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In 2003, 588 hopeful applicants sought cash from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities for various projects. Sometimes they got what they wanted.

NAME: Allison Caviness

GRANT APPLIED FOR: Young Emerging Artist Program; city offers up to $2,500 to artists between the ages of 18 and 30 as “support for innovative art projects.”

MONEY NEEDED FOR: finishing the film Santo Domingo

BACKGROUND: Caviness, now 25, graduated from Howard University in 2002 with a degree in film. While in college, she “wrote and directed actors in a weekly dramatic radio series,” called “On Your Own” at HU’s radio station WHBC-AM, according to her application.

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PLAN: “‘Santo Domingo’ is the working title of a short film written, directed and produced by yours truly,” Caviness wrote in her project description. The film tells the story of a woman whose deceased lover returns to her through a love-goddess statue. At the time of her application, Caviness had already shot the footage, but she still had the editing and sound mixing left to do. “The next and final phase will be what I call 3-2-1 contact. Getting the film out there,” she wrote.

AMOUNT ASKED FOR: $2,500

STATUS: denied

EVALUATION: “Hit us w/ your best shot,” wrote one of the six panelists who evaluated Caviness’ application. “Make sure the work example is extremely compelling; don’t make us work to understand your concept.”

UPSHOT: Caviness finished Santo Domingo by “going to individual donors and begging,” she says. She now lives in Harlem, N.Y., and is working on a documentary called Diamond: The Price of Ice. She says her indie-film career is “up and down. Sometimes I’ll have to turn down work, and other times it’s like dust blowing in the wind.”—