Fundraising: Story 7.

Funny thing about money – it is like a bloodstream of one’s body, essential to bringing oxygen and sugars to brain, washing up the liver and sweetly swelling our reproductive organs.
But why do we resent it so much then?
Why money for us has such an exaggerated meaning, either too good or too bad?
Is it because we see how a man who needs only 10 pints of blood to live on, accumulates 20, 40 or 500 000 pints!?
Or is it because we worry that we might need an extra pint tomorrow?

It happens quite often when I get paid for a job, lets say $4000
and I know that it’ll last me exactly 2 months and that my next income is hidden in the Clouds of Future (most likely, wont come for next 5 months)
that I get very cautious with the money at the start. I sit on it like a stingy dog and bark at anyone who comes too close to my pile:
– I am not subscribing to your magazine!
– I am not buying your crappy shoes!
– I am not eating at your overpriced food stand!
– I can fill up my own plastic bottles with my own tap water!
But the moment I am down to the bare bones ($500) and I still dont know when is my next income to come I get generous.
– Let me leave a nice tip so that they like us the next time.
– Take my gloves, if you like them. I can get a new pair.
– This banana looks rotten, but let me support small business anyway.
It feels like a small suicide to give the money away when you don’t have it. Generosity opens the gap in the flesh wider so that you can bleed more successfully.
Miraculously, when you are down to $10, New Job shreds Clouds of Future and arrives on your desk with shining $1000 check in it’s teeth.
That’s what’s so funny about money – it will never let you die.
It’ll flow back to you.

But let me get back to Fundraising.
When one says “Fundraising” one imagines a beautiful woman with long golden hair in a long embroidered skirt plowing a field, fertilizing it with dry bits of manure, sowing corn or poppy seeds. Then she sits quietly at the edge of the field watching the funds raise from the loosened soil.
The reality is quite different.
In February I applied for NYSCA grant with “Rocks in My Pockets”. But, as you know, you can’t apply to NYSCA directly, as an individual. By kindness of Women Make Movies, a non-profit organization that supports women filmmakers and their projects, I applied for NYSCA grant through them.
In August I received an email from Women Make Movies that my project got the NYSCA grant, which is about 10 per cent of what I need to make “Rocks In My Pockets”. It was a good start no matter what.
But the best thing was that by getting this grant Women Make Movies became my project’s Fiscal Sponsor. Which means that, if an organization or an individual donated money to my project, it was a tax deductible donation.
Sound great, right?
But where does one get an organization or an individual willing to donate small or large sums of money to an animated film project about depression?
Again, Women Make Movies generously sent me a list of foundations and organizations that support arts and film projects. I sent dozens of emails with inquiries. Some of the foundations got back to me saying the project wasn’t for them. Some of them didn’t bother to get back. For some of them I missed the deadline by just a day or two.
I went to Google for an advise.
“Foundations”
Voila – a website called foundationcenter.org !
It’s all very interesting and informative but the moment you want to get a specific information it asks you to subscribe for $19.95 a month!
What will I get for $19.95?
– We are not telling. You buy and then you’ll see.
Hmm…
Maybe a good old book can give me something better? I go to Borders.
“An Ultimate Guide to Foundations”. A great title. $50.
What will I get for $50?
There is a list of foundations. A good thing about Borders is that you don’t have to buy a book. It takes about an hour and half to write down the names of foundations that look interesting on that list.
I go home and Google the foundations. Most of them are out of business since 1994 or 1996.
That’s what you get from a book for $50 in Borders. Old info.
I go back to Google.
“List of foundations”.
Voila – lists of foundations.
Turns out, foundations support all kinds of things, not only arts. How to know which one is for arts and which is for medical research?
Google, again.
Before I know, I spent the whole week raking through Google and my real work (drawing) on “Rocks In My Pockets” is on hold.
The seeds I threw on the freshly plowed earth turned out to be just bits of ground-up pasta, nothing will raise on my field.
The time that I lost will never be regained.
I’d have been better off by just making darn drawings.
Or buying the rotten bananas in the neighborhood store. The $1 spent on those would come back to me threefold in a few months.

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About rocksinmypocketsthemovie

I was born in Latvia, educated in Moscow, live in New York. I have made about 14 animated shorts so far.
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3 Responses to Fundraising: Story 7.

  1. Cecile says:

    One year from now, when the bananas in your neighborhood store will have evaporated in a fragrant mush, you will write a book called Funding For Starving Artists, and it will become a bestseller, a must-read for all starving artists out there. The reviewers will praise the lucid writing, the wonderful mix of philosophical ponderings and practical (& priceless!) advice. It will sell at Borders & other noble bookstores, and because the contents are so humane and funny and delightfully readable, it will sell for years to come.
    And you will wear gold-embroidered skirts or give them away at a whim, and the stream of recognition and money and success will be endless.
    All raise, ye funds! They will come out of nowhere. Work’s the thing. (And if you’re interested, I have a delicious recipe for banana bread made with honey and the mushiest bananas you can find.)
    xxx Cecile

  2. Blue Bliss says:

    What if…. if you suspect that your description of your movie as “an animated film project about depression” might be turning off some potential donors, maybe you could change the description. There must be other elements in the movie you’re imagining that could be described in a way that would be attractive/exciting/compelling/important to a larger pool of foundations and/or individuals. If not, make something up and it’ll probably find its way into the movie in some form… Find out what some major foundations are about on their websites and see how what you’re doing could fit in with what they’re interested in, and then write some log lines that will make strong men weep with desire…. I agree that the holy grail for most artists including myself is to be true to our unique self-expression and still make a living, but I think that packaging and presentation are the other half of success. Think of Pet Rocks, that’s my favorite example. Not that I’m applying my own advice in my fine art… right now I’m selling out to the God of Capitalism because I’m enjoying making some real money for the first time in my life, and saving up to quit doing this and get back to being a real artist……………..

    • Brett W. Thompson says:

      I don’t know if Signe should change her description. Personally, I think more awareness of mental illness is needed.

      Signe, perhaps you could look at organizations such as http://www.nkm2.org/ ??

      Or KickStarter / IndieGogo, but I think you thought of this already? I donated $10 to “Sita Sings the Blues” and got my name in the credits..

      I also love Cecile’s book idea!!

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