A Massive List of Fall 2020 Grants All Filmmakers Should Know About
The whole world is at a standstill. Are any grants even still open?
Respectable institutions have crashed. Previous funders are now asking for funds themselves. The funding landscape is going through an upheaval. But luckily there are still many grants open. And lucky you, we've compiled a list. We will continue to add fall deadlines to this list whenever we find more!
So, return to the normalcy of scrambling to score some cash for your projects by applying to upcoming grants. As always, the following opportunities are organized by deadline—from September through early December—and by category: documentaries, narratives, screenwriting, and new media.
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.
If you have a diverse background and could use $25,000 in research and development funding for your single nonfiction program for broadcast on public television, check out this fund. One word of caution, due to COVID-19, there is less staff manning the office, so leave some extra time to hear back if you need to contact someone at the office. From ITVS:
"We’re looking for exceptional stories by filmmakers from diverse backgrounds: stories that take creative risks, inspire dialogue, and are rarely seen on public media. We are committed to supporting producers of color and creating public media programming that is truly inclusive."
Deadline: September 11
The International Documentary Association will award up to $15,000 from the fund for feature-length documentaries that are contemporary and of an urgent or critically important nature. From IDA:
"The IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund provides development funds to documentary film projects taking on in-depth explorations of original, contemporary stories and integrating journalistic practice into the filmmaking process. Inclusion and diversity, both in terms of the filmmaking team and subject matter, are a priority of the fund."
Deadline: October 26
Although it's not exactly clear how the workshop will be held post-pandemic, it appears Europe's leading networking workshop will happen as scheduled in 2021. There are scholarships that help offset the fee if you are from a qualifying country. From Eurodoc:
"Throughout the 3 sessions, all of the basic fundamentals of production are covered: from the analysis of the artistic quality of the project, to reflecting on the relationship between the director and the producer; from the negotiations for rights clearance to the financing of the development stage; from the transmission of different production methods and budgeting to the identification of potential partners on an international level; from the drafting of different co-production agreements to the making of trailers and the pitching preparation; from the overview on the management of a production company, to the promotion and distribution (traditional and alternative) of the film once it is finished; from an insight on the documentary film market landscape to individual meetings with some of the main figures of the documentary world (commissioning editors, programmers, distributors, curators, producers)."
Deadline: November 1
California Humanities offers grants from the California Documentary Project that range up to $10,000. These grants are intended for films that have some kind of connection to California and strengthen the understanding of the humanities for the state. If you're interested in applying, don't forget to tune in to the free CDP granting webinar on September 16 that applies to both grants. From CalHum:
"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."
Deadline: November 2
If you have a work-in-progress for a film that features humanities in the state of California, the CalHum CDP Production grant can range up to $50,000. From CalHum:
"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 to submit, and actively involve at least two humanities advisors to help frame and contextualize subject matter throughout the production process."
Deadline: November 2
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. Each year, grants totaling $200,000 are awarded to between eight and twelve filmmakers. The fund operates an open call submission process, and awards are announced bi-annually. Each grant is one-time only and offered in amounts up to $25,000."
Deadline: November 15
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, these Consultancies, held every two months, 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: November 6 for next consultancy session
If you're looking to develop an Australian documentary or co-production, you could get up to $30,000 for development. And as of May 2020, this fund is now open year-round, with decisions made 6 weeks after you submit. From Screen Australia:
"The aim of Screen Australia’s Documentary Development program is to assist documentary makers in achieving planned outcomes for the development of their projects. Screen Australia anticipates allocating direct funding of approximately $14-16 million across all documentary funding programs in 2019/20. With our limited funds, each program is competitive and we assess each project on how well it delivers on Screen Australia’s aims, assessment criteria, and how it compares to others submitted in the same round."
A core component of Sundance's Documentary Film Program, this competitive grant looks for artful films about relevant topics, and it can get you $15,000 for development and $40,000 for Production/PostProduction when you have 10+ minutes to show. From the Sundance Institute:
"The Sundance Documentary Fund supports the work of nonfiction filmmakers from around the globe. In a changing media landscape, the Fund has been a stable, progressive force in supporting work that has expressed the world in creative, complex, beautiful and provocative ways, and has created real cultural and social impact around some of the most pressing issues of our time."
