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Fiscal Sponsorship Guidelines

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The LGBT Films and Television represented above: Another Gay Movie, Noah’s Arc, Hedwig, and the L-Word. These are excellent examples of Independent to Network films MSEF seeks to partner with and help develop!!

 

MSE Foundation’s  | Production Assistance Program

FISCAL SPONSORSHIP | GUIDELINES

 

The Millennia Scope Entertainment Foundation Fiscal Sponsorship Program was established to develop and support independent producers of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) visual media: Film, Television, and Theatre. The Program helps MSEF fulfill its mission by sharing the foundation’s 501c3 status with artists and providing guidance to grant support and donations they otherwise wouldn’t have access to. Together these programs reflect MSEF’s commitment to outreach and development of both emerging and established independent filmmakers.

WHAT IS FISCAL SPONSORSHIP?
Fiscal Sponsorship allows your non-commercial project to apply for funding from organizations that require non-profit tax-exempt status. Non-profit status is required by many foundations, corporations and government agencies in order to be eligible for funding since many do no accept application proposals directly from individuals. Additionally, 501(c)(3) status allows you to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions from individuals—a major incentive for individuals considering making a donation to your project.

As your fiscal sponsor, MSEF acts as an umbrella organization for your project and accepts and administers funds on your behalf. MSEF is legally responsible for the funds received on behalf of fiscally sponsored projects and must insure that the funds are used for charitable activities, as agreed upon between the donor and recipient, and that the donor reporting requirements are met and in a timely fashion.

Fiscal sponsorship broadens the available avenues you can pursue for funding of your project. It does not mean that we are your producers, fundraisers, or in any way connected to the content or actual production of your project. Fiscal sponsorship does not provide grants and we do not do research for individual project funding. All artistic and proprietary rights, title, interest in and to the completed project will belong to the Project Director and may be copyrighted in Project Director’s name.

CONTACT INFORMATION
The Fiscal Sponsorship Program is a competitive application process. You are encouraged to contact the Program well in advance of the submission your application if you have any questions about the application process. All inquiries should be directed to Chief Creative Producer – Shahid Manning

MAILING ADDRESS:
Millennia Scope Entertainment Foundation
Fiscal Sponsorship Program
P.O. Box 6218
Los Angeles, CA 91603

EMAIL: shahidmanning@msefoundation.org

PHONE : 818.508.6390

DEADLINES + NOTIFICATION
DEADLINE (RECEIPT DAY)
Applications received continuously

APPROXIMATE NOTIFICATION

Two Months from receipt date

APPLICATION DELIVERY
You can send your application by regular mail, email as an attachment at: shahidmanning@msefoundation.org. Write “Fiscal Sponsorship Application” and the title of your film in the subject line. Same for your materials: for all videos either video link in email or DVD via mail.

Incomplete submissions will be not accepted. Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 2:00PM – 9:00PM PST.

APPLICATION NOTIFICATION + RETURN MATERIALS
All applicants will be notified of acceptance or rejection via email approximately 2 months from receipt. Upon acceptance, you will be required to participate in an orientation call. Rejections will receive feedback on why your project was rejected. No materials will be returned.

MSEF PROGRAM 

The Millennia Scope Entertainment Foundation Fiscal Sponsorship Program was established to develop and support independent producers of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) visual media: Film, Television, and Theatre. The Program helps MSEF fulfill its mission by sharing the foundation’s 501c3 status with artists and providing guidance to grant support and donations they otherwise wouldn’t have access to. Together these programs reflect MSEF’s commitment to outreach and development of both emerging and established independent filmmakers.

ELIGIBILITY

In order to be eligible to apply to MSEFM Fiscal Sponsorship Program, you must meet the following criteria:

  • PROJECT MUST BE FILM, VIDEO or MULTIMEDIA We do not sponsor film festivals or film related events.
  • LGBT Independent Film For fiscal sponsorship; your project does not have to be produced or directed by a member of the LGBT community to be eligible for the program. However, the film itself must be LGBT themed and/or have LGBT lead characters.
  • PROJECT ADMINISTRATOR MUST HAVE U.S. SOCIAL SECURITY PRODUCTION COMPANY WITH U.S. FEDERAL I.D. NUMBER. International applicants MUST have Tax Identification required by their country and required by Grantor(s).
  • FUNDS TO BE RAISED MUST BE AT LEAST $50,000.00 For example, if the budget for your film is $50,000 but you only have $20,000 left to raise, the project would not be eligible for Fiscal Sponsorship.
  • SAMPLE TRAILER REFLECTS STRENGTH of director and project. Sample should be from the project for which the director is applying. For Fiction and special documentary cases, previous work sample will be accepted.

