What's Behind George R. R. Martin's New Screenwriting Grant?

Game of Thrones author and Santa Fe resident George R.R. Martin recently gave a $5,000 donation to start a screenwriting award to the New Mexico Film Foundation.

Before we take a closer look at the state's ever-growing film industry, let's first look at the grant itself. On the surface, it's relatively straightforward. The award is a one-time, $5,000 grant to New Mexico residents who are at least 18 years old. The submission process opens on July 14 and runs until September 15th and submissions must be for a feature length film or original television pilot in the science fiction or fantasy genres. Oh, and Martin himself will select the winner.

In an interesting twist, the grant is not available to members of the Writer's Guild of America. It's a bit of conjecture on our part, but our theory is that Martin wants to make the grant available to (for a lack of a better term) "outsiders" who lack the resources and connections that guild members can access. This should come as no surprise when you consider that Martin himself is somewhat of an iconoclast.

Martin left Hollywood in 1994 determined to build a career on his own terms and has been bucking conventional wisdom ever since. In fact, the New Mexico Film Foundation's press release notes that "this grant is meant to help aspiring screenwriters and should be used in such a way as to allow the screenwriter to write." It's a noble sentiment and a somewhat ironic one, when you consider that Martin is infamous for taking time to "allow" himself to write. In fact, a 2011 New Yorker article noted how his fans send him scathing letters for taking too long to publish Game of Thrones sequels.

It's the first grant the New Mexico Film Foundation has offered and it underscores the state's emerging role in the national film industry. It offers generous tax credits to filmmakers, including a 25 or 30 percent refundable film production tax credit and film crew advancement program. In addition, post-production services rendered in New Mexico also qualify for the 25% Refundable Tax Credit even if the project is shot elsewhere.

Ultimately, Martin left the trappings of Hollywood and built an alternative environment that allowed him to succeed in his screenwriting endeavours. And with his recent donation to fund New Mexico's first screenwriting grant, it looks like he's trying to do the same thing for filmmakers in his home state.

For more insights on funding opportunities for aspiring filmmakers, check out our filmmaking Grant Finder section here.