Last Updated on August 24, 2023 by Hannah Stevens
Finding funding for your film is often more difficult than making it. It’s easy to become demoralized while waiting for your agency, producers, or anyone else to show up and provide you with the money you need. Finding film funding, however, does not have to be difficult. Because every filmmaker is eligible for a film grant. They’re not only accessible, but you won’t have to go out of your way to find them. When applying for film funding, thorough research is essential. Film grants are usually unlimited funding, services, or equipment that can be used to help a project conceive, produce, or distribute. They are not required to repay them. Whether you’re applying for a short film grant, a feature film grant, etc. you need to know what you’re applying for and you are 100% committed to your work once you’re approved to receive grants.
How to apply for film grants?
Finding and applying for film grants is not an easy road. Many times you’d be frustrated at finding none or they’re just plain hard to find by. People with grit and determination also need to be patient. Grants wouldn’t just come and fall right off your doorstep. They won’t find you but you can find them. Start with your local government agencies handling film grants – that would be your first step in finding film grants. But first, you need to make sure that you prepared everything you need for the application process to go smoothly.
The following list contains the requirements you needed to prepare for:
- Put together an artist statement – You will definitely need an artist statement for your applications. Think of this one-to-two page letter as an introduction to you and your project. You should make it clear in the letter why you want to do your project. You should also inform the reader of how you would like to bring the project to fruition.
- Write a film treatment – You will also need a film treatment for your project. This is something you will need throughout the life of the film so it is important to get it right. Being able to sum up your story in a page or two is a craft in itself. Many screenwriters are not as adept at writing treatments as they are at writing actual scripts. But whether you’re going after feature film grants or documentary grants, a killer treatment is a must. After you have completed your treatment, you can rest easier knowing that you won’t need to do it again for future film grant applications.
- Budget your film – You will also need a film budget top sheet to show how you will use any funds that are awarded in your project. It’s very important that this is done well. The more professional and detailed your film budget is, the better your chances of receiving a film grant. Your budget should be industry standard and specific to the project you are submitting. Remember, those reviewing your film grant application know what a budget should look like.
- Create a moodboard – In addition to the essential elements for your application there are several items that you may include with your grant application. Including a mood board is one such element that may boost your chances of getting funding for your film project. At the very least your mood board will help illuminate your vision of the project and make it much clearer to those reviewing the project. Your mood board doesn’t have to be complex or long. A few pages that give the reader a sense of time, location and theme will do nicely. You definitely don’t want to overwhelm with information.
- Get a letter of recommendation – Another item to include in your application process is a letter of recommendation. Now, this can’t come from your mother. A letter of recommendation from someone within the film industry lends your application a little more weight. Many fellowships will require a letter of recommendation especially if it involves continuous employment or collaboration. So a standard letter from someone at a notable production company or studio is good to have throughout the process of applying for grants. 6. Shoot or edit a proof of concept
- Shoot or edit a proof of concept – Another item to consider including with your grant applications is a reel, proof of concept piece or work-in-progress footage that shows the work being done. If a picture tells a thousand words, then moving pictures tell many more. Having visual evidence of your style and standards of filmmaking can do wonders to push your project to the front of the line. With a reel or proof of concept, you show decision-makers that you are a professional and that your work is good enough to warrant the prize they are offering.
Videomakers Grants in the United States
- NVTVF’s Independent Pilot Competition – Annually, this grant accepts independently-produced television pilots and web series worldwide to advertise them in hopes of attracting contract deals with Lionsgate, NatGeo, the Travel Channel, and Sundance Channel.
- The Jerome Foundation’s Film and Video Grant Program – is a film and video production grant program for independent filmmakers working in the experimental, narrative, animation, and documentary genres.
- Creative Capital – grants up to $50,000 in direct cash and $45,000 in career development services for each funded initiative, amounting to up to $95,000 per project.
- Vision Maker Media – Public Media Content Fund – Requests suggestions for public television shows that reflect the lives, values, and traditions of American Indians and Alaska Natives.
- ITVS Open Call – Open Call grants funding for the completion of single nonfiction public television shows on any topic and from any perspective. As demonstrated by a work-in-progress video, projects must have started production.
- Film and Video Individual Project Funding Canada – This grant grants up to $15,000 to assist the growth of individual Alberta artists, arts administrators, or an ensemble of artists by sponsoring particular film and video arts initiatives in Canada.
- WIFV Fiscal Sponsorship – This program contributes to our goal of providing resources to women working in the film, television, and media industries. It is a financial and legal structure in which our public charity provides limited financial and legal monitoring for a filmmaker-initiated initiative.
- The Film Collaborative Fiscal Sponsorship – This is only used when a nonprofit film or film-related project or event seeks money from the foundation, government, or individual sources.
- Women Make Movies Fiscal Sponsorship – This is given to women filmmakers who are independently seeking fundraising campaigns for their film project and nonprofit tax-exempt status.
A film grant is a sum of money given to filmmakers to assist them in making their films. Organizations that want to assist a specific cause (such as societal issues) or filmmakers from disadvantaged minority groups frequently offer them grants as financial assistance for the successful production of their films. Film grants are funding that can be used to pay for services, or equipment to be used to help a project conceive, produce, or distribute. They are not required to repay them.