Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation Invites Applications for Independent Film Tours

MAAF_Logo_PantoneThe Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation is accepting applications for its On Screen/In Person program, which provides opportunities for independent filmmakers to tour the mid-Atlantic region with their recent films and foster greater understanding and appreciation of their work through direct audience engagement.

Six films and their creators are selected for the program annually. Each tour engagement includes a public screening, a pre- or post-screening discussion with the visiting filmmaker, and a community activity with the filmmaker that provides greater appreciation for their work and the art of film. More info: http://www.midatlanticarts.org/grants-programs/grants-for-artists/#on-screen-in-person

Tips on finding and securing funding for your film

scarlettinred01Where can I find grants for film?
By Scarlett Shepard, Founder of the Women’s Film Institute

Where’s the money? This is a common question that every filmmaker asks themselves when they need to advance their project to a certain phase of production. There are millions of dollars out there for your film, you just need to know where to find it! Are you wondering where to start? Finding funding and support during the early stages is always key to bringing you closer to finishing your film.  It’s good to start early because many grant deadlines are offered once a year and funders can take months to reach a decision whether to fund you or not. Here are some key components to have in place before applying to grants:

Know Your Story / Set Your Fundraising Goals – Start by setting goals that will help you to understand your story and scope of need. Remember that Foundations are mandated to give money to people and projects that match their current goals. You are helping them to fulfill their mission and support work that they cannot do on their own.

Build Your Fundraising Committee of 5 to 7 people – Assemble a team that has experience in funding and grant writing and that can leverage their networks and community to raise funds for your film.  Make sure to keep your committee engaged by providing them with regular progress updates, offer support and guidance, and reminding each member of fundraising goals. Bottom line, fundraising committees are the work of a team with a strategic plan (a clear roadmap on how to obtain funds) and not pure luck. Fundraising is not just asking for money. It is the process of identifying potential donors, cultivating them, asking for funds, and stewarding them.

Recruit, Recruit, Recruit! First things first—figure out who should be on your fundraising committee. Start by making a list of all the people who are already close to your project; include a diverse group of people who have different skills (and connections) that are critical to the needs of your film.

Trailer – According to Fernanda Rossi, New York-based story expert advises: “The length of your trailer can range from one minute to 20 minutes. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, for example, prefers the term “work-in-progress,” and advises that submissions be 10 to 30 minutes-which is the benchmark range for most grantmakers. For pitch forums like Sheffield Doc Fest’s Meet Market, IDFA’s Forum and Hot Docs’ Toronto Documentary Forum, the trailer ranges from one to 5 minutes. For fundraising events, your trailer can be as long as seven minutes. And a general fundraising trailer might be as long as 20 minutes.”

Write a Kick-Ass Funding Proposal – In addition to the trailer, you should have proposal that clearly outlines your project.  Grantors want compelling proposals and films. More pointers here: Writing a Kick-Ass Funding Proposal

Build trusted relationships with FundersCarole Dean, president of From The Heart, authored “The Art of Film Funding”, says: “Don’t be shy. You would never enter a grant without first making contact with the grantor. This is your great opportunity to introduce yourself and make an important connection. Place your call in “prime time” from 10 to 12 or 2 to 4 and ask to speak directly to the operations officer in charge of the grant. If they don’t answer, try again later or get information on the best time to reach them. More information: How to Win a Film Grant

Website & Social Media & Community – Start building a community and fan base for your film right away.  It takes a village to make and raise money for your film. How many friends do you have on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Linkedin and Twitter?? Your community should start with your inner social circle. Share and promote your film (clips, photos, articles, etc.)  with friends and family, and give them concrete ways to support you and your film. More info: 10 Social Media Tips for Filmmakers (Especially When Crowdfunding)

Prepare for the highs and lows of securing funding – Sometimes you have to hear “NO” to get to “YES.   This doesn’t mean your film sucks and you should quit filmmaking because you didn’t receive a grant or a funder passes on your project. Applying for a grant requires plenty of tenacity, preparation, and research.  Ask the funder for feedback to continue to build the relationship, and for referrals for anyone they might know that would be interested in learning about your film.  Keep in touch with the funder with updates about your project because they might fund you later on a different phase of your production, or on a different project.

Remember, Grantwriters fund projects based on what matters to them and aligned with their mission/objectives/initiatives.  Your grant proposal has to have a solid plan for using the money. Whether you’re just starting out or need that last bit of money to finish your film, here’s some resources for funding and Request for Proposals:


NYFA Source is the nation’s most extensive database of awards, services and publications for artists of all disciplines including dance, folk, traditional, media, performance, interdisciplinary, visual, music, literature, theater, and arts management.

The Foundation Center – Where can I find grants for film or videomakers? At the Foundation Center you can find information about nearly 90,000 grantmakers.

