The SFFILM Sloan Stories of Science Development Fund is funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation as part of their mission to champion films that explore scientific or technological themes. SFFILM will award grants to filmmakers in the early stages of writing screenplays inspired by articles from the Stories of Science Sourcebook.
The Stories of Science Sourcebook is composed of compelling reported stories and recent scientific discoveries. In the Articles section, the ten stories come from outlets such as Wired magazine, the Verge, and the New Yorker, and range from a portrait of a marine biologist who risks everything to capture a giant squid to the story of a woman who, when her best friend dies, rebuilds him using artificial intelligence. Each article is available for option, with rights holders open to pitches from filmmakers with a powerful vision for bringing a given story to the screen in narrative form.
Alongside presenting these articles, SFFILM is also introducing a list of ten momentous scientific and technological Discoveries made in 2018 as a source of inspiration to filmmakers interested in telling fictionalized stories about the scientists who made those discoveries or explore the impact of these breakthroughs on members of the broader public.
Filmmakers may take creative latitude when proposing adaptations of these stories, however, their proposals must be grounded in both the material and a commitment to portraying the science or technology at the center of the stories in a manner that is realistic and grounded in scientific research.
Winning applicants to the Stories of Science Development Fund who draw their inspiration from the articles and discoveries collected in the Stories of Science Sourcebook will receive a $10,000 cash grant and participate in a two-day filmmaker retreat, during which they will receive guidance and mentorship from scientists, science and tech journalists, and film industry professionals to help them shape their storytelling vision. For applicants seeking specifically to option the stories from one of the ten main articles in the library, special guidance will be provided on pitching their vision to the author who holds the rights to the story they wish to tell.
Browse the Stories of Science Sourcebook Articles here.
Browse the Stories of Science Sourcebook Discoveries here.
- Applicant may not be an SFFILM or Sloan employee or a member of any SFFILM or Sloan boards.
- Applicant must be at least 18 years old.
- Filmmaker, or any other applicant or co-applicant must become a SFFILM member at the Filmmaker level or above prior to SFFILM releasing funds from the Grant.
- Primary applicant must be the writer of the film.
- Project must be inspired by an article or breakthrough in the Science in Cinema Sourcebook.
- Project must be feature length.
- Project must be a narrative/fiction film.
- Project must be consistent with SFFILM’s mission and represent an imaginative contribution to the moving image art form.
- There must be realistic scientific or technological content at the center of the screenplay.
- Filmmaker clearly articulates the scientific or technological ideas in their screenplay and the ways in which this story would expand the public understanding of science.
- Filmmaker demonstrates a compelling vision for how the story they select would translate to a feature film.
- Applicant directly answers all questions on the application and does not go over the word count. Applications that go over the word count will be considered ineligible.
- Funds must be used towards an option agreement and/or living expenses.
- Transportation to and from the residency is the responsibility of the fellow.
- Filmmaker will sign an agreement with SFFILM.
- Filmmaker understands there will be a press release announcing chosen fellows. Unless otherwise specified during the approval process, the submitted bio and logline will be used in the press release.
- Filmmaker agrees to submit a progress report detailing how the funds were spent alongside a new writing sample.
- Supported filmmakers shall provide acknowledgment to SFFILM and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. SFFILM and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation are to be listed with other comparable funders with language that mirrors or is similar to: “Made with support from SFFILM and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.”
- Only one application per project will be accepted.
- The Sloan Stories of Science Development Fund is open internationally. If selected to participate in the 2-day retreat in San Francisco, international flights will not be able to be covered in full but a travel stipend will be provided for a portion of the travel costs.
- While we encourage filmmakers to apply to the San Francisco International Film Festival, winning a fellowship from SFFILM does not guarantee acceptance into that festival.
How to Apply
To begin the application process, navigate to the Application page to review the required items for submission. Prepare your answers ahead of time in a separate document before submitting in case there are any problems with your submission. Leave time for technical issues, and please do not wait until the last minute to submit your application.
If you are a member of SFFILM, your application fee is waived. If you are not a member ofSFFILM, there is an application fee that must be paid in order for your submission to be considered. To pay the application fee, enter your credit card information at the end of the application before submitting. Email email@example.com if you have any technical questions.
Here is a sample of the questions and prompts you will find in the online application:
- Bio. (200 words or less)
- Logline. In a couple of sentences, please describe the crux of your film. (75 words or less)
- Project synopsis. (300 words or less)
- Anticipated total film budget
- Brief description of the scientific or technological ideas you are exploring through this story (300 words or less)
- In what ways could this story expand the public understanding of science or technology? (300 words or less)
- What scientific or artistic guidance and research would you seek out to write this screenplay? (300 words or less)
Additional required application materials include:
- A one-page treatment. This should give us a clear sense of the beginning, middle and end of the story, as well as your central characters.
- A one-page writer’s statement. Please describe your vision for this project. What drew you to this material or story? What themes are most compelling to you? How do you imagine the characters, tone and visual style manifesting in the script?
- A previous work sample, with explanation. Either a ten-page writing sample of five-minute visual sample. For visual materials, the primary applicant must have been the screenwriter.
SFFILM will convene panels to evaluate applications and award fellowships at its sole discretion. The review panel to decide the winners is comprised of panelists that are producers, filmmakers, industry professionals, science advisors, and qualified SFFILM staff amongst others. Winners will be announced in a press release and on the SFFILM website.
For more information about our grants and fellowships, visit our FAQ page.