A Massive List of Upcoming Grants All Filmmakers Should Know About
It seems like every week a grant deadline flies by, and you find yourself looking forlornly at the expired application for free money, mumbling “coulda been a contender.” To give everyone more time to work on your films and scripts — and a little less time researching how to fund them — scroll through the list below to find relevant opportunities for your narrative films, documentaries, and screenplays with deadlines this Spring.
It’s hard enough to find grants, let alone decipher which ones might be relevant to your current project. The following grants, labs, and pitch opportunities are organized by deadline from February to May. A few grants with rolling deadlines are thrown in, and an asterisk next to the grant title means there is an equivalent grant for both doc and narrative. To find out more specifics on a grant, click on the title and get started!
In the documentary world, grant money tends to be earmarked for films that address important issues of our time, but granting agencies have an array of ideas about what those are! From projects about animals, the American South, or international co-productions, there are grants for everything, and storytelling reigns supreme.
If you’ve got a rough cut with a connection to the American south, take it to the Full Frame festival and have audiences discuss your film with a moderator. From the SDF:
The In-the-Works program offers Full Frame audiences the unique opportunity to view documentaries in the final stages of editing, and participate in the critique process.
Deadline: Feb 17
Through the NY TV Festival, pitch a 2 – 5 minute pilot about charismatic male characters living in surprising worlds to the History Channel. From NYTVF:
Finalists will receive notes from the network and $2,500 to shoot short presentations that further explore their subject. One winning project, selected by History, will be awarded $10,000, and the creator(s) will have the opportunity to participate in the possible production of a pilot.
Deadline: Feb 24
Submit your rough cut to the long-standing support of independent film for a year-long mentorship program that supports first time filmmakers. From IFP:
Focusing exclusively on low-budget features, this highly immersive program provides filmmakers with the technical, creative and strategic tools necessary to launch their films – and their careers.
Deadline: March 7
This joint initiative between Bertha Foundation and BRITDOC is the first European based fund open to filmmakers from anywhere with outreach campaigns. From BRITDOC:
The fund is looking to support smart, strategic outreach campaigns for ambitious independent documentary films with a social issue at their core; films which have the ability to achieve real change on a local, regional or global level.
Deadline: March 24
This well curated PBS series offers a handsome sum for broadcast distribution of films each season. From PBS:
Independent Lens is currently seeking submissions of films in advanced rough cut or fine cut stage or completed films to broadcast during the October 2014 – June 2015 season.
Deadline: March 28
Each year, $95,000 worth of grants are doled out to documentaries about pressing issues in the United States. From the PLDF:
Grants will be made to up to 6 projects that tell a compelling story and focus on one of Pare Lorentz’s central concerns—the appropriate use of the natural environment, justice for all or the illumination of pressing social problems.
Deadline: March 31
A sequel location of a popular pitch session where selected films get to pitch their projects in front of an array of funding agencies.
Good Pitch² Australia is a satellite event [for projects] committed to outreach goals and audience engagement ambitions, and looking for partners and collaborators to make your film truly influential and not just commercially successful.
Deadline: April 11
A grant from the largest and most prestigious doc-only film festival IDFA is worth looking into if you have an international film. From IDFA:
The IDFA Bertha Fund is the only fund in the world dedicated solely to stimulating and empowering the creative documentary sector in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe…The fund is looking for new creative documentary projects which can be submitted in project development, production, and post production.
Deadline: May 15
A grant that funds part of the budget for Native American stories that appeal to broad audiences. From VMM:
We’re particularly looking for stories that advance CPB’s initiatives–The American Graduate, and Women & Girls Lead. Awards for research and development range from $5,000 to $20,000; awards for production or completion can be up to $100,000; and, new media awards range from $5,000 to $20,000.
Deadline: March 10
A grant of $1,000 – $10,000 specifically for West Coast emerging filmmakers with no more than ten years in the field. From PPF:
Documentary makers can receive only one Pacific Pioneer grant during their career. If this is your FIRST documentary of 28 minutes or longer, please do not apply, unless you have a lot of experience as an editor.
Deadline: May 1
Doles out grants in the $50k-$200k range to films that spotlight important issues and fit with the MacFound initiatives. From MacFound:
MacArthur supports the production of social-issue documentary films on important contemporary topics, intended for a broad audience, particularly in the U.S.
Deadline: Spring, to be announced
ITVS funded LINCS (Linking Independents and Co-producing Stations) offers a matching-funds program to docs aimed at public television. From ITVS:
LINCS provides matching funds to producer-station partnerships. Up to $100,000 in matching funds is available for a single broadcast program.
