Short Film Grants and Funding In The US – Short film grants and programs are becoming significantly popular in the United States’ film industry. Grants from government and non-government sources provide film-makers with the opportunity to produce short films without having to bear the financial burden.
There are various types of short film grants out there and you need to research the grant to find one that aligns with your needs and project.
However, finding grants for your short film is not an easy task and can be difficult in making the actual short film. While applying for short film grants you must be aware of the rules and guidelines, fulfill the eligibility criteria and provide proof of your documents. This guide will cover the best short film grant that you can be eligible for.
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Highlights of this Post
What Are The Eligibility Criteria To Qualify For Short Film Grants?
There are diverse grants out there but most of them have common requirements such as the following:
- Applicants must be 18 years of age or older.
- Applicants must be a producer and/or director of the submitted work.
- They must be an independent filmmaker working on an original short film project
- The short film project must focus on important concerns addressed by the grants giving organization such as the preservation of the natural environment, justice for all, equality or pressing social problems.
- The filmmaker should be living and legally able to work in the United States. Grants to non-US citizens or non-US residents may be subject to mandatory US government withholding.
- The proposed project should be completed within a stipulated time frame as decided by the program
- The filmmaker must have at least one completed film to show
- A lot of grants require applicants to make a short film between 2 to 20 minutes
- The film should be of original content
- The film must be related to video or film production
- Must provide a proposal that includes information about the director, film and cast including the timeline and budget
- Must submit a completed script or treatment, sample work, detailed project and the proposal outlining the purpose and vision of the project.
- Must own the copyright of your production and maintain editorial control of the story.
- The project budget should be within program limitations including all the fees of production.
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What Are The Documents Required To Submit For Short Film Grants Application?
Below is the breakdown of the materials or documents needed to submit along with your application for short film grants.
- A brief description of the script of your short film project
- A director statement providing insight into who you are and your project
- A film treatment giving a clear sense of the beginning, middle and end of the film story
- A full budget that includes the expense and revenue of the short film project.
- Concept art: original artwork for your project
- Description about the film through character, plot, theme and/or setting and to explore social issues of the recent time.
- Links to your previous work
- Recommendation letter
- CV or resume
- Supporting materials like storyboard or script, four-page film treatment, previously completed work linked to film publicly exhibited or distributed,
- Personal documents like US citizenship, Social Security card etc.
- Additional information like synopsis, director biography etc.
If you’re a filmmaker looking for ways to secure funding for your short film then follow the below-mentioned points to secure your chance.
- Make a short film that is relevant to the community
- Make sure your film is unique and appealing
- Make a short film that is well-made and conveys a message that you believe in
- Make a short film that you’re passionate about and make sure your film purpose and vision align with the objectives of the grant program you’re applying for.
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How To Apply For Short Film Grants In The United States?
No matter whether you are looking to secure short film grants in America or finance your documentary filmmaking it is important to figure out how you can apply for the grants and obtain film funding since most of these grants have stringent eligibility criteria and fierce competition. Before applying for a particular film grant keep in mind the following points.
Prepare An Artist Statement
You need to have an artist statement to submit along with your application to the film grant-giving organization. Artist statement is a one or two-page letter that introduces you and your film project.
You need to make the letter as clear and concise as possible to show that the organization providing you the funds will know every detail about the project that they’re investing in.
Make A Film Treatment
You need to have a film treatment for your project. It is an important piece of documentation that you need throughout the life of your film.
You need to sum up your story about the film in one or two pages and make it creative. Making a killer film treatment is important to secure a grant. Film treatment comprises details about the title, logline, characters and synopsis.
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Budget Your Film
The next statement is to make a film budget to show how you are planning to use the funds in your project. It is necessary to make a proposed budget for your project.
The more detailed and professional your film budget is, the better will be your chance to secure a short film grant. Make sure your budget is specific to the project you are submitting and is at par with industry standards.
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Complete The Application Form
Keep an eye on the deadline for the grant application you are applying to as organizations are strict with their due dates. If you miss a date you will not be eligible to receive assistance.
You must include a mood board which is a vital component that will boost your chance to secure funding for your film project. Your mood board will give a sense of the location, cover time and theme of the film project.
