Hi Everyone. My name is Lucy Jacobs and I am a young filmmaker from the Eastern Cape, affectionately known as South Africa's 'home of legends'. From the moment I got off the call with New York University's head of Graduate Film - the veil of impossibility was lifted. I had been accepted to their 2017 masters class in filmmaking. The University thankfully awarded me a generous scholarship covering 50% of the tuition cost. However, I am left with a staggering $ 56 000 shortfall to raise funds for. This amount includes the remaining tuition and living costs for the year.
The fees at an international school like New York University are high and full-ride scholarships for creative degrees are next to none. I come from a small family where my mother and I provide for ourselves. With my seasonal freelancing jobs and her business training job, our combined annual income is not even half of the almost $ 60 000 tuition cost alone. With this said; every dream has a battle so with my acceptance letter in hand, I have been knocking on as many doors as I can for assistance.
I knew the amount of money needed was too much to come from one source so I have tried to band together finances from a variety of sources. I have approached; cold called and sent emails to dozens and dozens of people trying to make this pursuit a reality. My efforts have resulted in a few bursars promising consideration but as September draws near, it has become unrealistic to wait on a word that hasn’t yet materialised. This means that my attendance is in jeopardy and I will potentially lose this exceptional opportunity. Hence this campaign is an attempt to reach out to the people and places I haven’t been able to yet.
I don't plan on living on a crowd-funding basis throughout the 3-year programme. I plan on finding an on-campus job to assist with living expenses. When I am a registered student it will also position me better for American and international scholarships – of which I'm currently not eligible for.
My journey thus far
Having worked on big and small sets alike in Cape Town and Durban, I repeatedly found myself being typecast to work as a production assistant or coordinator capacity instead of the technical or creative department. I eventually stopped asking and did it myself with the upcoming documentary I shot and directed titled The Mould. Leaving a secure position in search of a non-commercially driven story was a wild yet liberating route. I sold all my furniture and most of my belongings and travelled to Mainland China in search of interesting stories. The Mould became a portrait of cross-cultural exchanges between a South African and Chinese artists. This 3-month experience provided me a space to teach myself how to shoot and not be afraid to take creative and personal risks. It also proved that independence and allowing curiosity to lead is a powerful place to be in. Going through NYU’s rigorous film training is an extension of that pursuit because it will challenge, push and shape me to become a filmmaker with a more sure voice and message.
What differentiates NYU’s world-renowned Graduate Film programme to others is its balance in equipping students with theory and practical skills. It is a balance that many film schools struggle to get right in South Africa and internationally. As the school says, we “learn by doing” and continual practice is compulsory in the craft of filmmaking. Part of my learning goals whilst at NYU is to evolve from an amateur filmmaker to a professional cinematographer and director that will contribute to the already rapidly changing film and TV industry in Africa. I believe that by undergoing this training I will be able to serve the industry at a higher and stronger level.
I am asking you to believe, as NYU has, that the stories I'm pregnant with are worth making through this programme and beyond. I can only hope that these stories will reach you someday bringing entertainment and all the wonderful things that cinema brings into our lives.
This September, I would love to proudly wave the African flag in a class of fellow masters from around the world. Help me make this game-changing step by supporting me with whatever amount you can contribute.
See the video I put together for this campaign on vimeo: https://vimeo.com/226987691
Follow on social media at #LucyJtoNYU.