Behind This Film Foundation's Incremental (But Nonetheless Important) Expansion

Every now and then, we come across a news story that completely catches us off guard. Other times, we nod and say, "Yep, that makes sense."

News that the Berkeley Film Foundation is expanding its reach approximately five miles south into neighboring Oakland falls into the latter category.

The foundation is currently accepting applications for its 2016 film and video grant program. Previously, the foundation catered to filmmakers in the East Shore communities of Berkeley, Emeryville, Albany, El Cerrito, and Richmond. Now comes word that two grants are earmarked for Oakland-based filmmakers.

Why does this move make sense? Simple. It mirrors the Bay Area zeitgeist of eastward expansion from the increasingly expensive San Francisco. As we noted in our last post about the Berkeley Film Foundation:

Thanks to the dot com boom, artists and filmmakers are being pushed out of San Francisco and across the Bay where — for now, at least — rents are relatively cheaper. And we can't help but wonder if this slow influx east will also have a profound impact on the arts funding in the region (spoiler alert: it will). Take the area of independent film, for example.

In other words, with artists migrating towards Oakland in particular, why should grantmakers like the Berkeley Film Foundation be any different?

That being said, the foundation's expansion is a gradual one. As previously noted, two grants have been earmarked for Oakland — not a staggering amount, but significant nonetheless. And as to where, precisely, the money comes from, the foundation is funded by the City of Berkeley, Emeryville-based real estate development and property management company Wareham Development, and the Saul Zaentz Company.

To that end, the foundation found even more money under the sofa cushion. In addition to its Oakland expansion, the foundation announced a new $20,000 grant funded in memory of social justice advocate Al Bendich.

(As a side note, the name Saul Zaentz may ring a bell with certain music aficionados. The film producer and record company executive who passed away in 2014 may be best known for his long-running feud with another Bay Area institution, the rock band Credence Clearwater Revival. Zaentz has the distinction of suing CCR's John Fogerty for $140 million, claiming the songwriter plagiarized a song written by... John Fogerty. Zaentz lost, by the way.)

But we digress.

Since its inception the foundation has awarded close to $1 million to over 90 film projects. Don't be surprised if the foundation's footprint in Oakland grows over time (at which point they may want to revisit their name).

For all the details, grant guidelines, and to apply for a 2016 grant, go hereComplete applications must be received before 3:00 p.m. Friday, May 13, 2016.