Creating a 2nd Successful Kickstarter Campaign for Your Film

Director Robyn Symon’s first Kickstarter campaign for her documentary “Do No Harm” reached it’s goal.  Could she make it happen again?

by Richard Kaufman

Documentary filmmaker Robyn Symon was told it was impossible for a film to have two successful Kickstarter campaigns.   Her Roy W. Dean Grant winning film “Do No Harm” raised over $100,000 on the first Kickstarter effort.   She needed to raise at least that much again to help get her film finished.

On The Art of Film Funding Podcast , she she shared with host Carole Dean tips on how she defied the naysayers and reached her goal the second time around.

Put Together a Team With Connections

“Do No Harm”, fiscally sponsored by From the Heart Productions,  reveals the sad shocking truth about physician suicides.  While their jobs are to serve as our healers , they have the highest rate of suicide among any profession.    

She knew on her second Kickstarter campaign she would need to reach new supporters and expand her followers to be successful.  To do that, she wanted to build a team who could connect with those in medical field.

She sought out those “who had vlogs, podcasts and they had like tens of thousands of followers.”  She didn’t want anyone just because they loved the film.  She selected 5 or 6 people  after “I looked at their backgrounds carefully to know that these people knew how to connect with other people.”

One of them, Dr. Pamela Wible, Roybn called her “secret weapon”.   She’s considered “the guardian angel to physicians and medical student suseptible to suicide.”  Her vlogs get 50,000 views and a Ted talk she did seen by over 380,000 views. 

With a team in place, they were getting word out about the film even before the campaign began.   

Have Money in Kickstarter Campaign Before it Starts

“You should have a few thousand dollars already committed.” Robyn suggested.   So, as soon as you pull the switch on the campaign, the money is already tallied for all to see.

“No one wants to be the first money in.”

Everyone on her team agreed to contribute $1,000 before the campaign went live. So, right at the start they already had momentum.

Robyn Raised $131,313 on Second Kickstarter Campaign

Don’t Have a Goal That’s Too High…Or Too Low

“If your goal is too high, you’re not going to be sucessful”, she said.  Conversely, you don’t want to have a goal that is too low and easily attainable.  

“Once you reach your goal its very difficult to raise more money.”   She suggests not to go for all the funding at once in one campaign.  Break it up into smaller asks. 

“You have to make it very clear what the money is being allocated for” such as pre-production.  So, when you go back for more funding, you’re not rejected by those who think you’ve already raised enough to make your film.

Consider Using a Kickstarter Campaign Expert

Because she was concerned about raising money a second time on Kickstarter and finding new supporters, she hired an Kickstarter expert.

From the Heart Productions has one expert they work with who has a fantastic track record of crowdfunding success with their fiscally sponsored films.   They hooked him up with Robyn to help her with her campaign.

“I think it was really helpful.”, explained Robyn.   “He has done so many of these campaigns that he really made the page look fantastic.”

She regretted not setting her goal higher as she reached it in a week!  Her goal was $60K, but she really needed $100k and thinks she could have raised $200k. 

“It’s tough, really tough, to go back and say “Yes, we reached our goal and we have 3 weeks left.’” 

Fortunately, she was able to refocus her campaign on raising funds for marketing and was able to get an additional $60,000. 

 

Richard Kaufman is a board member of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-profit that offers fiscal sponsorship and the Roy W. Dean Grant for independent filmmakers.  Richard has over 25 years experience in supplying filmmakers with discounted film stock and hard drives.  He is currently a Senior Account Executive with Filmtools

Roy W. Dean Grant Won by “Belly of the Beast”

2nd Roy W. Dean Grant Winner of 2017 to Receive Cash and Services to Complete Documentary

"Belly of the Beast"

Still from Roy W. Dean Grant winning documentary “Belly of the Beast”

Oxnard, CA Dec 16th, 2017 –   From the Heart Productions , the non-profit dedicated to helping indie filmmakers get their films funded, has awarded its second Roy W. Dean Grant of 2017 to the documentary “Belly of the Beast”.  Awarded 3 times each year, the grant goes to films that are unique and make a contribution to society.  As a result of winning, “Belly of the Beast” will receive $3,500 in cash and $30k in film production products and services to help it complete production.

Directed by Erika Cohn, “Belly of the Beast” intimately chronicles the journey of women fighting reproductive injustice in their communities. 

“Persistence and passion for the project paid off for Erika” admired Carole Dean, founder and president of From the Heart Productions.  “This was the fourth time she applied to the grant with this project!   We could see the growth in her work and the last submission really impressed us.”

