A Massive List of Spring 2017 Grants All Filmmakers Should Know About
Spring is the season for new life—and new grant opportunities.
Green is underfoot, which means green dollar bills could soon be at the end of your grant application! Below, find all the opportunities that grantmakers are offering up this Spring 2017.
There's something for everyone on this list. The opportunities are organized by deadline, from late March through early June, and by category: documentaries, narratives, new media, and screenwriting. If you're looking for a head-start on a different granting season, check out our most recent summer grants, fall grants, and winter grants roundups.
Note: An asterisk next to the grant title means there is an equivalent grant for both doc and narrative.
As always, use your best judgment when deciding to apply.
This new grant will pick six filmmakers to pitch their short (under 40 minutes) documentary, and the winning pitch will get $20,000 to make it. From TFI:
IF/Then is a new filmmaking initiative that awards monetary grants and provides year-round distribution mentorship to filmmakers creating short documentaries. The program provides new audiences, starting in the U.S., with a better understanding of American and international stories by discovering and empowering more inclusive voices in short-film storytelling. It also fosters multi-platform distribution and financial sustainability for more short filmmakers in a global and increasingly complex marketplace.
Deadline: March 27
The First Cut Pitch is back, and you could be one of five filmmakers at the Sheffield Doc/Fest who gets commissioned to make a doc, plus land a one-month fully-paid development and mentorship with an indie, and £5,000 development cash to boot. From Channel 4:
Five shortlisted directors will vie to prove that they are ready to take on the challenge of an hour-long, post-watershed doc for Channel 4 by presenting a 3 minute documentary film that answers an editorial brief set by Channel 4 for this event. These short docs will be a unique opportunity for the directors to showcase their ability to tell a captivating factual story, find and develop great contributors and work effectively in an edit.
Deadline: March 31
If you're looking to develop an Australian documentary or co-production, you could get up to $30,000 for development from Screen Australia:
Screen Australia’s Documentary Development program assists experienced documentary makers to achieve planned outcomes for the development of their projects. This could include further research, writing the next draft of a script or treatment, strategic shooting and/or editing to attract marketplace development or production finance, or compiling a sizzle reel.
Deadline: April 7 (for May 19 decision)
Among other things, the Spotlight on Documentaries that takes place in the Project Forum during IFP Film Week allows filmmakers to take part in pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings with potential financing and distribution partners and speed dating meetings with festival programmers. From IFP:
Spotlight on Documentaries is an extremely successful and viable forum for U.S. and International buyers, sales agents, and financiers to meet with filmmakers with new documentary feature and serialized projects. Presenting 60+ documentary projects ranging from those at an early financing stage (i.e. early development or in production) to those nearing completion (i.e. in post-production or at a rough cut stage), this section includes emerging and established filmmakers working in non-fiction.
Deadline: Opens April 2017
A grant from one of the most prestigious doc-only film festivals, IDFA, this grant is earmarked for a film with a European co-producer and key European production elements, while the director has to be from the IBF country list. From IDFA:
This category caters to documentary projects in all stages of production that have a director from a country on the IBF Country List and that are realized through international co-productions between at least one European and one non-European producer. The maximum contribution per project is €40,000.
Deadline: May 1; Opens April 1
The Scottish Documentary Institute is rapidly becoming a renowned force behind interesting documentaries coming out of the region, so if you're based in Scotland, the Consultancies are a good way to get your foot in the door. From SDI:
Throughout the year we can offer professional consultancies to Scotland-based filmmakers and for projects (shorts and features) in development, production or distribution. Our consultants include SDI core team members as well as first rate UK based and international external advisors.
Deadline: May 3
This IDFA grant will bring in money at the crucial beginning stages of a project from countries less represented in other film funding. From IDFA:
The maximum contribution for project development is €5,000. A contribution for project development can be spent on research, the development of the screenplay and/or the production of a trailer. Applications have to be submitted by a director or producer from a country on the IBF Country List and the contribution must be spent in a country on this list as well.
