Turn in your elf costume, it's time to quit your seasonal job and bet big on your film career! With some luck and some hard work on the following grants, you just might clinch one of the following doc, narrative, screenwriting, or new media opportunities of a lifetime.

As always, the following opportunities are organized by deadline—from December through February—and by category: documentaries, narratives, screenwriting, and new media. Good luck!

If you're looking for a head-start on a different granting season, check out our most recent fall grants, spring grants, and summer grants roundups.

[Note: An asterisk next to the grant title means there is an equivalent grant for both doc and narrative.]

As always, use your best judgment when deciding to apply.


Two_gods_documentaryStill from ITVS open call recipient, feature documentary "Two Gods" directed by Zeshawn Ali and produced by Aman Ali.Credit: Zeshawn Ali

Film Independent Documentary Lab

If you've got a feature documentary at the rough cut stage (or in early post-production in a few exceptional cases), why not apply to Film Independent's mentorship program that includes exposure to industry professionals and year-round mentorship. Additionally for 2019, one lab participant will snag $10K in support from Susan Murdy Documentary Film Fellowship. From FIND:

Through a series of meetings and workshops, the Documentary Lab provides creative feedback and story notes to participating filmmakers, while helping them strategize for the completion, distribution, and marketing of their films. Additionally, the program serves to advance the careers of its Fellows by making introductions to film professionals who can advise on both the craft and business of documentary filmmaking.

Deadline: December 3 (December 17 for Film Independent Members)

Tribeca Film Institute IF/Then Short Documentary Program: American West 2020

Are you a short documentary filmmaker working or living in the West? If you make it through this pitch process presented by TFI, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, and ESPN, you could score $25K to make your short. From TFI:

We are inviting diverse filmmakers (POC, Indigenous, LGBTQ+, women, nonbinary, people with disabilities) from the American West to apply for a new TFI IF/Then Shorts pitch opportunity in partnership with ESPN at the 2020 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. We welcome storytellers living and working in the American West who are producing creative, story-driven films explore issues around health through the lens of athleticism, sports, and competition. The pitch calls for original stand-alone short documentaries (10-20 minutes) that shine a new light on this theme and its many dimensions through regional, character-led, cinematic stories.

Deadline: December 13

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:

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: January 6

ITVS Open Call

If you have a work-in-progress for a standard broadcast length film, this co-production funding of $150,000 to $350,000 from ITVS is the stuff doc dreams are made from. From ITVS:

We’re looking for exceptional storytelling that’s in line with our mission: stories that take risks, tackle important issues, and are seldom seen in public media. We know how hard you’ve worked on your project, and we’ll partner with you to help you finish it, then distribute it on public television. 

Deadline: Opens January 6, Deadline February TBA

NEH Media Projects 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—in the past elements that been required 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 up to $650,000 range. From NEH:

The Media Projects program supports documentary film, television, radio, and podcast projects that engage public audiences with humanities ideas in creative and appealing ways. All projects must be grounded in humanities scholarship in disciplines such as history, art history, film studies, literature, religious studies, philosophy, or anthropology. Projects must also demonstrate an approach that is thoughtful, balanced, and analytical. The approach to the subject matter must go beyond the mere presentation of factual information to explore its larger significance and stimulate reflection. NEH is a national funding agency, so the projects that we support must demonstrate the potential to attract a broad general audience.

Deadline: January 8

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 awards enable media producers to collaborate with scholars to develop humanities content and to prepare programs for production. Awards should result in a script (for documentary film or television programs) or a detailed treatment (for radio programs or podcasts) and may also yield a plan for outreach and public engagement.

Note: the NEH site currently has an alert that CAGE is experiencing a high volume of registrations, and is encouraging applicants registering with SAM.gov to allow additional time for processing.

