If you're just starting out, make sure to apply for grants that really fit your film. Applied before? As filmmakers who have been successfully funded can tell you, sometimes it takes multiple applications and some persistence. Of course, use your own judgment (especially where pricey application fees are concerned), consult your fellow artists, and best of luck!
The following grants, markets, and pitch opportunities are organized by deadline from June to August, with a few early September deadlines thrown in. An asterisk next to the grant title (*) means that grant is open to both doc and narrative films. To find out more specifics on a grant, click on the title and get started.
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: June 1
Honoring 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: June 12
If you're working on a documentary that touches on mountain culture or the environment, the MountainFilm Commitment Grant will support up to five filmmakers a year with $5,000. From MountainFilm:
Interested parties should apply if they’re creating a work that can be presented in a theater, gallery or more broadly on television and online. In particular, we seek projects that will have a positive and tangible effect on specific and vital issues. It's also essential that the project is invested with both the passion and capacity to be completed fully. The overarching intention of our granting program is to help ensure that important stories are both told and heard.
Deadline: Begins accepting Letter of Interest in June 2016; finalists asked to apply further
Points North Fellowship grantee 'Leviathan'Credit: Cinema GuildPOV: Call for Entries
For both US and international filmmakers, POV is known as the best of American public television's showcase of independent documentaries, offering a highly competitive sum for broadcast distribution of films each season. From POV:
POV, public television's premier showcase for independent, nonfiction film, seeks programs from all perspectives to showcase in its annual PBS series. All subjects, aesthetic approaches and lengths are welcomed.
Deadline: June 15
If you're a documentary filmmaker based in either one of the 12 MEDA countries that constitute the Mediterranean or one of the 28 EU countries, consider this euromediterranean doc market where between 20 and 30 selected films pitch to TV executives and professionals. From MEDIMED:
Create a unique, compelling, and personal Short Film that explores an empowering person or an optimistic story about individuals and communities who are overcoming poverty and hunger, combatting disease, or improving health. Your short film can be narrative fiction or documentary, imaginative, unorthodox, daring or simple—the style and structure are completely up to you but you must touch on economic inequalities.
Deadline: June 30
Growing each year, the organizers of Camden International Film Festival have expanded the Points North Fellowship for five lucky filmmakers to receive two All Access passes to the festival, four nights of accommodations, and a stipend to subsidize their travel to Camden for the Points North Pitch and industry mentorship to launch their doc project. From CIFF:
The Points North Fellowship is a unique opportunity for five documentary filmmakers (or filmmaking teams) to develop their feature-length works-in-progress through a combination of focused industry mentorship, workshops, meetings and a public pitch session at the Camden International Film Festival.
Deadline: July 14
If you live in North Carolina or have a story set there, you could get $1,000 - $5,000 for development, production, or post-production from the SDF:
The Southern Documentary Fund seeks documentary films made in or about North Carolina for our annual filmmaking grants. These grants are made possible thanks to generous support from The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.
Deadline: July 31
If you are in the advanced stages of development, or in production or post-production on a creative documentary, you could score $25,000 - $50,000 from the respected Tribeca Film Institute. From TFI:
The TFI Documentary Fund, presented by The Orchard, supports and furthers the development of exceptional character-driven, non-fiction works that spotlight contemporary themes with an original focus and bold, creative filmmaking. This fund allows TFI to financially support many audience-grabbing genres that fall under the documentary field.
Deadline: Opens Summer 2016 TBA
NEH Media grantee "The Vietnam War"Credit: Ken Burns
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: August 2
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 - $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: August 10
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: August 10
The Alter-Ciné Foundation offers $10,000 (Canadian) to filmmakers born and living in Africa, Asia or Latin America with a documentary project in your native language that fits in with the aims of the Foundation. From Alter-Ciné:
The Alter-Ciné Foundation is inspired by this ethics. The Foundation offers a yearly grant to young film and video makers from Africa, Asia and Latin America to direct a documentary film on the theme of rights and freedoms, including social and economic rights, women’s rights, the right to culture and artistic creation.
