Austin Film Society Announces Call for Entries for the 2021 AFS Grant for Feature Films – Now Open

(Still from AFS-supported film Inbetween Girl by Mei Makino, winner of the Audience Award, Visions Category, at SXSW 2021)

Brady Dyer,

Austin Film Society Announces Call for Entries for the 2021 AFS Grant For Feature Films

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

April 12, AUSTIN, TX –The Austin Film Society announces applications are open for the 2021 AFS Grant for feature films, the annually renewed production fund for emerging Texas filmmakers. The opening date for submissions is today, Monday, April 12, and the deadline is Friday, June 4. 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. A vital resource for Texas independent filmmakers from diverse backgrounds, the AFS Grant is intended to support career leaps for emerging to mid-career artists. This spring AFS will be giving out grants for feature films in any phase of production (pre-production, production, and post), and continuing this year, the AFS Grant for Development will be offered to experienced filmmakers for a project in development.

“We are focused on changing the industry and our communities by supporting a diverse group of regional filmmakers to tell their own stories, and by making Texas a place where filmmakers can reside for their entire careers.” said Rebecca Campbell, AFS CEO.

“The AFS Grant ensures access to capital for Texas artists. It’s an important strategy in making our film industry and culture more equitable and inclusive. The incredible success of our recent grantees shows how far Texas filmmakers can go. AFS continues to push Texas artists further through this fund,” said Holly Herrick, AFS Head of Film & Creative Media.

AFS Grant recipients have shown their films at renowned festivals like Sundance, Berlin, Cannes, Toronto, Venice, Tribeca, Rotterdam, and SXSW. Recent grantees include Channing Godfrey Peoples’ Miss Juneteenth, Annie Silverstein’s Bull, 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, Keith Maitland’s Tower, Renée Zahn’s Reneepoptosis, and Patrick Bresnan and Ivete Lucas’ Skip Day; all Independent Spirit Award nominees or top award winners at Cannes, Sundance or SXSW. At last month’s SXSW 2021, four AFS Grant-supported filmmakers received top awards including Haley Anderson (Summer Animals, Winner, Texas Shorts), Mei Makino (Inbetween Girl, Audience Award for Visions category), Tamara Saviano (Without Getting Killed or Caught, Lone Star Award), and Renée Zahn (O Black Hole!, Special Jury Recognition, Texas Shorts).

AFS is dedicated to funding artistic voices that come from diverse backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in the film industry and intends for the grant program to actively work against the structural racism and sexism in the screen industries. In 2020, female-identifying filmmakers made up 50% of the recipients and 71% of the recipients identify with a community of color. Continuing its commitment to diversity, AFS is proud to offer, for the fourth 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.

Filmmakers David Lowery (Disney’s Pete’s Dragon, A Ghost Story) and Kat Candler (13 Reasons Why, Queen Sugar, Hellion) both received support for their work from the Austin Film Society Grant and are now among the donors to the AFS Grant fund. Lowery partners with the Oak Cliff Film Festival and Tim Headington’s Ley Line Entertainment 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. Recipient of a 2020 North Texas Pioneer Film Grant, Clint Bentley’s Jockey, made its world premiere and was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Candler is committed to amplifying female voices in film and supports female-identifying filmmakers through the AFS Grant.


The AFS Grant is administered with two application periods and deadlines. Open today, the Spring 2021 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 Tuesday, June 4, 2021 by 5 p.m. CST. The recipients will be announced in early September.

The Fall 2021 grant application cycle, for short films 40 minutes or under, will open in early July with a deadline of September 10, 2021. Recipients will be announced in December.

AFS Grant program staff will offer a series of live webinars via Zoom again this year 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 Wednesday, April 28, at 6 p.m. CST.


North Texas Pioneer Film Grant (Production)
In partnership with David Lowery, the Oak Cliff Film Festival (Dallas) and Tim Headington’s Ley Line Entertainment, AFS will offer cash grants to emerging filmmakers residing in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and surrounding region. Approximately 3 grants will be awarded, ranging from $5,000-$15,000, for development, 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 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.

AFS Development Fund
Intended to address the lack of funds available for artist support, and to encourage the 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.

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 a variety of production services, which can include cameras, lenses, lighting/grip/electric equipment, and more. Filmmakers can apply for up to $10,000 in production rentals.

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

The AFS Grant is generously supported by grant partners Oak Cliff Film Festival, Ley Line Entertainment, Kat Candler, MPS Camera and Lighting, and Stuck On On, in addition to the City of Austin Economic Development Department/Cultural Arts Division and the Texas Commission on the Arts.

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 is committed to racial equity and inclusion, with an objective to deliver programs that actively dismantle the structural racism, sexism and other bias in the screen industries. AFS supports filmmakers from all backgrounds 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.