At Home — Contemplating My Grant Binges

So, I’m sick and exhausted and smelly and as happy as a puppy snuggled in a pile of dirty clothes.

Why?  Because I spent all of yesterday — Monday January 3rd —  into the night through this morning  applying to the Outfest Screenwriting Lab.  After some technical difficulties were worked out, I hit the “submit” button and it was DONE.

In that moment, I felt satiated.

As I walked into the post office shortly thereafter, the fresh wind blew a bothersome strand of greasy hair from eyesight onto temple, and I knew — I had earned it.

Exhilaration awakens each cell in my body whenever I finish a grant, residency, or contest application of some sort.  Especially one I’d really love to get.

Probably because there’s this greater sense of purpose that incessantly tortures me when I ignore it — like a hungry baby whaling from a crib for breast milk — and when I finish a grant application, it’s as if I stuck a bottle in the baby’s mouth.

The more difficult the application — the greater the satiation.

Oh, the endless rewards of winning a grant!  I imagine myself like an old man playing the Horses — Is it going to win?!  Is it going to win?!  If my horse WINS and I get this residency or that grant … the countless ways my life can change!

The infant — the force of life that cries for you to feed so that it can survive — is my art.  My Films and Writings.  Maybe that’s why I’ve never desired a flesh and blood baby — because it would compete for breast milk and God knows I only have two boobs!  One for my Movies and the other for my Books. ;p

Still, I can’t help but acknowledge that applying to grants, residencies, and contests is exactly like “Playing the Horses.”  A gamble. A gamble that I invest a lot of time, energy, and heart in.  Time, energy, and heart I could be investing into more practical possibilities for project support.

The first grant I ever applied to was the HSF/McNamara Family Creative Arts Project Grant, which I received.  It gave my senior thesis film A Two Woman One Act some considerably helpful production mula.  I was grateful for it and put it to good use, but the sheltered bubble of college life didn’t allow me to fully comprehend the magnitude of such a gift.

I’ve been out of college for 6 years now, and have worked and worked and worked countless jobs — from cinematographer to assistant editor to executive assistant to packing tape salesperson extraordinaire to receptionist and runner to you name it, I’ve done it.  I worked these gigs in order to pay my creative projects’ bills (press kits and festival applications and hard drives, etc), most times at the sacrifice of paying basic bills such as dentist, health insurance, food, etc.

Consequently, I now realize how much a stamp of monetary and critical approval could help ease the process of bringing a project to fruition.

Over the past 3 years, I’ve applied to countless grants and contests and I’ve received 2 or 3 — mostly living stipends for weekend seminars (which I’m truly grateful for), but that’s pretty much it …

Hours and Weeks and Months and Years spent applying for grant support that never came.

All the success I’ve received has come about through old fashioned brow sweat, and priceless help from fellow broke yet talented friends and artists.  The books and films I’ve finished, The book fairs and film festivals I’ve been a part of, The publications and reviews I’ve received — have all come about from walking out onto the fields, rolling up my sleeves, and picking grapes.

Also Known As chucking fear/anxiety out the window by emailing, calling, and shaking hands on the ground floor.

Also Known As H-U-S-T-L-I-N-G because the baby’s famished and she won’t stop crying!

My art projects are my Baby — the reason I continue working many a dreaded b-job…

I’ll tell you the truth — I don’t mind the hustle, the hard work, in fact I love it.  I love knowing how to write and edit and shoot and sound design an entire film because I had to figure it out on my own since I couldn’t afford to hire others to do it for me.

Still, my heart has been a little broken lately — and I think it’s because I spend more time applying to grants than working the floor, which has obviously proven to be a more fruitful avenue.  Why then?!  Why do I continue to do it?

I spend HOURS applying to grants and residencies and contests.  I keep “Playing the Horses.”  Because maybe — one day — I’ll get a grant and everything will get easier. I’ll finally be able to walk into MacMall and say, “Give me a Mac Book Air with a 3-year warranty.  I’m editing all over town today! Oh, and throw in some Mentos, please. The tropical kind.”

At this point, I feel like the old man who bets on a horse instead of going to work …

Grant applications, I must admit to myself, are the quick-fix pacifiers I use to quiet the starving baby.

There’s no breezy easy way to make a movie.  It’s all grape-picking, my friends.  I accept this fact and continue onward.

One of my New Year’s Resolutions being: More grape picking and ground floor handshaking!

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!

Speaking of hunger, I have yet to eat anything aside from Entemann’s chocolate cake today … Chicken Soup, here comes La Banethita!

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About vanessalibertadgarcia

Vanessa Libertad Garcia is a Cuban – American writer & filmmaker who grew up between the burbs’ and hoods of Los Angeles. A graduate of Loyola Marymount University, she’s completed a myriad of successful projects that tackle both the film and literary worlds. Ms. Garcia has worked in various capacities as writer, director, and producer on fiction films such as the HSF/McNamara Arts Grant recipient “A Two Woman One Act” and documentaries such as “Maid in America,” which debuted on PBS’ Independent Lens. Two films out of the many, which have screened at top festivals such as The Los Angeles Film Fest, The Habana Film Fest, Cinequest, and Outfest to name a few. Ms. Garcia has had writings published by venerated literary staple Lambda Literary and the up-and-coming Amor Fati. Her first book “The Voting Booth After Dark: Despicable, Embarrassing, Repulsive” is drawing laudable reviews. It’s available for purchase at amazon.com, barnes&noble.com, and many other sites. She presently has a feature film titled “Dear Dios” based on the books’ characters and a second book — the collection of poetry “Bloody Fucking Hell” — in development. View all posts by vanessalibertadgarcia

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