A New $5 Million Fund Just Made Production in New York City Even More Awesome

Brooklyn Bridge
The NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment just launched a groundbreaking 5-part program to support female filmmakers.

Film and TV production in New York is booming. According to the New York Times, 336 films were shot in the concrete jungle in 2015, compared with 242 in 2014, along with 52 episodic prime time TV shows. But gender inequality behind the camera is still outrageously high, which ultimately hurts the industry. That’s why the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) has taken the mantle to become the first municipal agency ever to launch a series of programs specifically aimed at addressing gender inequity in the film, theater, and television world.

The initiative’s five programs cover many aspects of the industry and are sure to be helpful to both indie and more mainstream productions. The programs that will directly benefit makers are as follows:

  • The MOME Women’s Fund for Film and Theatre
    MOME is putting its money where its mouth is, providing  $5 million over 5 years to the Women's Fund for Film and Theatre. The fund will give cash grants to film and theater projects by, for, or about women over five years.
  • “Speed Funding” for Women Filmmakers
    To help filmmakers at the beginning of their careers, MOME will host a film finance lab—what they’re calling a “speed funding” event—for projects directed by, for, or about women. During the event, which will take place during next year’s First Time Fest, 50 selected filmmakers and their producers will be given access to potential capital by participating in meetings with venture capital firms, angel investors, and other funders. The eligibility requirements include: at least one team member claiming NYC residency; one finalized script of 60 minutes or more by, for, or about women; registration with the Writers Guild of America, East; and a director and producer attached to the project. 
  • The MOME Script-Writing Competition
    New York City writers will be invited to submit 30-minute pilot scripts for an episodic series spotlighting stories by, for, or about women rooted in NYC’s five boroughs. The two chosen winners will have their scripts produced into a pilot by local graduate students and industry professionals, to be aired on NYC Media’s Channel 25, which reaches 18 million households in the New York area. One of the winners will then be produced into an entire series on the channel. No word yet on the ownership rights the winners or contestants will have over their entries.

Sarah Meghan Thomas and Anna Gunn
Sarah Meghan Thomas and Anna Gunn in Meera Menon's 'Equity,' which was partly filmed in New York City.

The initiative also includes the airing of new women-focused docu-series on Channel 25: The Vanguard: Women in Media (featuring the likes of Connie Chung and New York Times editor Jill Abramson), and Her Big Idea, about successful female entrepreneurs. Finally, MOME has commissioned a comprehensive study, Women in the Director’s Chair: The MOME Report on Fairness in the Film Industry, to be released later this fall.

Stay tuned here, and on the MOME site, to learn about how you can apply for the various opportunities, and how your work can benefit from these initiatives.     

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