Film-Related Causes for End-of-Year Giving


'Extract' World Premiere in Austin

Lots of people (including me) are rushing to make donations to worthy causes before the end of the year. I'm not sure why we do this. I mean, yes, tax deductions, but I can take a tax deduction next year just as easily as this one. Yet somehow at the end of December we always remember those charities and nonprofits that we forgot to support earlier in the year, and next thing you know, the Visa card gets quite a workout.

If you want to support Austin film with your donations, you have several great options. Here are the ones I know about. If I'm missing anything, please let me know (email or comments) and I'll add them to the list. Now, let's hear those credit cards scream!

Austin Film Festival

AFF not only runs a great film fest but also the Young Filmmakers Program, which encourages children to learn about filmmaking. Programs include a summer film camp, arts education in schools, and the fest's Young Filmmakers Competition.

To support the Young Filmmakers Program as well as AFF generally, you can donate money as a Friend of the Festival. The membership perks are pretty good, too. You can donate as little as $50 to become an AFF member.

Austin Film Society

AFS runs a number of film-related community education programs: moviemaking camps, after-school workshops, and an annual scholarship. In addition, the Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund annually gives grants to filmmakers around the state -- more than $100,000 in cash and goods for 2010.

You can join AFS as a member for as little as $30, and if you're already a member, you could give a membership gift to a film-loving friend. You also can make a donation separate from membership. fundraising event.

Harry Ransom Center

The HRC has a number of movie-related collections, which are often featured in the museum's exhibits (free to the public). Have you seen Scarlett O'Hara's dresses, or Travis Bickle's jacket? Or how about Spalding Gray's notebook from Swimming to Cambodia? In addition, exhibits are often accompanied by a related monthly film series. The HRC's excellent archives are often used as research for film-related books and biographies.

You can support the HRC as a member for $50 or more. Some membership levels include valet parking for special events, and considering that the HRC is on The University of Texas campus, that's a great benefit right there. The HRC is also running a capital campaign with specific long-term goals.


Austin's local PBS affiliate, KLRU, benefits the Austin film community in a number of ways. When three Austin-connected films were featured in the PBS Independent Lens series this year, KLRU held viewing parties with panel discussions for two of them: Sunshine and The Eyes of Me. The station is also sponsoring a film series at the Windsor Park Branch Library in 2011, with community-themed movies screening on the first Tuesday of every month.

You can become a member of KLRU-TV for $40 or more, or donate any amount to the station.

Paramount Theatre

The Paramount Theatre shows movies primarily during its Summer Film Series, but also occasionally screens films year-round: for example, in January, the theater has scheduled double-features of noir (Laura and Out of the Past) and classic monster films (Frankenstein and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein). The theater is also a venue for local film festivals such as SXSW, Fantastic Fest and Austin Film Festival. The theater also runs youth outreach and education programs.

You can make a general donation to the Paramount Theatre at a number of membership levels, starting at $50. You also can join the Film Fan Club, which has film-related membership benefits starting at $35; donate to the Paramount's historic preservation fund; or give to the youth outreach fund.

Fundraisers for Local Films: Kickstarter and IndieGoGo

If you really want to support Austin filmmaking at a grassroots level, why not give your money directly to the filmmakers? Your donations will not be tax deductible, but you'll have the thrill of direct involvement with a local production.

Kickstarter is a website where creative projects can solicit funds. The project specifies a certain amount it needs to raise in a certain time -- for example, $5,000 in a month to finish a film. Potential contributors pledge amounts of money, which is donated when the project's goal is met. If the project doesn't meet its funding goal, your pledge isn't made. Kickstarter has a page that lists all projects based in Austin. The Zellner brothers recently used Kickstarter to raise post-production funds for their next feature film, Kid-Thing. (No, I did not make the $500 pledge for the slow dance.)

IndieGoGo works along the same lines as Kickstarter. The main difference is that the projects don't have to meet their goals in order to get funds -- your money goes to the project immediately. IndieGoGo has a page that lists all film projects. Emily Hagins used IndieGoGo this year to help fund her latest feature, My Sucky Teen Romance.

[Full disclosure: I am employed by Convio, which provides onlne tools to nonprofit organizations, including some mentioned in the above article.]