FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON INDIE GRANTS PRODUCTION & FUNDING:
How are projects selected for funding?
An independent panel of industry evaluators read all scripts and review all project materials to select projects to fund based on the quality of the screenplay and story, the strength of the submitting filmmaking team, and the feasibility of the production based on the budget and production strategy. The process is fair and anonymous.
What type of short films do you typically fund?
All types of narrative short films. Past projects have ranged from a Baba Yaga tale set in nineteenth century Russia to a coming-of-age story set in the 1980's Greenville punk scene to a narrative about a nine-foot tall creature made of old silverware. Creativity is king. Bring your best idea, and develop it into your best script.
How much funding can my project receive?
There is a limited pool of funds available to finance short films through INDIE GRANTS. Submitted budgets should range from $20,000 to $35,000 to cover all phases of production. As part of the evaluation process, independent third-party evaluators will consider each project’s production strategy and budget. That analysis, as well as the evaluators’ take on the overall script and project, will be used by the evaluators and the South Carolina Film Commission (SCFC) to determine the number of projects funded and the funds each project receives, within the available funding pool.
Bottom line: We're looking for strong, creative scripts that can be produced realistically for those budgets, as an independent short film.
Who owns the films?
The filmmakers do. They license the script to SCFC and Trident Technical College (TTC) for the sake of its production as a short film and license the final product for in-state screenings (which are always done with the support of the filmmakers), but all content is owned by the filmmakers. They copyright the films with themselves as author of record, and all intellectual property related to the script and project remains the property of the filmmakers.
How can I be guaranteed this is the case?
Projects sign a grant contract with TTC which designates ownership to the filmmakers, as well as outlining the responsibilities of the project, protections for the filmmakers, and all other elements of the program. The contract is consistent with all terms and procedures presented throughout these application materials. Selected filmmakers have ample opportunity to review this agreement and INDIE GRANTS staff are on hand throughout to answer any questions and make sure everything is clear. This program is all about the filmmakers and is designed to support and protect them along the way.
What are the expectations for project Producer and Production Manager?
Filmmaking is a collaborative format, and quality film work is built with a team of filmmakers leading the charge. Each submitted project much have a qualified Producer to manage the overall project, and a Production Manager to oversee the financial and more logistical components. Having credits in these positions is great, but as long as they have an aptitude for these roles and production experience, and make up an effective filmmaking team with the writer and director, they can be considered.
Can the main filmmaking team (Writer, Director [or Writer/Director], Producer, Production Manager) be paid by the grant?
Yes. Small stipends can be included in the budget to pay some of this personnel. However, INDIE GRANTS projects operate under low budgets, and these projects only work when filmmaking teams are driven by the desire to tell their story and make good films above all else. Time and creative energy spent on these projects is an investment in themselves and their careers, by having an impressive film as a calling card.
How does funding through the grant work?
As a state-funded training grant, the Indie Grants is a reimbursement grant. The grant is distributed as follows:
*One-half of agreed-upon production grant amount at the signing of contract between TTC and the filmmakers.
*One-quarter of agreed-upon production grant amount two weeks before the start of principal photography.
*Final one-quarter of agreed-upon production grant amounts as reimbursement. Filmmakers must provide all original paper receipts and other documentation showing the first funds received were spent in the approved manner to TTC before the final one-quarter reimbursement commences.
But don't worry, it's not as complicated as it may sound and INDIE GRANTS staff works with funded projects to make the process as simple and seamless as possible.
We have to go out-of-pocket for some of this? Why?
Though not ideal, this is standard to state purchasing. INDIE GRANTS and TTC have worked with the state to make it as smooth and simple as possible, including the payment schedule structured above. TTC is able to turn around the reimbursement portion within 1-2 weeks, as long as receipts and accounting record are correct and clear.
How strict do we have to be to our submitted budget? What happens if money moves around during production?
We understand that it is standard for specific expenditures to adjust as a project goes into production, based on actual costs and other factors. You will be free to move funds around throughout production. However, the bottom line dollar amount agreed to after the selection and contract process will not change; the production must be completed within that amount.
If my project is funded by INDIE GRANTS, can I raise additional funds for the project to increase my budget?
Absolutely. Projects selected for funding by INDIE GRANTS are more than welcome to pursue and acquire additional funding through other grants, outside contributors, crowd-sourcing, etc., as long as those sources and their requirements do not conflict with INDIE GRANTS procedures, including marketing and credit acknowledgments.
What sort of schedule do INDIE GRANTS’ films have to follow? What production deadlines are there?