For winning the Roy W. Dean Grant, “Belly of the Beast” filmmakers receive $3,500 cash given by From the Heart Productions.  The winners also receive a hard drive from G-Technology, Scholarships to Writers Boot Camp , 25% discount on Publicity services by David Magdael & Associates, Inc., 35% discount for lighting services from PASKAL LIGHTING, and much more from many heart-felt donors

About the Filmmaker

"Belly of the Beast"Erika Cohn is an Emmy award winning director/producer who Variety recognized as one of 2017’s top ten documentary filmmakers.  Most recently, Erika completed The Judge, a film about the first woman judge to be appointed to the Middle East’s Shari’a courts.  It premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and will be broadcast on PBS’ 2018 Independent Lens series.

In addition, Erika co-directed/produced, In Football We Trust, an Emmy award-winning, feature documentary about the unique faith and culture that ultimately drives young Pacific Islander men into the NFL.  It  premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was broadcast on PBS’ 2016 Independent Lens series. Her work has been supported by IFP, the Sundance Institute, Tribeca Institute, Hot Docs, Sheffield, ITVS, Women in Film, BAVC and the CPB Producer’s Academy among others.

About the Roy W. Dean Grant

Now in its 25th year, the Roy W. Dean Grant has awarded over $2,000,000 in cash and donated film services to films.   The grant has been an important lifeline for filmmakers needing help to continue working on their films.  Without assistance from the grant, many excellent and important films would have never have been made. 

Past winners of the grant that have been completed include the Emmy winning Mia: A Dancer’s Journey, the SXSW Best of Fest Music Film The Winding Stream: An Oral History of the Carter and Cash Family, and the now in release on video and on demand the very relevant The Brainwashing of My Dad.

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 films fiscal sponsorship which allows donations made to films they sponsor to be tax deductible.  From The Heart has raised over $2.4 million for crowdfunding films as a partner with Indiegogo.  President Carole Dean is the best-selling author of The Art of Film Funding: 2nd Edition, Alternative Financing Concepts

For More Information and interview requests, please contact:

Richard Kaufman

www.fromtheheartproductions.com

 

“Stranger at Home” Wins First Roy W. Dean Grant for 2017

Documentary Explores Mental Health Crisis Facing Active Duty Soldiers, Veterans, and Their Families

Oxnard, CA October 21st, 2017 –   The first Roy W. Dean Grant for 2017 for independent filmmakers, awarded by the non-profit From the Heart Productions, goes to the documentary “Stranger at Home”.  Now in its 25th year, the Roy W. Dean Grant is awarded 3 times a year to films that are unique and make a contribution to society.  “Stranger at Home” will receive $3,500 in cash and $30k in film production products and services to help it complete production.

First Roy W. Dean Grant for 2017

“Stranger At Home” filmmakers with their main story subject Navy Commander (retired) and Psychologist, Dr. Mark Russell (c) with war stress injuries cohorts Dr. Charles Figley and Bonnie Zinn.

Directed by Luis Remesar and produced by Luis, Beth Dolan, and Sheila Higgins, “Stranger at Home” documents a Navy psychologist’s personal journey from decorated officer to reluctant whistle blower. His relentless mission is to hold the military accountable for continually disregarding their own solutions to the military mental health epidemic. 

“Stranger at Home” has completed research, development and secondary, photography production.  The filmmaker’s goal is to finish production in time to submit to Sundance Film Festival in September of 2018. 

“From the Heart Productions is committed to supporting films that have life changing stories told by filmmakers with passion.” said Carole Dean, founder and president of From the Heart Productions. “This film follows in that tradition.  We are proud to award it our first Roy W. Dean Grant for 2017 and to help in its completion.”

About the Winner of First Roy W. Dean Grant for 2017

The documentary reveals that active duty military, veterans and their families are facing a mental health crisis of catastrophic proportion.  But, even in this day and age of advanced knowledge and unlimited resources, the mindset of the military is one where mental illness and the admission of psychological trauma are still considered a weakness or a defect of character.

Through the film, we see the staggering consequences of these archaic and damaging beliefs.  This includes 24 suicides to every one battlefield death since 1999, rampant homelessness, substance abuse, incarceration and broken homes. These are all symptoms of untreated war stress Injuries.   The film explores the questions of why are we failing our bravest men and women who suffer needlessly? What is being done and what more can we do about it?  Why have we let this preventable crisis happen?

