San Francisco Film Society: Grants for Film

OVERVIEW: The San Francisco Film Society supports individual filmmakers, screenwriters, and producers through its Filmmaker360 program, which provides project development, residencies, and a number of different grants. Deadlines for individual grants vary throughout the year, so signing up for the newsletter is the best way to keep abreast of which ones are approaching.

IP TAKE: Grant seekers do not have to live in San Francisco to receive support from SFFS. Grants and other modes of support are available for filmmakers and screenwriters across the country.

PROFILE: The San Francisco Film Society supports individual filmmakers, screenwriters, and producers. The society seeks to provide "unparalleled assistance and opportunities including grants, prizes, development assistance, and residencies for working filmmakers at all stages of their careers." It funds residencies and a number of different grants and fellowships.

Its grant program has awarded over $3.14 million since 2009 and supports several areas, including:

  • SFFILM Documentary Film Fund - Provides post-production support for documentaries "distinguished by compelling stories, intriguing characters, and an innovative visual approach." Grants range from $20,000 to $50,000 and deadlines are typically mid-year at the end of June.

  • SFFILM Rainin Filmmaking Grant Program - These grants are given in partnership with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation to support "films that address social justice issues—the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges—in a positive and meaningful way through plot, character, theme or setting.”

  • Women, Peace, and Security Fellowship - This fellowship supports “narrative and documentary filmmakers developing projects that elevate women’s efforts to end conflict and advance peace.” Fellows receive $25,000 and a two-month residency at FilmHouse. Additionally, fellows receive consultation and feedback from “advisors with expertise in the specific areas of peace and conflict resolution they are exploring” in their projects.

  • Djerassi/SFFS Screenwriting Fellowship - These fellowships provide a one-month residency for emerging and established screenwriters at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, located
    in the Santa Cruz Mountains, 40 miles south of San Francisco. This fellowship is open to both U.S. and international screenwriters and includes living and studio accommodations and all meals for the time of your stay. Application to this fellowship is by invitation only.

Grant seekers can find more information about the application process here. Grant seekers must be at least 18 years of age and have a key creative role in the project (i.e. producer or director). The more established grant seekers are in their profession, the more priority they will receive. The San Francisco Film Society is also careful to point out that winning a grant or fellowship does not necessarily entitle the recipient to be included in the San Francisco Film Festival (though they will be taken into consideration).

In addition to the grant and fellowship program SFFS also has a fiscal sponsorship program, which allows filmmakers to enter into a partnership with the organization in order to bypass some of the red tape and paperwork associated with fundraising for certain projects. As fiscal sponsor, all funds raised pass through SFFS, which it tracks and records, ensuring that everything complies with required laws and procedures. It then funds the filmmaker minus an administrative fee. This relieves the burden on filmmakers from going through the process of gaining tax exempt status for an individual project.

The SFFS also offers other services like their Off the Page script workshop, FilmEd, "an interactive platform and Open Educational Resource for teaching media making and viewing in the classroom," and FilmHouse, a residency program that makes office space available to independent filmmakers in various stages of production.


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