Deadline: August 15
Hot Docs, one of the world's best documentary festivals, aims to support doc filmmakers that are citizens and residents of countries in continental Africa through funds and mentorship. From Hot Docs:
The Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Documentary Fund (HDBI) offers grants in two separate categories Development and Production. The Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Documentary Fund will provide successful applicants with a development grant of up to $10,000 CDN which could reflect up to 100 per cent of the development budget. The Hot Docs-Blue Ice Group Documentary Fund will provide successful applicants with a production grant of up to $40,000 CDN to maximum of 50% of the production budget.
Deadline: August 19 (opens June 9)
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: June 24 (for August 12 decision), August 26 (for October 14 decision)
Sundance Doc Fund grantee 'Watchers of the Sky'Credit: Sundance
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 - $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 is nearly done and has the potential to make a difference in the world about an important issue, the Fledgling Fund will support outreach and audience engagement strategies to the tune of $5,000 - $30,000. From the Fledgling Fund:
We know that the power of documentary film often happens when the lights come up and people can connect with the issues in new ways. How does this happen? This happens with thoughtfully crafted plans designed to move audiences to action. We support our grantees in their efforts to design and execute these plans.
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.
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.
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: Rolling (Funds Dispersed in Winter 2016)
SFFS/KRF Filmmaking Grant recipient 'Hellion'Credit: Sundance Film FestivalSince narrative film is based on a for-profit model (even if a tenuous one), there are fewer grants available. However, they are out there! If you find your project ineligible, there are also film co-production markets, where you can meet and pitch your film to the financiers who are in a position to fund your film.
Teaming up with the Screening Room in 2016, this fund gives out up to $25,000 in funds and in-kind donations to films by women filmmakers, with a preference for plots about women. From WIF:
The Women In Film Finishing Fund supports films by and/or about women with cash grants and in-kind services. To qualify, the film must be at the rough cut stage at the time of submission.
Deadline: June 14 (early), June 30 (regular)
This grant, established through New York Women in Film and Television, gives funds to a female filmmaker with a rough cut of a film of any genre that touches on disability issues. From NYWFT:
The film completion grant for $7,500 will be awarded to a woman filmmaker for a film on physical or developmental disability issues. Directors and producers are eligible to apply. The Grant will be awarded to help complete a work-in-progress. Films must have completed principle photography to be eligible. Finished films are not eligible. Filmmakers
must be US-based.
Deadline: June 15
If you're an Australian-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, including up to 65% of your feature film budget if it meets the criteria. 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: June 27
Every year, NVTVF accepts 4 to 60-minute independently produced television pilots and web series from around the world for exposure, awards and development deals with Lionsgate, NatGeo, the Travel Channel, and Sundance Channel, to name a few. From NVTVF:
The Independent Pilot Competition (IPC) is the NYTVF’s flagship, annual competition, accepting independently-produced, original television pilots and web series from around the globe. Official Selections from the IPC will screen in competition during the annual New York Television Festival each fall. IPC Official Selections are eligible for the competition's category and individual achievement awards as well as guaranteed development deals from Festival Development Partners.
Deadline: June 30
The Roy Dean Summer Grant includes over $30k of in-kind services and products is open for shorts, docs, and feature 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: June 30
World Cinema Fund grantee 'The Hunter'Credit: BerlinaleNational Film Board of Canada Filmmaker Assistance Program*
If you're a Canadian citizen or a landed immigrant, the Film Board of Canada has ten 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: June/July (check for your specific region)
Coinciding with the BFI London Film Festival, the PFM selects projects to meet potential investors for films with a budget over €1 million and has a parallel MicroMarket for films with budgets under that amount. From Film London:
From encouraging new business relationships to attaching international sales companies and securing various forms of investments in companies and film projects, PFM is invaluable for producers and financiers alike. This year, the Micro Market strand for projects with budgets below €1m is fully integrated within PFM, making it more far-reaching than ever before
Deadline: July 4
This Film London initiative is meant to warm-up low-budget features from emerging British filmmakers. From Film London:
Twelve teams are shortlisted for the scheme, and receive intensive training at Film London's Microschool along with mentorship and development funding. From this shortlist, six projects are selected to go on to a second phase of development with further funding.