The Women’s Film Institute has gathered a list of filmmaking tools, discounts, services and information on our site.  This site is helpful to all filmmakers.  We’ll be adding more tools and discounts to this page every week! I recommend bookmarking it for your reference.

Women’s Film Institute Podcast:The Art of Securing Funding For Filmmakers with Morrie Warshawski. In this podcast episode, Scarlett Shepard (Founder of the Women’s Film Institute) speaks with Morrie Warshawski. Morrie offers some really helpful tips on raising money for filmmakers. Learn how to secure funding for your film from individuals, foundations, and corporations.

SFWFI_Funding_Filmmakers_website_01Grant researching takes times and grant writing can seem daunting. Women’s Film Institute has compiled a comprehensive list of over 200++ funding opportunities and professional development programs to serve U.S. and international women filmmakers. We’ve compiled this list so that you can start your search right away and start taking steps to build relationships with funders to secure your film the funding it deserves.

Always remember that you and your film have tremendous value to the world, and making a film is not an easy undertaking. Do something everyday to advance your project, even if it seems like a tiny step that you wished were bigger. Keep in mind that, no matter how small, each step will get your film closer to the next phase of production and will bring you closer to fulfilling your dream of reaching the big screen.

Here’s Why It’s So Important to Hire More Female Directors

kathryn-bigelow-ava-duvernayFilms directed by women are much more likely to employ women in other behind-the-scenes roles

Putting a woman in the director’s chair makes it much more likely that the film will also achieve gender parity in other behind-the-scenes roles, according to a new study that examines last year’s top-grossing films.

The study makes an ongoing federal probe in Hollywood’s hiring practices all the more urgent. Women made up just 13% of directors who released a film to theaters last year and not even one-tenth of the directors on the 250 top-grossing films.

“The findings suggest that women directors, executive producers and producers may serve and important gateway function in the employment of other women in key behind-the-scenes roles,” Martha Lauzen, who conducted the study of 700 films from last year and acts as director at the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, said in a statement. (Eliana Dockterman @edockterman Oct. 27, 2015, Time Magazine) Read more:  http://time.com/4087813/female-directors-study/

Impact Partners finances powerful documentaries that address contemporary social issues – Apply Today

logoImpact Partners, a film fund committed to financing independent documentary cinema that addresses pressing social issues, supports feature-length documentaries in production, post- production and finishing stages, through equity financing, strategic guidance and mentorship. Apply today: http://www.impactpartnersfilm.com/about_filmmakers.php

Looking for funding and support for your film? Welcome! You’ve come to the right place.  The Women’s Film Institute has compiled a http://womensfilminstitute.com/funding/ to serve U.S. and international women filmmakers.


Fledgling Grants supports social issue documentary film


Fledgling has an open rolling grant application process. You are able to submit an application online at any time and will be asked to include a description of the project, its social change goals and your plans for moving the project forward. We will ask for the latest cut of the film or a work sample for non-film projects.  We review proposals on a rolling basis and you will be notified of our decision within three months.

Grants support outreach and engagement for social issue documentary film and other storytelling projects that have the potential to inspire positive social change around issues that affect the most vulnerable.

Grants typically range from $10K – $25K.  There are two types of grants available: audience engagement planning grants or audience engagement implementation grants. More info:  http://www.thefledglingfund.org/apply



Funding for Filmmakers

SFWFI_Funding_Filmmakers_website_01Looking for funding and support for your film? Welcome! You’ve come to the right place.  The Women’s Film Institute has compiled a comprehensive list of funding opportunities and professional development programs to serve U.S. and international women filmmakers. All public listings include information about funding organizations with deadlines, synopses of funding criteria, websites, contact information, as well as other pertinent information to help in qualifying your film for the opportunity. We’re thrilled to provide you with this tool to save time and increase your filmmaking success.

We’ve compiled this list so that you can start your search right away and start taking steps to build relationships with funders to secure your film the funding it deserves.


The Art of Securing Funding For Filmmakers with Morrie Warshawski

In this podcast episode, Scarlett Shepard (Founder of the Women’s Film Institute) speaks with Morrie Warshawski. Warshawski is the author of many articles and two books on fundraising, Shaking The Money Tree: The Art of Getting Grants And Donations For Film And Video. Morrie offers some really helpful tips on raising money for filmmakers. Learn how to secure funding for your film from individuals, foundations, and corporations. Listen here:



Subscribe to the WFI Podcast and get the latest episode:  

Looking for funding for your film? The Women’s Film Institute has compiled a comprehensive list of funding opportunities. When you make a gift in any amount today, you will receive the complete list of 200+ funding opportunities in your inbox.