Deadline: To open this Fall, TBA
If you've got a feature documentary at the rough cut stage (or in early post-production in a few exceptional cases), you can apply to Film Independent's mentorship program that includes exposure to industry professionals, a pass to the LA Film Festival, and year-round mentorship. How will this Lab look in the time of Coronavirus? Film Independent has not yet announced the details. For now, keep up with FIND:
"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: Not yet open, typically closes December
If you're just starting out on a documentary, you know how hard it is to raise money when you have nothing to show. Now more than ever, it can hard just to plan for a documentary! The Catapult Film Fund acknowledges that and will give you $5,000 to $20,000 to shoot enough footage, even in a pandemic, so you can fundraise for the rest of the project. From Catapult:
"Catapult is continuing to accept and review applications and disperse grants within our 3-4 month review period. We understand timelines and production schedules have changed and it is difficult to plan for the future, so please complete those sections of the application to the best of your ability...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 films to the next level at a moment where funding is hard to find."
Be a part of this lab that runs from January through September to get access to mentoring, workshops, and networking events, even if they are modified for a COVID-19 world. From FIND:
"Real, valuable filmmaking experience is at the heart of our program. Film Independent provides script consultation and individualized mentorship, equipment, and casting and post-production services to facilitate the development of Fellows' shorts. In addition to a cash production grant, filmmakers are provided with resources for raising additional funds that will help bring their projects to fruition."
Deadline: September 14 (non-members), September 28 (members)
If you have a project that could fit, get it through the process and portal by September 25 to be considered for Cinereach fund between $5,000-$50,000. After that, Cinereach is refocusing their funding efforts! From Cinereach:
"Cinereach develops, produces, finances, and supports feature-length fiction, nonfiction and hybrid films crafted for the big screen. We look for projects (at any stage) that create deep and lasting impressions through story, character, or cinematic approach. We seek to work with both unknown and established filmmakers who may face creative, financial or systemic obstacles to realizing ambitious visions."
Deadline: September 25
Brought to you by ScreenCraft and Bondit, if you’ve got a short script or a short film, feature film, documentary, or series pilot at the early stages of production, this fund could now score you up to $30K in financing and production services. And for the first time, ScreenCraft is also offering an inaugural Diversity Award, at least one of the recipients selected will be from an underrepresented background as defined by the WGA Diversity Report. From ScreenCraft:
"Whether you have a simple screenplay or a film that’s already in production, we want to consider it for our grant program. We consider a range of projects, from standalone screenplays, to fully packaged projects seeking finishing funds. If your aspirations are solely to become a produced screenwriter, you can rely on ScreenCraft and BondIt to package the winning script with a talented director and in-house production resources with up to $30,000 in cash financing, judged on a case-by-case basis, depending on each project’s budget and needs as determined by our internal jury of industry professionals."
Deadline: September 30 (Early), November 30 (Final)
This fall, Roy Dean Grant will give out $3K in cash and over $30K of in-kind services and products, and 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: October 31
If you plan to tackle a social justice issue in a meaningful and creative way, you should apply to this grant from the largest granting body for independent narrative feature films in the US. Development grants can be up to $25K, with Post-Production Grants around $40K, in addition to other support like the 6-month FilmHouse residency. From SFFILM:
"The SFFILM Rainin Grant program is the largest granting body for independent narrative feature films in the US. Grants support films that address social justice issues-the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges-in a positive and meaningful way through plot, character, theme or setting and benefit the Bay Area filmmaking community in a professional and economic capacity."
"The program is open to filmmakers in the US and internationally who can commit to spending time developing the film in San Francisco."
Deadline: Opens in October (TBA)
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: Accepted on a rolling basis as of September 15, 2020
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 per 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: Check for your specific region
Need help releasing your film as far and wide as it can possibly go? Why not let the people at Sundance be your guide. From the Sundance Institute:
"We are seeking films at all budget levels featuring distinctive, singular voices. We will select three or four films on a rolling basis, and we will support fellows during their initial release period (6 - 12 months). Films will be selected by a committee comprised of the Creative Distribution team along with key representatives from the Institute’s Feature Film, Documentary, and Festival programs. Our evaluation process will have two stages. We will initially review applications reviewing essay questions and a trailer or clip. After this initial review, we will invite select applicants to submit their feature in its entirety, and notify others that their project has been declined."
