Film Fellowships for the Hungry Filmmaker

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Awards season got you feeling inspired? For many a filmmaker, this time of year is also a time to get reinvigorated and grind on your art, but it’s easy to feel lost or lacking in resources.

Fortunately, young grasshopper, there are programs that provide substantial fellowships offering everything from grant funding to expert mentors who unload wisdom and offer constructive feedback. The list below includes some of the most well-recognized programs attached to major film/TV industries to help jumpstart your career.

'Journey Home' short by Sundance Ignite Fellow Alex Campbell
‘Journey Home’ short by Sundance Ignite Fellow Alex Campbell

1. Sundance Ignite Program
Fellowship awardees are given a year-long intensive mentorship, exclusives panels with the film industry, a package ticket to Sundance Film Festival, and the change to engage with some of the industry’s most preeminent experts. The Ignite program is looking for young filmmakers (18-24), applicants who are already somewhat in or about to head into Hollywood’s labyrinth.

Notable Alumni: Alex Campbell (Journey Home), Justin Brooks
Perks as Fellow: Sundance Film Festival package, industry panels, film industry mentors
Program Info: Click here

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The ‘Whose Streets’ documentary was pitched at North Points Forum.

2. Points North Fellowship
Points North Institute’s fellowship programs is geared towards filmmakers who are developing a documentary feature and are working on securing funding for their project. Out of a few hundred submissions, six selected fellows are thrown into a two-day mentorship with fellow industry veterans and work on a sales pitch for their unfinished documentary. On the day, they have seven minutes to pitch their film in front of a panel of industry funders (HBO, CNN, Sundance Institute) who offer constructive feedback. 

Notable Alumni: Jeff Unay (Greywater), Sabaah Jordan and Damon Davis (Whose Streets?)
Perks as Fellow: Two-day mentorship, sales pitch in front major distributors, and a package ticket for Camden International Film Festival.
Program Info: Click here

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3. Warner Bros Emerging Film Directors
Warner Bros.’ program was created in response to a lack of diverse representation in the film industry. Filmmakers will receive a seven-month fellowship in which they will be given a budget of $100,000 through a process that closely resembles that of Warner Bros. Pictures’ feature process. From script development to full prep, a shoot on the Warner Bros lot, and post-production, the program is a rare glimpse into a major studio’s process. 

Notable Alumni: First fellowship program still ongoing.
Perks: Major studio backs your short film from pre to post-production. $100k funding.
Program Info:  Click here

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‘Dear White People’ series from Project Involve Alumni: Justin Simien

4. Film Independent: Project Involve
People best know the institute for hosting the Film Independent Spirit Awards and the LA Film Festival. It’s no surprise that they have a huge selection of film labs each dedicated to a specific field. Their diverse program, Project Involve, looks for up-and-coming film professionals from underrepresented communities and offer them a unique opportunity to hone their craft and gain access to the industry. Past mentors: Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler), Ava DuVernay (Selma). Rodrigo Prieto (The Wolf of Wall Street).

Notable Alumni: Jon M. Chu (G.I. Joe Retaliation), Kahlil Joseph (Lemonade), and Justin Simien (Dear White People).
Perks: Mentorship from major directors, a pass to the Los Angeles Film Festival, and inclusion in the Film Independent Talent Guide.
Program Info: Click here

 

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