From short film grants to travel stipends for documentarians, this fall season has all kinds of of opportunities for filmmakers to get a leg up on your next project.
The following grants, labs, and pitch opportunities are organized by deadline from September through early December. (If you're looking for a head-start on a different granting season, we also have Spring grants here, Summer grants here, and Winter grants here.) 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!
This European based Connect fund offers £5,000-50,000 (about $7700-$77,130) to doc filmmakers from around the world for the outreach and engagement component of their films. From BRITDOC:
The fund is looking to support smart, strategic outreach campaigns for ambitious independent documentary feature 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: October 5
Grants from the California Documentary Project are intended for films that have some kind of connection to California and strengthen the understanding of the humanities for the state, and range up to $10,000. From the CDP:
CDP Research and Development grants are designed to strengthen the humanities content and approach of documentary media productions in their earliest stages. Projects must actively involve at least three humanities advisors to help frame and contextualize subject matter throughout the research and development phase.
For filmmakers with an undergraduate degree and a desire to travel for a year to film stories that fall into the themes of the 2016 application, this fellowship could be for you. From Fulbright:
The Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship was launched in 2013 as a new component of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. It provides opportunities for U.S. citizens to participate in an academic year of overseas travel and digital storytelling in one, two, or three countries on a globally significant theme. This Fellowship is made possible through a partnership between the U.S. Department of State and the National Geographic Society.
Deadline: October 13
Also from the California Documentary Project, grants of up to $50,000 are given out to projects in the production stage. From the CDP:
CDP Production grants are designed to strengthen the humanities content and approach of documentary media productions and help propel projects toward completion. Projects must be in the production stage, have a work-in-progress, and actively involve at least two humanities advisors in the production process.
Deadline: October 15
If you're looking to pitch your documentary to Europe's leading commissioning editors, this networking workshop could be for you. From Eurodoc:
Some participants attending the workshops will come from the documentary departments of the broadcasters or from institutions defending, promoting and funding documentary productions. This will fulfill a long-lasting objective, that of decompartmentalisation of relations between producers, broadcasters and funding partners. These participants greatly contribute to the work of the group. Being in contact with their future partners, understanding their points of view and constraints can be very enlightening to the producers.
Deadline: October 16
You might consider this fund which invests and subsidizes script development, documentaries, and feature films if you are a film with a Danish co-producer. (Read more about how to work with an international co-producer here.) From DVF:
We support films, documentaries, television series and multimedia productions including international co-productions. Support is given to artistically interesting productions which further the strengthening of the film industry in the region. Financial support is provided in the form of subsidies and/or investments.
Deadline: October 21
One lucky emerging documentary filmmaker a year (meaning you have less then three directing credits to your name) under the age of 35 can get $10,000 CDN for their next film. From Hot Docs:
The Fund seeks to support projects where its contribution provides for maximum impact, especially those that target broad audiences, reach across a range of communities, and encourage understanding and appreciation of unheard voices.
Deadline: Opens October, Closes TBA
For films that reflect the complexity of the LGBTQ community, this grant offers up to $5,000 for finishing funds. From Frameline:
This program seeks to provide a much-needed source of financial contributions to artists who often struggle to secure funding to complete their works. Submissions are being accepted for documentary, educational, narrative, animated or experimental projects about LGBTQ people and their communities.
Deadline: October 31
Intended to bolster much needed representation from producers of color in the industry, the DDF gives out funds to producer to support documentary projects that have not yet begun production. From the ITVS:
The Diversity Development Fund (DDF) provides up to $15,000 in research and development funding to producers of color to develop single documentary programs for public television. Funded activities may include travel, research, script development, preliminary production for fundraising/work-in-progress reels, or other early phase activities.
Deadline: November 6 (application opens in October)
Selective grants intended for a documentary series that are past the pre-production stage and have a confirmed national airing, the Public Television Grants offer $100,000-$500,000 per series. From the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation:
Grants support "capstone" funding to complete production for major series assured of national airing by PBS. These should include innovative uses of technology to enhance community outreach and contribute to teaching in grades K-12 and beyond. Preference is given equally to children's series and programs of enduring value on subjects such as history and science. Programs whose primary purpose is advocacy, topical news coverage or entertainment may not be competitive.
