I've been a member of the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers for years, and while my membership has lapsed a few times, I've always come back to the fold because the resources they make available to their members have always been a great help. Now the tables are turned and AIVF needs help (i.e., money). Bad. They've let all but two full-time paid staff go. And my sources have told me that if AIVF doesn't raise some substantial cash (around $75,000) in the next few weeks the organization might be closing its doors for good.
Losing AIVF would be a major loss for the independent filmmaking community so, before I elaborate on the details, here's the link for donating:
Now for the details...
First, if you're new to independent filmmaking, AIVF is the organization behind The Independent, one of the few magazines for filmmakers. Its back pages -- listings of calls for work and funding opportunities -- are a great resource. Besides publishing The Independent, AIVF sponsors lectures and discussions, has a resource library, and provides its members with discounts (on things like insurance, car rentals, and legal services).
Anyway, when I heard about the crisis I wondered why things had gotten to this point, and how AIVF is solving the problem?
I've been asking around, and here's what I've been able to find out:
How has it gotten to this point? As anyone who's worked in the non-profit sector can tell you, a Board of Directors is often loaded with wealthy supporters of the organization. These individuals help support it directly (i.e., give money) and/or support it by raising money for the organization. Well, AIVF is in trouble because most people on the BoD are filmmakers. Independent filmmakers. That is to say, they don't have money. And if they're able to raise money, they're raising it for their own projects. Hey, I don't blame them -- but you can see how this has turned into a problem.
What are they doing to solve the problem? First, a Transitional Board of Directors has been set up. Assuming enough money is raised to get them through the crisis, they will implement a strategy that is laid out in their recent Open Letter to the AIVF Community. (Sorry, can't seem to find this on their website, but it's in the most current issue of The Independent. If you go to the current AIVF splash page you will get the gist of it.)
In addition to the changes proposed in the letter, it looks like a new mostly non-filmmaker Board of Directors (read: people connected to money) will be assembled. Simultaneously, a "Members Action Force" (or something like it) will be created. This sounds as if it will be like the Board of old -- they'll mostly be filmmakers and they'll make sure AIVF is serving its members by staying true to its mission. These sound like smart decisions that will make AIVF a more stable and better-organized, um, organization.
So what can you do to help? Well, they need money, so give money if you can, even if it's only like $10 or $20. If you're not a member, join. If you can't donate money, at least spread the word to some people you know that do have money. More than anything, if this concerns you, spread the word.
I am the first to admit that neither AIVF, nor The Independent, is perfect. I have occassionally griped to AIVF that its New York members get more attention, when the media-makers that need the most assistance are those that are working regionally. They've been listening, though. I've heard some of their plans for making it a truly national organization, and I'm convinced they're taking the right steps. But they have to make it through the next few weeks first.
I want to see that happen, so I'm chipping in $100. That's not a lot, but it's what I can give and I definitely owe them one. I first read about the Aperture Film Grant in The Independent and, without the Aperture grant, Gina, An Actress, Age 29 would have been a very different, and probably poorer (literally), production. Instead, I made the film I set out to make, and some nice things happened with it. In a way, it all started with AIVF.
So consider helping them out by joining, re-joining, or giving a much-needed donation. If there are changes you'd like to see, now's a good time to let them know. I encourage you to do it while you're handing them a check. Think it over.