Tribeca-film-institute-224x80It's been a while since I've had an update on my feature Man Child, as I haven't had any major news to share. Last week, however, the Tribeca Film Institute announced their 2012 All Access grantees, and I'm incredibly honored to be among them. In addition to sharing my own good news, I'd also like to raise awareness about a pair of Tribeca programs currently open for applications: the Tribeca New Media Fund and the Tribeca Film Fellow program. First, here are the details on All Access, and then I'll share details on the other programs, as well as more about the current status of Man Child.

All Access is just one of the Tribeca Film Institute's numerous filmmaker programs, which collectively give out a million dollars in grants every year and can make the kinds of career-enabling connections that emerging filmmakers need:

Tribeca All Access exists to support emerging and established filmmakers from underrepresented communities. In addition to a $15,000 grant (given to all films except the one chosen through our partnership with the Canadian Film Centre), each project will receive year-round support, industry connections and additional resources, will be presented at a five-day career-development program during the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival and is eligible for one of two $10,000 Tribeca All Access Creative Promise Awards.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, there were 690 submissions for 10 slots
(this marks not only my first appearance in THR, but also my first appearance in a story alongside the multi-talented James Franco). I'm extremely grateful to the folks at Tribeca for believing in me and I can't wait to participate in the program in April (and beyond). When the selection committee called, all I could say was "yes, I accept!"

If you or a project of yours fits the description of either of these next programs, I encourage you to apply:

The TFI New Media Fund provides funding and support to non-fiction, social issue media projects which go beyond traditional screens – integrating film with content across media platforms, from video games and mobile apps to social networks and interactive websites. We’re looking for projects that activate audiences around issues of contemporary social justice and equality around the world and demonstrate the power of cross-platform storytelling and dynamic audience engagement... Four to eight non-fiction projects will be accepted, each receiving $50,000 to $100,000 in funding...  Producers from the U.S. and internationally are invited to apply.

Deadline for the New Media Fund application is March 6, 2012. And if you're a high school student in New York City, check out the Film Fellows program (deadline February 17, 2012):

Each year, TFI selects twenty NYC youth filmmakers ages 16 - 18 to participate in our Tribeca Film Fellows program. Programming includes a creative project, panel discussions, workshops, mentoring by Festival film directors, screenings, and special events. Through this fellowship, students gain a deeper knowledge of higher education and career opportunities in media through intensive workshops and direct contact with seasoned filmmakers. They become better educated about the independent film community and the role of international film festivals in the industry. Finally, Fellows forge new positive relationships with peers, educators and Festival filmmakers that will assist with their individual, scholastic and career development. Our Fellows continue to receive support after the Festival through one-on-one college and career counseling in the fall.

Man Child Update

Before I had the wonderful Tribeca news to share, I'd posted a "No Updates" Update for Kickstarter backers, which delves into some of what's going on with Man Child at present. Hopefully it's a semi-informative behind-the-scenes update for NFS readers as well:

It's been a couple of months since the Man Child campaign ended, and I've been itching to do an update. I was waiting until I had something big to relay, but despite a lack of earth-shattering news, I figure it's been long enough that I should check in with a progress report... just to let you know that I'm hard at work on the project and have not escaped to the caribbean with the funds! (that sounds fun though)

So, what's new?

I've been getting notes from producers and others, and it's been a new challenge as a screenwriter to get this much input. Everyone has a different version of the finished film in their head, and what matters most is your own vision... but you have to be cognizant of good notes, while simultaneously casting aside notes that could damage or take the story in an unintended direction. For a project that's lived in my head for a year, it's ultimately very helpful to hear from others... but deciding which notes to incorporate is a very different challenge from staring at the blank page by yourself.

With that in mind, I've been working on a new draft of the script, and I have not lost any of the excitement over the project. In fact, I'm more excited than ever about it, but there are a number of new challenges. First off is finding the right producer -- it's a passion project, and despite the size of the Kickstarter campaign, it's still a very small budget as far as sports films are concerned. I've heard numerous concerns about whether we can make it for the Kickstarter funds or whether we should try to raise additional private investment. At this point I'm 100% focused on the script, but real-world logistics are starting to creep up -- for example, basketball is a winter sport, can we really shoot it in the summer and fake it? Time will tell... ultimately we're going to make this one way or another, it's just a matter of when and how.

Here are some other things that have happened with the project since the (amazingly successful!) conclusion of the Kickstarter campaign.

  • The project participated in the Emerging Narrative and Emerging Visions programs put on by IFP and the Film Society of Lincoln Center. I met a lot of producers as a result of these (amazingly helpful) programs, and I had an opportunity at the latter to meet with director Doug Liman (Swingers, The Bourne Identity, Fair Game) to chat about Man Child. Doug famously made Swingers for $200k, and amazingly shot it on film for that amount -- today's digital tools bring production costs down even further. His experiences were very instructive, as he talked about the most important aspect of making your first feature: finding your personal voice as a filmmaker. In many cases, having a smaller budget can make for a better environment for this, as you have less cooks in the kitchen. Noted!
  • I've made a slight revision to the title, going from Man-child to Man Child. One concern I've heard from folks is that the title makes people think of an immature grown man (living at home, playing videogames, not getting a job, etc.) instead of a young athlete who's bigger and stronger than his peers. The term "manchild" can mean either one, of course, but I think separating the two words will make it more thematically relevant to the maturity and growth of our protagonist, TJ. That's my thinking at present, at least. This isn't an earth-shattering change, but that's why I called this the "no updates update!"

I'm sure there are plenty of other minor updates to share, but these are just the first things that come to mind. I find it difficult to share anything interesting about the writing process -- it's just you, your notes, and the script spending some quality time together. Hours stretch into days, days into weeks, new lines are added, entire scenes are thrown out, and all that matters is you end up with the best possible script. How you get there is a murky process that is sometimes teeth-gnashing and sometimes triumphant. When writer's block sets in, however, I've found that the absolute best motivator has been the success of the Kickstarter campaign. You are all responsible for the outpouring of support that gets me past the speedbumps along the way! Thank you again and again, and hopefully I'll have bigger news to share soon. ((Which ended up being this Tribeca news!))