As winner of the first Roy W. Dean Grant for 2017, filmmakers receive $3,500 cash given by From the Heart Productions.  The winners also receive a hard drive from G-Technology, 40% deduction on color, editing, and sound & all production services from ProMedia, 30% discount in equipment rental from AbelCine Tech, Inc. NYC, Movie Magic Budgeting software as a gift from Entertainment Partners , and much more from many heart-felt donors

About the Filmmakers

Luis Remesar – Director/Producer/Editor

Luis, a native of Havana, Cuba, is a graduate of Columbia University where he studied psychology as well as filmmaking under both Andrew Sarris and Milos Forman. He has been honored by the Los Angeles City Council for his short film OUT OF ORDER and won an ACE Award of Merit for his bilingual,anti-smoking PSA for the American Lung Association. His feature-length documentary REGRESO – about the resiliency and inventiveness of people living through the many challenges in today’s Cuba – has screened at festivals and universities worldwide.

Beth Dolan – Producer/Writer

A graduate of Carnegie-Mellon University School of Drama, Beth has worked on popular situation comedies such as FOLEY SQUARE and VAN DYKE.  She also worked on LOS BELTRAN,  an award-winning Spanish language comedy for Sony/Telemundo. Under her own production banner Coyote Pass Productions, Beth has produced award-winning PSAs and short form documentaries. Her feature-length documentary REGRESO premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and has screened at other festivals and universities worldwide.

Sheila Higgins – Producer/Editor

Sheila has worked in multiple media genres as a producer, director, editor and videographer.  This includes working on such shows as: TALK SOUP, E! TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORIES, as well as the OSCARS, EMMYS, and the GOLDEN GLOBES.  She’s also worked as an editor for Tribune/KTLA News and Special Projects where she won awards from the Greater Los Angeles Press Club as well as a TELLY. Other documentaries she has worked on inlcude: OUR STORY, KIDS GET CANCER TOO – SEEING IS BELIEVING; THE INSPIRING STORY OF RWANDA – AHE PASSION TO PLAY, ONE PLAYER’S STORY and SINGING FUNNY.

About the Roy W. Dean Grant

The Roy W. Dean Grant has awarded over $2,000,000 in cash and donated film services to films.   The grant has been an important lifeline for filmmakers that need help to complete their film.  Without assistance from the grant, many excellent and important films may never have been made. 

Past winners of the grant that have been completed include the Emmy winning Mia: A Dancer’s Journey, the SXSW Best of Fest Music Film The Winding Stream: An Oral History of the Carter and Cash Family, and the now in release on video and on demand the very relevant The Brainwashing of My Dad.

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 films fiscal sponsorship which allows donations made to films they sponsor to be tax deductible.  From The Heart has raised over $2.4 million for crowdfunding films as a partner with Indiegogo.  President Carole Dean is the best-selling author of The Art of Film Funding: 2nd Edition, Alternative Financing Concepts

For More Information and interview requests, please contact:

Richard Kaufman

www.fromtheheartproductions.com

 

3 Steps to Making Money Distributing Your Documentary

Making money theatrically distributing your documentary has been an elusive goal for filmmakers.  Except for one. 

3 Steps to Making Money Distributing Your Documentary

Build Your Audience Before You Finish Your Film

I recently interviewed Christo Brock, writer/director of the documentary Touch the Wall, on my Art of Film Funding Podcast.  He has perfected a 3 part formula to pull it off that resulted in his film being screened 363 times to date. 

First, be determined to build your audience before your film is finished.  Find a champion.  Finally, work with a great distributor like Tugg.com that maximizes the potential of your database. 

As a basis for their film, Christo Brock and his partner Grant Barbado chose to follow two Olympic swimmers as they trained for the London Olympic Games.  One of his swimmers, Missy Franklin, became an international sports star when she won four Gold Medals and broke two world records. 

Christo & Grant, like many other documentary filmmakers, seem to have the Midas touch by choosing people who become famous in their field.  This often makes the years invested by the filmmakers profitable.  That’s what I like to see, filmmakers who make money on documentaries.

Building an Audience Before Your Film is Finished

Christo raised $119,000.00 (see below for bonus crowdfunding tip) through Kickstarter.  He says it was a real blessing because this connected him to his major portion of his audience. 

He discovered more of his audience while creating the documentary.   Each time they filmed a swim event, both he and Grant spent time meeting people, getting names and especially looking for groups and organizations.  Then, they would follow up and connect to them. 

They were constantly adding names to their database and keeping their audience informed about the film.  They also hired people to help with outreach and had them focus on contacting swim clubs and making savvy posts online.  They worked hard to engage people and which would later paid off financially.