Deadline: May 15; Opens April 15
This IDFA grant will get you funds to finish your film. From IDFA:
The maximum contribution for production & post-production is €17,500. These contributions can be spent on all forms of production and post-production, from filming and editing to making the documentaries suitable for screening in cinemas, on television and at international festivals. Applications have to be submitted by a director or producer from a country on the IBF Country List and the contribution must be spent in a country on this list as well.
Deadline: May 15; Opens April 15
This brand-new grant from the Rogovy Foundation will award doc filmmakers between $5,000 to $25,000 for work that addresses social issues and inspires others. From the Rogovy Foundation:
The Miller / Packan Film Fund supports documentaries that Educate, Inspire and Enrich. The Fund is financed through the Rogovy Foundation. We believe in the transformational power that comes from enlightening narratives and inspiring characters. The Fund began granting in 2016. In its first year, grants totaling $150,000 will be awarded to between six and ten filmmakers. The fund operates an open call submission process, and awards are announced bi-annually. The first grants were awarded in June 2016.
Deadline: May 15
If you have a documentary in post-production, the San Francisco Film Society wants to help you finish it. So far, it has granted $450,000 in finishing funds for documentaries that went on to achieve great acclaim, such as Zachary Heinzerling's Cutie and the Boxer, which won Sundance's Directing Award for documentary and was nominated for the 2014 Academy Award® for Best Documentary Feature. From the SFFS:
The 2017 Documentary Film Fund will nearly double its total funding thanks to a generous gift from Jennifer Battat and the Jenerosity Foundation. DFF grants are awarded once each year. Exact amounts of individual grants and the number of grants made will be determined on an annual basis. As with all SFFILM grants, in addition to the cash awards, recipients will gain access to numerous benefits through SFFILM Makers, the comprehensive and dynamic artist development program.
Deadline: Opens March 28; closed in May for previous application cycles
For filmmakers based in California, Washington, or Oregon, this grant offers from $1,000 to $10,000 to emerging documentarians. From PPF:
To support emerging documentary filmmakers. The term "emerging" is intended to denote a person committed to the craft of making documentaries, who has demonstrated that commitment by several years—but no more than ten—of practical film or video experience.
Deadline: June 1
Specifically for New England filmmakers with original and creative films documentaries. From LEF:
LEF invests in documentary film and video projects that demonstrate excellence in technique, originality of vision and voice, and creativity in form. The strongest proposals will be those that clearly articulate the ways in which the proposed project aligns with the program’s funding criteria.A maximum of (4) to (6) grants of $5,000 will be awarded to projects in the pre-production phase of development at one June deadline each year.
Deadline: June 7
Launched to honor the memory of Derek Freese, this finishing fund is given biennially to an independent filmmaker and provides up to $35,000. From the Derek Freese Film Foundation:
DFDF helps support documentary filmmakers who are in various stages of the production and post-production process, and have a powerful story to tell and a strong vision for a finished film. Applicants must include a proposal and sample work that conveys the narrative and aesthetic visual for the final film, containing footage of no more than 15 minutes. We do not fund student films. The Derek Freese Film Foundation was created in 1997 to honor the memory of Derek Freese, an aspiring filmmaker who passed away two days after arriving in Hollywood to pursue his dream of making movies.
Deadline: Opens January 9, Closes June 12
New this year, HotDocs and the Rogers Foundation have founded the $1,000,000 Hot Docs Ted Rogers Fund to support Canadian documentary filmmakers. From HotDocs:
Over the coming 10 years, production grants will be distributed to Canadian documentary filmmakers. Up to $35,000 will be granted to three or four projects each year.
A core component of Sundance's Documentary Film Program, this competitive grant looks for artful films about relevant topics, and it can get you $20,000 to $50,000, depending on the application type (Development, Production/PostProduction, Audience Engagement). From the Sundance Institute:
The Sundance Documentary Fund provides grants to filmmakers worldwide for projects that display: artful film language, effective storytelling, originality and feasibility, contemporary cultural relevance, and potential to reach and connect with its intended audience. Preference is given to projects that convey clear story structure, higher stakes and contemporary relevance, forward going action or questions, demonstrated access to subjects, and quality use of film craft.