Deadline: January 8

Screen Australia: Documentary Development

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: January 24

Sundance Documentary Creative Producing Fellowship and Lab: Documentary Film Track

The Sundance Institute will choose emerging producers with projects in production or post-production to attend the Creative Producing Lab and be part of a yearlong mentorship program. From Sundance:

A year-long program designed to nurture emerging producers with project-specific support through the Creative Producing Lab, Sundance Film Festival attendance, a $10,000 grant, year-round mentorship from a dedicated industry mentor, and ongoing support from Sundance Institute Staff. The Program is designed to hone emerging producers’ creative instincts and evolve their communicating and problem-solving skills at all stages of their next feature film project.

Deadline: February 11

Sundance Documentary Fund

A core component of Sundance's Documentary Film Program, this competitive grant looks for artful films about relevant topics, and it can get you $20,000 to $50,000 depending on the application type (Development, Production/PostProduction, Audience Engagement). From the Sundance Institute:

The Sundance Documentary Fund provides grants to filmmakers worldwide for projects that display: artful film language, effective storytelling, originality and feasibility, contemporary cultural relevance, and potential to reach and connect with its intended audience. Preference is given to projects that convey clear story structure, higher stakes and contemporary relevance, forward going action or questions, demonstrated access to subjects, and quality use of film craft.

Deadline: February 17

Visions Sud Est Fund*

If you're a filmmaker 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 27

Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund

The Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund supports feature-length documentaries highlighting issues of social importance in the range of $10,000 to $25,000. From TFI:

The Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund with support from the Oath Foundation will provide funding to 6-10 feature-length documentaries that highlight and humanize issues of social importance from around the world. Funded films will be driven by thoughtful and in-depth storytelling, bolstered by a compelling visual approach. More than half of the fund will support projects about women and under-served youth around the globe, and illuminate the ways they are working to improve their communities, their futures, and the world.

Deadline: Opens February 5

Catapult Film Fund

If you're just starting out on a documentary, you know how hard it is to raise money when you have nothing to show. Because, hey, you need money to shoot something to show! 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 films to the next level at a moment where funding is hard to find.

Deadline: Rolling


All-about-nina-imageStill from SFFILM Rainin Grant recipient "All About Nina" directed by Eva Vives.Credit: All About Nina

The Film Fund*

Back for its third funding session, this initiative will award up to $10,000 to a filmmaker with the best one-sentence idea for a short film. From Thomas Verdi of The Film Fund:

The Film Fund was born out of this frustration with the industry. Contests, grants, and crowdfunding campaigns are great, but there's a simpler to way to fund a film. We're providing funding up to $10,000 per project for short films in a way that's a lot simpler than screenwriting contests, crowdfunding, or applying to grants, because we're sick of seeing these funding avenues dominated by industry experts.

Deadline: December 16

Sundance Co//ab Challenge: the Disruptor

For the latest in the recurring monthly challenge from Sundance's Co//ab, this month has to do with an unexpected visitor to a holiday event of your choosing. From Sundance Co//ab:

Craft a scene or sequence (written or filmed) where an unexpected guest arrives at a family dinner for Thanksgiving or another significant holiday in your cultural practices for a chance to win a trip for two to the Sundance Film Festival and other prizes. Sponsored by Backstage

Submit a written scene/sequence (maximum 10 pages) or a video (maximum 8 mins) by December 16, 2019. This is an opportunity to create a turning point for your main character, introduce a new character, and reveal the family/group dynamic before and after it's disrupted by this guest. 

Deadline: December 16

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 1, closes January 14

LEF Moving Image Fund: Production & Post-Production  

Specifically for New England filmmakers with film budgets under $400,000, 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 24

SFFILM Rainin Filmmaking Grant

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: January 22 (Regular), February 12 (Final)

Telluride Film Festival 2020 City Lights Project

Do you teach film to a group of creative teenage upstarts? The City Lights Project could be an amazing opportunity for you and your students. From TFF:

By attending one of the most exciting film festivals in the world, students (and teachers) will have the opportunity not only to screen some of the best and newest selections from world cinema, but also to discuss these films and interact with other students, filmmakers, special Festival guests, Festival staff, and general passholders. They will develop lifelong friendships with the peers they meet through this program, find a new confidence in their own abilities and thought processes, and expand their way of looking at the world as well as themselves.

