Filmmaking Grants for Southeast Asian Filmmakers18 min readReading Time: 12 minutes
Filmmaking is not all lights, camera and action – it is also networking, marketing and, at the root of it all, money. The average cost of producing a feature-length film is minimally SGD800K but there are a number of ways for filmmakers to lower this cost. There’s crowdfunding, lowering production costs by renting equipment or cutting budgets and, most commonly, applying for production funds.
Applying for funds are not without its own complications, of course. After all, the money comes from either economic budgets or cultural institutions so it’s really like an investment in your productions. And this comes with the pressure of making sure they are worth it.
Film producer and writer Jeremy Chua’s (Tomorrow Is A Long Time, A Yellow Bird, Brotherhood) pro-tip is to establish your worth as a filmmaker by having a substantial portfolio, knowing what your marketing plan is, and paying careful attention to the expectations set forth by the organisation that is funding your projects.
Here’s a list of Filmmaking Grants that are accessible to Singaporeans and Southeast Asian filmmakers alike!
(Updated on 25 June 2020)
Filmmaking Grants for Singaporeans
The Honour Film Initiative
Perfect for newbies – no experience is required. However, your story would have to be anchored upon honouring the value of someone or something, with traits such as integrity, respect, perseverance, thrift, hard work and/or the spirit of doing our best. The intent must be to honour someone or something.
Selected ideas will be rewarded a production grant and screened at the bi-annual Honour Film Screening event. Over the years, Honour has given support to an average of 30 to 40 films every year. You can find out more about these films here.
How and when: Pitches are held once every two months, either at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, LASALLE College Of The Arts, Temasek Polytechnic or Republic Polytechnic. For full information regarding the pitching process, visit its website here.
Eligibility for grant: Singaporean students and young adults (35 and below).
Runtime of films: Typically about 4-12 minutes.
You can contact Honour (SG) for more information about this initiative here.
Viddsee Juree Singapore
Submit your short films (any genre) to Viddsee to be featured for a year and stand a chance to win the Viddsee Jury award. It comprises a production grant alongside tech equipment and an opportunity to attend an overseas film program.
How and when: The call for submission for its 2019 edition was opened in May 2019 so do keep an eye out for its 2020 edition.
Eligibility for grant (based on 2019 guidelines): Director, producer, screenwriter must be Singaporean, 70% of the film must be shot in Singapore.
Runtime of films (based on 2019 guidelines): Maximum 30 minutes
Stay tuned for their next call for submissions through their Facebook page.
SG Stories Content Fund
Backed by the Singapore Tourism Board, the fund aims to empower content creators in Singapore and around the world to tell amazing stories of Singapore – as a destination, as a home that we love, and as a place where our passions shine through. The Fund will support 90% of the qualifying costs, capped at S$150,000 per project.
Short form content is preferred and proposed projects should focus on digital video content (e.g. films, videos, animations), featuring Singapore stories around the themes of Strength, Resilience, Solidarity or Unity. Each project may also take the form of a single video or a series of videos.
How and when: Applications for the fund closed on 31 May 2020. However, be sure to stay tuned to the Singapore Tourism Board for more of such grants in the future, as they tend to call annually.
Eligibility for grant: All local or international content creators in the areas of production, media, tourism, digital marketing, influencer marketing, etc. are eligible to apply for this Fund. Applicants may apply as an individual or as a registered company.
Runtime for films: Unspecified.
Full information of the SG Stories Content Fund can be found here.
Singapore Film Commission (SFC)
The OG of local film support, Singapore FIlm Commission (SFC), is a division of the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). Since 1998, they’ve given grants and promotion to over 600 projects, including Boo Junfeng’s Apprentice (2013) and Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo which have entered international film markets and clinched awards.
SFC provides four kinds of grants for Singaporean filmmakers and production companies.
For short films:
Short Film Grant (SFG)
The Short Film Grant (SFG) supports costs related to production of short films – from manpower and equipment to professional services required – capped at S$10,000.
How and when: The call-for-proposal window for 2020 will be from 15 December 2020 to 3 January 2021. More details on the timeline of the 2020’s CFP can be found here.
Eligibility for grant: Applicants must be Singaporeans or Singapore PR. More details on the eligibility are available here.
The full guidelines, including for the runtime of films, for this year’s SFG are currently unannounced. Stay tuned for the latest updates on this page.
For feature films:
CFP for feature films are held twice a year. While the year’s first CFP has already concluded, the second CFP window will open on 15 August. More details of the timeline can be found here. This timeline will be applicable for the grants below and programmes below:
New Talent Feature Grant (NTFG)
The NTFG helps directors working on feature-films for the first or second time by supporting up to S$250,000 or 100% of production costs. Of course, this is subject to assessment and approval of the project.
