Are you an aspiring filmmaker struggling to turn your idea into a fully realized film? Or perhaps you already have a project underway and you simply lack the funding needed for post-production to finish. Grant sources that help filmmakers are fairly numerous especially in the area of documentaries.
So who issues these grants? Film grants traditionally come from groups within the film industry including companies that develop documentaries for release, film festivals, professional societies and suppliers of camera equipment and film. These grants provide help in the way of cash funding, equipment rentals and other services necessary to complete your film project.
Private foundations also exist that issue grants for filmmakers, often looking to fund a particular subject matter or focused on films of educational value. If you are working on a documentary project designed to air on public television, several sources for film grants focus specifically on that. And government grants for filmmakers are also issued through federal sources such as the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Arthur Vining Davis Foundations
This foundation supports the production of major series and stand alone programs being developed to air on public television. Selected projects can receive a capstone production grant of $100,000 to $400,000. Programming should have educational value and focus on subjects such as history or science. Special consideration is given to projects that make innovative use of public television and provide educational outreach to schools and communities.
Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice
Astraea is an organization that focuses on lesbian, trans, intersex and LGBT social change. It supports film projects through two grants. The U.S. Global Fund awards grants to media projects dealing with LGBT related topics. The Global Arts Fund issues grants directly to LGBT artists across many disciplines including film and video.
Camden International Film Festival
The CIFF hosts several opportunities to support documentary filmmakers. The New York Times Op-Docs Pitch is a partnership with the New York Times allowing documentary filmmakers to pitch their ideas on stage during the festival at the Points North Documentary Forum. The winning director will receive a $2,000 grant and the documentary will air on NYTimes.com. Six filmmakers will also be selected for the Points North Pitch. Up for grabs in this competition is a first place prize valued at $11,000 and a second place prize including a $3,000 tuition scholarship to Maine Media Workshops and three consultations with the Tribeca Film Institute.
Catapult Film Fund
This fund offers grants of $15,000 to $20,000 to documentary filmmakers twice a year, with spring and fall rounds. The funding is intended to get new projects off the ground and money awarded can be used to shoot and edit a sample for further production fundraising purposes. While not necessary to apply, you must have a fiscal sponsor lined up to actually receive grant funds under the program.
Center for Asian American Media Filmmaker Support
CAAM is a non-profit organization with the goal of adding diversity to the presentation of Asian Americans in media. It offers several funding initiatives for filmmakers. The Documentary Completion Fund awards grants of $20,000 to $30,000 to pay for post-production expenses to finish projects and deliver broadcast ready masters for public broadcasting stations. To be eligible for funding, at least one person on your project must have a prior public television credit as a producer, director or editor. Named for the CAAM founder, the James T. Yee Talent Development Program offers several additional opportunities for documentary filmmakers.
Chicken & Egg Pictures Open Call
Chicken & Egg Pictures issues grants specifically to women nonfiction filmmakers. The average grant size is usually between $10,000 to $15,000 per award. To date, it has issued over $2.8 million in overall film funding. The annual deadline for applications is July 1 each year with grants announced in December.
Film Independent Grants and Awards
Film Independent is the producer of the Los Angeles Film Festival. In addition to many services it offers to the filmmaking community, it issues a number of grants, awards and fellowships to assist filmmakers with current projects and reward previous work. These grants range from $10,000 to $50,000 and have different areas of focus. In additional to cash prizes, Film Independent partnerships offer grants of camera equipment rentals and post-production services such as complimentary digital mastering, sound mixing and color correction for feature film projects.
Fledgling Fund Film and Creative Media Grants
The film and media grants offered by The Fledgling Fund usually range from $5,000 to $30,000 and are issued to projects that focus on social issues. Applications for letters of inquiry are handled twice a year with two funding cycles that open in January and August. The criteria for selection include the strength of your proposal and overall film, the project’s current stage, how your film will be used when completed and what issue comprise its areas of focus. These grants are available to filmmakers that reside both inside and outside of the United States.
Fleishhacker Foundation Small Arts Grants
Grants are issued to film projects twice a year under the Feishhacker Foundation’s Small Arts Grants program. The average grant amount they award is between $2,000 and $5,000. To be considered, your film project’s budget cannot exceed $750,000. Grants are issued under two grant cycles in January and July each year.
Foundation for Jewish Culture Lynn and Jules Kroll Fund
Originally funded by a lead grant from Steven Spielberg, this fund awards grants to films that pertain to aspects of Jewish culture. Grants are intended to pay for post-production expenses and are usually between $15,000 and $35,000 in size. To be eligible, you must be a United States citizen, own copyright of your film and have creative and financial control of your project. Your film must also be ready for post-production to apply.
