November 11, 2015

A Massive List of Winter Grants All Filmmakers Should Know About

When it comes to getting funding for your next film, now doesn't have to be the winter of your discontent. This 2015/2016 winter season's list of grants and opportunities are sure to get your film financing off to a great start.

The following grants, labs, and pitch opportunities are organized by deadline from mid November through February. (If you're looking for a different granting season, visit our lists for SpringSummer, or Fall.) 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!

Documentary

Credit: Born to Fly

Tribeca Hacks <NDN Identity>​

One of a handful of Tribeca Film Institute supported Hackathons, this one takes place in Muskogee, Oklahoma from December 3-6, 2015. From TFI:

Tribeca Hacks <NDN Identity> invites Native American and Pacific Islander storytellers, technologists, filmmakers, and visual artists, to come together and create projects that explore notions of Identity. It calls for thinkers to ideate, imagine, program, and build platforms that can enter the discourse about Identity in alternative ways.

Deadline: November 11

ITVS Diversity Development Funding

For producers of color, ITVS can provide funds for travel, research, script development, preliminary production for fundraising/work-in-progress reels, or other early phase activities. From ITVS:

The Diversity Development Fund provides up to $15,000 in research and development funding to producers of color to develop single documentary programs for public television. Producers must be U.S. citizens or legal residents.

Deadline: November 13

CAAM Documentary Fund

The Center for Asian American Media will award between $15,000 and $50,000 for public television appropriate programs. From CAAM:

With support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), CAAM provides production funding to independent producers for national public television. Documentaries are eligible for production or post-production funding and must be intended for public television broadcast.

Deadlines: November 14, February 16

Pacific Pioneer Fund

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

CrossCurrents Doc Fund

Administered by the Canadian doc fest giant Hot Docs, the CrossCurrents Doc Fund gives $10,000 a year to one applicant for a short to mid-range length project. From Hot Docs:

The CrossCurrents Doc Fund is an international production fund that fosters storytelling from within communities whose perspectives have been historically underrepresented or marginalized. The Fund supports the work of filmmakers from within these communities, and prioritizes emerging filmmakers who can illustrate a relationship between the film’s subject and their own experience. 

Deadline: December 2

Film Independent Documentary Lab

If you've got a feature doc in the rough cut stage, consider applying to this Lab for mentorship, feedback sessions, and support. From FIND:

Held in Los Angeles in April, the Film Independent Documentary Lab is an intensive five-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, the Documentary Lab provides creative feedback and story notes to participating filmmakers, while helping them to strategize for the completion, distribution, and marketing of their films.

Deadline: December 2

NEH Media Production Grants

The National Endowment for the Humanities is the big daddy of government support for documentaries that address the humanities. The application process isn't easy (you need an experienced team, a non-profit organization or fiscal sponsor, two humanities advisors, and a lengthy application -- Ken Burns' project descriptions are rumored to have been around 40 pages), but the payoff is worth it: one to three year grants in the $100,000 to $650,000 range. From NEH:

NEH encourages projects that feature multiple formats to engage the public in the exploration of humanities ideas. Film and television projects may be single programs or a series addressing significant figures, events, or ideas and drawing their content from humanities scholarship. They must be intended for national distribution. The program welcomes projects ranging in length from short-form to broadcast-length video.

Deadline: January 13

NEH Media Development Grants

Like the above production grants, the development grants are for documentaries that address topics in the humanities, and the application process is just as extensive. The awards range from $40,000 to $75,000. From NEH:

Development grants enable media producers to collaborate with scholars to develop humanities content and to prepare programs for production. Grants should result in a script or a design document and should also yield a detailed plan for outreach and public engagement in collaboration with a partner organization or organizations.

Deadline: January 13

Screen Australia: Documentaries Development

For documentary filmmakers that have an Australian doc with international funding who are looking to finance their projects (and who have an international sales agent) and wish to get up to $30,000, try 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. The program is primarily focused on providing development support to one-off projects.

Deadline: January 15

Derek Freese Documentary Fund

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:

Derek Freese Documentary Fund (DFDF) provides production support for feature-length documentary films that have both a strong narrative and compelling story, across a broad spectrum of subject matters. 

