Kevin Spacey Foundation grant recipients: 'It's really worth applying'

Two recipients of grants from our 2016 Awards charity, the Kevin Spacey Foundation, tell us how they benefited from the support

Name | Rhys Chapman
Company name | Wonderkid Films Ltd
Project name | Wonderkid
Year awarded KSF grant | 2014

With our KSF grant we made a Kickstarter campaign video for Wonderkid, a 20-minute short narrative film about a gay professional footballer. The film is part of a larger campaign to tackle homophobia in football. We filmed the video at Wembley Stadium and ended up persuading Sir Ian McKellen to narrate it! Check it out here.

Short film funding for first time directors is quite hard to come by and for us crowd funding was the only option. The Kevin Spacey Foundation grant enabled us to put together a campaign that stood out.

Our campaign was successful and received coverage from ITV News, Telegraph, London Evening Standard and Pink News. It was important to me that the campaign was just as much about raising awareness as fundraising. Through all this coverage we are able not only to fund the 20-minute short but also raise awareness about homophobia in football with a reach of 2 million people.

Since our campaign we have gone on to partner with the Telegraph and Blink productions who are both providing us with an overwhelming amount of support in getting the film made.

More recently, we have started working with the brilliant casting director Des Hamilton and have scheduled to shoot over 5 days in July, having also secured locations with W Hotel, Wembley Stadium and Tottenham Hotspur.

We aim to premiere the film along with the help of the Telegraph, who will ensure that the film is seen by as many of the key decision makers in the country and football as possible. The end goal is to post the film online as part of a social campaign to raise awareness about homophobia in football.

I was relatively inexperienced when I applied so it’s really worth applying even if you’re just starting out in your career. Whilst the finances enabled us to fund everything we needed to launch the campaign, being able to say that the Kevin Spacey Foundation backed the project opened many doors that had before been closed. Our project has since snowballed and received backing from huge organisations. The KSF Artists of Choice grant really can turn your idea into a reality.

I am truly grateful to have been given the opportunity that the Kevin Spacey Foundation grant gave Wonderkid. If my career goes the way I hope it does, I would love to be able to give young first time directors a chance just like Kevin Spacey did to me. Thank you.

Name | Charlotte Bennett
Company name | Forward Theatre Project (FTP)
Project name | Clothes Swap Shop Theatre Party
Year awarded KSF grant | 2014

We received a KSF grant for a week of development for our new partnership and project we are making with Derby Theatre: Clothes Swap Shop Theatre Party. This project is a large-scale collaborative new theatre project which responds to Derby Theatre’s unique location inside Westfield Shopping Centre. The development, part-funded by KSF, involved one week with some of FTP's lead artists (playwrights Frazer Flintham and Evan Placey, directors Charlotte Bennett and Gemma Kerr and designer Jess Wiesner) who undertook research and development in Derby, working with the local community to feed into the project’s development.

The ultimate aim of this project is to create a new, immersive and site-specific theatre event which involves the entire FTP collective (20 directors, writers and designers in total) and which explores the relationship between clothing and identity: KSF funded our early exploration of this idea.

The KSF grant enabled me on a personal level to spend one dedicated week as a director developing this early project idea for my theatre company. Too often emerging artists are expected to give their time to this stage of a project for free – and this is not sustainable or fair. These early stages are formative and crucial and to have the financial security to be able to travel and spend a week working in Derby within their community, gave me the space and time I needed to kick-start the project with my collaborating artists. As it is a large scale and ambitious idea, it also enabled me to dedicate time to the strategic and practical planning of the project to ensure that this evolved alongside the artistic ideas, and to ensure that the vision is deliverable.

'KSF have a dedication to emerging talent on a scale that is rare'

In terms of project development, the funding enabled a large group of multiple artists to contribute to its inception. As the plan is for the end project to involve multiple directors, writers and designers, it was crucial that the development of early ideas also came from multiple voices: which was only made possible with support from KSF. It also enabled us to build a relationship with Derby Theatre and as a result of this initial week, they programmed us as part of their Departure Lounge Festival in July to do a scratch of the show to a public audience.

The project is now about to embark on its final stage of development in Autumn 2015 which will widen the pool of artists working on the material and will involve making more material to share with audiences for feedback. The plan then is to take it into production in 2016 at Derby Theatre.

KSF have a dedication to emerging talent on a scale that is rare for Trusts and Foundations funding. To be offered £10,000 of funding for the development of an idea is a huge opportunity for artists to commit a significant amount of resource to the development of new ideas in a landscape where it is notoriously difficult to achieve development funding which has no direct public outcome. It is exciting to see KSF commit this level of trust to emerging artists and companies.

The Kevin Spacey Foundation is the official charity of the 2016 WhatsOnStage Awards

Applications for the KSF Artists of Choice 2015 grants are open until 29 May – click here to apply.