and confirm additional investors for our project, thus demonstrating even more progress. And you'll be sure we'll be keeping TFI up-to-date on our ongoing progress - just like we've kept the Sundance Institute up-to-date on our progress as well.

More importantly, the TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund grant application process - just like the upcoming Kickstarter campaign - keeps us focused on our goal: to make CENTS happen. 

We appreciate everyone continuing to spread the word about CENTS because ultimately, this film will get made because of you, our audience. Thank you.