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Filmmakers Collaborative, Inc.

 6 Eastman Place, Suite 202
 Melrose, MA 02176
[P] (781) 662-1102
[F] (781) 662-1140
Laura Azevedo
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 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 22-2778829

LAST UPDATED: 01/14/2019
Organization DBA FC
Filmmakers Collaborative, Inc.
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No


Mission StatementMORE »

Filmmakers Collaborative (FC) encourages and supports the making of great films and media projects by people of all ages and experience levels. We offer grants management, mentoring and workshops to a diverse and national community that includes award-winning PBS documentarians, first-time producers and directors, and young people just discovering the power and potential of visual media.

Mission Statement

Filmmakers Collaborative (FC) encourages and supports the making of great films and media projects by people of all ages and experience levels. We offer grants management, mentoring and workshops to a diverse and national community that includes award-winning PBS documentarians, first-time producers and directors, and young people just discovering the power and potential of visual media.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year July 01, 2017 to June 30, 2018
Projected Income $2,000,000.00
Projected Expense $1,900,000.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Boston International Kids Film Festival
  • Making Media Now

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

Filmmakers Collaborative (FC) encourages and supports the making of great films and media projects by people of all ages and experience levels. We offer grants management, mentoring and workshops to a diverse and national community that includes award-winning PBS documentarians, first-time producers and directors, and young people just discovering the power and potential of visual media.

Background Statement

Filmmakers Collaborative was founded in 1986 to be a fiscal sponsor and a community for local independent filmmakers. We expanded our sponsorship services nationally in 2008, and have a reputation for fiscal and artistic integrity, administering over $25 million in grants for films that have won top industry awards, produced and directed by some of the best documentary, narrative, and transmedia filmmakers in the country.

We have a history of developing programs for filmmakers and the community, beginning with The Boston Jewish Film Festival, which was an FC project from 1989 to 1998. We created a Film Talks program that brought filmmakers into local communities to share their works. In 2008 we launched Making Media Now, a conference that brings together industry experts, established filmmakers and students to connect with each other over panels, workshops, a trade show and one-on-one consultations.

We continually look for trends that align with our core competencies so that we can direct our services where most needed. In launching the Boston International Kids Film Festival in 2013, our aim is to engage the next generation of filmmakers in workshops and conversations about vision and values as well as media skills, in hopes of understanding – and shaping – the future of filmmaking. 


Impact Statement

- We increased our fiscal sponsorship base and are currently the fiscal sponsor for over 75 projects, with topics and budgets as diverse as our membership.

- In January 2016, Filmmakers Collaborative launched “FC Academy”, an after-school and summer filmmaking program.  Our mission is to use the art of filmmaking to bring media literacy skills to middle school students everywhere. We are capitalizing on our 30-year history of filmmaking expertise to teach students how to make a short film. We then screen their films as part of the Boston International Kids Film Festival ( BIKFF).

- In the fall of 2017, we held the 5th annual Boston International Kids Film Festival, highlighting films from around the world all made FOR, BY or ABOUT kids and hosting hands-on workshops for the entire family. This year’s workshop offerings included "Stop-Motion Animation", "Special Effects and Camera Tricks" and the ever-popular "Make-a-Movie-in-a-Day" bootcamp.

- We have had 500 students participate in FC Academy. We hope to continue to expand this program throughout Massachusetts and beyond. Costs associated are covered either by the family or the school that the child attends. Our goal is to raise funding to be able to offer our classes for free to schools in need.

- We will develop marketing materials to promote both FC Academy and the BIKFF to funders and constituents;

- Nurture relationships with funders who can support our work;

- Continue to expand our fiscal sponsor base to meet our annual grant income goals. 

Needs Statement

As an organization of professional filmmakers, through FC Academy, we are uniquely poised to offer skills to a generation inundated 24-7 with media messages and opportunities for visual expression. We need additional funding in place to reach students all over Massachusetts, thus providing the next generation with media literacy skills necessary to thrive in the digital age.

Our need is for funds to enable this development. Our estimated costs are for $90,000/year over 3 years, or $270,000 in all. We are looking for these funds from private donors, foundations, corporations, and in fee income. 

