Veteran filmmakers know that the costs add up. Pre-production, production, and post-production costs can balloon as the need for new equipment, editing software, and outside expertise increases along the way. And like any creative industry, there is steep competition to get your foot in the door. One option is to go low-budget, recruit every contact you have to work pro bono, and, if necessary, to take advantage of the film-editing software in university libraries’ media labs. Another route is crowd funding, where you find sponsors big and small. This grant guide is meant to help you take the middle ground; you can ask your sound technician neighbor to help you with the AV, but splurge on some new equipment that you received earmarked funding for. Note that many of these grants come with contingencies, such as first rights to broadcasting or distribution.
Documentarians, aspiring screenwriters, emerging and established filmmakers will all find something of interest below.
Application Deadline: 9/7/2012
The MacArthur Foundation accepts proposals for documentaries that confront social challenges, especially themes in line with other areas that the Foundation funds such as conservation and sustainable development, human rights and international justice, and reproductive health, among others. The Foundation supports production and post production costs for films that will endure beyond festival screenings in educational, community and policy making settings for years to come. Preference is given to established filmmakers of feature length films that have broadcasted to national or international audiences. The application requires a detailed budget outline and a list of production staff. All applications and work samples should be submitted electronically.
|Points North Pitch
New England Call for Entries
Application Deadline: 9/7/2012
Points North Pitch provides the opportunity to six New England documentary filmmakers to pitch their projects in development to a panel of industry representatives. Past representatives were culled from industry giants such as BBC, HBO, A&E IndieFilms, ITVS, POV, Sundance Institute, Tribeca Film Institute and ARTE. While works in all stages of development are welcomed, a short sample clip, reel, or trailer is necessary for consideration. Of the six filmmakers selected to pitch their works one will be chosen for the Best Pitch award and will receive a $1000 prize from Documentary Educational Resources.
|The Roy W. Dean Film Grant
From the Heart Productions
Grant and Donated Services
Application Deadline: 9/30/2012
From the Heart Productions offers seasonal grants, so if you do not have your materials in order for September then check back in January 2013 for the Spring deadline. Consultant Carole Dean offers a free 15 minute consultation to all applicants after the selection process is complete – what better reason to apply? The Fall grant includes an array of discounts, memberships, free consultations, and gift certificates to Los Angeles businesses integral to the filmmaking process in addition to a $1000 cash gift. There are no restrictions on the geographical location or genre of film, as long as the films are”unique and make a contribution to society,” a criterion repeated throughout the website. However, grants come with perks that are location specific to NYC or LA. All applications must be received by mail and postmarked (not received) by the deadline.
|All Roads Film Project
Indigenous & Minority Culture Grant
Application Deadline: 12/1/2012
Through the All Roads Film Project, National Geographic supports indigenous or minority-culture filmmakers who seek to create first person narratives that seriously engage issues within their communities and open a space for dialogue around these issues on a national and international scale. Based on the proposal, National Geographic will disburse grants between $1,000 and $10,000 for development and production costs. Filmmakers who are not members of the communities they represent may also apply for this grant, if they are designated by the subjects of the film to tell their story. Proposed works can come from a variety of genres, including Short Documentary, Long Documentary, Narrative Short, Narrative Feature, Music Video, or Animation. Submitting filmmakers should understand that if selected, National Geographic receives the first option to broadcast or distribute your film.
|New Filmmaker Program
Application Deadline: Rolling
Panavision understands that student and emerging filmmakers might not have access to the equipment that makes it possible to realize their dreams. The New Filmmaker Program has two Panavision 16 mm cameras and two 35mm cameras on reserve specifically for filmmakers who would not otherwise be able to afford equipment. A proposal including a copy of the script, a list of staff biographies, and a shooting schedule must be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. For those proposals accepted, the equipment comes with a minimal $1,500 service fee. Equipment must be insured by the applicant or his/her university.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
Application Deadline: 5/1/2013
Although the deadline for the 2012 Nicholl Fellowship has closed, aspiring screenwriters may want to plan in advance to prepare a original feature film screenplay, approximately 90–120 pages in length. Only one draft of a screenplay may be submitted, but for this $35,000 fellowship applicants may present up to three screenplays. The Academy acquires no rights to scripts produced during the fellowship. Past fellows include Jeffrey Eugenides (author of The Virgin Suicides), Susannah Grant (writer of Erin Brockovitch), and Ehren Kruger (writer of The Ring). All materials must be submitted online.
While researching this article, we uncovered numerous other resources for filmmakers, writers, and producers. Check out the links below for additional information:
Screenplay formatting tips from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
A list of grant websites from Cinereach.
A list of grants and fellowships offered by the Sundance Institute.
A list of film and screenwriting grants from filmproposals.com.
A list of grants and fellowships offered by the San Francisco Film Society. Grants are not geographically restricted.
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