FilmTech, The Environment, & The (Robert) Redford Center

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Not everyone has the same motivations for wanting to protect and restore the planet. So The Redford Center is always looking for solutions — and to the people who are driving them — for inspiration and hope. On May 1, 2018, the second cycle of The Redford Center grants program opened, with the goal to fund impactful filmmaking and celebrate and support diversity in environmental filmmaking.

The Redford Center

The 501(c)3 organization is dedicated to engaging people through inspiring stories that galvanize environmental action. Co-founded by Robert Redford and his son James in 2005, The Redford Center harnesses the power of documentary films and campaigns to help tip the scales on critical environmental and social issues. The newest grants cycle speaks to independent media makers who understand the power of a well-told, well-timed story to affect positive environmental change in the world.

Development grants will be awarded to select teams for feature-length film projects focusing on environmental topics. The Redford Center participates in The Documentary Core Application.

The Redford Center

“Two years ago when we launched this program, it was a very different world, particularly with regard to our Federal environmental policies,” said James Redford, co-founder and chair of The Redford Center, and star and director of The Redford Center’s film, Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution. This film and campaign has been viewed more than 1.5 million times since its HBO broadcast premier in December 2017 and recently won “Best Environmental Film” at the 2018 New York WILD Film Festival. “The films that we supported are a clear reflection of the turmoil we are all experiencing but tend toward offering solutions and hope — something in short supply in today’s media market.”

Expanding on the success of its inaugural cycle, the 2018-2019 Grants program will support 6 filmmaking teams developing feature-length film projects focused on driving awareness, education, and tangible action on a variety of environmental topics in the US.

Each team selected to participate in the program, which is funded by The New York Community Trust, will receive:

  • A $20,000 development grant to help produce a proof-of-concept short film
  • A GoPro camera and tech kit to support their filmmaking
  • A travel and lodging grant to attend a Story Development Summit at the Sundance Mountain Resort October 25-28, 2018
  • Access to issue experts and industry leaders who will help Redford Center Grantees refine their project narratives and impact goals
  • Consideration for Redford Center Grants production funds to support the feature film
  • All finalists receive fast-track consideration for fiscal sponsorship with The Redford Center

“There has simply never been a more important time to double-down on our efforts to protect and restore the environment,” New York Community Trust Program Director Kerry McCarthy said. “Organizations working at the nexus of art and environment, and filmmakers in particular, have an opportunity to reach a much wider audience, and we must bring more people along.”

The Redford Center

The Redford Center Grants program, in collaboration with GoPro for a Cause, provided significant support to 2016 grantee films, including Reefs at Risk, which recently won the “Environment Award” from the International Ocean Film Festival and which became available to watch on all Hawaiian Airlines flights beginning in April 2018. Other films from the 2016 group of grantees receiving support from GoPro included Akicita: The Battle of Standing Rock and Inventing Tomorrow, both of which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, and How We Grow, which premiered a the 2018 Colorado Environmental Film Festival and won the “Best of Fest” award.

“I am excited that GoPro is deepening its relationship with Redford Center Grants this year through its GoPro for a Cause program,” said Justin Wilkenfeld, Redford Center Grants Advisor and GoPro liaison. “Being able to support the filmmakers—not just with gear, but with insights into telling their story—really energizes me. When filmmakers are focused on the environment, capturing their immersion in the topic is another visual component that can really enhance the audience’s experience of the film.”

The Redford Center

A major addition to the program this year is the integration of a carbon neutrality standard for each of the film projects. The Redford Center has partnered with Bay Area based non-profit Cool Effect to support this effort. The organization will collaborate with The Redford Center to educate grantee filmmakers on the impact of carbon pollution in film production, how to calculate their footprints, and the various carbon-reducing projects available to verifiably reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Ultimately, the partnership helps deepen The Redford Center’s organizational commitment to accelerating the shift to a low-carbon economy in all its programs, including through grantees’ creation of their environmental films.

“Redford Center filmmakers are selected because their films have what it takes to provide hope for the future,” said Robert Redford, co-founder of The Redford Center. “These filmmakers are leading us toward solutions to some of the biggest challenges we face—and doing it through compelling, artful films that inspire and capture the imagination.”

Throughout their process, The Redford Center collaborates with artists, activists, issue experts, policymakers, educators, scientists, business leaders, and philanthropists. It invites issue outliers into the conversation as well so they can understand how they, too, can be part of the solution.

About The Redford Center

The Redford Center’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program extends its nonprofit status and filmmaker support to kindred environmental impact film and media projects. Drawing on the family’s multi-generational expertise in filmmaking and activism, they produce, fund, and fiscally sponsor impact-driven productions that showcase stories of individuals taking action to protect and restore the planet.

The Redford Center’s original productions include:

  • Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars (2008) helped prevent the construction of 177 new coal-powered plants.
  • Watershed (2012) secured $10 million to support on-the-ground restoration work and obtain water rights for the delta region.

The Redford Center Grants provide funding, filmmaker support, and networking to filmmakers with feature film projects in early development that are focused on driving awareness, education, and tangible action on a variety of environmental topics. While The Redford Center isn’t the only organization offering fiscal sponsorships, it differentiate itself by providing individualized attention and support throughout the filmmaking process – everything from making personal introductions to promoting the projects to providing feedback on cuts.

The Redford Center storytellers do not give up any ownership rights or creative control of their film by utilizing a fiscal sponsor.

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Carolyn Fortuna

Carolyn Fortuna, PhD, is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavey Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla and an owner of a 2022 Tesla Model Y as well as a 2017 Chevy Bolt. Please follow Carolyn on Twitter and Facebook.

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