August 16, 2023
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Best Filmmaking Grants for People of Color

Chris Cullari
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Making a film is a trying endeavor for all filmmakers, but the degree of difficulty ramps up for people of color. Without as many opportunities available in the historically white film industry, putting together the financing for a movie can be especially frustrating. That’s why film grants for people of color are so important.

These financial gifts offer filmmakers who are people of color the chance to pursue their vision by supporting their vision with cash that financiers aren’t going to demand to see back.

Some of these grants for people of color offer broad support, while others cater to more specific filmmakers and subject matter. The good news is that there are so many filmmaking grants for people of color that we’ve put together a list to help you sort through them.

Film grants for people of color

To help you on your search, we’ve arranged these grants into alphabetical order. Please check the website of each grant to determine its current status, as grants open and close for applications throughout the year.

AXS Film Fund

This film fund’s mission is to:

“... Support independent documentary filmmakers and nonfiction new media creators of color living with disabilities in their endeavors to tell stories, make films, and create content.” 

Each year they award five creators up to $10,000 towards completing their film in any stage of production. Something to note is that in addition to one of the project’s key creatives being a person of color, they must also identify as disabled. 

The AXS film grants for people of color also focus on non-fiction and documentary filmmaking, so fictional feature filmmakers need not apply.

Black Cinema Collective

According to the BCC’s website:

“Black Cinema Collective (BCC) is a group of multicultural artists and scholars who examine and celebrate works of African and Afro-diasporic filmmakers through programmed screenings and community discussions.”

They have been active in Seattle since 2019 and their foray into film grants for Black filmmakers is made in conjunction with co-sponsor Northwest Film Forum (NWFF). This grant provides funding for four Black filmmakers to the tune of $2,500 in unrestricted funds towards their first film. 

Black Public Media 360 Incubator + PitchBLACK

More than just funding for Black filmmakers, this incubator is an intensive three-month program that provides filmmakers with networking opportunities, skill-building workshops, tools for a successful pitch, and one on-one mentoring with accomplished media makers.

Best Filmmaking Grant Opportunities for People of Color - Wrapbook - Black Public Media
The 2023 Black film grant recipients through BPM’s 360 Incubator program. SOURCE

The goal is to prepare chosen teams to pitch for up to $150,000 in grants at Black Public Media’s PitchBLACK event. The 2023 cohort has already been chosen, but stay tuned for 2024’s applications to open up!

Comcast NBCUniversal’s Black Experience on Xfinity

Black Experience on Xfinity is a collection of content available through Comcast that showcases the breadth of Black culture.

Best Filmmaking Grant Opportunities for People of Color - Wrapbook - Black Experience
In addition to an award winning collection of Black media, the Black Experience on Xfinity also funds film grants for Black filmmakers. SOURCE

Their programming is endorsed by African American Film Critics Association (AAFC) and  features the largest curated collection of Black Independent Films On Demand. In celebration of their second year of programming, they awarded $1 million in grants to a selection of 10 Black filmmakers.

There isn’t much information about how to be considered for future grants or how much each grantee received individually as of the time of publication. However, it’s clear that Comcast is committed to funding Black filmmaker grants now and in the future. 

Film Independent Amplifier Fellowship

Film Independent takes film grants for people of color seriously. They’ve created multiple grants to support underrepresented communities, beginning with this film grant for Black filmmakers, specifically.

Their Amplifier Fellowship (sponsored by Netflix) supports:

“Six emerging and mid-career Black American filmmakers working as writers, directors and/or producers. The program takes place over a period of nine months each year, during which Fellows will receive creative and strategic support that furthers their professional ambitions and propels a selected project forward.”

Fellows receive a $30,000 unrestricted grant and are paired with advisors, including Netflix executives and Film Independent board members, to provide tailored mentorship. In many ways, these mentorships can be as valuable as the money.

Film Independent Project Involve

Film Independent’s Project Involve is another program designed to support filmmakers of color. Each year, 30 Fellows from diverse backgrounds are chosen and paired with industry mentors who represent the top of their field. 

Each Fellow creates a short film - from pitch to final product - and receives personalized guidance from their mentors along the way.

Best Filmmaking Grant Opportunities for People of Color - Wrapbook - Justin Simien
Dear White People director Justin Simien is one of Project Involve’s most high profile Fellows. SOURCE

Through a variety of corporate sponsorships, Project Involve also offers multiple grants for people of color - though you must already be a participant in Project Involve to take advantage of them.

These grants include:

Amazon Studios Film Fellowship

The Amazon Studios Film Fellowship provides a $10,000 grant to a visionary filmmaker in Project Involve.

