With icy weather and Omicron on the horizon, it's time to hole yourself up and apply for some grants!
By now, most granting organizations have figured out how to adapt to the pandemic. In some cases, this means Zoom mentorship or in-person fellowships with a proof-of-vaccination card. For others, there are extended deadlines and funds for pandemic-era filmmaking in mind. What's the same as always? There are a bunch of amazing opportunities for a lucky few filmmakers in the fields of doc, narrative, screenwriting, and new media.
As always, the following opportunities are organized by deadline—from January through February—and by category: documentaries, narratives, screenwriting, and new media. Good luck!
[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'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? Until further notice, the lab will be online for May of 2022. 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. The program advances the careers of its Fellows by introducing them to film professionals who can advise on both the craft and business of documentary filmmaking."
Deadline: January 28 (February 11 for Film Independent Members)
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 offer professional consultancies to Scotland-based filmmakers, 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 10
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 3
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 have been required include 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 $700,000 range. From NEH:
"The Media Projects program supports the development, production, and distribution of radio programs, podcasts, long-form documentary films, and documentary film series that engage general audiences with humanities ideas in creative and appealing ways. Projects must be grounded in humanities scholarship and demonstrate an approach that is thoughtful, balanced, and analytical."
Deadline: January 12
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."
Deadline: January 12
Since 2002, this grants awards between $15,000 and $25,000 depending on stage of production to New England filmmakers with film budgets under $400,000. From LEF:
"The goal of LEF New England is to fund the work of independent documentary film and video artists in the region, and to broaden recognition and support for their work, both locally and nationally. It also supports programs that highlight the rich history and ongoing legacy of innovation within New England’s independent film community."
Deadline: January 21 (to submit Letter of Intent)
Do you have a feature nonfiction projects in mid- to late post-production (from assembly through rough cut)? Four lucky non-fiction filmmaking teams will get support in this Lab to bring out the best of the director-editor relationship. 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: January 18
Part of the Creative Producing Lab, the Sundance Institute will choose emerging documentary producers with projects in production or post-production to attend the Creative Producing Lab and be part of a year-long mentorship program. From Sundance:
"The Documentary Film Program’s Producers Lab and Fellowship is a yearlong program designed to nurture emerging producers with project-specific support through the Producers Lab, Producers Summit, year-round mentorship from industry mentors, and ongoing support from Sundance Institute staff. The program is designed to hone emerging producers' creative instincts and evolve their communication and problem-solving skills at all stages of production."
Deadline: February 10
Are you a filmmaker that delves into stories intrinsically related to science? The Sundance Sandbox Fund offers between $25K and $50K for your project in development, production, and post-production. From the Sundance Institute:
"The Sandbox Fund offers grants, engagement events, and other opportunities for independent artists seeking to explore the intrinsic link between science and culture through innovative storytelling. The program is administered by the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund in collaboration with Sandbox Films, a documentary studio that illuminates the art and beauty of scientific inquiry."
Deadline: March 7
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 offers between 10,000 to 50,000 Swiss francs depending on the stage of production and whether the project is fiction or documentary. From Visions Sud Est:
"The Swiss fund visions sud est was initiated in 2005 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. In 2011, the Locarno Film Festival has joined the fund and since 2019 the Festival Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur is also part of it. The fund 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 25
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 now offers two grants, the Catapult Research Grant and the the Catapult Development Grant, the latter which offers up to $20,000 to shoot enough footage so you can fundraise for the rest of the project. From Catapult:
"The Catapult Development Grant gives early support to propel projects forward that hold the promise of a story that should be uniquely told in film. We provide development funding, up to $20,000 to documentary filmmakers who have a strong story to tell, have secured access, and are ready to create a fundraising piece to help unlock critical production funding. We enable filmmakers to develop their projects to the next level, at the early stage when funding is hard to find. We support powerful and moving storytelling, by filmmakers with a strong voice across a broad spectrum of subject matter. "
Deadline: Reopens January 1
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."
If you can write one damn good sentence, and want $10,000 to make either a narrative or doc short film, then this grant is for you. 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 way 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: February 8
Calling all iPhonographers and Smartfilmmakers! Here's your chance to make a film under 10 minutes on your smartphone in the latest monthly challenge to get you mentorship from Sundance Co//ab. From Sundance Co//ab:
"With a smartphone in our pocket, making films has never been easier or more cost-effective. This month's challenge invites you to shoot a short film using your mobile device. Craft a fiction-based short film of your choosing. Start with an existing script that you've been meaning to shoot, or use this challenge to be creative with a brand new idea. The sky's the limit on the story you want to tell, but it's always helpful to focus on character, conflict and meaning."
Deadline: January 14
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 7, closes January 18
Could you and your writing partners use support and mentorship on your completed draft of original, long-form episodic content? FIND will support 6 to 8 writers or writing teams with just that. From FIND:
"The Episodic Lab helps to further the careers of its Fellows by introducing them to industry veterans who can offer guidance on both the craft and business of writing episodic content. Each Fellow will be paired with a Creative Advisor with whom they’ll work one-on-one and in group sessions to develop their project during the month of July. Additionally, guest speakers will screen and discuss their own work to offer insights into the creative process and industry best practices. A final networking and pitch event will offer Fellows the opportunity to introduce themselves and their work to studio and network executives."
Deadline: February 11
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 six-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: February 25 (Regular)
Are you an emerging producer with one or two features (or shorts) under your belt? Apply to this Producers Track and be considered for the yearlong Producers Lab & Fellowship and two-day Producers Intensive. From Sundance:
"The Producers Fellowship is a year-long program designed to nurture emerging fiction and documentary film producers with project-specific support through the Producers Lab and Producers Summit, a grant to support the producer and the project, 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 fiction or documentary film project."
Deadline: February 10
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 9, closes March 9
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: Rolling, February 10 for April 11 decision
If you're a Canadian citizen or a landed immigrant, the Film Board of Canada has ten provinces that offer emerging filmmakers $3,000 to $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
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."
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: February 14
If you have a funny bone and the script to show for it, you could win $1,000 and an in-person introduction to a literary manager. From ScreenCraft:
"Whether your comedy is romantic, dark, slapstick, broad or dry, we want to read your film or TV script! Winners’ projects will be circulated to our wide network of industry professionals, with the goal of setting up the winners with production companies and studios, and introducing the top writers to literary managers and agents."
Deadline: Pre-register December 31, March 1st
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:
"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. In consideration of the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, our goal is to hold this residency in person and require proof of vaccination, but we plan to make virtual accommodations for those who are unable to do so. The screenplay must explore issues pertaining to social justice."
Deadline: February 25 (Regular)
In its fifth 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: February 28
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."
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."
- The Gotham (Formerly IFP) Guide to Granting Organizations — IFP
- POV's Documentary Funding Calendar — PBS
- indiefilmTO's The Ultimate Guide To Grant Writing
Keep an eye on our Grants, Contests & Awards section, where we will be sharing new opportunities that come up throughout the season.