Television director and producer David Nutter, who has directed hit television shows including Game of Thrones, Homeland and Entourage, has given a significant gift to support the School of Communication’s First Feature Film Fund, as part of the University of Miami’s Momentum2 campaign.
The Fund enables Motion Pictures students to complete a feature-length film while they’re working at UM, a critical step toward a career in filmmaking, said Ed Talavera, chair of the Department of Cinema and Interactive Media. “It’s invaluable to our students to have a completed film,” he said. “Not only does it teach them about the business, in today’s media, students can actually market that work and get distribution for it, either online or in theaters, and possibly even make some money from it. It’s basically a calling card for the industry.”
Nutter, a former Motion Pictures student, agrees that the experience of creating a film is imperative to the success of young filmmakers, and he chose to give to the fund because finding financial support for a film can drain students’ time and energy. “When I was a student, I had to get support from my mother to help cover the budget for some of my films!” he said. “So, my hope is that my contribution to the fund might mitigate this concern, to the extent that it can, so that UM filmmakers can concentrate their energies solely and wholly on their projects.”
The fund creates new opportunities for Motion Pictures students, who often aim to complete a film before they graduate, said third-year Motion Pictures Master of Fine Arts student Zulena Segarra-Berrios, who is currently working on her thesis project. “Usually, the hardest part when we’re working on these projects is getting funding,” she said. “Sometimes you end up making sacrifices on production values or on certain parts of the story that you just can’t afford. Having this as a resource is a big plus, because it can help you to push yourself and your project even further.”
Nutter, an Emmy-award winner who has directed 20 pilots and is known as “the pilot whisperer,” said learning production hands-on as a student like Segarra-Berrios has been an influential part of his own success. “There were several great teachers at UM whose words resonate with me to this day,” he said. “Ralph Clemente and George Capewell were two of the most important of these, and Ralph’s diligent approach to production -– particularly the “prep” stage –- has colored my approach to every project I’ve ever done professionally.”
Nutter hopes his contribution to the First Feature Film Fund will enable more formative creative and learning experiences for UM filmmakers, and he hopes the fund will grow. “There’s a real need for involvement right now, because the financial challenges facing college students are so much more enormous than those we faced in our era,” he said. “It shouldn’t be a situation where students are constantly expending their energies raising money for their projects, or for their tuition at the expense of their inherent creativity.”