March 2, 2016
A Massive List of Spring 2016 Grants All Filmmakers Should Know About
The No Film School list of Spring grants is back for 2016, with new deadlines, program changes, and more opportunities than ever.
Spring is a great time to dust the cobwebs off unfinished scripts, log that documentary footage, and get some of those green dollar bills for your next film.
The following opportunities are organized by Documentary, Narrative, or Screenwriting, and are in order of deadline from March to May. An asterisk next to the grant title means there is an equivalent grant for both doc and narrative. To find out more specifics on a grant, click on the title and get started.
Christopher LaMarca Boone
Credit: “Boone,” dir. Christopher LaMarca, IFP Doc Lab alumni, premiering at SXSW ’16
IFP Independent Documentary Lab*
If you have a rough cut, apply to be a part of the illustrious IFP lab for a year-long mentorship program that supports first-time filmmakers, this year brought to you by the Time Warner Foundation. From IFP:
Focusing exclusively on low-budget features, this highly immersive program provides filmmakers with the technical, creative and strategic tools necessary to launch their films – and their careers.
Deadline: March 1
Vision Maker Media – Public Media Content Fund
A grant that funds part of the budget for Native American stories that appeal to broad audiences. From VMM:
We’re particularly looking for stories that advance CPB’s initiatives — The American Graduate, and Women & Girls Lead. Awards for research and development range from $5,000 to $20,000; awards for production or completion can be up to $100,000; and, new media awards range from $5,000 to $35,000. Projects should be accessible to a broad audience, have the potential for a national broadcast, and be used for effective outreach/community engagement activities to reach audiences beyond a Public Television broadcast.
Deadline: March 1
This well-curated PBS series offers a handsome sum for broadcast distribution of films each season. From PBS:
Independent Lens is seeking submissions of completed or near completed programs for broadcast during the October 2016 – June 2017 season. Independent Lens films are often character driven stories, and are known for compelling storytelling, innovation, and diversity. Independent Lens welcomes individual expression and is committed to presenting diverse points of view on topics suited for a national audience.
Deadline: March 25
Channel 4 First Cut Pitch
If you can pitch an idea for a First Cut doc, you could be one of five filmmakers at the Sheffield Doc/Fest who is commissioned to make the doc. From Channel 4:
An opportunity for UK filmmakers to get a First Cut commission offer, plus mentorship and training. Once again we’ll be offering five new directors the chance to pitch at Sheffield Doc/Fest and one winner will walk away with a commission from Channel 4 for their first 60’ film.
Deadline: March 27
Good Pitch New York 2016
A popular pitch session that is returning to the flagship event in New York this year, comprised of two parts: in June and November. Selected films get to pitch their projects in front of an array of big funding agencies. From Good Pitch:
Good Pitch brings together documentary filmmakers with foundations, NGOs, campaigners, philanthropists, policymakers, brands and media around leading social and environmental issues — to forge coalitions and campaigns that are good for all these partners, good for the films and good for society. Over a year, the selected filmmaking teams receive sustained mentorship and professional development. This includes two campaign development workshops, taking place right after project selection and again on the eve of the live event.
Deadline: March 29
Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation for Documentary Photography & Film
If you have a short documentary from 10 – 30 minutes in length that highlights human unrest, forgotten communities, over-exploited people and environments impacted by war, poverty, famine, disease, exploitation and global distress, you could get $5k from the Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation. From MROF:
The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation for Documentary Photography & Film will award a US$5,000 grant to a single completed “Short Short” documentary film project. Our grant is open to up-and-coming, independent film makers and directors in all countries. Participant must be committed to the field of reportage and documentary film making.
Deadline: March 31
Bertha BRITDOC Connect Fund
This joint initiative between Bertha Foundation and BRITDOC is the first European-based fund between £5,000 – £50,000 open to filmmakers from anywhere with outreach campaigns. From BRITDOC:
The fund is looking to support smart, strategic outreach campaigns for ambitious independent documentary films with a social issue at their core; films which have the ability to achieve real change on a local, regional or global level.
