Update – Progress on the NEH grant

Raising money for this film is both a necessary evil and a learning experience in itself.


For the past several weeks I have been spending a great deal of my time focusing on a grant for the National Endowment for the Humanities in hopes of securing a fairly large chunk of change to support this film.


It is a far more complex operation than the Kickstarter campaign in that it involves detailed budgets, and the creation of a complex narrative that has to prove that this film will be a significant contribution to the public’s knowledge.


Part of that has involved generating background information on how the mariachi and folklorico culture evolved in Tucson, and in putting this part together I am starting to see how integral all of the previous documentaries in the Cine Plaza at the Fox series have been.


Without shooting this series I would not have truly understood the atmosphere of racial prejudice and institutionalized cultural submission Mexican American were facing as mariachis were starting to take root. I would not have known about the club at El Casino Ballroom that got a group of young Tucsonans hooked on mariachi music. A number of the members of that club would go on to form Tucson’s first home grown mariachi in the 1950s – Mariachi Tucsonense. And a number of other details have come clear in doing the interviews for other Cine Plaza offerings.


Even the early interviews for this film have filled in a lot of key details. I had not fully appreciated La Fuente Restaurant’s place as an early hub of mariachi music, nor known of La Fuente owner John Huerta’s role in convincing singer Linda Ronstadt to make her recordings.


The making of this film will no doubt show me many more many ways in which I am still ignorant of this history, in spite of covering the topic for over 30 years. But in writing this NEH document I am surprised at what a full picture of what has happened I have been able to draw in fairly small space.


This is just the first of a series of fundraising projects that will occupy the next few months of my time as much as shooting. I will be trying to interest folks at HBO, Showtime, Disney and PBS in the project, as well as attract a variety of foundation dollars to support the work. But despite how long each of these projects take, they successively add to the clarity of why this film was undertaken in the first place and how important it is. Thanks to all of you for your help in making this happen.

~ by Daniel Buckley on August 8, 2013.

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