NYU Alums Create Grant to Support Indie Film

Zuzia Czemier-Wolonciej
NYU-alum founded Flies Collective, which awards grants to students who are hoping to finance their own film projects.

The Flies Collective — a production company founded by Tisch alumni, Daniel Patrick Carbone, Matthew Petock and Zachary Shedd — recently launched a grant for independent filmmakers. After making and producing their own films, the trio decided to support other artists seeking to create outside of the commercial and studio spheres.

Carbone, Petock and Shedd owe their friendship to the First Run Festival, organized by Tisch, in which they participated in 2008 as senior students. The filmmakers recall watching each other’s movies and discussing them over drinks that night, which eventually led to a long-term collaboration. Soon, they made their first feature, “A Little Closer,” directed by Petock, and two years later, “Hide Your Smiling Faces,” directed by Carbone, which received widespread critical acclaim and placed The Flies Collective on the independent film stage. Their most recent film “Americana,” directed by Shedd, is a moody psychodrama about an alcoholic film editor investigating his actress sister’s murder.

Despite their successful beginnings, the trio have not lost sight of the minutiae of film production, especially financing. In an email interview, the members of the Collective spoke about their funding strategy.

“There’s no silver bullet,” the Collective said. “It’s a combined slog of — usually — partial self-financing, some grant money and finding people who believe in the project enough to put their money where their mouth is. At the end of the day, you have to go out and beg, borrow and steal your way to raising the money for your first feature.”

This may sound rather disheartening. But it is a truth that most, if not all, film students learn as they embark on their careers. The Flies Collective is here to ease the journey — at least a bit.

The idea for the grant rose from the Collective’s worry that acquiring funds to produce a film is always an issue — particularly for films that aren’t designed specifically to be commercially successful. By offering the opportunity to receive up to $10,000 for an original and intriguing project, the Collective hopes to encourage applications from creatives with little or no professional experience.

“This grant will make no considerations for the commercial prospects or marketability of a project,” the Collective said.

Instead, they want young filmmakers to be able to dig deep into their ideas without worrying about finances. Each project will act as a calling card for the artists when promoting themselves in the future.

This is more than an admirable gesture of support. It widens the avenue for experimental and daring work, potentially dealing with more difficult and nuanced topics. Recognizing the need for variety and diversity in the everlasting aim of enriching film culture, the Flies Collective stated their commitment to “a diverse group of filmmakers, working in all areas of the medium.”

The Collective also said they would advise new filmmakers to keep passion a priority.

“If your film means something to you personally, and you carry that feeling throughout the entire process of creating it, you will come out on the other side with a film that other people will care about,” the Collective said. “There is an audience out there for literally every type of film.”

It is this passionate approach that the Flies Collective says they hope to encourage through their grant.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, May 1 print edition.

Email Zuzia Czemier-Wolonciej at [email protected].



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