PROGRAM BENEFITS

The following is a list of benefits you are entitled to receive through our Production Assistance Program:

  • NON-PROFIT STATUS AND TAX-DEDUTIONS FOR FUNDRAISING PURPOSES Fiscal sponsorship allows you to apply for grants from foundations and government organizations that can only fund non-profit tax-exempt organizations and offers tax deductions to individuals who wish to contribute to your project.
  • INDIVIDUALIZED ON-GOING CONSULTATIONS During your project’s development you can meet with the program staff (e.g. Executive Director) to discuss your fundraising strategies, individual proposals or the distribution plan for your completed film.
  • ACCESS TO MSEF’s DISTRIBUTION SERVICES Under separate agreement.
  • GRANT FINDING RESOURCE MSEF staff will help you identify grants and donors for LGBT film.

REVIEW CRITERIA

Projects are accepted by MSEFM after being reviewed through a competetive process using the following criteria:

  • LIKELIHOOD OF PROJECT COMPLETION Does the proposed project have a very high likelihood of being successfully completed?
  • STRENGTH OF STORYTELLING + AUTHORITY OVER SUBJECT MATTER Is the overall quality of the proposed project clearly defined and does it demonstrate a deep understanding of the subject matters. Does the treatment reflect the subject matter in a creative and concrete way?
  • BUDGET Is the budget well developed and realistic for the project? Does the proposal budget match the needs of the project and appropriate?
  • FUNDAISING ABILITY Are funds already secured or likely to be secured? Has the project director identified appropriate sources of funding for the project? Are the potential funders appropriate for the project? Why does this project need fiscal sponsorship?
  • DEMONSTRATED ABILITY OF KEY PROJECT PERSONNEL Do the applicant and the proposed personnel have the ability to successfully complete the proposed project?
  • DISTRIBUTION POTENTIAL Is there a distribution and outreach plan for the completed project that is realistic and appropriate?
  • QUALITY OF THE SAMPLE TAPE Does the sample tape support the project well? Does it indicate the solid ability of the director to fully execute the proposed project?
  • RELEVANCE + SIGNIFICANCE OF PROJECT TO LGBT MOVIES Does the subject matter and project meets the goals of MSEF’s mission?

TYPE OF SPONSORSHIP

GENERAL FISCAL SPONSORSHIP $50 submission Fee(Non-Refundable) MSEFM serves as the project’s exclusive fiscal sponsor throughout the production of the project. The amount of funds to be raised is minimum of $50,000 (If you end up not being able to raise that amount, you are not penalized). We will sponsor the distribution and outreach life of a project provided you submit a proposal detailing your plans for this phase when you get to that point. MSEF doesn’t return any materials

HOW FISCAL SPONSORSHIP WORKS

Some independent commercial films begin as non-profit projects. After getting donations and/or grants, you can get investors. However, once the project has investors you may not continue to fundraise for non-profit grants and donations. Should you be sponsored by MSEF and then get an investor on board, you will need to close your account; according to the IRS, at that point you are no longer considered a non-profit entity. Contributions to your project are made payable to Millennia Scope Entertainment Foundation and mailed to MSEF. We deposit the contributions in our bank account until the Project Administrator requests them. Fund requests are disbursed as checks and made out to the Project Administrator’s name or the production company’s name. Checks are disbursed to one name only. You are responsible for your project expenses. You must maintain your own bookkeeping records and report to MSEF how the funds were spent by submitting copies of receipts, invoices, cancelled checks or similar documentation. Administrative Fee Negotiated between 10-15%

APPLICATION CHECKLIST

The following items must be included in your Application Package to our Production Assistance Program.

