Post By Nick Soares
Film Grants, all about film grants for filmmakers.
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Funding Your Film Project with Corporate, Foundation, and Government Grants
Whether you're a novice to the digital arts or an experienced indie filmmaker, you will find some excellent grant opportunities listed in the following pages.
The key to success with foundation grants, whether public, private, or corporate, begins well before the grant proposal is sent in. What you’ll need to come up with is an overall funding strategy. Foundation funding should be viewed as but one piece of this strategy. This is because granting institutions take a while to make decisions—we’re talking six months to a year, or more—so you don’t want to be waiting around for the money and then be devastated if the grant you were hoping for doesn’t come through. What you need is a multi-pronged approach so that, ideally, your project can keep moving forward without losing momentum.
There is an old fundraising maxim, “people give money to people not projects.” Keep this in mind when going after corporate, foundation, and government grants. As daunting as it may seem, personal contact with the institution you plan to apply to can be critical to your success. But before that, do your homework.
Carefully read the information on the website of the foundation, corporation, or government agency so that you can figure out how to best pitch your project to them and also impress them with your understanding of who they are and what they’re about. Knowing the foundation’s purpose and goals, and being able to eloquently articulate your vision for your project and how it dovetails with their own, is your initial objective.
The next step is to make a call to the appropriate program officer. Be prepared to give a –one to two minute pitch about why you think they’d want to fund your project, and then ask the program officer for advice as to what to focus on in your application. There’s another old fundraising maxim that applies here: “if you ask for money, you get advice; if you ask for advice, you get money.” Personal contact with the institution’s staff (without being a pest) will not only provide you with inside information, but will greatly increase your application's chances of being sent along to the grant committee, the small group of people who make the final decision as to who gets the money and who doesn’t.
If you have a knockout pitch, it might even be possible, for example, to bring around an institution that doesn’t ordinarily fund film projects. If your project is right in sync with their mission, they might consider funding it, especially if you can give a compelling rationale as to how your work will advance their stated goals. The most time-consuming part of successful grant funding is identifying, initiating, and maintaining personal contacts with institution staff and board members. Filmmakers who have received the grant in previous years can also be a source of valuable advice. Seek them out and politely pick their brains, all the while being sure not to become a nuisance. If there is some way to give back to them, even in a token gesture, go for it. For instance, you can talk with them over lunch, and then pick up the tab.
As with everything else in the entertainment industry, rejection is the norm, so don’t get bent out of shape if many of the grants you apply for don’t come through. You don’t want to pin your hopes on any one grant; it’s actually much better if you go after multiple sources of funding because such a project is more likely to get successfully completed. Not only is this something for you to keep in mind, but it is a truism that program officers know very well. They feel better being one of the supporters of a project rather than getting into a situation where the filmmaker will be highly dependent on them only.
Persistence is the key with corporate, foundation, and government funding, and just about everything else in getting a movie made. The idea is to compost every failure into a future success. One way you can do this is by carefully reviewing any feedback that the granting institution gives you, along with the news that they’ve passed on your project. If you get a form rejection letter, force yourself to call them and to (politely) ask them what specifically were the weak points in your project or proposal. Remember that even though your feelings are hurt, they spent a lot of time reviewing your materials, and a sincere “thank you” will go a long way towards your next proposal being looked at favorably.
Now, for the writing! Once you have your personal contact, and are clear about how your project meshes with a given institution’s mission, you can start to write the proposal. Leave enough time for a colleague or friend to read over what you’ve written to provide ideas and suggestions. Before you send it off, be sure to run the spell checker one last time and have someone proofread it who has a good eye for typos. It's amazing how typos can creep into a document! A scientist friend told me that he had an article going to press at a major peer-reviewed scientific journal and when they sent him the pre-publication proofs to look over, the title contained the phrase “molecular beans” instead of “molecular beams”!
If you’re a creative type, you’re probably not that fond of following instructions, but when you’re filling out a grant proposal, you really have to, and you also have to get it to them by the stated deadline, and no later. Be sure to use a readable font and font-size (you can’t go wrong with Times Roman 12-pt if the guidelines don’t specify a particular font and font size). Also be sure to send in the application in the requested manner, either snail mail, electronically, or both. Likewise, keep to the stated page length, and only attach requested materials. Sometimes “less is more,” so don’t attach documents that they did not ask to see. If you really want to submit something additional, contact the program officer first by phone, and only include the additional information if he or she says it’s all right.
Good luck, and let us know of any grants you’ve gotten by using this e-booklet and following our advice. We’ll post your success on our website!
2011 Public Media Content Fund
2550 N. Hollywood Way, Suite 301
Burbank, CA 91505
Web site: LATINO PUBLIC BROADCASTING
The 2011 Public Media Content Fund is an open invitation for independent producers or production entities (a partnership or organization of the individual producer or producers), which are creating programs on the Latino experience. Latino Public Broadcasting funding will average between $5,000 and $100,000 for programs of most genres, including drama, comedy, animation, documentary, mixed genre or new media. While proposals can take creative risks, selected projects must ultimately appeal to a wide variety of television and public media audiences. Projects that reflect personal or individual experience should have universal appeal.