If your documentary has the potential to make a difference when it comes to an important issue, the Fledgling Fund will support outreach and audience engagement strategies to an average $10,000 to $25,000. From the Fledgling Fund:
Grants support outreach and engagement for social issue documentary film and other storytelling projects that have the potential to inspire positive social change around issues that affect the most vulnerable.
This new fund offers £10,000 to 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, and bring attention to unreported issues, and cameras into regions previously unseen.
From emerging showrunners to international directors, IFP's well-attended Film Week is a must for your narrative project to be showcased in front of financiers, distributors, and programmers. From IFP:
A meetings-driven forum connecting artists who have new narrative and documentary projects in development, production, or post-production with key industry executives interested in identifying projects with which to become involved at the development, financing, or distribution stages. A primary outcome for all artists is the facilitation of career-spanning relationships with potential financiers, theatrical and online content distributors and platforms, festival programmers, sales and talent agents, collaborators, and others. These invaluable relationships continue well beyond the five days of Independent Film Week.
Deadline: Opens in March
If you're an Australia-based filmmaker, you have got to get in touch with Screen Australia. The government film agency throws down major funds for low-budget features, documentaries, and large-format programs. From Screen Australia:
Screen Australia’s Feature Film Production Program aims to assist in the creation of a diverse range of successful Australian films that resonate with their audiences – films that entertain, enlighten and reflect an Australian sense of identity both domestically and internationally.
Deadline: April 7 (for June 16 decision)
If you're a Canadian citizen or a landed immigrant, the Film Board of Canada has 10 provinces that offer emerging filmmakers $3,000 - $5,000 grants a year in technical services to complete your film. Deadlines depend on the province, so be sure to check them out individually. From NFBC:
The National Film Board’s mandate is to reflect Canadian values and perspectives through the production and distribution of innovative Canadian audiovisual works accessible in relevant media of today. The Filmmaker Assistance Program (FAP) is designed to help developing independent filmmakers complete their films/videos by providing technical services and support.
Deadline: April 15 (depending on FAP region)
This fellowship from SFFS offers $35,000, a two-month residency at FilmHouse, and connection to the Bay Area's science and technology communities. From the SFFS:
The Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowship is funded by The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation as part of their support of programs that nurture, cultivate, and champion films that explore scientific or technological themes and characters. Under the auspices of its Artist Development program, SFFILM will award fellowships to filmmakers in the screenwriting phase developing a screenplay that tells a story related to science or technology.
Deadline: April 18 (early); April 25 (late)
The Roy Dean Grant includes over $30,000 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
Are you a producer with feature length narrative in active development or pre-production? If you are interested in getting your project off the ground, not to mention be eligible for a $30,000 Sloan Producer's Grant, check this out from FIND:
The Producing Lab also helps to further the careers of its Fellows by introducing them to film professionals who can advise them on both the craft and business of independent producing. In addition to attending class sessions with guest speakers from film’s legal, financial, and production arenas, each Producing Fellow will be paired with an experienced Creative Advisor with whom they’ll work in class and one-on-one to further develop their project over the course of the program. The Lab culminates in a daylong pitch session with established executives, which offers participants valuable practical experience—and the chance to expose their projects to a larger cross-section of the industry.
Deadline: May 1 (non-members); May 15 (members)
Are you a student looking to jumpstart your career? ADAA can offer the chance for mentorship, detailed feedback, career boot camps, internships, and a trip to Las Vegas to attend Adobe MAX 2017. This year, there's also a category for students working with AR, VR, and emerging technologies. From ADAA:
The ADAA is a global digital media competition for student creators. Connected to industry professionals, academic leaders, and top brands, the ADAA aims to launch the next generation of student careers.