Deadline: November 1
A grant within the TFI Doc Fund earmarked specifically for sports docs, the TFI/ESPN Prize is open to any project in any stage as long as it does not have distribution attached. From TFI:
The TFI/ESPN Prize will award one annual grant of $30,000 to a feature-length work-in-progress documentary that presents sports, competition and athleticism as a backdrop within a character-driven story.
Deadline: November 4
The Sundance Institute will choose five to six emerging producers with projects in pre-production to attend the Feature Film Creative Producing Lab, the Creative Producing Summit, and the Sundance Film Festival, as well as receive $10,000 in stipends and yearlong mentorship. From Sundance:
The Creative Producing Initiative encompasses a year-round series of Labs, Fellowships, granting and events focusing not only on nurturing the next generation of independent producers, but renewing the community of veteran producers dedicated to sustaining the vibrancy and vitality of independent film.
Deadline: Opens November 3, Closes TBA
For filmmakers based in California, Washington, or Oregon, this grant offers $1-$10k 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: December 1
Ten documentaries at the rough-cut stage are chosen for Film Independent's mentorship program that includes exposure to industry professionals, a pass to the LA Film Festival, and year-round mentorship. From FIND:
Held in Los Angeles from March to April, Film Independent’s Documentary Lab is an intensive seven-week program designed to help filmmakers who are currently in post-production on their feature-length documentary films. Through a series of meetings and workshops, Documentary Lab fulfills its twofold focus: provide creative feedback and story notes to the selected filmmakers; and help filmmakers strategize the completion, distribution, and marketing of their film.
Deadline: Opens October 5, Closes December 7
If you're 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-$25k. 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 £10,000-50,000 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.
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:
Scottish Documentary Institute is offering year-round submissions of Scottish documentary projects in development (shorts and features) to our Docscene project pool. The projects will then be steered towards forthcoming training programmes or other funding opportunities, depending on theme and scope: Seed Funding, Interdoc, the Edinburgh Pitch and prepared for other submissions to funders, meet markets or pitching forums. The aim is to improve quality of project development and increase the talent pool.
If you have a social justice documentary at the rough cut stage, take a look at the JustFilms eligibility to see if you can apply. (A few topics of docs that are not eligible: health, sports, early childhood, advocacy, educational, scientific.) If you are located internationally, see if you are in one of the ten places where the Ford Foundation has regional offices. From the Ford Foundation:
JustFilms focuses on film, video and digital works that show courageous people confronting difficult issues and actively pursuing a more just, secure and sustainable world...Beginning in 2011, we are investing $10 million a year over five years in documentary projects that address urgent social issues and help us understand our past, explore our present and build our future. Our goal is to expand the community of emerging and established filmmakers who often lack funding, and help them to realize their visions and reach audiences.
For producers looking to join and co-produce with a network of other European producers, this workshop could be valuable. There are also several scholarships to offset the fees to attend. From EAVE:
EAVE is aimed at producers, both fiction and documentary, who are already working in the film and television industries who wish to begin to operate on a European wide basis by increasing their knowledge of producing and co-producing in Europe and by building up a pan European professional network. We also welcome applications from associated branches of the industry – e.g. commissioning, funding, legal and finance, festivals & markets, media administration. Each year fifty participants are selected from most of the EU countries and beyond and take part in three one-week long workshops.
Deadline: September 18
In it's inaugural year, the Bureau is commissioning 12 creative short films, of any genre, that can be made on a small budget. From the Bureau:
Each filmmaker will be provided with a production budget ranging from $1k-$3k to produce an original, light-weight short film. Those short films are released to an engaged, highly-invested audience of film-enthusiasts...Our goals are simple: find and support talented filmmakers, bring together a highly engaged audience, and break the back of a dysfunctional film system.