Deadline: April 18
ITVS Digital Open Call
If you have a web series of any length, fiction or non-fiction, linear or transmedia, episodic or anthology, consider the ITVS Digital Open Call. From ITVS:
The Digital Open Call provides up to $50,000 in R&D funding to develop and pilot digital series concepts on any subject, and from any viewpoint, for public media’s digital platforms. Projects must be in development, and cannot have begun principal production.
Deadline: May 2
Miller / Packan Film Fund
This brand-new grant from the Rogovy Foundation will award doc filmmakers between $5,000 to $25,000 for work that address 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 begins granting in 2016. In its first year, grants totaling $150,000 will be awarded to between six and ten filmmakers. The fund operates an open rolling submission process, and awards will be announced bi-annually.
Deadline: May 15
welcome to leith
Credit: “Welcome to Leith,” dir. Michael Beach Nichols and Christopher K. Walker, PBS Independent Lens alumni
IDFA Bertha Fund
A grant from the largest and most prestigious doc-only film festival IDFA is worth looking into if you have an international film. From IDFA:
The IDFA Bertha Fund is the only fund in the world dedicated solely to stimulating and empowering the creative documentary sector in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe…The fund is looking for new creative documentary projects which can be submitted in project development, production, and post production.
Deadline: May 15 (for projects outside of Europe)
Sundance Documentary Fund
Providing up to $20,000 for a documentary in development or up to $50,000 for a documentary in production/post-production with 10+ minutes of edited footage, the Sundance Doc Fund can be a huge score for docs. From Sundance:
The Sundance Institute Documentary Fund supports cinematic feature documentaries with contemporary relevance from filmmakers in the U.S. and internationally. Proposals are evaluated on artful and innovative storytelling, originality, contemporary relevance, and potential to reach its intended audience. First time directors are eligible and no prior work is required. Films may be in any language (with English subtitles or an English dialogue transcript).
Catapult Film Fund
If you’re just starting out on a documentary, you know how hard it is to raise money for it in the beginning — especially when you have nothing to show for it yet (because, hey, you need money to shoot!). The Catapult Film Fund will give you $5,000 to $20,000 to shoot enough footage so you can fundraise for the rest of the project. From Catapult:
Catapult Film Fund provides development funding to documentary filmmakers who have a compelling story to tell, have secured access to their story and are ready to shoot and edit a piece for production fundraising purposes. Our mission is to enable filmmakers to develop their film projects to the next level at a moment where funding is hard to find. We support powerful stories, and moving storytelling, across a broad spectrum of issues and perspectives.
The Fledgling Fund
If your documentary has the potential to make a difference when it comes to an important issue, the Fledgling Fund will support outreach and audience engagement strategies to an average $10-$25k. From the Fledgling Fund:
Grants support outreach and engagement for social issue documentary film and other storytelling projects that have the potential to inspire positive social change around issues that affect the most vulnerable.
The Bertha BRITDOC Documentary Journalism Fund
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.
The Scottish Documentary Institute Consultancies
The Scottish Documentary Institute is rapidly becoming a renowned force behind interesting documentaries coming out of the region, so if you’re based in Scotland, the Consultancies are a good way to get your foot in the door. From SDI:
Scottish Documentary Institute is offering year-round submissions of Scottish documentary projects in development (shorts and features) to our Docscene project pool. The projects will then be steered towards forthcoming training programmes or other funding opportunities, depending on theme and scope: Seed Funding, Interdoc, the Edinburgh Pitch and prepared for other submissions to funders, meet markets or pitching forums. The aim is to improve quality of project development and increase the talent pool.
Ford Foundation: JustFilms
After year of restructuring, it’s a little unclear how many grants JustFilms will be giving out to individuals for 2016. Check out the requirements to see if you fit. Here are a few topics of docs that are not eligible: health, sports, early childhood, advocacy, educational, scientific. From the Ford Foundation:
JustFilms accepts letters of inquiry for grants year round, averaging between 800 and 1,000 inquiries. Our funds are limited, and we are able to support only a small percentage of these projects through direct grants. JustFilms strongly advises that you use the priorities and guiding application questions below to determine whether your project might be competitive in this process.