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Obtain A Letter Of Recommendation
You must include a letter of recommendation in your application procedure. Getting a letter of recommendation from someone you know in the film industry will bring more weight to your application. A standard letter from a notable production studio or company will give you an edge over others.
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What Are The Available Short Film Grants For Short Film Makers?
Following is the list of best short film funding grants available to the filmmakers.
Grants provided by the Austin Film Society range between $5000 to $15,000, particularly for Texas filmmakers. The application process for the grants opens every spring.
You need to submit your short film for funding at any stage of production. The Austin Film Society accepts applications from everyone however puts special emphasis on women and people in communities of color.
The Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund provides funding to short filmmakers in the United States at ranges between $15,000 to $25,000 for documentaries and short films that highlight issues about the United States of America.
The submissions are open every summer. Every year there is a selected documentary topic for instance last year the theme was criminal justice. Applications are open for all short films in the production or postproduction phase.
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The Moving Images Institute awards workshop, a scholarship program and support from filmmakers throughout the year. The institute does not state how big the financial award is as the grant award may vary in size.
The institute provides support to new and aspiring short filmmakers if the workshop takes place in New York or Los Angeles. The fiscal sponsorship program of Moving Images Institute funds non-commercial projects through tax-exempt donations.
The Miller Packan Film Fund provides funding opportunities for documentaries that inspire, enlighten and enrich the world.
They have open calls every season and provide short film grants of up to $25,000. The film project must be non-fiction and have stories that address the social issues in the community or must deal with environmental issues
Creative Capital is an organization that funds artists in the creation of innovative and groundbreaking new work in performing arts, visual arts, socially engaged and technology work in all forms. They provide funding up to $50,000, particularly for talented artists. The list of artists also includes filmmakers who are working in experimental or documentary cinema.
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The Jerome Foundation offers help to directors who are living in New York or Minnesota, and offers them grants up to $30,000. The grant is mainly aimed at filmmakers who need support for post-production and production. You can apply for the grant every spring and any genres of short films are accepted by them.
PBS offers a graduation grant for documentaries or short films that are well suited to get broadcasted on television. The best thing is that the grant is free for everyone and they accept submission throughout the year. The duration must be between 60 to 90 minutes.
Panavision offers equipment grants for film students and other low budget filmmakers. Any filmmaker can apply for this grant and submissions are generally accepted throughout the year. They also offer kits to independent filmmakers for free or charge a very minimal fee.
Vision Maker Media sponsors films made by the people from the Native American Community. The best thing is that their applications are open all year. But they generally look for projects that are focused on current issues that are being faced by Native American Community.
The Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowship offers grants to any film that portrays science education. Apart from that they run other film funding programs like the Rainin Grant that offers $25,000 short film grants to those films that are based on social justice issues.
The Roy W. Dean Film Grants offer funding for films that contribute socially. The submission portal mainly opens in every summer, autumn and spring. However, the funding varies by project and offers help to any independent film that is made under a budget of $500,000.
A collaboration between Houston Cinema Arts Society and NASA Cinespace provides filmmakers across the globe a golden opportunity to share their works and inspire others through Cinespace short film competitions. There is no entry fee to apply to space however your application must comprise a minimum of 10% of NASA video imagination.
Doha Film Institute Grants Program provides financial and creative assistance for feature and short-length films by Qatar international first and second-time directors including established directors. International Film projects receive funding through the Doha Film Institute Grant Program.
It is important to note that a director who has completed a film of more than 30 minutes is not eligible to receive funds for a short film. There is no restriction on the genre or form of film however first or second-time filmmakers must be directing a first or second feature-length narrative or documentary film.
Cinereach supports a wide array of films in all genres with investments that range between $5000 to $50,000. Short film-makers in the United States are eligible to receive assistance through this organization and they accept applications throughout the year. The foundation supports short films at every stage of production however they put special emphasis on films that are in the early stage of development.
Formerly known as the Independent Filmmaker Project, The Gotham focuses exclusively on documentary films and other works of short film, nonfiction and low-budget narrative or fiction features of more than 50 minutes. This is a nonprofit organization that serves and provides assistance for independently produced film projects.
