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Wide Angle Project to address diversity issues in S.C. film, TV industries

Filmmaking lab seeks to increase diversity

Application deadline: August 31, 2020

The South Carolina Film Commission and Trident Technical College announce a call for applications for the Wide Angle Project: a filmmaking lab designed to boost diversity and inclusion in South Carolina's television and film production industry.

Led by noted film producer Effie T. Brown (Real Women Have Curves, Dear White People and Project Greenlight), this comprehensive program consists of a series of training sessions from October 2020 to May 2021, exploring key elements of the industry: financing, pitching, legal, logistics, agents, DIY distribution, and more. This 8-month virtual lab is free for South Carolina residents. Effie T. Brown is an award winning film, television, and digital Producer, known for her highly acclaimed, multi-platform repertoire as well as championing inclusion and diversity in Hollywood, both behind and in front of the camera. Her company, Duly Noted Inc., continues to be dedicated to groundbreaking narratives that use genre to challenge and advance our culture in a disruptive way. Wide Angle Project is tailored for under-represented South Carolina filmmakers and other production professionals who are ready to take their talent and work to an international level. Applications for the program will be accepted until Aug. 31, 2020. Please see indiegrants.org for further information.

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Announcing: The 2018 Indie Grants Funding Cycle is OPEN!

The South Carolina Film Commission & Trident Technical College invite filmmakers to apply for INDIE GRANTS, production grants for short film projects. We are accepting applications through June 29, 2018. Any filmmaking individual or team is eligible, including writer-only, writer/director, writer and director, producer and director, etc. In order to be considered, at least one submitting applicant must be a South Carolina resident with legal address and agree to 75% of the film being shot in South Carolina. Typical grants range around $25,000-$35,000. Supporting funds may also be applied for ranging from $1,500- $7,500. All movie genres & POV's are encouraged to apply. This is the only film funding program of its kind in the country! INDIE GRANTS has funded and produced 30 short films since 2010. These projects have been official selections of international film festivals like Sundance, Palm Springs, Austin Film Festival, FantasticFest, Cucalorus, Tall Grass, Slamdance, Stiges, Oxford, Nashville Film Festival, Atlanta Film Festival, Indie Memphis, LA Film Festival, DragonCon, and many more. Recent collaborators include Oscar-winning DP Russell Carpenter (Titanic, Ant-Man), actor AJ Bowen (You’re Next, The Sacrament), DP Peter Simonite (The Perfect Guy, 2nd Unit DP on Tree of Life), and writer Brad Land (Goat). Please see www.indiegrants.org for further info.

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Why filmmaking is on the rise in the Upstate

From The Greenville News Article by Donna Isbell Walker; photo by Heidi Heilbrunn