Deadline: Rolling (if you advance, you’ll hear within 30 days of submission)
I Believe in Unicorns
Credit: “I Believe in Unicorns,” dir. Leah Meyerhoff, IFP Independent Narrative Lab alum
IFP Independent Narrative Lab*
Apply with your rough cut to IFP’s prestigious year-long mentorship program that supports first-time narrative filmmakers whose projects are being made for under $1 million. Past narrative films that participated in the Lab range from I Believe in Unicorns to Go Down Death. From IFP:
Through the Labs, IFP works to ensure that talented emerging voices receive the support, resources, and industry exposure necessary to reach audiences. Open to all first time feature documentary and narrative directors with films in post-production.
Deadline: March 1
Film Independent’s Fast Track
If you’re a directing and producing team with a full-length narrative or documentary film seeking financing, the Los Angeles Fast Track market could be a great place to find it. From FIND:
Fast Track is a three day film financing market, held during the Los Angeles Film Festival and designed to help producer-director teams “fast track” their projects forward through sixty meetings with top executives, financiers, agents, managers, distributors, granting organizations, and production companies. During three days of intensive meetings, participants gain valuable exposure and build vital relationships as they propel their films towards completion.
Deadline: March 7 (FIND members)
The David Ross Fetzer Foundation for Emerging Artists Short Film Grants
To honor the late David Ross, this year the DRFF will offer a National Short Film Grant, a National Short Film Gear Incentive Grant, and a Utah Short Film Grant. From the Davey Foundation:
The film grants consist of either dollar grants ($5000), or gear grants (valued at $10,000) donated by Film Xchange. Grantees also receive mentorship from experienced filmmakers, including in past years Sundance film festival participants Dustin Guy Defa (Person to Person) and Kenny Riches (The Strongest Man).
Deadline: March 22 (regular), April 12 (late)
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: April 1 (depending on FAP region)
HBOAccess Directing Fellowship
This fellowship is for emerging, diverse voices who would like to make a short film with HBO. From HBO:
Last year, HBOACCESS® invited budding filmmakers to submit previous work that demonstrated their talent, skills, and — most important — growth potential. Out of hundreds of submissions rose four exceptionally talented fellow and four outstanding short films.
Deadline: Opens April 6
Screen Australia’s Feature Film Production Program*
If you’re an Australia-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. 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: April 15
Credit: “Experimenter,” dir. Michael Almereyda, Film Independent Sloan Grant recipient
Liberty Lab for Film
If you liberty-minded filmmakers could use 100 days and $10K to make your next short film under the guidance of Taliesin Nexus, check this Lab out. From Taliesin Nexus:
If you and your treatment are selected, you will receive a grant for $10,000 to make your short film or web-series and be paired with an established industry professional who will mentor you through a 100-day process. At the conclusion, we will host a gala showcase screening where your film will premiere along with your fellow LLF participants’ projects.
Deadline: April 15
The Roy Dean Grant/From the Heart Productions*
The Roy Dean Grant includes over $30k of in-kind services and products is open for shorts, docs, and features films with a budget under $500k. 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: April 30
2016 Adobe Design Achievement Awards
Are you a student looking to jumpstart your career? ADAA can offer the chance for mentorship, detailed feedback, career bootcamps, internships, and a trip to San Diego to attend Adobe MAX 2016. From ADAA:
The ADAA is a global digital media competition for student creators. Connected to industry professionals, academic leaders, and top brands, the ADAA aims to launch the next generation of student careers.
Deadline: Open now, closes June 19
Big Vision Empty Wallet Kickstart Diversity Program
If you have a project, particularly one in 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.
Digital Bolex Grant for Women Cinematographers
If you’ve got a short film, music video, or feature with a woman helming the DP role, Digital Bolex might loan you $10k worth of gear and accessories. From Digital Bolex:
The relationship between a director and cinematographer is the most important on any film set, and the most famous director/cinematographer pairs have collaborative relationships spanning decades. We would like to see women cinematographers and directors involved in that kind of intimate collaborative process, and hope that we can start to help move our industry in that direction.
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.