Frameline Completion Fund
Frameline supports film projects that deal specifically with LGBT issues. The annual deadline for submissions is October 31 with filmmakers receiving notification the following January. The range of amounts received is between $1,000 and $5,000 for this grant. Over the past two decades, Frameline has provided support to over 110 LGBT films.
Independent Television Service Open Call
The ITS hosts an open call for filmmakers working on ideas for public television programming. If selected, it will issue a production agreement and provide $150,000 to $350,000 to see your idea come to fruition. Each application must contain a program synopsis and treatment, fully explaining the film’s theme and describing its overall audience impact. Applications must also include a work-in-progress video of your proposed program.
Latino Public Broadcasting Media Content Fund
The LPB Public Media Content Fund awards grants to filmmakers working with public broadcasting programming. Projects can vary between web-based videos all the way to a full series and should relate to Latino American issues. Funding will range between $5,000 and $100,000 and will pay for research and development, production, post-production and new media expenses. If you are awarded a grant by LPB, you must sign a licensing agreement that deals with distribution rights for your film.
MacArthur Foundation Documentary Film Grants
This foundation seeks to fund documentary films that have high journalistic value and focus on social issues and policy changes. Over the last thirty years, it has funded over 200 such projects. The typical size of the grant received is $50,000 to $200,000. Applications are accepted between July 15 and 31 with announcements following in September.
National Endowment for the Arts
The NEA offers grant funding for media arts projects under its Art Works campaign. Grants are generally between $10,000 and $25,000 but can total up to $100,000 in rare instances. This funding is available for specific media art projects as well as to organizations that support the media arts through festivals, exhibitions, services, facilities or publications. The NEA program has two deadlines annually in March and August.
National Endowment for the Humanities
The NEH currently offers two grants for filmmakers. America’s Media Makers: Development Grants are issued to film, television, radio and interactive digital media projects to form collaborations between media producers and humanities scholars for project planning. Bridging Cultures Through Film: International Topics funds documentary films that explore humanities themes with an international focus.
Omni Documentary and Drama Fund (This grant may not be active)
Omni Television is a Canadian Broadcaster covering audiences in Ontario and Quebec. It’s Documentary and Drama Fund supports ethnic programs created for broadcast in languages other than English and French. There is no deadline for submissions with applicants accepted year round. Funding for each project is considered on a case by case basis. If selected, Omni Television will pay for the production costs of your proposed program but will retain broadcasts rights for up to two years.
Panavision New Filmmaker Program
As a leading manufacturer of professional film cameras, Panavision offers assistance to aspiring filmmakers in the way of equipment grants. The program has four 16mm and two 35mm camera packages available for shooting schedules inside the United States. If selected, you will be required to pay a $1,500 service fee and must also provide insurance. Panavision does not have an application deadline for these equipment grants but suggest that you submit your proposal at least two months before you plan to begin filming.
Puma Catalyst Awards
These awards are for $5,000 euros and are awarded to international film projects each year. They are open to documentaries that deal with any of the following issues: Africa, arts and culture, global labor, recycling, sports, sustainable consumption, or women’s rights. The open call for submissions is handled year round. Funding can be used for development, production, post-production or completion of film projects. It is not available for marketing or for television programming.
Roy W. Dean Film and Video Grants
From the Heart Productions owner Carole Dean first started the Roy W. Dean Film and Video Grants to honor her father in 1992. She is the author of the book The Art of Film Funding. These film and video grants are awarded three times yearly with Spring, Summer and Fall deadlines. If selected, you will be provided with grant assistance in the form of cash and services totaling around $30,000.
San Francisco Film Society Grants
SFFS offers four grant and fellowship opportunities for both filmmakers and screenwriters. The Documentary Film Fund is for documentary work in post-production. The KRF Filmmaking Grant is for non-documentary work dealing with social issues. In addition to film grants, the SFFS offers the Hearst Screenwriting Grant and the Djerassi Screenwriting Fellowship to emerging writers.
Sundance Documentary Fund
In addition to hosting the annual Sundance Film Festival, the Sundance Institute offers a Documentary Fund which awards $1 to $2 million in grant funding each year internationally to independent documentaries. Submission deadlines are in February and July each year for three categories. Grants between $20,000 and $50,000 are issued to pay for development, production, post-production and audience engagement. Your documentary should contain artistic or innovative storytelling, have worldwide relevance, deal with a social issue and have potential for social engagement to be considered for funding.
Tribeca Film Institute
Also responsible for another well-known film festival, the Tribeca Film Institute offers several grant programs for filmmakers totaling over $1 million in annual support. Funding is available for documentaries, features and digital media. And grants generally range from $10,000 to $100,000 depending on each specific program.
Category: Other Grant Information