Small Arts Grants :: Instructions for Filmmakers

The Fleishhacker Foundation supports film projects within its Small Arts Grants and Special Arts Grants programs. Please review the guidelines for each program for further details on the type of grants made and eligibility criteria. We are more interested in supporting an artist’s vision than in educational documentaries.

Applications are only accepted for the post-production phase of the project (i.e. when a full rough cut is complete and available). Filmmakers should have raised and spent at least 50% of their project budget before applying. Filmmakers are funded at any point in their careers, but grants are not awarded to film students. Only films directed by residents of San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Sonoma, San Mateo, and Santa Clara are considered.

Most Small Arts grants are in the range of $2,500 – $5,000. Special Arts grants are generally between $10,000 – $20,000. Artists may only apply once for any given film project, and only if they have already secured a fiscal sponsor or are applying with a nonprofit production company. The mission of fiscally sponsoring organization must correlate with that of the film project.

A letter from the fiscal sponsor detailing the terms of the organization’s support and their agreement with the artist must be included with the grant application. The sponsoring organization’s annual budget must be greater than $100,000, but there is no upper limit on its size. However, film projects considered in the Small Arts Grants category must have budgets under $750,000. Larger film projects with budgets between $750,000 and $2,500,000 are reviewed in the Special Arts Grant program. Applicants for Special Arts Grants must receive advance approval from the Foundation’s Executive Director to apply.

There are two review cycles per year: January 15 for spring decisions, and July 15 for fall decisions. The online application process is detailed under the Small Arts or Special Arts guidelines. Filmmakers may skip answering general application questions that don’t apply to them. They should, however, provide a narrative description of the film project for which they are seeking grant support; its status, the estimated timeline for completion, and listing of funding that has been received to date. (Up to 3,000 characters).

The organizational materials provided with the grant application (annual budgets, board list, and financial statement) should be those of the fiscal sponsor or nonprofit production company, except for the institutional funder list, which should provide the film project’s committed and pending funders to date. Filmmakers will also be asked to provide a project budget that includes the entire scope of the film project, including post-production budget. Budgets cannot include the purchase of major equipment items. Artists who keep annual financial records for their production company should also attach the most recent financial statement and current year budget under the supporting material link. They may also attach a 1 or 2 page overview of the film with their supporting documents.

Filmmakers will be asked to include a full rough cut Vimeo link of the film project with their online applications. It will only be viewed by our review committee and must remain active until the end of the review process.

Please also note that all grant communication will be sent to the fiscal sponsor, and it is responsible for informing filmmakers of the status of their grant proposal, promptly forwarding any funds awarded, and ensuring that final grant reports are filed within one year of the award date.

The arts review committee will assess the project’s artistic clarity and craft from the rough cut work sample (of the film for which funding is sought). Applicants should also include a very brief narrative statement about the work sample and the status of its final edit.