Introducing the Davey Foundation's Grants for Under-35 Filmmakers

What do filmmaking grants and Burning Man have in common? Hear me out.

As you read this, I guarantee there are, say, oh, half a dozen Burning Man purists out there who claim the arts festival in the Nevada desert has become "too big" and "too corporate." So what happens? Well, disgruntled individuals work to create the next Burning Man, a return to those smaller, simpler halcyon days. And, wouldn't you know it, a handful of new Burning Man-esque festivals have popped up over the past decade or so. (The Electric Forest Festival in Michigan, for example.)

Here's where the analogy crystallizes. Aspiring filmmakers, all of whom should religiously check IP's film vertical, by the way, may feel slightly alienated by the breadth and scope of the larger filmmaking funders. I'm talking about outfits like Sundance, MacArthur, Hearst, Knight, etc. Competition is fierce, and filmmakers can be forgiven for saying, "Man, I wish some smaller, more specialized grants would emerge, because this is getting overwhelming."

And guess what? That's exactly what's happening. We've recently looked at filmmaking grants from smaller upstarts, including Digital Bolex (a camera manufacturer) and Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation for Documentary Photography & Film. We'd like to add another to the list: the Utah-based Davey Foundation, which offers grants for under-35 filmmakers on an annual basis.   

Named after the acclaimed Salt Lake City artist and collaborator, the foundation's official name is the David Ross Fetzer Foundation for Emerging Artists, though it typically goes by the more informal name of Davey Foundation.

The foundation added two new grants to its 2015 cycle, bringing the grand total to three. They include:

  • Two $5,000 grants for writers/directors nationwide. These are limited to applicants who are 35-or-under on April 30, 2015. Winning films will screen at the December 17, 2015 Davey Foundation Film Showcase.
  • A grant, which consists of the use of a Cinema Camera Package, valued at $10,000, courtesy of Film Exchange. This grant is available to a writer/director 35-or-under on April 30th with a "Utah connection," meaning an individual either born in Utah, currently living in Utah, or previously living in Utah for more than one year.

Winners will also be assigned mentors to help them through the process of completing their films. Mentors for 2015 include last year’s grant recipient Ben Kegan and award-winning film directors and Sundance Film Festival alumni, Kenny Riches and Dustin Guy Defa.

More more information on these grants, click here.

And so I leave you by imparting some good news: Filmmaking grants from the "big boys" aren't going anywhere. Better yet, recent developments suggest that smaller foundations continue to roll out more nuanced, under-the-radar, and (potentially) less competitive grants as well.

This should serve as a friendly reminder to all aspiring filmmakers out there. Take your vitamins, eat your broccoli, and religiously check IP's film vertical. You can thank us later.