Available to: Independent producers
Apply to: Latin Public Broadcasting, Attn: Luis Ortiz/2011 Public Media Content Fund, above address
909 NE 43rd Street, Suite 206
Seattle, WA 98105
Web site: http://www.911media.org
The Artist Media Scholarship provides financial support to seed interest and exploration in the digital media arts. Open to artists of all disciplines, the $1,000 award is to be used for classes in digital media, including video and video editing offered by 911 Media Arts Center. The funds may also apply to additional resources offered at 911 Media Arts Center, such as the rental of video and editing equipment, and for artist projects needing technical assistance. All levels of experience (including no experience at all) in digital media are eligible. The applicant must be a practicing artist in any discipline and be interested in exploring digital media. Applications from experienced digital artists, as well as artists from any discipline, with little or no experience in digital media arts are welcome.
Available to: Artists of all disciplines.
Apply to: 911 Media Arts Center, above address
Academy Film Scholars Program
1313 Vine St.
Hollywood, CA 90028
Web site: Academy Film Scholars Program | Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Two grants of $25,000 will be made to qualified and worthy applicants, as reviewed and selected by the Academy’s Grants Committee and staff. Grants are not available to individuals who are actively pursuing degrees at a college or university. Grant recipients are required to: (1) donate two copies of any physical deliverable to the Academy; (2) present their findings in lecture form at the Academy around and within one year following the publication of the work; (3) acknowledge the Academy Film Scholars Program in any written materials, be they final deliverables or interim documents, and mention the Academy’s support in any press interviews; and (4) be reasonably available for press-related activities deemed important by the Academy.
Available to: Established scholars, writers, historians or researchers possessing either a significant record of achievement, or exceptional promise and demonstrated accomplishments in their field. Applicants must have written and published at least one book or a comparable collection of articles or monographs
Deadline: October 2012
Apply to: Online only
The Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation
380 West Broadway
New York, NY 10012
Web site: Grants | The Adolph & Esther Gottlieb Foundation, Inc.
Twelve Individual Support Grants are awarded each year. Successful applicants will be able to demonstrate that they have been working in a mature phase of their art for at least 20 years. Maturity is based on the level of intellectual, technical, and creative development maintained over this time period. Artists must show that their primary involvement has been with their artistic goals, regardless of other personal or financial responsibilities. Artists must work in the disciplines of painting, sculpture, or printmaking. In addition to the maturity requirement, eligibility for an Individual Support grant is determined by the applicant’s current financial need. Each applicant must personally request a new application each year.
Available to: U.S. based and International artists
Deadline: December 15 2012
Apply to: The Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, above address
A.J. Muste Memorial Institute
339 Lafayette Street
New York, NY 10012
Web site: AJ Muste Memorial Institute Grants
Our Social Justice Fund currently makes 8 to 10 grants annually of up to $2,000 for grassroots activist projects in the U.S. and around the world, giving priority to those with small budgets and little access to more mainstream funding sources. The Muste Institute's Social Justice Fund will consider preliminary applications for film, video, theater, or art projects if they are part of a broader grassroots organizing or educational campaign and will be used to further nonviolent organizing and/or activism for social justice. Priority goes to projects which address the Muste Institute's core issues of disarmament, conscientious objection, or anti-war activism stand little chance of finding sufficient funding from other sources.
Apply to: A.J. Muste Memorial Institute, above address
Alabama Humanities Foundation
1100 Ireland Way, Suite 101
Birmingham, AL 35205
Web site: Alabama Humanities Foundation - Programs - Grants Program
Media Grants provide support for films, videotapes, slide/tape presentations, as well as television and radio programs which have an Alabama-specific focus. All must be accompanied by interpretive study guides. Applicants must have experience with media production techniques. AHF is a member of the Southern Humanities Media Fund. Applicants are encouraged to apply directly to that fund for projects with a broader Southern focus. All Media Grants are in the form of matching funds. Outright funds are not awarded in this category. Media Grants: Up to $5,000 in Matching Funds for Research and Development Phase. Up to $20,000 in Matching Funds for Production Phase
Available to: Applicants experienced with media production techniques
Deadline: Approximately six weeks prior to the final proposal deadline which is March 1 and September 1 (postmarked)
Apply to: Alabama Humanities Foundation, address above
Alaska Humanities Forum
421 W. 1st Ave., Ste. 300
Anchorage, AK 99501
Web site: http://www.akhf.org/grants/grants_main.html
The AKHF grant program funds humanities-based projects. In carrying out the Forum’s mission, we support grant projects that cultivate appreciation and enjoyment of the humanities, including disciplines such as Cultural studies, Archaeology, Ethics, Philosophy, History, Linguistics, Folklore, Languages, and many more; create dialogue among peoples holding divergent points of view; apply traditional bodies of wisdom to present concerns; search for a sense of personal identity and a sense of place through history, traditions, and new ideas; and pass on the values, methods, and wisdom of the humanities to future generations of Alaskans.
