“Boston is known nationally - even internationally, as a center of serious non-fiction filmmaking...”
One of the reasons for that reputation is the Center for Independent Documentary (CID). I have been involved with CID since 1985, when I was a novice producer with nothing but an idea. In those two decades the Center has been instrumental in helping me produce two different films for national broadcast on public television, and two others for educational use; and I am just one of dozens of producers and filmmakers whose careers have been realized through their help. The CID’s track record is extraordinary. The list of CID-related projects and filmmakers is a virtual who’s who of the documentary community; even while it has helped many, many first-time filmmakers break into a notoriously difficult field.
Today, when serious non-fiction television is more important than ever, the CID is one of only a handful of organizations in the country committed to helping producers who work outside the industry mainstream. The last 20 years have seen a continuous drying up of funding sources for non-fiction film. Despite a climate that couldn’t be harsher, the CID has remained dedicated to the mission of helping filmmakers bring important and influential documentaries to audiences across the country
— Eric Stange, Producer, MURDER AT HARVARD, Broadcast nationally on PBS – American Experience, EDGAR ALLAN POE: BURIED ALIVE, Broadcast nationally on PBS - American Masters
“I have had the pleasure of working with CID for the past ten years while producing various film projects, ranging from documentary to animation...”
Along with providing fiscal sponsorship for independent producers (a necessity these days, if you intend to acquire project funding), CID is the glue for the independent film community. They are connected with every facet of independent film and video production in the New England area, and beyond. This immersion on their part results in an invaluable advocacy for independent producers. Some of the most significant gains my films have made share a direct credit with the Center for Independent Documentary: a partnership with ITVS and CPB, followed by a national public television broadcast; sold-out premiere screenings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and a screening at an international public television conference in Barcelona Spain, where we were one of only 5 participants from the U.S.
Additionally, being involved with CID acts as a sort of endorsement when I apply for funding; CID is selective about which projects they take on, and have a reputation for being involved with projects which take creative risks, and pose challenging questions.
— Steve Gentile, Producer, LOADED GUN: LIFE, DEATH AND DICKINSON, National Broadcast on PBS – Independent Lens
CID has been absolutely invaluable to me over the years. The support they provided for my first documentary, Baby It’s You, freed me to focus on the creative work and helped make that film the success that it was, screening as the lead show on POV, at the Whitney Biennial 2000, and the Sundance Film Festival. I am very happy that CID sponsored my recent ITVS-funded project, RAIN IN A DRY LAND, as I knew I would be in good hands!
— Anne Makepeace, Producer, RAIN IN A DRY LAND, Broadcast nationally on PBS P.O.V
“I’ve worked with CID for over five years and it’s been invaluable in helping me to navigate the complex waters of fundraising and grant administration...”
As a filmmaker my primary skills do not include either managing large amounts of funding or navigating complex bureaucracies. By taking on these difficult tasks the CID has allowed me to focus on the process of making films. It’s been critical to my ability to proceed with a very large and complex project (a 90 minute comprehensive biography of Woody Guthrie) over the last several years. Chief among the services they provided was the management and monitoring of a nearly $900,000 budget that came from a variety of sources including the NEH, NEA and WNET. Each funding source required different reporting and accounting procedures. On the other end of the equation, I worked with a huge number of individual artists, crafts people and vendors, each of whom was dealt with in a prompt and professional manner. The CID helped me to operate nearly flawlessly in this complex environment – something I would have had difficulty doing on my own.
I know I’m not alone in my appreciation of the CID. Over the years the CID has brought together and supported a remarkable number of filmmakers working on a huge range of projects. In doing so it has not only provided critical support services, but it has also become a vital institution in the world of Boston filmmaking.
— Peter Frumkin, Producer, WOODY GUTHRIE: AIN’T GOT NO HOME, Broadcast nationally on PBS American Masters
“We would be dead without CID. Because of tight funds, we’ve had to do everything ourselves on this production–EXCEPT the tasks that CID handles...”
If we had to do our own accounts and bill payments on top of everything else, I think it would be the last straw. We are extremely grateful to CID for handling these tasks, and doing it with wonderful efficiency. In addition, they have viewed some of our rough cuts, and given us very helpful feedback. Long live CID!