Finally, two features are commissioned and receive additional development, as well as production funding of £100,000 and distribution funding for finished films.
Deadline: July 13
If you're making a film that touches on important issues and can be involved with the San Francisco film scene at some point between pre and post production, you could get $15,000 - $50,000 to make it from the San Francisco Film Society. From SFFS:
The SFFS/KRF Filmmaking Grants support feature narrative films that through plot, character, theme or setting explore human and civil rights, antidiscrimination, gender and sexual identity and other social issues of our time.The SFFS/KRF Filmmaking Grant provides tangible encouragement and support to meaningful projects nationally that benefit and uplift the Bay Area filmmaking community in a professional and economic capacity. In addition to the cash grant, recipients receive various benefits through the Film Society's comprehensive and dynamic filmmaker services programs.
Deadline: August 8 (early), August 15 (late); opens July 11
If you have a production company in Latin America, Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and the Caucasus, or a German production company with a partner in one of those areas, you could get € 80,000 for your next narrative feature or documentary. From WCF:
Together with the Federal Foundation for Culture and in cooperation with the Goethe Institute, the Foreign Ministry and German producers, the World Cinema Fund works to develop and support cinema in regions with a weak film infrastructure, while fostering cultural diversity in German cinemas. The World Cinema Fund supports films 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: July 14
If you have a film that has a strong connection to the Mediterranean, the Balkan regions, or Central Europe, this co-production forum might be for you. From Thessaloniki IFF:
CROSSROADS introduces producers and directors to a variety of industry professionals from all over the world. The programme is varied and provides the opportunity to meet, formally and informally, distributors, broadcasters, sales agents and consultants. CROSSROADS’ goal is to support the producers of feature-length fiction film projects that contain a link to the Mediterranean and Balkan regions as well as Central Europe. Qualifying features will be produced or co-produced by a country in this area or are movies that contain story elements based in these regions.
Deadline: July 31
For filmmakers with an Arab background, you could get an average of $20,000 for development and scriptwriting, production and post-production of animation, documentary, experimental and narrative films in short, medium and feature lengths. From AFAC:
AFAC’s cinema funding is open to all kinds of film projects – short films, feature narratives, short documentaries, feature documentaries, animation and experimental film. AFAC offers funding for development/scripting, production and post-production. Projects applying for a development/ scripting grant are eligible for a maximum of $15,000 while projects applying for a production/ post-production grant are eligible for a maximum of $50,000.
Deadline: August 1
This is an initiative from the prestigious International Film Festival Rotterdam dedicated to funding script development by filmmakers from developing countries. Since the fund started in 1988, well over 530 projects from independent filmmakers in Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Africa and Latin America have received support. From IFFR:
A HBF Script and Project Development grant can be used for the further development of the script (e.g. research, writing, translation or hiring a coach or script consultant) but can also be used to present the project to financiers or other potential partners at (international) co-production meetings or film festivals. The maximum contribution for Script and Project development is €10.000.
Deadline: To be announced mid-June
The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture: Cinema Grant recipient 'Chaos, Disorder'
Additionally, HBF offers a post-production fund dedicated to funding post work by filmmakers from developing countries. From IFFR:
A HBF Postproduction grant can be used for various activities in the post-production process (e.g. editing, colour grading or sound mixing). Please note that in return for post-production support, the HBF requests that the world premiere of the film takes place at IFFR. Also, the Fund requests the distribution rights for the Benelux. The maximum contribution of the HBF for this category is €20.000.