Deadline: May 2 (early)
If you're a rising filmmaker with an original vision and an under-represented community and could benefit from an October-June program, check out this opportunity from FIND:
Project Involve is a free, intensive, nine-month annual program that offers 30 up-and-coming film professionals from under-represented communities the opportunity to hone skills, form creative partnerships, utilize free or low-cost production resources and ultimately gain the industry access necessary to succeed as working artists.
Deadline: May 8 (non-member); May 22 (FIND members)
To honor the late David Ross Fetzer, the DRFF offers dollar grants and gear grants for short films that have in the past totaled between $5,000-$10,000 for emerging filmmakers. From the Davey Foundation:
The Davey Foundation was created to honor the life of David Ross Fetzer and his commitment to the film and theatre arts. The Foundation is excited to make available grants to filmmakers and playwrights 35 and younger for the development of innovative film and theatre projects, and to provide the mentoring framework that will allow young artists to flourish.
Deadline: Opens May 10, Deadline TBA
If you liberty-minded filmmakers could use 100 days and $10K to make your next short film under the guidance of Taliesin Nexus, check this Lab out. From Taliesin Nexus:
If you and your treatment are selected, you will receive a grant for $10,000 to make your short film or web-series and be paired with an established industry professional who will mentor you through a 100-day process. At the conclusion, we will host a gala showcase screening where your film will premiere along with your fellow LLF participants’ projects.
Deadline: May 31 (Opens May 1)
The prominent ladies film industry organization gives out sizeable finishing funds to films by women filmmakers, with a preference on plots about women. From WIF:
The Women In Film Finishing Fund gives grants to filmmakers working in both short and long formats, in all genres — narrative, documentary, animated and experimental. To apply for the Finishing Fund, the filmmaker must have completed 90% of principal photography and have a rough cut at the time of application. You do not have to be a Women In Film member to apply, and we encourage applications from around the world.
Deadline: Opens Spring TBA
Brought to you by ScreenCraft and Bondit, if you’ve got a short script or a short film at the early stages of production, you could score $5,000 to $20,000 in financing and production services. From ScreenCraft:
Every 4 months, at least one filmmaker will be awarded this production grant of up to $20,000 in production funds. We announce the winner(s) 6 weeks after each final deadline.
Deadline: June 30 (Final)
If you've got a short film, music video, or feature with a woman helming the DP role, Digital Bolex might loan you $10,000 worth of gear and accessories. From Digital Bolex:
The relationship between a director and cinematographer is the most important on any film set, and the most famous director/cinematographer pairs have collaborative relationships spanning decades. We would like to see women cinematographers and directors involved in that kind of intimate collaborative process, and hope that we can start to help move our industry in that direction.
If you have a project—particularly one at the early stages—on which the writer, director, or producer is a woman, person of color, or member of the LGBTQ community, consider applying for this new BVEW opportunity. From BVEW:
Each project will receive creative guidance, mentorship, and a business plan from the Big Vision team, focusing on marketability, audience, and distribution. Extensive Discounts from vendors nationwide (see our PARTNERS here). We’ll use our personal relationships and company partnerships to push each film through to major festivals and programs like Sundance, the Tribeca Film Institute, and Vimeo’s Share the Screen Program. Projects will be granted access to an exclusive Distribution Lab & Marketplace in NYC, focusing on audience building and distribution strategies. Past participating companies include The Weinstein Company, IFC, The Discovery Channel, Vimeo, FilmRise, Zeitgeist Films, Magnolia Pictures, and more.
If you have a nearly completed (or finished) a narrative film with a leading character that is a scientist, engineer or mathematician, this grant could be for you. From FIND:
The Sloan Distribution Grant will be a $50,000 grant awarded by Film Independent to a film that is entering its distribution phase...Eligible films must depict themes, stories, and characters grounded in real science, technology or economics.
If you are a student or a low-budget indie maker, 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 AbelCine Camera Grant is a program for Film Independent Fellows, alumni of the LA Film Festival and Film Independent Spirit Award Nominees. Film Independent will select a qualified filmmaker who will be loaned a digital camera package (based on availability) to use for his or her feature film production or web series.
