Three Twin Cities filmmakers are looking forward to shooting new projects now that each will receive $175,000 in Legacy Amendment funds.

Andy Awes, Patrick Coyle and William Eigen were the first winners of a new annual program focused on midcareer filmmakers whose narrative features or documentaries are Minnesota-centric.

The program, launched by the Minnesota Film and TV Board and Independent Filmmaker Project Minnesota, reimburses production costs, typically the biggest up-front hurdle to getting movies made.

Eigen, who used to be a painter, said that back then all he needed to work was "a canvas and some tubes of paint. Making movies requires real money, so this kind of grant is very encouraging for the industry in this area."

Eigen, who won an Emmy for his documentary on Pete Seeger, will film "The Jingle Dress," a fictional tale of Ojibwe family members who move from the White Earth reservation to south Minneapolis' Phillips neighborhood.

Coyle's film, "The Public Domain," is about four people whose lives are changed by the Interstate 35W bridge collapse, and five years later all are drawn to the same bar.

Awes will direct the feature "Lawnmower Mafia," about an enterprising kid from northeast Minneapolis who hustles up a profitable lawn-mowing business by intimidating the competition, only to tangle with some grown-up bad guys.

"It's become so much harder to produce films outside of L.A. or New York, so this kind of program is just a huge help for keeping movies here," said Awes, whose Committee Films produces the series "America Unearthed" for the History Channel's H2 network. "When you're trying to make a low-budget indie film, getting that first check is the hardest part, but once you do, everything else will ideally fall into place."

The funding comes from the Legacy Arts and Cultural Heritage Production Reimbursement Program. To be eligible, filmmakers had to have established careers in the field, and projects had to have strong Minnesota locales or themes.

Kristin Tillotson • 612-673-7046