Throughout the history of film, women have made significant contributions as producers and directors. In 2010, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director. Mimi Leder, Penny Marshall and Tracey Edmonds are among other women who have found success as directors and producers. For men and women alike, making films starts with funding, and a number of funding options are available for women interested in becoming the next Bigelow or Marshall.
Several grants are available to women interested in making short films (generally films under 15 minutes). With its "Women Filmmakers Short Film Grant," Rooftop Filmmakers Fund and Chicken and Egg Pictures (Rooftopfilms.com) provide women with a $6,000 grant to produce films about human rights, global health and environmental justice issues. Similarly, the Rooftop Fund Short Film Grants offers as much as $3,000 to women filmmakers who meet criteria such as being able to produce a film using the resources allotted and making movies Rooftop considers to be a kind of movie that is seldom made and seen. Another grant, provided by X-Factor Filmmakers (Xfactorfilm.com) helps to place women in film schools throughout the country to empower them and better enhance their ability to create films.
For women seeking to make feature films, the Women in Film Foundation's Film Finishing Fund provides women filmmakers with up to $15,000 in cash to make their films. Grants can be used for production and post-production, such as editing, automated dialogue replacement looping and visual effects. Applicants must have completed principal photography and have a rough edit of their film. Filmmakers can find additional funding through From the Heart Productions' Roy W. Dean Film and Video Grants, which offers grants for women filmmakers across the country. Films may be funded up to $500,000. Some grants, such as those of women filmmakers Adrienne Shelly and Sarah Jacobson, are visionary grants in that they are awarded based on filmmakers' ability to represent the vision of these two filmmakers, which were fierce and courageous. Jacobson's grants range between $1,000 and $2,000 and are awarded to individuals with films in any stage of production. Conversely, Shelly's Finishing Fund Grant is not awarded to individual filmmakers. Instead filmmakers must apply via several groups that include The Sundance Institute and Columbia University School of the Arts Film Division.
Specialty Grants and Documentaries
For the purposes of restoring and preserving film, New York Women in Film and Television provide as much as $10,000 in cash and up to $25,000 in in-kind services to women filmmakers. In order to qualify for the grants, filmmakers must demonstrate restoration or preservation by any of the following means: clearly identifying the educational or artistic value of the film, verifying the film's accessibility after it is completed and verifying that elements of the film have not been preserved. A number of grants are available for women interested in making documentary films. These grants include the Garrett Scott Documentary Development Grant given by the International Black Women's Film Festival to first-time filmmakers to cover their travel and expenses while making the documentary, and the Sloan Grant, which provides up to $25,000 to filmmakers to produce documentaries and biographies.
Resources for Grants
Women Make Movies (Wmm.org) assists women filmmakers in producing, promoting and distributing their films. Through its Production Assistance Program, the organization accepts funding and administers funding for film projects. The organization helps to find funding for non-profit groups to make films directed by women. Additionally, Womenarts.org provides a list of funding for films that include grants from Cinereach and the National Endowment of the Arts, among others. Membership is free and provides a complete "Funding Resources" section for women.