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#FunderFriday: The Redford Center Gives Us a Sneak Peak Into Their New Grants Program!

By Lisa Hasko

Our friends at The Redford Center are offering IDA members a special preview of the organization’s new Redford Center Grants program, which will launch on Wednesday, June 22. IDA thanks our guest funder, Melissa Fondakowski (Program and Development), for answering the questions we’re most curious about, and giving our members an exclusive look at their latest exciting endeavor.

How Did Redford Center Grants Come About?

As a small nonprofit, The Redford Center’s organizational model has been to produce one film at a time about an issue on the verge of a tipping point. Since we were founded, we’ve made two award-winning impact films (and have a third one on the way). While this model has served us well, it takes a long time to make a movie! On top of that, we were really feeling the urgency to move the needle on a range of issues. We knew there must be a way to use our experience as successful impact filmmakers, along with our brand and network, to multiply our impact beyond the one-film-at-a-time model. So, thanks to a grant from the New York Community Trust, we are launching Redford Center Grants to support the generation of positive, solutions-based impact films by innovative storytellers. This is our pilot year, and the topic of focus is the environment.

Why Environmental Films?

Why not environmental films? There are so many things we don’t know about environmental issues. Not the problems—I feel like we have a good idea about those. But the solutions. We need storytellers to show us what we can do to solve these problems—where the solutions are working, and how they are changing people’s lives. We believe that stories that demonstrate what the future can be, and provide audiences with a pathway for getting there, are much better at tapping into human ingenuity, creativity, and hope than those environmental stories that try to terrify audiences into action.

In fact, a few months ago our team went out and filmed street interviews in San Francisco and Oakland, California to test our theory that there is a great need and opportunity to make environmental films more desirable to watch. The result is a four-part series of one-minute shorts portraying our questions, and the interviewees’ answers. We’re using these shorts to promote Redford Center Grants once the submission window opens—until then they are embargoed! But, we’d like to give our #FunderFriday readers a sneak peek. Click here to watch Part I: Let’s Change This (password: grants).

What’s the Gist? What Do Filmmakers Receive?

We’re looking for applications from filmmakers who are interested in making feature-length film projects focused on driving awareness and action on environmental topics. Our goal is to support the development of a proof-of-concept short that filmmakers can use as a fundraising tool and a stand-alone piece that can help garner audience attention and build a community for the project. Ultimately, we want to see the development of feature-length films, and we realize that in our current media environment, there are many ways to reach that goal.

Filmmakers will receive:

  • A $15,000 development grant to produce a written film treatment and a short proof-of-concept film in a three-month timeframe.
  • A GoPro Hero 4 Black camera to support their filmmaking.
  • A travel and lodging grant to attend a story development summit at the Sundance Mountain Resort.
  • Networking and mentorship opportunities.

Who Can Apply, and When?

Our open application period is June 22 – August 10, 2016 ( Since we’re still a few days out, if you want to join The Redford Center’s email list, click here. Scroll to the bottom and enter your name and email address to start receiving all Redford Center program announcements. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter, where we’ll be posting information and links to the application throughout the submission period. An abridged version of our eligibility requirements are below, but for the complete rundown, be sure to visit on June 22!

Eligibility Basics

  • All members of the applicant team must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Proposed projects must be feature-length, impact-focused documentary films (animation, VR, and other emerging techniques are welcome).
  • Projects must be focused on an environmental topic. The Redford Center broadly defines an “environmental topic” as an issue that concerns or endangers the health of humans, animals, communities, and/or earth ecosystems.
  • International filmmakers are eligible to apply.
  • Applicants cannot be full-time students.