Additionally, we need to expand our base of fiscally sponsored projects, adding both more and larger projects. This expansion will serve independent filmmakers and add to our roster of professionals to help with skill training for young people.    


CEO Statement

Filmmakers Collaborative has been around for over 30 years and I have been involved for seven, as associate director for 4.5 years and stepping in as executive director as of January 2015.

What I most enjoy about FC is that it offers a welcoming and creative community, something much needed by those who work in isolation for much of the production cycle. Our programs are valuable for bringing people together as well as for providing content.  We offer workshops throughout the year free of charge to FC members and for a fee for "FC Friends” in topics ranging from “The Business of Filmmaking” to more hands-on production workshops led by experts in areas of cinematography, editing and sound design and mix, to name a few.

I also appreciate FC’s efforts to continually re-evaluate its place in the media ecosystem, and its willingness to chart new strategic directions when warranted. This happened in 2008 when, after a year of strategic planning and visioning, we became a national organization and launched the Making Media Now conference. It happened again in 2012 when we decided to focus on the future of filmmaking and launched the Boston International Kids Film Festival.

As executive director, I am excited by FC’s potential. We get calls every week from filmmakers from across the country who appreciate our accessibility, knowledge, low rates and mentoring services. I believe that we are one of the very best fiscal sponsors in the country, professionally run by filmmakers dedicated to the success of each person who chooses to work with us. 

Offering media skills, showcasing films, and being mentors and leaders to the next generation of filmmakers aligns perfectly with our mission, passion and competencies. The Boston International Kids Film Festival  and FC Academy have huge growth potential, and I believe are key to FC’s future.   


Board Chair Statement

When I was a youth, I dreamed of making a difference in the world. I majored in international relations in college with the hopes of finding a position at the UN or in Washington politics. I envisioned that once I graduated, I would be balancing a rich personal and spiritual life, filled with family, good friends, and meaningful work. 

But instead, twenty-some years later I found myself owning and running a traditional business that had hit a speed bump, was having financial difficulties, and did not nourish my desire to help social change happen in the world.  I vowed that once I turned the business around, I would never again let a career without meaning consume my every waking moment, nor would I devote my time to work that was not enriching my soul.

Fortunately within six months I had turned around the business and found a buyer. I was excited about the potential to now use my energy to uplift the human spirit. 

Having spent all of my adult life in marketing and the media, I decided that I could use the power of the media to help others envision a better world. Part of my goal is to harness the power of film and television for social change.  Media can be used as a transformer, enlightener, and liberator. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “If you want to move people, it has to be toward a vision that’s positive for them, that taps important values, that gets them something they desire, and that’s presented in a compelling way...”

It is with these thoughts in mind that I co-hosted an event with Robert Redford at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival that brought funders and social filmmakers together, and this event led to my becoming a board member and eventually chair of Filmmakers Collaborative.

Finding beauty and dignity through moral actions can be done in many ways at any age. Some have run conventional companies that devote a percentage of their profits to social causes. Others volunteer their time to organizations that bring them close to the deeper dimension of life.

Filmmakers Collaborative is such an organization, and being part of it has brought that deeper dimension of life to me. I am honored and privileged to be Chair of the Board.

These are exciting times in the media industry. Predictors say in five years or less, over 75% of Google searches will be for video or images. Technology has radically changed what it means to be a filmmaker; “media maker” is now a more apt description, and the skill has gone from a "nice to have" to a "need to have" ability for all children and adults. Media skills are required by anyone who wants to contribute to society, to excel at almost any profession, and to maneuver successfully in a world that has gone online.

At FC we embrace the next generation of media makers and support them in their journey in the media world. FC has a rare capacity to do this because the organization serves such a wide range of filmmakers, from award-winning PBS documentarians to young experimental filmmakers. We can involve this community to educate the next generation experientially, by embedding broad learning about media literacy within the active project of students making and sharing films. In the process, we also hope to instill many resilient character traits and real world skills to young people.  



Geographic Area Served

Throughout the United States

FC is based in Melrose, MA and serves independent filmmakers across the USA; we also have a few members and projects from Europe. Our programming takes place in the greater Boston area and attracts films, filmmakers and media industry leaders from around the world. 


