A Harlem-based media company is seeking out creatives to participate in its annual competition. Black Public Media is hosting its third annual 360 Incubator — a search for producers and filmmakers in need of funding for their projects. Every year the media group puts out an open call to creators who focus on developing media content highlighting a variety of black experiences. The winners can be financed for up to $150,000, and get access to a bevy of reliable guidance, said a past winner.
“It was interesting and through the process I got a lot of mentorship and they helped me develop programming, and I got feedback on scripts and fund-raising techniques,” said Garland McLaurin.
He won the inaugural competition after applying to pitch his film “Pops” — a documentary film about black fatherhood. The application process was demanding but worthwhile because he got a better idea on how to work on future projects, said McLaurin.
“I was relieved I made it through the process, but I was also fortunate and blessed because for now I know what I won’t do and what are the next steps,” he said.
As the first winner of the organization’s contest, he said he was able to learn vital skills, and gain some reliability and valid backing by association. The organization helps creators with writing scripts, how to raise money for their projects, and how to hone and pitch their work.
This year, the media group is looking to fund content specific to health, the environment, incarceration, the LGBTQ community, and immigration. With their support creators not only have the money to complete production, but just by association with the organization comes an even bigger advantage that all filmmakers and producers would like to benefit from.
“When you have an organization like Black Public Media, or a public television company behind you it brings a certain credibility,” said McLaurin. “All projects are funneled into a pipeline and when you’re developing a trailer and want to reach out to other people to pitch — you can leverage your connections.”
He said as a creator he was allowed access and exposure to opportunities he would not have, if not for the support of the organization and other groups. And he added that Black Public Media’s effort to support independent projects about black people lends a voice on stories and narratives that do not often get a chance to get told.
“I think what they’re doing is great, and they’ve been doing tremendous in cultivating talent, whether you’re a veteran or just coming in,” said McLaurin.
“When it comes to making connections for documentaries about black people, this space provides a place that is safe and allows you to develop programming among your peers.
Coming into the competition, McLaurin said he was not that well-versed in pitching his work, but learned how to effectively create one with the communication and assistance he received from mentors.
McLaurin encourages other film creators and producers to apply for the competition not only for a chance to get funding, but to also network and make connections with other creators.
“You’ll have a community that’s welcoming, and the opportunity to build relationships with accomplished people — you’ll just have to put in a level of dedication,” he said.
Creators can apply for 360 Incubator+ here [black