INDIE GRANTS production funds operate within the state fiscal year (July 1-June 30). All production funds must be used within that period. Contracts created between TTC and granted filmmakers include benchmark dates for stages of production within that time period, mutually agreed-upon by the filmmakers, TTC, and SCFC. However, Indie Grants short films traditionally rely on the generosity of top-notch production professionals who are willing to work on these films at significantly reduced or donated rates. Since production schedules must accommodate the availability of these collaborators there is some flexibility in scheduling; the INDIE GRANTS program is structured to help filmmakers make the best film in the most professional manner possible.
When will I find out if my script/project is selected for funding?
Funding decisions are tentatively scheduled to be made by September 2019. Once the independent selection panel makes their decisions, all applicants will be informed of their project's status.
Am I committed to accepting the grant once I submit a project? What if I decide later my project’s not a good fit for the grant?
In no way are you committed to accepting the grant by submitting a project for funding consideration. We want to make sure you are entirely comfortable with the grant and how it works, and INDIE GRANTS producers and staff will work with you closely through the selection and contract process to ensure this is the case. At any point up to the signing of the grant contract with TTC, you may decline the grant with the full support of all involved.
How much is INDIE GRANTS involved with the production?
The program provides a professional, experienced producer to assist, but the ultimate responsibility for running and managing the production and creating the film is shouldered by the submitting team of filmmakers. TTC and their staff are also a major support system, allowing the use of some gear (pending permission) and other facilities, as needed.
What sort of equipment from Trident Tech can we use? How should we budget for that?
As a top production training facility specializing in crafts like grip, electrical, and camera, TTC has a wide inventory of production gear. Depending on availability, and if approved by faculty, some gear may be available for use by the project. This can include HMI lighting, grip gear, dana dollies, sliders, small jibs, heads and sticks, monitors, and kino-flos; items, such as putt-putt generators, car mount, and lenses, can sometimes be used. Usage of any of this gear is NOT guaranteed. It must be approved by TTC faculty and is dependent on the project having qualified professional crew operating those items. Any TTC gear approved for usage would be at no charge to the project, so IN KIND. However, TTC is not able to provide production trucks, so the project would be required to provide safe transport of gear, and arrange pick up and return with load out and load in manned by the project's crew and overseen by project staff.
Do we have to use Trident Tech students on our crew?
Yes. INDIE GRANTS is one of several programs funded by the South Carolina Production Film Fund, a legislative initiative created to provide training to South Carolina crew and professional development for South Carolina filmmakers. As part of those efforts, INDIE GRANTS projects are used as real-world training exercises for TTC students. These students are skilled in all departments (especially camera, grip, and electric), and have proven to be valuable contributors to past INDIE GRANTS productions. They work as PAs or utilities in different departments, working under INDIE highly-qualified professionals.
Do we have to pay the Trident Tech students on our crew? How should we budget for that?
Each Trident Tech student working on INDIE GRANTS projects as crew must be paid $100 per shoot day. They may work on prep and wrap on an in-kind basis, for additional experience. Typically 6-8 students are used on each project; include those in your budget within each department you think they’ll be needed at their rate of $100 per shoot date. The number of students and their placement can be adjusted during the pre-production process.
I don’t have a short film script but have a feature. Could I submit part of that as a short film screenplay for funding?
If you can take a section of that feature and turn it into a 15-page script that works as a free standing story, then yes. And if you are funded, and are able to use your completed short to help develop the feature version, that's great too. We love to see INDIE GRANTS filmmakers and projects go on to bigger things.
Why do you only produce narrative short films? If I have a documentary, is it eligible?
Narrative short films are the best fit for the requirements of the program, including the training component described above. Narrative projects naturally encompass all departments (art, costumes, AD, camera, G/E, etc.) which best lines up with Trident Tech's focus on training crew for jobs across all production departments.
What about those broadcast decency standards? Why should that matter?
Based on relationships with South Carolina Educational Television and other broadcast entities, INDIE GRANTS films need to be available to be broadcast on public television. Be sure your film takes into consideration the public broadcast audience, using sensible discretion for elements such as violence, language, and sexual content. But don't fret. Potentially exceeding those standards in the script/application stage won't automatically disqualify you, as long as you agree to make adjustments as needed before funding.
Does it matter where in South Carolina we shoot the films? Do they have to be shot in Charleston areas, since the project is affiliated with Trident Tech?
INDIE GRANTS projects can be shot anywhere in the state of South Carolina. Past projects have been shot in markets throughout the state, including Charleston, Columbia, Moncks Corner, Fort Mill, Greenville, and more.
Does it matter who I use for below-the-line crew?
INDIE GRANTS projects are expected to use professional, qualified, South Carolina crew across the board. As a skilled production community that takes pride in our work, this ensures high production value and a professional set environment for TTC students to learn within. (Exceptions can be made if local crew is unavailable as long as they are also qualified, or if the filmmakers have standing relationships with key, qualified collaborators.)
Other questions? Contact Jessica Garner at email@example.com or Brad Jayne at firstname.lastname@example.org.