The Austin Film Society Announces It Is Now Accepting Applications for the 2023 AFS Grant for Feature Films

(Still from Katherine Propper’s LOST SOULZ, a 2022 AFS Grant for Feature Films recipient)

Will Stefanski

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

April 28, 2023, AUSTIN, TX— Today, the Austin Film Society announces that it will be accepting applications for the 2023 AFS Grant for Feature Films, the annually renewed development and production fund for emerging Texas filmmakers. Applications can be submitted between April 28–June 5 at 6 PM CT, and filmmakers interested in learning more about the grant and application process can join AFS staff for a series of live webinars via Zoom, the first of which will take place Monday, May 8, 2023, at 6 PM. Applications and submission guidelines can be found on the AFS website. Since its inception in 1996, the AFS Grant has awarded more than $2.4 million in cash grants and more than $340,000 in-kind goods and services to 492 Texas filmmakers to date, creating life-changing opportunities for artists traditionally underrepresented in the film industry and working outside large industry centers. 

For more information about the AFS Grant for Feature Films, click here or visit

A vital resource for Texas independent filmmakers from diverse backgrounds, the AFS Grant Fund is intended to support career leaps for emerging to mid-career artists. This spring, AFS will be offering grants for feature films in any phase of production (pre-production, production, and post-production). Projects may also apply for funds toward distribution and development support. While only experienced filmmakers with a track record of completed films may apply for development grants, all other grants are available to filmmakers at any experience level with a focus on emerging through mid-career artists.

“The goal of this grant has always been to give emerging artists the funding boosts they’ve needed to get their work out into their world. In the decades since our first grants, we’ve been able to make a difference in the careers of regional filmmakers, showing the world that Texas is a place where great films are made,” said Rebecca Campbell, AFS CEO.

The AFS Grant aims to fund emerging filmmakers with backgrounds that are traditionally underrepresented in independent film, paying special attention to providing support to women filmmakers and those who identify with communities of color. In 2022, female filmmakers made up 52% of the recipients and 80% of the recipients identified with a community of color. Continuing its commitment to diversity, AFS is proud to offer for the sixth year the New Texas Voices Award, a cash grant of $10,000 and consultation, for a first-time filmmaker of color making a feature-length film.

AFS Director of Programs Erica Deiparine-Sugars oversees the AFS Grant. Deiparine-Sugars commented, “The AFS Grant is a large part of how we contribute to the film ecosystem in Texas and beyond. By funding regional projects and prioritizing those who may have been overlooked by the industry at large, we’re able to show the full spectrum of diversity and talent our state has to offer, especially as these filmmakers go on to win awards at major festivals across the world.” 

AFS Grant recipients have shown their films at renowned festivals like Sundance, Berlin, Cannes, Toronto, Venice, Tribeca, Rotterdam and SXSW. Recent grantees include Iliana Sosa’s What We Leave Behind, Katherine Propper’s Lost Soulz, Amy Bench’s More Than I Remember, Silvia Del Carmen Castaños and Estefania Contreras’ Hummingbirds, Channing Godfrey Peoples’ Miss Juneteenth, Annie Silverstein’s Bull, Yen Tan’s Pit Stop, Heather Courtney’s Where Soldiers Come From, Keith Maitland’s Tower, Renée Zahn’s Reneepoptosis and Patrick Bresnan and Ivete Lucas’ Skip Day; many of them Independent Spirit Award nominees or top award winners at Cannes, Sundance or SXSW. At last month’s SXSW 2023, AFS Grant-supported filmmakers Amy Bench and Annie Silverstein received the Jury Award in the Texas Shorts competition for their film Breaking Silence.

Filmmakers Kat Candler (13 Reasons Why, Queen Sugar, Hellion) and David Lowery (A Ghost Story, The Green Knight, Peter Pan & Wendy) both received support for their work from the Austin Film Society Grant and are now among the donors to the AFS Grant fund. Candler is committed to amplifying female voices in film and supports female-identifying filmmakers through the AFS Grant. 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. 

About the AFS Grant
The AFS Grant is administered with two application periods and deadlines. Open April 28, 2023, the spring 2023 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 for both the 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. Filmmakers must apply online at by Monday, June 5, 2023, at 6 PM CT. The recipients will be announced in early September.

The shorts cycle will accept submissions for short film projects only (under 40 minutes). The application for short films will open in late summer 2023. 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 Monday, May 8, 2023, at 6 PM.

Grant Details

North Texas Pioneer Film Grant — cash grant, development and production (pre-production, production, and post-production)
$30,000 in cash grants will be awarded to emerging filmmakers residing in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and surrounding region. Grants ranging from $5,000–$15,000 will be awarded for the development, production, or 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. 

New Texas Voices Grant — cash grant, production (pre-production, production, and post-production) 
Affirming its ongoing commitment to supporting diverse voices and growing new talent, AFS offers $10,000 as the New Texas Voices Grant to filmmakers who identify with a community of color traditionally underrepresented in independent film. This new grant will be accompanied by specialized consultation for the awarded filmmakers.

MPS Camera and Lighting Austin — in-kind grant
The MPS Camera and Lighting Austin In-Kind Grant comes in the form of a multi-day camera package rental from MPS Camera Austin valued up to $10,000. 

Stuck On On DCP — in-kind grant
The Stuck On On DCP Grant awards theatrical digital cinema packages (DCP) to two different AFS Grant applicant features. The project may be a theatrical documentary or narrative feature up to 100 minutes each. 

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

  # # #