I applied for BAVC Media’s MediaMaker Fellowship full of doubts that I would ever be picked. I had previously applied for grants and fellowships and had been rejected by all of them. I thought it might have something to do with my ethnicity: I’m Filipino. But I continued to apply. Navigating the filmmaking process is a very daunting and isolating experience. I really needed support, whether it was through funding or mentorship. I didn’t have anyone to talk to about my film. I didn’t have the necessary critical feedback that could bring my skills to the next level. I found more than that in the Fellowship. I was one of 8 filmmakers selected for the cohort, and I was proven wrong about my theory of not being chosen for my ethnicity. We were a very diverse group with very diverse films in terms of our stories and our stage in the film process.
I can not overemphasize how important the convenings were for me. These were the critical moments where I learned so much not only from my own process but also through the experiences of my peers. Being given the space and the opportunity to spend quality time with them and with guidance from our wonderful mentor, Carrie Lozano, was the best take away for me. We dissected and analyzed each of our films and laid bare our challenges to the group. We trusted each other and benefited from what each one has to say. Being able to go through that process was priceless.
At the end the fellowship we received a thousand dollars. But more valuable to me was being brought to Full Frame Documentary Festival and IDA’s Getting Real. Through both experiences, I’ve met so many documentary filmmakers. It broadened my awareness in terms of the documentary film community and it made me feel for the first time that I am part of a worldwide community that is doing very important work. I was exposed to so many compelling films that informed my worldview and enriched my knowledge of what’s going on around us. On top of that, I was given many opportunities to pitch my film to fellow filmmakers and funders.
It was a very fruitful 10 months! I feel that I’ve grown as a filmmaker and have become more aware of what’s out there. The MediaMaker Fellowship was an experience that really helped me overcome my insecurities and challenges, and I feel that I have a clear pathway moving forward.
Applications for the 2017 National MediaMaker Fellowship are due Friday, January 27, 2017.