The Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowship is funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation as part of their mission to champion films that explore scientific or technological themes or characters. SFFILM will award fellowships to filmmakers in the screenwriting phase of developing a screenplay that tells a story related to science or technology.
Winners of the Sloan Science in Cinema Filmmaker Fellowship will receive a $35,000 cash grant and a two-month residency at FilmHouse, SFFILM’s suite of production offices for local and visiting independent filmmakers. The residency program provides filmmakers with artistic guidance, office space, a vibrant creative community, and mentorship from established filmmakers and members of the independent film industry. To strengthen the film’s portrayal of science or technology, each fellow will be connected to a science advisor with expertise in the subjects at the center of their screenplays, as well as leaders in the Bay Area’s science and technology communities.
- Applicant may not be an SFFILM or Sloan employee or member of any SFFILM or Sloan boards.
- Applicant must be at least 18 years old
- All grant recipients and co-applicants must become SFFILM members at the Film Fan level or above prior to SFFILM distributing funds to the project.
- Primary applicant must be in a key creative role for the film: screenwriter, director, or producer.
- Project must be feature length.
- Project cannot be a work for hire.
- 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.
- Writers must have the intention of working with scientific advisors to ensure the accuracy or their stories.
- Science-fiction and speculative stories are, in almost every case, ineligible. In some rare cases, a futuristic story might be eligible if it involves science or technology that is truly on the cusp of being introduced to society.
- Filmmaker clearly articulates the intended goals for the grant.
- Filmmaker demonstrates how the grant will impact short- and long-term professional and artistic goals.
- 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.
- The fellowship winner will receive a grant of $35,000.
- Funds must be used for living expenses and if not from the Bay Area, travel to and from the Bay Area.
- Winner must reside in the Bay Area for a minimum of two (non-contiguous) months, for no less than two weeks at a time.
While fulfilling the two-month Bay Area residency requirement, the filmmaker must agree to live within a 20-mile drive of FilmHouse (644 Broadway San Francisco, CA 94133).
- The fellow must agree to spend a minimum of three half days at FilmHouse, and to attend a minimum of two FilmHouse events per month.
- Transportation to and from the residency is the responsibility of the fellow.
- Applicant will sign an agreement with the SFFILM
- Fellows are asked to help us in our marketing efforts by filling out a questionnaire and providing links to trailers and/or reviews. Unless otherwise specified for confidentiality reasons, the logline submitted for the original application will be used in our press release.
- Only one application per project will be accepted.
- While we encourage filmmakers to apply to the San Francisco International Film Festival, winning a fellowship from
- SFFILM does not guarantee acceptance into any of the aforementioned programs.
How to Apply
To begin the application process, navigate to the “Apply Now” page to review the required items for submission. If you have not yet created an account for the SFFILM Grant Platform, please do so (please note: this is separate from your SFFILM member account).
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, 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 of SFFILM, 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 after you hit “submit.” Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any technical questions.
Here is a sample of a few of the questions 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)
- Trailer or other work sample. (We will watch no more than 5 minutes of submitted footage)
- What scientific research have you conducted thus far?
- To date, what support have you received for this project?
- List all sources such as awards, residencies, grants, donations, investments, and in-kind.
- List the names and roles and other key (2-3) individuals involved in the project. Please briefly describe their qualifications.
Additional application materials are required as follows:
- Current script sample: Ten pages of the script you are applying with. The ten pages do not need to be the first ten pages. Please select what you believe to be the best ten pages.
- Script sample explanation: This should introduce the script pages from the project for which you are applying and provide context as well as any other pertinent information that would be helpful for the review panel to consider, such as which draft of the film this is and why you selected this passage.
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.
No. SFFILM Sloan is open to filmmakers based anywhere in the U.S. or internationally.
The Sloan Fellowship supports narrative features and series centered around scientific and technological themes in the screenwriting stage. Two fellows are selected annually and awarded cash grants of $35,000, a two-month FilmHouse residency, and a science advisor to support the scientific accuracy of the project.
The Sloan Stories of Science Development Fund awards a $10,000 cash grant to four filmmakers in the earliest stages of writing screenplays inspired by articles and discoveries from the Stories of Science Sourcebook. In addition to a cash grant, awardees must attend a two-day writer’s retreat at SFFILM FilmHouse. The Development Fund runs every other year and will resume in 2021.
Science fiction films are defined as projects that incorporate fictional elements that expand beyond today’s scientific capabilities and are not eligible to apply for any of SFFILM’s Sloan opportunities.
All filmmakers selected for the Sloan Fellowship must complete a residency period of eight weeks. The 8 weeks do not need to be contiguous, and can be completed in 2-week trips. The residency does not include living arrangements, but is an open workspace at SFFILM’s FilmHouse office. The residency includes peer-to-peer engagement with SFFILM’s year-round residents and feedback sessions, one-on-one meetings with expert advisors working in various sectors of the film industry, space to work from including a quiet screenwriting room and editing suite, year-round programming including talks, workshops, table reads, and work-in-progress screenings, and support from SFFILM’s Artist Development team.
Eligible films for both Sloan opportunities must portray scientific or technological themes at their center that directly drive the story arc and/or character development forward. Films with peripheral scientific characters or ideas will not be competitive.
The Stories of Science Sourcebook compiles compelling reported articles and momentous recent discoveries in the scientific and technological fields. Applicants must choose a story or discovery from the Sourcebook to apply for this grant. Filmmakers who are already working on similar stories may apply, but must still be in the early development stage and must not yet have a script draft. Articles and discoveries chosen for previous grant cycles will be removed from the sourcebook, and additional articles and discoveries will be added to reflect the ever changing scientific and technological landscape.
The Sloan Stories of Science Development Fund operates every two years and will reopen again in the Spring of 2021.
Yes! The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation offers many film grants through various organizations and universities across the country. You can find a complete offering through their Grants Database.
For more information about our grants and fellowships, visit our FAQ page.