Eligibility for grant: Applicants must be Singapore-registered companies that engage in info-communications, media and related activities; and have adopted the Tripartite Standard on the Procurement of Services from Media Freelancers. The director of the film must be a Singaporean or Singapore PR.
Runtime for films: Maximum 70 minutes.
The full guidelines for the NTFG can be found here.
Production Assistance Programme
Much like the NTFG in terms of eligibility and requirement, this programme focuses more on feature films that engage Singapore talent in quality credited roles. It gives a support of up to 40% of cost of production.
Eligibility for grant: Applicants must be Singapore-registered companies that engage in info-communications, media and related activities; and have adopted the Tripartite Standard on the Procurement of Services from Media Freelancers.
Runtime for films: Maximum 70 minutes.
The full guidelines for the programme can be found here.
Southeast Asia Co-Production Grant (SCPG)
The SCPG supports film co-production in Southeast Asia with grants up to S$250,000 or 50% of the qualifying costs that are linked to the project. Up to 50% of the total grant amount can be used to support non-Singapore Qualifying Costs.
Eligibility for grant: Applicants must be Singapore-registered companies that engage in info-communications, media and related activities; and have adopted the Tripartite Standard on the Procurement of Services from Media Freelancers. The project must have a Singapore / Singapore PR Producer, another Producer of Southeast Asian nationality (excluding Singapore), and a Director of Southeast Asian nationality (excluding Singapore).
Runtime for films: Maximum 70 minutes.
While the full guidelines for the grant are not available yet, more details can be found here.
COVID-19 Grants and Reliefs For Singaporean Media Practitioners
The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought unprecedented shockwaves across the global economy. Inevitably, this has delayed or completely halted most film productions no matter the scale. At the end of the day, filmmakers would still have to pay the bills to make films.
This section will be updated on a weekly basis, to reflect the applications that are currently open.
SAMPP COVID-19 Relief Fund for Media Practitioners
The Singapore Association of Motion Picture Professionals (SAMPP) launched a S$40,000 relief fund to support Singapore-based motion picture freelancers whose livelihoods have been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Grants will be awarded based on the assessment of the needs of the individual applicant and their household needs, with one grant given per successful applicant household only. The SAMPP have partnered with a social sector organisation to make decisions on the applications.
How and when: Applicants are to fill in the online application form, and email the necessary supporting documents as attachments to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject head ‘SAMPP COVID-19 RELIEF FUND APPLICATION’.
Supporting documents are necessary as evidence of loss of income affecting your livelihood. As such, there should be proof of original income and proof of loss of jobs/income. Documents could include: IRAS Tax Statements, Bank Statements, Invoices, Letter from Employer/Company on cancellation of Jobs, WhatsApp/Text Messages on Fees Agreed and Job Cancellations.
The SAMPP will also be asking for two referees so that they can ascertain your identity and that you work in the industry.
Eligibility for grant: Applicants need to be registered members of SAMPP. Applicants should be Singapore-based motion picture professionals across film, television, digital content sectors, and are practitioners holding above or below-the-line credits. They can be freelancers, employees, employers, or business owners. All membership fees have been waived for 2020 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Full details on SAMPP membership can be found here.
Full details of the relief fund can be found here.
Filmmaking Grants for Southeast Asian Filmmakers
There’s always a demand for Southeast Asian films, and there exists organisations that encourage inter-region collaborative filmmaking all around the globe. Most of them look for feature-length films and documentaries specifically because they are seeking out films that can reach out to a global audience by sharing stories that are culturally enriching.
As a case in point, this year alone, SGIFF have funded seven short films and documentaries from Singapore, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam.
The list that follows is by no means exhaustive but these are organisations that have consistently supported the production of many Southeast Asian films.
Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF)
A cornerstone of Southeast Asian films, the 2020 edition of the SGIFF will be held from 26 November to 6 December. The festival also provides two grants for filmmakers in the region:
Tan Ean Kiam Foundation-SGIFF Southeast Asian-Documentary Grant (SEA-DOC)
Every year, four grants with a cash amount of $25,000 each is given to support documentary-style films made in Southeast Asia. SEA-DOC aims to support the development and production of compelling stories told through the art of documentary in Southeast Asia
Eligibility for grant (based on its 2020 guidelines): Southeast Asian filmmakers who have made at least two short films before.