Funding up to $10,000 for general humanities projects. In order to encourage applicants and a diversity of projects, the Forum may decide not to fund long-term projects. If the Forum decides to fund such projects, funding is often limited to no more than three consecutive grant awards for the same project. The Alaska Humanities Forum Board makes the final decision about grant awards selected from proposals submitted in open competition. Proposals are closely reviewed by the board grants committee and with committee recommendations, considered by the full board.
Available to: Non-profit organization or institutions, individuals, and ad-hoc groups
Apply to: Online only
Alaska State Council on the Arts Online
161 Klevin Street, Suite 102
Anchorage, AK 99508 - 1506 USA
Website: Culture Grants Online
Career Opportunity Grants are designed to provide financial assistance to professional artists, arts educators, and professionals engaged in arts administration for travel to in-state, national, or international events, programs or seminars; and for other activities that will contribute to the strength of the applicant's professional standing or skill.
These cash awards help artists and other arts professionals take advantage of impending, concrete opportunities that will significantly advance their work or careers. The awards are for unique, short-term opportunities that do not constitute routine completion of work in progress. Awards in this category usually range from $300 - $1000. A career opportunity grant will provide not more than one half of the applicant's cash expenses.
Available to: Alaskan residents at least 18 years of age at the time of application but not enrolled as a full-time student or received a Career Opportunity Grant in the preceding state fiscal year (July 1 – June 30)
Deadline: June 1, September 1, December 1, March 1
Apply to: Online only
Alberta Foundation for the Arts
10708 - 105 Avenue
Edmonton AB, T5H 0A1 CANADA
Web site: Alberta Foundation for the Arts
The Individual Artists Project Grant program supports the development of individual Alberta artists, Traditional Aboriginal artists, arts administrators, and artist ensembles by providing a grant for a specific film and video arts project. The film and video arts are defined as independent works in film and video produced by individual artists. Independent works are those over which individual artists maintain complete creative and editorial control. This program does not support work create for cultural industries of commercial film and television.
Available to: Canadian citizen or a landed immigrant who has his/her primary residence in Alberta for one full year before applying for a grant.
Deadline: March 1, September 1
Apply to: Alberta Foundation for the Arts, above address
The Art Bridge Association, Inc.
676 White Plains Rd.
Scarsdale, NY 10583-5008
URL: Art Bridge Association
The Art Bridge Association Grants are given every other year in the areas of film, music, and theatre. Bridge loans, equipment leasing, and incorporation services to qualifying artists are offered in forms of financing. The Art Bridge receives 80% of its funding from individual donations, with remaining contributions coming from corporations and private and public foundations. Modest fees charged for services make up the rest of the funding. Grants for film are given in the odd-numbered years. Proposals for short films are due May 15th, with grants given on August 15th. Proposals for documentaries are due January 15th and given to the recipient on March 1st. There is a nominal fee of $15.00 for grant submissions.
Available to: Inquire
Apply to: The Art Bridge Association, above address
Arthur Vining Davis Foundations
225 Water Street, Suite 1510
Jacksonville, FL 32202-5185
Web site: avdf.org > Home
The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations are interested in public television as an educational medium. Grants primarily provide partial support for major series with lasting educational value that are assured of national airing by PBS. Consideration is given on occasion to single stand-alone programs of exceptional merit. Preference is given to programs of enduring value on subjects such as history and science. Programs whose primary purpose is advocacy, topical news coverage or entertainment are unlikely to be competitive. The contribution to teaching in grades K-12, higher and continuing education is a consideration in evaluating proposals. Children's series are of particular interest. Consideration also will be given to innovative uses of public television (including online efforts) that enhance educational outreach in schools and communities.
Proposals for "capstone" grants to complete production funding are preferred. Initial research and pre-production funding are seldom supported. Neither multiyear grants nor annual funding of continuing series are normally considered. Recent "capstone" production grants have ranged from $100,000 to $400,000. Proposals are not accepted via FAX or email. There are no deadlines for proposals and grant applications may be submitted at any time of the year. However, the process of moving from proposal submission to grant approval takes time. Therefore, the Foundations are not able to meet requests for eligible projects requiring immediate or near-term funding. All proposals must come from the president or other primary executive of an institution - - not from development officers, department heads or individual researchers within the institution. It is not necessary for an applicant or representative of an institution to visit personally with the staff in order to present a proposal successfully. A visit by a member of the Foundations staff to the requesting institution typically is conducted in the final stages of the grant evaluation process.
Available to: All proposals must come from the president or other primary executive of an institution -- not from development officers, department heads, or individual researchers within the institution.
Apply to: Dr. Jonathan T. Howe, Executive Director, The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, above address
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