Looking for investment in your VR project? Comprised of 47 VR investors who will be holding their next investment meeting in San Francisco, the VRCVA could be of interest:
We invest in Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed reality startups of any size from anywhere around the world. We meet six times a year with our base of operations out of Beijing and San Francisco. Our network spans the entire globe, so it doesn't matter where you are, as long as you are doing something game-changing, we want to help you realize your dream. We are not searching for the next technology revolution because it is already here. We are searching for the next entrepreneur to lead it.
Deadline: March 31
If you have ideas for how to use immersive technology to enhance the field of journalism, check out this challenge. From the Knight Foundation:
Knight Foundation, Google News Lab and the Online News Association are partnering to launch an open call for ideas, offering up to $35,000 in funding to test, refine and build out a project. Virtual, augmented, mixed reality and 360 video are opening new opportunities for journalists to connect with audiences. In a news environment dominated by two-dimensional digital experiences, this technology allows people to interact with their surroundings and takes them places that they would otherwise not be able to go. At the same time they raise important technical and ethical challenges that journalists need to understand and explore.
Deadline: April 10
If you have an innovative arts project that collaborates with another non-art entity, Creative Connects could set you up with $20,000-$100,000. From NEA:
Creativity Connects* is an initiative that shows how the arts contribute to the nation’s creative ecosystem, investigates how support systems for the arts are changing, explores how the arts can connect with other sectors that want and utilize creativity, and invests in innovative projects to spark new, collaborative ideas.
Deadline: May 4
If you have interactive or transmedia stories that feature social issues of importance to African Americans, NCPC 360 could be a great opportunity when it reopens. From NBPC:
NBPC’s 360 Incubator and Fund was established in 2015 to help launch non-fiction multi-part (two to three parts) projects for broadcast, as well as webisodic stories and interactive/transmedia about the Black experience. The 360 incubator and fund features training, mentorship and funding support for producers of color, designed to harvest and pipeline important, engaging stories.
Deadline: TBA (End of March in 2016)
If you want feedback from experts from leading media, technology, and venture capital companies about your digital storytelling, keep an eye out for the upcoming announcement of this weekend incubator. From POV:
POV Digital Lab is a weekend media incubator with a track record of launching funded, highly viewed, and Webby- and Emmy-award nominated media. How will you re-invent the future of storytelling?
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hosts an international screenwriting competition established to identify new talent in screenwriting. From the Academy:
Each year, the Academy Nicholl screenwriting competition awards up to five $35,000 fellowships to amateur screenwriters. To enter, submit a feature length screenplay and entry fee via the online application when the competition is open for submissions. Fellowship winners are invited to participate in awards week ceremonies and seminars and expected to complete at least one original feature film screenplay during the Fellowship year.
Deadline: April 10 (regular); May 1 (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 10 (Early deadline)
A popular screenwriting competition where first prize gets $10,000 and genre winners get $500. From Scriptapalooza:
From choosing our judges to creating opportunities, our top priority has always been the writer. We surround ourselves with reputable and successful companies, including the many producers, literary agents, and managers who read your scripts. Our past winners have won Emmys, been signed by agents, managers, had their scripts optioned, and even made into movies. But the most important prize of all is this: Scriptapalooza will promote, pitch, and push the Semifinalists and higher for a full year. No other competition in the world does that.
Deadline: April 17
In this 6-month mentorship program, writers get to build relationships to further their careers. From CBS:
There are many different paths writers can follow to get their first foothold in being hired in television. As part of its ongoing commitment to create additional access for writers of diverse backgrounds CBS’ Diversity Institute has launched a different kind of writers program which highlights one of those paths. 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
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 2
Keep an eye on our Grants, Contests & Awards section where we will be sharing new opportunities that come up throughout the season.
Do you know of a grant or other opportunity that's not listed here? Share in the comments!