Finding a Champion

He then took Peter Broderick’s advice and found a champion in USA Swimming which is the governing body of amateur swimming in the US. 

In the interview, Christo reiterated what producer Tom Malloy and I teach to filmmakers in our Intentional Filmmaking Class. Find an audience to become dedicated champions.  Find groups or people that care about the project early on because they have a stake in it. 

USA Swimming wanted to see the film completed.  They were there to donate, follow the film, and help fill up theaters for screenings.

Tugg.com

Armed with a good database and a champion, Christo had what he needed for distributing his documentary through Tugg.com.

Tugg.com is an on-demand distribution company where you can bring your film to any city in the country.  Tugg facilitates this for you.  In an earlier interview Nick Gonda, founder of Tugg.com, he fully explained their mission.  He discussed how they find theaters near your audience and how they handle the screenings for you. 

Working with Tugg.com allowed Christo and Grant to screen in the cities where they had an audience.  This is opposed to the old form of distribution, i.e., screening in LA, NYC, Chicago and paying for advertising to bring in an audience.   With Tugg, your audience does the work to fill the theatre.  Christo and Grant’s audience brought in swim teams across America.  They had 363 screenings with an average attendance of 153 people per screening.

The names of everyone who attends the screening is given by Tugg to the filmmaker.  This is a key to your success for follow up, DVD and merchandise sales after the screening.  Please be sure whoever you use to distribute your film gives you these names.  Your data base is a major asset for you.

Bonus Crowdfunding Tip

I asked Christo for a good tip on crowdfunding.  He says  for his new film, on every interview he makes sure they take lots of behind-the-scenes footage, both stills and video.  He asks  the interviewee to give him a pitch for his Kickstarter. 

When he runs his campaign, he will have these “asks” from people in the film.  He has them say things like “Hey, I am John Smith and I hope you support this film about craft beer.”  Just that short and it works.

Check out his web site to see how he used shots of Missy Franklin on his web site for funding his swim film. http://www.touchthewall.com/film-clips

Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-profit that offers fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcast, The Art of Film Funding, interviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film productionShe is also the author of The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.  See IMDB for producing credits.

 

Fall 2016 Roy W. Dean Grant Won by “Do No Harm”

“Silent Epidemic” of Physician Suicide Exposed in Eye-Opening Documentary Feature

Oxnard, CA Jan 16th, 2016   Why are the doctors we rely on to keep us healthy, ending their own lives at an alarming rate?  Emmy winning former PBS Producer/Director Robyn Symon examines this critical problem in the documentary Do No Harm, the winner of the Fall 2016 Roy W. Dean Grant.   As the grant winner, Robyn will receive $30K in cash, film products, and services to help her finish her project. 

Still from Roy W. Dean Grant Winner “Do No Harm”

The Roy W. Dean Grant is awarded 3 times each year to a unique film that makes a contribution to society.   Founded in 1993 by the 501(c)3 non-profit From the Heart Productions, grants are open to all types of film projects including documentaries, short films, features, and web series in any stage of production

Following three people bonded by grief, “Do No Harm” delves into why young physicians in medical school have the highest suicide rate of any profession, almost twice the national average.  They are jumping from hospital roofs, hanging themselves in closets and overdosing on readily available drugs. “This documentary reveals a dark side of our medical system.” commented Carole Dean, president of From the Heart Productions. “We are proud to support Robyn and her work to shine a light through her film on this important underreported story.”

The film shows how what it calls this ‘dirty little secret” in the medical community is a symptom of a broken heath care system that’s not only putting the lives of doctors at risk…  but patients too.

“Medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the United States alone,”notes director Robyn Symone,”often caused by sleep-deprived and disillusioned doctors forced to practice assembly line medicine. And the crisis is getting worse.”

About the Filmmaker

Robyn Symon is a two-time Emmy winning Producer/Director and has produced programming for many national networks including PBS, The Travel Channel, CNBC and DISCOVERY HEALTH. Robyn began her career as a TV news reporter in Texas before joining the PBS station WPBT in Miami, where she produced documentaries, public affairs programs, the TV series Florida!, the docu-series Voices of Vision, and the medical series Health & Family airing on the Discovery Health network.

Her most recent film, Uncle Gloria: One Helluva Ride!, was selected for a prestigious Film Independent Documentary Lab Fellowship and will premiere at a Miami film festival in April 2016. In addition to two Emmys, Robyn has been honored with 3 national Telly awards; 2 national NABJ awards and honors by both the Associated Press and UPI.

