SFFILM Makers offers funding and support to independent filmmakers through several programs that are by invitation only. SFFILM’s Artist Development team hand-picks projects that surface from various other support initiatives; there is no application process for these programs.
SFFILM Invest unites individuals from Bay Area philanthropic and film funder communities with the most exciting voices in independent film. Through careful curation, SFFILM offers Invest members a selection of feature-length documentary and narrative films, an intimate environment to meet with the talented filmmakers seeking funding, and a unique path to pursue collaborations. Beyond this core engagement, SFFILM Invest offers bespoke opportunities to enhance both new and experienced members’ understanding of the current film market and the creative process behind the storytelling. Lastly, Invest members will have access to year-round SFFILM programming and special events to keep up with the latest cinematic offerings and connect with each other as a growing community.
SFFILM Invest builds upon the organization’s rich history of providing financial support to independent films and progressive creative teams from around the world, as well as its commitment to growing the Bay Area filmmaking community. The initiative is dedicated to the long-term sustainability of independent film and serves as a resource throughout the filmmaking journey for content creators.
Since its launch in 2018, Invest members have funded 30 films in all stages of production with over $3 million in grants and equity funding. Some notable projects supported through this initiative include A Love Song (2022 Sundance premiere), Ascension (2022 Academy Award nominee Best Documentary Feature), Cryptozoo (2021 Sundance and SFFILM Festival awards), the audience favorite Feels Good Man (2020 Sundance Film Festival award), and the Academy Award nominated Honeyland (2020 Best Documentary Feature, Best International Feature).
SFFILM Invest is by invitation only.
SFFILM/Dolby Institute Fellowship
The Dolby Institute Fellowship supports narrative feature films from development through post-production, under a partnership between SFFILM and the Dolby Institute.
This fellowship provides an exciting opportunity rarely afforded to independent filmmakers—to thoughtfully elevate and deepen the role of sound and image in their finished films with advanced technology from Dolby Laboratories. SFFILM Makers—SFFILM’s artist development program—and the Dolby Institute offers the selected fellows artistic and industry guidance, facilitates introductions, and provides a cash grant allowing them to begin work with a sound designer during the screenwriting stage. Fellows also gain post-production support, with comprehensive sound design, a Dolby Atmos mix, and Dolby Vision color correction and mastering support.
The inaugural Dolby Institute Fellowship was awarded in 2018 to The Sound of Silence, directed and co-written by Michael Tyburski and produced and co-written by Ben Nabors. The film premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and was distributed theatrically nationwide by IFC Films that fall. The 2021 Dolby Institute Fellows are writer/director Kobi Libii with his film The American Society of Magical Negroes and writer/director Beth de Araújo and producers John Baker, Rodrigo Teixeira, and Lourenço Sant’ Anna for their project Josephine.
The Dolby Institute Fellowship is by invitation only.
SFFILM Djerassi Fellowship
The SFFILM Djerassi Fellowship provides a one-month artist residency for an emerging or established screenwriter.
Located in a spectacular setting in the Santa Cruz Mountains, 40 miles south of San Francisco, the program provides artists with uninterrupted time for work, reflection and collegial interaction in a professionally supportive and inspirational environment. The SFFILM Djerassi Fellowship is supported by a gift from SFFILM Board Member Dale Djerassi.
Designed for both US-based and international screenwriters, the SFFILM Djerassi Fellowship offers living and studio accommodations and meals. Residents work and are housed in three buildings on the Djerassi ranch according to artistic discipline and creative project. Living quarters and studio space consist of a four-bedroom house and a unique, remodeled twelve-sided barn. The Middlebrook Studios, new spaces for writers, are also available. The residency does not include travel and writing supplies.
The Djerassi Fellowship is by invitation only.
SFFILM Rainin Filmmakers with Disability Grant
The SFFILM Rainin Filmmaker with Disabilities Grant, introduced in 2020, supports filmmakers whose films specifically address stories from the disability community. Ensuring historically excluded communities have access to artistic and financial support to create a more inclusive film landscape is at the core of SFFILM and the Kenneth Rainin Foundation’s partnership.
Awards are made to 1-3 projects per year in the fall (at least one for a San Francisco Bay Area filmmaker), for films in all stages of production (screenwriting, development, or post-production). We accept feature and short films, both narratives and documentaries. In addition to a cash grant of up to $7,500, recipients secure a one-year residency at Filmhouse and benefit from SFFILM’s comprehensive and dynamic artist development programs. Some notable projects supported through this initiative include The Tuba Thieves (2023 Sundance premiere) and I Didn’t See You There (2022 Sundance premiere).
The SFFILM Rainin Filmmakers with Disabilities Grant is by invitation only.