In response to FTX FF’s call: “We’d love a project that funds and helps create new movies and documentaries—aimed squarely at raising public consciousness of issues relevant to our priority areas”…and then they said, “We’d also directly fund impactful movies and documentaries ourselves”…so they realized the need for both a project and funding separately. We propose such a Cooperative for Altruistic Media Arts (CAMA) to funnel EA aligned funding to documentary filmmakers.
FTX Future Fund explicitly called for more creative media to be funded, saying in their “Areas of Interest” page, “We’re excited about media that will explore ideas, like existential risk and artificial intelligence, that are especially important for positively shaping the long-term future…We’re interested in books, documentaries, movies, blogs, Twitter, journalism, and more. And following up in their list of projects they’d “love to fund”, “We’d be interested in a project that funds and helps create new movies and documentaries—aimed squarely at raising public consciousness of issues relevant to our priority areas. We’d also directly fund impactful movies and documentaries ourselves”.
The people who wrote those words are still in EA, just living in new places. I'd love to know who they were, so please send them this way if you know.
It’s interesting how they described the two things they’d like to fund: “We’d be interested in a project that funds and helps create new movies and documentaries” – and then in addition – “We’d also directly fund impactful movies and documentaries”...so they were hoping for a project dedicated to EA aligned films and additionally hoped to fund some of those films themselves. They understood the issue that my following proposal addresses:
There needs to be a specific organization that handles EA aligned creative media. And there’s a problem currently that most have not anticipated…let me break it down for you and solve the problem as our Theory of Change.
Theory of Change: Creative media funding continues to grow across the 50+ EA aligned funding org’s, but there’s a big problem looming that no one has yet anticipated; If a filmmaker proposes a grant to any EA aligned fund, you now have the situation that a philanthropic fund staffed by STEM people is being asked to “greenlight” a film.
Here is why that’s problematic and inefficient; First is the issue of “picking hits”, STEM based funds have no experience with creative media. But really that smaller issue folds into the bigger problem – record companies and film studios don’t really pick hits, what they do is develop hits. They find talent and material, and then they mentor and guide and form artistic teams to further develop a project to give it the best chance to succeed. EA funding org’s definitely don’t have the ability to do that. So if they do give funds, they are doing it in the most inefficient way possible. Unbeknownst to them, they are circumventing the development process that is always needed for creative media.
The solution is not to create an EA film studio – that would be like the US Government making a film studio to promote American values, definitely not going to go well. Artistic media must maintain artistic freedom to avoid becoming propaganda, but it still needs guidance and development. The solution is to fund a number of smaller studios or production houses, which is already happening, but bring them together into a cooperative that can receive all EA related creative media grant requests from all the EA aligned funders and then develop them and place them with one of the studio’s-both aligned with EA and also outside EA–whatever is the best fit...because you can’t anticipate in advance what studio will have the right mix of talent available to make a project fly…so while it’s good to have EA aligned studios, you can’t be limited to them alone, you may have many talented people unavailable to work at EA aligned studios. Most artists are interested in altruism, and by working with everyone, you spread EA ideas throughout the industry.
So the Cooperative for Altruistic Media Arts (CAMA) would be a funnel for all 50+ EA aligned funds and then act as an early developer and regrantor to each project which will eventually be passed on to the studio that fits it best. This way the funds can steward their resources in an effective manner and it creates a blossoming of creative media work. The great bane of artists' lives is funding. By nature they are not as adept at raising money as other personality types and it takes them from their work. Historically, arts supporters have caused great flourishing of artistic output when funds were made available, EA could go from an arts desert to an arts garden fairly quickly with a small percentage from all the funds.
Ideally, each of the 50+ EA aligned funds would budget in advance to give an annual percentage of their budget to creative media, then farm it out to CAMA. In this sense CAMA would be a kind of regrantor, but one that does more than just choosing grantees, but also develops them in their early phase before handing them off to the best studio.
The primary starting work of this project will be developing relationships with the 50+ EA aligned funds and asking them to budget for creative media, doing this work once then saves filmmakers a lot of time from seeking the funding on their own. Then it also makes those funds much more efficient. In the first years a decent percentage of CAMA’s regrantor funds should be spent on both actual film projects and also on funding new startup film studios, such as when OpenPhil gave 2.3M to fund Should We Studio last year. One of the ways to produce some early momentum is to fund multiple small budget YouTubers and even TikTokers to make EA aligned content and bring them into the overall creative funnel.
There are two arts based EA org’s currently in development that want to promote EA ideas within professional art communities, and I’d like to fund them with regrantor funds because we need to build a roster of talent that we can draw from when assembling creative teams as part of the development process…that’s another big part of the work of CAMA. To create a pipeline and roster of talent, you need money, and when you have money the talent will come.
The members of CAMA should be the leaders of the various film studio’s–the ones who know how to pick and develop hits. They will have the talent and incentive to do the work of the cooperative because it will lead to funding for their studios-this is not a conflict of interest, it will in fact avoid individual funds giving money to people they know or like…grantors have conflicts of interest, not grantees, and even though regranting, the governance process will avoid conflicts and assure projects land with the best studio. In the beginning I will lead its formation, but the greenlighting decisions will be made collectively as soon as possible. The governance structure will have to be invented, I’m sure we can get advice from experienced EA org’s…it seems to be a fairly unprecedented idea and that’s because never before in the existence of the world has there been a movement like EA with so much funding–that is the crux of why this is now needed for the first time.
The funding will be first used to build the Cooperative for Altruistic Media Arts (CAMA) with a portion reserved for the first pilot projects...we'll adjust according to how much is raised.
Creative media organization’s like film studios and record companies, are not run by the artists, but by those with a creative talent in gathering and mentoring and forming creative teams. Often they started as artists, but like future athletic coaches, they weren't the most talented athletes, instead having a knack for coaching teams. This has been my life. I started as a player, but then became the coach. I have had a long career in innovative religious altruistic work with an arts focus. I’ve always formed teams to brainstorm and innovate.
I started multiple non-profits in New York City for 13 years mentoring hundreds. After seeing my innovations, I was tapped to join a nascent movement of progressive religious leaders called the Emerging Church, and we built over 100 local cohorts in cities across the USA creating historical reforms and innovation in American religion that also influenced Obama’s election and boosted the long fight for LGTBQ marriage rights. We were a young idealistic and innovative movement similar to EA and I was the equivalent of the Director of CEA. (As a side note, I’m no longer religious).
I am exactly the kind of person who ends up running a creative arts studio, and more specifically I’ve been coaching and mentoring creatives for decades. Please see this video I produced for our network of cohorts in the USA and note my name in the end credits. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-oaU29Z4dg
More specifically, I don't think this kind of project has ever been done before, so the person who thinks of it may be the best person for the job.
Possibly an opinionated film could push the wrong objectives.
Raising funds for the arts in EA is like selling ice to Eskimo’s, we need those rare visionary funders who see the tremendous impact of media.