The Fall 2016 Roy W. Dean Grant includes $3,000 cash given by From The Heart Productions.  The winners also receive a hard drive from G-Technology, $15,000 in theme and score music from composer David Raiklen,  $6,000 in animation services from Charlie Canfield,  one week DSLR camera package rental from Birns & Sawyer,  and much more from many heart-felt donors

About the Roy W. Dean Grant

Now in its 23rd year, the Roy W. Dean Grant has awarded over $2,000,000 in cash and donated film services to films.  The grant has been an important lifeline for filmmakers needing help to continue working on their film and to get it completed.  Without assistance from the grant, many excellent and important films may never have been made. 

Past winners of the grant that have been completed include the Emmy winning Mia: A Dancer’s Journey, the SXSW Best of Fest Music Film The Winding Stream: An Oral History of the Carter and Cash Family, and the now in release on video and on demand the very relevant The Brainwashing of My Dad.

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 are also a fiscal sponsor which allows donations made to films they sponsor to be tax deductible.  From The Heart has raised over $2.4 million for crowdfunding films as a partner with Indiegogo.  President Carole Dean is the best-selling author of The Art of Film Funding: 2nd Edition, Alternative Financing Concepts

For More Information, please contact

Richard Kaufman

www.fromtheheartproductions.com

“The Coverup” Wins Roy W. Dean Spring Film Grant for 2016

Roy W. Dean Spring Film Grant Winning Documentary Uncovers Effects of Toxic Chemicals in Cosmetics and Personal Care Products

Oxnard, CA  Oct 4, 2016  From The Heart Productions, the 501(c)3 non-profit with a mission to help filmmakers get their films funded, has awarded the Roy W. Dean Spring Film Grant of 2016 to the feature documentary, The Coverup, and its mother and daughter filmmaking team of Lynn Pelletier and Malina Fagan.  For winning the grant, they will receive $30k in cash, film products and services to complete their film.

Started in 1993, the Roy W. Dean Film Grant is awarded 3 times each year to films that are unique and make a contribution to society.  There is a Spring, Winter, and Fall Grant.  The grants are open to all types of film projects including documentaries, short films, features, and web series in any stage of production.  225 films were submitted for this year’s Roy W. Dean Spring Film Grant from the United States and around the world.

"The Coverup" - 2016 Roy W. Dean Spring Film Grant Winner

“The Coverup” – 2016 Roy W. Dean Spring Film Grant Winner

“The Coverup” reveals that the average person is exposed to about 126 chemicals a day, just from their cosmetics and personal care products (soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, makeup, etc.).  Scientists have linked some of the chemicals to serious health effects including cancer, infertility, and birth defects. The documentary seeks to empower consumers and companies alike and challenge our government to protect the public.

Filmmakers Lynn and Malina had previously applied several times to the Roy W. Dean Film Grant.  Like all other applicants, were given a free consultation to improve their application. They persisted and made the appropriate adjustments and eventually won the grant. 

“These two women are talented and determined.” admired Carole Dean, president and founder of From the Heart Productions. “Those are two traits that always equal success in film funding.  It’s especially nice for myself and Carole Joyce, my daughter who helps with grant outreach, to be able to give the grant to another mother and daughter team.”

“The Coverup” reveals that the average person is exposed to about 126 chemicals a day, just from their cosmetics and personal care products (soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, makeup, etc.).  Scientists have linked some of the chemicals to serious health effects including cancer, infertility, and birth defects.  The documentary seeks to empower consumers and companies to challenge the government to protect the public.

Filmmaker's Lynn and Malina Fagan

Malina Fagan and Lynn Pelletier

Lynn Pelletier and Malina Fagan are the dynamic mother-daughter duo behind “The Coverup”.  Lynn is a health practitioner of over 30 years who specializes in acupuncture and allergy treatments.  Malina is an award winning filmmaker who is passionate about health, the environment and human empowerment. Having lost several people in their family to cancer, they are committed to raising awareness of environmental toxins and disease prevention.

Malina’s films have premiered in IMAX at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, aired on Rocky Mountain PBS, and been selected at festivals across the country, winning awards for their cinematography and storytelling. 

For winning the Roy W. Dean Spring Film Grant, they will receive $3,500 cash donated by From The Heart Productions.  The grant also includes a hard drive from G-Technology, tape stock from Media Distributors, discount on color, editing and production services from Promedia, equipment rental from Alpha Cine NY,  and much more from many heart-felt donors

About the Roy W. Dean Grant

Now in its 23rd year, the Roy W. Dean Grant has awarded over $2,000,000 in cash and donated film services to films.   The grant has been an important lifeline for filmmakers needing help to continue working on their film and to get it completed.  Without assistance from the grant, many excellent and important films may never have been made. 