Organization Categories

  1. Arts,Culture & Humanities - Film & Video
  2. Arts,Culture & Humanities - Media & Communications
  3. Public & Societal Benefit - Leadership Development

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)



Boston International Kids Film Festival

We live in the digital media age, with technologies that make consumers into producers and blur the distinction between real and virtual connections. The creative opportunities are tremendous – and so are the challenges, especially for young people who are vulnerable to hidden agendas ethical quandaries as they learn to express themselves publicly. The Boston International Kids Film Festival (BIKFF) addresses these challenges by exposing teens and tweens, and their caregivers, to thought-provoking films from around the world that are by, for and about kids, and presenting workshops on media skills and literacy, taught by industry professionals. The aim is to help the next generation of filmmakers harness the power of media in addressing issues of importance to them.

Budget  75,000
Category  Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Film & Video
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) Adults Families
Program Short-Term Success 

By the end of 2014, we hope to have enlisted the support of at least one private school that will pilot with us to create workshops and a summer filmmaking camp for students. We hope to have strong interest for many other schools as well, so that we can scale and expand the media literacy and skills initiative in 2015.

We also hope to double our attendance in 2014, meaning that 400 or more people will come to see films and attend workshops. We will also offer an expanded slate of workshops (15 instead of 10), and an expanding offering of films (75 instead of 48).

We also hope to expand our donor base so that the 2014 festival is profitable, covering all costs including staff time required to create and run it. Ideally we will have at least a couple of large donors who are committed to our vision and who will continue their support over several years.

Program Long-Term Success 

The BIKFF is part of a larger media literacy initiative that brings workshops and filmmaking skills to schools, camps and community centers throughout the greater Boston area. Media skills are no longer optional in a world that has gone online. To succeed in any field, it is now necessary to be able to communicate visually, tell compelling stories, evaluate and prioritize content, consider ethical implications, and be creative and skillful. In devoting our energies and resources into the BIKFF, our hope is to foster an appreciation for the power and potential of media, along with a sense of responsibility and integrity, in the next generation of filmmakers. 

If we are successful, this media literacy program will expand beyond the Boston area, fueling more great films to showcase at the BIKFF and more great filmmakers to lead workshops to more young people eager to learn. We also expect to spin off the BIKFF as a separate entity at some point, when it is a strong and self-sustaining enterprise.

Program Success Monitored By 

We have applied for a grant that will enable us to work with one of America’s top measurement experts, to create a survey instrument that goes to 100 Boston-area schools before and after the festival, capturing the interests, level of engagement, increased understanding, and other important factors. We will continue to look for support for this work because we know that it is necessary to have good tools to track and measure success.

Examples of Program Success 

If our numbers are higher in 2018 than they were during the 2017 festival, that will be an example of success. For instance, last year we had 13 program partners, 3 workshops, 60 films, 500 attendees, and 3½ days of programming, and we broke even financially for out-of-pocket expenses (but not for staff salaries). We would like to see all of these numbers go up.

Making Media Now

Making Media Now is an annual conference organized by Filmmakers Collaborative and serves media makers of all levels.  The conference features leading industry professionals, master classes, informational panels, a trade show, and one-on-one consultations with experts. Every year, the conference focuses on a specific topical theme and provides much-needed information through cutting-edge workshops and networking opportunities. We strive to offer innovative knowledge and practical tools that are directly applicable to all facets of media, from storytelling and new technology to distribution and marketing.
Budget  --
Category  Arts, Culture & Humanities Film & Video
Population Served Adults Young Adults (20-25 years) -- currently not in use
Program Short-Term Success  --
Program Long-Term Success  --
Program Success Monitored By  --
Examples of Program Success  --

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments



CEO/Executive Director Ms. Laura Azevedo
CEO Term Start June 2011
CEO Email
CEO Experience Laura Azevedo has over twenty years experience as a production manager and supervising producer, with credits on national series such as NOVA, American Experience and FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman. In her tenure at FC she has positioned the organization as one of the few non-profit fiscal sponsors able to handle both traditional and crowd-sourced funding in an easy and streamlined fashion — a huge asset to FC filmmakers as they increasingly turn online for project funding. She is in charge of financial and legal oversight, fundraising, and strategic partnerships and planning. Laura is interested in implementing further networking and educational opportunities for the independent media-making community and is creator and director (with Kathryn Dietz) of the Boston International Kids Film Festival.
Co-CEO Stephanie Mills
Co-CEO Term Start Mar 2015
Co-CEO Email
Co-CEO Experience

