Chicken & Egg Pictures was born out of the reality that women and gender nonconforming filmmakers need support and opportunities to thrive in a tough and unbalanced film landscape and that without their voices, the stories we see on screen will not reflect the world we live in.
As we face this crisis together, we know that our community of filmmakers has been hard-hit by COVID-19 and now face an industry that looks drastically different than the one of yesterday—one with cancelled festivals, forums, labs, and markets; delays to production schedules; and loss of gigs, jobs, funds. But our commitment to them has not wavered, and we are hard at work on ways we can offer support during these times.
We understand that this health and financial crisis has affected all of us but in vastly different and nuanced ways, and so we responded first by listening to our supported filmmakers and collecting responses to a survey on the impact of COVID-19 on this community. We heard directly from them about how the pandemic has impacted them, their films, and their livelihoods.
As we think about our filmmakers’ personal experiences and suggestions for how we can best support our Nest, we are collaborating with our industry peers and other film organizations, staying connected to our supporters and partners, and having important discussions as a team about how to move forward in a new reality.
Please stay tuned to this page for updates on how our programs, our supported filmmakers, and our organization are adapting to the COVID-19 crisis and working toward solutions.
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- (Egg)celerator Lab: Over the course of March and April, we held our spring retreat for first- and second-time filmmakers virtually, adapting our one-week retreat to a multi-week retreat on Zoom and connecting with the 2020 grantees currently sheltering in the US, China, France, Myanmar, Germany, Scotland, and Sweden. The second (Egg)celerator Lab retreat was a virtual convening at Sheffield Doc/Fest in early June, where filmmakers pitched their projects to a live audience of over 130 attendees as part of our annual (Egg)celerator Lab Live Pitch. The filmmakers also had one-on-one meetings with industry members through the virtual MeetMarket. Over the course of two weeks in November, we held our fall retreat virtually through Zoom with a series of sessions focused on work sample feedback, professional development, and masterclasses with invited guests.
Our open call for applications for the 2021 (Egg)celerator Lab closed on July 6, 2020. In responding to the uprisings and calls for racial justice in the US and worldwide, we extended our original deadline by two weeks to respect the time and energy filmmakers put into the movement, as well as the emotional and psychological toll many were facing. In consideration of the financial hardship many filmmakers worldwide are experiencing due to COVID-19, we also waived the application fee for all applicants this year. The 2021 (Egg)celerator Lab will be flexible to a range of options, but with the aim of supporting ten projects with a $30,000-$40,000 grant. Grantees will be announced in February – March 2021.
- Chicken & Egg Award: In February, our 2020 Awardees participated in the first retreat of the year in upstate New York. The cohort continued as planned with monthly virtual calls, as well as one-on-one mentorship from our senior creative team. We are moving forward with the 2021 Chicken & Egg Award and will announce recipients of the in January 2021. The 2021 Chicken & Egg Award will support six filmmakers with a $50,000 unrestricted grant and a year-long mentorship tailored to each filmmaker’s individual goals.
- Project: Hatched: The inaugural Project: Hatched participants premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival in January, though many of their subsequent festival screenings have been cancelled, postponed, or moved into virtual space due to COVID-19. This program, which was previously tied to festival premieres and impact campaigns, was reconceptualized in light of COVID-19 to support filmmakers whose premieres were cancelled and were looking to launch their films in a virtual way. During this period, Chicken & Egg Pictures pivoted to supporting more film projects with smaller grants, as well as shifting the mentorship component toward a peer-to-peer model. The Project: Hatched program is in the process of being redesigned for 2021 to take into account our learnings and the changed landscape from the last year; the application is temporarily paused and will be relaunched in 2021.
- Docs by the Dozen: Working closely with filmmakers as part of our shorts and series program, we are brainstorming how we can best produce documentary content that can creatively circumvent traditional production models and strategize around audience engagement and impact at this time of crisis. In partnership with Mother Jones we produced three short documentaries, released August-October 2020, that examined different aspects of gun culture in the US: “I Am Not Going to Change 400 years in Four,” dirs. Angela Tucker and Kristi Jacobson; “Sanctuary,” dir. Brett Story; and “One Shot One Kill,” dir. Nancy Schwartzman.
- AlumNest survey: In April, our program team sent out a survey to our 300+ Nest-supported filmmakers to assess the impact of COVID-19 on our community, checking in about the extent this crisis has had on their professional life, livelihood, and financial circumstances and asking for filmmakers’ perspectives on how we can best support our Nest.
- AlumNest Relief Fund: The AlumNest Relief fund was created as an emergency response initiative in response to results of our April survey of grantees that assessed the impact of COVID-19 on our community of filmmakers. From the survey, 64% of filmmakers responded that they experienced loss of jobs such as permanent employment, gigs, and work for hire at the start of the pandemic; and 60% indicated the crisis has had an impact on their emotional and mental health. In direct response to these needs, we have raised over $230,000 for the Relief Fund thus far to be distributed as $1,000 grants to our group of alumni filmmakers from around the world who have been financially impacted due to COVID-19. To disburse the grant funds, we partnered with Women Make Movies (WMM), which provides distribution, production assistance and fiscal sponsorship to women filmmakers. Grants to the first round of eligible applicants were distributed in July. Understanding the ongoing relief is needed in these times, we held a second round of funding that was distributed in November. The remaining funds will be distributed in a third round in early 2021.
- A new online platform: Nest-supported filmmakers can stay connected on our brand-new AlumNest Slack workspace, which we launched in April to strengthen the sense of community and provide a more intimate and conversational space for sharing resources and thoughts.
- AlumNest Programming: From April to June we held bi-weekly webinars and calls to hear from guests on how to adapt to a new film landscape, as well as create a space where Nest-supported filmmakers can have conversations and connect with one another.
Additionally, in partnership with the Sundance Documentary Film Program team (DFP) we started a screening series for our supported filmmakers whose films had missed a premiere or screening due to festival cancellations and postponements. This collaboration was created from a common understanding that film festivals and forums provide not only a launching space for films but the chance for filmmakers to connect and move through the festival circuit with a festival cohort. We will resume our AlumNest programming in 2021.
- Our team is continuing to work from home: Thanks to our incredible operations team, our Brooklyn-based staff was able to transition seamlessly into remote work in early March.
- We postponed Eggstended Run: With the safety and well-being of our community in mind, we have postponed our 15th anniversary event to Wednesday, May 19, 2021. We are grateful for the support of our friends and partners and look forward to celebrating with our community next spring.
- We are connecting with our supporters: We are holding zoom calls to share how we are responding during this time and to seek their counsel. We launched an online film series to view the Nest-supported films we would have seen together in theaters and festivals this year, and to gather with the directors for an online conversation. We are grateful to our donors and our Board of Directors for their critical support of our mission during this time.
- We will stay connected with you and include the most up-to-date information on this page and in our newsletter.