Past winners of the grant that have been completed include the Emmy winning Mia: A Dancer’s Journey, the SXSW Best of Fest Music Film The Winding Stream: An Oral History of the Carter and Cash Family, and the now in release on video and on demand The Brainwashing of My Dad

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 are also a fiscal sponsor which allows donations made to films they sponsor to be tax deductible.  From The Heart has raised over $2.3 million for crowdfunding films as a partner with Indiegogo.  President Carole Dean is the best-selling author of The Art of Film Funding: 2nd Edition, Alternative Financing Concepts

For More Information, please contact

Richard Kaufman

www.fromtheheartproductions.com

Finalists Chosen for Roy W. Dean Spring Film Grant

6 Films in Running for 1st Roy W. Dean Film Grant of 2016

From The Heart Productions, the non-profit dedicated to helping filmmakers get funding, announced the 6 finalists for the Roy W. Dean Spring Film Grant.  Winner will receive $30,000 in a combination of cash and donated services from film industry professionals and companies.

Grant finalist "U Htein Lin – Mr. Bright and Shiny"

Grant finalist “U Htein Lin – Mr. Bright and Shiny”

The 6 finalists were selected out of an initial group of 22 finalists for grant.  Over 225 submissions were received for this year’s grant.  The projects included features, short films, documentary, and web series.

“Filmmakers with unique stories that contribute to society have the toughest road to get funding” said From the Heart President Carole Dean “That is why we founded the grant.  Without it’s help, these projects might otherwise never get made.”

The grant includes $3,500 in cash and donations of film services and products.  Some of which include a 1TB G-Drive ev ATC from G-Technology, a 30% discount in equipment rental from AbelCine Tech, Inc. NYC, 40% deduction on color, editing, and production services from ProMedia, and much more from those who care about helping independent filmmakers.

The films and their filmmakers chosen as Roy W. Dean Grant Finalists are:

Belly of the Beast – Erika Cohn – Documentary intimately chronicles the journey of women fighting reproductive injustice in their communities.

Holden On – Tamlin Hall – Based on a true story of dual diagnosis, the feature is a dynamic 17-year-old’s point of view journey to keep his mental illness a secret at all costs.

How the Cats Took Over the Internet – Laurin Lazin – Documentary feature film for all ages. It takes a provocative and entertaining look at the history, meaning, and impact of user-generated content… as seen through the lens of the cat video.

Stranger at Home – Luis Remesar – Documentary film about a Navy psychologist’s mission to hold military medicine accountable for solutions to the mental health epidemic decimating our warrior class.

The Coverup – Malina Fagan – The documentary reveals startling information previously hidden from consumers that links exposure to low dose chemicals used in soaps, lotions, baby shampoos, deodorants, etc. to devastating health effects such as cancer, infertility, birth defects and more. This solution oriented film teaches viewers how to protect themselves, their families and the environment, and challenges our government to protect the public.

U Htein Lin – Mr. Bright and Shiny – Vanessa Smith – Documentary on a Burmese artist who was sentenced to prison without a fair trial and who spent 6 and one half years in prison.

About the Roy W. Dean Grant

Now in its 24th year, the Roy W. Dean Grant is awarded 3 times each year.   There is a Spring, Summer and Fall Grant.  The Fall Grant is now accepting entries and closes September 30th.  Films submitted to the grant can be short films, documentaries or features from early stages of pre-production to those needing help in post.

The grant has been integral in helping talented artists with great stories get their films produced.  Recent past winners of the grant include the award winning “Heist: Who Stole the American Dream” and “The Winding Stream: An Oral History of the Carter and Cash Family”, and Mia: A Dancer’s Journey which just won an Emmy award.

About From The Heart Productions

The 501(c)3 non-profit was founded by Carole Dean when she saw how many filmmakers with important, new, and often controversial stories were having trouble getting financing for their films.    From The Heart is a fiscal sponsor for films which allows donors to get a tax deduction for their donations.  Their Intentional Filmmaking Class that teaches filmmakers the tactics on how to get funded is now open for enrollment.  Classes start September 26th.

Keeping Faith

By diane estelle Vicari

I was inspired to make my documentary Imagining a Better World in 2006 when I first read Dr. Nelly Toll’s award winning biography Behind the Secret Window: her remarkable story of hiding from the Nazis in occupied Poland alongside her mother during WWII.