The Jerome Foundation’s New York City Film, Video, and Digital Production Grant Program
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, Video, and Digital Production Grant Program is a program for individual film, video, and digital artists who work in the genres of experimental, narrative, animation, and documentary production. Applicants must live within the five boroughs of New York City at the time of application and have lived there at least one year prior to the application deadline. Applicants must be individual emerging filmmakers.
Deadline: Rolling, allow 5 months for review
Nextpix/Firstpix Crowdfunding Grant
Nextpix/Firstpix will fund films with a budget under $250k that are the first or second film by a director, have a humanitarian element, and are crowdfunding part of that budget. From N/FCG:
We have recently changed our approach to the firstPix grant. Rather than fund on a pre-determined cycle, we will accept queries from any film that is being crowd funded at any point during the year. Once we’ve received your query please give us 30 days to respond.
Panavision’s New Filmmaker Program
If you are a student or a low-budget indie, Panavision might supply you with free camera packages. From Panavision:
The New Filmmaker Program loans film or digital camera packages (based on availability) to filmmakers for student thesis films, “low-budget” independent features, showcase reels, Public Service Announcements, or any other type of short not-for-profit project.
Credit: “Stockholm, Pennsylvania,” dir. Nikole Beckwith, Academy Nichol Fellow, premiered at Sundance ’15
Showtime’s Tony Cox Screenplay Competition
This screenplay competition from Nantucket Film Festival gives cash prizes and VIP festival access to winners with scripts for short films, feature films, 30-minute TV Pilots and hour-long TV pilots. From Nantucket:
Showtime’s Tony Cox Screenplay Competitions recognize emerging screenplays as the best from the pool of submissions each year. The competitions gives writers the opportunity to have their scripts read by a prestigious jury, receive top industry recognition, participate in a Festival focused specifically on screenwriting (including a Mentors Brunch), and win over $7,000 in total cash prizes.
Deadline: March 1 (WAB extended)
Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hosts an international screenwriting competition established to identify new talent in screenwriting. From the Academy:
Each year, the Academy Nicholl screenwriting competition awards up to five $35,000 fellowships to amateur screenwriters. To enter, submit a feature length screenplay and entry fee via the online application when the competition is open for submissions. Fellowship winners are invited to participate in awards week ceremonies and seminars and expected to complete at least one original feature film screenplay during the Fellowship year.
Deadline: March 7 (Early deadline), April 18 (regular)
Slamdance Writing Competition
This competition program has four categories and gives awards to the top three of each, plus a grand prize. Also, every entry gets feedback. From Slamdance:
The Slamdance Screenplay Competition is dedicated to discovering and supporting emerging writing talent. We welcome screenplays in every genre, on any topic, from anywhere in the world.
Deadline: April 11 (Early deadline)
Film Independent Screenwriters Lab
If you’re looking to develop your voice as a writer, this five-week program in autumn in Los Angeles might be a great opportunity. From FIND:
An intensive four-week workshop that meets two to three evenings a week in Los Angeles every September, the Film Independent Screenwriting Lab is designed to facilitate each writer’s unique voice through the development of a single feature project. Through personalized feedback from experienced industry professionals and other writers in the program, Screenwriting Fellows will gain the tools to revise and refine their scripts for production.
Deadline: April 18 (May 2 for FIND members)
Sundance Screenwriters Lab
The Sundance Screenwriters Lab is more than a five-day screenwriting workshop. It’s the gateway for all films chosen to be in the Director’s Lab, as well as eligibility to many of the Sundance grants. From the Sundance Institute:
Through one-on-one story sessions with Creative Advisors, Fellows engage in an artistically rigorous process that offers them indispensable lessons in craft, as well as the means to do the deep exploration needed to fully realize their material.
Deadline: May 1 (opens March 15)
CBS Writer’s Mentoring Program
In this 6-month mentorship program, writers get to build relationships to further their careers. From CBS:
The focus of this six month program is on opening doors: providing opportunities to build relationships with network executives and show runners; to support new and emerging writers in their efforts to improve their craft; and to develop the interpersonal skills necessary to break in and succeed.
Deadline: May 2
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