Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My good news from Bravo!FACT

I was the recipient of some good news earlier today. I found out that I was approved for a grant from one of the private granting agencies in Canada, Bravo!FACT. They are one of the few remaining resources in Canada for filmmakers as the government and broadcaster funds are starting to dry up. I have been fortunate to receive two grants from them before, and they have been exceptionally supportive and helpful in my own personal artistic development. This time, I’ll be directing a project called Notes From the Kuerti Keyboard in collaboration with producer Katarina Soukup of Catbird Productions and Canada’s foremost pianist, Anton Kuerti.

Bravo!FACT is a unique program offered by the broadcaster Bravo! (not affiliated with the American network Bravo) which was part of the City-TV family and has since been bought out by CTVglobemedia. They offer to fund a portion of the budget of short film and video projects that are a maximum of six minutes in length. They have 4 grant deadlines every year, usually just before the change of seasons. The next deadline is coming soon on March 13, 2010. You can find out more about them at their website http://www.bravofact.com/

Unfortunately, because of its success it has become an extremely competitive program. The following is an updated list of some tips for filmmakers thinking of applying for this program. Many of these tips are valid for any other application process too.


- Submit early if you can. They will start reading it right away. It's easier to set yourself apart from the pack if you're one of a several submissions they read that day than if you're one of a hundreds right at the deadline. Don't sweat it if you miss this deadline – think of yourself as early for the next.

- Do everything that is required of you and be thorough, e.g. check off everything submitted on the checklist; label all of your materials and demos. It reflects badly on you if you miss a step or two. And it makes it easier for them to toss your application out.

- Submit as much as you are able. You don't need to have everything or everyone in place (e.g. you can cast some parts after receiving the grant). But it helps to show you know what you're doing if you have all the key crew in place, and you have their resumes and demos.

- Really, you are simply trying to convince them that if they gave you the go-ahead, you could make a solid movie/video.

- Ask for slightly more money than you want. They - along with most grant agencies - will usually give less than you ask for. Don’t be shy and ask for less. They will never give you more than you request.

- Your budget has to be realistic though. It will be seen as proof you don't know what you're doing if the numbers are obviously implausible and your project will be rejected.

- N.B. Bravo! will cover a maximum of 50% of your budget, but that includes donations. If you find many people who are willing do donate services or anything else, include that in your budget

- Bravo! does not give any money up front. They pay you a month after you submit your finished product and your receipts. So in the meantime, you have to raise your own money, get a line of credit, or raise the limit on your credit cards. Many post-production houses are fine with waiting for payment, however, because they know that the money will come through from Bravo!

- Because Bravo!FACT is artist-driven, you are allowed to submit for additional funding from the various Arts Councils. I suspect your chances of getting Arts Council money are helped by getting pre-approval from Bravo! or vice-versa.

- Make sure you have a composer, or the rights to the music that you want to use. Bravo!FACT’s Executive Director Judy Gladstone has said before that the primary reason applications are rejected is that people say they're going to use music for which they haven't secured the rights (Leonard Cohen is a favourite). Rights to many songs can be greater than your entire budget. They won't touch it if that's the case. If you need any other kind of rights (e.g. literary), make sure you have them.

- Do not be timid if you have not done any project before. A great thing about Bravo! is that they will take chances on first-timers. They want to make sure they get good results, but they also want to find new talent. If you can show them that you're a hot new artist, they will take notice.

- If you have any specific questions, feel free to call them. Just be aware that they get a ton of calls so try not to take up so much of their time. Judy Gladstone may be too busy, so it’s fine to get help from her assistants.

- Once your project is approved, you will find the Bravo! team extremely helpful. They really do want to help you do the best job possible. They have been surprisingly flexible with me and with others I know.

- If your project is rejected, you can call and ask to go over the submission in detail with them to better prepare for future submissions.

- While waiting for approval, it's a good idea to get started as if you were going to make it anyway. With one of my projects, I spent a lot of time making calls and trying to find locations until a week before shooting. That should have been taken care of much sooner.

- They have only three requirements: that it be six minutes or less (not including credits – they never broadcast those), that you deliver it on Betacam SP or HDCAM, and that you have it finished by a certain date, usually in four months. But they are reasonable and can give you an extension if needed.

- They say that they reserve the right to withdraw the award if you change your cast or crew. But again, they are flexible. They just don't want to have your project approved based on you getting a big name that is later replaced by a nobody. If you give them advance notice and submit a demo of the new person, they can approve it for you.

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