MEET THE DIRECTORS | Carrie Cates
Carrie Cates is currently the Community Director of Motion Media Arts Center.
Learn more about her & her involvement in the arts community!
Tell us about yourself - who are you and what do you do?
I’m an independent film producer and casting director based in Austin, TX. I’ve produced two feature length films and have a third in post right now along with a number of short films. When I’m not actively working on films, I enjoy sharing my passion for the arts by both teaching Digital Filmmaking and Production Management courses at the Austin School of Film and leading the Alliance for Young Future Filmmakers, a non-profit organization I co-founded that puts on the Austin Youth Film Festival and works to create opportunities for young aspiring filmmakers. On top of all of these many hats, my favorite role by-far is acting as Community Director at the Motion Media Arts Center.
What does your role at Motion Media Arts Center entail?
As both the Community Director and an instructor, I get the chance to help many filmmakers make their cinematic dreams come true. In my classes, we work through every step of the process of creating a short film, and for many of my students, this their first experience expressing themselves and telling a story with this medium. In my role as Community Director, I get the chance to help manage and develop new artist services, partnerships, internships, and funding sources that provide for Austin’s growing creative community. It’s a role in which I get the chance daily to use my life experiences and think “what would I, as an artist, like to see in a space created for creatives?” and then go out and make it happen.
Why are you passionate about THIS organization and THIS mission?
EVERYDAY I see a creative that has a success story that can be stemmed back to MMAC. It’s a place that serves so many others like me. Everyday that I teach, I get the chance to see someone more fully understand and appreciate the craft. For many of my students, this is the place where they'll shoot their first short film (an experience that is hard to forget), in many's case it's also the first place that just puts a camera in their hand, or pushes their chair up to a computer inviting them to edit and make something that is uniquely them. All this for unreasonably low cost with work-trade, payment plans and scholarships. When you're in the class, you also have no idea who paid what, nor what their situation is. It's an amazing place that removes all of the little obstacles that get in anyone's way to begin learning the skills they need to start creating and honing their own voice.
Outside of the classroom, I see events roll through in need of an affordable arts venue space that is welcoming of their out-of-the-box vision, I see filmmakers working through grants and accepting new donors to fund their creative endeavors through our fiscal sponsorship program, I’ve seen many displaced arts organizations find a home under our roof, and I see creatives who may have never met had it not been for the Austin Cinemaker Space collaborating and making amazing art together. In the few years I’ve been with MMAC, I have seen the creative landscape of Austin change a lot, and not always in a positive way. But when you walk in Motion Media Arts Center, you can feel the energy flowing. There are amazing things happening here, and as a community, we are making great changes not only in the lives of the people who utilize our services, but in the way Austin’s art scene works and will sustain.
Unlike much of corporate America, nonprofit staff members are motivated by something other than a year-end bonus. What drives you to pursue bigger goals, grants, and dreams for MMAC?
I obviously care a lot about Motion Media Arts Center’s mission and the people we serve. Everyday when I wake up, I’m excited to go to work because I know I’m going to see people that I feel a real community with working on things that they feel good about and I’ll likely meet someone who is about to find a place they can do the same and feel empowered. When I go to bed, I sleep well knowing that my day was spent working toward making a place people can learn, work, and create even better. There are a few ways you can measure success. To me, knowing you made a positive impact on others is far better than counting $$ in your bank account. Who are you anyway? Scrooge McDuck?
What is the most challenging obstacle you face in running a non-profit?
Funding. Next question.
But really, while working with Motion Media Arts Center, I’ve watched us stretch money about as thin as it can go to provide as much as we can for the community. We’ve endured the rising rent costs of Austin. We’ve worked through the many obstacles that come with funding the equipment and software it takes to provide for creative’s needs. We’ve done all of this without compromising our commitment to keeping our membership and educational programming prices low for the people we serve. To do that though, we are forced to rely on donations, grants, and support. It is a struggle, and one we constantly have in the back of our mind because we have so many people that rely on us.
What do you think is important for people to take away from this interview about Motion Media Arts Center?
I hope you consider donating to our Amplify Austin campaign. Amplify Austin is a 24-hour fundraising campaign that urges the Austin community to donate to organizations like ours. If you benefit, or think you could benefit from having an affordable space to learn, work, and create you should consider making a donation that helps MMAC sustain and further pursue our mission. It’s a way you can lighten the load while also taking an active part in supporting local creatives!