Painting by Nelly Toll

Painting by Dr. Nelly Toll

Still a child during this terrible ordeal, with her mother’s love as her only protection, Nelly created a body of sixty watercolor paintings depicting what her life would resemble under normal circumstances.

Without the kindness of a Catholic family, who risked their lives simply by hiding them, Nelly and her mom would not have survived.

Today, a renowned art therapist and teacher, she believes strongly in emphasizing the positive values she took away from her experience to triumph over adversity as she goes and visits schools, of all levels, across the country to share her story.

The Nelly Toll Story is another example of “one man can make a difference”, a theme explored in my previous work, Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness.  This documentary film relates the story of Japanese Diplomat Chiune Sempo Sugihara who risked it “all” acting against government orders during WWII to save the lives of strangers, by writing visas for escaping Jews.

He did so with the belief that somehow these strangers would find their way to safety.  Were it not for his courageous actions, some 60,000 people would not be alive today.

As a storyteller, I am constantly reminded that FAITH is a critical tool in my work as well.   Without it, no matter the value of our vision, it will not bear fruit.  If courageous individuals, like Dr. Nelly Toll and Chiune Sugihara could “imagine a better world” under some of the worst circumstances in our history, well, so can we.

As a filmmaker and a messenger, my subjects teach me through their stories, to have faith in a better humanity.

diane estelle Vicari, Director / Producer is an award-­winning filmmaker and is internationally renowned for her work in promoting the production and advancement of the documentary film genre.  Now in production on Imagining a Better World, her last documentary, Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness, won the Hollywood Film Festival Award for Best Documentary and the prestigious IDA/ Pare Lorentz Award. It has also been honored by the United Nations and aired nationally on PBS.

Dissecting Docs: This Ain’t No Mouse Music

by Carole Dean

When 16 year old Chris Strachwitz left Germany and came to the US in 1960, he played his radio every day because he was so impressed with the music in America.  He loved it all!

This Aint No Mouse Music 2He listened to Mexican music, soul, and blues, jazz and accordion music.  Chris developed a very good “ear” for music.  He knew how to discern talented people.  But, many of the artists he liked were older musicians whose work would be lost when they went away.

He decided to dedicate his life to record them to save their music.

In the documentary “This Ain’t No Mouse Music”, we follow Chris from teenage music lover to a restless archivist who discovered and preserved the work of many great songs and artists.

He started on a shoestring.  He began to record music exactly where he found it.  In front yards, restaurants, bars, by the lake.  Wherever the musicians played, that’s where Chris recorded them.

Chris never had a studio.  He never wanted one.  He wanted to record the music just where he found it.  This brilliant idea really worked, you can hear it in the recordings.  It’s natural and the outside or surrounding sounds belong.

Music was the life blood in the heart of these deep rooted communities. People loved their music and loved their musicians.

Chris started his own record label Arhoolie Records.   Arhoolie is the word for a field hand in the south.   He became a folk, blues and soul music detective combing Texas, Louisiana & Mississippi for musicians and also for local records.

During his search for music, he found folklorist Mac McCormick who became a brilliant partner to help Chris in his quest.  Chris & Mac were not afraid to ask anyone for the names of musicians.  Once they had a name, they used their detective skills and went to work to find them.

This desire to find folk music in the South would cause him to find some of the greats.   He found Fred McDowell, Aakka White, and Big Mama Thornton, who sang Hound Dog and I Smell a Rat.

He found Richard Thompson, John Jackson, Mance Lipscomb, Charlie Musclewhite and Big Joe Williams whose great song is Sloppy Drunk!

Chris took many of these people to the folk festivals and on tour to either create or resurrect their careers.   He took Big Mama Thornton overseas where she recorded on of her best-selling record Big Momma Thornton – In Europe.

He recorded Country Joe and the Fish singing their anti-Vietnam War song I Feel Like I’m Fixing to Die Rag.  Chris recorded this in his home and when they were leaving they said, “What do we owe you for the recording?”

“Well, you don’t have a publisher,” Chris replied “So, let me be the publisher.”

They signed a contract which brought Chris a lot of money.  Chris used this income to cross the country and find us these marvelous musicians.   Years later, when they next met, Chris gave the publishing rights back to the artist.

Chris is a one-man-band by finding the talent, producing, recording, editing, marketing, selling and promoting.  He even shows you how to wash your records!

If you love music, musicians and good bio pics, this is a wonderful film for you.

