I follow in the strong footsteps of Chuck Fries who, along with Jerry Isenberg, founded the Foundation some years back. Chuck has been the single guiding force of the Foundation since its inception. The Caucus Foundation today is vibrant and very much in step with the times and is one of the strongest elements of The Caucus for Producers, Writers, & Directors. The Foundation is what Chuck has made it, and it is both a privilege and a challenge to have been selected to succeed him. It is my hope that I can do as well as he has in making the Foundation even bigger and stronger.
The main thrust of the Foundation is, of course, the student grant awards. Twice each year we accept entries from film and television schools around the country. Each round of grants brings in between 10 and 20 entries, which are screened by a judging committee. This committee is made up of volunteers from the Foundation membership. These screenings take many hours of their time and I thank each of them for volunteering to view and judge these many entries.
Those selected in this screening are then given completion grants so that their project may be finished. The selected grantees are then judged a second time each November and two are selected for the Gold Circle Awards announced each December at our annual Caucus Awards Dinner.
In the years that we have been awarding grants, in-kind awards, and internships we have bestowed $1.4 million dollars in awards to 147 students. Bob Harvey of Panavision and Jim Hardy of illuminate have been instrumental in supporting The Caucus Foundation with an annual Panavision Camera Package and an annual Post Production package, respectively.
Now in its fourth year, The Caucus Foundation's Television and New Media Award adds another element of student grants. This is presented to a university's creative team for their best submission of a project of a pilot, an episode of a series which can be a comedy, drama, reality, documentary or news program or a representative webisode. Submissions are again judged by Caucus Foundation Board members and announced at The Caucus Annual Awards Dinner.
We have also formed an alumni group of the grantees known as CFAN (Caucus Foundation Alumni Network). This is an active group meeting for seminars, dinners, and other networking events to both interact with The Caucus members and to further their own careers. We held the first networking lunch inviting both CFAN members and Caucus members. Of pronounced importance were the testimonials by members of both groups. It was a significant reaffirmation of the role of The Caucus and perhaps more importantly of The Caucus Foundation since the Foundation is the granter of funds. We shall be doing other such events in the near future. This was held at the home of Chuck and Ava Fries and we thank them for opening their home for this first ever event.
One of the interesting facts of CFAN is that approximately 75% of them are working in our industry. They are the next generation and we are most proud to be playing a part in their early career moves.
To each of you who have been involved in this process either as a judge, or a financial donor, or simply a cheerleader, we thank you for your ongoing support. We will continue to reach out to new universities and widen our network.
These are amazingly gifted young men and women and to be able to extend a hand as they enter the swirling waters of today's media, is a gift we all share.
Lee Miller, President
The Caucus Foundation