There’s more to filmmaking than meets the eye.
On Wednesday, December 12, creatives stepped from behind the camera to connect, mingle, and celebrate the launch of Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) and Pond5’s new grant and mentorship program. Among glasses of Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc film writers, directors, and producers dressed in modern chic attire discussed their latest projects and experiences in the industry. Tasty seafood hors-d’oeuvres and flaky pastries were served on a decorative table in the middle of the room to fuel the eclectic energy of the attendees trickling in as the night went on.
Halfway through the event, everyone turned their attention to Amy Hobby, Executive Director of TFI, and Jeffrey Wilks, Chief Revenue Officer at Pond5 for a few words on the program’s mission and an announcement of the inaugural grant recipients.
“TFI Pond5 program was designed to support the in-between phases of creative work from archival research, to sound design, from location scouting, to grassroots distribution campaigns,” Hobby stated to the crowd. “Three times a year, we’ll award $22,000 in microgrants and one project will receive an ongoing mentorship to support their continued growth.” She went on to describe four of the projects that had been selected by the program, and introduce one team that was able to attend the event in person.
Jess Snow and Layqa Nuna Yawar represented the creative team for the project “Survivor Love Letter” at the event. They worked together with a team of artists and producers to develop an augmented reality app with murals and love letters aimed at supporting survivors of sexual assault. “This is the first grant that has supported our project about Survivor Love Letter and carving a space for healing for survivors, so we really appreciate it. It’s been a really long and hard journey,” Snow said, followed by applause.
After announcing the sixth grant recipient for the program Wilks explained why the partnership between TFI and Pond5, one of the biggest content and video marketplaces in the world, was an easy decision. “We share a vision for helping filmmakers that’s increasingly important in a world where the funding for films is harder and harder to find,” he stated, evoking a cheer of gratitude from the crowd. “We expect this program to expand. We expect it to include education, quarterly panels on how to make films better, to make them easier, to get them seen by more people.”
In addition to recognizing the projects selected for participation in the program, the event also brought the TFI community together in order to help build and create the relationships that the Tribeca Film Institute is known for fostering among established and emerging filmmakers. “Most directors are producing by themselves,” Caitlin Mae Burke, a producer and TFI alumnae explained. “They don’t have that partner helping with preexisting relationships or someone to look at and say ‘Is this a good idea?’”
Hannah Jayanti, a former TFI retreat participant, shared a similar sentiment. “When you’re working on your own, or in a small team, sometimes it’s really intense to have to bring the motivation. One of the incredible things they [Tribeca Film Institute] do is they provide that kind of encouragement. They say we believe in your project, we believe in you as a filmmaker, and we would like to help you keep going.”
Through their efforts, the Tribeca Film Institute and Pond5 are not only helping meet the needs of passionate individuals within the film industry but helping to ensure that their passion continues to expand its reach and benefit us all.
Photo Credit: Tribeca Film Institute, Survivor Love Letter