Runtime for films (based on its 2020 guidelines): Medium-length (40-59 min) or feature-films (over 60 min).
SGIFF SEA-SHORTS Grant
The SGIFF Southeast Asian-Short Film Grant (SEA-SHORTS) aims to be a launch pad for the brightest upcoming names in filmmaking from the region. SEA-SHORTS will support two short films annually, with a cash amount of S$4,000 and post-production support worth S$4,000 for each film. Applications are open for all genres including drama, animation and experimental short films.
Eligibility for grant (based on its 2020 guidelines): Southeast Asian filmmakers who have made one short film before and production must not have started at the time of application.
Runtime for films (based on its 2020 guidelines): Maximum 25 minutes.
How and when: Taking place yearly, the recipients for both SEA-DOC and SEA-SHORTS 2020 was recently announced. Stay tuned for details on its 2021 call presumably starting in the year’s fourth quarter.
Freedom Film Festival
The Freedom Film Festival, organised by the Freedom Film Network, looks to support and develop social documentary filmmaking within the context of freedom of expression and values contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights(UDHR) in Malaysia. The film festival takes place annually in September and showcases documentaries regarding social justice and human rights from Malaysia and around the world.
The festival also provides a film grant of Up to MYR 15,000 and SGD 5,000 cash for fresh or unfinished documentary films about Malaysia and Singapore. Grantees will also have access to video production equipment and production support from the Freedom Film Network.
How and when: Film proposals have to embody each year’s team for the festival, while challenging discrimination and prejudicial perceptions, and celebrates diversity and equality.
The deadline for this year’s grants passed in April but do keep a lookout for next year’s edition presumably around the first quarter.
Eligibility for grant (based on its 2020 guidelines): Submission of film grant proposals are open to Malaysians and Singaporeans only. The grants are available for fresh or unfinished documentary films about Malaysia and Singapore.
Runtime for films: Unspecified.
Details regarding the festival can be found here.
Purin Pictures In Thailand
Purin Pictures is a film fund that supports independent cinema in Southeast Asia. They provide two main categories of funds:
Production & Post-Production Fund
Every year, two application sessions take place for a production and post-production fund. The production fund is a US$30,000 cash payment split into three payments upon signing, upon commencement of the project and upon receipt of delivery materials.
The post-production fund is a services package valued at US$50,000.
How and when: There are two application seasons per year. The first deadline is 1 March (Spring) and the second deadline is 1 September (Fall). The deliberation process takes two months with funding results announced 1 May and 1 November, respectively.
Eligibility for fund: Director must be a citizen or a resident of a Southeast Asian Country, projects accepted include fiction, documentary and animation films.
Runtime for films: Minimum 60 minutes
Film Activities Fund
A maximum of 5,000 USD cash grant to support activities which focus on the development and promotion of films and filmmakers.
How and when: There are two application sessions per year. The first deadline is 1 June (Summer) and the second deadline is 1 December (Winter). The deliberation process takes two months with funding results announced 1 August and 1 February, respectively.
Eligibility for fund: Unlike the production and post-production funds, the Activities Fund is not defined by geography. The activity can be held outside the SEA region as long as it benefits SEA films and filmmakers. The activity must be held within 12 months of the application submission.
Application for all the funds takes place biannually. Terms and regulations of the funds can be found here.
Asian Cinema Fund in Korea
With a record of projects from South Korea, India, and Singapore, this initiative supports the growth of Asian Cinema with their funding programs.
Script Development Fund
10 million Korean won (about 11.5 grand SGD) provided to talented Asian independent filmmakers to complete feature-length fiction film scripts that are in development.
Eligibility for fund (based on its 2019 guidelines): Director should have directed at least one short or feature film and the original script must contain Asian elements in its story, theme, character and background.
Services provided to filmmakers to complete their digital-formatted films at state-of-the-art facilities in Korea and, upon completion, premiere at Busan International Film Festival.
Eligibility for fund (based on its 2019 guidelines): The project must not have been screened or released before, and it must contain Asian elements in its story theme, character and background.
Asian Network of Documentary Fund
Funds independent documentary filmmakers to complete their feature-length documentary film projects that are aimed for theatrical release.
Eligibility for fund (based on its 2019 guidelines): The project should be 60 minutes or more and may be in any stage of production.
Unfortunately, the open call for the fund has been suspended in 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Get the latest updates on the fund through its website here.
World Cinema Fund in Berlin
This is an initiative launched by the German Federal Foundation for Culture with the Goethe Institute that aims to develop and support cinema in regions with a weak film infrastructure, while fostering cultural diversity in German cinemas. They provide production and distribution grants yearly to developing films with powerful, visually creative stories and an authentic image of the filmmakers’ cultural roots.
