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Digital art collective Nouns has unveiled a $1 million indie animated short film funding pool for the second edition of its annual Nouns Fest. The organization is currently accepting short film pitches from projects looking for funding.

This is a unique opportunity for freelance animators and artists looking for an opportunity to work. The festival is fully funding projects in return for filmmakers using existing characters from the Nouns NFT catalog, but all rights to the animated shorts, concepts, and characters will stay with the films’ creators after production is finished.

According to Nouns coordinators, the organization is committed to maintaining a free market of art and ideas. More detailed terms and conditions can be found on the Nouns Fest submission page.

Funding for the festival, and all of Nouns endeavors, comes from the sale of Nouns character NFTs that are auctioned off to finance open-source technology, art, and public works projects. What the filmmakers choose to do with those characters, though, is entirely up to them.

To submit a project, interested filmmakers must include: a creative pitch, a link to their portfolio, and contact details. All submissions will be assessed by a panel of judges and approved projects will receive financing between $7,500 and $20,000, based on the length of the finished film.

Presently, Nouns is accepting pitches for short films of 30 seconds or longer, which are eligible for the smaller $7,500 financing amount. According to the organization, this first open call aims to cast as wide a net as possible and provide opportunities to filmmakers of any experience level.

In late February or early March, Nouns will open a second submission window for projects of three minutes or more, which will be eligible for the larger $20,000 financing package. The longer-format project platform is new this year, and Nouns organizers tell us they’re “excited about doing longer shorts this time to give seasons directors and animators a chance to tell a more fully formed story and do some world-building.”

Nouns Fest was co-founded by former head of development for Adult Swim Walter Newman; independent animator Joel Cares; music executive Joshua Fisher; and animator and director Goldy.

Speaking with Cartoon Brew about this year’s Fest, Stoopid Buddy Stoodios and Nouns Fest co-founder Eric Towner explained:

It’s in Stoopid Buddy’s DNA to empower artists and animators to “do their thing.” This festival is not only going to be a celebration of art but will also be a demonstration of what can happen when artists are given actual resources and encouraged to be their most creative.

Nouns Fest co-founder Chris Waters added:

Nouns Fest is a great opportunity for artists for a couple of big reasons. First, you get creative control. Paint with your own brush. It’s that rare opportunity to follow your passion wherever it leads. Second, you are joining a passionate, creative community from across the world. Two of our artists from the first festival are now talking about teaming up on a short together. The festival is bringing artists together in celebration of the form, and we’re excited about where that leads. Also, rest assured, this is real money — specifically, U.S. dollars. All shorts will premiere at the festival, and after that, artists can post to their own accounts, too.

Last year’s inaugural Nouns Fest saw several leading indie filmmakers get involved, including:

Student Academy Award-winning and Oscar-nominated Australian filmmaker Lachlan Pendragon.

BAFTA-winning Purple and Brown creator Rich Webber.

Annecy and BAFTA Award-winner Ainslie Henderson (I Am Tom Moody, The Making of Longbird)

Paris-based stop-motion filmmaker Victor Haegelin (alias Patagraph) who directed the music video for Orelsan’s “La Quête” which screened in competition at Annecy.

Pictured at top: Nouns Fest 2023 financed projects from Rich Webber, Lachlan Pendragon, and Victor Haegelin

Jamie Lang

Jamie Lang is the Editor-in-Chief of Cartoon Brew.

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