Filmmaker Alex Muñoz and Producer Beverly Santicola
Alex and Beverly were seeking funding to produce Escape, a documentary about the harsh realities Native American youth face living on a Reservation. Alex had founded Films by Youth Inside to serve incarcerated youth, but due to its enormous success he wanted to also serve at risk youth on Native American Reservations. Funding for these types of film projects is notoriously difficult to obtain.
To secure funding for this project we needed to partner with a Native American Tribe with a pool of Tribal youth willing to participate in a filmmaking project. The process educates Native American youth in filmmaking and storytelling empowering them to improve their lives and become more self-reliant. Working with industry professionals, participants learn the basics of screenwriting and filmmaking and utilize those skills to create engaging short films expressive of their lives. The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe stepped up and established a partnership to help the film go from concept to reality. Once we identified funding targets, the greatest challenge was demonstrating that the project had real, tangible benefits for both the youth who participated and the community. To be successful, the outcomes also had to be directly aligned to the priorities and interests of the targeted funders.
We secured the funding necessary to bring Escape to life. Once produced, the film won a first-place award at the LA SKINFEST Film Festival and the JURY award at the Garifuna International Film Festival. In addition, the film led to an International Indigenous Humanitarian Award for former Tribal Chairman Manuel Heart, who helped inspire, lead, and support the youth of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.