This new fund offers £10,000-50,000 to doc filmmakers from any country in a mix of grants and investments. From BRITDOC:
The fund supports projects at the intersection of film and investigative journalism that break the important stories of our time, expose injustice, bring attention to unreported issues, and cameras into regions previously unseen.
A grant for films in production or post that highlight the welfare of animals. From the Humane Society:
$20,000 prize is awarded to the filmmaker who best succeeds in merging animal issues with a compelling narrative. Film projects must contain an animal welfare or animal protection issue.
ITVS chooses projects that don’t fit in their normal programs of DDF, LINCS, and Open Call and offers development or production agreements. From ITVS:
For development funding, activities may include travel, research, script development, preliminary production for fundraising/work-in-progress reels, or other early-phase activities. For production funding, all production and post-production activities are eligible.
While narrative film is traditionally the realm of the investor, grants and labs do exist to help filmmakers with promising projects and careers. From shadowing as a TV director to showing your film to European distributors, here’s the lineup of opportunities with deadlines this spring.
A new initiative bent on introducing up-and-coming directors to prime time. From the WB:
With the backdrop of active Warner Bros. Television sets as the learning environment and top television directors, cinematographers and showrunners as the instructors, those selected to the program will have the opportunity to participate in a workshop that is unprecedented and unparalleled in the industry.
Deadline: Feb 19
This three-day program is open to established and up-and-coming filmmakers looking for financing for their films. From FIND:
During three days of intensive meetings, Fast Track connects filmmakers with financiers, production companies, and other industry professionals.Participants accepted into Fast Track are also eligible for a $15,000 production grant awarded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and a $10,000 Millenium Entertainment Fellowship.
Deadline: Feb 24
Brought to you by the auspicious Berlinale Festival, this funds directors from regions with a “weak film infrastructure” (Africa, Latin America, Central America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and the Caucasus) who have a German partner. From Berlinale:
The World Cinema Fund supports films, either in production or distribution, that could not be made without additional funding: films that stand out with an unconventional aesthetic approach, that tell powerful stories and transmit an authentic image of their cultural roots.
Deadline: Feb 27
Grants go towards any moving or visual artists who are over 25 years old with $50k in direct funding for their project, and career development services worth $40k. From Creative Capital:
Creative Capital supports innovative and adventurous artists across the country through funding, counsel and career development services. Our pioneering approach—inspired by venture-capital principles—helps artists working in all creative disciplines realize their visions and build sustainable practices.
Deadline: February 28
An intiative from the prestigious International Film Festival Rotterdam dedicated to funding work by filmmakers from developing countries with funds from €10.000 to €20.000. From IFFR:
The Hubert Bals Fund is designed to help remarkable or urgent feature films by innovative and talented filmmakers from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe on their road to completion.
Deadline: March 1
The ladies film industry organization gives out sizeable finishing funds to films by women filmmakers, with a preference on plots about women. From WIF:
The Film Finishing Fund provides cash grants and in-kind production services to complete films that fit the established criteria of being by, for or about women. The works-in-progress are viewed by a special jury of WIF professionals that selects the winning submissions.
Deadline: Opens March
To honor the late David Ross, this grant is specifically for short films. From the Davey Foundation:
The film award consists of a grant of $5,000 to a U.S. filmmaker 35 or under at the time of application for the production of a short film that will be shown as a private screening with the filmmaker in attendance at the annual foundation event at the Tower Theatre in Salt Lake City in December the year the grant is awarded.
Deadline: March 15
This intense two-day event of private screenings and one-to-0ne meetings offer American indies a chance to get their work seen by international distributors. From US in Progress:
The programme will present 6 US indie films in post-production to European buyers in order to achieve completion and to foster the circulation and distribution of American indie films in Europe.
Deadline: Deadline: April 1
Apply with your rough cut to IFP’s year-long mentorship program that supports first time narrative filmmakers whose projects are being made for under $1mil. From IFP:
Through the Labs, IFP works to ensure that talented emerging voices receive the support, resources, and industry exposure necessary to reach audiences. Open to all first time feature documentary and narrative directors with films in post-production.
Deadline: April 4
The Roy Dean Grant includes over $30k of in-kind services and products is open for shorts, docs, and features films with a budget under $500,000. From FTHP:
We fund compelling stories about little known subjects, historical films, and films that touch hearts. We like films that expose, and bring, important information to light; as well as films about little known people when there is a good story.
