Last year, at a kickoff event on the first anniversary of Fetzer's death of an accidental prescription-painkiller overdose, the fledgling nonprofit announced a series of grants for young filmmakers and playwrights.
This year's showcase at the Tower Theatre on Wednesday will debut "The First Men," a short film by Ben Kegan that was completed with the foundation's first $5,000 grant. Kegan's film proposal, an adaptation of Stacy Richter's Pushcart Prize-winning short story, was selected from 140 applications.
"The short film is a launchpad for most filmmakers," says board member Kenny Riches, a former roommate of Fetzer's, whose feature "The Strongest Man" will screen at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. "It's not too overwhelming, and it's something you can hold a filmmaker to complete within a timeline."
The showcase will also screen short films by Riches ("Rocket," from a script written by Fetzer, which features him acting with his Mushman bandmate, Patrick Fugit, noted for "Almost Famous" and "Gone Girl") and another board member, Dustin Defa ("Person to Person," which screened at Sundance earlier this year).
The additional tragedy of Fetzer's death was its timing just as he and his friends were on the cusp of "finally growing up and moving up to bigger things," Riches says.
There isn't a lot of grant funding available for short films, especially short fiction films, says Kegan, 28, who is completing his master's degree at Columbia University. Filmmaking is expensive even for the kinds of quiet realistic stories that don't require special effects. For example, Kegan says he used part of the grant to rent a cargo van to transport equipment and to feed his crew.
What sets apart the grant is the creative support offered along with the money. Kegan says the shooting and editing suggestions he received from Riches were essential to helping him finish the film.
In addition to the film showcase, the foundation will host a panel of six filmmakers, including Kegan and Riches, talking about collaboration on Thursday at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art.
The way the filmmakers, most of whom were raised in Salt Lake City, worked on each other's projects "could be a model for everyday life for the rest of us," Ross says.
"They found that creative world, and in part, created it themselves. Don't we all wish we had something like that?"
Riches and others on the board of the Davey Foundation have big plans for the future, if they can secure more funding. Riches envisions offering more grants to emerging writers and filmmakers, as well as a short film festival in Salt Lake City.
But for now, with its first grants, the foundation has already expanded Fetzer's circle. Being welcomed in via the grant "feels really cool," Kegan says.