  • APPLICATION COVERSHEET (2 copies)
  • PROJECT PROPOSAL (2 copies): Include Project Budget guidelines (see below). We want to see exactly what you anticipate sending to funders. If there is a specific grant you will be applying for, feel free to send us the proposal you will use for that funder. However, your proposal must still include all the items listed in our Application Guidelines.
  • SAMPLE TRAILER & DESCRIPTION (2 copies): This details how the sample reel relates to your current project. (Note: for documentaries, the sample MUST be from the proposed project. For narratives, you may submit prior work.) The sample or trailer may be submitted in DVD format (1 copy) or you can include a link to your sample on the sample work form. Slides, storyboards or audio samples for the proposed project are not acceptable.
  • APPLICATION FEE (1 copy): Non-refundable fee of $50, payable to Millennia Scope Entertainment Foundation Movies via check, money order, Visa, MasterCard or American Express.

SUBMIT COPIES OF THE ABOVE, STAPLED, IN THE FOLLOWING ORDER: 1) Application Coversheet 2) Sample Trailer w/ Description Form 3) Proposal 4) Budget 5) Application Fee Form (with payment) DO NOT bind your application and/or support materials; DO NOT use heavy binders or expensive presentation folders. We will discard them.

APPLICATION BREAKDOWN

Every proposal varies in format, but the following elements must be included. Please note that the following elements should serve as guidelines but not a required format. If you use a different proposal format, please be sure to include the information detailed below in order to present a strong and competitive proposal. The proposal submitted to MSEF should look exactly like if you were submitting a proposal to a funder. INTRODUCTION (1-2 paragraphs) Describe why your project is important and sum up what you are trying to do in a sentence or two. This paragraph should contain a concise description of the project that clearly states the genre and in the case of film projects, whether it’s a short or a feature-length piece and if it will be black & white or color. Also mention the original format and the medium of the completed project.

  • Demonstrates that the project is well conceived and well planned.
  • Convinces the reader to keep reading and that the project is compelling.
  • Convinces the funder that the applicant is qualified and credible.
  • Convinces the funder that you provide important services and have the respect of the community you wish to serve.

NEEDS STATEMENT (1-2 paragraphs) Why is the project needed and how did you become involved with it?

  • Have there been other projects on the same topic? If yes, how is yours different and why is it needed?
  • Helps the reader understand the nature of the problem your project will address.
  • Convinces the reader that you are not making this up: the problem really exists and there is evidence to support you
  • Convinces the reader that the project is in harmony with its funding priorities.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION + TREATMENT (1-3 pages) This section should include the format and style of your project, content, and visual treatment. Describes the big picture vision and explains how you envision translating your story from page to screen.

  • Discuss the structure of your story and how you will organize the elements into a coherent and interrelated dramatic whole from beginning to middle to end.
  • Convinces the reader that you have a well-conceived structure and plan for your project.

FUNDRAISING PLAN (1 paragraph and a List of Potential Funding Sources) How are you going to fund this project? Include a comprehensive list of potential donors that specifies the amounts you are planning on requesting from the sources you identified. The total amount listed must add up to or exceed the total amount of your budget. Detail any funds you have already received or that are secured. Be sure to explain if you are going to individual donors for solicitations, or if you are planning a fundraiser. If available, please include information on funds you were able to successfully raise on other projects.

  • Describes a plan for the successful completion of the project.
  • Convinces the funder you have a well-conceived plan for securing adequate funds for the completion of the project. List any funds raised to date and grants pending.
  • List in-kind contributions and make sure that cash grants and in-kind donated services are clearly separated.
  • List potential funding sources from government, foundations and individuals. Be specific.
  • Indicate any sources that have funded you in the past and to which you are reapplying.

Applications without a thorough fundraising plan will not be considered. Additionally, if you have not already identified appropriate sources of funding for your project, we strongly encourage you to apply at a later date once you have a complete fundraising strategy. TIMELINE + CURRENT STATUS OF PROJECT (1 paragraph) This section should clearly articulate at what stage the project is currently at in production. While it is not necessary to delineate a section specifically to this information, be sure it is very clear in your proposal what the current stage of the project is and your projected timeline to completion.

