Don’t miss Girls’ Festival 2017 (Oct.1) – Oakland, CA

Women’s Film Institute is proud to be part of The Girls’ Festival 2017 (Sunday, October 1, 2017 at The Hive – 2335 Broadway, Oakland, CA). Founder of the Women’s Film Institute, Scarlett Shepard, co-curated short films for the Community and Color in the Bay: Short Films program at the Girls’ Festival 2017.  Here are two films that will screen at Girls’ Festival on Sunday, October 1, 2017 at 4:25 pm – 4:45 pm.

CULTIVATING COMMUNITY directed by Jasmine Ehrhardt and Zoe Salnave (6 min, USA, 2011)
A short documentary about the role urban farming has played in the boosting of West Oakland’s communal spirit.

GREATER THAN COLOR directed by Zoe Salnave (9 min, USA, 2011)
This short documentary consists of interviews with Bay Area high school students discussing their relationship to race and identity.

These films were created in The Factory Bay Area Video Coalition’s FREE after school youth film program.

The Girls’ Festival 2017  features 16 diverse and exciting workshops that span many topic areas including nutrition for athletes, filmmaking, media literacy, safe and healthy relationships, human trafficking awareness, computer coding, and cooking classes with high profile chefs. Be sure to check the schedule ahead of time for times and locations. These workshops will fill up fast, as space is limited, so arrive to the location early to ensure your entry. We hope you will join us on October 1st, and don’t forget to buy your tickets ASAP, as we have a feeling this year’s event will SELL OUT!

Here’s the schedule:

2016 Film In California Conference with special presentation by Jamie Lee Curtis

1455033_1719466978333696_3089197756307464035_nSAVE THE DATE!!! Women’s Film Institute is proud to be a community partner at this year’s FILM IN CALIFORNIA Conference. Plan on attending the FILM IN CALIFORNIA Conference on Saturday, May 21st at CBS Studio Center/Radford Ave. in Studio City. The 9th annual Film in California Conference celebrates the best California has to offer entertainment industry professionals. The only conference held exclusively to promote filming in California gets bigger and better each year and is the go-to event for those seeking to make the most of California’s unmatched production resources, including its incredibly diverse locations and vast infrastructure.

  • Come for the amazing panels, including the CHiPs panel with Director/Actor Dax Shepard
  • Come to see Jamie Lee Curtis honor California Golden SLATE Award recipient Producer-Writer-Director Ryan Murphy
  • Come for the terrific speakers, the exhibits, the networking

920x920Come help us celebrate the productions and production jobs that have been returning to California. Come meet film commissioners from across the state.

And for the first time, FILM IN CALIFORNIA Conference will be presenting the California Golden SLATE award to an individual who has championed filming in California. Hosted by the California Film Commission and Film Liaisons in California Statewide (FLICS) — a network of 40-plus film commissioners from throughout California, this conference attracts over 500 industry professionals from all facets of the film, TV, commercial and digital production industry.

REGISTER TODAY! Special discount code to receive half off on admission: WFI50



Looking for funding and support for your film? 

WFI Podcast conversations with writers, directors, producers & content creators

SFWFI_blog_podcast_2015 Subscribe to the WFI podcast and listen to informative, compelling and up close and personal conversations from a diverse selection of writers, directors, producers and content creators. Listen here to the latest interviews:

  • Podcast Episode 1: Filmmaker Abigail Disney shares her passion for documentary filmmaking  – Filmmaker Abigail Disney discusses her latest documentary film Armor of Light & funding opportunities for full-length non-fiction films from her production company, Fork Films.
  • Podcast Episode 2: Podcast Episode 2: Women’s Equality Day with special guest Gloria Allred  – Have you ever wondered what Gloria Allred would do if she were President of the United States? Tune in to find out.
  • Podcast Episode 3: The Art of Securing Funding For Filmmakers – Morrie Warshawski offers some really helpful tips on raising money for filmmakers. Learn how to secure funding for your film from individuals, foundations, and corporations.
  • Podcast Episode 4:  Fernanda Rossi, aka “The Documentary Doctor” – Fernanda discusses story structure and how to organize your footage to develop a compelling story. She shares some really great advice on the art of making a fundraising trailer that attracts funders, and how to pitch your film to agents, networks, studios, and investors.

    Listen here to the latest interviews:

Film Independent Documentary Lab – Apply today (Deadline 12/7)

WFI_resourcespage_pic01What is Film Independent’s Documentary Lab?
Held in Los Angeles in April, the Film Independent Documentary Lab is an intensive five-week program designed to help filmmakers who are currently in post-production on their feature-length documentary films. Through a series of meetings and workshops, the Documentary Lab provides creative feedback and story notes to participating filmmakers, while helping them to strategize for the completion, distribution, and marketing of their films.

Additionally, the program serves to advance the careers of its Fellows by making introductions to film professionals who can advise on both the craft and business of documentary filmmaking. Lab Fellows attend multiple guest-speaker sessions with established documentary directors, producers, and editors, and each is paired with an experienced Creative Advisor who can provide support and insight as the Fellows ready their projects for release.

Applications for the 2016 Documentary Lab are OPEN.
Application deadline: December 7, 2015 – APPLY HERE

Looking for funding and support for your film? Make a donation of any amount today and receive a Grants List for All Filmmakers as a free gift!  CLICK HERE


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.

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:

Looking for funding and support for your film? Welcome! You’ve come to the right place.  The Women’s Film Institute has compiled a 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:



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.


Seven New ‘Twilight’ Shorts Directed by Female Filmmakers Keep the Franchise Alive

cdn.indiewireThis Monday, the seven finalists in a “Twilight” short film competition presented their work to a theater full of fans and industry insiders.

Back in October of 2014, Lionsgate, the studio behind the film series, and Stephenie Meyer, who, of course, wrote the “Twilight” novels, announced that the franchise was very much alive. The most exciting part of this news, in our world at least, was that female directorial hopefuls would be chosen to make the short films, based on “Twilight” characters, that would serve to keep the female-driven franchise going.

The competition, borne of a collaboration between Meyer, Lionsgate, Women in Film and the crowdsourcing program Tongal, received 1,300 script submissions. 150 directors pitched to direct (Written by Laura Berger of Women & Hollywood). Read more:

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Filmmaker Abigail Disney shares her passion for documentary filmmaking

timthumbAbigail Disney is an American filmmaker most known for her socially themed documentaries. Disney’s directorial debut The Armor of Light is a documentary that follows the journey of an Evangelical minister (Reverend Rob Schenck) trying to find the courage to preach about the growing toll of gun violence in America.

In this podcast episode, Scarlett Shepard (Founder of the Women’s Film Institute) speaks with Abigail Disney about The Armor of Light as well as Disney’s passion for documentary filmmaking and filmmaking process. Disney offers her advice on filmmaker distribution and networking. She also discusses the available funding opportunities for full-length non-fiction films from her production company, Fork Films. Fork Films supports filmmaking projects that promote peacebuilding, human rights, and social justice with particular emphasis on those that bring women’s voices to the forefront.

More information about Fork Films:

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