Deadline: Opens September 15, Closes December 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: September 30
To advance the field of Asian American media, the CAAM Fellowship Program connects talented individuals to the professionals who can help them further their careers. From CAAM:
The CAAM Fellowship Program is unique in its field-wide approach seeking to develop the talents and skills of a range of media professions including filmmakers, actors, programmers, and executives. Participating fellows will have access to the leading Asian American talent in film, television and digital media. Each fellowship will be individually tailored to best fit the needs of the fellows and advisors. Fellowships will range from fully integrated collaborations to regular feedback on current projects to an ongoing dialogue about professional development. Furthermore, fellows will have the opportunity to connect with the larger community of Asian American media professionals at CAAM’s annual film festival CAAMFest and a CAAM Fellowship Program retreat hosted by CAAM for all participating advisors and fellows.
Deadline: September 30
If you'd like to make an international short film with a screenwriter between 18-35 years old from the Creative European Programme, this Pitch could put you on the fast track track. From ESP:
European Short Pitch is an initiative aimed at promoting the European coproduction of short films. It combines a scriptwriting workshop in residency and a coproduction forum bringing together scriptwriters, directors and industry professionals from all over Europe. Selected on the basis of their short film projects, 20 European talents gather to discuss, rewrite, and learn to promote their stories on a European level with the support of 5 tutors. They eventually pitch their projects in front of a panel of 55 producers, financiers, buyers, and distributors.
Deadline: September 30
For films that incorporate dance, the DFA could award you $2,500 towards your project as well as dedicated space at the DFA office in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. From DFA:
DFA recognizes that funding is crucial at all stages of film production. Whether you need to write a script, pay for a location, or secure an editing suite, our Production Grant can help you secure resources. We encourage creativity in your submission application, but require a detailed budget. Feel free to use this opportunity to relay your film’s tone and aesthetic.
Deadline: Opens October 14, Closes November 11
This two-year professional directing program takes experienced directors who want to make the transition to episodic directing, exposes them to the industry, and pays a $950 a week salary. From Disney|ABC:
The primary goal of this program is to afford Program Directors access to develop relationships with DATG executives and productions. Those selected to participate in the program become part of the Disney | ABC DGA Directing Program directing talent pool. DATG executives, executive producers and/or producing episodic directors select individuals to shadow on an episode or episodes of produced television. Shadowing assignments are not guaranteed; however, if an assignment is secured, the program director will shadow production and shooting. Observing post-production is solely at the discretion of producers. Drama assignments typically run three or more weeks, and comedy assignments usually run one to two weeks.
Deadline: Opens in October, Closes TBA
For films with a science or technology (but not sci-fi) element, three to six filmmakers will get funds from $10,000-$65,000 for development, production, or post-production. From TFI:
The TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund provides grants and professional guidance in support of innovative and compelling narrative features that offer a fresh take on scientific, mathematic and technological themes...Grantees will participate in panels, workshops, and one-on-one meetings with industry executives during the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.
Deadline: November 4
In addition to getting $15,000, five U.S. based narrative filmmakers and five U.S. documentary filmmakers will work with TFI to develop professional relationships with the film industry. From TFI:
Tribeca All Access® seeks feature-length narrative and documentary submissions from established and emerging filmmakers whose team includes a director, producer or screenwriter from a community that is statistically underrepresented in the film industry. Projects may be in any stage of development, from treatment/screenplay to post-production. Projects of any genre and or budget range are welcome to apply.
Deadline: November 4
TFI's Latin America Fund offers up to $12,000 for films of any genre that push the boundaries of artistic storytelling. From TFI:
The TFI Latin America Fund supports innovative filmmakers living and working in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America who are working on feature-length scripted, documentary or hybrid films. Funded films are story-driven and in the advanced stages of development, production or post-production with no existing US or Latin American distribution in place.
Deadline: November 4
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 in 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.
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.
You could win $1000 for a first place in either drama or comedy, as well as $500 for a winning web series. From ScreenCraft:
Our panel of Hollywood industry professionals is looking for the next great drama and comedy TV pilots for network, cable and online platforms! We will also be accepting web series and non-traditional series pilots.