Stephanie Mills is the Associate Director of FC.  She is a native of Dublin, Ireland who moved to Boston in the mid 1990’s. She has freelanced in the television industry in and around Boston for over 15 years. Her most recent work has been as a Production Manager at WGBH. Her credits include the Emmy Award winning science program NOVA, PBS’s critically acclaimed news program Frontline, American Experience, Between the Lions, National Geographic and The Discovery Channel.

Stephanie works on grant management, membership, programming and the daily operations of the Filmmakers Collaborative.



Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Laura Azevedo Associate Director - BIKFF festival director --


Award Awarding Organization Year
-- -- --


Affiliation Year
-- --
Member of state association of nonprofits? No
Name of state association --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --



CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

Filmmakers Collaborative has transformed itself from a local organization that provided nonprofit fiscal sponsorship to Boston area filmmakers into a national organization that provides sponsorship, workshops, mentoring, training to a wide and diverse national constituency of established and emerging filmmakers, including young people just discovering the power and potential of the media.

Our management has also been in transition. Over the last five years we have revised and updated our by-laws, filmmaker contracts, policies & procedures handbook, and board conflict of interest policy, along with our mission statement, logo and website. Some of these changes have been driven by external factors, such as federal audits and tighter compliance requirements. Others are the result of our expanded vision, especially in the area of media literacy and engagement with the next generation of filmmakers.

Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 1
Number of Part Time Staff 1
Number of Volunteers 4
Number of Contract Staff 3
Staff Retention Rate % 100%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 2
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 2
Male: 0
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has Strategic Plan? Under Development
Years Strategic Plan Considers --
Management Succession Plan Under Development
Business Continuity of Operations Plan --
Organization Policies And Procedures Under Development
Nondiscrimination Policy Under Development
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy --
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit --
State Registration --

Risk Management Provisions


Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency No N/A
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency No N/A
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency N/A N/A


Board Chair Ankur Shama
Board Chair Company Affiliation Growth Strategist
Board Chair Term Mar 2016 - 2021
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Juliana Field Community Volunteer Voting
Sandra Forman Law Office of Sandra Forman Voting
Katherine Leahy CFO, Boston Center for the Arts Voting
Ankur Sharma Community Volunteer Voting
Ronn Smith Community Volunteer Voting
David Tames Kino-eye Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Maria Agui Carter Iguana Films NonVoting
Shoshana Pakciarz -- NonVoting
Alfonso Perillo Edelstein & Company --
Judith Vecchione WGBH Educational Foundation NonVoting
Anne Zeiser Azure Media NonVoting

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 6
Hispanic/Latino: 1
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 1
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 3
Male: 5
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths --
Board Term Limits --
Board Meeting Attendance % 80%
Written Board Selection Criteria Under Development
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 20%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions --
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees


CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Fiscal Year July 01, 2017 to June 30, 2018
Projected Income $2,000,000.00
Projected Expense $1,900,000.00
Form 990s

2016 Form 990

2015 990

2014 990

2013 990

2012 990

2011 990

2010 990

Audit Documents

2016 Audited Financials

2015 Audited Financials

2014 Audited Financials (FY14 and FY13)

2012 Audited Financials

2011 Audited Financials

2010 Audited Financials

IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Revenue $2,127,733 $3,460,037 $2,198,274
Total Expenses $2,332,721 $3,211,159 $2,123,103

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $677,617 $1,189,000 $698,218
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified $677,617 $1,189,000 $698,218
Individual Contributions $1,393,652 $2,221,452 $1,451,356
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue $56,429 $49,491 $48,630
Investment Income, Net of Losses $35 $94 $70
Membership Dues -- -- --
Special Events -- -- --
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other -- -- --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Program Expense $2,244,287 $3,099,644 $2,017,563
Administration Expense $47,449 $71,138 $70,489
Fundraising Expense $40,985 $40,377 $35,051
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 0.91 1.08 1.04
Program Expense/Total Expenses 96% 97% 95%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 2% 1% 2%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Assets $292,833 $492,123 $241,179
Current Assets $274,724 $492,123 $239,729
Long-Term Liabilities $12,000 $12,000 $12,000
Current Liabilities $20,590 $14,892 $12,826
Total Net Assets $260,243 $465,231 $216,353

