This article is a list of grants and funding schemes for US-based filmmakers making feature films.

There are numerous film funding grants accepting submissions year-round. Whether you are making a documentary or narrative feature, why not take advantage of these options? Government schemes and arts grants are a great way to fund your independent film. 

But what exactly are film grants? And which grants are out there worth applying to? We’re glad you asked! Let’s break it down.

What is a Film Grant?

A film grant is a specific amount of funding that is awarded to filmmakers to help them create their films. Grants are often given out by organizations that are seeking to support a particular cause (such as social issues) or to support filmmakers in an underrepresented minority group. Funding grants are especially useful for first-time filmmakers. Not only do grants generally get awarded to non-commercial films, but filmmakers also don’t need to pay back the grant. There are many film funding grants available that cater to films within different production stages. You can also find grants that pay for equipment rentals, or specifically for film marketing costs.

Film Grants & Funding

Film grants are often only part of the whole funding scheme for a film. It’s not uncommon for filmmakers to fund their projects through a range of sources. A typical independent film, for example, might have been financed by a mix of individual investments, distribution pre-sales, and funding grants. 

Another way to find funding opportunities is through film commissions. Every state/region has its own film commission that will provide advice on funding for local filmmakers. Not to mention film tax credits that can pay you back up to 20% of your budget. 

The Best Film Grants in 2021

Below is a list of the best film funding grants for feature films open to US-based filmmakers. All of these grants are still open and accepting submissions throughout 2020/2021. 

  1. Austin Film Grants

    Texas-based filmmakersDocumentary and Narrative

    The Austin Film Society provides grants between $5K-15K, specifically for Texas-based filmmakers. Feature film submissions open every spring. And you can enter your film within any stage of production for support. The application is open to all, but they give special attention to support women and those within communities of color.

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  2. CineReach

    Open to allDocumentary and Narrative

    CineReach supports a wide variety of films in all genres, with investments between $5K-50K. Their submission portal is open year-round. And they support films within any stage of production, but especially appreciate films within early development.

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  3. Creative Capital

    Open to allDocumentary and Experimental

    Creative Capital provides grants of up to $50K, specifically for artists. And this includes filmmakers who are working within documentary or experimental cinema. Their applications open in February every year. In the past, they have mainly funded shorts, but there are no rules restricting film length.

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  4. ITVS Open Call

    Open to allDocumentary

    ITVS offers full production funding of up to $350K for documentary films. Funding rounds are in February and July every year. In particular, they are looking for documentaries that take risks and tackle important issues. You can enter within any production stage and must be an independent filmmaker (having not worked previously for a major film studio).

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  5. Jerome Foundation

    Minnesota & New York-based filmmakersDocumentary and Narrative

    Jerome Foundation is for directors based in Minnesota or New York and provides grants of up to $30K. It is primarily for new filmmakers who need assistance with production and post-production funding. Applications open every spring, and all genres are accepted.

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  6. Miller / Packan Film Fund

    Open to allDocumentary

    The Miller/Packan film fund is looking for documentaries that educate, inspire, and enrich the world. They have open calls every season and offer grants up to $25K. Your film project must be non-fiction, and they like stories that address social issues or explore environmental topics.

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  7. Moving Images Institute

    Open to allDocumentary and Narrative

    The MPI supplies grants, workshops, and filmmaker support all year round. They don’t specify how large the awards are, just that they vary in size. MPI support is specifically for new, emerging filmmakers; the workshops take place in Los Angeles or New York. The Fiscal Sponsorship program funds non-commercial projects through tax-exempt donations.

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  8. PBS Independent Lens

    Open to allDocumentary

    PBS has a completion grant for documentaries that would be a good fit for TV broadcast. It’s free to all, and they accept submissions year-round. The amount of funding will differ per project, and they will cut films for TV broadcast viewing (60min-90min segments).

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  9. Panavision New Filmmaker Program

    Open to allEquipment Grants

    Panavision provides equipment grants for students and low-budget filmmakers. All filmmakers can apply, and submissions are open year-round. These equipment packages are for film schools, training programs, or independent filmmakers. Given for free (or for a small charge).

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  10. Pare Lorentz

    Open to allDocumentary

    Pare Lorentz funding offers grants between $15K-25K for documentary films that illuminate issues in the United States. Submissions are open in summer each year. Additionally, there is a chosen documentary theme every year. For example, this year’s theme was Criminal Justice. The application is open to all and funds films within the production or post-production stage.

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  11. Roy W. Dean Film Grants

    Open to allDocumentary and Narrative

    The Roy W. Dean film grant has a wide range of funding for films that have a contribution to society. The submission portal opens in the spring, summer, and fall every year. Grant sums differ per project, but are open to any independent film with a budget of $500,000 or less. Plus, they offer grants to assist with equipment and distribution costs.

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  12. Sloan Science In Cinema

    Science EducationDocumentary and Narrative

    Science In Cinema Filmmaker Fellowship is for any film that represents science education. Science education does not include science fiction, but in particular, for films that explore scientific or theological themes. Additionally, they have other film funding schemes; including the Rainin Grant, a $25K cash grant for films that tackle social justice issues.

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  13. The Green Room

    Open to allDocumentary and Narrative

    The Green Room is a $50K funding grant free to all filmmakers and applications open every winter. Unlike other funding grants, projects can be within any genre or project type. And this includes features, documentary, shorts, web-series, and experimental cinema.

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  14. Vision Maker Media

    Native AmericansDocumentary and Narrative

    Vision Maker Media is for films that represent people from the native American community. Their applications are open year-round. In particular, they are after projects that address contemporary issues reflecting a change of identity of the native American community.

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  15. Women In Film

    Women FilmmakersDocumentary and Narrative

    Women In Film offer a selection of funding specifically for female filmmakers. Their funding schemes include a film finishing fund that opens in winter every year. As well as funding films, they provide workshops and mentorship schemes for women of color filmmakers.

    View Website

How to Apply for a Film Grant

When applying to film grants for funding, you must read up on the rules and take your time with every application. These grants will no doubt get hundreds of yearly submissions, but many people applying won’t meet the criteria. As a producer, it’s worth keeping a list of film funding grants on hand, because you never know when a future project could be a perfect match. So, be sure to bookmark this page for future reference!

Are you making a film this year? At SetHero, we can help you organize and schedule your film production. Check out our Call Sheets and Daily Production Reports.

In Conclusion

We hope this article has helped introduce you to a range of film funding grants.

Have you ever applied for a film grant? Are you considering applying for any of these grants listed above? Let us know in the comments section below. 

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