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Film Grants For Filmmakers

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  • Film Grants For Filmmakers

    Looking for filmmaking grants?

    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 helpful information in this article.

    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. 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, here is a sample of a film grant proposal. 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.

    Film Grant Links will be added below, Subscribe to this article to get emails when links are added.

    Nick Soares Google
    Distribber - Keep 100% of your film's revenue

  • #2
    It would be nice to have some links. I have a very nice proposal for a small project we're looking to get started. Thank you for your insight


    • #3
      Ok, I will see if I have time to pull some over here today
      Distribber - Keep 100% of your film's revenue


      • #4
        I can't believe I haven't read this article yet! Well written. Thanks!



        • #5
          I've yet to find an organization that provides grants to companies that aren't 501c3s