The fund supports exclusively the production and distribution of feature films and feature-length documentaries. The support is focused on the following regions and countries: Latin America, Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, the Caucasus as well as Bangladesh, Nepal, Mongolia and Sri Lanka.
The funding will provide for a maximum of 60,000 euro per project. Full details of the fund can be found here.
How and when: Application deadline is 6 July 2020.
Eligibility for funding: Companies from a list of countries who can confirm cooperation with the director from a WCF eligible region. The films or documentaries must be intended for theatrical release.
Runtime: Feature-length narrative films or documentaries with a minimum length of 70 minutes.
Detailed submission guidelines and more information can be found here.
Hubert Bals Fund (HBF) in Netherlands
The HBF offers several funding schemes: early on for script and project development, or later on for production. Here are some of the schemes for 2020 available for Southeast Asian filmmakers:
NFF+HBF Co-production Scheme
Offering support twice a year, the scheme is a collaboration between the Netherlands Film Fund and The HBF. The maximum contribution of the scheme is € 50,000. The scheme has played a part in the production of Southeast Asian films such as Sheron Dayoc’s Women of the Weeping River in 2013 and Yeo Siew Hua’s A Land Imagined in 2017.
How and when: The deadlines for submission are 30 March 2020 and 5 October 2020.
Eligibility for scheme: Applicants must be Dutch (co-producers) and the project must have received HBF Script and Project Development Support. The Dutch producer must have produced at least one theatrically released feature film.
Runtime of films: Unspecified.
HBF Script and Project Development Support
The grant looks to further the development of a script and is split between two separate calls for proposals. The entry forms for both subcategories will be available online at least two weeks before the deadline.
General eligibility for both subcategories: Filmmakers must be from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe.
Bright Future is a special call for filmmakers working on their first or second narrative feature film with a maximum grant of €10,000 per project. The deadlines for submission are 1 March 2020 and 1 August 2020.
Voices is a special scheme for feature films by filmmakers more advanced in their career. Selection criteria include verifiable interest from potential co-producers, sales agents and/or distributors. The maximum grant per project is €10,000. The deadlines for submission are 1 April 2020 and 1 September 2020.
Full details of all of the schemes and support under the HBF can be found here.
The Global Film Initiative in America
This organisation’s Granting Program awards fifteen to twenty grants of up to $10,000 each, annually, to filmmakers whose works offer diverse interpretations of the human experience.
Applications are accepted from various countries for projects in pre-production, production and post-production only with a finished and English-translated screenplay, with 50% or more funding secured.
Eligibility for grants: Directors must be citizens of the country of production.
Runtime for films: Minimum 64 minutes.
Unfortunately, all grants have been suspended until further notice in 2020. Check back to its website to get up to date with updates.
Filmmakers Without Borders (FWB)
FWB is a nonprofit organisation dedicated to empowering the next generation of digital storytellers. FWB filmmaking grants provide funding and support for independent filmmakers to share their stories. Funds are available for narrative, documentary, experimental, and new media projects in various stages of production. Grants are available in four tiers, going up to a maxim of US$2500.
General eligibility for grants: Applicants from any country can apply. They should be proficient in relevant digital technologies, able to provide samples of their work, and should submit supporting materials and applications in English. The completed films, however, may be in any language.
Runtime for films: 6 – 40 minutes (short film projects), 90+ minutes (feature film projects), various (new media projects)
Unfortunately, FWB has put on hold its grants program due to COVID-19. For full information on the various grants provided by FWB, visit its website here.
The Alter-Ciné Foundation in Canada
A grant of 10,000 Canadian dollars is awarded to a video or filmmaker to assist in the production of a documentary project on the theme of rights and freedom. The film can be done in their native language or any of their choice.
How and when: Applications must be sent postpaid to the Alter-Ciné Foundation. They do not accept applications sent by email. Only applications sent before August 15 of each year (with postal seal) will be accepted. Candidates will be advised of the decisions of the Selection Committee before December 31 of each year.
Eligibility for grant: Filmmakers born and living in Africa, Asia or Latin America. Applicants must have a previously completed documentary work.
Runtime for films: Unspecified.
Application guidelines and form can be found here.
Competition may be stiff and requirements may be tougher to meet – but don’t get intimidated. Complications aside, these organisations present great opportunities for aspiring filmmakers. From festival screenings to co-production opportunities, applying for grants can open up new avenues for your filmmaking career.