Deadline: September 15
This program is by nomination only, but if you feel you are qualified and you are affiliated with one of the many organizations that can nominate such as NALIP, Women In Film, NYFA, Film Independent, Sundance Institute, you could give a little nudge. From FOX:
The Intensive is designed to introduce experienced writers with unique voices, backgrounds, life and professional experiences that reflect the diverse perspectives of the audiences Fox creates for to a wide range of Fox showrunners, writers, directors, screenwriters and creative executives. These collective individuals will work with the selected writers in a series of master classes to build on both their general craft and further their skillsets in the business of writing for television, feature films and digital content. Please note that while employment cannot be guaranteed, every aspect of the initiative is designed with a goal — to provide the accepted finalists with intensive creative and professional development, exposure and opportunity that would best equip him or her to succeed at Fox.
Deadline: Opens September TBA
The competition associated with the Cinequest Film Festival offer $5,000 for the winning feature script and $1,000 for a short/teleplay as well as recognition during the Writers Celebration at the fest. From Cinequest:
The Cinequest Screenwriting Competition continues to empower global connectivity between screenwriters, filmmakers, producers, and innovators. Cinequest loves writers, and we welcome you to submit your screenplay or teleplay to our renowned competition. The Top 10 Finalists receive many empowering benefits including: VIP All Access passes to the Cinequest Film Festival and exclusive Writers Celebration, plus exposure to leading industry players and inspiring luminaries.
Deadline: October 16 (late); November 6 (extended)
Up to four winners will get a $1000 grants, get flown to LA to meet with agents, and get yearlong mentorship. From Screencraft:
The ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship is designed to jumpstart and continually develop the careers of talented screenwriters through ongoing consultation and a special trip to Los Angeles filled with meetings and introductions to key entertainment executives, producers and representatives. Applications accepted for feature film scripts and original television pilot scripts. With this fellowship, we aim to cultivate a growing community of visionary screenwriters with meaningful connections to Hollywood mentors.
Deadline: Opens October 1, Closes December 10
With prizes ranging from $15k for Best Feature, $10k for Best Short, as well as sums for UK scripts and International scripts, the BlueCat Screenplay Competition could mean some handsome sums for a lucky few. For those who don't win, everyone gets written analysis. From BlueCat:
Every year, BlueCat provides a community for the unknown screenwriter to develop their work, giving undiscovered talent a path to professional success. BlueCat accepts both feature length and short screenplays, and in keeping with our longstanding tradition, every screenplay will receive one written analysis, with our best screenplays receiving over $40,000 in cash prizes.
Deadline: October 15 (regular), November 15 (final)
We’re looking for action movies and carefully crafted thrillers. Whether you have a tense thriller or a big, effects-driven action film, we want to read your screenplay.
Deadline: October 20
Have some TV scripts lying around? Scriptapalooza, whose TV Writing Contest has been around for many years, gives $500 to the first place entry in each of these categories: one hour existing shows, half hour existing sitcom, original pilots, and reality shows. From Scriptapalooza:
The participants we have chosen to read the winning scripts are individuals from established production companies. Whether you are already an aspiring television writer or a writer interested in exploring other avenues, Scriptapalooza TV is here to promote careers in television and provide exposure for the undiscovered writer.
Deadline: October 15
First place for your family-friendly script would win $1,500 and a phone or in-person consultation with a literary manager. From Screencraft:
This contest avoids the genre-bias of some other contests by seeking exclusively screenplays that are life-affirming stories of faith, courage, hope and love. Whether you have a family drama, comedy, animation, or action-adventure film, WE WANT TO READ YOUR SCRIPT. We have producers who are hungry for high-quality “four-quadrant” projects to package and produce.
Deadline: November 4
If you've written a compelling video games script and want to be recognized for you work at the Writers Guild Awards, well you should definitely submit your work for consideration. From the WGA:
The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) have announced the submission period is now open for the 2016 WGA Videogame Writing Award, honoring outstanding achievement in video game writing. Recent WGA Videogame Writing Award winners include The Last of Us: Left Behind (2015) and The Last of Us (2014), both Written by Neil Druckmann; Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation, Scriptwriting by Richard Farrese, Jill Murray (2013); and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, Written by Amy Hennig (2012).
Deadline: November 23
Do you know of a grant or other opportunity that's not listed here? Please share it in the comments!