Deadline: January, TBA

Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund

The Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund supports 4-10 feature-length documentaries the highlight issues of social importance in the range of $10,000 - $25,000. This year, 2-5 additional grants will be provided for docs about extraordinary women. From TFI:

Funded films will be driven by thoughtful and in-depth storytelling, bolstered by a compelling visual approach. The Kering Foundation has joined the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund to offer the Spotlighting Women Documentary Award, which provides funding to two-five additional feature documentaries that illuminate the courage, compassion, extraordinary strength of character and contributions of women from around the world. For films, based anywhere, that are in production or post-production with the intended premiere exhibition.

Deadline: February TBA

Catapult Film Fund

If you're just starting out on a documentary, you know how hard it is to raise money for it in the beginning -- especially when you have nothing to show for it yet (because, hey, you need money to shoot!). The Catapult Film Fund will give you $5,000 to $20,000 to shoot enough footage so you can fundraise for the rest of the project. From Catapult:

Catapult Film Fund provides development funding to documentary filmmakers who have a compelling story to tell, have secured access to their story and are ready to shoot and edit a piece for production fundraising purposes. Our mission is to enable filmmakers to develop their film projects to the next level at a moment where funding is hard to find. We support powerful stories, and moving storytelling, across a broad spectrum of issues and perspectives.

Deadline: Opens January 12, Closes February 16 

Visions Sud Est Fund*

If you're a film based in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe and you're looking for either production or post-production support, Visions Sud Est can be good for 20,000 Swiss francs on narrative features and 10,000 Swiss francs for documentaries. From Visions Sud Est:

The Swiss fund Visions Sud Est was initiated by the Foundation trigon-film Baden and the Fribourg Film Festival, with the collaboration of Nyon's Visions du Reel and the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. It supports film productions from Asia, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe, aims at making them visible worldwide and guarantees their distribution in Switzerland.

Deadline: February 29

Sundance Documentary Fund

Providing up to $20,000 for a documentary in development or up to $50,000 for a documentary in production/post-production with 10+ minutes of edited footage, the Sundance Doc Fund can be a huge score for docs. From Sundance:

The Sundance Institute Documentary Fund supports cinematic feature documentaries with contemporary relevance from filmmakers in the U.S. and internationally. Proposals are evaluated on artful and innovative storytelling, originality, contemporary relevance, and potential to reach its intended audience. First time directors are eligible and no prior work is required. Films may be in any language (with English subtitles or an English dialogue transcript).

Deadline: Rolling but no films are screened in the month leading up to Sundance Film Festival

The Fledgling Fund

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.

Deadline: Rolling

The Bertha BRITDOC Documentary Journalism Fund

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.

Deadline: Rolling

The Scottish Documentary Institute Consultancies

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.

Deadline: Rolling

Ford Foundation: JustFilms

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.

Deadline: Rolling

Narrative

Credit: Hellion

Bureau of Creative Works Short Film Grant*

In its 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: December 4

Film Independent Sloan Distribution Grant

The second year for the new initiative from FIND and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation comes the Sloan Distribution Grant for completed films with a strong science or technology angle to them. From FIND:

In its inaugural year, the Sloan Distribution Grant will be a $50,000 grant awarded by Film Independent to a film that is entering its distribution phase in 2015. Eligible films must depict themes, stories, and characters grounded in real science, technology or economics.

Deadline: January 6 

LEF Moving Image Fund: Production & Post-Production  

Specifically for New England filmmakers with film budgets under $350,000, the LEF Moving Image Fund supports original and creative films. From LEF:

The strongest proposals will be those that clearly articulate the ways in which the proposed project embodies the program’s funding criteria. A maximum of (6) grants of $15,000 each will be awarded to projects in the production phase during LEF’s major grants review. A maximum of (3) grants of $25,000 each will be awarded to projects in the post-production phase during LEF’s major grants review. In order to be eligible for Post-Production support, the project for which you are applying must have received previous LEF support

Deadline: January 29

NALAC Fund for the Arts (NFA)

If you're a US-based Latino artist or arts organization, you could be eligible for $5,000 - $15,000 from the NALAC Fund for the Arts. From NALAC:

The NFA is a national grant program open to US-based Latino working artists, ensembles and Latino arts organizations that demonstrate artistic excellence in pursuit of social justice through the arts. To date, the NFA has awarded over one million dollars to a diverse range of artists and organizations representing every discipline and region of the country. Applying to the NFA is a benefit of NALAC Membership.

