Austin Film Society Announces Call for Entries for 2020 AFS Grant for Feature Films

(Image from Andrew Bujalski’s Computer Chess)

Brady Dyer,

Austin Film Society Announces Call for Entries for the 2020 AFS Grant For Feature Films

Grant Funding Provides a Critical Source of Support for Texas Independent Filmmakers 

May 6, 2020 (AUSTIN, TX) –The Austin Film Society announces applications are open for the 2020 AFS Grant for feature films, the annually renewed production fund for emerging Texas filmmakers. The opening date for submissions is today, May 6, and the deadline is Monday, June 8. Applications and submission guidelines can be found on the AFS website. Since its inception in 1996, the AFS Grant has awarded over $2 million in cash grants and $340,000 in-kind goods and services to over 400 Texas filmmakers, creating life-changing opportunities for artists traditionally underrepresented in the film industry and working outside large industry centers. Now more than ever, AFS is committed to providing these vital funds and resources to Texas filmmakers in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis. This spring AFS will be giving out grants for feature films in any phase of production (pre-production, production, and post) and new this year—four unrestricted grants of $5,000 will be offered to experienced filmmakers for a project in development.

“We’re in the midst of a historic moment, and our Texas storytellers are uniquely equipped to observe, interpret, and capture it. The AFS Grant ensures that the most promising Texas filmmakers of all backgrounds have the resources they need—and are paid—to work, even when funds for independent media projects are scarce.” said Rebecca Campbell, AFS CEO.

Holly Herrick, Head of Film and Creative Media, added, “While corporate media dominates our virtual spaces, AFS is focused on supporting a pipeline of underrepresented voices in our region so that stories outside of the mainstream are funded, produced, and distributed.”

AFS Grant recipients have shown their films at renowned festivals like Sundance, Berlin, Cannes, Toronto, Venice, Tribeca, Rotterdam, and SXSW. Previous recipients have been nominated for Independent Spirit Awards (examples include Augustine Frizzell’s Never Goin’ Back; Andrew Bujalski’s Computer Chess, TW Pittman and Kelly Daniela Norris’ Nakom, Yen Tan’s Pit Stop and Heather Courtney’s Where Soldiers Come From) and won awards at top festivals such as Cannes, Sundance and SXSW (for example, Keith Maitland’s Tower, Patrick Bresnan and Ivete Lucas’ Skip Day, Annie Silverstein’s Bull, Renée Zahn’s Reneepoptosis and Todd Rohal’s Rat Pack Rat).

Filmmakers Kat Candler ((13 Reasons Why, Queen Sugar, Hellion) and David Lowery (Disney’s Pete’s Dragon, A Ghost Story) both received support for their work from the Austin Film Society Grant and are now among the donors to the AFS Grant fund. Lowery’s company, Sailor Bear, partners with the Oak Cliff Film Festival to provide AFS’s North Texas Pioneer Film Grant, which awards cash grants to emerging filmmakers from the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. The grant has an emphasis on underrepresented perspectives. AFS is committed to funding artistic voices that come from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in the film industry: in the last three cycles, 47% of grant recipients identified with a community of color and 49% were women.

Continuing its commitment to diversity, AFS is proud to offer, for the third year, the New Texas Voices Award, a cash grant of $10,000 and industry mentorship, for a first-time filmmaker of color making a feature-length film. The recipient of the 2019 Award, sponsored by Warbach Lighting and Design, was Channing Godfrey People’s Miss Juneteenth, which went on to premiere in the US Narrative Competition at the Sundance Film Festival and will be distributed nationally in June.

New this year, and in response to artists’ lost opportunities due the Covid-19 crisis, AFS announces the AFS Grant Development Fund, an additional cash fund that will go to career filmmakers to begin developing a project.

The AFS Grant is administered with two application periods and deadlines. Open today, the Spring 2020 grant application cycle is for documentary and narrative feature-length film projects (over 40 minutes) in any phase of production, or feature length films in development. There is a separate application for the AFS Grant Development Fund, and applicants will not be considered both for development grant and production grants in the same cycle.

Grant sponsors and partners offer a range of budget-relieving services and cash, given as a part of the AFS Grant program (details below). Filmmakers must apply online at by Monday, June 8, 2020 by 5 p.m. CST. The recipients will be announced in early September.

The Fall 2020 grant application cycle, for short films 40 minutes or under, will open Wednesday, July 29 with a deadline of Friday, September 4. Recipients will be announced in December.

Due to staffing limitations as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, one-on-one grant consultations will not be offered in the 2020 application cycle. Alternatively, AFS Grant program staff will offer a series of live webinars via Zoom to share tips, answer frequently asked questions, and provide guidance for applicants. More information and registration details can be found here. The first of these workshops takes place this Friday, May 8, at 4 p.m. CST.


North Texas Pioneer Film Grant (Production)
In partnership with the Oak Cliff Film Festival (Dallas) and Sailor Bear film collective, AFS will offer cash grants to emerging filmmakers residing in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and surrounding region. At least three grants will be awarded, ranging from $5,000-$15,000, for the production/post-production of feature-length films (40 minutes or greater). The grant aims to fund emerging filmmakers with first or second feature films and filmmakers with backgrounds that are traditionally underrepresented in independent film. Filmmakers wishing to be considered for this fund must provide proof of residency in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and surrounding region. All other regular eligibility and application requirements for the AFS Grant must be met.

New Texas Voices Grant (Production)
Continuing its ongoing commitment to support diverse voices and grow new talent, AFS is offering $10,000 as the New Texas Voices Grant to filmmakers who identify with a community of color traditionally underrepresented in independent film. This grant will be accompanied by specialized mentorship for the awarded filmmakers. Filmmakers wishing to be considered must have a first feature film in early to mid-production and must provide race or ethnicity data in the application. All other regular eligibility and application requirements for the AFS Grant must be met.

In-Kind Grants
Additionally, this year’s grant sponsors and partners offer applicants a range of budget-relieving services and cash for every phase of production. These sponsored awards are given as a part of the AFS Grant program.

The MPS Camera and Lighting Austin Production Services Grant awards up to $10,000 worth of services, which can include cameras, lenses, lighting/grip/electric equipment, and more.

Austin post-production house Stuck On On awards one theatrical digital cinema package (DCP) for two different features.

New Grant: AFS Development Fund
Intended to address the lack of funds available and hardship artists have experienced as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, and to continue to support a pipeline of independent film production in Texas, the AFS Grant Development Fund will award career artists residing in Texas a one-time $5,000 cash stipend towards the development of a feature-length film project, either narrative or documentary. Applicants may not apply for both the AFS Grant for Development and the regular AFS Grant, which is for any phase of production.

The AFS Grant is generously supported by the H-E-B Tournament of Champions in addition to grant partners Sailor Bear, Oak Cliff Film Festival, MPS Camera and Lighting, and Stuck On On.

About Austin Film Society
Founded in 1985 by filmmaker Richard Linklater, AFS creates life-changing opportunities for filmmakers, catalyzes Austin and Texas as a creative hub, and brings the community together around great film. AFS supports filmmakers towards career leaps, encouraging exceptional artistic projects with grants and support services. AFS operates Austin Studios, a 20-acre production facility, to attract and grow the creative media ecosystem. Austin Public, a space for our city’s diverse mediamakers to train and collaborate, provides many points of access to filmmaking and film careers. The AFS Cinema is an ambitiously programmed repertory and first run arthouse with broad community engagement. By hosting premieres, local and international industry events, and the Texas Film Awards, AFS shines the national spotlight on Texas filmmakers while connecting Austin and Texas to the wider film community. AFS is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.