Film Grant FAQs


Who is the juror anyway?

For the 2016-17 narrative short film grants, we’re excited to have Sean Baker and Amy Seimetz. Sean’s fifth feature was Tangerine, which was shot completely on an iPhone 5S and was executive produced by Mark Duplass, and Jay Duplass. The film had its world premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was released in a limited release on July 10, 2015.

Amy is an actress, director, writer, producer, and editor. Steven Soderbergh said about Amy: “I think if I were going to run a studio I’d just be gathering the best filmmakers I could find and sort of let them do their thing within certain economic parameters. So I would call Shane Carruth, or Barry Jenkins or Amy Seimetz and I’d bring them in and go, OK, what do you want to do?”

I read in the requirements that the filmmaker needs to be 35-or-under in order to apply. I’m a 37 year old writer/director and I would love to apply. This rule is mega-annoying, can you make an exception?

Unfortunately, no. We understand that the 35-or-under rule can definitely be limiting, but we set that age because we felt it would help identify artists in a certain stage in their artistic development. Since this is only our third year of grants, we may open up the age restriction in the future, but who knows. I wouldn’t fret though, there are many grant giving organizations out there. Here’s a link that may help you:

I’m a 30 year old writer, but my director is 42, can I still apply for this thing or what?

Sorry, but no. The grant is geared toward filmmakers who write and direct their own material, meaning one person (writer/director). If you happen to have a co-director who is also under 35, we’ll let it slide. OR, if you are a director under 35 and you really really want to shoot a script by another writer under the age of 35 and you have the rights to the script, you may apply. However, we will not fly both of you out for the screening event. You will have to rock, paper, scissor battle that one out on your own.
I’m a filmmaker living in Japan, and I make some pretty sweet films, does the applicant have to be a US resident?

Right now we are only accepting projects by US residents – that is, a filmmaker living or studying in the United States for a year or longer. As this is only our third year of giving grants, we may open it up worldwide in the future, but the board will have to make that decision as our foundation grows.

Does it help to send you flowers and bribes?

No, but… No. We gotta play fair. David had a particular hatred toward injustice and this would definitely fall in that category.

Can I send you a DVD of the all-time greatest films I’ve made in my life to show you what a legend I am at 33 years of age?

To minimize clutter and live the green life, you may add some links to your work in the application instead of sending us treasures. The advantage of living in this technological age is if we’re in love with your script we can just look you up on Vimeo or ask for private links to your previous work.

I’m adapting a short story or a novel or an article into a short film, may I apply with that?

If you have obtained the rights to the material you are adapting prior to applying for a grant, then yes, yes you may.

I consider myself a storyteller too dammit, but I make short documentaries. Can I still apply?

We are excited to be offering our FIRST-EVER Documentary grant as a special grant opening December 2016 to encourage a fresh and responsible look at the 2016 presidential campaign and election. More info can be found on this website by December 5.

I don’t write scripts, I write outlines and allow my actors to do what they do best. Can I submit a treatment?

Writing is a huge consideration when the jurors are looking at submissions. Keep that in mind. If you feel you can explain your idea clearly in a treatment, by all means do so. Just remember that the finished film should be 20 minutes or less.

Yo, I make short animations. Can I submit an animation project?

You may submit an animation project, but the project must be completed within 9 months of the notification date. That’s a small window for the labor-intensive nature of animation. We love animation, but keep that in mind when applying.

Can I submit a music video project?

We love music videos, but don’t apply with one. I’m telling you, it won’t go far. If it’s more than a music video, and in fact a narrative film that uses some tools, tricks, or tropes used in music videos, then apply with that script. It sounds interesting.

Can I still apply if my film has already been shot, but we didn’t account for post-production and now we’re tapped out?

At this point in our young organization we don’t offer a post-production grant. You’re not alone though, we’ve discussed offering a post-production grant in the future since the demand for it is so high (we’ve all been there). However, for now we will only consider scripts for projects that have not yet been put into production.

I don’t sleep much and have written thirty-six thousand short film scripts, can I submit more than one?

You may submit as many scripts as you like, but you must pay the fee for each script submission. If you submit one script, you pay the fee. If you submit two scripts, you pay two fees. So on and so forth. It doesn’t always serve you well to submit quantity though. We rather you put the time into creating a quality screenplay.


If I don’t get accepted this year, can I apply next year? Am I a loser?

You are not a loser! It just means you didn’t get a grant from us. We really are forced to pick but a few projects to support out of hundreds. We not only encourage you to see your film through and share it with us, but also to apply again next year! We are running this foundation on our love of David and our passion for filmmaking, we want to see you succeed with or without our help. We’re cheering for you either way.

Are you a cool kids organization that just helps out your friends?

I’d like to think we’re kind of cool, or maybe a little bit. Or…
Anyway, the answer is no. Though we do encourage every filmmaker we know to apply, and every year that number grows, we are basing our selections off of the writing and previous work of the filmmakers that apply. This is also why we bring in guest jurors. Our first year grantee was a filmmaker going to school in New York that we had never met or heard of. We just liked his script and ended up liking him a whole lot too. Now he’s a mentor to future grantees. We kept up the same practice ever since.

I don’t have a film degree, can I still apply?

I don’t either! Yes! Apply!


Other than Sundance, Toronto International, Berlin, SXSW, and Cannes, what other festivals does your team consider to be major international film festivals?

Remember, you can still submit if you’ve screened two projects at major festivals, just no more than that. To answer your question, it’s kind of a self-governing eligibility requirement. You named some of the big ones, so it sounds like you get it. When people ask me what I consider to be the major film festivals, I use some of the same examples, followed by “you know, the major INDUSTRY festivals.” If you’ve mainly screened at regional festivals, big or small, you probably have nothing to worry about.


Why the submission fee? Is this one of those “organizations” that uses my precious dollars to pay a big wig Executive Director salary or uses my starving artist money to fund the grants?

Here’s the deal — This organization was founded by David’s parents and best friends to carry on his legacy, as well as help us grieve over the loss of the most beautiful and talented soul we’d ever known. We do this for zero dollars, as in, we still don’t have actual official staff members. We only have non-paid board members that work on this on weekends or at night when they aren’t at their day jobs. We don’t have an office. We are spread out all over the U.S. and contribute what we can from the cities we live in. Our board is made up of filmmakers and supporters of the arts. We fund our grants through private donations from ourselves, friends, family, supporters, and outside grants. We started something out of love and realized just how necessary short film grants are. There’s not enough support for something so crucial to young filmmakers’ development, there just isn’t. This year, 2016, will be the first year, in which we finally hire a part-time administrative assistant. We haven’t hired that person yet, but we’re looking. That is what your submission fee will fund — a person to help the gears of the foundation continue to turn and to grow our filmmaker community outreach. We’re proud to be extremely transparent with all details of our foundation. Our goal is to foster talent. We want to see emerging artists grow and connect with other filmmakers. We want to expand and have the ability to offer more and more grants. Most importantly, we strive to carry on David’s supportive attitude and passion toward helping others with their artistic endeavors. We do it for David and we do it to push the art of filmmaking forward.