Deadline: February TBA

Sundance Feature Film Creative Producing Fellowship and Lab

The Sundance Institute will choose 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 Fellowship focuses on the holistic producer, who identifies, options, develops, and pitches material; champions and challenges the writer/director creatively; raises financing; leads the casting/packaging process; hires and inspires crew; and navigates the sales, distribution, and marketing arenas. The Program is designed to hone emerging producers’ creative instincts and evolve their communicating and problem-solving skills at all stages of realizing a project.

Deadline: February 9

Sundance Episodic Story Lab

This will be the second ever Episodic Story Lab, and will choose ten writers/filmmakers with an episodic pilot over a two-round process for a six-day fellowship. From Sundance:

Sundance Institute’s Episodic Story Lab is an immersive experience for ten writers over a six-day period at the Sundance Resort in Utah. The writers will work with an accomplished group of showrunners, television executives, and producers. They will participate in one-on-one creative story meetings, a simulated Writers’ Room to break story, pitch sessions, and group conversations about the creative and business environment of television writing and producing.

Deadline: February TBA

Doha Film Institute Grants Programme

The Doha Institute is around to seek out new cinematic voices from Qatar as well as from around the world. Grants for Qatar-based filmmakers are rolling, and the international applicant deadline is below. You can apply for funding for development, production, or pre-production depending on where you are a MENA or non-MENA application (Middle East and North Africa.) From the DFIGP:

The Institute’s approach is to champion projects whose thrust is to explore, expand and cultivate authentic storytelling, with a keen interest in propelling forward contemporary work that demonstrates a deep understanding of the specific possibilities of the medium of cinema. The Programme provides creative and financial assistance to filmmakers from Qatar, and to first- and second-time filmmakers from around the globe.

Deadline: Opens January 6, Closes January 19

Screen Australia’s Feature Film Production Program

If you're an Australian-based filmmaker, get in touch with Screen Australia! This program can fund up to 65% of the budget for narrative feature films with marketplace attachments from a distributor and a sales agent. From Screen Australia:

Screen Australia’s Feature Film Production program aims to support a diverse slate of Australian films for theatrical release that entertain and enlighten domestic and international audiences while reflecting the unique characteristics of Australian identity.

Deadline: Nov 30 or Jan 29

Film Independent Fast Track*

To help narrative and doc filmmakers make progress on their current projects, FIND hosts the film financing market called Fast Track during the Los Angeles Film Festival and is designed to help narrative and documentary filmmakers move their current projects forward.

During three days of intensive meetings, Fast Track connects filmmakers with financiers, production companies, and other industry professionals. This highly selective program is open to established as well as up-and-coming filmmakers with exceptional projects still seeking funding. To be eligible, you must be a directing and producing team on a feature-length narrative or documentary film. Narrative films must be in the development or pre-production stage. Documentaries may be in the work-in-progress stage.

Deadline: Opens January

World Cinema Fund: Production Funding

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: End of February, TBA

Digital Bolex Grant for Women Cinematographers​

If you've got a short film, music video, or feature with a woman helming the DP role, Digital Bolex might loan you $10k 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.

Deadline: Rolling

Big Vision Empty Wallet Kickstart Diversity Program

If you have a project, particularly one at the early stages, in 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:

Selected projects will receive significant discounts (15%-75%) from vendors and service providers nationwide to create savings in all stages of production, including AbelCine, Hive Lighting, Gotham Stages, and Nice Shoes. Recipients will be granted access to an exclusive Distribution Lab, presented in both NY and LA, focusing on audience building and distribution strategies. Participating companies include Lionsgate Films, FilmRise, Seed & Spark, VHX, Zeitgeist Films, and Cinetic. In addition, our sister company Big Vision Creative will choose several projects per year to co-produce and/or represent for distribution.

Deadline: Rolling

World Cinema Fund: Distribution

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.

Deadline: Rolling

The Jerome Foundation's Film and Video Grant Program*

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.

Deadline: Rolling

Nextpix/Firstpix Crowdfunding Grant

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.

Deadline: Rolling

Panavision's New Filmmaker Program

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.

