Let’s face it—it’s tough to make a living as a moviemaker. Health insurance and funding competition are just two of the business challenges nearly every up-and-coming moviemaker encounters. However, Fractured Atlas, the country’s largest arts service organization, is here to help.
Reaching more than 250,000 creative artists across the country, Fractured Atlas (which was founded in 1998) helps moviemakers navigate the business world by providing access to affordable health and liability insurance, online business and management courses, free workshops and events, and discounts on an array of services from car rentals to headshots.
Through its groundbreaking fiscal sponsorship program, thousands of projects—such as the award-winning documentary Bully—are able to easily and affordably receive tax-deductible donations. Over the past year, more than 2,800 projects raised over $10 million, while receiving guidance to ensure that funding is managed smartly and effectively.
Fractured Atlas has also developed a wide range of innovative technology services, such as Spaces, an online tool that allows independent moviemakers to find and rent space for shooting and screening their work in markets nationwide, including New York City, Los Angeles, Austin, San Francisco and Washington DC. The new tool also allows moviemakers to search for production studios, film stages, screening space and more (from equipment needs and tech features to rental rates and staff assistance.
MM recently caught up with Fractured Atlas founder and CEO Adam Huttler to learn more about the innovative company (including where it’s unique name comes from) and how it most benefits moviemakers.
Kyle Rupprecht (MM): Could you tell us about what lead to the creation of Fractured Atlas?
Adam Huttler (AH): I studied theater as an undergrad, and when I first started Fractured Atlas, it was actually intended to be a theater company for producing my own work. That lasted roughly one show! I quickly realized that my talents as a business person and problem solver exceeded my skill as an artist, and that there was a huge need for resources and support in the arts community trenches.
So what started in 1998 as a one-man venture housed in my East Harlem studio apartment has evolved into the country’s largest arts service organization, reaching a network of more than 250,000 artists in all 50 states. We are now a X-person organization dedicated to empowering filmmakers and artists of all types with the support they need to build sustainable careers, from fiscal sponsorship and insurance to technology tools, education and more.
MM: What does the name “Fractured Atlas” actually mean? Where does that title come from?
AH: The short answer is that I stole it from an Elvis Costello song called “Poor Fractured Atlas”. There isn’t any thematic connection, although it’s a great song. (It has never had anything to do with Ayn Rand, I promise.) Today, “Fractured Atlas” represents different things to different people, which we think is a good thing.
MM: How does the company most benefit moviemakers? What need did you see in the filmmaking community that wasn’t being met?
AH: The fundamental underlying needs for filmmakers are the same as in all of the arts. Filmmakers need basic infrastructure that allows them to concentrate on their creative responsibilities without being pecked to death by behind-the-scenes administrative burdens. Fractured Atlas empowers filmmakers by enabling them to do what they do best: make great films.
For example, lots of independent filmmakers and documentarians use our fiscal sponsorship program to raise money for their work through grants and charitable donations. We’ve saved filmmakers hundreds of thousands of dollars on insurance for film equipment rental and production liability. Filmmakers can use our regional Spaces databases to find and rent local spaces for shooting and screening their work.
MM: Fractured Atlas advertises itself as “helping filmmakers become the next Quentin Tarantino.” How do you aim to do that?
AH: We can’t make anyone a better filmmaker, but we do our best to ensure that artistic talent and vision don’t get stymied by business-related obstacles.
MM: Fractured Atlas features programs that encompass insurance, funding, and technology. Which specific programs have moviemakers shown the greatest interest in?
AH: Our fiscal sponsorship program, which enables filmmakers to solicit and receive grants and tax-deductible contributions that are normally available only to 501(c)(3) organizations, is probably the most popular. Over the past year alone, more than 2,800 film, music, and other arts projects have raised over $10 million through the second. Liabilty and health insurance would be a close second.
MM: What do you think the future holds for the new generation of independent, D.I.Y. filmmakers working outside traditional business models? How does Fractured Atlas fit into the equation?
AH: Traditional business models in the arts and media industries are based on layer upon layer of middlemen and gatekeepers. These players served an important function at one time, but are drifting inexorably towards irrelevance in the face of modern technology and the opportunities it affords. The filmmakers who experience the greatest success in this emerging landscape will be the ones who are best able to marshal resources, get things done, and cultivate an audience, all with minimal outside assistance. Fractured Atlas provides tools that empower filmmakers—and all artists—to do just that.
For more information, please go to www.fracturedatlas.org.