Initial findings

So in the first couple days, I’ve talked to one of the coordinators for internships for the IR/PS department, Nurit Mandel, who told me that the department has offered funding for up to around $2200-2700 for summer internships, but typically, those are reserved for unpaid internships. Considering how in some places like Cambodia, the cost of living is comparatively lower than the United States, the majority of the funding would go to buying the round-trip plane ticket from California to Phnom Penh, and the rest for housing and food. Hit the jump to see more findings.

That’s good news for me, in that I can get funding for an internship, but my focus is to develop my own personal, independent program, which would involve me traveling around Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam, filming my adventures there briefly, as well as what makes each place precious and worth going to, then highlighting issues like human trafficking, refugees, then featuring the NGOs and individuals involved in dealing with these issues, and put it together into a short film presentation to demonstrate what kind of potential media I could produce with my independent production company.

Here’s some better news Nurit shared: the department has funded start-up NGOs by their program candidates, so this could very well be the beginning of my company.

Now here’s the catch: I need way more than $3000 for my project costs. Having talked to a couple friends, I did get some useful information on some of those costs and potential sources to consider for raising the funds.

For starters, Gene, an independent director friend of mine, mentioned to me that getting a Canon Rebel T3i, an extra battery, extra memory cards, a tripod, a bag, the program Final Cut Pro, is already well into costing me $2700, including taxes. Add at least $2000 for the round trip plane ticket and bus fare to get between places (even if just in one country), plus food and housing costs, and I would probably need around $7000 to be safe for getting around.

Gene then mentioned a couple of other resources for funding: Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, which I will be checking out and giving you my impressions with it by the next post, and that some organizations can donate and make a tax deduction, which I believe was a 501C (I’ll need to research this). He then recommended the book Shake the Money Tree and said to spend time defining and narrowing down my focus, then we can start fundraising. So right now, that’s some of the resources I’ve acquired.

I then talked to Joseph, a  Hollywood writer and violin teacher whom I befriended earlier this year. He said that he was able to raise $20,000 in two weeks for a short film before, and for my humanitarian project, I should be able to raise money a lot easier. It would be convenient because again, echoing Gene’s advice, this is a deduction for some individuals since it’s a charitable cause (more stuff to research).

Lastly, a friend and fellow Third Culture Kid, Alaine Handa, pointed out to me she’s been running an independent production company for six years. Her dance company, Chameleon, has a number of donors and sponsors, and it’s all run by her and her group, so this is all entirely doable.

I’m feeling pretty excited for all this information. Kind of funny though because the more I find out, the more homework I have to do to make this project happen. This is probably the first time I’ve ever been excited about getting more homework.

So my homework for this week is:

– Check out the tax deduction rules of 501C (find out what the actual rules are)

– Research Kickstarter and IndieGoGo

– Research some human rights issues common to the places I want to go to for next summer, ideally Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam

– Research NGOs and individuals addressing those issues in those places

– Get a better estimate of the costs of everything for next year

– Talk to more people to get support and feedback on the project

– Extra credit: check out the book Shake the Money Tree

Homework must be posted for your review no later than next Friday, 12 August 2011, along with mandatory vlog update. The penalty for not completing the homework? Public shaming for being lazy and irresponsible.

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