Energizing production of feature length dramas and comedies.
Our film development grants are available exclusively to MNFF filmmakers. All MNFF alumni are welcome to submit their script! The submission window for our next wave will open October 1, 2023.
“We are thrilled to support this incredible film festival in our community with a special emphasis on narrative filmmaking for MNFF alumni.”
– Janet & Churchill Franklin, Lead donors
2020 Grant Winners
Allison Mattox: Échappé
In Wave One of the inaugural grant season, thirteen original narrative drama or comedy scripts were submitted for review from our pool of alumni filmmakers. After a careful, multi-stage review, Échappé, a script by Allison Mattox, was selected as the winner of our first $10,000 Fund grant in early January 2020. Here is a brief description: “Telling a compelling story of two sibling members of an elite Soviet ballet company whose trip to the United States in the early 1970s is fraught with intrigue and fears of defection, Échappé provides a sharp focus on the social and political world of dance through the lens of a particularly charged period in U.S.-Soviet relations.”
Nikhil Melnechuk: Sayonara
In Wave Two of our first grant season, MNFF received sixteen more original narrative drama or comedy scripts submitted for review. Following a thorough review process, Sayonara, a script by Nikhil Melnechuk, was selected by our panel of judges in mid-August as the next winner of a $10,000 Fund grant. Here is a brief description: “When New York novelist Isabel finds a mysterious cache of photographs in her boyfriend Will’s apartment, she sets out to investigate the wild suspicion that he is secretly planning her death aboard his prized antique yacht, the Sayonara. Her journey takes her across the country and into the past as she discovers that years ago the Sayonara was the scene of an unsolved murder. Is Will a psychopath out to recreate a crime from the past, or has Isabel let her novelist’s mind get the best of her?”
2021 Grant Winners
Christine Weatherup: Into The Fog
In the Fund’s second season, ten original narrative drama or comedy scripts were submitted for review from our pool of alumni filmmakers. Following a thorough review process, Into The Fog, a script by Christine Weatherup, was selected by our panel of judges in early February 2021 as the next winner of a $10,000 Fund grant. Here is a brief story description: “Set in modern-day San Francisco over Halloween weekend, Alexis McKittrick travels to the city for a job interview and plans to crash at her estranged sister’s apartment. What she comes to learn is that her sister is missing and that there may be a larger scheme in play. The deeper she digs into the case, the more alone she becomes in an unfamiliar city. Alexis must step up to the challenge and track down her sister before it’s too late.”
2022 Grant Winners
Aaron Wertheimer: My Boyfriend at the Time
In the Fund’s third season, thirteen original narrative drama or comedy scripts were submitted for review by MNFF alumni filmmakers. Following a very deliberate review process, My Boyfriend at the Time, a script by Aaron Wertheimer, was selected by our panel of judges in mid-June 2022 as the next winner of a $10,000 Fund grant. Here is a brief story description: “After a long stretch abroad, Kate returns to Chicago, where she becomes consumed with memories of her ex-boyfriend Julian. When she stumbles upon her neighbor’s time machine, she travels back seven years to figure out why she and Julian broke up. Kate quickly finds her current self entangled in the old relationship, and, when she returns to the present, finds that the only way to move forward is to confront her past directly.”
2023 Grant Winners
Olivia Hetreed: Margot & Rudi
In the Fund’s fourth season, eleven original narrative drama or comedy scripts were submitted by MNFF alumni filmmakers for review by our our judges. Following a very deliberate review process, Margot & Rudi, a script by Olivia Hetreed, was selected by our panel in mid-April 2023 as the next winner of a $10,000 Fund grant. Here is a brief story description: “In a radical, revolutionary decade, dominated by the Cold War, punctuated by tragic assassinations, the defection of Rudi Nureyev, a young Russian ballet star, makes international headlines. The partnership he forms with British prima ballerina Margot Fonteyn, almost twice his age, revered and adored around the world, secretly under pressure to retire, makes them both icons of the Swinging Sixties. Sexy, romantic, ambiguous – their relationship intrigues and enchants everyone. But the truth is both more beautiful and far more agonising as they struggle with sexuality, fidelity, artistic integrity and ambition. This is their story.”
About The Fund
In August 2019, the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival announced the creation of the MNFF Franklin Film Development Fund to stimulate production of feature length dramas and comedies. The Fund awards $10,000 match grants to two filmmakers each year whose narrative scripts are selected by our review panel. The submission process is be open exclusively and only to all MNFF alumni, now totaling nearly 400 filmmakers.
The MNFF Franklin Film Development Fund originated with a significant and groundbreaking donation from Churchill and Janet Franklin, longtime supporters of the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival, and is named in recognition of their extraordinary generosity. An initial goal to raise $100,000 to achieve multi-year sustainability has been 85% realized in the Fund’s first three years. Conceived as early stage “seed funding,” the MNFF Franklin Film Development Fund adds notably to the Festival’s ongoing commitment to supporting new filmmakers.
Grant Awards: The Matching Provision
All of the Film Development Fund’s $10,000 grants will be awarded on a matching basis and the selected filmmakers will have up to eight months, following the announcement of their grant, to raise the $10,000 matching amount. A successful match will trigger the release of the Fund grant.
The next script submission window will open on October 1, 2023. All scripts and questions should be sent via email to Lloyd Komesar, MNFF Producer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Distinct Need
Why is MNFF so focused on narrative filmmaking as a point of emphasis? We think there is a lack of balance between narrative and documentary filmmaking among new filmmakers and we would like to help address this.
“Independent narrative feature films need support. Speaking candidly, we consistently see more and better feature documentaries than narratives in the selection process. It is time for us to encourage narrative filmmakers, who must launch herculean efforts to make good and effective films, only to find themselves stranded by a hyper-commercialized distribution process. Our Fund won’t change this distribution issue, but it’s a solid step in the right direction – one that we hope will stimulate other offers of support.”
– Jay Craven, MNFF Artistic Director
Donate to the Fund
We welcome contributions to the MNFF Franklin Film Development Fund from those who believe that good dramas and comedies by new filmmakers ought to be made.
“With the funding that began with the Franklins’ groundbreaking donation, and has grown quickly, we are seeking a continuous infusion of funds to support deserving narrative filmmakers intent on telling compelling stories with great characters. We hope that generous individuals and like-minded organizations will step forward with donations that will get us to our goal and beyond. And for filmmakers trying to decide which festivals to enter, let the potential of an MNFF Franklin Film Development Fund grant be a guiding factor.”
– Lloyd Komesar, MNFF Producer