Hopefully you’ve had a chance to read Eugene Hernandez’ great follow-up to the news that Film Arts Foundation has closed its doors and its membership and programs have migrated to the San Francisco Film Society. He polled nonprofit leaders, including Eileen Newman, Deputy Director of the Tribeca Film Institute and my colleague at the Austin Film Society, Rebecca Campbell. Read the article>>

Near the end of the article, Eugene addresses what is one of the key points, in my opinion: how are these media nonprofits serving filmmakers? I have been beating a largely unheard drum to try to engage filmmakers in this conversation here and in other outlets I write for, and again in this article, I wish we had that perspective, but I appreciate the comments served up:

Serving Filmmakers

Asked how filmmaker services should change today, Atlanta’s Gabe Wardell responded, “Ultimately this is up to the filmmakers to decide. If there’s a legitimate demand, someone will serve it. Conversely, organizations that are failing are doing so because they offer services that are no longer valued/supported…or they cannot find funding to cover to cost of the costly slate of services on the menu.” He added, “Rather than attempting to serve a filmmaker’s every need, an information age non-profit organization needs to be able to direct a filmmaker to the source of services they seek…the organization, and its constituents are better served if you identify quality strategic partners who can provide the services BETTER than you can. It’s a win-win-win.”

“Filmmakers should speak up more about what they really need, and what they are willing to pay for,” advised Campbell from Austin. “As it stands now, the bulk of our services are paid for by private donors–via celebrity events–and government grants. I would feel more secure if we had a wider base of smaller donors. How do you convert people who value independent film into valuing their local media arts organization and paying their dues?”

“Very early on, I realized that to succeed, a non-profit must function like a business,” noted Gabe Wardell, “Too many aging and ailing non-profits are clinging to romantic ideas–too many arts organizations possess big hearts and want to be all things to all people. Yet we lack the deep pockets to do this.” He continued, “Every non-profit must acknowledge the economic realities of the market, and adjust accordingly,” warned Wardell from Atlanta. “You have to be brutally honest. You cannot afford to be romantic or nostalgic–or you face the very real possibility that you’ll join company with has-beens and also rans.”

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