San Fran Film Society absorbs Film Arts Foundation


The latest in a series of changes for independent film, San Francisco’s Film Arts Foundation was absorbed today by the San Francisco Film Society. What’s fascinating is that cities like San Francisco, unlike Seattle, seem incapable of sustaining independent film programs. If you look at the landscape here, there’s now The Grand Illusion, SIFF Cinema, Central Cinema, and us. Somehow the space for all of us to remain competitive in the marketplace exists. Its actually rather congenial here in Seattle, at least as far as the year round programs go. But this absorption seems to have some clear benefits for the San Francisco filmmaking community, mainly the new remarkable Herbert Filmmaker Grants.

Here’s the article on Film Arts Foundation demise:

San Fran Film Society absorbs Film Arts Foundation

As part of a massive expansion, the San Francisco Film Society will become stewards of the Film Arts Foundation, a move which pushes the film society toward filmmaker services and doubles its membership. The initiative saves many assets of the troubled FAF, the Bay Area’s long-standing nonprofit dedicated to assisting filmmakers.

Whiling stopping short of calling it a “merger,” SFFS exec director Graham Leggat said the org will take over such FAF services as education, career development, fiscal sponsorship, grantmaking and information resources. “It makes us a real film society instead of just a producer of the San Francisco Film Festival,” said Leggat. “We will now offer a full suite of filmmaker services. The transition for current FAF members will be seamless.”

Leggat also announced the creation of SFFS FilmHouse Residencies in partnership with the San Francisco Film Commission. The program will offer production offices free of charge to Bay Area filmmakers.

“We are delighted to partner with the Film Society to make production space available to local independent filmmakers,” said San Fran Mayor Gavin Newsom. “FilmHouse has all the makings of a dynamic new hub for independent filmmaking in San Francisco.”

Other items in the SFFS remodeling:

  • Herbert Filmmaker Grants totaling $25,000 for Bay Area filmmakers for project development.
  • The creation of an advisory board of established local professionals.
  • The SFFS Film Arts Forum will be the org’s monthly screening and networking event.
  • A full-service fiscal sponsorship department to aid filmmakers in obtaining grants. SFFS will take over all existing FAF sponsorship agreements.

While the SFFS will not continue the FAF’s production equipment rental arm, it will incorporate the foundation’s educational info into a greatly expanded website that includes a digitized archive of Film Arts/Release Print back-issues, once the FAF’s national magazine.

The move comes at a troubled time for nonprofit filmmaking orgs who are forced to adapt to a changing indie marketplace. When New York’s Association of Independent Film and Video recently shuttered for lack of cash, many in the industry faulted the grassroots org for failing to expand.

“As opposed to the AVIF, the Film Society is better financed and has much greater reach,” said Leggat. “There are more opportunities for different revenue streams. If the AIVF did was Renew Media accomplished, by situating itself under a bigger organization [Tribeca Film Institute], than the AIVF would still be around.”


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