Deadline: Rolling

Screenwriting

The 1 Thing I'm Doing to Write the Best Screenplay Ever in 2015: Get S#!t Done
Credit: Dollar Photo Club

Drishyam-Sundance Screenwriters Lab (India)

Sundance is taking their much-coveted Screenwriters Intensive to Jodhpur, India to find and nurture international screenwriters. From Sundance:

Modeled on the Institute’s esteemed Screenwriters Lab in Utah, the Lab is a five-day writer's workshop that gives independent screenwriters the opportunity to work intensively on their feature film screenplays in an environment that encourages innovation and creative risk-taking. The Lab is centered around one-on-one story sessions with Creative Advisors, where screenwriting fellows receive guidance from a diverse and accomplished roster of established filmmakers. 

Deadline: November 11

Script Pipeline First Look Project

If you have a high-concept script that you'd like to get in front of major studios, production companies, and agencies, check out this opportunity. From Script Pipeline:

Supported by Benderspink, Energy EntertainmentDarko EntertainmentLakeshore Entertainment, and Paradigm, the competition presents the best scripts and filmmakers to major companies. One winner in each category receives personal development assistance from Script Pipeline’s executive team, followed by meetings to discuss potential production. We will also select up to 5 finalists for each division.

Deadline: November 15

WGA TV Writer Access Project For Mid-Level Diverse Television Writers

If you're a mid-level writer -- you've been a staff writer on a WGA eligible show or have at least two credits on made-for-TV movies or The WGA -- you're invited to submit work in one of the following categories: minority writers; writers with disabilities; women writers; writers age 55 and over; and LGBT writers. From the WGA:

The mission of the TV Writer Access Project (“Project”) is to identify excellent diverse writers in order to provide a hiring resource for television writer-producers. WGAW members who meet the criteria for participation below are invited to submit one piece of literary material: one spec script for a television series in first run on either network or cable as of August 8, 2015 OR one original spec pilot teleplay, in either the half-hour or one-hour format.  

Deadline: November 20

ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship

For screenwriters looking for ongoing mentorship to develop the skills that'll take their careers to the next level, ScreenCraft's Screenwriting Fellowship offers that and more, including a $1000 writing grant, six months of one-on-one consultations with the ScreenCraft staff and mentors, and meetings with lit agents. 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: December 30

ScreenCraft Family Screenplay Contest

If you have a family friendly script, you could win up to $1500, a consultation with renowned screenwriter James V. Hart, and a call with a literary agent. From ScreenCraft:

Families are the most influential moviegoing audience, yet there’s a surprising lack of high-quality films that appeal to the WHOLE family. 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: December 30

Script Pipeline Screenwriting Contest

This contest offers a possible $20,000 in cash, consultation, circulation of your script, and a free plane ticket to LA to meet with execs. From Script Pipeline:

The 13th Annual 2015 Script Pipeline Screenwriting Contest continues a long tradition of discovering up-and-coming talent and connecting them with top producers, agencies, and managers across studio and independent markets. This process has proven enormously successful, with numerous screenwriting contest alumni worldwide finding elite representation and gaining crucial introductions to otherwise impossible-to-reach industry execs.

Pre-register Deadline: December 31 (Pre-Register)

Scriptapalooza Screenwriting Competition

A popular screenwriting competition where first prize gets $10K, and genre winners get $500. From Scriptapalooza:

Established in 1998 to find talented (unknown) screenwriters and to promote them in the highly competitive film industry. The first place winner receives a cash prize of $10,000. Scriptapalooza also supports the winner, finalists and semifinalists by publicizing each screenwriter's script for one year. Applicants will have their scripts read by over 90 top filmmakers, film production companies, and film agents.

Deadline: Jan 4 (early), Feb 1 regular

Nickelodeon Writing Program

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: Opens Jan 2, Closes Feb 28


Do you know of a winter grant that's not listed here that should be? Please let us know in the comments!           

Your Comment

3 Comments

Its a struggle to find grants for Caribbean filmmakers like myself....another long list that we cannot really benefit from ....sigh... (i'm especially talking about the narrative short category)

November 17, 2015 at 12:22AM

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Stefan Foderingham-Garraway
Director/Cinematographer
202

The folks at NextPix are pretty elusive and it seems to be pretty disorganized over there, but they pop up on this list every season. Are we sure they are still in operation and funding?

November 25, 2015 at 9:55AM

0
Reply
avatar
Nana Mensah
Director
74

I'm happy to be here, next year going to US. Florida, maybe New York, will see.....

December 9, 2015 at 2:37PM

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Sarah Uma Rose Weinberg
Potography & Film
79