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Local Filmmaker Fund

The Local Filmmaker Fund is Closed. 2024 Grant Recipients to be Announced in April

“Media making has purpose in society for community building, it’s not just a commodity.” - Louis Massiah, IPMF Filmmaker Grantee

“Telling black and brown narratives saves lives. It’s a lifeline.” - Nadine Patterson, IPMF Filmmaker Grantee

About the Local Filmmaker Fund

IPMF’s Local Filmmaker Fund supports filmmakers across the Greater Philadelphia region with the development of their films and gaining skills to further hone their craft. The Fund, in addition to a grant, includes a 12-month cohort that aims to serve as an incubator for local filmmakers to work on their films while gaining industry knowledge (i.e. via capacity-building workshops, skill-sharing) and building their network. In addition, filmmaker grantees will have the option of screening their film at IPMF’s annual Fall Film Screening—a great opportunity for projects to gain public interest and following. 

Film projects can be at any stage of production, from pre-production to post-production. A panel of local filmmakers and film advocates select each year’s Local Filmmaker Fund recipients. This community-led grant-making process aligns with IPMF’s vision to share and shift power with the community in pursuit of justice and equity. 

How to Apply

Submit an application to be considered by a panel of four local filmmakers and film advocates. The application will be open from January 26 at 12PM (EST) to February 26 at 5PM (EST). 

The Local Filmmaker Fund budget is $500,000. As part of the grant-making process we invite the panelists to nominate other local filmmakers’ projects and we also welcome direct applications from local filmmakers. We can’t predict how many applications we’ll receive or how many grants get awarded. Last year the average grant was $20,000 and grants ranged between $10,000 and $35,000. 

The panel will make their decisions in March. Decisions will be announced shortly after.


The Decision-making Process

Each year, IPMF pulls together a diverse panel of four local filmmakers and film advocates to review and nominate proposals to the Local Filmmaker Fund. The panel is comprised of four individuals who have demonstrated a deep understanding of the local filmmaking community and practice their craft with intention, excellence, and care. They are mindful of the nuts and bolts of film production along with the ethics of filmmaking. Each application and submitted visuals will initially be read by two panelists. If your application is moved to the next round, it will be reviewed and discussed by two additional panelists. 

The panel awards grants to both filmmakers that apply for consideration via the IPMF website and local filmmakers who are nominated by each of the four panelists. IPMF staff and board are not involved in decision making. The decisions of the panel are final.

Criteria the Panel will Consider

  • Does the filmmaker have an impressive body of work?  
  • Is the filmmaker from the Philly region and from an underrepresented group? 
  • Does their work demonstrate a commitment to community and/or social justice?
  • Is the filmmaker under-resourced? 
  • Are they creating work that is timely and needed? 

Eligibility FAQs

Can filmmakers who have already received a grant from IPMF apply?
If a filmmaker received a grant through the Local Filmmaker Fund last year (2023), they are not eligible to receive a Local Filmmaker Fund grant this year. However, the panel will consider supporting filmmakers who have received a grant in prior years. 

2023 Local Filmmaker Fund grant recipients can fill out the small grant request form (see the next question for more details).

Can filmmakers who received an IPMF grant for a film but need more support to complete the same film apply?
For filmmakers who received an IPMF grant in the past for a film and are looking for finishing funds for that same film, please submit a small grant request instead. Finishing funds tend to range from $2,000 to $16,000. Our 2024 finishing fund budget is $100,000, as a result grants may vary based on volume of requests.

At what stage of production (pre-production, production, post-production) do projects need to be? 
Filmmakers can apply for funding at any stage of development. 

What length do films have to be or are you open to both short and feature films? 
We are flexible. 

Is this opportunity only for documentary projects? 
No. This grant cycle has supported a range of films from documentary to narrative and experimental. 

Filmmakers must be from, or live in, the Greater Philadelphia Area? 
Yes. IPMF defines the Philly region as the following:

  • Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties in Pennsylvania
  • Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester counties in New Jersey
  • New Castle County, Delaware 

Does filming need to happen in the Philly region? 
No. However, the panel does take into account how this grant impacts the Philly region, local crew members, etc. Read staff essay for more info about our support of the local filmmaking community: Funding A Lifeline: Supporting Community through Film.

Application FAQs

What advice do you have for creating a compelling application? 

Attend office hours for more insight into what makes a compelling application. We will have two sessions: 

  • Tuesday, Jan 30 at 6pm (EST) 
  • Wednesday, Feb 7 at 12pm (EST) 

Can't attend office hours? Email info@independencemedia.org for the recording.

Generally, here's what the panel will look for:

  • Rough cuts, visuals, look books are very helpful for the panel. Consider adding any materials that will help the panel see your vision. Depending on the stage of production, we encourage (but not require):
    • If in development stage: visual materials (teasers, pitch decks, edited footage of up to 10-mins, scene selects).
    • If in production stage: a sample up to 10 minutes. Sample should show visual treatment, developing tone and style. A complete scene is helpful for the panel to understand your intentions (limit to 10 pages).
    • If in post-production stage: a sample demonstrating access to characters, story arc or concept, visual treatment. A rough cut may be submitted. 
    • If in the impact stage: a sample of campaign materials, curriculum, etc.
  • Budget: Include an estimate for fiscal sponsorship fees. That way, you plan how much of your potential grant will go to your fiscal sponsor.

Can grant dollars be used to help filmmakers pay themselves? 
The filmmaker should be able to pay themselves and others, along with any other expenses related to their project or professional development. Please ensure that your fiscal sponsor would allow this.

If awarded a grant, will there be reporting requirements? 
Yes, filmmakers will be asked to fill out a survey at the end of their grant period which includes a description of how funds were spent.

About IPMF

Formerly known as WYBE Channel 35, Independence Public Media Foundation was founded in 2018 when WYBE sold its broadcast license as part of the Federal Communications Commission’s Broadcast Incentive Auction and received a one-time payment of $131.5 million. With these funds, IPMF is moving resources within the Philadelphia region toward community-owned media and internet, and catalyzing movements for justice through narratives that educate, inspire, and encourage action toward a more liberatory future

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