There is one important step in filmmaking that everybody’s heard of but no one really talks about – fundraising.
We talk about creative flow or overcoming writer’s block, we talk cleverly about techniques of making a film, the style
but rarely do we talk about financing. It is like talking in public about taking a crap.
But – if there is no money, there is no film.
I grew up in the country with a strong communist ideology – that everything good, including arts, must be government sponsored. That way a government can filter the message arts deliver.
When I started to make films, the USSR started to fall apart and Latvia broke free from the clutches of communism. Still, the tradition of state supporting arts was very strong in Europe. I applied and received grants for my first 3 films.
It was very clear to me that a state won’t support a project that is self-indulgent, overly cutting edge or simply incomprehensible. I wrote a very simple overview of the project and explained that each of my projects served for better good of the newly independent Latvian nation:
one was a parable of Gorbachev and crumbled to pieces USSR (“The Witch and The Cow”),
the other was a modern fairy tale, a take on institution of marriage (“Tiny Shoes”),
the third was a metaphor for human’s destroying the world in the quest for world’s dominance (“The Gold Of the Tigers”).
Then, for mysterious reasons, I received zero support for my new project. It was obvious to me I lost the magic touch with grants.
I moved to New York. The capital of capitalism.
I thought capitalism must be a better for the arts. More money, you know. Arts are like flowers – need a lot of manure (money) to grow lush.
On the surface in New York you dont see state support for the arts. It’s all about making money: TV shows, TV pilots, commercials, commercial features etc.
Animation as art or means of self expression is looked down at.
I couldnt believe it and scratched the surface, discovering a wealth of films made in New York, that are artistic, individual, with unique points of view.
- How are they made?- I wondered. I was very poor (barely paid my $300 rent) but longed to make another film.
Finding the answer was easy – all such films were self financed.
People made them at their own expense, after work, between jobs, sacrificing their free time and dating opportunities.
(to be continued…)
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