Screenwriter Geoffrey Gunn doesn’t need the bright lights of Hollywood, or even his native Toronto, to make movies. Gunn can write scripts from his house near downtown Greenville, shoot the films around the Upstate with a South Carolina crew, and edit the movies on a laptop at his favorite coffee shop. In mid-October, one of Gunn’s films will be screened at Greenville’s new Reedy Reels Film Festival. His is among 45 films that will be spotlighted, selected from hundreds of submissions from around the world. Filmmaking is no longer an elusive dream that beckons aspiring writers and directors to the movie studios of Los Angeles. These days, filmmakers can create their art right here in places like South Carolina’s Upstate and have it resonate with movie buffs and other filmmakers around the world. “I think Greenville is a hidden gem for people who are really in the know and want more interesting cultural experiences,” said Gunn, whose short film “Last Night at the Ellington” will be shown Oct. 16, opening night of the two-day Reedy Reels festival. The S.C. Film Commission recognized several years ago that South Carolina filmmakers had the potential to make an impression on the film industry far beyond the state line. That was the impetus behind the Indie Grants program, which offers financial help and practical support to aspiring filmmakers from South Carolina. Gunn received one of those grants to make “Last Night at the Ellington,” based on a short story he wrote about a robbery at a movie theater. The Indie Grants program “is a great launch pad for South Carolina filmmakers,” said Gunn, who also co-wrote the horror film “Siren,” currently being shown on HBO. Gunn, who moved to the Upstate seven years ago with his wife, a professor at Furman University, found that continuing a film career in Upstate South Carolina after working in Toronto was easier than he expected. “South Carolina, like Canada, does a lot of traveling production,” Gunn said. “And what I mean by that is, South Carolina has fantastic crews, and there’s a terrific crew base in the Southeast. To actually make your movie, you have many, many qualified people to work with.” Greenville’s Joe Worthen found that to be the case after he received a $23,000 Indie Grant. He’s using that assistance to make a short comedy called “Isle of Palms.” Worthen, who also helped create and produce the Greenville-shot web series “The Girl From Carolina,” said the grant has provided him with a producer, as well as the financial resources to hire an editor and production team, and it even pays for some of the post-production work. Because of the grant, “it’s been pretty great because I haven’t had to struggle or flounder,” Worthen said. “As part of the grant, they really help you out and take some ownership of the script all the way through production.” “Isle of Palms” will begin shooting later this year, but Worthen’s work will be represented at Reedy Reels when the first episode of “The Girl From Carolina” is screened on Oct. 17. Boosting homegrown talent The way Tom Clark, director of the S.C. Film Commission, sees it, the challenge for filmmakers here has been finding financial support and an audience for their work. “We’ve always had talent here. … It’s just that it’s so difficult for independent filmmakers to get a leg up,” Clark said. In 2004, the South Carolina Motion Picture Incentive Act was passed, and the state began looking at starting a training program for existing film crews working in the state, and for people who aspired to work in the entertainment industry here, Clark said. A few years later, the Indie Grants program was created. The film office works with film production students from Clemson, University of South Carolina and Trident Technical College in Charleston to provide crew support for grant-winners, Clark said. Over the years, the number of applicants has increased from 15 to about 45, he said. “We allow a producer or a writer or a director, local people, an opportunity to do a short film, and they need to involve college students, and they need to involve other local people, as well as allowing us to help them by bringing in Hollywood professionals,” Clark said. “In other words, if there’s a director of photography who doesn’t have a lot of experience, perhaps we’d bring in a director of photography.” For one film, the forthcoming “The Final Adventure of John and Eleanor Greene,” the film commission was able to bring in Oscar-winning cinematographer Russell Carpenter, who received the Academy Award for his work on “Titanic.” And some of those films have made an impression in Hollywood. One of the first films funded by the Indie Grants program, “The Debutante Hunters,” won the People’s Choice Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012, Clark said. “We felt like we had a pretty good success there, and most of these films are featuring South Carolina people. They’re featuring South Carolina themes, many of them. And so part of it’s about exposure of our filmmakers, but it’s also about exposure of our state as well,” he said. Gunn’s film “Last Night at the Ellington,” made with Indie Grants support, won the Regional Spotlight Award for Best Film From the Southeast from the Charleston Film Festival. He describes it as his “calling card,” a way to introduce himself and his work to audiences and other filmmakers. A long history The Upstate has a long history with filmmaking, starting in 1950 with Bob Jones University’s Unusual Films production company. A few years later, the university added a cinema production bachelor’s degree program. It’s an intensive program, in which the senior project is a short film, written, directed and edited by the student and screened at the university. About 45 to 50 students participate in the program each semester, with about eight bachelor’s degree grads per year, said Sharyn Robertson, head of the cinema department. Graduates have gone on to work for video production companies, on the mission field, and in the media departments of churches. One BJU graduate now works in television in New York, and he credits his BJU education – “the discipline and perfection” – with helping him hone his skills, Robertson said. At Clemson, where animation and special effects are the focus, students can earn a master of fine arts in Digital Production Arts. Clemson graduates and faculty have worked on films such as “Happy Feet,” “Superman Returns” and “Frozen.” A strong community Chris and Emily White have been making films in Greenville for several years. Their latest, “Cinema Purgatorio,” a semi-autobiographical take on the Whites’ pursuit of their filmmaking dreams, was chosen as one of three feature films in competition at Reedy Reels. It will be the final entry, screened just before the awards ceremony on Oct. 17. There’s no shortage of filmmaking talent in the Upstate, and the region also benefits from the strength of Georgia’s film industry, Chris White said. “Our experience has been, living in Greenville, is that there is a lot of indigenous talent coming out of Greenville. We have collaborated on projects that are at least major and big to us, that we were able to support crew talent and acting talent from the Upstate,” he said. Reedy Reels will screen 45 films in the categories of documentary, short film, student film, animation and feature presentation. South Carolina-themed films will be spotlighted on the second day of the festival. More than 780 films from around the world were submitted, said Matt Foster, one of the organizers. Inspiration came from the Beaufort Film Festival, but Reedy Reels organizers wanted to add another component: the chance to meet the filmmakers and ask questions. Many of the filmmakers will be in attendance, including one who is traveling from the United Kingdom, Foster said. The top feature film will receive a $1,000 prize, while other categories will award $500 and $250 prizes. “Our hope is to make this a destination event,” Foster said. “I’d like to see it become a large international film festival.” Gunn is hopeful that the film festival will inspire Greenville cinephiles to seek out films that don’t make it to the multiplex. Chris White also hopes that it will be a way for filmmakers to meet kindred spirits, in hopes of creating more art in the future. It’s not always easy for filmmakers to connect when they’re so focused on work, he said. “I think something like Reedy Reels is … a great opportunity for local filmmakers. If we’re not meeting on the steps somewhere, this is a place where we will meet, and we will be able to see each other’s work, and we will be able to hopefully inspire future collaborations together.”

