Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett and Emmy Award nominee Coco Francini, supported by Netflix's Fund for Creative Equity, have launched the Proof of Concept Accelerator Program to support the next generation of women, trans, and non-binary filmmakers.
Co-launched by Dr Stacy L Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, a think tank studying diversity and inclusion in entertainment, Proof of Concept seeks to address gaps in funding, mentorship, and exposure for women, trans, and non-binary filmmakers. Applications open on January 3, 2024.
The first cohort of up to eight filmmakers will receive $50,000 in funding to create a short film that can serve as “proof of concept” for a feature film or television series.
These filmmakers will exit the program “ready to enter the marketplace with their projects and accelerate their path to larger-scale filmmaking”, according to the announcement yesterday (December 14).
Applicants will be selected according to factors such as the artistic quality of their previous work, relevant academic credentials and their perceived ability to carry out the project successfully.
The projects must demonstrate novelty and relevance to the market, and show an interest in supporting women, trans, and non-binary cast and crew among other criteria.
In the statement, Blanchett said: “Providing tangible financial and career support for filmmakers who often get overlooked will not only give them a fantastic launchpad to success, it will also expand the future of film and television."
Francini noted that despite the notable recent success of films like Past Lives and Barbie, "It is as challenging as ever to launch audaciously authored work from new creators, particularly those who tell stories from the perspective of marginalized gender identities."
Annenberg’s latest report revealed that 6% of the directors of the 1,600 top-grossing movies were women, and less than one-third of all speaking characters in those same films were girls, women, trans or nonbinary people.
"Proof of Concept is an actionable step to create meaningful and sustainable opportunities for these filmmakers,” added Francini.
Blanchett and Francini’s co-founded Australia-based independent production company Dirty Films, whose slate includes the critically acclaimed 2015 movie Carol and 2023's Fingernails starring Jesse Buckley, Riz Ahmed, and Jeremy Allen White.