Songs truly are the poetry of the people…

The podcast Dissecting Docs with Carole Dean and Don Schwartz is dedicated to our most precious and beloved filmmakers, the documentary filmmaker.  Each week, the show honors these brilliant creatives who give of their time, energy, and sometimes their freedom to bring us the truth.  They are our last vestige of sincere, unbiased reporters who put their heart into their films.

 

 

“Sands of Silence” Wins 2nd Roy W. Dean Film Grant of 2015

Documentary Exposes International Underworld of Sex Trafficking

Oxnard, CA Oct 30th, 2015 – The Summer Roy W. Dean Grant has been awarded to director Chelo Alvarez-Stehle for her feature length documentary “Sands of Silence”. Overseen by the non-profit From the Heart Productions, the film grant is the second of three awarded each year to a filmmaker with a unique project that contributes to society.

Sands of Silence 2“Chelo’s dedication to the production of her film, ‘Sands of Silence’ is exemplary” said Carole Dean, president of From the Heart Productions.  “This film will change lives, open conversations and raise the consciousness on many hidden issues.  We are honored to support Chelo in getting this film made”.

The Roy W. Dean Grant is open to all types of film projects including documentaries, short films, features, and web series in any stage of production.  Submissions were received from from across U.S. as well as internationally from United Kingdom, Australia, and Nigeria.  Winner receives cash and donated film services to help complete their film.

In “Sands of Silence”, Chelo records a 15-year quest to expose the underworld of sex trafficking from Asia to the Americas back to the windswept beach where her childhood ended and family secrets began. Documenting the transformation of young women in Mexico and Nepal from powerless victims” to resilient survivors and passionate advocates, the filmmaker undertakes a parallel journey toward personal healing and family reconciliation.

“I still remember the thought-provoking Documentary Trailblazer course I took with Carole Dean over 10 years ago.” said director Alvarez-Stehle upon learning she had won the grant.  “The course spanned over 12 weeks and it was a stepping stone in my path towards documentary filmmaking.”

From the Heart Productions has also served as a fiscal sponsor for the grant winning documentary.

“Carole was there for me through good and bad times and has always been a beacon and an inspiration. So now that my film is finally about to see the light after all these years, receiving the Roy W Dean Grant feels like coming around full circle, a feeling of completion, as if the positive energy that she encouraged me to pour in my film, had manifested. I could not be more grateful”.

Director Chelo Alvarez-Stehle

Director Chelo Alvarez-Stehle

Journalist, documentary and new media producer Chelo Alvarez-Stehle has worked for over 15 years exposing stories of human trafficking through her creative and outreach work. She worked on documentaries for NHK and became Spain’s El Mundo daily correspondent first in Tokyo, then in Los Angeles. Canal+ Spain turned one of her print reportages on trafficking in the Himalayas into TIN GIRLS feature documentary film.

As producer/director she did her first short documentaries WISDOM IN SMOKE and THE POWER OF 2 distributed to 30 countries, in Cuba.  She then directed and co-produced the SOLD IN AMERICA: A Modern-Day Tale of Sex-Slavery (Montreal Human Rights Film Festival.)  She is currently producing/directing a transmedia project that encompasses the feature-length documentary SANDS OF SILENCE: Journey into Trafficking, the SOS_SLAVES social impact videogame and a micro-documentary series on sexual exploitation. She has just produced the short documentary THROUGH THE WALL, about a family divided by the US/Mexico border.

In addition to $3,500 cash given by From The Heart Productions, the winner receives goods, services, and discounts including hard drives from G-Technology, tape stock from Media Distributors, post production consultation from colorist Sam Dlugach, music post production from Audiokut,  a full scholarship to The Writer’s Boot Camp, and much more from many heart-felt donors.

About the Roy W. Dean Grant

Now in its 23rd year, the Roy W. Dean Grant has awarded over $2,000,000 in cash and donated film services to films that without its help may never have been made.  Films submitted to the grant can be short films, documentaries or features from early stages of pre-production to those needing help in post.

The grant has been integral in fostering award winning films.  Past winners of the grant that have been completed include the award winning “Heist: Who Stole the American Dream”, emmy winning “Mia: A Dancer’s Journey” and “The Winding Stream: An Oral History of the Carter and Cash Family” which is now showing in film festivals around North America.

About From The Heart Productions

From The Heart Productions is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to helping filmmakers get their projects made.  Besides providing funding through the grant, they are also a fiscal sponsor which allows donations made to films they sponsor to be tax deductible.  From The Heart has raised over $1.9 million for crowdfunding films as a partner with Indiegogo.  President Carole Dean is the best-selling author of “The Art of Film Funding” which is now in its second edition.