Atlantic filmmakers’ financial assistance discussed

A moderated panel discussion was held this past Wednesday and Thursday at The Lord Nelson Hotel on financial assistance programs for independent filmmakers.

After two weeks of screenings, festival participants gathered to inquire about their eligibility for higher budget programs.

By Jessamyn Griffin

(from l to r) Wednesday's Panel attendees Linda Wood, Scott Simpson, and Lori McCurdy (Jessamyn Griffin Photo).
(from l to r) Wednesday's Panel attendees Linda Wood, Scott Simpson, and Lori McCurdy (Jessamyn Griffin Photo).

A moderated panel discussion was held this past Wednesday and Thursday at The Lord Nelson Hotel on financial assistance programs for independent filmmakers.

After two weeks of screenings, festival participants gathered to inquire about their eligibility for higher budget  programs.

“A key thing to avoid when applying for a program is having an ego,” says Lori McCurdy, Investment Analyst for Telefilm Canada. “It’s okay to ask questions if you don’t know something. It’s such a  changing field. It’s in our best interests and your best interest to let us help you.”

Telefilm Canada offers funding for development, production, and marketing.

The company’s development sector offers the Premier Writers Program. This is for established writers only.

In production, there is the Low Budget Independent Feature Film Assistance Program. It’s a director-driven program for emerging and established filmmakers. The program covers up to $200,000 in finances.

Distributors of bigger budget films apply to the marketing sector for financial aid.

“We don’t get involved in altering the filmmakers concepts. It really is a business case you are making to us. Our concern is the films having Nova Scotian elements,” says Linda Wood, Director of Business and Legal Affairs for Film Nova Scotia.

(from l to r) Thursday's Panel attendees Laura Jeanne Lefave, Heather Harkins, and Candice Desormeaux (Jessamyn Griffin Photo).

The success of the producer, their budget, the ability to finance the project, and ideas that “stand out” are things Wood says Film Nova Scotia considers when allotting money.

Whether you have a media arts degree or are a self-taught practitioner, the Canada Council for the Arts will consider your application.

Laura Jeanne Lefave, Media Arts personal of Canada Council for the Arts, urges filmmakers to apply for the Travel Grant. She says 50 to 60 per cent of applicants get accepted. Only 10 to 15 per cent of Production Grant applicants get accepted.

“My concern with the travel grants is that sometime we receive them and there isn’t that much information. We want to hear, in your words, why you want to go. Don’t just cut and paste a URL,” says Lefave. “We want to understand why you want to go to this place. If you just post a website you’re not demonstrating you understand the context and how it relates to your art practice.”

The National Film Board (NFB) specializes in filmmakers that do animation and documentaries. The NFB does not fund films but creates them.

“On our website we have full collection of over 2000 NFB films, we have the online store, resources for teachers, and all of the information on our programs. So there is a lot of information to show you what we create and support,” says Candice Desormeaux, NFB Atlantic Production Supervisor.

Filmmaker Ashley McKenzie talks about why she went to the event and what she got from it.

Ashley