Deadline: Open Until Full
From what we can tell, the New Filmmaker Program from Panavision is still open during COVID. If you are a student or a low-budget indie filmmaker, 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."
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."
The competition associated with the Cinequest Film Festival offers $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: September 18 (Regular)
If you have a heart-pumping action or adventurous odyssey penned down, you could win $1000 plus industry exposure, with judges from Apelles, Bad Robot, Columbia Pictures, Donners’ and Elevate. From ScreenCraft:
"The action genre is the one genre that producers and literary managers have recently requested the most, and which we have the least. So this could be one of our most successful competitions! Our jury is looking for emerging voices in the action movie genre. Whether you have a big-budget, tentpole family adventure movie, or a taut, low-budget action film, we want to read your screenplay. Professional feedback from studio-trained readers is available on all entries."
Deadline: September 30 (Regular), October 31 (Final)
Here's your chance to win $5,000 and get your script recognized for its compelling narrative by Francis Ford Coppola in the American Zoetrope Screenwriting Contest. From American Zoetrope:
"The mission of the American Zoetrope Screenplay Contest is to find and promote new and innovative voices in cinema. Every script is read closely by a select handful of professional readers, and Francis Ford Coppola selects a grand prize–winner from among the top ten finalists. The grand prize–winner receives a cash prize, and the scripts of all top ten finalists are sent by Zoetrope to leading production companies and talent agencies for consideration."
Deadline: October 1
"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 have producers and executives who are hungry for high-quality “four-quadrant” projects to package and produce."
Additionally, this contest also celebrates feature film screenplays that uplift, inspire, and authentically portray stories, themes, and people of faith.
Deadline: October 31 (Early)
To accommodate people during the pandemic while still having the 4th iteration of this 3D/XR event, The Booster will be 100% virtual and spread out over 3-4 weeks. From Stereopsia:
"The Booster is a program with an intensive, small-group, hands-on training led by international experts to master the art of pitching, get the latest insights & trends for the XR contents, industry and market, be at the forefront of the XR technologies and learn how to develop and finance a XR project. The Booster also offers its participants the opportunity to pitch their project to a jury of potential partners, co-producers, distributors and film funds, network in many socials..."
Deadline: September 30
If you have a film that incorporates all that is cool about science and you have a fiscal sponsor that can accept the award for you (like the Sloan-funded VR film about LIGO), this New Media grant could be worth exploring. From Sloan:
"Program goal: Advance public understanding and engagement with science through the support of innovative projects that use a range of media to reach a broad, cross-cultural audience. Grants support both traditional and web-native media that fall outside the other Public Understanding programs. Supported media types include opera, dance, music, museum exhibits, interactive games, smartphone apps, ebooks, web-native video, conferences, art and science festivals, and other cultural events."
Are you a VR content developer who can build on and support the open ecosystem? This $5 million fund from Razer could be worth looking in to. From OSVR:
"OSVR knows that VR content developers can’t afford to be limited by walled gardens and closed ecosystems. By supporting OSVR, developers can not only remain focused on creating the best VR experience without any limitations, but instantly gain audience as new VR platforms get released. This fund is open to all developers, indie or major, to apply. For every successful applicant, OSVR funding partners will purchase copies of their content in exchange for OSVR integration."
Positioned as an intimate VR community of no more than 200 creators, Kaleidoscope acceptance could lead to funding from the likes of Oculus and invitations to events like World Tour and the DevLab content accelerator. From Kaleidoscope:
"At Kaleidoscope our mission is to give independent VR creators and studios the resources they need to do great work. An invite-only community, Kaleidoscope helps secure financing, distribution and exposure for premium VR content."
- Sundance Co//ab List of Opportunities — Sundance Institute
- IFP’s Guide to Granting Organizations — IFP
- POV's Documentary Funding Calendar — PBS
- indiefilmTO's The Ultimate Guide To Grant Writing (For Filmmakers In 2019)
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!