LAIKA Animation Track

The LAIKA Animation Track in Project Involve provides a production grant to five filmmakers to create a stop-motion animated short film during a two-year period. Additionally, each of the five LAIKA Animation Fellows will receive a cash stipend in recognition of their commitment to the program.

Los Angeles Media Fund Fellowship

The Los Angeles Media Fund Fellowship provides a $10,000 grant to a remarkable Project Involve Fellow.

Panavision Fellowship

The Panavision Fellowship provides an outstanding cinematographer in Project Involve with a camera rental package valued at $60,000 for use on a future project produced in the US.

Participant Fellowship

The Participant Fellowship endows an exceptional filmmaker in Project Involve with a $10,000 grant.

Sony Pictures Entertainment Fellowship

Now in its 10th year, the Sony Pictures Entertainment Fellowship provides a $10,000 grant to an outstanding filmmaker in Project Involve.

iTVS Diversity Development Fund

Based out of San Francisco, iTVS, or “Independent Television Service,” is public media’s leading incubator and presenter of independent media. For over 30 years, iTVS has been creating films that are reflective of society’s diversity. Two-thirds of their filmmakers and more than half of their staff are people of color. 

Offering film grants for people of color further cements their dedication to diversity.

Best Filmmaking Grant Opportunities for People of Color - Wrapbook - Sanson and Me
A publicity still from Sansón and Me, one of the projects iTVS has presented on PBS as part of the Independent Lens series. SOURCE

Their Diversity Development Fund gives directors of color up to $35,000 to develop a documentary for public media. Because these funds are primarily for research and development, the film must be in development or pre-production. 

Films further along in production are not eligible to apply. 

Note that the average applicant spends about two weeks completing their application, so if this opportunity interests you, get started now!

Jacquie Jones Memorial Scholarship Fund

The Jacquie Jones Memorial Scholarship Fund (JJMSF) is a $300,000 scholarship fund established to provide support for emerging and diverse content producers of non-fiction shorts, feature-length programs, web series, 360-VR, or podcasts.

Best Filmmaking Grant Opportunities for People of Color - Wrapbook - Jacquie Jones
This grant for people of color reflects Jacquie’s dedication to supporting the vision of underrepresented voices. SOURCE

The life and work of Jacquie Jones, the Peabody Award-winning director and former executive director of Black Public Media inspires this grant for people of color. Jacquie dedicated herself to championing diverse content creators and supporting the kinds of projects that serve the needs of all communities. 

NewFest’s Black Filmmakers Initiative

As one of the country’s leading queer film festivals since 1988, NewFest has always been a supporter of minority voices. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement they decided to take things one step further and provide Black film grants specifically. 

They launched the Black Filmmakers Initiative in recognition of the need to remove structural barriers and create more opportunities for queer Black artists. 

This initiative takes a unique four-pronged approach to assisting filmmakers at each step of the filmmaking process by:

  • Providing funding for Black LGBTQ+ filmmakers to start or continue existing film projects
  • Helping to cover festival submission fees to ensure that all Black LGBTQ+ filmmakers can submit their projects to NewFest
  • Contributing free tickets to Black-led organizations to engage with NewFest events & programming
  • Providing funding for travel-related costs for Black LGBTQ+ filmmakers to attend NewFest events

The cash tied to these film grants for Black filmmakers varies between $1,000 and $2,000. Assistance covering submission fees comes in the form of a waiver available at the Initiative’s website.

Sidewalk Film Festival Black Lens Filmmaker Grant

An extension of the Sidewalk Film Center and Fest, SFC has partnered with the Law Firm of Stacey A. Davis to launch the Black Lens Filmmaker Grant. This film grant for Black filmmakers seeks to amplify Black voices through the art of storytelling and is open to all Black filmmakers working in any genre. 

Each grant recipient will be awarded a $1,000 cash grant and a Director’s Membership to the Sidewalk Film Center - a $2,000 value. Heads up: this film grant for Black filmmakers is specifically for residents of Alabama where the SFC is based. 

Wrapping up

Film grants for people of color are an important part of the filmmaking ecosystem. While we can all do our part to support minority voices and underrepresented stories, these organizations and grants are putting their money where their mouth is. 

For more information on the world of film grants, be sure to check out our Producer’s Guide to Securing Film Grants or our list of Best Film Grants for Women!

Disclaimer

At Wrapbook, we pride ourselves on providing outstanding free resources to producers and their crews, but this post is for informational purposes only as of the date above. The content on our website is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for legal, accounting, or tax advice.  You should consult with your own legal, accounting, or tax advisors to determine how this general information may apply to your specific circumstances.

About the author
Chris Cullari

Chris Cullari is a writer/director based out of Los Angeles. His most recent film, THE AVIARY, is available for streaming on Paramount Plus and Showtime. You can find him tweeting about monsters, pro-wrestling, and horror movies.

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