Deadline: February 10

Sundance Documentary Creative Producing Fellowship and Lab: Narrative Film Track

The Sundance Institute will choose emerging producers with projects in production or post-production to attend the Creative Producing Lab and be part of a yearlong mentorship program. From Sundance:

A year-long program designed to nurture emerging producers with project-specific support through the Creative Producing Lab, Sundance Film Festival attendance, a $10,000 grant, year-round mentorship from a dedicated industry mentor, and ongoing support from Sundance Institute Staff. The Program is designed to hone emerging producers’ creative instincts and evolve their communicating and problem-solving skills at all stages of their next feature film project.

Deadline: February 11

Film Independent Episodic Lab 2020

Would an intensive workshop help you to refine the pilot to your episodic masterpiece? From FIND:

Designed to support writers with original long-form episodic projects, Film Independent’s Episodic Lab will take place in Los Angeles in August 2018. The lab, which will meet several nights a week, will accept a diverse group of 6-8 writers or writing teams and provide them with critical support and mentorship. Through personalized feedback from experienced showrunners, creative producers and executives, fellows will gain the tools to revise and refine their pilots and navigate a changing industry landscape.

Deadline: February 11 (Feb 26 for members)

Sundance Episodic Story Lab 2020

This will be the fifth year of the Episodic Story Lab, and will choose writers/filmmakers with an original episodic pilot for a six-day fellowship. From Sundance:

The Sundance Institute Episodic Lab is a six-day program at the Sundance Resort in Utah that offers writers the opportunity to workshop an original pilot script, while developing their writing and pitching skills. Working with accomplished showrunners, non-writing creative producers and executives, the Fellows participate in one-on-one story meetings, pitching sessions, and simulated writers rooms, which together provide creative and strategic keys to success.

Deadline: Opens February 12, closes March 11

Screen Australia’s Feature Film Production Program

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 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: February 7 (April 20 decision) 

National 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: Check for your specific region

Sundance Creative Distribution Fellowship

Need help releasing your film as far and wide as it can possibly go? Why not let the people at Sundance (formerly called #ArtistServices) 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

Panavision's New Filmmaker Program

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.

Deadline: Rolling

Cinereach Film Grants*

Back with a new submission process and portal, Cinereach will award between $5,000-$50,000 to over 20 films each year! 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: Rolling

Film Independent Sloan Distribution Grant

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.

Deadline: Rolling




Scriptapalooza Screenwriting Competition

A popular screenwriting competition now in its 20th year, first prize gets $10K, and genre winners get $500 a pop. From Scriptapalooza:

From choosing our judges to creating opportunities, our top priority has always been the writer. We surround ourselves with reputable and successful companies, including the many producers, literary agents, and managers who read your scripts. Our past winners have won Emmys, been signed by agents, managers, had their scripts optioned, and even made into movies. But the most important prize of all is this: Scriptapalooza will promote, pitch, and push the Semifinalists and higher for a full year. No other competition in the world does that.

Deadline: December 6

ScreenCraft Family Screenplay Contest

If you have a family-friendly script, you could win $1000 and an in-person introduction to a literary manager. From ScreenCraft:

Writing a feature film that the entire family will love? 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: December 18

Script Pipeline Screenwriting Contest 2020

Think you can handle $25K, long term circulation, and script development? That's what one lucky winner gets, with $2,500 for runners up. From Script Pipeline:

For the winner, Script Pipeline provides additional, long-term assistance to refine the pitch, or help the writer draft a polished screenplay. Our execs review the project and offer feedback at all stages of development. When the work is ready for circulation, we send the material to specific producers who would be a good match--a network of over 200 companies that includes partners at Good Fear Film + Management (Mulan), Madhouse Entertainment (Slender Man), QC Entertainment (Get Out), Lakeshore Entertainment (Age of Adaline), and others looking for relevant, high-concept, marketable films.

Deadline: December 31

SFFILM Westridge Screenwriting Grant

Have a great first draft of script that tackles an important issue of our time? This initiative supports the development of narrative scripts and will dole out grants up to $25K, among other benefits. From SFFILM:

Grants to filmmakers in the screenwriting phase range between $20,000 and $25,000, and are awarded to writers or writer/directors who have at least one draft of their screenplay completed. The expectation is that, at the end of the six-month grant period, screenwriting grantees will have a final or nearly-final draft of their script completed.

