Filmmakers in Greater Victoria are sharpening their pencils, tightening up their scripts and thinking a little bigger this fall.
With the announcement that CineVic, Victoria’s Society of Independent Filmmakers, has been named a recommending partner for the second year of Telefilm Canada’s Micro-Budget Production program, local filmmakers have a chance to secure $120,000 toward their project.
While that may seem a sizeable amount of cash, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the overall budget of most feature films.
Nonetheless, says CineVic director Bryan Skinner, the grant represents a serious breakthrough for local filmmakers.
“This is a really incredible opportunity for filmmakers to make a narrative film and use Victoria as part of that,” he says. “Normally people who make narrative films have to finance it themselves. Having $120,000 free and clear to start your low-budget, quarter-million dollar feature is a big leg up.”
Skinner, chair of the selection committee that will judge the Victoria projects and pick one film to forward on to Telefilm, expects a large number of local entries.
He sees CineVic’s involvement in the competition as a “catalyst” that will help teach filmmakers to prepare their work for serious scrutiny by juries that can influence funding decisions.
While filmmaking begins more as a labour of love for those involved, finding the cash to bring ideas to the big screen takes determination and a bit of financial knowhow, says filmmaker and University of Victoria fine arts professor Maureen Bradley.
She earned one of the Telefilm grants last year after applying through Vancouver-based Women in Film and is in the process of finding an extra $100,000 or more to begin filming her next movie.
“You have to be an entrepreneur to be an independent filmmaker,” she says, noting that she spent most of the previous weekend on Facebook trying to drum up support for her Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for her feature-length film, Two 4 One.
The grant money means the difference between cobbling together a short film using volunteers, she says, and keeping people around for three weeks to create something more substantial.
Bradley has also secured funding from various other grants, including one from the B.C. Arts Council, in her bid to raise enough capital to create a narrative film. Her goal is to complete production by May and have it ready for submission to the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.
Bradley, who is encouraging some of her film students at UVic to consider submitting projects to CineVic, acknowledges that Victoria has more recently been a centre for documentary films as opposed to narrative-style projects. Skinner emphasizes that both styles are welcome under the grant program.
“It’s aimed at people who have done shorts, but have not directed or produced a feature in the past,” he says. “This is a career-enhancing program.”
Selection by the CineVic jury early next year does not guarantee a filmmaker the cash. The Victoria society is just one of 28 recommending partners across Canada that will be submitting an entry for consideration by the Telefilm jury. In the end, eight or nine will be selected to receive funding.
The deadline for submission to CineVic is Dec. 20. For more information on submitting a feature film idea for funding, visit CineVic.ca/node/21283 or call Skinner at 250-389-1590.