Deadline: April 30
The Jerome Foundation has a good tract record of supporting filmmakers in New York and Minnesota with innovative artistic sensibilities. From JF:
The Jerome Foundation’s Film and Video Grant Program is a production grant program for individual film and video artists who work in the genres of experimental, narrative, animation, and documentary production. Applicants must reside in one of the five boroughs and must be emerging artists whose work shows promise of excellence.
An interesting take on granting, Nextpix/Firstpix will fund films with a budget under $250k that are the first or second film by a director and are crowdfunding part of that budget. From N/FCG:
Rather than fund on a pre-determined cycle, we will accept queries from any film that is being crowfunded at any point during the year. Once we’ve received your query please give us 30 days to respond. The film should have a positive humanitarian message.
A new start-up aimed at making a LinkedIn type of networking platform specifically for filmmakers, they are giving away $5k each month to selected features or shorts:
Our mission is to help film and media makers create more work. We’re giving away up to $5,000 in grants each month. Projects can be at any stage.
If you are a student or a low-budget indie, Panavision might supply you with free camera packages. From Panavision:
The New Filmmaker Program loans film or digital camera packages (based on availability) to filmmakers for student thesis films, “low-budget” independent features, showcase reels, Public Service Announcements, or any other type of short not-for-profit project.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hosts an international screenwriting competition established to identify new talent in screenwriting. From the Academy:
Up to five $35,000 Fellowships are awarded annually. Fellowship recipients are expected to complete at least one original feature film screenplay during the Fellowship year.
Deadline: Feb 28 (Early deadline)
This writing program gives you a salaried position for a year as you get hands-on experience writing specs and pitching stories. From Nickelodeon:
As part of their script writing, each writer will be assigned to an Executive in Charge of Production and have an opportunity to write a spec script for an on-air Nickelodeon show. In addition, all writers are integrated into the activities of both the development and production departments.
Deadline: Feb 28
This screenplay competition from Nantucket Film Festival gives cash prizes and VIP festival access to winners with scripts for short films, feature films, 30 minute TV Pilots and hour-long TV pilots. From Nantucket:
The competition gives writers the opportunity to have their scripts read by a prestigious jury, receive top industry recognition, participate in a Festival focused specifically on screenwriting, including a Mentor’s Brunch with the Festival’s Screenwriters Tributee, and win over $7,000 in total cash prizes.
Deadline: March 3 (regular), March 10 (late)
The Slamdance Screenplay Competition is dedicated to discovering and supporting emerging writing talent. We welcome screenplays in every genre, on any topic, from anywhere in the world.
Deadline: April 8 (Early deadline)
The Sundance Screenwriters Lab is more than a five day screenwriting workshop – it’s the gateway for all films chosen to be in the Director’s Lab, as well as eligibility to many of the Sundance grants. From the Sundance Institute:
Through one-on-one story sessions with Creative Advisors, Fellows engage in an artistically rigorous process that offers them indispensable lessons in craft, as well as the means to do the deep exploration needed to fully realize their material.
Deadline: May 1, Aug 15 for international applicants
In this six month mentorship program, writers get to build relationships to further their careers. From CBS:
The focus of this six month program is on opening doors: providing opportunities to build relationships with network executives and show runners; to support new and emerging writers in their efforts to improve their craft; and to develop the interpersonal skills necessary to break in and succeed.
Deadline: May 1
A five week lab in Los Angeles where writers work on their scripts two to three evenings a week. From FIND:
The Lab is designed to help screenwriters improve their craft, develop their voices as writers, and take their current scripts to the next level. During the Lab, Fellows receive feedback on their scripts from the Lab Mentor, outside advisors, and the other writers in the program.
Deadline: May 5
A three month program that prepares you to be a full-time staff writer, with a particular empasis on applicants from diverse backgrounds. From NBC:
Writers on the Verge is a 12-week program focused on polishing writers and readying them for a staff writer position on a television series. We are looking for writers who are “almost there” but need that final bit of preparation with their writing and personal presentation skills.
Deadline: May 31
That’s it for now! If you don’t see a grant for you, stay tuned for the next round of grant deadlines for the summer season with more grants comes from the likes of Cinereach to NEH.
Do you know of a spring grant that’s not listed here that should be? Please let us know in the comments so we can add it to the list!
[Money images by Flickr user 401(K) 2012]
- Grants — Funds For Writers
- IFP’s Guide to Granting Organizations — IFP
- POV’s Documentary Funding Resources — PBS
- Where the Money Is: The Grants Behind This Year's Sundance Documentaries
- Great Opportunity: Cinereach Awarding Grants of Up to $50K to Fiction and Documentary Film Projects
- Catapult Film Fund Wants to Take Your Documentary to the Next Level