Deadline: To be announced mid-June
Have a 3D film? The 3D Mart is the first international financing market just for stereoscopic 3D! From 3DFM:
3DFM is open to experienced S-3D producers, and to persons with demonstrated artistic abilities in other domains. Wherever you are in the world, you are invited to submit your qualifying project(s)! All participants registered can attend the pitches, and they can network with the international producers, financiers, sales agents, distributors, and co-producers present at the market. The selection committee examines the projects, and then assigns each qualifying project either to an oral presentation/pitch to financiers and co-producers, or to a poster presentation.
Deadline: September 30
If you're looking to get your film seen—and possibly financed—by the international film community, CineMart, hosted by the prestigious International Rotterdam Film Festival, is the place to be. Each year, CineMart chooses about 35 projects in need of financing. From IFFR:
Each year, CineMart invites a select number of directors/producers to present their film projects to co-producers, funds, sales agents, distributors, TV stations and other potential financiers. Over the years, more than 454 CineMart selected films have been completed and launched.
Deadline: September 1 (opens Aug 1)
The Jerome Foundation has a good track 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: September 1 (Opens June 2)
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.
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.
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.
Credit: Sergey Mironov / ShutterstockDisney | ABC Writing Program
This year-long program sanctioned by the WGA has launched the careers of writers from Maria Jacquemetton (Mad Men) to George Mastras (Breaking Bad). From Disney | ABC:
Writers become employees of Disney | ABC Television Group and will be paid a weekly salary of $961.54 ($50,000.00 annualized) plus any applicable benefits for which they are eligible in accordance with the then-current Company benefits plans. The program is designed to expose writers to key executives, producers and literary representatives – all essential in the development of a writing career.
Deadline: June 1
For the first time in 2016, NVTVF has added a script competition for original, half-hour comedy series scripts looking for broadcast, cable, and digital platform buyers. From NVTVF:
Want to get your script in front of decision-makers across the television and digital landscape, culminating in a week-long Festival that provides a crash course in the TV Industry? Submit to NYTVF Scripts and join the indie television movement.
Deadline: June 15
If you are a UK-based writer with a focus on content for chidlren, you could be one of three projects selected for a BAFTA showcase and industry introductions for this particular call. From Rocliffe:
Shortlisted writers will go on to be involved in a wide range of development opportunities including workshops and events. BAFTA & Rocliffe are looking for new talent that demonstrate industry potential. As part of the partnership with The London Book Fair, a writer from one of the three projects will be taken to MIP Junior in Cannes in October 2015 with all travel and hotel expenses paid. The recipient of this prize will be selected by London Book Fair.
Deadline: July 18
If you haven't earned major dough from a screenplay, here's your chance to win $5,000 and get your script recognized for its compelling narrative by Francis Ford Coppola. From American Zoetrope:
The winner and ten finalists will be considered for representation by William Morris Endeavor, CAA, The Gersh Agency, Exile Entertainment, ICM, Oasis Media, UTA, The Radmin Company, Prolific Entertainment, Energy Entertainment, and Dontanville/Frattaroli. Their scripts will be considered for film option and development by leading production companies, including: American Zoetrope, Samuel Goldwyn Films, Fox Searchlight, Sony Pictures Classics, IFC Entertainment, Paramount Classics, Lionsgate...The contest's aim is to seek out and encourage compelling film narratives, and to introduce the next generation of great screenwriters to today's leading production companies and agencies.
Deadline: August 3 (regular), opens Summer TBA
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: August 1
For writers with a script that has real science, math, or technology in it (note: not science fiction) the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation can give you funds to either develop your idea or take your script to the next level under the guidance of Sundance. From the Sundance Institute on the partnership:
Only one of each is awarded each year. We are looking for a diversity of stories that not only highlight science (which can include math, technology, and medical research) as a central component, but also go beyond that thematically to engage us with strong characters and resonant themes. While biopics and historical films are welcome, we also encourage you to think outside the traditional mold of what a science film is, and to think in terms of using the science/technology as a backdrop to stories about individuals, how it influences their lives, relationships, and unique perspectives.
Deadline: Late August/Early September TBA
Best of luck!
What did we miss? Please share any other opportunities that we left out in the comments.
And if you go to any markets or apply to grants, let us know about your experiences!