  • Describes the length of time needed for each phase of production.
  • Clearly state at what stage your project is currently at in production.
  • Can be written as a list, does not need to be in narrative form.
  • Convinces the reader that you are well-planned and have realistic goals.

DISTRIBUTION PLAN (2-3 paragraphs) Who is your primary audience and how will you reach them? Describe them in as much detail as possible. What venues, distributors or alternative strategies will you use and why? Funders want to see whom will benefit from the work they fund so be sure you are as specific as possible in this section. It is extremely important to include detailed information and avoid generalizations about your audience.

  • Convinces the reader that you have a well-conceived and well-planned strategy for delivering your project to your audience.
  • Clarifies whom the audience is and how you are going to reach them.
  • Reassures the funder that their support will be disseminated to those who you have identified as being able to benefit from the project.
  • List plans for all territories that are applicable including: theatrical, television, educational, home video, and multimedia applications.
  • Discuss specific community groups, constituencies or partnerships that will work with you to promote the project.
  • Name a distributor, if possible and discuss their track record.
  • Consider contacting distributors or broadcasters early in the production and request a letter of support from them to strengthen your proposal. (MSEF can help with the Distribution process: Apply under different contract see website for details)
  • Discuss steps you’ll take to produce and promote any ancillary activities for the project, for instance a website or study guide or any other media platforms.

PROJECT PERSONNEL (1 paragraph per person) Even if this is a very personal project, film production is a group effort. Funders want to know the credentials of those working with you. If you do not have previous experience as director/producer, make sure the rest of the personnel associated with the project are highly qualified. Try to consider how you would feel giving money to someone without a track record, and then plan the rest of your team accordingly to bolster your proposal. You may attach bio or resume for yourself and additional primary personnel.

  • Bios of principle production personnel, including producer, director, cinematographer, writer and editor. Include significant credits for each, and any major awards.
  • Brief bios (two or three sentences) of any advisors and/or scholars you have on the project.
  • Convinces the funder that you have assembled a team of personnel who are adequately experienced and able to assist in the successful completion of the project.
  • Reassures the funder that if do not have a specific skill set you have identified persons who can assist you.

BUDGET (1 to 3 pages) Total budget for your project should include all phases of production from pre through post-production. Be as detailed as possible, but also include a summary sheet with grand totals for each category as your first page. Be realistic. Consider the viability of the project and it’s fundability. Make sure your budget is consistent with your narrative. The amounts you list will be reviewed for accuracy and for any omissions based on the activities, travel, and so forth that you discussed in your narrative.

  • Detailed line item budget divided into pre-production, production, and post-production. Use general headings and sub-totals for each income and expense category.
  • Show funds raised to date and in-kind contributions in separate columns. Anticipated revenue and expenses should be clearly identified.
  • Convinces the funder that the revenue and expenses have been well thought out, are reasonable, necessary and adequate to carry out the project.

DRAMATIC OR NARRATIVE PROJECTS Please also include a detailed treatment and/or the first 10 pages of your script. PROFESSIONAL REFERENCES Include: three names, affiliation, position and email address for three professional references. No need to include formal letters of recommendation.

SAMPLE / TRAILER CONSIDERATIONS

Sample or trailer should be a work-in-progress for the proposed project. For documentaries projects, this is MANDATORY. For narrative projects, the sample may be of the director’s previous film (ideally the same genre), and should relate stylistically or thematically to your currently proposed project. Use the Sample Description Form to elaborate on this.

Director Reels or reels from your Director of Photography or Editor will not be accepted.

SAMPLE OR TRAILER DESCRIPTION FORM

Use this form to make a statement on how the sample or trailer relates to your current project. The sample is crucial in the fundraising process and is often required by funders (and this is why we require it at this stage). A strong sample can work to strengthen your overall request tremendously. At the same time, a weak sample tape will reflect negatively on your abilities as a director. You may submit this work on DVD or as link to the sample online. Write down the link on the Sample Work Form. Please check the sample before sending them to us. Send only the excerpts you want the committee to review, otherwise the committee will view 10 minutes starting at the beginning. Label your samples properly with title and name of director/administrator.

 Fiscal Sponsorship Application Form Download