Grants for S.C. filmmakers: the Indie Grants program

Application deadline May 31 The South Carolina Film Commission and Trident Technical College invite South Carolina filmmakers to apply for Indie Grants. The program provides funding up to $12,500 for short films to create training opportunities for South Carolina media professionals and students. The program is accepting applications until May 31 at www.indiegrants.org. Part of the South Carolina Film Production Fund, the program awards grants for small production projects based on training potential, story, merit and prospective contributions to the cultural and historical fabric of South Carolina. All funded filmmakers are required to use Trident Technical College film students in their crews. Other resources provided to Indie Grant filmmakers include equipment, mentoring, professional script consulting, professional crew calls, collaborative critiques and film festival consulting. The public can find out more about the program at any of three meetings scheduled for April 2 (Columbia), April 3 (Greenville) and April 17 (Charleston). Read about the meeting details. Visit the Indie Grants website to find out more about the grant application process and to see film clips from past grant projects. In this brief video, previous Indie Grants participants talk about the benefits of filming in S.C. and having students on the crew:

  Via: South Carolina Film Commission

South Carolina filmmakers wanted for Expecting Goodness Short Film Festival

South Carolina filmmakers are invited to participate in the 2013 Expecting Goodness Short Film Festival, which pairs filmmakers with South Carolina writers and their recently published or award-winning stories. More than 35 stories are available for filmmakers to choose from. Of those who register between Sept. 19 and Oct. 19, a maximum of seven emerging and seven experienced filmmakers will be selected by a lottery on Oct. 29, and the project will begin with the public Launch Night in Spartanburg on Nov. 3. Filmmakers will have four months to use a story as inspiration for a 5-10 minute short film that will premiere and compete for awards on March 23, 2013, at the David Reid Theatre, thanks to host sponsor Chapman Cultural Center, in Spartanburg. Cash prizes will be awarded on the festival night in five juried awards: Best Film ($1000), Best Editing ($250), Best Cinematography ($250), Best Actor/Actress ($250), and the Emerging Filmmaker Award, which will grant the winner $250 and a multi-day hands-on professional filmmaking experience thanks to the South Carolina Film Commission. An Audience Favorite Award of $1000 will be voted on and awarded on the festival night, as well. Confirmed judges are Dr. Bernie Dunlap, Wofford College president and writer, producer, and on-air presenter of public television; Peter Wentworth, film producer; and Marjorie Wentworth, S.C. Poet Laureate. The Expecting Goodness Short Film Festival was created in 2011 by the Hub City Writers Project and HUB-BUB, 501-c-3 nonprofit programs in Spartanburg. The inaugural project paired seven writers and their stories published in the Hub City Press collection “Expecting Goodness” with seven South Carolina filmmakers. After workshops, community gatherings, and two months of filming, the project concluded with a sold-out festival night in March 2012. “After the incredible success of the first film festival we wanted to grow it for its second year,” said organizer and Hub City Writers Project assistant director Kari Jackson. “By expanding it and limiting it to South Carolina writers and filmmakers, we showcase the talent we have right here in our state. We’re excited to see the collaborations come together into films and share them with the public all along the way.” All South Carolina filmmakers 18 or over and willing to commit to the duration of the project should register by Oct. 19 at http://www.expectinggoodness.com. Via: Hub City Writers Project Expecting Goodness Short Film Festival