May is the traditional start of the summer movie season, and if your struggling indie project needs some blockbuster help, there’s good news: there are many available programs that can help independent projects get off the ground. So, this month, we’re zeroing in on a few of the best initiatives around the industry.
1. Los Angeles Skins Film Festival
This six-day event held at the iconic TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood celebrates Native American Heritage Month by showcasing the works of Native American / First Nation / Indigenous filmmakers with tribal affiliations.
The festival accepts a variety of films, including features and short narratives, documentaries, and animations. To qualify, Indigenous artists must be involved with your production in some way. The festival aims to promote and recognize the works of Indigenous filmmakers and their contributions to the film industry.
- Deadlines: Early deadline is May 12; regular deadline is June 16
- On the web: https://filmfreeway.com/LosAngelesSkinsFilmFestival
2. The Rogovy Foundation’s Miller / Packan Film Fund
This grant opportunity is available to documentary filmmakers, offering up to $25k for films with a focus on education, the environment, and civics. The grant is specifically geared towards films that aim to have high production values, as well as those utilizing a character-driven, exposé, or informational point-of-view storytelling style (among other qualities).
Its funds are available for the development, production, and postproduction stages of a film, but not distribution and publicity costs. This grant is a great opportunity for documentary filmmakers looking to produce high-quality, informative films with a focus on important societal issues.
- Deadlines: May 15, 2023
- On the web: https://rogovy.org/film-fund/overview/
3. SFFilm Sloan Stories of Science Development Fund
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, in partnership with SFFilm, offers $10k support grants to filmmakers exploring science and technology. The grant is intended to encourage the creation of films that highlight the intersection of science and humanity.
To qualify, all films must be based on the Stories of Science Sourcebook (which documents current scientific advances and their impact on society) using fictional characters and settings. The grant is open to writers who are working on developing a feature-length narrative film that can inspire and inform audiences about the latest scientific and technological developments.
- Deadlines: May 19, 2023
- On the web: https://sffilm.org/sffilm-sloan-stories-of-science-development-fund/
4. Out on Film: Atlanta’s LGBTQ Film Festival
This Atlanta-based film festival is scheduled for September. Currently, sponsors are seeking inclusive feature films, documentaries, and shorts that are relevant to the LGBTQ+ community. With over 150 films, including international selections and works by local filmmakers, the festival offers a diverse range of programming. Filmmakers are encouraged to submit their work for consideration and contribute to a celebration of LGBTQ+ cinema.
- Deadlines: June 9, 2023
- On the web: https://outonfilm.org/
5. BANFF World Media Festival
Located in Banff, Alberta, Canada, this is a highly esteemed media market that draws participants from over 45 countries. It’s an ideal location for presenting film pitches and establishing international co-production deals. The festival offers a range of programs, including keynotes, panels, masterclasses, and networking events, as well as opportunities to meet with entertainment executives. The 2023 Banff World Media Festival will take place from June 11th to 14th, providing a valuable platform for media professionals to connect and showcase their work.
- Deadlines: Passes are now on sale
- On the web: https://banffmediafestival.playbackonline.ca/2023/
Please note that film festivals and markets are chosen based on Dear Producer’s annual study, which asks distributors from where they acquire films, how many films they distribute in a year, and other factors.