— Ann Carol Grossman, Umbrella Films, Producer/Director, THE POWDER AND THE GLORY, Broadcast nationally on PBS
“'How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…' Okay, so maybe quoting Elizabeth Barrett Browning is a little bit sappy, but CID has been there for me, consistently, in so many ways, that it is hard to know where to begin. ”
I became associated with CID about seven years ago, after we were funded by ITVS for Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin. They patiently walked us through numerous producing issues related to our project, from the most mundane and arcane accounting details to larger strategic issues about what to do, when, and how to engage with funders, distribution possibilities, audiences, etc.
Since completing the Rustin project, I was honored to be invited by CID to the 2006 Kopkind retreat in Vermont, which is an enormously supportive environment in which to engage in questions faced daily by filmmakers. I loved the Kopkind “film camp” so much that I applied again, and was fortunate to be accepted for 2007 as well. Every filmmaker needs this kind of opportunity to stop and reflect on their film practice, where they and the field are going, and how they can create community with other documentary makers.
As I develop my new documentary project, CID has been there for me in every possible way, helping me strategize about raising money in a challenging funding environment, responding to my newly completed trailer, and even fielding emergency phone calls when I needed to make a strategic decision in a big hurry. CID does all this while keeping on top of the day-to-day accounting support that makes it possible for me to focus on my role as the director of a major film project.
In short, the Center for Independent Documentary is there for me as a filmmaker whenever I need it, in ways so numerous and varied that it is hard to mention all of them in a single paragraph. I feel extraordinarily lucky to have this association with such an important media nonprofit. If making films is like being a professional boxer–you do get beat up a fair amount out there–CID is the wise, seasoned and very kind trainer in your corner. It’s simple: I wouldn’t want to make films without CID.
— Nancy Kates, Producer/Director, BROTHER OUTSIDER: THE LIFE OF BAYARD RUSTIN, Broadcast nationally on PBS as a POV special, REGARDING SUSAN SONTAG, Broadcast nationally on HBO
“For nearly 7 years I struggled to grasp the story of the disappearance of my childhood friend and its effect on me. I was a 9 year-old girl with a crush on a handsome and friendly 10 year-old boy named Andy Puglisi. On a hot summer day Andy vanished without a trace. I was never the same. More than 20 years later I returned to Lawrence to begin my search for Andy. As I began filming I didn’t have a dime and was relying solely on the charity of friends and the advice of colleagues. Several colleagues suggested going to the Center for Independent Documentary. Fred and Susi spent an afternoon listening to me eagerly describe the intent of the film and they offered their help. CID became the fiscal sponsor for “Have You Seen Andy?” Over several years and many rejections, CID never wavered in their belief in this film.
In 2006 the Center for Independent Documentary screened the rough cut of “Have You Seen Andy?” to a standing-room only audience. The feedback and encouragement we received that night helped give us the strength to continue our vision and finish the film. “Have You Seen Andy?” premiered on HBO Documentary Films to rave reviews. The BBC called it “a powerful documentary…an extraordinary film”. The Washington Post said it is “a distinguished contribution to the true-crime genre…” and The Week called it “a wrenching emotional journey…a powerful plea for the protection of children”
This film was much more than a film to me – it was a personal journey through trauma and healing. The Center for Independent Documentary acted as a nurturing parent guiding the film and the filmmaker through difficult times – always allowing us our independence but never wavering in their belief in our ability.”
-Melanie Perkins, Producer, HAVE YOU SEEN ANDY, National Cablecast- HBO
"In 2004 I finished and released my documentary “Trouble in Paradise.” This was the second film that I have made for which CID was my fiscal sponsor. CID was, as usual, meticulous with keeping track of my donations and expenses, and fulfilled the necessary requirements for applying for grants as an independent filmmaker. In addition, they consulted with me about my film, provided information during funding and outreach phases, and spoke to WGBH on behalf of my film. (Trouble in Paradise was then broadcast on WGBH.) My experience with CID has been that they are devoted to providing services, advice, information and connections for independent filmmakers.”
-Laurel Greenberg, Producer, TROUBLE IN PARADISE
“Thank goodness that the Center for Independent Documentary is still going strong, and staying on the cutting edge by presenting screenings, panels, and workshops every month; building an active online social network; and connecting filmmakers to each other and their audiences through blogs and websites. Not to mention supporting individual filmmakers through fiscal sponsorship...”
CID has served as fiscal sponsor for three of my projects and has been instrumental in allowing me to get these films made and out into the world. My films have shown on public television, universities, film festivals, museums, and community groups. They have been there to help at every turn, and to connect me with resources and other filmmakers I can collaborate with.
