With film productions back on tour in New Mexico, the Santa Fe Film Institute last week announced a new bursary and grant program for local and regional filmmakers in need of a financial boost. The institute is the non-profit arm of the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival and was founded in 2013 by Liesette Paisner Bailey, her brother Jacques Paisner (also artistic director of the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival), filmmaker Chris Eyre and Central New Mexico Community College English professor Marissa Juarez.
“At any stage of making a movie, you’re going to need a little help,” Paisner Bailey, executive director of the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival and treasurer of the Santa Fe Film, told SFR. Institute. “We really want to advance the artistic vision of the filmmaker.”
Recently announced programs offer up to $ 2,500 to filmmakers in New Mexico and up to $ 2,000 to filmmakers in Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma and / or Texas. Additionally, two prospective or current film students based in New Mexico can apply for a $ 500 scholarship to use for their studies. The announcement builds on SFFI’s already established fiscal sponsorship and mentorship programs for filmmakers seeking professional advice, though this is its first foray into the scholarship and grant game. Paisner Bailey says this is just the beginning.
“We’re definitely looking to make it annual,” she says, “and increase the amount given, both in grants and scholarships. And the more sponsors we have, the more we can give.”
Better yet, the new program eschews traditional qualifiers of similar artistic funding opportunities. According to Paisner Bailey, many other film scholarships and grants require certain criteria to be met, such as specific production needs or narrative requirements that reflect a particular theme, genre, or subject. However, the Santa Fe Film Institute’s new process opens doors for filmmakers at all stages of production, from scriptwriting to the final touches of post-production, and filmmakers can keep their vision intact.
Paisner Bailey predicts that the funds could herald positive long-term results across New Mexico, even if filmmakers in neighboring states are eligible.
“Our preference is for filmmakers from New Mexico,” she explains, “but still there aren’t a lot of scholarships for movie people, so we wanted to encourage people even beyond that. ‘State to apply. “
It’s also about creating opportunities for creative young people in New Mexico, who often leave the state in search of better opportunities. While the film industry has fluctuated over the years, most notably under the administration of Governor Susana Martinez, New Mexico has always maintained a strong grip on the industry. If newer and / or younger filmmakers even have a little financial cushion, it’s unclear where that might lead.
“By having a scholarship and grant program,” Eyre tells SFR, “SFFI shows its commitment to local youth.”
Eyre and Paisner Bailey also hope to strengthen more community film education opportunities in Santa Fe. It can be as simple as film screenings at Railyard Park, or panels, Q&A and workshops by and for filmmakers. . The Santa Fe Film Institute also hosts a weekly radio show on Saturday mornings. Managed by Paisner Bailey and his brother Jacques, Weekly Movie Talk broadcast on Talk 1260 and 103.7 KTRC.
The announcement of the SFFI scholarships and grants comes at a time when the state’s film industry is showing signs of a strong comeback. The New Mexico Film Office announced seven productions of different sizes and budgets in March, and last November, streaming juggernaut Netflix announced a billion dollar expansion to its Albuquerque studios. In January, Filmmaker the magazine even ranked Santa Fe as the second best small city for filmmakers in America (behind only New Orleans) and Albuquerque as the best big city, edging out traditional heavyweights like Austin, Chicago and Atlanta, with the latter seeing more of productions pack and go in response to Georgia’s racist election laws.
Applications for Santa Fe Film Institute grants and scholarships are open on May 1, and recipients will be selected by a committee. Grant submissions are open until July 26, while scholarship applications will remain open until July 31. Paisner Bailey says she expects to announce first-year recipients in early November.
“We want to get the filmmakers to come here and talk more about New Mexico productions,” she says. “At the end of the day, we want what’s best for a filmmaker. We want to support someone who grows up here and makes films. If they have to go and make a film and then come back and do more, we’re going to support them. It’s exciting to see the boom. “
This year, that boom also includes federal funding. In February, the institute received a $ 20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, one of only 16 arts organizations in New Mexico to do so. And just last month, the Santa Fe Community Foundation’s Native American Advised Fund awarded SFFI $ 5,500 to continue its mission of promoting Indigenous cinema.
“That’s it for filmmakers,” Paisner Bailey says of the money. “We want New Mexico to feel like home to them.”