Pay the Artists!

The PAY THE ARTISTS! (PTA) INITIATIVE is part of a larger effort to create a sustainable ecosystem for nonfiction filmmakers, whose work rarely gets a wide theatrical run. Festivals, more and more, are acting as a de facto substitute for movie houses. Crowdfunding and foundation grants are often not enough to bring a film into the world.

The PTA exists as a partial remedy to this problem. In 2014, the initiative's inaugural year, PTA members gave $450 each to 36 filmmaking teams who attended the festival, in addition to helping T/F pay for all travel, lodging, and meals. In 2015, that number grew to $500 for 37 feature filmmaking teams. In 2016, that number has increased once again to $600 for 35 feature filmmaking teams. We hope to grow this fund each year and, eventually, to be able to offer stipends of $1,000 per filmmaker.

The PTA is a tangible way to invest in filmmakers doing great films over the long haul. With it, T/F is seeding a movement of supportive institutions who invest in nonfiction filmmaking futures. We hope that, for more new filmmakers, nonfiction is not merely a launching pad to commercial or fiction work but a viable career path.

T/F is committed to this egalitarian approach of spreading the wealth rather than focusing on isolated awards.

We see ourselves as a petri dish for trying out ideas, including how to best serve filmmakers.  The PTA is an experiment, but also a crucial corrective to the lack of resources for independent filmmakers. While the amounts may seem token at first, we see the PTA a growing, important commitment to do more care and feeding of the filmmakers we believe in. If we are not all engaged in making independent filmmaking a sustainable enterprise, we will lose the very voices we exist to champion.

Funds for the PTA are provided through generous three-year financial commitments from patrons who care deeply about the future of nonfiction filmmaking. Half of the funds are given directly to filmmakers, and half are used to support the programming activities of the festival.

2016 PTA Members:


Amanda & Matthew VanderTuig

Holly Roberson and John Goldstein

Pete Kingma & Thom Lambert

Jonathan Murray

Chad Troutwine

J.A. & H.G Woodruff Jr. Charitable Trust


For more information about joining the PTA, please contact Holly Smith-Berry, Development Director, at or 573-999-4757.