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy N/A
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line Yes
Reserve Fund Yes
How many months does reserve cover? 3.00

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? --

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 13.34 33.05 18.69

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 4% 2% 5%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

The world of independent filmmaking is dramatically different today than it was when FC was founded in 1986. Fiscal sponsorship fees (the 5% charged on filmmaker grant income) can no longer support FC’s operational overhead as they had for 20 years, because grant income is a fraction of what it once was. This is a result of the digital revolution and the recent deep recession.

FC has adapted to these changes by widening its base and by offering programs that are mission-aligned, needed, and fundable. Identifying these programs has been a challenge, as new technologies enable anyone to be a filmmaker, at the same time that funding for traditional media has declined. 

We see a very bright future for FC despite the economic insecurities, because of the filmmakers we represent and the training in media skills and literacy that we can offer to the next generation of filmmakers. But we cannot do it alone; as we move forward we need partners who will support our vision and enable us to be successful. We are grateful to The Boston Foundation for providing this opportunity to present our story.    

Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in the charts and graphs above is per the organization's IRS Form 990s. Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals when the breakout was not available.


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.


The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.

1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

Filmmakers Collaborative was created in 1986 as an organization that would help independent filmmakers stay independent – by receiving their funds, providing fiscal oversight, but leaving the editorial control and copyright with the filmmaker. We have done this for over 28 years and are proud of our role in enabling some of America’s best filmmakers to continue working independently. Our impact is tied to the impact of the films that sponsor, from “Haiti: Where Did the Money Go?” to “Beatrice Mtetwa and the Rule of Law” to “The Vigil” to “Rebel!” to “Election Fraud: America’s Silent Epidemic” and many more; our support for filmmakers enables them to make films that can change the world. We are successful if we can continue supporting independent voices, including from new filmmakers.

We also want to have an impact on the future of filmmaking. The industry today bears little resemblance to the industry of the 1980s or 90s. The Internet and the digital revolution have transformed the way people fund, make, distribute, and consume media – and the transformation is ongoing, with new interactive technologies, apps, games and platforms emerging almost daily. To stay abreast of these changes and to have a role in shaping them, we must engage with the next generation of filmmakers. This is why created our media literacy initiative and the Boston International Kids Film Festival: to empower young people to use media as a tool for expression and social change. We are beginning with students and adults at schools, camps and community centers throughout the greater Boston area; within five years, we hope to expand our services nationally.

The impact of our work in this area can be gauged partly by numbers: how many schools and students will be involved in 2014 as compared to 2013, how many more films submitted, how many more attendees to the workshops and festival? But we need finer tools, and have applied for a grant that will enable us to partner with nationally recognized measurement expert who will create a survey to be administered to students before and after attending the BIKFF, and then analyze the results and create a report to guide future growth.   


2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

To continue to survive and thrive as an organization that supports independent filmmakers, FC must continually expand its membership base. There were just 10 members in 1990, and growth was incremental over the next decade; before FC became a national organization in 2008, there were only 25 members. Now there are over 200, and more filmmakers find us every week, either by word of mouth, funder recommendation, or by stumbling upon us in the fiscal sponsor directory. 

We need more deliberate strategies, and we have them. We are making time to speak about our services at events around New England; so far we are scheduled to participate in a youth media conference, be judges at a youth festival, speak about FC at various community media centers, and do monthly screenings at our office. When finances allow, we also want to participate in some of the big national film festivals, like Tribeca, Sundance and Hot Docs, offering pitch panels, crowd funding workshops, and information about our services.


We are also strengthening our online presence; posting our profile on the Giving Common is part of this strategy. We have updated our website recently, hired someone to help us with social media, and in six months have gone from 17 to nearly 1600 Twitter followers! We also have a well-trafficked Facebook and LinkedIn presence and a Pinterest account waiting to be exploited, and we send a bi-monthly newsletter to an ever-growing listserv. 


