About Us

The Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund in Film and Media was founded in 2016 to address under-represented communities in the film, television and XR industries. By providing funding for emerging regional voices and connecting Baltimore creatives to prestigious artists, veteran executives, and successful entrepreneurs in the entertainment industry, our aim is giving voice to those who have been excluded.

New Voices. New Outlooks. New Approaches.

We are looking for this year’s cohort of Fellows who want to tell bold and important stories.

The application period of new Fellows is now open and applications will be accepted through December 15, 2019.

Incubator Labs

Storytelling has always been an integral part of the human experience and our Incubator Labs are structured to help you take your story to the next level. Through candid discussion and structured working sessions, our Incubator Labs bring together creative leaders and experienced storytellers with Saul Zaentz Fellows to encourage risk-taking and boundary-pushing, to help identify and solve production challenges, and to foster community and collaboration.

The Innovation Fund will hold two Incubator Labs for all new Fellows in 2020.

Story Lab 2020 will run from the evening of February 7 through midday on February 8.

  • After an informal meeting of Fellows and mentors on Friday evening, Story Lab kicks off Saturday morning with a formal pitching session – with each Fellow pitching to a panel of Industry Experts. Following the pitching session, Fellows will work together in small groups and one-to-one with industry mentors. Sunday morning gives everyone the opportunity to make their pitch again and identify what next steps they should be making in the development of their project.

Development Lab 2020 will run from Thursday evening April 2, through midday Sunday, April 5.

  • The Development Lab divides Fellows into three segments – Documentary, Narrative or Early Development – depending upon the nature of their project. Led by relevant industry mentors, the three segments will run concurrently during the weekend, with key overlapping intersections built in to support not only project specific growth, but to help foster a collaborative community between Fellow filmmakers.

Throughout 2020, the Innovation Fund will also run a series of Workshops and Labs for current Fellows and alumni on topics including accounting and finance, releases and other legal issues, production and distribution.


The Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund matches Saul Zaentz Fellows with award-winning artists and established professionals in technology, media, business, and the arts. These mentors offer their advice, guidance and practical knowledge, and help each Fellow explore new production and distribution models.

We are honored to work with a world class group of deeply generous and inspiring industry experts and the mentorship program is always a highlight for Fellows. Each Fellow is paired with a series of mentors who provoke the Fellow to think deeper about their projects and help them overcome challenges or obstacles.


Each year, the Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund makes seed capital grants for selected projects. By helping artists turn their ideas into stories, seed grants opens new doors for underrepresented people to speak their truths and gives life to the artistic voices of Baltimore.

Once Fellows have completed the Story Labs, they are eligible to apply for funding grants for further development or production of their projects.

Applications for seed grants for this cohort of Fellows will open on February 15 and close on March 15. Funding decisions will be announced on March 31.