The grant provides administrative, financial and mentorship services to eligible candidates. The organization is a community of producers, creators and distributors working across TV, film, audio and beyond to advance the future of filmmaking.
The Community Builders Grant refers to a short-form film fund and production resource grant that is funded by a Canadian ambassador.
The grant assists individuals with varying levels of experience for instance providing opportunities to emerging and young creatives and recognising accomplished artists. The grant assists filmmakers who have developed scripts, production plans and budgets and need support to complete the project.
The Film Fund gives away $50,000 in funding to short film-makers. The fund provides funding up to $10,000 per project for short films so that filmmakers can get funds more easily than taking part in crowdfunding, screenwriting contests or applying for other grants with stringent eligibility criteria.
Every year the Film Independent Spirit Awards filmmaker grants and recognizes exceptional emerging film talent by providing them three Spirit Awards filmmaker grants with unrestricted cash prizes up to $25,000. The grant recipients will be nominated by the organization. To learn more information about the grant you can email them at [email protected].
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Film Grants For Women
Women in Film & Video DC provides Fiscal scholarship to support film and media projects by the current members of the foundation. They support fiscal sponsored projects that are consistent with the IRS-approved mission.
The grant requires the film and media project to feature women in key roles as director, producer, editor or director of photography and writer. To qualify a project should be consistent with the charitable mission of the organization and should not produce the films only for financial gain although the project should be women-focused or women-led.
Chicken & Egg Pictures shape an equitable and just world by providing mentorship, funding and industry access to a global community of gender-expansive and women filmmakers.
Film-makers need opportunities for more resources and access to thrive in the unbalanced film landscape. Since its founding the foundation has awarded more than $12 million in grants to more than 500 film-makers across the globe.
Women in Film offers various types of funding opportunities for the short filmmakers who are female. The fund is generally opened every year during the winter and offers a film finishing fund. But remember they do not sponsor films but they offer mentoring and workshops for female filmmakers.
Tribeca Film Institute’s Through Her Lens is specifically for female filmmakers of color that offers funding, mentorship, and networking opportunities. The program promotes independent and emerging voices. It is a multifaceted 3 day program that offers mentorship opportunities, funding and project support to women in film.
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Film Grants For Minorities And Underrepresented Film Makers
Short film grants for underrepresented and minority filmmakers are available in various forms. These grants cover LGBTQ, people of color and disabled filmmakers.
The Sundance Institute offers grant funding for short films by emerging filmmakers from underrepresented communities. Eligible filmmakers must have a feature film in development and be able to attend the Sundance Institute’s Filmmakers Lab.
The Puffin Foundation provides grants to artists from various fields such as film, photography, music, environment etc. The grants go to bodies who are residents of the United States with a Social Security card and belong to a minority group. The average grant size is $1250 and the maximum grant size is $2500.
ITVS provides full production financing that ranges up to $350,000 for documentaries. They accept applications for documentaries that address important issues and take risks. The financing round of the program takes place in the months of February and July.
You must be an independent filmmaker to participate at any stage of production however you must not have worked previously in a major film studio to be eligible for this program. People of color film-makers are eligible to receive assistance under this program.
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Short filmmaking, performing art and theater are fun professions however it is similar to any other business that comes with a lot of challenges. Short film grants are funding opportunities provided to producers, filmmakers or creative individuals including the team to support the production of the short films. The amount of funding that is provided by short film grants may vary depending on the project and the organization. These grants help filmmakers to cover a variety of film expenses related to the production of the short film, including location fees, equipment rental, post-production costs, talent fees etc. If you are a filmmaker in the United States looking for funding opportunities you can take the opportunity of the aforementioned programs.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What are short film grants?
There are many filmmakers who are looking to make a short film but are unable because they do not have the budget required. Short film grants offer finances to eligible filmmakers.
What are the short film grants available in the US?
There are many short film grants in the US like Austin Film Grants, Cinereach, Creative Capital, ITVS Open Call, Jerome Foundation and many others. But remember each offers different grant amounts and has their own set of eligibility criteria.
How much does Austin Film Grants offer?
The Austin Film Grant offers grants that range from $5,000 to $15,000. The grant is based on the filmmakers who are living in Texas. Anyone can apply for these grants as there are no specific rules.