Our strategies for developing the media literacy and kids festival initiative include starting earlier (we are), and confirming more partners and sponsors. We need educational partners, and are actively working on this every week. We currently have the support of the Association of Independent Schools in New England and Media Educators of America, plus we have strong connections with educators at a few private and public schools. We are planning workshops and a summer filmmaking boot camp to launch at one school in June 2014; by 2015 we hope to expand this program to at least five more schools. We also need sponsors who can underwrite this media literacy initiative, and are actively working on this too.  

3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?

As an organization that includes within its membership, board and staff some of the most experienced independent filmmakers in America, FC is uniquely qualified to address the needs of both established and future filmmakers. We also have a national network of colleagues and friends who we can call on to advise and help us as needed. We have an excellent reputation in the community, for integrity in fiscal sponsorship and for excellence in programming. Our Making Media Now conference is hailed by attendees as “the best conference in New England,” and last year’s Boston International Kids Film Festival was a tremendously successful first year launch. So we have no doubts about our capacity to deliver quality services to our constituencies.

But we lack bandwidth. We have only two staff doing most of the work at FC (along with a few independent contractors and interns). We need marketing help but cannot afford it; we also need fundraising help. Until we have the funds to pay for both, we must focus very intently on those initiatives that align with our mission and are able to generate income: building our sponsorship base and developing the media literacy workshops for the Boston International Kids Film Festival.   

4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?

One of our goals is to bring in $3 million or more each year in grants and donations to filmmaker projects; when we do this, our 5% fiscal fee yields $150,000, which is enough to support FC’s basic operating costs. As the size of grants continues to diminish, the volume must go up – which is why we are directing our energies at expanding the base of fiscally sponsored projects. We will know we have made progress if we continue to bring in new filmmakers with new projects. Last year we added 2-3/month; this year we aim for 3-4/month. However many projects we have, we will know we have made progress if our total grant income is close to $3 million.  

Another goal is to expand the media literacy initiative and the annual Boston International Kids Film Festival. Again, numbers will be good indicators of progress: if we have more film submissions and more attendees than last year, we will consider that we have made progress: we are aiming for 150 submissions (up from 75) and 400 attendees (up from 225). If we find one private school committed to partnering with us to pilot workshops and a summer filmmaking camp, that too will be progress. And if we do better than break even financially with the festival, including staff time, that will be progress.

Ultimately our goal is to make the BIKFF a strong, dynamic and self-sustaining enterprise, connected to and using resources from FC but existing as a separate entity. The model for this is the first film festival that FC created, the Boston Jewish Film Festival: it was an FC project for nearly ten years and has been going strong on its own for another fifteen. There are no film festivals in Boston that focus on workshops and films by, for and about young people (tweens and teens). We see the potential for growth as huge, and see ourselves as nurturing it until a day when it can take on a life of its own.


5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

FC was created to support independent filmmaking by providing fiscal sponsorship and a creative community. Over the years as we grew, we began offering programming that brought filmmakers together for learning and networking. The Making Media Now conference, which we held over eight years, was the pinnacle of our programming – an event that brought the brightest and most innovative leaders in the media industry to Boston for a day of conversation and networking around important themes. Our programs, including MMN, have never been financially profitable for FC, but that has never been their purpose: we did them as a service to independent filmmakers who need to connect and collaborate with other creative people to do their best work. 

Over the last 4-5 years the media industry has changed radically, both in terms of the digital revolution and the deep economic recession. Grant amounts are down, which translates to decreased revenue to FC. Other Boston-area players now offer seminars and screenings for independent filmmakers, which means that we all compete for sponsorship and attendance. At the same time, the future of filmmaking seems to be moving to the young, to a generation that has grown up digital and is using the available tools and technologies in innovative, and sometimes alarming, new ways.

FC has responded to these trends with a bold shift in direction: a media literacy initiative that focuses on the next generation and connects them with experienced filmmakers to teach essential media skills. This shift is a testament to the vision, courage and flexibility of FC’s board and staff, and an acknowledgment that staying the course is sometimes riskier stepping into new territory.

We need funds to support our work. We need marketing help, and fundraising help. We need to develop our board, bringing in new people who know the educational world and can help us steer FC into the future.