Deadline: January 22 (Regular), February 12 (Final)

SFFILM Rainin Screenwriting Grant

If you plan to tackle a social justice issue in a meaningful and creative way, you should apply to this grant which is the largest granting body for independent narrative feature films in the US. From SFFILM:

These grants are open to filmmakers anywhere in the US, as well as internationally, and range between $10,000 and $25,000. The funds allow filmmakers to devote dedicated time to furthering their work, and the grant includes a two-month FilmHouse residency in the Bay Area to further develop the screenplay, and have access to both peer and established mentorship engagement. The screenplay must explore issues pertaining to social justice.

Deadline: January 22 (Regular), February 12 (Final)

ScreenCraft Sci-Fi & Fantasy Screenplay Competition

If you've got a script with a sci-fi or fantasy bent, you could win $1,000 from a panel of jurors from 20th Century Fox, Anonymous Content, Mosaic and Grandview. From Screencraft:

Whether you’re writing a contained science fiction drama or an epic fantasy saga, we want to read your feature film script. The jury is out of this world — with judges who love sci-fi movies — from top companies including 20th Century Fox, Anonymous Content and Grandview! Don’t miss the industry’s #1 sci-fi & fantasy feature screenplay competition.

Deadline: January 31 (Early)

ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship

In its 5th year, ScreenCraft's Screenwriting Fellowship offers winners an all-expense-paid trip to Hollywood and three months of one-on-one consultations with the ScreenCraft staff and mentors, and meetings with lit agents. From ScreenCraft:

The chosen recipients will receive ongoing professional support and a special trip to Los Angeles for meetings and introductions to key entertainment executives, producers and representatives...Past ScreenCraft Fellowship winners have optioned their projects and signed with top representatives at 3 Arts Entertainment, United Talent Agency, Creative Artists Agency, Anonymous Content, Paradigm Talent Agency, ICM, Bellevue Productions, Plattform and more.

Deadline: January 31 (Regular)

BAFTA Rocliffe Film Call

If you are a UK-based writer with a script, you could be one of three projects selected for the BAFTA showcase. From Rocliffe:

Not only do the finalists receive a selection of fantastic prizes, including an industry showcase at BAFTA, but unlike other initiatives with thousands of entries, our more personal approach gets the finalist and Forum List entries directly in front of execs, agents and producers at our selection panels and juries. To be selected as a finalist, your entry has to have been read and recommended at least four times. That's a lot of eyes on your work and it's before we even announce the winners! 

Deadline: February 20 (Opens January 18)

New Media



A competitive initiative from the National Endowment of the Arts, awards range from $10K-$100K and must have a 501c3 organization that can apply. (Fiscal sponsors do not count.) From the NEA:

The National Endowment for the Arts is committed to support activities that reflect the dynamic, diverse, and evolving nature of the media arts field. Applicants may apply in this Art Works category for media arts projects that support creation, exhibition, education, and distribution of historic and contemporary artworks in all genres and forms that use electronic media, film and technology (analog & digital; old and new) as an artistic medium or a medium to broaden arts appreciation and awareness (of any discipline). All genres are welcome to apply; all phases of project support are eligible.

Deadline: February 13 (to submit to grants.gov)

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation New Media Grants

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.

Deadline: Rolling

OSVR Developer Fund

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.

Deadline: Rolling

Merge AR VR Developer Fund

This $1 million dollar fund from Merge could get you funding for your project. From Merge:

We’re committed to supporting your vision and want to invest in you! Whether you’re building an educational game, a digital toy, or another innovative AR/VR experience, we want to help make your ideas a reality.

Deadline: Rolling


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.

Deadline: Rolling 

Useful Links:

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!

Featured header image from the production of 'The Last Black Man in San Francisco' directed by Joe Talbot, recipient of support from the SFFILM Rainin Filmmaking Grant.