NM Film Foundation zooms in on sci-fi/fantasy

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

George R.R. Martin knows a little something about science fiction and fantasy writing.

This is why the Santa Fe-based author has teamed up with the New Mexico Film Foundation to sponsor a sci-fi/fantasy screenwriting grant for six years.

Dirk Norris pitched the idea to Martin at Tomasitas.

“He liked the idea of supporting screenwriters,” says Norris, NM Film Foundation executive director. “He also wanted it to be for sci-fi and fantasy writing. George has always been very supportive of the local film community.”

Kirt Bozeman was awarded the George R.R. Martin Screenwriting Grant in 2019. (Courtesy of Linda Carfagno Photography)

Beginning on Wednesday, July 1, the NM Film Foundation will open its submission process for the grant.

Norris says the foundation’s mission makes strides to support above-the-line filmmakers.

“I was talking to people that are above the line to see what their interests were,” Norris says. “This was a way to recognize some of the local screenwriters.”

According to the foundation, those interested in applying for the grant can submit the first five pages of a feature film or one-hour pilot, plus a five-page treatment of the story. More information can be found at nmfilmfoundation.org.

Submissions will be taken through 5 p.m. Sept. 15.

Norris says the submission process is open to New Mexico residents only and those submitting can’t be a member of the Writer’s Guild of America.

The winner will receive $5,000 to help finish the script.

Norris says six writers have been awarded the grant.

“We’ve been able to give $30,000 in total,” Norris says.

Those winners include Kevin Atkinson, Jocelyn Jansons, Michael Chase Walker, Sam Dabbs and RJ Houston, Sara Cordova and Kirt Bozeman.

Norris says there’s been a waxing and waning of numbers over the years.

“The first year, there were more than 60 submissions,” he says. “Then people realized it was a serious grant. It has grown since then. The judges have a hard time making decisions because there is a lot of good material.”

Norris says judging will be done by professional screenwriters.

The winner and runner-up will be announced in October and a presentation of the check will be done in late October or early November, he says.

Norris is hopeful for change when it comes to incentives for above-the-line New Mexicans in film production.

“It’s still a situation and it needs to be addressed on all levels,” Norris says. “During the last NM Film and Media Day, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham did mention screenwriters, so maybe there’s something coming.”

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