NYU fund awards three pic projects

Filmmakers get seed coin from Columbus/Vague fund

The Kanbar Institute of Film, TV & New Media at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts has chosen three recipients of its 2011 Chris Columbus/Richard Vague Film Production Fund.

Tisch students Nicholas Brennan, Alexandra “Sasha” Gordon and Chloe Zhao will receive a total of $225,000 to make docu “Hard Rock Havana,” “It Had to be You” and “Lee,” respectively.

The winning three were among dozens of students to submit scripts for the award. After passing through the initial phases, finalists had to pitch and discuss their ideas — including the feasibility and budget of the projects — with a group that included “The Help” producer and Tisch alum Chris Columbus and venture capitalist Richard Vague.

“We had to consider whether or not these kids could actually get these films made,” Columbus told Variety. “Fifty percent of it is the screenplay and 50% is, ‘Do you have a realistic budget?’?”

Brennan’s “Havana” follows Cuban heavy-metal band Zeus while Gordon’s “You” centers around a New York jingle writer on a path to self-discovery. Zhao’s “Lee” tells the story of a daring Lakota boy on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Columbus/Vague awards support Kanbar’s recent alumni and thesis students from the grad and undergrad programs by providing financing for their first features. Winners include Andrew MacLean and Dee Rees, who used their awards to make “On the Ice” and “Pariah,” which screened at Sundance this year. Focus will release “Pariah” in December.

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