Expansive Cinema.
Transformative Community.

The MediaMaker Fellowship is devoted to supporting documentary filmmakers using bold cinematic language and innovative impact strategies to grapple with critical issues of our time. Our cohort is a collaborative, community-driven space that places diversity, representation, and ethical relationships with storytelling at the forefront of our practice. We aim to build a safe space for filmmakers to workshop their films, establish critical bonds and relationships, and gain valuable insights as they go on to build their careers in the field. We seek candidates who have the potential to impact our understanding of how documentaries can transform the world, as well as expanding the quality of the art of nonfiction.

Offerings & Structure


Image of a man and a woman silhouetted in front of a window with gray-blue cityscape beyond,

This ten-month-long program supports the development of documentary projects that are nearing post-production, and includes:

  • $10,000 distributed to each Fellow over the course of the Fellowship (plus additional travel per diems)
  • Professional mentorship and strategy sessions focused on documentary storytelling, career sustainability, fundraising, distribution, and more. 
  • Two San Francisco (travel paid) convenings comprised of immersive tailored workshops, intimate feedback sessions, and presentations by leading filmmakers and industry figures. COVID-19 update: Travel will be suspended whenever it is deemed unsafe, and convenings will in that case move to a virtual space.
  • All-access pass, round trip flight, accommodations, and a customized itinerary for the Camden International Film Festival in Maine and the New Orleans Film Festival in Louisiana in the Autumn assuming travel is safe and advisable. All plans subject to change according to pandemic restrictions and best practices, as well as the availability of festival programs. 
  • A built-in support network with informal convenings and check-ins throughout the year.
  • Opportunities to apply for continued mentorship and support in the future as a MediaMaker alum.

Eligibility & Criteria

  • The project should be non-commercial, primarily documentary or non-fiction in nature (this includes hybrid docs which are encouraged to apply), and should have the potential for social impact.
  • The MediaMaker Fellowship program is particularly interested in supporting a diverse cross-section of media creators, especially those who are working on their first or second feature-length project or are otherwise taking a creative leap with their project. Above all, ideal candidates should demonstrate a strong capacity for artistic growth.
  • Eligible films will have at least begun production and can be well into post-production. A project would be considered too far along to benefit from the Fellowship if picture-lock is expected before the end of the program year. Projects should be in a place to benefit from workshopping (scenes, story, structure, edit, etc.) with the cohort and seasoned guest filmmakers.
  • BAVC Media will select a cohort of Fellows that is roughly half Bay Area-based with the other half based elsewhere in the United States. We encourage filmmakers from all regions of the U.S. to apply. At this time the program cannot support Fellows who are primarily based outside of the U.S.
  • Applicants must be a BAVC Media member or join at any level before applications close. Annual membership fees can be as low as $10 a year (you chose the price level, no proof of income is required). If the cost is a financial barrier, please reach out via email so that we can waive your fee.

Applications will open again in the Fall of 2023

MediaMaker Connect

In 2020 BAVC Media launched the new MediaMaker Connect Mentorship Program, in the spirit of building the field, supporting nonfiction filmmakers to complete their projects, and facilitating connections between filmmakers at different stages of their careers. This new program provides emerging filmmakers, as well as MediaMaker Fellowship Alum, with 5-months of one-on-one mentorship in which filmmakers receive feedback and counsel from industry professionals addressing their unique challenges from story development to post-production roadblocks. This new effort extends the scope of the MediaMaker program from a one-year fellowship to a spectrum of support that spans early development to artistic fruition.BAVC Media is thrilled to deepen our commitment to cultivating a continuum of infrastructure and support for early-career documentary filmmakers.

Program History

Since 1991, BAVC Media’s MediaMaker Fellowship has provided in-kind creative support for independent artists at work on social-issue nonfiction film and multimedia projects, with a particular focus on supporting emerging artists and underrepresented communities. The Fellowship builds an engaged national community of creative media artists from diverse fields, increases their capacity for project completion and lasting impact, and inspires new partnerships and collaboration to support future work.

Program Funders

The 2020 MediaMaker Fellowship is supported in part by awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and The Kenneth Rainin Foundation.