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Finding funding for your film, series, or show can be a challenging but sometimes necessary part of the creative journey. The process of deciding which grants to apply for and how to formulate your proposal can easily turn into a time consuming endeavor. 

Going in with a clear grant submission strategy, however, can greatly cut down on wasted time, leaving you with more energy to dedicate towards writing the perfect grant. As you begin putting together your grant for that dream project, consider these points below to aid with the process.

  1. Establish which grant is right for you: As writing grants can be a time consuming process, unless you have infinite time on your hands, don’t waste energy on grants that don’t align with your project’s topic. Do your research and see what type of films received funding from a particular organization or company in the past. For example, if you are creating a horror film and an organization offering grants is seeking documentaries with a focus on environmental issues, you may want to save your time and apply elsewhere. 
  2. Create a Treatment: The grant listing that you are focusing on will most likely lay out which submission materials are required, however, more often than not providing a Treatment will be expected. A film treatment is a detailed summary of your film, show or web series that lays out the plot and how it will progress, the setting, themes and characters. A quick google search will bring up additional information regarding how to write a treatment. One resource in particular is this StudioBinder post which offers a free template for you.
  3. Know what story you are telling: It may seem obvious, however, it is a necessity to truly understand and communicate the trajectory, plot points, and significance of your story in order to convince an organization that you should be the recipient of their funds. If grant readers can tell that there are holes in your story or that the idea is not fully realized, this could jeopardize your chances.
  4. Create a realistic budget: Whenever an organization or company is considering writing you a check, they will want to know how their money will be utilized. Do your research and look at film budgets online to understand what a realistic and clearly outlined budget looks like. Here is a sample PDF you may find helpful to get started. For larger grants that you are applying for, you may be expected to include pre-production, production, post-production and distribution costs.
  5. Writing a grant is invaluable whether you “win”: It is easy to throw your hands up and declare your proposal a complete waste of time when you are not the recipient of the grant that you were applying for. However, writing a grant is an excellent way to assess how your story or idea holds up under scrutiny. An in depth dissection of your project will enable you to see what is not working about your project and make necessary changes before you begin production. Plus, when it is time to submit your project to film festivals, distributors, and/or to press outlets, you will already have some of the necessary materials such as your project summary ready to go.

When considering grant options, it is important to remember that the more grants that you write the more you will understand the process and the easier it will become over time.

​​For more information, tips and tricks visit www.mnn.org/learn for free workshops, professional courses, filmmaking bootcamps, and more resources to make your productions successful.