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.

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Offerings & Structure

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
  • Professional mentorship and strategy sessions focused on documentary storytelling, career sustainability, fundraising, distribution, and more. 
  • Three 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 resume once it is safe for everyone, until then all convenings will be virtual.
  • All-access pass, round trip flight, accommodations, and a customized itinerary for the True/False Film Festival in the Spring and a second industry conference in the Autumn (recent examples include the Camden International Film Festival in Maine, the International Documentary Association’s Getting Real Conference in Los Angeles, and the Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival in D.C.) only if and when 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. Festival attendance may be virtual in 2021. 
  • 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.
  • The project should be non-commercial, primarily documentary or non-fiction in nature, 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.
  • Though it is not a requirement, it is preferred that projects have 60 to 80% of their production completed, with a funding commitment from at least one additional source (besides BAVC Media). During the COVID-19 pandemic, BAVC Media is relaxing these suggestions and considering projects that may have been forced to stall production or are otherwise further from completing production than we normally prefer.
  • BAVC Media will select eight Fellows – half Bay Area-based and half from elsewhere in the United States. At this time the program cannot support Fellows who are primarily based outside of the U.S.
  • Applicants must be a BAVC Media as a 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 required). If the cost is a financial barrier, please reach out via email so that we can waive your fee.

Eligibility & Criteria

Meet This Year’s Cohort

See Past Fellows

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.

History & Funders