My name is François Maree, and I am a filmmaker. It has always been a boyhood dream to be one, and I am finally making it into a reality. I find myself frequently staring into the magical abyss, dreaming of joining the great screenwriters, directors and cinema custodians. What an ambitious predicament. World peace is perhaps more viable than this zealous assumption, but many have tried, and many have succeeded. I also constantly find myself watching films and reading their scripts afterward, vigorously, to rejuvenate the imagination and to get inspired. I accelerate through the language of film as a means to understand its impact on society and culture. Truth to be told, I love the cinema!
I am one of 18 incredibly lucky individuals from across the world who has been accepted into the MFA Cinema Arts (Screenwriting) programme at the prestigious Barry R. Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema in New York City. The costs of living and studying in a city like New York are extremely daunting, and I did not think that it would have been possible to commence with my studies in the Fall of 2017. I was in the fortunate position to have received a scholarship for parts of my tuition, and I used some of my savings from producing theatre plays in South Africa to pay for the first few months. This is a three-year course, and the reality is that I cannot continue with my studies anymore. South African banks do not provide student loans for students who want to do their postgraduate studies in another country. The few scholarships that are allocated to African students to study abroad are primarily in the fields of medicine and engineering, forcing those who want to pursue careers in the arts to stand in long, convoluted queues and wait for other possibilities. The United States is very generous with funding and loans for citizens and permanent residents, but not for immigrants. I have an A average, and I passed my first year with summa cum laude. My professors and fellow students speak with great praise for my work ethic, talent, commitment, and how this will be projected into my prosperous future. Advisory board members at my school include Darren Aronofsky, Steven Soderbergh, and Ethan Hawke, to name a few, and I get to network with and pitch for these highly successful individuals. In these past months alone I got to meet and network with people like Jessica Chastain, Aaron Sorkin, Susan Sarandon, Armie Hammer, Selena Gomez, Timothée Chalamet, and Luca Guadagnino. It is a proven fact, New York is a melting pot of dreams and possibilities.
I have worked extremely hard as a young professional who graduated cum laude in Drama and Theatre at the end of 2015 in Stellenbosch, South Africa. I acted in two successful international feature films, "Alison" (2016) and "Shepherds and Butchers" (2016) while sitting in the classrooms. I started my own production company, THOC – The House of Creatives, and wrote, produced, directed and acted in various critically and commercially acclaimed theatre plays at Afrikaans arts festivals (Aardklop, US Woordfees, and the Free State Arts Festival). I have been a bookseller at Exclusive Books in Hyde Park, Johannesburg, and ended up as a literary supervisor three months later. I have also worked as a publicist with Rachelle Crous at Rachelle Crous Publicity, in 2016. I did not slow down when I arrived in New York City on an F1 student visa in 2017. I got a part in the Royal Shakespeare Company's "King Lear" at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in April 2018. Fellow South African Sir Tony Sher played the title role, and I had the opportunity to act alongside him. I am currently doing an internship at Park Pictures and HBO. This internship was very competitive to obtain, but I managed to do so. I proved that South Africans do not have to stand back for anyone when it comes to talent, perseverance, and passion.
Consider me a hard-working graduate scholar, actor, writer, director, producer, photographer, reader, social media enthusiast and sheep farmer as well. I am an young artist with my feet planted in the ground, and my heart and soul reaching for the highest stars.
I know that it is not viable to provide support for every cause or individual who needs it, but I am in the final weeks of figuring out how to fund my studies for the fall semester in 2018. The second year starts in August, and I will have to return to South Africa if I cannot register for this. I need $20000 to continue with my second year. This will cover some of the outstanding debt from the first year, and it will also pay for the tuition for my second year. This will allow me to live in New York City, and to continue to work on the dream. It will also allow me to continue building the relationships, professionally and personally.
Every penny will help, and a contribution to my dream would mean the world to me. Please help me to make this dream a reality.