What has been most surprising, I think, has been the way CID has stepped in to help provide the connections between different sectors of the indie mediamaking communities: filmmakers, funders, public television entities, universities, and businesses serving filmmakers.
I was blown away in a recent Filmmakers Workshop event by the intensity of conversation around teaching film and video at the college level. CID had brought together 25 filmmaker/teachers representing 13 different colleges (BU, Harvard, Emerson, Fitchburg State, Museum School, MassArt, etc.), and we were able to have a focused, productive conversation about how we balance our filmmaking work with our teaching responsibilities, what types of assignments we give, and what resources we can connect students with in the community. The event was streamed live and included questions submitted from cyberspace. We posted notes from the dicussions on our social networking site and the conversation continues there. What a very special event to be a part of, and at no cost to participants.
CID is an ESSENTIAL part of our independent filmmaking community!”
— Julie Mallozzi, Documentary Filmmaker and Teacher; Producer, MONKEY DANCE, Broadcast nationally on PBS Independent Lens, CIRCLE UP
“I am writing to support the outstanding services CID gives independent documentary makers. Not only do they offer critical technical support, community, and cheerleading for what can be a lonely, complicated road, but they provide the very practical service of liberating filmmakers from tracking their project’s financing. I know of no other fiscal sponsor that takes that heavy load off our shoulders, and does it with such aplomb. Many funders are reassured knowing that their grants are in good hands. This is our second project with CID and we’ll come back as often as they’ll have us.”
-Marcia Jarmel & Ken Schneider, PatchWorks Films, BORN IN THE U.S.A., SPEAKING IN TONGUES, & HAVANA CURVEBALL
“CID has been the fiscal sponsor for my projects since 1995. Over the years, all non-profits, and those specifically focused on preserving the independent documentary spirit have faced difficult challenges. It has created a crisis in the documentary community, and has been dispiriting, because we have seen BFVF, the other venerable Boston 501c3 community media center close down. CID, through astute leadership, good management and thriftiness during the good times, has managed to stay afloat and continue to support all of their projects, many of major national and international prominence. Susi Walsh and Fred Simon devote inordinate amounts of time to running and managing the details, large and small, for scores of projects, yet making each person and project feel that they are getting personal attention.
-Claire Andrade-Watkins, Director/Producer, "SOME KIND OF FUNNY PORTO RICAN?" A CAPE VERDEAN AMERICAN STORY
“The Center for Independent Documentary is a key to the vitality of American independent filmmaking. As a filmmaker who has worked with CID on four projects, I have found that they are ideal partners they help you when you need it and leave you to do your work when you don’t. They provide an enormous amount of support in all phases of an independent film’s life – from paying the invoices to sending out the 1099s to thinking through budget strategies.
The most valuable service CID offers is that they write the checks, do the cost reports, write the fiscal reports for the grants they receive for filmmakers. All for 5% of the grant. And it is a tremendous service – accurate, timely, and saves me (and I’m sure others) a ton of time better spent on aspects of filmmaking we do better.”
-Nancy Kelly, Producer/Director, DOWNSIDE UP, SMITTEN, National Broadcasts on PBS – Independent Lens, TRUST: SECOND ACTS IN YOUNG LIVES
“The folks at the Center for Independent Documentary have shepherded three of my projects to date. Two have been successfully completed (aired on public television, viewed at numerous festivals and widely distributed) with the third in-progress. I don’t know what I’d do without their help — fiscal sponsorship, fundraising assistance, advice on working with funders, emergency hand-holding, peptalks and other (oft-needed) morale building. Susi and Fred are a godsend for independent filmmakers!”
– Beth Harrington, Producer/Director, THE WINDING STREAM, currently streaming on Netflix
“At this point I probably qualify as an old settler in the Boston film community, and I’ve worked with and benefited from the services of CID in a variety of ways, almost from their inception in the days of the Newton Television Foundation. I’ve picked up valuable information and insights from several generations of their workshops, while meeting important professional contacts (and new friends) at the same time. I’ve edited video projects on their facilities, with Fred’s supportive advice. I’ve worked with Fred on a production sponsored by NTF, and they’ve been fiscal sponsor on a couple of my other projects as well — including my latest. It’s hard for me to imagine that there would even be a Boston film community without them.”
-Ben Achtenberg, Fanlight Productions