“Finding Happy” Wins Britt Penrod Award

Documentary is a powerful story of survival and hope showing the world what is possible when we take the time to stop and simply listen.


Awarded to a finalist for one of the Roy W. Dean Grants, the Britt Penrod Award goes to an independent film that makes an exceptional contribution to society.  Grant sponsor, top-rated non-profit From the Heart Productions, has named the documentary “Finding Happy” as the latest winner of the award.  Filmmaker Maria Bertrand will receive $500 to help in this project’s completion.

Britt Penrod Award

“This is heartfelt and inspirational film shows we can learn much about life and the healing power of connection from one of our smallest creatures,” said Carole Joyce, the Director of the Roy W. Dean Grants. “We are thrilled to be able to support this beautiful project.”

About “Finding Happy”

“Finding Happy” is a heartfelt and uplifting feature-length documentary about survival, compassion, connection, hope and love, told through unlikely bonds formed between humans and animals. 

On May 6th, 2020, isolation and fear were gripping the world during the worst days of the pandemic. Maria, whose life had just come crashing down around her, was out for a run when she spotted an injured one-day old sparrow laying in the middle of the street. She picked him up intending to help him, not realizing how much he would help her, and many others, around the world. 

“Finding Happy” takes you into the complex and beautiful mind of one tiny sparrow who becomes a beacon of hope for his rescuer and millions around the globe, and who inspires a journey to explore other extraordinary bonds between humans and animals.

About the Filmmaker

Britt Penrod AwardMaria Bertrand (She), Principal/Director/Producer – Since Happy came into Maria’s life she launched Happy Moone Productions, where she has made her commercial directorial debut with four commercials under her belt, and she is in pre-production for her female driven comedy, ‘Got Daddy Issues?’  She has also published her first children’s book now on Amazon, “Finding Happy the Sparrow.”

Maria is an Executive Producer of “Finding 52; The Search for the Loneliest Whale,” alongside Leo DiCaprio and Adrien Grenier.


About the Britt Penrod Award

The award will be presented to one or more finalists to one of our four yearly Roy W. Dean Grants whose film is unique and makes an exceptional contribution to society.  The Britt Penrod Award was made possible by a donation from its namesake who is a longtime friend of 501(c)3 non-profit From the Heart Production.  Results of the award have no bearing on the eventual winner of any of the Roy W. Dean Grants.

In 2023, the Britt Penrod Award went to two films.  “Save the Wild Coast (Warship Off the Wild Coast)” from consultant Producer & Director Quinton Fredericks along with Executive Producer Gary Janks and “Desert Angel” which was Produced & Directed by Séverine Tibi.

About Britt Penrod

Britt is president of Giant Entertainment & Management Inc. (G.E.M.) is a Los Angeles based Film & Television Studio design and development company with in depth experience in the United States, Europe and Asia.

G.E.M. delivers knowledgeable business foundations to Studio development projects that include; Market Analysis, Site Planning, Operating Financial Evaluation, Construction, MEP & Value Engineering, Start-up of Operations and ongoing Management Services for stage-based entertainment properties.

About the Roy W. Dean Grant

Now in its 31st year, the Roy W. Dean Grant has awarded over $2,000,000 in cash and donated film services to independent films. The grant is awarded to films budgeted under $500,000 that are unique and that make a contribution to society.  It has been an important lifeline for independent filmmakers that help to get their projects started or finished.  Without assistance from the grant, many excellent and important films may never have been made. 

Past winners of the grant include Emmy Winners Belly of the Beast and The Love Bugs, 2019 Sundance Film Festival selection Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins, as well as acclaimed documentary Kusama-Infinity.

About From the Heart Productions

From The Heart Productions is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to helping filmmakers get their projects funded and made.  Besides providing funding through the grant, they offer fiscal sponsorship to filmmakers.  This allows donations made to films they sponsor to be tax deductible.  From The Heart has helped independent filmmakers raise millions through their fiscal sponsorship program.  The non-profit also offers film funding and production educational programs which include their Intentional Filmmaking Class and Learn Producing: The Ultimate Course in Indie Film Production.

President Carole Dean is the best-selling author of The Art of Film Funding: 2nd Edition, Alternative Financing Concepts and the new online class How to Fund Your Film.

For More Information and interview requests, please contact:

Richard Kaufman



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