Coming soon to the United Nations Association Film Festival (October 15-25th)

Women’s Film Institute is proud to be a community partner at this year’s 18th annual United Nations Association Film Festival (October 15-25th). WFI is proud to co-present the following films: 

f_drivingDRIVING WITH SELVI  Thursday, Oct. 15, Aquarius Theater, 430 Emerson St., Palo Alto, Calif., 8:20 p.m.

About film: Selvi, like so many girls living within India’s patriarchal culture, is forced to marry at a young age, only to find herself in a violent and abusive marriage. One day in deep despair, she chooses to escape, going to a highway with the intention of throwing herself under the wheels of a bus. Instead she gets on the bus, choosing to live, and goes on to become South India’s first female taxi driver. This is the ten year journey of a charming and courageous young woman who defies expectations and creates a new life. Through Selvi’s eyes, the audience is taken on a journey of healing, overcoming obstacles and fulfilling dreams. Director/Producer: Elisa Paloschi. More info: http://www.unaff.org/2015/f_driving.htm

Saturday, October 24, Stanford University, Stanford Medical School (Li Ka Shing Center Building) 291 Campus Drive, Room LK130, 7:20 p.m.

About film: Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth tells the compelling story of an extraordinary woman’s journey from her birth in a shack in cotton fields of Putnam County, Georgia to her recognition as a key writer of the 20th century. Alice Walker made history as the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her groundbreaking novel, The Color Purple, which has been transformed from a novel to a Hollywood movie and latterly to a successful Broadway musical. This universal story of triumph against all odds is not that different from Walker’s own story. The filmoffers a penetrating look at the life and art of an artist, a self-confessed renegade and human rights activist. More info: http://www.unaff.org/2015/f_alice.html

MVFF38 is launching a festival-wide focus on inspiring women in film

Women’s Film Institute is proud to be a community partner at this year’s 38th Annual Mill Valley Film Festival (October 8-18). Taking its longstanding commitment to female filmmakers one step further, MVFF38 is launching a festival-wide focus on inspiring women in film. MIND THE GAP: WOMEN | WORK | FILM—both a celebration and a call to action, the initiative aims to elevate the conversation on women at work in film by raising awareness about those who make films and those whose stories are being told.

A CONVERSATION WITH CATHERINE HARDWICKE – What do Twilight, hardwickepanel_tktThirteen, and Tank Girl have in common? MVFF38 Tributee Catherine Hardwicke. The director with production designer roots has proven over and over that it is possible to sustain a viable creative life in the film industry: inspiring!  More than that, her work spans from insightful, independent, original works like Thirteen to the blockbuster adaptation Twilight—the latter making her the most commercially successful woman director. Hear more about her remarkable career in what promises to be a highlight of MVFF38’s MIND THE GAP program. Date/Location: Sunday, October 11, 12:30–2:00pm | Smith Rafael Film Center. GET TICKETS HERE


Debugging the gender and diversity gaps in the tech industry is upfront and center in what promises to be a dynamic panel aimed towards an intergenerational audience, following the October 17 screening of CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap (Note: all other screenings will include director Q&A only). Teens and their friends and families are encouraged to come and join in the discussion! Date/Location:Saturday, October 17, 2:00–4:00pm | Throckmorton Theatre. GET TICKETS

BaddDDD_tktBaddDDD Sonia Sanchez is, in her own words, a “woman with razor blades between her teeth.” A comprehensive portrait of the poet, playwright, scholar, teacher, and social activist, this performance-rich film explodes with life and the words that love Sonia while she loves them back. An architect of the ’60s Black Arts Movement, Sanchez has stood as a persistent voice for equality when, as the film reveals, many preferred to stand down. Hers is a mighty, loud, sassy, and strong Black female voice. The performances of Sanchez’ poems light up the screen. This is especially true when she performs as a paramount jazz player of her own words. Sanchez is a revelation when backed by her band, as she “plays” the words in intricate rhythmic phrases and virtuosic solos that resonate long after the film ends. With appearances by Ruby Dee, Nikki Giovanni, Amiri Baraka, Haki Madhubuti, Questlove, and more. Date/Location:  Friday, October 16, 7:30 pm | Throckmorton Theatre. GET TICKETS


AFI Directing Workshop for Women – American Film Institute

DWW_HOMEThe AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women (DWW) is a hands-on training program committed to increasing the number of women working professionally in screen directing.

DWW offers participants intensive training in narrative filmmaking in an innovative workshop. Each participant is required to complete a short film or series by the end of the program. DWW is open to women with three years or more of professional experience in the arts. The program is tuition-free though participants are responsible for raising the funds for their projects.

Key Dates:

  • Application online: September 1
  • Open House: October 20
  • Applications due: December 6

Visit the Program section for details.